Set S.M.A.R.T. Goals


It seems like everywhere I turn lately I’m encountering this little S.M.A.R.T. recommendation.

Health consultants.  Business development coaches.  It’s been reasserting itself all over in articles and speeches.

But it’s not a new concept.  It’s been around for decades.

And normally I’m not a fan of bit sized wisdom packaged in catchy acronyms.

However…sometimes catchy acronyms can serve a purpose.

I’m a big fan of writing (gasp, I know you’re shocked – a blogger who likes to write!).  Writing down specific goals for yourself really does help achieve them.  Sometimes, writing them down helps crystalize what it is you’re trying to achieve.  Sometimes, writing them down makes you more committed.  Sometimes, writing them down helps you see the gaps or missing steps.  In any event, this is a simple way to outline your next steps whether they focus on leadership, career development, or personal improvement opportunities.

I want to lose 40 pounds in two months or I want to double my salary may be specific goals but they aren’t particularly achievable or realistic.  I want to lose weight or increase my salary may be achievable goals but they aren’t specific or measurable.

What are you looking to achieve?  Do you want to serve as the project lead at your company?  Then, what’s a reasonable time for that to occur?  Within 12 months?  If so, what do you need to do to achieve that goal between now and then.  Be specific.  Set intervening milestones.  Make sure that, if you really work at it, you could achieve those milestones so you don’t get unnecessarily discouraged.

Write down some S.M.A.R.T. goals and run them by a mentor or friend.  Seek input in refining them in order to maximize your opportunity for success.  Then calendar time each week to benchmark your success or change your course if the intervening steps aren’t moving you closer to your goal.  And don’t forget to share your results with friends to encourage them to act too!

Do What You Want To Do


If you haven’t listened to this David Gray video, you might listen first (and then just stay on his channel and listen all day).

I think I have epiphanies in concerts.

And even if I don’t usually, David Gray will certainly instigate one.

I sat there Saturday night, listening to one of my favorite artists of all time (hearing him live for the FIRST time), and I felt the music in every ounce of my body.  I wanted to get up and dance.  David Gray concerts don’t lend themselves to everyone standing up and dancing.

So I sat there, sitting, thinking, why don’t you do what you want to do?  You’re with your best friend – SHE won’t care.  And you don’t know ANYONE else here.  Why are you sitting?

That’s when I noticed them.  Two friends, I guess.  They were seated near the front.  Or their seats were near the front.  One woman had on a long flowing dress and she was completely bald.  And she and her friend were dancing up and down the aisle.  Wildly and with great abandon.

I’m not certain the woman was undergoing chemotherapy, but I would guess that was the likely cause.  I wondered as they danced, did she just decide life is TOO short to sit there wanting to dance but stay seated?  To sit there worrying about what people will think?  I bet cancer has a way of putting all that in perspective.  And if you get to go to an awesome concert, and you feel the music and you want to dance, then you just get up and dance because life is too short.

You do what you want to do.

So I leaned over to my friend and said, I’ve got to dance.  And with a great appreciation for the stage full of musicians, and this crazy six part harmony, and the pounding drumbeat, I stood up and danced in the aisle.  The darling girl in front of me, clearly on an early date, looked back and smiled and saw her window of opportunity to stand up and dance too (serious props to her cute boy for standing up next to her so she wasn’t alone - he didn’t move, but he sure stood there next to her on an aisle full of sitters).

Why are we so worried?  Why have we lost all our spontaneity in adulthood?

The sermon at my church this morning was actually on spontaneous compassion.  The pastor likened it to spontaneous combustion where we our faith so heats us from within that we just burst into compassionate activity everywhere we go.  Bam! Pow! Boom!

But why wouldn’t this apply in even more areas that compassion?  Why can’t we feel the music and be so moved inside that we just burst into dancing or song or whatever without being obsessed over how we’ll be perceived.

When did we silence our instincts?

And I’m not talking about stupid stuff that we matured out of!  I’m talking about the joy and the fun and the wild abandon that we’ve lost in adulthood.  Kissing my husband in front of people like he was flying into outer space to save the planet.  Singing at the top of my lungs.  Laughing so loud with littles that I snort.

