Thursday, December 26, 2013

A Twist on the New Year's Resolution - Start, Stop, and Keep Doing Exercise

Start Stop Keep Doing Exercise
So it's that time of year again where many of us come up with New Year's Resolutions.  Resolutions, that for many of us, last only a very short time before we fall back into our old routines.  So I have a new twist to add to the typical one-liner goal.  It is an exercise we have employed various times in the workplace that I think is very fitting when I think about the year ahead.  Let us call it the Start, Stop, and Keep Doing Exercise.

I like this approach because it feels more well-rounded in scope to me, and with that, comes a calmer feeling.  Instead of looking at the New Year as a time to tackle some large goal, I feel more like I am appreciating where I came from, gathering lessons learned, and making a reasonable plan for my future.  So, let us just jump into the exercise:

1.  Start - I am going to start being purposeful about getting the important things done in my life.  I think having a baby has really heightened my awareness of time being a finite commodity.  I need to start living in the moment, and if there is some milestone I want to capture or some experience on my bucket list I have yet to check off, then I need to take action and mark my calendar so those things get accomplished.  Otherwise, I end up feeling blindsided by how fast time flies and how much I wish I had gotten done.

2.  Stop - I am also going to stop beating myself up over everything.  Many times, I feel like we are our own worst enemy.  I know when I do not accomplish everything I want to, I can be pretty hard on myself.  Especially with social media, you can get caught up in creating Pinterest worthy or Facebook status worthy moments.  You get caught up in comparing, and it is a slippery slope.  So, I will also stop comparing myself to others and maybe even to myself.  Because, let's face it, sometimes it is just too hard.  As a new mom, I am still trying to adjust and figure life out with a baby.  I am nowhere near as organized or as fit and healthy as I was before I had her.  I need to stop comparing myself to my past self.

3.  Keep - I am going to keep being thankful for my life.  I am super lucky and have so many things to be thankful for.  I am going to keep an attitude of gratefulness for my friends, my family, and my health.  I am going to keep exploring what makes me happy and make sure I am purposeful about fitting those things into my life.

So how about you?  What are you going to Start, Stop, and Keep Doing next year?

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Monday, December 16, 2013

What To Wear To Your Holiday Party - Rent The Runway

Rent a Gown
So, this is not going to be a post about what you should and should not wear to your corporate holiday party.  Instead, this shall serve as inspiration for you to Rent The Runway.  This is not a sponsored post, by the way.  I just LOVE the idea and had a GREAT EXPERIENCE doing it myself this weekend.

I have always dreamed of wearing an Herve Leger gown, but with a retail price tag over $1500, not even eBay was going to make that happen.  Enter Rent The Runway.  I was able to rent this gorgeous red Herve Leger dress for $150.  Plus, I got $25 off because it was my first time renting so it was really only $125.  Worried about whether it is going to fit or not?  Enter their awesome review and gallery section.  Real women have posted pictures of themselves in the dresses.  Included in the descriptions are their height, weight, typical size worn, and comments.  I know it can be scary to post those stats, but in the spirit of giving back, I just went in and shared my own review to help others.  Another nice thing is that they
Holiday Party Dresses
ship you 2 sizes for free.  AND, as a backup fail-safe after that, Rent the Runway will actually overnight you a dress if your order arrives and for some reason, both sizes do not fit.

Overall, I LOVED the whole experience.  It felt like a dream to wear a dress I normally cannot afford.  I even convinced 3 of my coworkers to do it as well.  Everyone looked fantastic.  And it was so simple to return.  They give you a pre-paid envelope, and you just drop it in the mail.  I will definitely do this again.  It makes so much sense because you never wear these dresses more than once or twice anyways, and I spent less than I normally would if I went and purchased a dress.  Of note as well, my rental price was on the high end.  Most of the dresses are only $75.  It is definitely a WIN-WIN, if you ask me.

Here is a picture from our holiday party.  My manager rented her dress as well.  I think it looks fantastic!  So what do you think?  Have you rented a dress before?  Would you in the future?

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Monday, December 9, 2013

How to Apply Myers Briggs at Work or Home

Communication MBTI HR
So maybe you have heard of Myers Briggs or maybe you have not.  Either way, it is basically a tool used to identify your preferences for communication, how you digest information, and how you make decisions.

You could dedicate an entire day or workshop to Myers Briggs, but this is what I think is important.  Figure out first what your type is, then either guess what your coworker or manager's type is, or if they are open to it, have them literally take the assessment.  Click here for a free online one.

