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New Group Career Coaching Program Starts 3/23 in NYC!

12 Jan

I’m incredibly excited to announce the launch of a new group career coaching program starting March 23 called Job Search Strategy Bootcamp. This program is designed to be a cost-effective way to offer powerful career coaching tools to job seekers and career transitioners of all levels and industry backgrounds in an intimate and personalized group setting in New York City. Best of all, you also get a free one-on-one coaching session as part of the package!

JSSB is all about gaining clarity around what you want out of your career and out of your life, and making a commitment to make it happen in 2011. This 8-week group course is designed for professionals involved in or beginning the job search or career transition process. We will walk through clear, organized steps on how to plan and execute a successful job search strategy that will bring you closer to finding that job that resonates with you, and allows you to do work that you love! When you sign up you will also a receive a free 30-minute individual coaching session with Dana.

* Build clarity around your passions, talents, and interests, and how to leverage those to find work that you love.

* Create your personal brand, live it and communicate it clearly, and create a solid online and offline personal marketing strategy.

* Create your best resume and cover letter from the perspective of a seasoned hiring manager.

* Learn new and efficient ways to expand and leverage your network of contacts, and access the hidden job market.

* Understand how to access and leverage the best job seeker resources for your industry, including LinkedIN.

* Prepare for your best interview by understanding what hiring managers are really looking for, and how body language, intonation and verbiage affect your performance.

* 30 minute one-on-one coaching session with Dana, to evaluate your job search strategy, goals and progress.

Program Includes:
-8 weekly 2-hour interactive workshops in NYC
-Small group setting to personalize the process to your interests
-30-minute individual one-on-one coaching session with Dana
-Unlimited email access
-Coursebook reviewing all of the covered topics and for tracking individual progress

Register now! Seats are very limited so as to keep the group small and personalized to members.

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Forget Resolutions, Remember Gratitude, & Celebrate the Small Things.

30 Dec

What a year 2010 has been!  Aspyre Solutions flourished beautifully with  the support of all of our fantastic clients, fans, friends & colleagues. Thank you for your continued support, and I wish you all the joy, empowerment and exciting success 2011 is sure to bring!  Get there!

With the closing of 365 days and the opening of another 365 ahead of us, this is the time of year where we sit down and evaluate what we’ve accomplished, what we want to accomplish NEXT, and maybe even how we plan on doing that, once the champagne and clam dip has worn off, come January 2.  It’s a time to remember the importance of gratitude, and to honor accountability.  Who or what are you grateful for, and what were you able to bring into your life this year by keeping yourself accountable to your own personal fulfillment & success?

For me, it was building this business into a successful, exciting brand that I love.  It was completing my professional coaching certification with IPEC.  It was expanding my network with literally hundreds of fabulous new friends and colleagues, whom I respect both professionally and personally.  It was a number of personal successes in my relationships, my friendships and my overall sense of personal wellness.  I also discovered a new-found love for sour pickles, fromage d’affinois and skirt steak, and I learned to drink coffee for the first time in my life. And despite all that, when it comes to matters of the heart (he he he)…my blood pressure is still damn near perfect.  Cheers to that. Continue reading

The Friday Edition: Following A Vision, Creating A Legacy

3 Dec

I noticed I get a lot of continual readers from my Boston University Alumni group, which thrills me!  I follow BU’s Alumni updates on Facebook, and this morning they posted an intriguing story about 4 BU students who formed a rock band in 1964.  And although Barry and the Remains’ tenure on the Boston music scene lasted a mere two years, their following was so popular that they were invited to be on Ed Sullivan and open for the Beatles!  Today, fans still wonder if these guys, had they continued on, could have been the next (or first) Rolling Stones, or something of the like.  Not bad for a few college guys in Allston.  Now, out of focus for the better part of four decades, they’re being inducted into the  Boston Music Awards Hall of Fame, joining the likes of fellow Boston rockers Mission of Burma and a little known quintet called Aerosmith.

