Speaker Articles

An Executive Coach Shares Her Hard-Won Insights into Finding Your Voice, and Strength, in 2020

Charmaine McClarie

One truth about tumultuous times like these is that it can be difficult to get a sense of perspective—the kind that allows you to take a bigger view than the day’s headlines and begin to find your voice, your strength, and your role in a changing world.

That’s why, this month, we are happy to share insights from an intimate conversation with Chamaine McClarie, an executive coach and communications expert who has helped many women and people of color find their voice, their strength, and their way to the C-suite.

McClarie shares her reflections on what we might learn from Covid, the awakening to racial injustice, and political turmoil. She also shares thoughts about what she calls our basic need—to be seen and heard—and why there may be a greater opportunity for that now than ever.

Excerpts from McClarie’s conversation with the Conferences for Women, which took place before Election Day, follow. They have been lightly edited for brevity and clarity.

On Learning from Covid

  • “One of the things I said when we went on lockdown was that my meditation and prayer is that the world would get quiet enough to hear whatever the lesson is in all of this.”
  • Part of what has been revealed to me is that, as I always say, the universe provides me with ample opportunity to practice what I say I believe. So, if I say I believe in humanity, this time gives me ample opportunity to put that into practice.”
  • “Two things come from this: One is I try to be grateful in every moment, even though that is really hard now. And two, I ask myself: How do I heighten my humanity in the midst of this? My work, helping people be seen and heard, has been a driving force, and I see the need for that now more than ever.”

On the Awakening to Racial Injustice

  • “The American public, particularly white Americans, think there is this profile of the kind of black people who are stopped by the police: that they look or sound a certain way, or drive a certain kind of car.”
  • “But I have been stopped by the police going down a highway and had to lie on the ground for 45 minutes with my arms behind my back, in a suit and silk blouse, while they searched the car and could find nothing.”
  • “Another time I was coming home from dinner with my husband who was asleep with his seat pushed back. I was making a turn off the freeway, and the police stopped me. My window was jammed and they were yelling and shouting at me. I kept my hands on the dashboard. I know the drill. Then my husband woke up and pushed the button so his seat came forward. The cop saw him and said, ‘Oh, I am so sorry, sir.’ My husband is white.”
  • “I have a client who is a white CEO. She asks me what can I do? I said: “Who are you going to put on your board? If everybody looks like you, there is a problem.”
  • “Sometimes I hear people say this [confronting racial injustice] will help black people. No, this will help all of us.”

On Learning about Others in Divisive Times

  • “We all have to check ourselves every day. I have to check myself every day. Where is my ism? How do I relate to otherness? Where am I projecting that?”
  • “Life is uncomfortable and awkward. It also provides an opportunity to create connection and a sense of community. To me, power is grace—opening up to bring people in. This is the way to create community.”
  • “Curiosity is at the core of this. You are going to keep somebody as ‘other’ if you are not curious about them.”

On the Need to Be Seen and Heard

  • “The whole premise of my work has been to help people find their voice—because there is power in our voice and our story. When you know who you are, you can stand in a place of strength and you can do what is necessary to be heard. It is our most basic need.”
  • My thing is: What is the narrative that I am perpetuating, that I am holding onto because it makes me feel good and doesn’t rock my world? Where is it that I am so fragile that I have to hold onto a story? That’s the place where you really need to work and explore.”
  • “I believe particularly for women and people of color now, there is a window of opportunity. In the virtual world, it is easier than ever to fall through the cracks. But also, if you learn the skills, you can push the doors wide open.”

Charmaine McClarie, a speaker at the 2020 Pennsylvania Conference for Women, is founder of the McClarie Group and creator of the Executive Success Principles®.


More from the November 2020 Newsletter

Posted in Speaker Articles, Life on Your Terms, Embrace the Unknown, Career Choices, Communication Skills, Transitions, Life Balance, Goals & Priorities, Success & Leadership Tagged , |

Suze Orman Has Some Advice for You: About Money, the Future of Work, and More

business woman reviewing income and expense report on computer while crunching numbers on a calculator

In a recent exclusive interview with the Conferences for Women, Suze Orman—America’s best-known financial advisor to women—was characteristically outspoken money, the future of work, and more.

Orman, the author of 10 consecutive New York Times bestsellers and winner of two Emmy Awards, recently came out of a short-lived retirement to again advise women about a changing world.