Then, use that information to communicate more effectively with others.  For example:

1.  Introvert vs Extrovert (Discard Stereotypes for a second).  Basically, I like to think of this as how you process information.  I personally am an introvert, and like to read up and do my own research before meeting up with others to discuss.  My manager on the other hand is an extrovert.  Extroverts usually like to hash things out verbally first.  It is how they process ideas.  I can email our Chief HR Officer a detailed email with all the information he requested, and he will email me back two words, "Let's discuss."  This used to frustrate me until I realized he could not fully process the information unless it was said out loud.  Now it does not bother me.  I simply walk into his office, and he reads his email while I am in the room.  See how understanding your colleague's type cannot only help you communicate more effectively, but also reduce frustrations around your communication differences.
2.  Sensors vs iNtuitives (Yes I capitalized the N on purpose).  As a sensor or "S" for short, I prefer information in details and facts, and then I will categorize them appropriately.  I also value data and accuracy and can take copious notes.  Ns or iNtuitives perceive the bigger picture and then store facts to use randomly.  Valuing speed, they tend to go with their gut on things.  This is good to know when you are presenting a new idea or any kind of information to someone.  As an S, to get my buy-in, you would want to present all the details and logistics.  However, if you are pitching to an N, you would probably want to focus on the bigger picture and the end game.
3.  Thinkers vs Feelers.  As a thinker, I tend towards analysis first, then apply my personal values, and then go back to rational analysis before reaching a decision.  Feelers will consider their values first, then analysis, then revisit through the lens of their values.  For example, when working on a team project, I would probably start with the objective, cover individual strengths on the team, and then want to discuss responsibilities and deliverables.  A feeler might prefer to start with an ice breaker and getting to know everyone on the team on a personal level first, and then tackle the business objectives.  This is good information to know when you are planning a meeting if you are a project manager or team lead, for example.  Know your audience and tailor the agenda accordingly.
4.  Judgers vs Perceptives.  They always say the Js judge the Ps.  As a J, you could tell me we were going to meet for coffee on November 12th at 10am at the local Starbucks 2 years from now (Yes, 2 years from now.  You did not read that wrong), and chances are, I would be there.  Ask a J at 11am if they want to go to lunch at noon, and they might ask you to check back at noon when you are leaving.  Js prefer to plan milestones to make their deadlines, whereas Ps can enjoy the roller coaster it sometimes takes to come through at the very end.  Neither is right or wrong, it just happens that most work environments prefer the J style.  Be aware though of your colleague's type.  As you can see in the picture above, we have our Myers Briggs types posted outside our work space.  This provides us a common language to use when communicating.

Sometimes, we will tease a P if he or she is approaching a deadline.  It feels less threatening in this context, then if we did not have Myers Briggs as a language tool, and it was perceived as simple nagging.  Your type is in no way to be used as an excuse, but it can provide a great foundation for further understanding.

It can also be used at home with your significant other or your family.  For instance, if you think your mom might be a feeler, you might want to frame your message around how the situation might affect your values and morals.  Or if your father-in-law might be an N, then you might want to try talking about your plans from a big picture view and about the end result of establishing a family tradition and legacy.  Get the picture?

Now, these again are only preferences.  It does not mean that you cannot be extroverted if you are an introvert.  It is only what you prefer to do if given the choice.  Many of us have already adapted or trained ourselves how to do both depending on the situation, but it is good to be aware of your default or go-to tendency.  If you take the Myers Briggs through a certified facilitator, your results might actually have scores attached to them.  Each letter can be felt on a scale of 1-30.  My scores are all less than 8, but I work with quite a few 30 Es.  The bigger the number, the more prominent that behavior shows up and is felt.  Of course, the opposite is true as well.  The smaller the number, the less likely you are going to feel that this is relevant at all, but that is because you do not have a strong preference either way.  I had one coworker who completely thought Myers Briggs was bogus, but he had also scored 1s and 2s in all 4 letters, which to me, just validated the test.

What is your type?  Do you know?  I would love to hear what your thoughts are on this.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Why You Need an Profile

About.Me Social Media Page
I know what you are thinking.  Why do I need an profile?  And exactly what is an profile?  And no it should not be confused with the "About Me" section on your blog or social media profile.

So let's start with what is.  My own profile is pictured to the left.  Basically, it is a free website that lets you create your own single web page.

So why would I need another social media page?  

Well, here are 3 reasons to consider:

1.  The simple answer is this is your online business card.  And the neat thing, the crucial thing that makes this invaluable for me, is that I can link up all my other social media profiles and accounts, such as Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Blogger, Instagram, my company's blog, my company's Facebook, and my Pinterest page.

Moo Business Cards
2.  You can order free business cards on the website that will have a QR code that links to your page.  These are perfect for bringing to networking events.  For me, I might speak on a panel or go to a professional networking event, and I love to pass these out.  These cards stand out from the crowd and make an impression.  In that respect, I feel like they are more powerful than your regular corporate card.  With a corporate card, if you ever leave the company, then the contact info is moot.  However, with an card, they can download it to their phone and always be able to contact you because it has your personal contact info.  I could also make a separate business card for my blog, but I like the versatility of an business card.  It gives you a more well-rounded view of my background, and in a way, it lets me control my personal brand.  I get to present myself in a way that is purposeful and thought out, rather than allowing them to stumble upon my different social media profiles through a Google search.  The business card is versatile and allows me the ease of just carrying one business card.