And sure, I’m probably still wearing my theoretical red and white hockey jersey and beaming with alumni pride for my alma mater, but I read this blurb and I had a thought.  What are we each doing today, socially, professionally and creatively, to build our own legacy for tomorrow? What do we want that legacy, and our impact on our community to look like?   And how can we take steps to start forming that today?

In an age of instant gratification and having the world at our fingertips, many of us tend not to look 40 years ahead in the future with real clarity, or even regard.  But at the same time we have higher goals, or vision, of what we want to create for ourselves professionally and personally, than extend beyond tomorrow.

Speaking of alma maters, last weekend I attended my 10-year high school reunion.  As I sat pondering scenarios of what everyone would be like a decade later, I said to the fiance, “Everyone’s going to ask me if I”m still

Could have been a great comic book artist.

drawing.”  Because that’s the legacy I created for myself  earlier in life, since the day I was able to hold a pencil.  I had good grades, stellar rollerblading skills and one terrible haircut circa late elementary school, but my artistic abilities were what people remembered about me, what stood out above any other  accomplishments or shortcomings.  I’m approaching 30, and the image I inadvertently created for myself at 10 still sticks like glue.  And it always will, and fortunately for me it’s a legacy I’m sincerely proud of.

At that young age, it would have been hard to fathom creating something so lasting and impactful on our idea of self, given our minimal life experience on earth as children.  Now as adults, it’s easier to understand how reputation and character are formed over time, by the actions we take and the decisions we make.

So what influences all those decisions and (re)actions?  When you think about your vision for your career, your relationship, your life, chances are the vision you have for yourself extends several decades into the future, simply because we want to build lasting, fulfilling results for ourselves that we can continue to build upon.  It’s okay to stumble along the way and find happiness & fulfillment by accident – many of us do.  But for the other many of us, we value careful consideration and planning when it comes to the direction of our personal and professional lives.  And while chance and unforeseen events will always be a part of that pathway, much as we try not to deviate, it’s important that we check in with ourselves regularly to make sure what we’re doing and creating is truly keeping us on that path toward our higher vision.

Because it’s easy to get sidetracked by both intrinsic and extrinsic factors, to make bad decisions or take impulsive actions.  But what we can do when we recognize that negative shift is remind ourselves how committed we are to that vision, how important that legacy is to us, and then get back on the road.  Whether the vision is 4 months or 40 years ahead of us, keeping it in plain view each day will allow us to keep focus and create action and decisions in accordance with attaining that.

So what is your vision for living the best possible version of yourself? When you’re living that life, what kind of legacy will that allow you to create, and what will that say about you?  Food for thought, for the weekend.  Mmmm.

“You’re No Less Alive on a Tuesday Than You Are On a Friday”

4 Nov

Since moving to the new neighborhood in Brooklyn, the fiance and I discovered a new cozy, European-rustic wine bar that makes me feel like I’m hanging out leisurely somewhere in Southern France. Yesterday, I was sharing my own interpretation of work-life balance over a couple glasses of Malbec at our new Provencal escape.  Which is ironic, given that the point of my work-life diatribe was around doing something you love, or at least loving the something you do enough that you don’t constantly feel the need escape the daily grind in the first place.  And ideally, you avoid using terms like “the daily grind”.

Photo by Zen on Flickr

“Live to work, or work to live,” he asked.  “Which one do you think is better?”  And my gut reaction said ‘work to live’, because isn’t that why most people go to work, to afford themselves the lifestyle they want, and live it?  And then I realized that most people go to work because they basically have to.  Some people don’t have to work, and they still do.  Regardless, the objective of a person who ‘works to live’ isn’t necessarily the same as someone else who would categorize themselves that way.  I might work to live, and by live I mean scrape by and pay the bills, versus live a certain quality of leisurely lifestyle.  The same holds true for the  ‘live to work’.