“We are entering a new phase of how one works within this world that has absolutely transformed itself over the past year. It is very important that we have learned some vital lessons, as we are hopefully putting 2020 behind us,” Orman said. She predicts that financial markets will begin to stabilize in February or March of 2021 but emphasizes: “We are not out of this by any means yet. You better pay attention. This is time for you to really take heed.”

Here are highlights from the conversation, lightly edited for brevity and clarity:

Lessons from “the financial pandemic” of 2020

  • “The first thing we’ve learned is that it’s not how much money you make; it’s what have you done with money you’ve made?” Orman said. “An eight-month to one-year emergency fund should be your #1 priority. If you haven’t already started to do that, you haven’t learned anything from what we went through.”
  • “The next priority is to get out of any credit card debt. But do not close down your credit card accounts. Because of emergencies like this, you want to know you can put things on credit; but you can only do that if you have credit.”
  • Third, you have to plan escape routes from a financial hurricane—where can you access money if you’ve used up your emergency funds and credit lines. In this case, if you own a home, Orman says, your next step should be to take out a home equity line of credit but don’t use it unless you need it.

The future of work

“You have to face reality and think about the chances that your job is going to be replaced. Don’t be so naïve to think that you’re not irreplaceable—because if you think corporations have not learned how much money they can save from not having individuals come in, I have a bridge to sell you. A lot of companies realize they can do just as well with fewer people and are cutting across the board.”

“That means you have to make the most intelligent financial decisions you have ever made.” Some questions to ask yourself:

  • Are you fully funding your retirement?
  • If you own a home, do you have a 15-year mortgage instead of a 30-year one?
  • Are you taking advantage of refinancing at lower interest rates?
  • Are you downsizing?
  • Are you making every sensible move can make? Are you positive?

Be smart about money and your relationship

“When I was on CNBC, we would get 10,000 emails a day and let me tell you: There are money fakers out there [who say one thing and do another.] If you put your future in their hands it’s the biggest mistake you can make.”

“Ladies if you are in a relationship—the other person’s sex does not matter—you better go over your finances together at least every month. Check your FICA [the money that is taken out of workers’ paychecks to pay older Social Security retirement and Medicare] twice a year. Look at your credit scores. Have any accounts been opened up that you didn’t know about?”

“And, you better know what to do if you get divorced. Know a credit card cannot be shut down if the balance is not paid in full. I’ve heard of men who say I will pay it off and three years later you get a knock on the door saying your ex-husband filed for bankruptcy and never paid off the money and now you owe it.

“The same is true if you own a home together and the loan is in both names. If he is keeping the home, he has to buy out.”

“All of you better understand money and every move that you make with it. And what’s the best way to do that?” Orman recommends subscribing to her podcast, Women & Money.

Conquer the 3 internal obstacles to wealth—through action

“Fear, shame, and anger are the three internal obstacles to wealth because when you come from a place of fear, you don’t check your statement. When you make a move in the stock market because you’re afraid, you sell at the wrong time and buy at the wrong time.”

“When you have those emotions running, you will always make mistakes. So, you may not like what I’m saying. But the only way to conquer your fear is through action. All those credit card statements you are afraid to open? Go open them and call the credit card company and tell them you can’t make the payment. Or, if you know you probably won’t be called back to your job but are just waiting to see: Take action right now.”

Finally, do not think of yourself as a victim

“Don’t tell me can’t do anything because you have too much on your plate. If you do, get a bigger plate. Do you want to think you are a victim of circumstances? Fine but not on my watch because you are just wrong. You are one of the most powerful forces God ever put on Earth. Stand in your power, stand in your truth. Face your obstacles and overcome them.”

Learn more about Suze Orman. Tune into her conversation on the latest episode of Women Amplified. And check out:


More from the October 2020 Newsletter

Posted in Speaker Articles, Life on Your Terms, Embrace the Unknown, Career Choices, Financial Fitness, Transitions, Life Balance, Goals & Priorities Tagged , |

3 Ways Employers Can Support Women (and We Can Support Ourselves) Now

Tracy Dumas

It’s no secret that working women are facing unsustainable new challenges this year. Many working mothers have lost access to good childcare. Many working women without children are taking on new eldercare responsibilities. And even those without new caregiving demands are burdened by the fears and loneliness of these times.

“Everybody’s lives have been upended. And when your life is upended, it is going to affect your work,” work-life integration expert Tracy Dumas recently said.

Indeed, women with caretaking responsibilities have already begun to drop out of the workforce at alarming rates.

