Finding your why

I attend a lot of networking events. And by a lot, I mean a LOT. I enjoy relaxed atmospheres that bring together various people from a wide range of professions who wouldn’t normally meet.

That, and I’m also a big fan of free food (or coffee) (or SWAG).

So when I signed up for the Next Monday Ladies 2.0 Lunch, Learn and Network, I was expecting to attend just another luncheon with some professional-related speaker topic and a free lunch (see above). But what I received was a chance to better myself on a personal and professional level. Woah, right?

The speaker at this event was Dawn Zimmerman, owner of The Write Advantage,  and she started her talk with this question:

Do you love your current job SO MUCH that you would do it every day… for free?

If the answer is no – like 80% of Americans – then maybe you need to find your why. Which is why Dawn, after excelling quickly to the top of her field in journalism, quit her job to find her why. What does that even mean?

It all comes back to Simon Sinek’s “Start With Why” theory, explained below. While most will lead with the what or even the how, successful people, companies and organizations lead with the why.

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When a company or an individual finds their why and starts with their why, they become truly authentic. Dawn talked to us about how she found her why, and how that lead her to start The Write Advantage. There are three components that she recommends using to get there…

Purpose: What are your unique gifts?

Passion: What really motivates you?

People: Who do you want to impact?

Where do these three components intersect? Figure that out, and you’ve found your why.Going below the surface here, let’s think about those three P’s in more depth.

LLNtalent

What is my unique gift? My ability to remember useless trivia? Nahh… My skills with a hot-glue gun? Probably not. We so often don’t think about what we’re uniquely good at, which is why Dawn shared that this often comes from others’. We might not know what our unique gifts are until someone else points them out.

LLNpassion

When it comes to passion, there’s a lot that I could say I’m passionate about. I love a good red wine. I’m a devoted Minnesota Vikings fan. But is that really my passion? Is that really what motivates me – what excites me? Not likely. Passion is about finding something that you love so much, you would do it for free.

LLNpeople

The last P – people – challenged me even more than the other two. I’m generally not a huge people-lover. I get along great with a variety of different personalities, and I can hold my own in pretty much any social situation – no matter how awkward, But in reality, I’m somewhat introverted. So when forced to think about who I want to impact, I drew a blank. Dawn reminded us the people we most likely want to impact are directly related to our other two P’s – our purpose and our passions. With that reminder, I discovered the first puzzle pieces to my why:

Purpose: I have a really strong ability to make others feel comfortable. I can diffuse awkward situations, and I am very understanding.

Passion: I love to help others succeed, to help them be happy, to help them feel good, or at least just to make others smile.

People: Who do I want to impact? Those who deserve it. Simple as that.

So where does that lead me? What is my why? What should I do with it? I have a little more soul-searching to do before that can be official, but I think this has started me on the right track to figure it all out.

Have you found your why? Are you living your purpose? Please share your adventures in finding your why, or reach out with any questions you might have! I’d love to hear from you.

#EmilyFayeSays

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10 Things I Wish I’d Known in College

College is the time for knowledge (rhyme unintended) (or was it?). It’s a time to immerse yourself in your studies, find your passions, uncover your skill set and blaze your personal trail. At least that’s what your high school guidance teacher tells you when you’re a senior and about to graduate.

But for a lot of kids, when you get there it takes a different path. It’s more about independence, no rules or curfews, freedom, making friends, trying new things, and probably spending too much money. Often times, that means that studies fall to the wayside. And don’t get me wrong, that’s okay to a point, but like Joni Mitchell warned, “you don’t know what you got til it’s gone.” (definitely had to Google who sang the original – millennial problems…)

grad

As a graduate now and someone fortunate enough to have happened upon my desired career path fairly early in life, I find myself looking back at what I wish I’d done differently in my college experience. And while, like many college kids, I wish I’d taken less student loans and studied more, this list gets into it a bit more than that. So, here you go…

10 Things I Wish I’d Known in COLLEGE

 1. College professors are actually really awesome. They’re not your high school teachers. They aren’t there to make sure you behave, hold your hand, keep an eye on you etc. They’re there because they are passionate about what they’re teaching, and they want to share that knowledge with their students. Don’t waste the chance to develop relationships with these folks. They can write you recommendations, give you career guidance, and maybe even become your mentor one day.