That’s when things got confusing.  When the choices are either “one of the other” it doesn’t leave you much room for compromise.  Perhaps we don’t work to live or vice versa, we just work AND live, and the goal for most of us is for both of those actions to be beautifully in sync and complimentary to one another.  And if they’re compliments, then neither one specifically drives the other, or serves as the means to the other end.  You just do them both, and you do them well, hopefully with a smile on your face because you have integrity around what you do each day.

He started telling me a story about a toll collector in California who had been collecting tolls for decades, and had some bigger dream of doing something else that he had continually shelved in return for making a more immediate living for his family. He was one of those people you really wonder what internal switch they have that everyone else lacks.  And they flip it on each day, and suddenly their outlook on life is 100 times more positive than everyone else’s.

I’ve never collected tolls myself, but one might assume it’s not the most exciting of occupations.  And this fellow probably understood that logically. But our emotions often come from a place separate from logic, and in turn those emotions influence our perspective and opinions based on feelings, rather than factual thought.  Like so few people, this man approached each day of his job, which was probably far more identical to ones preceeding and following it than most could tolerate, with a smile on his face and integrity around what he did.  So much so, that every one of the thousands and thousands of cars that drove through his booth were greeted with the same grin as he joked, “Big spender today, eh?”  And that type of welcomingly   unexpected cheer and humor in such an unlikely place became contagious, and sent driver after driver away down the highway with a chuckle and a smile.  So it makes you wonder what was really in a day’s work for him – just collecting tolls, or a contribution on a bigger, more human level?

“My ideal version of work-life balance is where what you do for a living is fulfilling and satisfying to such a point that you feel no less excited on a Tuesday than you are on a Friday,” I said.  Because let’s face it, most people rush their way through the 40+ hour work week in anticipation of the weekend, their time away from the place where they spend nearly 40% of their waking hours!  They rush through slightly less than half of their life, just tolerating everything.  Somebody please tell me how we’re expected to move ourselves forward toward our ultimate goals when our main source of fuel is tolerance.  It won’t happen.

“You’re no less alive on a Tuesday than you are on a Friday,” he said. And something about that simple statement glowed like a fluorescent light bulb.  Because he’s absolutely right. The universe has no concept of whether it’s a Tuesday or a Friday, a weekday or the weekend, only what we do with that information in terms of our actions.  The Beatles gave their first ever live performance in America on a Tuesday, on February 11, 1964.  It was a Tuesday on April 15, 1947 when Jackie Robinson made history with his major league baseball debut for the Dodgers.   And on a Thursday night November 9, in 1989 was the fall of the Berlin wall.  Most of Berlin probably stayed home though because they had work the next day.  That, and who the hell are the Beatles, anyway? [I kid.]

Great things happen in the world and in our own lives, no matter what day of the week it is.  And when we expend our mental and emotional energy wishing away so much of that time, what is that saying about the way we’re conducting our lives, and our work, each and every week?  Are we happy with our contributions?  Are we fulfilled by what we’re doing?  Are we wasting our days week after week going through the same old motions of doing something that holds minimal purpose and brings little if any positivity to us and to the rest of society?

It’s inevitable that there will be points in your life where you don’t have your dream job and maybe don’t love, or even like, what you do.  But are you at least doing something that is moving you closer to that greener pasture, whether it’s gaining experience, making contacts, saving money or simply learning about yourself?  Maybe it’s not WHAT we do each day that matters as much as how we do it and why.  And when you think about it that way, it leaves a lot of room for improvement.

Life Transitions: It’s Never ‘All in the Details’

16 Aug

You know why I love coaching people through life transitions?  Because outside of simply career coaching, it’s really a limitless term that embodies the energy, the challenge, the opportunity of making a change really in any facet of our lives.  Sure, changing careers and/or jobs is certainly a large life transition, and an intensely exciting (and potentially stressful) one.  But how about the other kinds of transitions that are important in our lives, that maybe at first glance we don’t equate with being on the same level of magnitude as, say, a complete professional reinvention?  What about relocating to a new city because you just want to, or breaking up with your long-term significant other because you met someone, well, better for you, or even changing apartments to a different part of Brooklyn?  That’s a transition.  Heck, changing banks is a transition, and depending where your perspective is, it can be stressful.