Dancing in a crowd of sitters.

Would you try something today?  Or this week?  Whenever you really feel deep joy or compassion or humor or emotion.  Do what you want to do.  Don’t let our overwhelming desire to be cool or people please or stay out of the limelight let us miss out on the fun and the spontaneity.

Fashion Fridays: Making This Season’s Hotest Trends Fit Into Your Wardrobe

I hope you’ve enjoyed this month’s fashion guest posters as much as I have!  For our final Fashion Friday guest poster, I introduce you to A PROFESSIONAL!  The warm and lovely Ashley Seippel is a recent transplant to Houston from San Francisco and, as a stylist and shopper, she makes fashion feel accessible and exciting.  Join me in welcoming Ashley to our fashion community:

As the month of September is coming to an end, I am sure all of us still have a stack of “September Issues” piled high on our coffee table, begging to be looked through.

From the runway to editorial advertisements, as a stylist, I often hear, “How is there any way I could ever wear this?”

In reality, the designers only create looks that are feasible on the runway and actually never make it to reality. But these glorious, over-the-top outfits dictate how the rest of society dresses for the season. It is not about wearing the biggest fur or the dress with the boldest pattern. Instead, it’s about seamlessly integrating the trends that you decide you like into your everyday wardrobe.

I’m going to make this season an easy transition for you!  Forget the 600-page periodical that is too heavy to take anywhere - here is a list of three major trends to covet right now:

Bordeaux: No, don’t go and pour yourself a glass of wine, instead wear it!

Deep, dark red is all the rage this season. This color is a standout for the Fall/Winter, and it is not hard to see why. Bordeaux is a universally flattering shade – from those with fair to olive colored skin, it looks great on everyone. Although head-to-toe looks in this color can appeal to a large audience, a great way to ease yourself into this trend is with nail polish. Yes, nail polish! Often the popular fashion trends of any season translate into hues that are also popular in nail colors.


Another great way to experiment with Bordeaux is with a chunky knit cowl neck sweater, paired with slacks, a pencil skirt, or jeans for the weekend.


Animal print: Leopard print is often shied away from by most people because they think it is too bold to wear, or they don’t know how they can tasteful incorporate it into their wardrobe. However, leopard print is actually a simple and classy way to showcase a Fall/Winter trend in your 9-5 outfit.

A great way to wear leopard print is in a scarf. I swear by scarves. Simply put, they are outfit makers, and can take any outfit from drab to fab.  A leopard print scarf in a neutral shade is the perfect addition to that little black dress that is your ‘go-to.’


Another simple and subtle way to dabble with the animal print craze is through your feet. Leopard print heels and flats are a great way to add a little “pop” to your outfit.


For the office, make sure you keep your outfit simple, and let the shoes be your standout piece. Think black suit, white blouse, and leopard shoes.

For the weekend, pair leopard heels with a sheath dress in a wide range of colors. The nice thing about leopard print is that there is no color with which it won’t pair!

Capes: Capes are a unique and easy piece to pull off, as they can be worn as a coat or a chic sweater. With so many materials, colors, and designs to choose from, you are bound to find the perfect one for you.


Paired with jeans or over a dress, a cape is the perfect accessory for the cooler temperatures to come. One of the most unique pieces I have come across while shopping is a wonderful vest that transforms into a cape. The 2-in-1 item caught my eye at Houston’s very own Pomp & Circumstance boutique.


This item is offered in five different patterns and colors, and is a necessary addition to anyone’s Fall/Winter wardrobe. Not to mention, who doesn’t love to shop local?

What’s your favorite trend this fall?  How do you incorporate couture into everyday?

ashleyAshley Seippel is a Houston based fashion stylist and wardrobe consultant. Her company, Ashley Nicole Style, offers a range of services including, personal shopping, event styling and closet refreshing and revamping. To find out more, please visit her website - Ashley Nicole Style.  If you are interested using Ashley’s services, you can reach her through her website or at

Learning to Lead: Book Club Guide

It is so exciting to see different groups using Learning to Lead as a women’s book club book – in their companies, their firms, or their small group of friends.