2. You will regret a bad grade more than missing out on a night of partying. AKA: get your priorities in order. If you have a sociology exam Friday morning, then maybe (just maybe) your time would be better spent in a cramming session vs drinking from a flat keg at a frat house until 3AM. I get it, FOMO is real, but so is having to retake a class after you fail it, or missing graduation honors by decimal points of your GPA. Be smart.

3. Get real-world experience within your major. Some majors, like nursing and education, already have requirements in place that you actually experience the jobs before you can graduate. However others (ahem, marketing) don’t. But it is so important to have some kind of relevant experience within your major when you graduate, because it will give you a definite leg-up on the competition. For example, finance major? Get a teller job. Management major? Work your way up in retail. Communications major? Good luck. Just kidding, you could check out administrative positions. You get the picture. Or maybe if you can’t find anything or nothing seems to fit, do your own thing! Which leads to my next point…

4. Differentiate, differentiate, differentiate. What are you passionate about? Animals? Social media? Children? The environment? Now think about this: how can you use that passion to differentiate yourself? Maybe it’s volunteering at a shelter, becoming a big brother/sister to someone, offering to do a company’s social media for free, or getting involved with environmental legislation. Whatever it is, getting involved and following your passion will not only differentiate you, but will help you get a career that you want, rather than a job you have to have.

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5. Really f***ing try in class. I made the mistake of saying “I’m so over this” about 498 times during my college career. I got good grades still, blessed with good guessing skills & my natural ability to BS my way through anything , but what benefit was it to me? After all I was PAYING TO LEARN. The point of college is not simply to just make it to graduation. And while there are things I learned that I still carry with me today, there is so much more I wish I could go back and really absorb. Read textbook. Ask professors hard questions. Stay after class if I didn’t understand. Really…. try.

6. You don’t need those $78 jeans. You will never in your life need $78 jeans. You will learn this about 6 months after graduation, when your first student loan payment is due. You will never pay more than $25 for a pair of jeans again. And a $30 t-shirt. Fahgettaboutet. Thrift stores, clearance racks, using what  you have… stop buying expensive clothes. Save. Your. Money.

7. Spaghetti-o’s and Dr. Pepper do not a meal make. You know, the dining hall does have a salad bar with low-fat dressing. Also, you can buy frozen vegetables for about the same price as those canned monstrosities with the “noodles” and the “meatballs.” Oh, and wheat bread tastes the same as white bread. I know, right? Take care of your body. Just because mom’s not around to cook for you, doesn’t mean you can go gain 20 pounds. Also: stay active. Your school’s gym is cheaper and nicer than anything in the real world, so don’t waste the chance to use it.

SCSU

8. Show your school spirit, damnit. At St. Cloud State University, we had a saying we’d use sarcastically: “St. Cloud Proud…”. We’d say it whenever something bad/embarrassing would happen at our school. Not exactly bubbling over with school spirit. But I have friends who went to other schools who are the opposite. They go to alumni events, they cheer on their sports teams, they are involved and they’re really passionate fans. I find myself jealous of them. I wish I’d been a better fan, because then I could be part of the Husky community with more pride.

9. Use social media wisely. I’m not going to preach the whole “no beer bongs on Facebook” thing because you’ve heard that 15 times over. However, I do feel that college students can use social media wisely and strategically. Connect with your professors. Reach out to businesses you’re interested in. Stay active on LinkedIn. Use Twitter less for retweeting @CommonFemale or @GuyCodes and more for retweeting at @Forbes or @Kiplinger. Use your social presence wisely. (For more tips, check out my slideshow here.)