Photo by Adrian Miles on Flickr

The fantastic thing about coaching someone through a transition is that no matter what the scenario at hand is, they are the protagonist in the story. And the story is an unwritten opportunity that may seem daunting, or the victim of severe writers’ block at first, but has absolute potential to be life-changing in an immensely positive and empowering way!  No matter what change is on the brink of coming into our lives… something good can come out of it, and it’s mine and my clients’ mutual journey to uncover that good and put it into motion. It’s kind of like being an archaeologist of the mind and soul, and finding a chest full of ancient scrolls that have existed since the beginning of human time, and unbeknowest initially to any of us, they hold all the answers to life.

Next month my fiance and I are moving apartments in Brooklyn, and while I’m excited by the prospect of a (slight) change of scenery, I’m less than thrilled with the typical aches and pains of the real estate process that await me on the other end of this journey.  Because 12% of $xx,xxx is a lot of money to pay some real estate agent in exchange for posting a Craig’s List ad for a two-bedroom rental, and blocking off two and half hours on a Tuesday evening to walk you around a couple of buildings.  But that’s standard fare in New York City as far as real estate brokerage goes, and I can choose to accept that… or I can choose to go elsewhere.

My fear is that I’m going to stumble upon this amazing abode on the most amazing of Brooklyner blocks, clearly within my price range, since I stated that to the agent upfront, and I’ll already be picking out my bar stool at the amazing neighborhood pub, when… BAM! He/she hits me with a massive fee that tips the scale way over budget. “Okay all I need you to do next is hand me over a check for the brokers fee, pretty much what you paid for your senior-year college tuition, because let’s face it- that’s just the “going rate” in the NYC market.”  And while I’m busy complaining how Boston is far more democratic when it comes to ripping off the little people than NYC is, some work-from-home up-and-coming Park Slope blogger who lives off their lofty severance package from their former finance job will be signing MY lease and making themselves comfortable in MY abode… and taking MY bar stool.

And alas, that could all very well happen.  But the reality is that neither myself, nor anyone else, can know that, nor can we control everything that happens in the world as we embark on these changes and transitions within our lives. Those are the details – the crown molding, the exposed brick, the perfectly southern facing exposure that lets the light in at the perfect angle… all details.  And only details, not non-negotiables.  And as we recognize the difference between the two, it’s important not to focus all of our energy on the details to the point where we are forgetting WHY we decided to make that transition, that change in our lives, in the first place.  We committed to making a change because we saw something bigger, and better, and we wanted it for ourselves enough to make it happen.

So it’s not all in the details, and in fact it rarely ever is.  Even with relationships, despite the saying.  The details help, but they aren’t the foundation.   What you truly see as your ideal version of yourself, you at your best, living your best life – that’s the foundation for making positive, lasting change.  I didn’t decide to move out of my current apartment because I was confident the parquet flooring would be better somewhere else.  I decided to move because the person I’m meant to spend the rest of my life with came into my small world, and suddenly life took a different route.  Did I expect it?  Not exactly.  Do I choose to embrace it?  Absolutely.  But I’m not changing my bank, just yet.

To Have it All…Is to Move Diagonally.

28 Jul

Yesterday I celebrated my one year anniversary with my fiance, Adam.  We hit up our favorite Indian restaurant in the East Village, followed by a trip to Whole Foods, and ending with a couple of beers at this great little old-timey tavern nestled in a corner of Boerum Hill in Brooklyn.  I love Brooklyn folks – no matter where you go, it’s always Friday for someone, and my oh my, do they appreciate their local craft beer.  Very economically-minded.

