The Name Game: How Do You Stand Out?

whats-your-nameHow important is your name? Well, it can actually affect whether or not you are hired and even how much money you earn. A recent NYU study revealed that names with 5 or fewer letters were easier to pronounce and those individuals frequently had higher status positions at work.

Research published in the European Journal of Social Psychology, suggests that using a middle initial increases people’s perceptions of your intellectual capacity and performance. In one study, students were asked to rate an essay with one of four styles of author names. Not only did the authors with middle initial receive top marks, but the one with the most initials, David F.P.R. Clark, received the best reviews.

If you are a woman with a gender-neutral name, you may be more likely to succeed in certain fields. According to The Atlantic magazine, in male-dominated fields such as engineering and law, women with gender-neutral names may be more successful. One study found that women with “masculine names” like Leslie, Jan, or Cameron tended to be more successful in legal careers.

Lastly, professional women at the top are more likely to use their full names. LinkedIn researchers found that the most common names of female CEOs include Deborah, Cynthia, and Carolyn. Unlike the men, women may use their full names in an attempt to project professionalism and gravitas, per this report.

Will the future for Millenials mean that name changes are strategic or will the norm in the board room become Emma, Lily or Grace? There are no hard and fast rules to apply, but adding your middle initial immediately is an easy way to step up your game and judge the results yourself.

©MWeisner2017

Is Your Career on Life Support?

worryWhether it’s a matter of boredom or limitations in your organization, you have mentally checked out. The job may no longer engage you or the landscape has changed in other ways. Perhaps there is a new manager and the workflow has shifted. Other colleagues may have left for better opportunities or been promoted while you continue doing more of the same work you’ve always done yet with tighter deadlines. You no longer look forward to Mondays and you believe the compensation is below the industry standard.

Remember; do not turn a bad moment into a bad day, a bad week or more. You have the power to choose and there are always 3 options before you:
• Change it
• Accept it
• Leave
If you choose to change it, you need to create a game plan to include achievable goals.

1. Get paid more for the work you do. Check on-line resources like www.payscale.com before approaching your boss for a raise. When you research and strategize beforehand you are in a much better position to negotiate an increase.

2. A promotion. Again, research the industry standard for the job you have and the job you want. Have you been doing the work but without the title? If so, you need to produce data to support that your job title and responsibilities are out of alignment and it’s time to negotiate both the salary and title.

3. Self-improvement. You’ve become lackadaisical, stuck and just getting by. It’s time to pump up your resume. Choose one skill to improve. With even a minimum of 15-minutes of daily focused attention, you can brush up on skills like writing and social media. Also, check out other industry game changers that will enhance your professional profile.

4. Work less. Has your workload morphed in to enough for 2+ people without a peep from you? Then it’s time to revisit your job description and how you and your boss can work together to determine a better way for the workflow to be managed. From temporary assistance to a full overhaul of your responsibilities, you need to negotiate for relief.

The workplace has also become a much bigger influence in our lives, from professional identity to social relationships, the lines are blurred making it that much more difficult to create strong boundaries. Yet, having that other life with other people does help to underscore the need for work/life balance and the importance of nurturing outside interests and relationships.

©MWeisner2016

The Name Game

imagesCAUD6ZW7How important is your name? Well, it can actually affect whether or not you are hired and even how much money you earn. A recent NYU study revealed that names with 5 or fewer letters were easier to pronounce, and those individuals frequently had higher status positions at work.

Research published in the European Journal of Social Psychology, suggests that using a middle initial increases people’s perceptions of your intellectual capacity and performance. In one study, students were asked to rate an essay with one of four styles of author names. Not only did the authors with a middle initial receive top marks, but the one with the most initials, David F.P.R. Clark, received the best reviews.

If you are a woman with a gender-neutral name, you may be more likely to succeed in certain fields. According to The Atlantic magazine, in male-dominated fields such as engineering and law, women with gender-neutral names may be more successful. One study found that women with “masculine names” like Leslie, Jan, or Cameron tended to be more successful in legal careers.

Lastly, professional women at the top are more likely to use their full names. LinkedIn researchers found that the most common names of female CEOs include Deborah, Cynthia, and Carolyn. Unlike the men, women may use their full names in an attempt to project professionalism and gravitas, per this report.