10. Cherish. Every. Second. You’ve heard this before, but take it from a once-jaded college grad who couldn’t wait to throw up deuces to my university and start pounding pavement: you will miss it. I miss the simple things. Learning. Flexible schedules. Meeting new people. Writing essays (for real). I wish I could go back sometimes. So cherish every second of it. Because it’s going to go fast, it’s going to be crazy, and you are going to miss it.

#EmilyFayeSays

It’s okay to lay down

As a woman in the professional world, I am accustomed to being the target of feminist, “girl power” messaging, while also being subjected to the realities of gender inequality in the workplace. I won’t get into the politics of that right now, but I will get into one thing that I do feel strongly about. To quote the beautiful & talented Willow Sweeney:

lay down quote

Now, let me start by saying that I have not read word-for-word Sheryl Sandberg‘s work, but I can say that I have gathered the basic points of it through reading reviews and other literature written about it. I am completely on board with the general premise of the book – that women deserve equality in the workplace and should work to achieve it – however I find myself somewhat exhausted by the Lean In campaign as a whole.

I work hard to succeed in life, and I value solid work ethic and following your passions as much as the next person. But I’m also a big fan of napping, binge watching crappy reality television, splurging too often on 800 calorie desserts, not vacuuming regularly, and skipping my morning workout. My point being, I don’t want to be fabulous, badass, professional and put-together all of the time. And that’s okay.

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Women so often – especially in recent times – feel a pressure to be the perfect woman. You must put your family life on hold to strive to become a CEO. You must workout four times a week to burn off that paleo diet. You must know how to raise children well, keep a clean, stylish house, cook meals that would make Chef Ramsey proud, and be the sports-loving, beer-drinking, “cool girl” wife (thanks Gone Girl), all while maintaining a $75,000/year dream job where you put in 60 hours a week.

Lets. Be. Real.

It’s time to stop apologizing for your mistakes. It’s time to stop feeling inadequate because your neighbor just hit her weight loss goal and got a raise in the same week. It’s time to stash the shame when your kid is the last one of their friends who learned to ride a bike because you weren’t a good teacher. It’s time to stop envying every other woman’s “perfect” life… as depicted by social media. It’s time to remember that if you’re trying your hardest and you’re a good person, then you’re good enough the way you are.

& It’s okay to lay down.

#EmilyFayeSays

What Your Instagram Selfie Filter Says About You

“Selfies” have been around much longer than the word itself. For example, does anyone remember Myspace & the hours you spent taking pictures of yourself with your flip phone to get that ONE perfect shot for your profile that you could caption with & hearts;?

Orrr was that just me…?

Yes, selfies have been a thing (with our without a name) for quite a few years now. However, the selfie game changed significantly with the release of my favorite photo app: Instagram.

What’s better than a grainy, orange-y image overlay with enhanced contrast to hide your long-overdue hair color treatment and your  pale, acne-d skin? Nothing, that’s what.

But what do those different filters say about your self(ie)? I took a look at the Top Instagram Filters used and interestingly enough, the most common “filter” is having #NoFilter at all. However, that’s not to say the photo is not edited at all with one of the hundreds of other photo-editing apps available. You’re not foolin’ me!

But for the next 5 most popular IG filters, below are my (lighthearted) takes on what each means about its users.

EARLYBIRD

IGearlybird

If the majority of your selfies don the Earlybird filter, you’re a relatively chill person. You enjoy lattes, and probably have a cat (that you also Instagram with the Earlybird filter). You may listen to Jason Mraz & Jack Johnson, and you enjoy reading, gardening, and/or baking complicated pastries. You care about the environment, but that doesn’t mean you’re an activist or politically involved. Alcoholic beverage of choice: none.

X-PRO II

IGxpro

Sup party girl (or guy). You like to go out late and stay out later. You probably wear designer everything with sequins, frequent Starbucks, and drive a Jetta. While you like to stay fit & eat well, you’re not about sharing your #Fitspiration or #FoodPorn with anyone. You like hip-hop & club music, enjoy watching Real World & Real Housewives of {insert town}, and don’t like waking up early. Alcoholic beverage of choice: cheap tequila or cheap vodka or cheap rum.