So, what can employers do to help retain quality talent in all the many fields in which women are contributing to the society and the economy—in some areas, at rates of 50 percent or more of the workforce? And what can we do to take better care of ourselves in these extraordinary times?

In an exclusive interview with the Conferences for Women, Dumas, an associate professor of management and human relations at Ohio State University, offered the following suggestions.


What employers can do:

  1. Figure out how you can help with childcare. “Organizations can help by either looking into establishing smaller facilities that employees could use for childcare or providing subsidies—some kind of financial assistance to help employees pay for childcare.”
  2. Focus on deliverables, not schedules. “Be attentive to the limitations employees have and give them a longer rope instead of enforcing a regular workday. Just pay attention to the deliverables and be flexible.”
  3. Think ahead to develop smarter policies and practices. When we are on the other side of this crisis, life will be different than it was before. So companies should start thinking now about what childcare, eldercare, and schooling might look like; how that will affect their employees; and how they can develop flexible, supportive policies and practices.

What you can do:

  1. Ask your company for childcare help. “If your organization hasn’t stepped up to provide child care but has shown a willingness to help, ask for smaller childcare facilities or subsidies.”
  2. Set some boundaries on work hours. “We switched into this new mode with no warning or preparation. And many of us haven’t been intentional about where and how to set boundaries about working at home.” Now, is the time to do that. Think about what you want your working hours to be – and when you can switch off and relax. “Research shows that having time to switch off allows you to come back to work more energized and better able to engage.”
  3. Be intentional about where in your house you work. “If you haven’t previously set aside a space for work at home, this may be a good time to do it. I just did this. Before I had no strategy. I was sitting on the couch for working and sitting on the couch for watching TV. Now, I’ve spruced up my home office a bit and, in general, created more of a boundary to feel more like I’m switching gears. I’m getting up and going to work now. And now I’m leaving my laptop in the office and going to watch TV. It may seem minor but feels different.”

“It is beneficial for anyone with any given task or responsibility to have the opportunity to unplug and recover. There is a whole body of research in organizational psychology on the benefits of recovery—of stepping away and unplugging and allowing yourself to be immersed in something totally different or just plain old rest.”

In other words, in a world in which so much is beyond our control, setting boundaries about when and where we work is something that is in our control that can help us keep our strength and resilience going through this marathon challenge.


IN OTHER NEWS

  • Want some timely virtual networking tips? Yai Vargas, founder of The Latinista, a national network of women and Latina professionals invested in professional development and career mobility, shares her thoughts on the latest episode of Women Amplified. Listen here.
  • Underserved young women are receiving financial and mentoring support this year as the first in their families to attend college—thanks to you and other members of the Conferences for Women community. Interested in helping? Learn more here.
  • Have you secured your ticket to the virtual 2020 Pennsylvania Conference for Women? If not, learn more here.
  • Don’t miss The Expert Q&A on Managing Change: A conversation with WSFS Senior Vice President Cindy Crompton Barone.

More from the September 2020 Newsletter

Posted in Speaker Articles, Life on Your Terms, Embrace the Unknown, Career Choices, Transitions, Life Balance, Health & Wellness, Goals & Priorities, Success & Leadership, Job Advancement Tagged , |

The Expert Q&A: Managing Change
With WSFS’ SVP Cindy Crompton Barone

Cindy Crompton Barone

Q: The changes we have experienced this year have been so significant, it almost feels like change is managing us. And yet, that is not a helpful way to think about it, especially if you are in a position of leadership. How do you think about managing change during this time of great changes in society, the economy, and workplaces?

My role as a leader at WSFS focuses on the wellbeing of our Associates. I have strong relationships with our lines of business and understand our Associates, their experience working at WSFS, and their needs to maintain a good work-life balance. This past year, I’ve broadened my focus, proactively addressing the changing landscape and Associates’ needs as we all respond to events such as the pandemic. A great company like WSFS is nimble and accepting of different strategies to provide flexible work arrangements, supplemental paid leave benefits and special incentive pay as opportunities to support our Associates through these changing times.

Q: Many people believe that remote work will continue to be a big part of our lives, even after Covid-19 is brought under control. Is that good news for professional women, or are there downsides we should think about now?

My vision is businesses will forever need to consider work-from-home as well as flexible work schedules for every Associate. Although women predominately may be the primary caregiver, I have responded to men, as well as women, who identify themselves as needing to provide childcare and learning assistance now that schools are utilizing virtual learning. I’ve researched and learned that children up to 6th grade need three hours a day of a parent’s time to assist them with their education. We are addressing flexible work schedules to provide time during the day that parents will need to provide this attention to their children. Our children are our future and we will provide the opportunities to retain our talent, which includes women who may consider leaving the workforce to care for their families.

