Stay Calm


It’s one of the savviest pieces of leadership advice I’ve ever received: Stay Calm.

If you are called into leadership, or step into it willingly, you will find yourself battling a storm at some point.  A storm of failing public confidence.  A storm of economic decline.  A storm of naysayers when the ship changes course (even if a course correction was called for).

Storms come and a good leader weathers them calmly.  {===>Click to Tweet Even if she’s shaking inside, she conveys confidence.  Strength.  Control of the situation.

When I interviewed leaders around the country for my book, Learning to Lead, one of my favorite conversations was with Marina Park, CEO of Girl Scouts of Northern California.  She grew up racing sailboats with her father.  She recalled a particularly harrowing storm they found themselves battling on board their sailboat with the crew.  Even though some on the boat were injured, her father calmly called out orders and engendered both respect and action from those around him which enabled them to weather the storm and save the boat and the crew.

After sharing her real life storm experience, Ms. Park advised:

No one will have faith in a leader who is fearful, chaotic or panicked in the midst of a crisis.  The reality is, the leader must do what has to be done and give people the confidence that you know what is going on and the ship is not sinking.  You must cultivate the ability to settle people down, focus on what needs to get done, and then do it.  Remaining calm will give those around you the confidence that you are in control and things will turn out okay, and that in turn will engender action and trust. 

It’s not easy.  Particularly when, even from the leadership vantage point, you’re not sure what is over the next wave.  But panic will definitely not move you forward.  It will cause confusion and will prevent those supporting you from trusting you with the decision to chart the right course.

So take a deep breath.  Focus on the very next move.  And stay calm.

Photo Credit: Eric Kilby

What Are You Afraid Of?


What are you afraid of?

What is holding you back?

What turns your skin cold?

I have to tell you, I am scared to death.

I am scared of my dream failing.  I’m at least equally as scared that my dream might succeed.

I am scared of disobeying God.  I’m just about as scared of obedience given some of the things He is asking me to do.

I have generational fear.  It goes way back.  In fact, my fear is actually not as acute as the women who have gone before me.  Women of faith.  Yet women often paralyzed by fear.  But this is what I know in the deepest core of my being:

God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus.  There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in loveI John 4:16-18

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand Isaiah 41:10

Please join me over at God-sized Dreams today to read the rest of the story. 

Fashion Fridays: Appreciating the Ankle Pant

I’m a late adopter.  I got a cell phone years after my peers.  I still listen to CDs.  I only just came over to the wonderful world of BB/CC crème.

And such was my journey to the ankle pant.  Quite frankly, at 5’10, I’ve spent most of my life trying to find pants long enough to cover my ankles.  Why on earth would I buy pants intentionally too short?

As I was shopping one day, I pulled a pair of pants that looked promising.  I tried them on and they fit perfectly.  Except for one thing.  They were ankle pants and hit just above my ankle.  Hmmmmm.  I slipped on my blazer and heels and thought, this looks cute.  Since they were on sale, I threw caution to the wind and purchased my first pair.  I now own two pair.

There are a few tips and limitations for the ankle pant.  You can wear them just as you would any pant to work but you have to be more thoughtful about footwear.  Additionally, if you have thick ankles, it is probably best to still avoid them as they draw undue attention to a region you’re probably trying to camouflage.  I personally prefer them with a high thin heel, or for a more casual look a flat, but if you wear short boxier heels then I would also avoid the ankle pant.

Note, this is not an endorsement of the capri.  The capri has left the building in terms of fashion, so watch where the pant hits you.  The length needs to look intentional and not like a long capri or, if you’re tall, not like you just couldn’t find pants that fit.  So while more fraught with complications than your average trouser, it’s worth exploring.

My favorite look this month was a black ankle pant, this gorgeous taupe “Tumbleweed” silk shell that is marked WAY down at Talbot’s today, a cut-away black blazer from a department store, and sky high taupe heels I picked up at Bloomingdale’s a couple of years back on a trip to Manhattan.  Here were my girlfriends and I at a rare dinner out this week where I’m sporting the look (and yes I look like a possum at midnight in all of my photos – and no red eye remover doesn’t work on any website I’ve tried…)


The pants and blouse linked in the description above and pictured below are exactly those from my own personal “steal this look,” however the jacket and total splurge heels pictured below are what’s available on the market now at Macy’s and DSW, respectively, since my pieces are pretty old.




Wordless Wednesdays


Total Leadership Makeover – Trajectory Change

It’s leadership Tuesday and I’ve mentioned one feature making a regular appearance will be Total Leadership Makeovers (with your help!).  In Learning to Lead, I applied the “experts” advice to real life career challenges and tried to explore a way out of the rut or past the roadblock.  Here’s a question I received after a speaking engagement (feel free to email me yours):

Currently, I’m working in the litigation health arena, but I’m determined to cross over into oil and gas work.  In particular, I’d like to work in-house for an upstream oil and gas company involved in horizontal drilling.  It’s an exciting time for the industry, and oil and gas is the perfect combination of contract and property law, my favorite subjects from law school.  Additionally, I’ve seen first hand the business side from family in the fracking business which furthered my interest.

Well, first of all, congratulations on thinking outside the box and not letting your current field deter you from pursuing interests in an entirely different field that you believe will suit your interest and talent better.  I made a similar switch and found incredible career satisfaction with the change.  Similarly, it’s smart that you are focused on what your long-term goal is (keeping in mind there may need to be an interim step to get you there, e.g., private practice with energy experience) and have aligned it with your talents and interests from your studies.  Finally, knowing the business is a critical step so having someone in your family in the business will go a long way in helping you identify the best opportunities.

Here were my five “makeover” tips for this curious attorney:

1. Consider attending Women’s Energy Network events – you have to be in the energy industry to join as a member, but WEN lunches are open to non members as well and you would make contacts within the industry and hear more energy topics.

(Now granted I have to press out the organization that I am President of, but this truly is a critical element to moving into an entirely new field!  Find an industry organization so you can begin to develop your contacts.  Your network is KEY!)  {===>Click to Tweet}

2. Consider joining the Oil & Gas bar association - there you would hear more about ways to engage with industry and discover emerging developments as well as hiring opportunities.  (Even if your field isn’t legal, building contacts in specialty organizations will keep you up to date on what’s happening in the field – everyone from marketers to accountants have subspecialty groups.)

 3. Find out if your company or firm does, or would be willing to do, pro bono partnerships with energy companies. I have worked in pro bono clinics for women and children on both sides of my practice (when in private practice and now in-house) with people on the other side because they developed a partnership pro bono program.  Everyone wins – you do good for the community and build your network.

 4. Attend some energy CLEs – energy attorneys are there so you win with knowledge and contacts.

5. Work with legal recruiters who have an energy focus - honestly, contacting recruiters in the area of your interest if you are in the job market in the short-term really is a necessary step.  However, you may want to build your muscles in the above areas before deciding to move; build your resume and your knowledge base while you have the comfort of a steady paycheck.  And be willing to pay for it – you shouldn’t make an employer pay for things in areas that won’t benefit your current practice.

So what’s your best advice?  And what’s your current predicament?  Email me your suggestions for the next makeover.