VALENCIA

IGvalencia

You post a lot of Instagram pictures, but not a lot of selfies. So when you do, you don’t want to look like a “typical” selfie poster, therefore you try to keep it toned-down. You’re easy going, and probably enjoy a mix of country and pop music. You like to be outdoors (hence why the majority of your IG pics are landscapes & animals) and you can’t stand being busy 24/7. You are probably older than 23 and claim to enjoy cooking, but secretly hate it. Alcoholic beverage of choice: sweet white wine or light beer.

RISE

IGrise

If you selfie with Rise most often, you’re probably pretty artistic. Whether it’s painting, photography, jewelry making, pottery, music, or anything of the sort, you and your friends love it. You share your artwork on Instagram a lot, and your selfies are probably taken mid-craft (ie. whilst playing the flute, covered in paint, etc.) You are a free spirit and tend to post numerous pictures daily. When not busy being artsy, you hang out at locally owned coffee shops or thrift stores listening to indie music. Alcoholic beverage of choice: whiskey on the rocks or craft beer.

HEFE

IGhefe

Everyone who follows you gripes about your fitness posts, but secretly wishes they were doing them also. You are a gym-junkie, a running-robot, a weight-lifting-warrior. All of your selfies are taken while sweaty, captioned with inspirational quotes about never giving up. When not posting glistening selfies, you’re sharing your latest #ProteinPacked recipes or your recently purchased (adorable) workout gear. Alcoholic beverage of choice: None while you’re training, but sometimes you indulge in a SkinnyGirl martini or a vodka-water.

ALL of the above selfies are actual pictures I posted on my IG (@emily1014) that used EACH of the filters! So that just goes to show, you probably won’t fit into just one of these descriptions. What do you think? Where do you fit?

I also found out that most of my selfies are posted with VALENCIA X-PRO II, using this AMAZING tool called IconoSquare. Check it out and share your most common filter!

& as always, thanks for checking out what #EmilyFayeSays!

Why I CAN’T WAIT for the Super Bowl…….. ads.

Long before I dove into the crazy world of marketing, I was still that dork who yelled at everyone to shut up during the Super Bowl commercials. I wasn’t about to miss a thing! But this year, I think it’s going to be a little… different.

With so many brands releasing teasers and even their full ads weeks ahead of time, it takes away a bit of the excitement of Super Bowl ads. They’re being picked apart, analyzed and critiqued before they even hit the (four million dollar) big screen. So what’s the fun in watching?

It’s easy to become jaded by this instant-gratification world we live in. However I can honestly say that I’m more excited to watch Super Bowl ads this year more than any year before.

“But Emily, why?? Just Google them now!”

Hold your horses/puppies/babies/light beer/hot chicks – I did not say what about the ads I’m most excited for……..

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I CANNOT WAIT to watch my Twitter feed!

For me, the most exciting part about the Super Bowl will not be watching the ads on the TV, but tweeting/re-tweeting about them with the millions of others watching. It’ll be like the biggest, booziest party, sooo what’s not to love…?

Not only will I be tweeting about them myself, but also seeing how brands, celebrities & others respond in real-time to the game, the ads & (of course) Katy Perry’s halftime show. It’s the biggest thrill when you notice something crazy, check Twitter (#SuperBowl2015), and see that a couple thousand others’ thought it was crazy too!

Okay, I sound like a total anti-social nerd, I know. I am going to an actual, real-life party too. And you can bet I’ll be throwing a few back, eating until I hate myself & socializing in real time with real people (if I have to…). But the thrill of real-time marketing will not elude me, you can bet on that.

Ahh, the world we live in.

If you want to connect on game day, check out @emilybertram3

& if you really want to give me the warm-fuzzies – let me know that you found me on my blog. It won’t go unnoticed, I promise!

P.S. I’m also really excited to take my first stab at baked Zucchini Fries for my Super Bowl appetizer (recipe via Health.com) – futile attempt at staying healthy on game day.

