Nov 13 2013

The Gift of Empowerment

The biggest block to being empowered, in my experience as a professional coach, corporate manager, and mother, is not realizing that you have the ability to do something. And I’m not alone in this. I read recently that a common pet peeve of school sports coaches is: “I hate it when a kid says, ‘I can’t.’ That drives me nuts. You can. Just try.”

I know, sometimes “just try” is easier said than done. As a child, student, then an intern early on in my career, I too have heard those words from people who believed in me whereas I didn’t. I am grateful to them – my parents, teachers, coaches and supervisors – who were able to see my abilities and to patiently persevere in making me realizing that I could do whatever it was I was convinced I couldn’t do. Thank you for that gift of empowerment.

Yes you can!

So please, before you say “I can’t” next time, think of this gift. Empower yourself by imagining that whatever you want to do IS possible, and think about what you can do to make it happen. Turn to someone who believes in you and seriously consider the possibility that you really can achieve it if you put your mind to it.


Feb 18 2013

A Man’s Advice

A Man’s Advice for Women in Management

I read an interesting article not too long ago, interesting in that it gave a male view of what women managers should or should not do to further succeed in their career. Here are some choice pieces of proffered advice from a respected sales and ex-HR director of well-known multinationals:

– “When women make it to certain level they don’t necessarily need to demonstrate that they deserve it –- a little more self-confidence would serve them well.”
– “Women need to realize that if roles and positions have been attributed to them, trying too hard to copy male characteristics, such as authoritativeness, is not only unnecessary, but it can also be counterproductive. If women occupy a certain position, it’s because they possess the appropriate qualities for that specific position.”
– “Men don’t worry too much about why they hold a certain position, which gives them more energy to understand their surroundings and develop relationships. On the other hand, women are strongly focused on themselves once they get to a certain level, as if they constantly need to convince themselves of their role.”

Miranda Priestley (Meryl Streep)Alas, I too have experienced a number of women like the ones that this man is referring to, akin to Miranda Priestly in “The Devil Wears Prada”. Fortunately, not all successful women in management try to emulate men, are overly demonstrative of their capabilities, and are too self-centered.

What do those other women do differently? They frequently adopt a coach approach to management, where their oft-innate skills of listening, encouragement and showing empathy, for example, are expressed and appreciated. In short, women allow themselves to be more natural without necessarily trying to fit into a male mold.

Try it, it works.

To sharpen your management skills in coaching and avoid Miranda’s fate, see the News & Events section for upcoming courses on this subject: “Nuove competenze al femminile: Affiancare e sviluppare i propri collaboratori” and “Coaching e strumenti di sviluppo manageriale” within Il Sole 24 Ore’s Master’s program, Management della Formazione.

Nov 18 2012


Why on earth is it so hard for so many women to speak positively about themselves and their accomplishments? How many times have women told me things like: “Oh, that? It’s nothing special.” “It makes me uncomfortable to talk about myself and my successes, I don’t like to brag.” “I shouldn’t have to tell others (boss, colleagues, clients…) about what I’ve accomplished, the results should speak for themselves.” Or worse yet, and I heard this one again just the other day: “I can’t think of anything I’m particularly good at.”

Well, whatever the reason for this self-imposed modesty, this humble nature, it’s important to get beyond it. Self-promotion – within reason, of course – is a prerequisite not only to advancing professionally, but also to reinforcing your self-esteem.

MegaphoneIf you cringe at the thought of having to market yourself, even minimally through a simple conversation, I’d like to recommend an effective book by author Peggy Klaus: “Brag! The Art of Tooting Your Own Horn without Blowing It”(Warner Business Books). It’s based on the premise that “In today’s cutthroat business world… bragging is a necessity – not a choice! Remaining quiet about your successes only leads to being underappreciated and overlooked.”

For women who prefer learning through “live” practicing, see the News & Events section for a couple of upcoming courses on this subject, one in English and one in Italian.

It’s time to start speaking up about yourself. If you don’t, who will?

Oct 01 2012

Back to School!

Valerie Ryder Back to School for AdultsAs a parent, I am always happy – relieved, even – when September rolls around and it’s time for the kids to return to school. As a professional, why hasn’t a similar annual reminder to think about my education been firmly ingrained into my brain? Now is the time for that to happen: taking learning and development into your own hands has become crucial to continued professional success in today’s economy.

LinkedIn cofounder and executive chairman Reid Hoffman, spurred by the recent publication of his book “The Start-up of You”(Crown Business), states in a March 2012 interview by Reader’s Digest: “It’s no longer: I do my job, and The Man promotes me. You must develop your own capabilities, your own assets, your own opportunities.…The real question is how you invest in yourself every week and every month, just like businesses do–because businesses that don’t invest in themselves are terminal businesses.”