3.  An profile can build your credibility.  I actually include a link to my profile in my email signature at work.  As a recruiter, it is wonderful because candidates can check out my profile before their interview, and it makes them feel like they know me.  It puts a face to the name and makes me more approachable.  It has also helped me get a seat at the table.  Executives have commented on my profile as well.  I think it starts with simple curiosity when they click on the link, but the end result gets me more visibility.  It allows me to showcase all my professional achievements that they might not otherwise know about, and thus it builds my credibility with them.  Especially if you came to the company with lots of other rich experience, it is sometimes nice to remind others of that great background.  These are also great for students.  I have seen some wonderful profiles created by new graduates.  They allow you to showcase your creativity while still being professional.  Do not be afraid to provide links to these in your cover letters or resumes to help you stand out from other applicants.  Just be sure you are looking at it through the lens of representing your personal brand.  Be purposeful and strategic in what you write and the picture you choose.

So what do you think?  Do you have an profile already?
Or if you create one after reading this post, share it below.  I would love to see it.

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Monday, November 25, 2013

It's Okay To Be An Imperfect Mom - You Are Not Alone

Mom Blogger
I recently came across a tweet that really resonated with me.  It said, "I would rather admit I am an imperfect mom, than have other imperfect mothers think they are alone. ~ @mommykeepslaugh."

As a type-A everything - mom, wife, HR professional, daughter, sister, you name it, it is really hard for me to be vulnerable and accept being less than perfect.  To me, it sometimes feels like accepting less than perfect is somehow like giving up, and giving up never sits well with me.  I am learning though that it can be a strength to embrace being "imperfect."

I know, I know.  It sounds like a "duh" epiphany but I think, especially when it comes to being a new mother, enough people do not talk about how hard it is.  Or if they do talk about it, it is more in a "right of passage" sort of way.  Meaning, all new moms have to go through it.  We did it, and we survived, so suck it up.

And do not get me wrong, I am not looking for a pity party or anything.  I just think it would be nice if more moms would share their vulnerable moments, because I think it is in those vulnerable moments, those crying on the bathroom floor moments that new moms like to know they are not alone.

It's Okay To Be An Imperfect Mom.

Everyone Expects You To Be Happy But We Should Share When We Are Not.  
Right after you have the baby, whenever you see people, they expect you to be happy.  They fawn over your new bundle of joy and jokingly ask you if you are sleeping.  I understand, and I get it.  And of course I love my baby more than life itself, but with this greatest high, comes the greatest low.  Yet you smile for your friends and family because you do not want to disappoint them.  I know I personally felt like the worst person in the world during those early months.  I was having tearful arguments with my husband and some growing resentment due to the loss of what seemed like all personal time.  I know everyone said it was going to be hard, but I thought they just meant from sheer exhaustion.  I was utterly unprepared for how much a new baby would rock my rock solid relationship with my husband.

And I have to remember that It's Okay To Be An Imperfect Mom and to let other moms know they are not alone.

I kept this pain to myself too long.  Part of the reason I am writing this post is because twice now I have shared my near-divorce story with other new moms, and both times, in teary eyed moments, they shared a similar experience.  It felt cathartic to realize that we were not alone.

And It's Okay To Be An Imperfect Mom and admit you need outside help.

My husband and I Personally Sought Out Couples' Counseling.  My husband and I noticed we had been arguing a lot more than usual and our relationship had more tension than it ever had before the baby.  We took advantage of my company's Employee Assistance Program (EAP).  Most companies offer one free of charge with your benefits.  Our program included 6 free counseling sessions.  I wish more people would be open to seeking therapy, and I also wish therapy was something people did not feel ashamed for seeking.  Even when I mentioned the idea of writing this post to my family, they questioned my decision to share that I went to counseling.  I told them they had missed the whole point of my post, because I want other moms to know that it is okay to go to therapy.  It does not mean you are weak or crazy.  It means you are going through a major life change while sleep deprived, and yes, you could benefit from a third party mediating conversations with your husband, because he too, is sleep deprived and going through a major life change.

For us, it was really beneficial and I have to say, a great overall experience.  Sometimes, you have to hear it from a stranger before you really "hear" it, and even though we might have gotten through it without her, it really helped meeting with her weekly.  It got us through the tough parts.  Therapy taught us a lot about each other and allowed us the techniques to communicate more effectively with one another.  We have a stronger relationship now because of it.

And It's Okay To Be An Imperfect Mom Because Being A Great Mother Looks Different In Every Case.  

Parenting seems to be a topic many people like to weigh in on and share their opinion with you.  It is really easy to feel like a "bad mom."  All you have to do is listen to other parents and open up any article on the internet to see that whatever you are doing at home is "wrong."  I have since concluded that it is okay to be imperfect because there is no perfect mom.  That would imply that there is a "right" way to do everything, and frankly, there is not.  There are a lot of different ways to do things, and being a good mom means knowing what is right for you and your family.  It also means supporting other moms and their imperfectness, because I would rather admit I am an imperfect mom, than have other imperfect mothers think they are alone.

What do you think?  What have been your vulnerable, imperfect moments?