Will the future for Millenials mean that name changes are strategic or will the norm in the board room become Emma, Lily or Grace? There are no hard and fast rules to apply, but adding your middle initial immediately is an easy way to step up your game and judge the results yourself. Try it!

©MWeisner2015

Rule Maker, Breaker or Bender?

AAEAAQAAAAAAAATeAAAAJDEzZWI0NTY5LTg0YmQtNGI5Yi1iZTg4LWNmNzVkZTkwODdjZARules are made to be…?

What is it about “rules” that spawn an immediate response? Do you follow in lock step, bristle at the mere idea, immediately envision the best way to get around it or do you defiantly act to undermine it?

Rule maker, rule breaker, or rule bender? Which one are you?

According to Barbara Apple Sullivan, CEO of a NYC strategies and communications firm, rule breaking for women is essential for their business success. She is an inveterate coupon clipper and can accurately predict whether an outdated coupon will be accepted by a cashier. Invariably male cashiers will take the coupons while their female counterparts will not. In her many years of experience as a manager, Ms. Sullivan states that, “Women take action according to the letter of the law, while men are more inclined to flout rules to be true to the spirit of the law. Women are rule followers and perfectionists. They want to be right.” Furthermore, she goes on to state that, “Women dot I’s and cross T’s, but that is not always the way to win a war that’s being fought in a world of masculine values.”

How accurate is this anecdotal research on the part of Ms. Sullivan? Is it sexist, harsh, or exactly what you know to be true? When I read her “theory”, my first inclination was to reject it as a silly premise, but then I began to do a rapid review of people with whom I have worked over the years. Age has a lot to do with it, and of course, the position held by the person making the determination, but overall, more than not, I would have to agree with the gender behavior she describes. In fact, even reflecting back on my own responses, I know that I have made decisions based on adherence to rules and/or guidelines. Were they set in stone? What was the purpose and potential impact? There was no circumstance where anarchy was in the offing, but too often, adhering strictly to them was pre-programmed on my part. On the other hand, when confronted with rules that affect me, I am most inclined to evaluate their relevance and proceed to make my own decision.

Overall, sexist generalizations or not, women who want to be leaders may best begin by recognizing that sometimes it is not only OK to bend or break the rules, it is critical to your professional success!

• Are you a rule maker, rule breaker or rule bender?
• Recall a recent event that could have had a different result
• What’s one “rule” you can bend or break without affecting others adversely?
• Do it!
©2015 Maureen Weisner

Career Change Tips

career-changeHow often have you contemplated doing something entirely different than what you are doing right now? Before quitting your job, look at the bigger picture and the implications of making a change or not doing so. Will you be proactive or just let things slide and continue? What’s really at stake? Let’s examine a more systematic approach to finding answers that work for you.

1. Look at the issues that make you crave change and outline your goals.
What are you satisfied with about your current situation? What are you dissatisfied with? Is it your boss or the culture of your organization? Or do you really want to change careers? Outline your goals- for example, more money, more time off or more flexibility. Write it all down.

2. Work to understand your inner critic.
Observe thoughts that trap you with fear and prevent you from achieving your objectives. Write these down on a piece of paper, then crumple it up and throw it away to symbolize your freedom from thoughts that interfere with your goals and dreams.

3. Recognize recurring patterns in your life.
What makes you happy? What are your recurring interests and social needs? What makes a work environment feel good or not so good to you? Write it down.

4. Network and investigate career interests that map to your goals and needs.
Once you’ve identified your patterns and desires, start thinking about careers that make sense for you. Give yourself one to three months to explore your curiosity by finding people who do these jobs and talking about the pros and cons of their work. Explore anything and everything until you’re satisfied — or until your time runs out.

5. Make a plan that takes your financial situation into account.
Change is never simple, but having a plan that outlines your steps and financial requirements makes it doable. Will your new career require additional education, a small business loan, time off from work or relocation? Make a plan with financial considerations and a realistic timeline that you can follow through on.