Some folks at the 12-month mark in their relationship might find themselves still contemplating whether to introduce their significant other to their crazy family.  Adam and I, on the other hand, are planning a wedding – so I supposed I did something right.  Truthfully though, things moved quickly and happily because when we met, we had hit it off so well (we both appreciate talking about HTML) and after a steady string of dating people not right for either of us (me), we just knew what we wanted, and that the other had it, hands-down.  And after nearly 30 years of filing Single-and-1 on my W4, I’m pretty satisfied with the present outcome.  Relationships are hard work!  So are jobs.  I have days where, combined with how I’ve managed to balance the other important areas of my life – career, friendships, family, money, creative endeavors- I’m very satisfied with where I am, and it’s like I’m on top of the world.  Other days though… it’s still a work in progress.  And I’m fine with that!

See, hitting this “one year” mark, while initially symbolic of the healthy lifeline of my relationship, is pretty significant for me in a lot of ways.  Because it’s really the year anniversary of many successful changes that I’ve made in my life in a short amount of time – changing cities, lifestyles, relationships, financial status and essentially careers.  And while I’m beyond satisfied and proud of my accomplishments, as I said earlier, I try to always remember that it continues to be a work in progress.  And it’s going to be…for a very…long…time.

How are we currently balancing our lives?  Are we progressing along a diagonal line of balance, or simply laterally or upwards (one or the other)?  What I mean by simply upwards, is the act of thinking just about the next step, and then the next big thing after that, and what we want after that (thinking upwards, essentially)?  When we do that, are we omitting the importance of allowing ourselves some lateral movement, the days where we’re not moving up… we’re just being… just enjoying where we are and what we have, before we attempt to make the next jump or climb the next step?  Conversely, are we overly content with moving COMPLETELY laterally, or on a straight, flat sideways line, without any plans to move upwards toward something bigger, a better self, and just accepting complacency as a way of life?  Both are extremes, but if you balance lateral movement (the everyday enjoyment and being) with upward movement (the achieving and moving forward with your goals), you have diagonal movement.  And that’s exactly what I said it was – balance between being and doing.

On the days where I’m clearly doing more upward movement than lateral being, I certainly feel it, and it comes in the form of burnout, frustration and feeling overwhelmed and under-satisfied.  But that doesn’t happen often, because I’ve learned how to identify when I’m moving too quickly on that upward road and putting myself in danger of getting to that catabolic place.  The red light goes off, and when I feel myself going that direction of upward burnout, I slow down, and go back to being… being in and around the things that I appreciate and make up the authentic individual that I am. For me, it’s art, music and enjoying the company of close friends and family in environments that offer the kind of positive, uplifting energy I thrive upon.  And then I get back to work.

So what’s your acceptable incline?  At what degree of diagonal movement do you feel balanced?  90 degrees is complete upward movement, while zero degrees is complete lateral movement.  For me, I’d say right now I’m around 60 degrees, because while I enjoy simply being the things I love and taking time to enjoy them, I also thrive on the thrill of my business, my customers and coming up with fresh new ideas to move that forward.  Some days I might feel more like 40 degrees, like on Friday, when I will be at the beach all day in New Jersey, winding down with my best friend and taking a day completely devoted to fun, sun and beachey cocktails.  Maybe I’ll even go 35.

My Visual Interpretation

It all comes down to one thing – balance.  It means balancing the different areas of your life that are all equally important, equally prioritized, and to which you are equally devoted.  Whether it’s your job/career, your relationship, your hobbies or your down time with your friends, each of those things has a uniquely important place in your life, and needs continual nurturing.  It’s an ongoing process, and we are never quite done, because so long as we are living, it is possible to throw it off balance by investing too much or too little energy in one area or another.  And we do it everyday, sometimes unknowingly.  After all, we’re only human.