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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

What is a Triad Lunch? And Why You Should Have One.

Miltons Del Mar
What is a Triad lunch?  Basically it's a fancy label for a 3 person lunch, but why is it important?  And what's so magical about the number 3?

Well 3 years ago this month, my company actually learned about the importance of triads from Dave Logan and Tribal Leadership.  And thus, my first triad was born.  It was during an employee development day, when they told us to break up into groups of 3.  I looked around and saw my friend Ryan in IT.  We did the customary head nod.  One partner found.  I looked the other way and saw Darissa in Sales.  We exchanged smiles.  Found my third.  And the rest is history.  Lol, well not really, but it did turn out really well.

So what makes a Triad successful?  Well, the long and short of it is that when you have 3 people, you tend to be more productive and accountable.  Think about it.  Ever tell your friend you wanted to meet her at the gym or go on a run.  Did you ever meet up or call each other right before and tell her you were tired and ask if you wanted to go shopping or catch a movie instead?  Or did you both agree to just pass altogether?

Enter the triad.  If there were 3 of you, and one of you suggested a movie instead of running, then it should follow that at least one of you would be like "No, guys we should really run today."  At least, that's the idea.  You hedge your bets by have 2 others trying to be healthy instead of just one.

So What Makes a Great Triad?
Here are some tips to keep in mind when putting one together:
  1. Ask what do we want to accomplish?  There should be a goal in mind.  In my first triad, we were asked to brainstorm what the barriers were to accomplishing our smart goals.  Each of us shared what our goals were and what road blocks we were running into at work.  
  2. What resources or strengths do we bring to the table?  Figure out what each of your strengths are.  Ryan is in IT, I am in HR, and Darissa is in Sales.  We each have great complimentary backgrounds and experience.  We leverage this when analyzing each other's problems.  We can provide unique and innovative insights because of it.
  3. What specific actions are necessary to accomplish our goal?  Ideally, after brainstorming, you'll be able to lay out specific action items for you to accomplish your goal.  
  4. Shared values.  This is self-explanatory.  At least, I hope it is.
So let's pull the running example back in, since all of us want to be healthier but don't always have the will power to do so.
  1. We want to be healthier.  Maybe we each want to lose 10 lbs.  Put it in writing.
  2. What are we each good at?  Maybe one person has trained for a marathon before and can help set the pace and training schedule.  Maybe you're good at researching and planning, then you can pick different trails to run and pick out the dates to meet up.
  3. Who's going to be responsible for what?  Maybe someone is in charge of suggesting meal options or bringing water to hydrate on the runs.  Someone else can bring a pedometer or download an app to track how far you have run.
  4. You're all in this together and care about each other's progress.  You can act as cheerleader for both parties.  Check in with each other and help one another achieve your health goals.
See how easy it is?  You can apply this to anything.

And the BEST PART is that our personal triad had the best kind of ending, at least in my mind.  When we first formed, we had scheduled a triad lunch, and I forget why, but I had to cancel.  I know, poor example setting right?  Well Darissa and Ryan kept the meeting anyways and went to lunch (see the accountability despite my flakiness?).  Fast forward 3 years, and the two of them are engaged to be married.  So I like to think everything happens for a reason :)

So the next time you'd like to mix it up or boost your productivity, try a triad.  Host a blog hop with 2 other people, agree to workout in threes, you name it.  Have fun and be sure to come back and tell me about it!

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Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Susan G. Komen 3-Day and Why You Should Eliminate "Try" From Your Vocabulary

San Diego Walk
Today I came out to support my colleagues in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day Walk.  I was only out there for 2 hours but I had such a great experience.  I am so proud of them.  On the left is my great friend Bri of San Briego and in the middle is my amazing manager Shanna.

I almost did not make it to the race, as the weekend was packed with chores and errands.  I had told them last week that I would join them for a couple hours on Saturday but the day got away from me, and it did not happen.

In the last couple years, I have become more conscious of not using the word "try".  The reason being that when you say "try", it immediately excuses yourself from having to follow through.  For example, if I had said that I would try to make it out this weekend to the walk, then I could have easily chalked up my efforts to trying yesterday and be done with it.  It is questionable that I would have definitely made it a point to come out today.

So I say commit to eliminating "try" from your vocabulary.  Do not say you are going to "try" and workout tomorrow, just say you are going to workout tomorrow.  I have to admit that I am borrowing this tip from my favorite fitness guru Chalene Johnson but it's a tip worth sharing.  It also applies to many things you want to accomplish in life.  If you have a goal, don't "try" to achieve it, just do it.  You will be amazed how it changes your mindset and makes you more inclined to follow through and take action.

What do you want to achieve?  Have you used the word "try" in relation to them?  Go ahead and commit to them now.  You are capable of so much.  So post below and tell me what you are going do, not what you are trying to do.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Best Surprise Office Visitor Ever!

I live for moments like this.  My mom called me and asked if I was busy.  I started to smile as I realized it meant that she was in the area with my baby girl.  She asked if I had time for a visit, and I was like "yes, of course!"