Q: What are the most important tips you can share with people who may have lost their jobs and need to think about making an unplanned career transition?

Those in transition should complete a personal inventory of their talents. Job seekers tend to look for the same position they held previously or for many years. If they completed a self-assessment of their experience, they would realize they have knowledge, skills, and experiences meeting the requirements for other positions in different industries that are hiring. In addition to job search sites such as CareerBuilder and LinkedIn, networking with colleagues, community organizations, family and friends should be in their toolbox of sources when managing their job search. When in transition, be open to learning new skills as well as considering a position that may not be the exact level you held if that position is with a good company that can provide a sustained future to continue their career.

Q: What is one idea you have heard that has helped you personally adapt to change during this time—or one thing you have learned about change that might continue to help you in the future?

Working with our Associates, I’ve learned they all react to dramatic change differently and we need to be attentive to their emotional wellbeing. As an example, everyone adjusted differently to working from home and having limited accessibility to physically spend time with family and friends, and time outside their homes. We need to learn how change impacts someone and provide support if they are having trouble adapting. When working remotely and communicating through video conferencing, we need to be conscious of behaviors that are signals that tell us someone needs help. Out of care for one another, we need to develop our ability to ask those difficult questions to address others’ needs, should they be reluctant to ask for help themselves.


Cindy Crompton Barone, SHRM-CP, is SVP, Human Capital Management at WSFS Bank, where she has spent 16 years caring for the Bank’s Associates.


SPONSORED BY

WSFS Bank logo
WSFS Financial Corporation is a multi-billion-dollar financial services company. Its primary subsidiary, WSFS Bank, is the oldest and largest locally managed bank and trust company headquartered in Delaware and the Greater Philadelphia region. As of June 30, 2020, WSFS Financial Corporation had $13.6 billion in assets on its balance sheet and $20.8 billion in assets under management and administration. WSFS operates from 115 offices, 90 of which are banking offices, located in Pennsylvania (54), Delaware (43), New Jersey (16), Virginia (1) and Nevada (1) and provides comprehensive financial services including commercial banking, retail banking, cash management and trust and wealth management. Other subsidiaries or divisions include Arrow Land Transfer, Cash Connect®, Cypress Capital Management, LLC, Christiana Trust of Delaware, NewLane Finance, Powdermill Financial Solutions, West Capital Management, WSFS Institutional Services, WSFS Mortgage, and WSFS Wealth Investments. Serving the greater Delaware Valley since 1832, WSFS Bank is one of the ten oldest banks in the United States continuously operating under the same name. For more information, please visit www.wsfsbank.com.

Serving our communities since 1832, WSFS Bank is one of the ten oldest banks in the United States continuously operating under the same name. Other subsidiaries or divisions of WSFS Financial Corporation are listed below.

Posted in Speaker Articles, Financial Fitness Tagged , |

Staying Calm In A Crisis: Tips From The Woman Who Faced Down Somali Pirates

Michelle J. Howard

When Admiral Michelle J. Howard was 12, she saw a show about people who attended U.S. military academies and realized that was what she wanted to do.

“You can’t,” her older brother said. “It’s closed to women.”She thought he was messing with her and went to her mother.

“He’s right,” her mom said. “But you’re only 12. You might change your mind. And, if you don’t and want to apply, you should apply. If you don’t get in, we’ll sue the government and take it to the Supreme Court.” Even if it is too late for you to attend, she added, it wouldn’t be for other women.

It proved a powerful lesson for the woman who went on to become the:

  • The highest-ranking woman in U.S. Arms Forces history,
  • Highest ranking African-American and woman in Navy history,
  • First woman to become a 4-star Admiral, and
  • Person in charge when the Navy faced down Somali pirates to rescue Captain Phillips (of Tom Hanks fame.)

We recently caught up with Admiral Howard to ask her advice about how to stay calm in a crisis and lead in these times of great uncertainty. Here are some highlights:

On keeping calm under stress

“My mother and father raised us to take a deep breath. Sometimes, you have to react in seconds—but honestly, not usually unless you’re in combat. I think most people do not give themselves time to breathe. I know it’s not easy but you’ve got to distance yourself from the information you’re receiving. It’s just information. It’s not going to kill you.”