I’ve collected various questions that have been asked in the course of webinars and speeches about the book and collected them here as prompts for a book club reading through Learning to Lead.  Let me know if you have questions you’re using in your book club that have elicited good discussion.

Chapter 2 – Do you, or have you, held any of the myths the book notes women leaders sometimes hold that present roadblocks (p.8)?

Have you encountered the unconscious bias noted in the Catalyst study that reinforces gender stereotypes in the workplace (p. 10)?

What advice would you give your company’s leadership to address any unconscious bias that still exists in your workplace?

(and 6) – Have you found similar gender differences that other leaders note in your leadership experiences: Judge Elrod’s woman’s application (p.80), Judge Bradsteet’s personalizing setbacks (p. 86) or criticism (p.94)?

Chapter 3 – Describe what an effective leader looks like to you (p. 14-15)?

Chapter 4 – Which leadership technique listed do you consider a strength?  A weakness?  (p.25)

The first leadership characteristic listed is “Be True to Yourself” which can be described as “authenticity.”  (p. 26) This characteristic is common in the many leaders interviewed – why is this an important trait?

Another key trait is optimism. There is a recommendation to practice optimism (p.30).  How could you do this?  In what ways does practicing optimism lead to benefits from a leadership perspective?  What activities bring you joy that you could implement in daily life?

Are you risk averse or a risk taker?  In what ways could you take more savvy risks with your career?  (p. 35)

One of the many takeaways from the book is to “own your destiny” and be “the architect of your career,” which relate to Chart Your Course (p.38).  Why do you think setting a vision and defining steps to achieve that vision is particularly important?

What are some tips and considerations for effectively communicating your vision and for identifying appropriate people to receive that message (p.41)?

Chapter 5 – What was the piece of advice that the leaders offered that resonated most with you?

Do you struggle to actively listen in your profession like Ms. Park notes (p. 59) or do you find you need to focus on speaking up and offering pragmatic advice and insight (p. 69)?

Ms. Yu notes how challenging leadership can be (p.62).  What are some of the biggest challenges you have faced?  What change would you advocate and how would you go about it?

What recurring themes do you see (in this Chapter and Chapter 6) that reiterate some of the research?

Consider Elrod, Williams, Ruiz, Hirono, and Yu for Persistence/Resilience.

Consider Duffly, Ruiz, McDavid, Elrod and Williams for Mentors/Networks.

Consider Bradstreet, Yu, Hightman, Ruiz and Williams for Authenticity.

Chapter 7 – If you are comfortable, share a situation where you feel stuck?  What single piece of advice could the group offer to help you move to the next level?

Write down a scenario you want to achieve or a goal you would like to meet in the next year and then make a to-do list.  Set at least three action items for yourself to begin moving down the path to success.

I’d love to hear from your book club about what you’re learning and what new insights you discussed.  I’m working on my next book and my favorite source of knowledge is from those of us in the trenches trying to lead effectively.

The Space In Between

The fog settled around the mountains and the rain drizzled.

Despite the weather, the small plane lifted and bumped up beyond the clouds.

Sitting above the propeller, I heard little above the roar and stared out the window.

I sat there, captivated, in the space in between.

The space above the water and the land and the mountaintops.  The space through the clouds.  The space below the heavens.

The breathtaking, soul-stilling, space in between. 

photo 1

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I had a lot of posts already half written for today.  After nine days away in the vastness of Alaska.  A post about our rainy fishing trip.  A post about what you discover in sleeplessness.  A number of posts from insight I picked up from the multiple books I read over long flights and airport waiting areas.  And yet when I sat down to write any number of them, and they will get written, all I heard in my head was the space in between.

It was more than the ventures over mountain ranges.  It was nine days away from home.  From my personal cell phone.  From my family.  From my daily job routine.  From my outside commitments and community.

It was space in between.  And I’ve learned a lot.  I am craving less.  Less on my calendar, more with my four people.  Less in my home, more space to breath.  Less frenzy, more quiet.  But I’m processing it all.

So I’ll have more.  I think.  We’ll see.