Rewind back a couple months when I got the same call and actually had to say no because I was running late to a meeting I had called.  That time it nearly broke my heart, but today was different, and I was definitely going to sneak in a cuddle or two...or three.

Being a working mom can be tough sometimes, but I am so lucky and blessed that my own mom is able to watch my daughter during the day.  I hope they build a really strong bond because of it.

My coworkers enjoyed Kaelani's visit as well.  They joked that it should be an initiative of the wellness committee to include baby visits for the well-being of the employees.  I laughed at the joke, but in all seriousness, it sure felt good for the heart to hold and hug her.

What are your favorite mom moments?  I'd love to hear about them.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

How to Prepare for an Interview in 3 Easy Steps

There are a million and one ways to prepare for an interview, but if you are short on time, then I would recommend these 3 bare minimum steps:

1.  Ask and Understand the Business.  This is assuming you have already gone through a phone screening and are scheduled for an in-person interview.  Take advantage of the fact that you now have an inside connection at the company.  You would be amazed what information you can get from a recruiter or HR person, if only you asked.  So go ahead, ask as many questions as they will allow.  Here are some questions I would recommend:
  • Who will I be interviewing with?
  • What can you tell me about their interviewing styles?
  • How would you describe the employee culture?
  • I want to make sure I understand your business.  Do you mind if I summarize what I think it is and get your feedback?
  • Who are your competitors?  And how do you differentiate yourself?
  • I want to make a great impression.  Do you have any other advice for me?
  • What is the parking situation?  Are there any special instructions?  
2.  Prepare 5-10 Mini-Stories.  These will basically be your answers to any interview question you might get.  Think about the best work you have done on the job and make sure each story is 2-3 minutes in length total and includes the following:
  • Situation - Always start with the problem or beginning state.  Perhaps you were assigned a task and only had 2 days to complete it by and on a limited budget.
  • Action - Describe what you personally did to resolve the above situation.
  • Result - Share what the end result was and if known, the ROI from your actions.
If possible, make sure you have a story for as many subjects or interview questions you anticipate they might have.  Here are some suggestions.
  • A time you demonstrated high initiative.
  • An example where you implemented a new process.
  • A situation where you dealt with a difficult personality.
  • A time where you executed a project flawlessly.
  • An example where you demonstrated leadership.
  • A situation where you adapted quickly or thrived during a change in strategic initiative.
Now you will have an arsenal of answers to choose from during your interview.  Regardless of what they ask, you should be able to use one of your prepared mini-stories and worse-case tailor it to answer their questions.  And because you will have prepared these ahead of time, it will lessen the chance you have of rambling.

3.  Create a List of Questions.  Make sure you take the time to prepare some thoughtful questions for the interviewers.  This is a two-way interview.  Make sure this is a role and a company that really fits your needs and qualifications.  Here are some ideas:
  • Is this a new role?  If it is not, then why is it vacant?
  • What actions are you looking for this person to do in the first 30 days?
  • How will you measure success in the role?  
  • What are the company's major strategic initiatives for the next 3-5 years?
  • How does this position contribute to the bigger picture?
  • Can you describe a typical work day?
  • What kind of training or on-boarding is provided?
If you do these 3 things, you should be in pretty good shape.  Make sure to Google map the location of your interview and give yourself ample time to arrive early.  I always like to engage the receptionist in conversation if possible and ask the above questions.  It will tell you a lot about a company, especially about the leadership if the receptionist is able to articulate the company's strategic goals.  It will also be telling if the person you are interviewing with knows what actions he or she is looking for in the first 30 days and if there are already metrics in place to measure success.  If these questions cannot be answered, it could have implications for the effectiveness of internal communication and collaboration.  These questions are meant to uncover what it is really like to work for a company.  Use the answers you get as clues to what it would be like to be their employee and ask yourself if you like what you are hearing.

Do you have any ideas to add?  What advice would you give job seekers when preparing for an interview?

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Monday, November 4, 2013

Where to Eat in Cardiff and What is a 'Blate'?

If you are looking for a great place to eat in Cardiff, I highly recommend Pacific Coast Grill.  I did not know what to expect yesterday, when I drove up the coast to my first "blate."  If you're not familiar with the term, it's basically the words blogger and date put together.  This is basically a fun word to describe a blogger meet-up.

My friend and colleague Bri of SanBriego let me know about this cool group called the So Cal Sistas.  When I arrived, the hosts, Jill and Amanda were already there.  They had stylishly set the table and gifted each of us with the flower and ribboned package pictured above (look for another post later on the beautiful green lace necklace Jill made).  It was all quite classy and a detail I probably would have totally forgotten if I had been in charge of organizing the event.  I loved it!

Now to the restaurant, you could not have picked a better location.  Right on the water, the view was
amazing.  Plus, it was such a beautiful day.  The air was just a little crisp but dreamily gorgeous.  The food was delicious.  I ordered the Cardiff Reef Roll pictured to your right.  It was so incredibly yummy.  I could have eaten two if the $18 price tag wasn't so high.  It was certainly a treat though, and the company was fantastic.  I really enjoyed getting to know the other So Cal Bloggers.