On dealing with the unknown

“I would try to take time, and get my teams to take time, to think about what potential crises could be and then walk our way through how we would respond. If you are surprised by events, give yourself more time for your imagination to work. It’s the art of the long view: identify the worst, best, and middle case scenario. You will go down one of those three avenues or something in between.”

On the commitment to lead

“The most fundamental thing about leadership is you have to choose. You have to decide for yourself whether or not you want to be a leader. It’s not something you are just going to fall into. It has to be something that drives your passion—knowing: I am the right person to get this in a better place. I am the person to make this better.”

On stamina

“I read about women pioneers in the Navy and the 1800s and science; andI and tried to sort through the common characteristics of those who were successful in nontraditional roles. The stamina piece is pretty key: being not necessarily the strongest in the room but as fit as you can be because you need stamina for the journey.”

On traveling light

“A lot of trailblazing women had a wonderful sense of humor. If you can’t see the humor in your unique situation, you add more to your mental burdens. I talk about it as ‘traveling light.’ You could go another way and think: ‘Oh my gosh, I have all these burdens, I just can’t do it.’ You could spend a lifetime focused on all that pain and anguish. And, I suppose you could have a life of satisfaction that way. But you would be missing out on a life of satisfaction tied to success.”

On being yourself

“I have been asked to talk about leadership and women as leaders since I was a mid-grade officer. A lot of times people say talk about yourself. I say talking about myself may not help you. You be the best you. You’re not going to be able to do me right.”

On connecting with other women

“Women pioneers had quilting bees. It was not about the quilt. It was about hooking up with other women. The Massachusetts Conference for Women is the biggest quilting bee!”

LEARN MORE! Admiral Michelle J. Howard will speak at the 2020 virtual Massachusetts Conference for Women. The 2020 virtual Pennsylvania Conference for Women will feature Viola Davis, Tara Westover, and more.

REGISTER NOW

IN OTHER NEWS

  • Anti-Racism: Skills for the Workplace Now. “Anti-racism is a lifestyle that we’re constantly committing to. You have to be anti-racist in the workplace and in your personal life, too…it’s an active belief system in all parts of our lives,” Britt Hawthorne said in a conversation presented by The Massachusetts Conference for Women, The Boston Globe, and State Street. Watch it here.
  • Best of the Archives: Check out the newly released sessions on Best Breakouts, an audio series featuring timeless insights from our archives. Listen here.
  • Highlighting a friend: The Harvard Business Review‘s podcast Women at Work is a trove of information and support for moving your career forward. Catch up on five seasons of conversations on HBR.org or wherever you listen to podcasts, and the team will be back this fall with more stories, interviews, and advice.

More from the August 2020 Newsletter

Posted in Speaker Articles, Life on Your Terms, Embrace the Unknown, Career Choices, Networking, Life Balance, Goals & Priorities, Success & Leadership, Job Advancement Tagged , |

How to Feel Successful in 2020
An Exclusive Conversation with Esther Wojcicki

excited, young business woman celebrating success in the office with her arms up in the air

If there’s anyone who can put the idea of success in perspective in 2020, it’s Esther Wojcicki, the author and educator who raised three wildly successful daughters and wrote the book, How to Raise Successful People.

So, here’s what she says: “We have to back up on our idea of success now because maybe we had long-term goals but now success is getting through this week without having problems. Maybe it’s getting enough food. Maybe it’s making sure that your child has a good sense of self this particular week. … I think we have to redefine success as being able to cope effectively with your family in this environment that we’re living in today.”

But “cope effectively?” How exactly do we do that in this dizzying year?

Wojcicki—who learned early on that looking for the positive was a good alternative to being depressed—has some ideas about that.

A woman who knows

This, after all, is the woman who as a young girl growing up in poverty took the initiative to get a lawnmower and mow her lawn so that her home, in her words, would look less like a dump.

It’s the woman who, when her parents told her at the age of 15 that they would not pay for her to attend college because they wanted her to get married, took it as an opportunity, through work and scholarships, to pay her way.

And, this is the woman who raised two Silicon Valley CEOs (Susan of YouTube and Anne of 23andMe) and Janet, a professor at UC San Francisco—and has taught many accomplished students over more than 35 years while helping build Palo Alto High School’s world-famous media arts program.

Small wonder people seek out her advice. Here are three key points that Wojcicki shares in the latest episode of the Conferences for Women podcast, Women Amplified.