©MWeisner2015

Getting to ‘NO’

say-noIt’s always been my experience that if you want to get something done, ask a busy person to do it. According to the authors of “Breaking the Glass Ceiling with ‘No’: Gender Differences in Doing Favors,” research takes it even further and strongly suggests that if you want a favor done, ask a woman.

Two recently completed studies were presented at a business conference. In one study, 47 business school students were asked to recall agreeing to do an on the job favor when their preference was to decline the request.

Despite the fact that they felt worn out and already overtaxed, the female participants were five times more likely to oblige and do the favor than their male counterparts. What is a likely explanation? Perhaps they agreed because they were also twice as likely to have been worried about the consequences of declining the request.

A second study involving altruistic behavior in small groups underscored similar results. Female undergraduates were 50% more likely to comply with an implied request for a favor than were male students. The researchers suggest that these behaviors, the willingness of women to do favors in the workplace may lead to being overburdened with low-skill tasks.

Were men more strategic in declining to perform certain types of favors or were women more likely to be asked in the first place? While the study did not identify these specifics, think about your own experience in the workplace.

• How did you respond?
• Were you more likely to comply as a rule or based on the circumstances around the request?
• Will the results of this study make you more aware of your behavior in the future?

©MWeisner 2014

A Peek in Your Wallet

StockCardsI recently attended a workshop where we were asked to turn to the person to our right and exchange wallets, temporarily. Participation was optional and the wallet would never be out of sight. We were instructed to open them flat on the table in front of us, not remove anything but take notice of the overall appearance. Was it a true reflection of the owner? For the most part, we were strangers and yet we were sharing a very personal item. Our wallets may mean many things from security to being strictly utilitarian to holding intimate details of our lives.

Glancing around the room I couldn’t help but notice the discomfort level rising. This was not intended to be a public shaming, rather an opportunity to see how we often make our wallets the unintended home for everything. For some it’s morphed into a catch-all and a traveling junk drawer that wastes time when looking for something, and isn’t a true representation of the professional woman you want to present to the world.

Was my wallet unique in its size or color or contents? While I think it is organized and meets my needs, I soon realized that there were some things that could be removed. Are you the woman pulling out a banged up, over-stuffed wallet that could double as a purse with receipts falling out and too thick to close? Is that the impression you want to leave a client or colleague with? What else does it say about you as a professional? Do I want to do business with you? Perhaps not!

Hope is not lost and the following tips may be of help:

• Invest in a quality leather wallet- people notice this
• $100 cash is a reasonable amount to carry and not a horror if lost or stolen
• Generally 2-3 credit cards and your debit card are sufficient for primary and back-up/worst case scenario
• Keep gift cards at home unless you know you will be shopping at the store on that day. Remember, they have the same value as CASH!
• Your driver’s license for ID purposes
• A family or pet photo to remind you of your other, real connections

©2014 MWeisner

Actor or Reactor?

imagesCA51GAWSThe Actor: Are you a “player”, the take charge, decisive, creative and forward thinking woman with a10-year plan on her home page? Are you prepared for any emergency, ready to exchange your clothes for a cape and tights in a phone booth at a moment’s notice? (Good luck finding a phone booth!) Are you the professional woman, wife, mother, sister, friend and colleague who is the principle resource for everyone? You are officially on notice because we hate/love you and this internal conflict makes us uncomfortable.

The Reactor: Are you a “responder”, checking the weather report before you continue? Does the forecast determine your plan of action or inaction? Does it require a committee decision to proceed or have you been victimized again by something out of your control? Are you so pre-occupied with what is happening or might happen that you are overwhelmed by the circumstances? You too are officially on notice because we know that your desire to contribute or initiate has been squelched and we want more of you to show up front and center.

Trust or lack thereof appears to be a key element for the actor and for the reactor. It is not always necessary to be at the head of the line, nor is it in our best interest to consistently bring up the rear. In fact, many of us operate somewhere in the middle based on the circumstance and relationship. However, without an assigned role, you can experiment and enjoy the benefits that new behaviors may bring. Freedom and flexibility are two that come to mind immediately.

Are you more often an actor or a reactor?
• Notice your automatic response to a request or situation
• What were your thoughts? Judgments?
• Count to 10 before taking action
• What’s different?
©2014 Maureen Weisner