The only downside was that the long table made it a little difficult to engage in conversation with everyone, but we all agreed we would get together again in a more social and flexible setting like a Temecula wine tour.

Overall, I enjoyed my first 'blate' and will definitely be trying to set up more of these.  It's one thing to
interact with other bloggers online, but something has to be said for actually meeting up in person.  I read somewhere that most blog readers are other bloggers, so it would make sense that you would want to connect and take advantage of the opportunity to meet up with other local bloggers.

So, if you're in San Diego or Southern California, please let me know.  I'd love to meet you, and so would the other girls.

Be sure to check out these great blogs:

Left to Right (Picture courtesy of Amanda Kathryn):
Top Row - Jill from Classy with a Kick, Me :), Abby from The Fabulous Life of a Natural Disaster, Amanda from Amanda Kathryn, Amanda from A Beautiful Mess, Adrienne from Pretty Chouette, and Brianne from San Briego
Bottom Row - Jessica from Wifesticated, Kailyn from Kailyn Marie, and Marty from Marty with the Party

Click to add a blog post for Pacific Coast Grill on Zomato

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween! Ladybug and Princess Leia Costumes

Happy Halloween!!!  
Our little ladybug enjoyed her first Halloween.  The Carter's costume was perfect and such a great value.  It was cushioned and cozy.  Right now, she is sprawled out on a blanket on the floor and looks super comfy.  We also successfully pulled together a last minute Princess Leia costume yesterday.  I dressed up as Darth Vader for work and thought it would be so fun to have her stop by for a quick cameo in our costume contest with me.  It was a hit, and we made the whole costume out of things we had around the house.  We used a sweat headband, a pair of brown dress socks, and some safety pins to make the infamous buns.  Throw in a pillow case and the bottom of a brown shirt, and we had her outfit.  Check out the final result below :)

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

What to Make For Dinner - Sweet Corn Risotto and Zucchini Crust Pizza

Looking for some delicious dinner options?  We recently made two great dishes that I would highly recommend.  They were also both much more substantial than I expected and could individually serve as main courses if you wanted.

The Sweet Corn Risotto, pictured to your left, was really yummy.  We chose to add turkey sausage to it and as a topping on the Zucchini Crust Pizza.  Both of them kept really well, and we ate them as leftovers the next day.  

What really made the risotto dish pop was the fresh green onions sprinkled on top.  I loved each bite.  If I were to do it again, I might add peas as well.  Overall, I would definitely make this one again and will slot it into the regular rotation of delicious dinner options.

The Zucchini Crust Pizza was a delightful surprise.  The crust was delicious and worked great as a substitute for a bread crust.  It almost tasted even more delicious the next day.  If you wanted to cut even more calories and fat, you could probably skip the mozzarella.  I know, crazy right?  I'm a huge cheese fan, but I am telling you, no joke, the zucchini crust was really flavorful.

So if you are looking for something a little different, I would highly recommend trying the zucchini crust pizza.  I would call it a new favorite.  How do you plan dinner?  My latest go-to for dinner inspiration has been Pinterest.  If we're not already connected, let's do so.  I look forward to seeing your pins!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

How to Baby Proof Your Home - Who to Call in San Diego

How to baby proof one's home.  It is rather daunting to think about all the things that are not baby proof in one's home.  My baby girl is a little over 8 months old, and she is getting more mobile by the day.  My husband and I had been procrastinating about baby proofing our home, and to be honest, knowing that it needed to be done and wasn't, it was really starting to stress me out.  And yet, all we both wanted to do after a long day's work was sit on the couch and recharge.

So that's why I contacted Robert at Baby Safe Homes.  I knew if I waited, we probably would not get around to baby proofing until Kaelani was actually getting into things, and I was not comfortable with that approach.  I emailed Baby Safe Homes via their "Contact Us" form on the website.  Robert called me back within the hour, and we set up a time for him to come out and assess our home.

We communicated mostly via text messaging.  I did ask whether he could install some gates I already had.  I was pretty disappointed to find out that he could not because the ones we had were not up to safety standards.  I was more irritated that Babies R Us would sell such poor quality products and that they would be rated so highly by reviews.  Robert explained that most parents rate those products shortly after purchase, and that most of them break down after 30-90 days.  I was a little skeptical, but the gates he installed are completely made of metal and seem to be pretty sturdy.  He has 5 kids of his own and said he has learned from experience which products are best and which ones his own kids were able to break or figure out.  Thankfully, I was able to return our gates (from our registry) and get store credit, so it all worked out.

On the day of, Robert arrived a little late to our appointment but he did text me 20 minutes before to let me know he was stuck in traffic.  He spent a total of about 2 hours in our home.  He would make recommendations and point out possible safety hazards in our home, and then we would decide which items we wanted installed.  The cost did add up a little fast, but he was fairly transparent about the total as we went along.