Wojcicki will also be a speaker at the 2020 virtual Pennsylvania Conference for Women, where she will join award-winning actress Viola Davis, bestselling author Tara Westover and many other inspiring speakers. If you haven’t secured your tickets, learn more here.

  1. Start by looking for the opportunities
    • “See whether or not you can’t take every crisis as an opportunity to do something new and different. That is one of the things that I’m doing right now, and that I think we all are forced into doing.
    • I think you have to do that, because the world is so difficult, and has so many challenges for so many people. I think it’s important to spend at least part of the time thinking about what opportunity this challenge is giving you, and there are lots of opportunities.”
    • “For example, we’re all living together, so you have to get along with the people that are your family, or your friends, or whoever your significant other is. You have an opportunity to practice a lot of skills, interpersonal skills that you might not have had that opportunity to do before.”
    • Another opportunity: “What can you do to make other people’s lives better? The other day I went up and down the street. I have a lot of neighbors who are elderly, and I ended up getting a lot of extra organic tomatoes. I delivered a little care-package to them, and it was incredible.

      One of them sent me a note and said how that made her day: just a little care package of tomatoes. … I think you can do little things like that every day to try to make your day better and other people’s day better.”

  2. Recognize this as an opportunity to be a more effective parent
    • “I think the most important thing that parents can do today is to make their child feel like they are part of the team. It’s a team effort. We’re all in this together, and we all have our role, and we’re all working together to make our lives better.”
    • “One of the courses U.C. Berkeley instituted last year was called ‘Adulting.’ The reason they implemented that course was that they were getting hundreds, maybe thousands of kids who were entering the system and didn’t have the basic skills for how to be an adult: how to do their laundry, how to cook, how to clean, how to do basic things that people do. It was because of the helicopter parenting syndrome where parents were doing pretty much everything.”
    • “The crisis we’re in now is an opportunity for us to use kids’ free time to teach them adulting skills. David Brooks wrote a column [in The New York Times] in which he said: ‘The Age of Coddling is Over.’
    • We’re no longer coddling our kids because we can’t coddle them the same way that we coddled them before. We all need them to be part of the team. We need to think of this as an opportunity to change the way we parent that is more effective for our kids rather than less effective.”
    • “That’s what I’m trying to do, and that’s what I try to do in my classes is to teach kids how to think. How to think no matter what situation you are in.”
  3. In work and family life, focus on T-R-I-C-K (Trust. Respect. Independence. Collaboration. Kindness)
    • “Trust is the first part: trust and respect. And, the first person you need to trust and believe in and respect is yourself.”
    • “You also want to make sure that the people that you surround yourself with are people who also trust you, and support you, and allow you to achieve whatever it is you want to achieve.”
    • “I think TRICK – trust, respect, independence, collaboration, kindness—works even more effectively and is even more important in the corporate world during the crisis because we’re all working from home.
    • And, when you work from home, you can’t micromanage the other person. You have to trust them and respect them. And, the fact is that if the team feels like they are trusted and respected by their leader, they will rise to that occasion.”
    • “Team psychology is so important these days, and trust and respect are part of that. And then giving people independence, and then allowing them to collaborate—and honestly, kindness. Kindness and compassion. That’s what the world needs today. We all need that. We all make mistakes.”

A final word of advice

  • “You have to believe in yourself and the world—that it’s going to get better. The world has gone through a lot of serious epidemics in the past, and two terrible wars and people made it through, and we’re going to make it through this.”

Tune in for the entire conversation with Wojcicki on the Conferences for Women podcast, Women Amplified. Wojcicki will also be a speaker at the 2020 virtual Pennsylvania Conference for Women. Learn more here.


More from the August 2020 Newsletter

Posted in Speaker Articles, Life on Your Terms, Embrace the Unknown, Life Balance, Goals & Priorities, Success & Leadership, Innovation Tagged , |

Elizabeth Gilbert: On Fear and Creativity

rear view of young woman staring at abstract sketch of left and right brain concept (analytical vs creative)

Elizabeth Gilbert talks about creativity, fear, and more in the latest episode of Women Amplified. While this conversation was recorded at the end of 2019, what she says about fear, in particular, is a welcome balm in this moment.

Here are highlights:

“I think we live in a society that really fetishizes the idea of being fearless and that you’re constantly being told that in various, really violent, almost aggressive language to kick fear in the ass and to punch it in the face and to show it who’s boss and to wrestle it to the ground. It’s this constant war. The language is one of war.