And as always, thanks for checkin’ what #EmilyFayeSays… (couldn’t resist) (#SocialNerd) (#MarketingGeek) (#DoneNow)

Crucial Conversations Training: 6 Takeaways

How many times a day do you think you have a crucial conversation? That is, a conversation with strong emotions, opposing opinions, and high stakes? Do they occur at work? At home? Probably both. How do you respond? Do you clam up and become silent? Or do you lash out, becoming violent? What are the facts? What are your motives? Do you feel safe?

These are the questions that started my Wednesday morning last week at my company training, Crucial Conversations, taught by our energetic Director of Organizational Development, Eric. Gathered in groups in a conference room, fifteen of us spent the day thinking about our most awkward, difficult and frustrating conversations occurring at home or in the office.

Ugh, right?

More like, FINALLY!

Everyone wants to become better at communicating effectively, but we often just don’t know where to start. That’s where this crucial conversations training comes into play. This was an 8 hour training, so I won’t get into all the dirty details, but I do want to share my Top 6 Takeaways.

1. Know your Style Under Stress. 

stress mode
Eric asked us to think back to our childhood. How did we act when we wanted to get our way? What did we do? Personally, I would ask my dad and if (when) he said no, I’d ask my mom, and she’d usually say yes. Ah, manipulation as a twee child, no shame.

Through this training I found out that manipulation is a form of violence in communication, along with snide/snarky remarks, harsh tone of voice, and general aggression. I tend to use this method in my personal life (as do most of us) (I think) (Or maybe I’m just a b****)

Silence, on the other hand, is my preferred method for conflict resolution at work. I’m not going to talk back to my boss, after all. Silence can range from shutting down to “closed doors” conversations to avoiding people you don’t want to talk to & letting things go too easily.

Okay, that’s great, but how does that help communication?

Knowing your “Style Under Stress,” as they call it, can help you to identify how to avoid going into that state during a crucial conversation.  It will help you stay in the dialogue phase and communicate in a neutral, effective way.

2. Know your motives. 

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When entering into a crucial conversation, it’s important to remember why you’re getting into the conversation in the first place. What do you really want?

To win? To be right? To be spiteful? If that’s true, you may want to step out of the conversation and reexamine your motive.

Do you want to help others? Reach a mutual understanding? Accomplish a project for the good of the group? Then you have your motives in check.

Just remember: Before pressing on with a crucial conversation, ask yourself “What do I really want…

  • …for myself?”
  • …for my partner/the other person?”
  • …for our relationship?”
  • …for my organization?”

3. Master your story. 

story

How many times have you avoided a crucial conversation with someone because you think you already know how it will end? I know I have, a lot.

The path of crucial conversations often goes like this:

  • We see/hear something
  • We tell a story
  • We feel a certain way based on that story
  • We act out based on how we feel

For example, the other day I heard my husband say on the phone with someone, “Sure, I’ll be to the bar at 8.” I told myself (the story) “Oh great, he’s going out with the guys again, I hope he doesn’t expect me to pick him up late at night,” which made me feel angry and annoyed. As soon as he hung up the phone, I said “So I suppose you expect me to drive you home from the bar at 2AM, huh? That’s just great, another late night!”

As it turns out, he was actually going to a baseball team meeting starting at 8PM that just happened to take place at the small town’s only large-enough facility, the local bar. He would be home by 9:30, and didn’t need a driver. However, the whole interaction left him annoyed with me for jumping to conclusions, and me feeling like a big dummy.

I should not have told myself a story without knowing ALL the facts…

4. Separate the facts from the story. 

fact

In the scenario above, I could have avoided a whole world of conflict if I’d remembered to separate the story from the facts before I let myself feel or act a certain way. In the story above, the facts are:

  • My husband was on the phone
  • He agreed to meet at the bar at 8PM

That’s. It.