Developing your skills and knowledge is one of the primary aspects of investing in yourself. What is your next self-development move?

For further advice on proactively managing your professional success, see “Working Women and Self-Managing Your Career”, where life-long learning is one of the top 5 proactive moves implemented by real-life women of Milan.

Jun 27 2012

Self-Confidence Instructions

Easy chocolate cheesecakeWouldn’t it be nice if the steps to becoming more self-confident were explained as simply as, say, the steps to making chocolate cheesecake? Well, my Métamorphose partner Dorcas Lasme-Adou and I think it should be. That is why we put together a short instruction manual, specifically for women, with instructions on how to increase your self-assurance. Read the condensed version here.

Self-Confidence Instructions c_v 06_12 (pdf)

What techniques work well to boost your self-confidence? Please let us know!

Mar 19 2012


I’d like to start a petition to change the name of mentoring to womentoring (anyone up for creating a new entry in Wikipedia?). The boys don’t really need the word mentoring anyway – often it’s something they do quite naturally, so why would they need a special term for it? We promise, when womentoring becomes a normal, everyday practice for women, we’ll resort back to the original word. It may take a while, although with women’s mentoring programs blooming around the world, it could be sooner rather than later. Example: unprecedented numbers of women have registered to attend PWA Milan’s 3rd annual mentoring program launch on March 21. Just imagine…standing room only, for womentoring!

Incidentally, if you’re interested in going out and finding a (wo)mentor for yourself, click here for several concrete suggestions on how to go about it (excerpted from my related presentation at PWA’s 2011 mentoring launch).

P.S. On the other hand, I wouldn’t make any move to change the word mentalist to womentalist. How on earth could we ever find a female replacement for Simon Baker, whose charm and fascino are unparalleled?

Mar 05 2012

Celebrare la Festa della Donna… adeguatamente

Ultimando i preparativi per il corso sulla leadership femminile che comincerà l’8 Marzo, mi sono chiesta : Quale è il modo migliore per celebrare questa giornata? Una ponderata dissertazione sui progressi fatti in questi anni? Una protesta simbolica verso le ingiustizie che le donne, ovunque nel mondo, devono ancora subire? Un piccolo e insignificante bouquet di mimose che viene commercialmente distribuito ad ogni angolo di strada da Tizio, Caio o Sempronio?

No grazie, non fa per me.

Concentriamoci su quello che è veramente significativo per la maggior parte delle donne che conosco : champagne e cioccolato. Ok, se poi dobbiamo aggiungere anche un po’ di succo d’arancia alle bollicine per creare delle (vere) mimose può andar bene lo stesso. A questo punto, per avere un pasto a tutti gli effetti, non ci resta che aggiungere del bacon. Pronte per il brunch?

Mar 05 2012

Celebrating Women’s Day… Fittingly

As I finalize preparations for the women’s leadership course starting March 8, I think: What’s the most suitable way to celebrate the day? A thoughtful essay on how far we’ve come over the years? A symbolic protest against the many injustices women still experience around the world? A flimsy little bouquet of mimosas, as distributed by every Tom, Dick and Harry – or should I say Tizio, Caio and Sempronio – quite commercially, in all the shops across Italy?

No thanks, I’ll pass.

I say, bring on what’s truly meaningful to the vast majority of women I know: champagne and chocolate. OK, if we have to add a bit of orange juice to the bubbly so it constitutes (real) mimosas, that’s fine too. Now, all we need to do to have a full-fledged meal is to add in some bacon. Brunch, anyone?

Feb 22 2012


Throughout this excruciating process of creating a new web site focusing on women’s career development and leadership, I have been asked repeatedly: Why? Don’t you like working with men?

Well, I do. That’s not it at all. It’s just that after facing the challenges firsthand that so many women meet as we try to lead fulfilling professional lives and at the same time have decent private lives, I realize that this experience can be especially helpful to other women. Whether it’s the external challenges, such as working long hours and foregoing friends and family or not understanding the importance of networking and company politics until it’s almost too late, or the internal conflicts, including being uncomfortable with self-promotion or battling to overcome those insidious inner voices on subjects such as inadequacy, rejection, and guilt, I have faced my share and then some. It’s this understanding and empathy that has led me to focus on women and diversity issues.

I have also been asked on numerous other occasions: When? When are you finally going to publish your new site? And, considering that I could have had another child in the time it took me to finish this project (hence the word “excruciating” above), I’ll leave that question for another time.