But in my experience, anytime I have fought against my fear, it has won because it fights back harder. It just digs in, and it shows me who’s boss—which it is. And, the only way that I’ve ever been able to “conquer” fear has been to allow it to exist and to come with a much softer energy and to see it for what it is, which is not really a terrorist monster, but an orphaned child, a small little part of you that just is so fearful.

And, to just mother it and to say:

‘Look, I can see that you’re really scared, and I see that you don’t think that you’re worthy, and I see that you are terrified that this whole thing is going to bomb and blow up and that everyone’s going to know that you’re a fraud. And, I acknowledge and respect that as being very real and you are part of this family. You, fear, are part of this family and you have a place here and you’re just as much a part of the family as creativity is. You’re just as much part of the family as longing and all the other human emotions. I will never tell you to leave. You get to be in the minivan with the rest of the family. I just can’t let you drive because you’re seven years old. You’re too little. You’re not allowed to drive. You can be with us, but you’re going to have to sit in the back with the other kids: anxiety, panic, terror, all of them.

They’re all in the minivan. They’re always going to be in the minivan, but we’re doing this anyway and you can come with us and you’re going to do this anyway. And I know, fear, that your role in the family is that as we’re on this road trip toward creativity or adventure, the new or the big new thing that we want to do, I understand that your role is to sit in the back and scream that we’re all going to die, and you do it really well; and you just keep doing that, and we’re going anyway, and I love you.’

There’s something about the ‘I love you, you’re welcome, you’re part of this’ that somehow makes it quiet down. It doesn’t go away, it just quiets. I think all it wants is to belong like the rest of us. It’s just the part of you that doesn’t believe that it belongs. And, you just have to keep coming at it with that really mothering tone.

And, when I say mother, I don’t mean the mother you actually had. I mean the universal loving, compassionate, kind mother that you wish you had. The one who said: ‘Whatever happens, I love you. Whatever happens, you’re welcome. Whether this is a success or a failure, you belong to me, you’re mine.’ That sort of language that we have to learn how to bring to ourselves because all too often we actually didn’t get that when we were kids because we were raised by people who themselves were terrified.

So, it’s just a love contest really in the end, I think. And, it’s not the way that our culture teaches you to deal with fear, but it’s the only way I’ve ever been able to get anything done.”

Listen to the entire episode on Women Amplified.


More from the July 2020 Newsletter

Posted in Speaker Articles, Life on Your Terms, Embrace the Unknown, Life Balance, Innovation, Inspiration Tagged , |

Resilience Expert Valorie Burton: On the Power of Self-Talk

Valorie Burton

“At the core of resilience is how you think,” says author and life strategist Valorie Burton. “That’s the thing we can control the most. You want to know: Is what you’re saying to yourself helping you or hurting you? A huge piece of resilience is what you say to yourself, and changing it if what you’re saying isn’t helping.”

Burton, author of 13 books, including Successful Women Think Differently, and her forthcoming Let Go of the Guilt, spoke with us recently about how successful women can think about these times.

Valorie Burton will join Melinda Gates, Issa Rae and other amazing speakers at the Oct. 1st virtual Texas Conference for Women. If you haven’t secured your ticket, learn more here. We’re expecting more attendees than ever this year!

Q: After writing 13 personal development books, what insights have you found most helpful for navigating these extraordinarily challenging times—and still being able to move forward toward your goals?

First and foremost, this is a real test of resilience. The pandemic was such an unexpected and shocking turn of events. Now with all of the social and racial unrest, it feels like: Oh, my goodness what is next? The emotional toll is very real. I think it is important to give yourself extra emotional space to deal with all of it.

As women, we are hard on ourselves. We expect ourselves to keep going in the same way as if nothing has changed. But things have changed. Being able to pivot is very important. We need to take stock of what has changed in our relationships, parenting, job or business, and health.

Asking yourself, “What do I need right now?” is also a really important question. Then understand: This isn’t forever. And look for the opportunity in it for you. There are opportunities. Not in every situation. But in many, there are opportunities and messages. You don’t want to miss them. You have to look for them.

One of my favorite mantras when dealing with something hard is “What is is.” Fighting against it just ends up draining more energy. Obviously, things are harder for some people than others. But if you’re fighting against what is, you can’t focus on what to do to minimize the negative impact.

Q: You have spent more than 15 years studying resilience. What is the most important thing that women should know and do to cultivate the resilience that can help us in this moment?