The story I made up assumed he was going out for a night with the guys and would need a ride home from me late at night. But that wasn’t a fact

Before we jump to conclusions, it’s important to think about what we know for sure and what we’re fabricating based on judgement, opinion, experience etc. Because really, you can’t argue with the facts.

 5. STATE your path.

path

When getting into a crucial conversation, it’s important to remember to STATE your path so that you and the other person are on the same page.

  • Share your facts
  • Tell your story
  • Ask for others’ paths
  • Talk tentatively
  • Encourage testing

I’m going to focus on the first three points most.

Before you approach another person for a crucial conversation, take a second to separate the facts from the story. Then lead with the facts. Because like I said, you can’t argue with the facts.

After you’ve stated the facts, you can then share your story – your interpretation of what the facts mean. Once you’ve done so, don’t forget to ask if your story is true, or if the other person has a story of their own to share with you.

While all of this is taking place, remember to talk in a tentative tone, and encourage the other person to test your story.

To share an example, here is how I should have responded to my husbands phone conversation.

“So, I overheard you talking on the phone. I heard you say you will meet at the bar at 8PM. (facts) I believe that means you’re going out with your friends (story), right? (asking) And you want me to drive you home late tonight (story), is that correct? (asking)” He then could have responded with his story, and all confusion and conflict would have then been avoided.

6. Find mutual purpose. 

mutual

A lot of the time, your goal and the goal of the person you’re having the crucial conversation with is the same. It’s a mutual purpose. But through our own storytelling and forgetting to find the facts, we can often lose sight of that.

Finding a mutual purpose in a crucial conversation can provide common ground for you and the other person to start from.

For example. maybe your goal (purpose) is to accomplish a project on time, but your boss is not getting you the personnel you need. You think it’s because he doesn’t want to spend the money (story), but in actuality he doesn’t want to hire people for fear of having to let them go right away. He does also want to accomplish the project on time, though. If you realize that your mutual purpose is to finish the project, despite roadblocks, you can work together to come up with a solution.

Sometimes, though, you won’t find a mutual purpose between you and the other person. When that is the case, you mustn’t forget the beauty of the “&” sign. Combining purposes to invent a mutual purpose can be just as effective.

 Now go forth and converse!

high five

As you realize these crucial conversations in your own life, don’t forget to always make the other person feel safe and comfortable with you. When hostility, anger and frustration are apparent, take a step back from the conversation to clear the air, and remember to find a mutual purpose, and stick with the facts.

While you can’t always guarantee everyone will react favorably, you can be at peace knowing you handled the situation in a calm manner.

For more information, please consider purchasing the Crucial Conversations book (Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High by  Kerry PattersonJoseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, & Al Switzler )

Thank you for listening to what Emily Faye Says!

She took the plunge…

So, I guess I started a blog today.

I’ve been toying with the idea for a long time, but what always kept me from hitting Submit on WordPress was that I had no clue what I wanted to write about. Who wants to read my personal life ramblings? Who takes me seriously enough to value my career advice? And woof, my cooking is nowhere NEAR worthy of copying!

But then I sat and thought about why I read others’ blogs. Is it because they give me the career advice I need to be promoted to CEO? Is it because my Googled recipes are gourmet? Or DIY crafts worthy of museums? Not a chance! The reason I stay on a blog is because I enjoy reading it. I like the writing style, use of images, and general content!

And then I thought to myself, “Self, you’re an okay writer. You can be funny. You have made a killer crockpot recipe. You landed your dream job. You could do this.”

So, I did it. Honestly, coming up with the name might have been one of the most stressful moments of my life. But beyond that, once the page was set up and a theme decided upon, I took a major sigh of relief. That was the hardest part!

Now I have an easy to use journal (broadcasted to the millions of internet-goers) that doesn’t require me to use a pen (you don’t want to see my handwriting). And I’m excited!

So, welcome. If you’ve made it this far, I appreciate you. And if you come back next time I spill my brain through my fingers onto the keyboard, then I love you. And if, by any chance, you connect with the ramblings I share – I want to hear from you. This is what Emily Faye Says…