So what do you do each day to make sure that you are currently in, and staying in balance?  Are you doing a check-in with yourself to make sure you’re fostering each of your important life interests?  Are you working too hard at a dead-end job, or focusing all your time on your new career venture, and unknowingly neglecting your friends or significant other in the process?  Are you, in this case, pushing yourself upward too quickly in the act of “doing, doing, doing” and not being?  Conversely, are you not doing ENOUGH to achieve your career goals, moving further and further laterally each day in sheer complacency because you feel burned out, and not reevaluating your game plan to incorporate more “doing”, more upward movement?  There’s no rule that dictates that if something in your life isn’t working for you (like your job search tactics or your dating habits), that you can’t take it upon yourself to make modifications that will lead to a better outcome.  As my former boss LOVED to say on every conference call, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, and expecting different results.”  Think about it.  And today, figure out ONE thing you can do, RIGHT NOW, to get yourself back to 45 degrees… and then grow from there.

Avoiding the Tendancy to Stray From Our Goals

31 Mar

Women in Technology International (WITI) had a great article today by Kathleen Barton on “Staying Focused on Your Priorities”.  Think of the typical scenario around New Year’s Day, where you make the vow to join a gym and [insert relevant weight loss goal here].  Day one, you’re gung ho- you map out a schedule of every day you can make it during the gym – 4 to 5 times a week, no exception- and you vow to give up drinking high-calorie beer, stop eating those after-lunch snacks, and cook a healthy dinner each night.  Great plan!  You’re completely on track to success.  Day 10 you’re feeling good – you hit the gym 5 or 6 times already, and you lost that first pound or two.  Week 3 sets in – work is getting busy, family issues are creeping up, your significant other has an event you need to attend.  Okay, you’ll only make it to the gym 3 times this week, but you’ll make up for it by going six times next week.  Week four rolls around, and so do the priorities.  You make it to the gym three times…if your lucky.  You’re grabbing pizza on the way home because you’re in a rush…again… and so on, and so forth.

Why is it so easy for us to lose our motivation and determination, when it seems we have the plans all figured out on paper?  Human nature, for one.  Non-human factors, for two.  And three… just life in general.  It’s hard to prioritize sometimes, when it seems like we’re juggling so many obligations day to day.  But the good news is that there are a few key tricks you can start implementing now to keep you on track with goals that you set in place:

1)       Visualize Success create your vision of success – the feel, the image, the surroundings, the circumstances- and imagine yourself in that setting, successfully living that vision.

2)       Review Your GoalsContinually be asking yourself if what you’re doing right now is driving your closer to your goals, and if not, what other steps you need to be taking.

3) Reward Yourself for the Small Successes choose something that motivating to you, and that you look forward to, so as to increase your productivity.

4) Work with an Accountability Coach By having someone else help you set goals and hold you accountable for them, you are far more likely to follow through.  Work with a friend, or a coach, someone to give encouragement, but who will also take your goals seriously and challenge you slightly to get move you forward.

For more information on coaching yourself toward your goals, check out Aspyre Solutions’ affordable coaching packages.  You can also read the rest of Kathleen’s article here.

New Tele-Seminar Series: Taking the Leap

30 Mar

This month jump-starts a fresh and exciting new 5-part tele-seminar series for young professionals and those entering into the career realm entitled Taking the Leap.

In an age where logistics and circumstances so often define our career decisions and our lives, it can seem like an impossibility to truly follow one’s passion in the face of adversity and challenge. The “Taking the Leap” tele-seminar series explores the lives of 5 young professionals who each made different decisions to take a leap of faith, and ultimately invent and reinvent themselves to create a career and life they are passionate about.  As young professionals  it’s easy to be blinded and overwhelmed by social, professional and financial obligations, and not realize the many different possibilities that are open to you when it comes to navigating your career path.  Not everyone opts to take ‘whatever comes their way’, to settle for earning a steady paycheck, or to take the road most travelled.  Hear the experiences of a few extraordinary people who faced the typical challenges of being a young professional, and redefined the norm in pursuit of their passions… and succeeded.

For more information and to register see the Events page.  Sign up for all 5 seminars and registration for the fifth one is free!

Register Now for the 5-Session Series

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