Overall, I am happy with the results.  He installed a couple gates, door monkeys, power strip covers, and cabinet latches.  He was extremely fast and efficient.  I know if my husband and I had tried to go out and buy these items and install them ourselves, it would have taken a full day.  I did Google the items afterward to see how much mark-up Robert was charging us, and in all honesty, it was not that much.  He's a small business owner trying to support his family, so I can understand how the pricing worked out.  For our purposes, his services fit the bill.  We got a baby proofed home, and we did not have to spend a whole day doing it ourselves.

If you are interested in Robert's service, be sure to mention my name and that you found out about his services via my blog.  He will give you a discounted installation rate.  You basically pay for his labor and the cost of the materials.  Do you know of any other baby proofing services in San Diego?  If so, please share.  I'd love to hear your recommendations.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

How to Get a Job - 4 Ways to Kick-start Your Job Search

Whether you are a recent grad or a tenured professional, starting your job search can be daunting.  Many people go to the job boards first.  That is definitely a great resource to find job openings, but there are many other things you can do to supplement those efforts.  Here are some more ideas to get you started:

  1. Leverage LinkedIn.  Most people have no idea how powerful a tool LinkedIn can be.  It is by far my favorite.  Here are some ways you can optimize it for your benefit.
      • Check Out Your Fellow Alumni.  Open an advanced search.  Under School, write whatever college you attended in quotation marks.  Enter your postal code.  Designate within 25 miles or whatever commute distance you are comfortable with.  Click Search.  You should get a list of professionals who attended your school.  Check out the companies they are working for.  If you are a recent grad, then focus on the ones who graduated in the last couple years.  They may be more likely to hire grads if they have had successful hires in the past.  Feel free to message the ones in the same field as you.  Mention you are a fellow alumni.  It's a great excuse and instant connector.  Offer to take them to coffee in exchange for hearing their success story.  Do not outright ask them for a job.  Instead make a genuine connection.  Let them know you are looking for your next opportunity and would appreciate them keeping you in mind if they hear of anything in their network.  If you did not attend college, then brainstorm another instant connector you can leverage.  For example, if you are a stay-at-home mom, fitness buff, or lifestyle blogger, find other stay-at-home moms, buffs, or bloggers who work at the companies you want to work at.  Hang out where they hang out and leverage the coffee idea I mentioned above.  Again, it's all about making a real connection. 
      • Build Your Connections.  The more connections you have on LinkedIn, the more people LinkedIn will let you see.  It is okay to connect with strangers.  When people say "It's all about who you know", it is true.  Most of the time, the people who get jobs are the ones who networked their way in.  They still have to have the qualifications, but they only found out about the job or got the interview because they knew someone.  I would recommend connecting with Recruiters, HR professionals, and individuals in your field.  Make sure to customize the note in the connection request.  It can be as simple as this, "Hi John, I'm always looking to connect with other local HR professionals.  I'd love to add you to my network.  Thanks so much, Raina".
      • Join Groups.  Join as many groups as you can.  Start with your alumni groups and then professional associations.  If you need ideas, look at the groups your idols are in and join those.  Jump into the discussions.  Make thoughtful comments.  Read the discussions.  Make connections and network to find out about local opportunities.
      • Optimize Your Profile.  Make sure your profile is SEO friendly.  Basically, you want me, as a recruiter, to be able to find you.  How you do this is by finding a job description online of a role you want and incorporating as many of those keywords into your profile.  This results in people like me being able to find you when I do keyword searches for roles I am recruiting for.  The more keywords in your profile and the more connections you have, the more likely you are to turn up in my search results.
  2. Contact an Agency.  You can always sign up with an agency.  It does not cost anything.  Basically the agency gets paid a fee by the company for introducing you to them.  Sometimes an agency will know about an opportunity that is not posted.  Or they might have a relationship with a company and be able to get you an interview where you might not otherwise be able to get one.  You can ask for a direct placement (meaning you get hired full-time immediately by the company) or temp-to-hire opportunity (meaning you work a period of time before the company hires you).  Many times it will depend on the company.  If you want to hedge your bets, then let the agency know you are open to both.  You can always turn down an opportunity if it is not a good fit for you.  Make sure you have your phone with you at all times.  Sometimes, it can come down to which candidate calls back the agency first, so make sure it is on you.
  3. Join a Professional Association.  Another great place to meet your future manager or coworker is at a professional association.  Sometimes there are even opportunities at the beginning of meetings to introduce yourself to the crowd and let them know what you are looking for.  They may even share job openings they know about as well.  If you are ambitious, volunteer on one of the board committees.  It is a great way to meet and network with local professionals in your field.  The membership committee, for example, usually checks in with current members to see how they are enjoying their membership and also reaches out to new potential members.  This would be a great opportunity to reach out to the exact people you would want to work with.
  4. Have Realistic Salary and Role Expectations.  This might be the most important one on the list.  I truly think career articles do recent grads a disservice when they list the average salary you should expect after graduating.  Unless you are in a profession that requires specific technical or medical skills, like a physician or an IT programmer, then $50,000 is actually pretty unrealistic without 5-10 years of experience in the role.  If you are really serious about working, then you need to objectively look at your skill set and the job market.  Check out my post on How to Ask For a Raise.  The Do Your Research section will give you steps on how to figure out what you should be realistically making.  If you are a recent grad, be open to entry level jobs.  Many of us started as an administrative assistant or receptionist and worked our way up.  You can choose to wait for the perfect opportunity that pays you what you want and is at your dream company, but I warn you that you may wait for a while.  And as the months tick by, you become less and less employable and miss out on the experience and compensation you could be earning if you had accepted that "less than perfect job" 3 months ago.
There are endless possibilities when it comes to conducting a job search.  It is a topic near and dear to my heart since I am on the other side of it, recruiting as a career.  I know it can also be hard and frustrating.  Do not give up.  And if you need help, do not be afraid to ask for it.  Be humble and positive, and you will go far.

You might also enjoy:

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How to Ask for a Raise
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How to Prepare for an Interview

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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Where to Eat in Del Mar - Market Restaurant + Bar

Market Restaurant + Bar is by far my favorite restaurant for special occasions.  My husband and I usually go for birthdays and anniversaries.  The warm corn muffins are my favorite.  Just a dollop of soft butter on them, and I'm in heaven.  Each time they surprise you with a different amuse bouche before your main course.  It is always a "close your eyes" delight of flavors in your mouth experience.  My husband and I love it.

We are also creatures of habit and usually order the same thing every time we go.  I always get the lobster special, and he always gets the short ribs/filet combo.  Both are done exquisitely.  I have strayed before and tried other menu items, but I always come back to my favorite.

At the end of the course, they give you a delicious salted caramel.  As I unwrap my caramel and pop the sweet treat in my mouth, I try to chew slowly and savor the moment and whole meal in general.  The service there is always superb.  There are several wait staff on hand, filling your water, clearing your dishes, folding your napkin when you go to the restroom, and overall making sure your meal is going smoothly.  There is also complimentary valet outside.  There are only two areas of opportunity that I think Market could improve on.  The lighting is a little dim, and the desserts are just not at the same caliber as the main courses, in my opinion.  They are not enough though to stop me from considering Market my favorite special occasion restaurant.

If you are looking for a fine dining experience in Del Mar, Market Restaurant + Bar is truly a wonderful choice.

Click to add a blog post for Market Restaurant + Bar on Zomato

Sunday, October 13, 2013

How to Figure Out a Company's Culture

A company's culture is hard to define, even for employees who work there.  There are a lot of things that go into and make up the corporate culture.  And you will probably get a different answer from each employee that you ask because company culture means different things to different people.  But when you are looking for a new job, the most important thing to remember is that it should be a two-way interview.  You do not want to end up at a company you will inevitably want to leave again in 6 months.  So do your homework beforehand and find out what you can about your prospective employer.

Here are some tips and tricks I use to figure out a company's culture:

  1. Read the Glassdoor reviews.  Probably the easiest resource to use, Glassdoor lets current and former employees write reviews about the culture and values, work/life balance, senior management, comp and benefits, and career opportunities.  There are even sections that share candidates' interview experiences and where employees have shared their job title and salary.  This is always a good start.
  2. LinkedIn is my personal favorite to use to figure out an employee culture.  
    • Check out the backgrounds of the current players.  I usually leverage the advanced search first, and type in [HR OR "human resources" OR "human resource"] in the title area and then the company name and change the default to "current".  I do this because I am in HR, but you might want to do this too since I think the type of HR person a company has says a lot about how they value employees.  See how long they have been in their field.  For me personally, I ask myself if they are mentor material.  If you are in Marketing, use the title area to type in all the marketing job titles you can think of, and then ask yourself these 2 questions:  Would I want to work for this person?  Do I think I could learn from them? 
    • Check out tenure.  Does it appear that these current employees have been in their roles long?  Sometimes you can also tell from their profiles whether they have been promoted or given award recognition.  If everyone you look up has only been there 6 months to a year that might be a sign of high turnover and thus an undesirable work environment.
    • Research career path.  You can repeat the first LinkedIn exercise above, but this time after you type in the company name select "past".  I like to do this to see where people go after they leave this company.  If it appears that everyone who leaves gets a better job title at a greater company, then it probably means they had a worthwhile experience that prepared them for the next step in their career.  They left for bigger challenges and opportunities.  If however, it seems like most individuals just made lateral moves to other companies, then it could be a sign that they just wanted out of the company and did not move for an obvious better opportunity.  This could be an indication of a bad corporate culture.
  3. Indeed.  This is a great aggregator for job postings and also has a section for reviews.  Remember to always take them with a grain of salt, as former employees can often times be writing from a place of disgruntlement.  Regardless, these can still be a great resource and often times give you clues to what the company is really like.
Hopefully you will find these tips useful.  They will definitely give you more insight into the company than you would be able to read directly from their website.  Have anymore tips you like to use?  Please share.  I would love to hear them.

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