Understand the power of a decision to get through it. When I went through a divorce 11 years ago, I thought my life was over. I was crying to my mom, and she said, “You’re 36! I hope your life’s not over!”

Then I came to a decision: I said, “I will walk through this fire but it will not consume me.” And, I decided that I would be better because of it. What I look for now is how can I grow through this difficulty and not just go through it.

At the core of resilience is how you think. That’s thing we can control the most. You want to know: Is what you’re saying to yourself helping you or hurting you? A huge piece of resilience is what you say to yourself and changing it if what you’re saying isn’t helping.

Q: As women, many of us find we take care of family, work, the house, the dog, and everything and everyone else—and then have little energy left for our own self-care. But if that’s not a helpful habit in ordinary times, it’s a seriously bad strategy in long challenging periods like this one. So, how do we use this moment to truly make self-care a priority?

I don’t want to use the cliché about putting the mask on yourself first. But taking the time to rest, to eat well, even to walk for 30 minutes: those things make a difference. So, I would say think of self-care as a resilience skill and a strategy for being able to accomplish everything else you need to accomplish and feel good while doing it. Then make it something enjoyable and doable and part of your to-do list.

Q: In Successful Women Think Differently, you identify nine habits that successful women practice. If you were to rewrite that book now, what ways of thinking could help us more successfully navigate these uncertain times?

Successful women see the big picture. Although they may not know how things will turn out, they understand there is a bigger picture. I think in these times, it’s about imagining yourself looking back and thinking about what you will wish you had done in these times. It is about making wise choices and not because you are panicked about something.

I understand that these times are stressful but we make choices everyday about the attitude we bring to what is going on. Cultivating positive emotions (through having something to look forward to, play, gratitude, movement and so on) is one of the most important strategies we have for dealing with stress.

Research tells us happiness isn’t just correlated with success. It causes success. So, in midst of all of this, I think it is even more important to do things that bring you joy because it will help you deal with all stuff that saps your joy.

Focusing on what is beyond your control is what leads to hopelessness. Successful women are always looking for internal locus of control.

Q: You have a new book coming out in September, called Let Go of the Guilt. Can you tell us about that?

A few years ago, I was asked to do a breakout session on work-life balance for parents. It was not my expertise. I was trying to figure out myself. I mentioned guilt because I was feeling it. The collective groans from women just struck me. I started bringing the subject up. The response from women was always the same.

Women are very hard on themselves—not because they did something awful but because of all of the expectations that society puts on us. I did some research and realized women are more guilt-prone than men. One study showed that women have a guilt-deficit until they are in their 50s.

So, I created coaching for letting go of guilt. I worked with a number of women who used the process. It worked. Women felt like a weight was lifted. I am very excited about this book.

Valorie Burton is the author of 13 books on personal development, founder of The Coaching and Positive Psychology (CaPP) Institute and an international speaker on resilience and happiness. Learn more at www.ValorieBurton.com.


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Posted in Speaker Articles, Life on Your Terms, Embrace the Unknown, Transitions, Life Balance, Goals & Priorities Tagged , |

The Expert Q&A on Women, Money & the Markets with WSFS Wealth Investments Advisor Amy Solano

Amy Solano

Q: The stock market has been extremely volatile since the outbreak of the coronavirus, Covid-19. How do you recommend that women think about their money, the markets and volatility now?

A: Even though it is unsettling to watch all the news surrounding this virus, it is important to maintain perspective. One of the biggest risks investors face over time is overreacting to events and market volatility, which can negatively impact their savings. If you are investing for the long term and you have an investment plan that includes a well-diversified portfolio, it generally makes sense to stay the course. The markets will recover—just as they have done in the past. It’s understandable to be anxious about how recent market fluctuations will affect your savings goals. It can be beneficial to establish a relationship with a financial advisor who can help you navigate through volatile periods such as this.

Q: Women investors have a reputation for being more conservative than men. But studies have shown that our investments tend to outperform men’s. What are women doing right?

A: I have found this to be true. I have very different conversations with men and women about investing. For example, at a dinner party it’s not uncommon for a man to approach me inquiring about the latest “hot stock” or with questions on technical data such as a stock’s PE Ratio. I generally don’t get these types of questions from women. A woman is much more likely to ask goal-based questions, such as has she saved sufficiently for retirement and allocated enough funds to cover the rising costs of healthcare.

With goals in mind, many women invest with a broad-based, longer-term view. When you plan, you are less likely to focus on short-term movements in the market, reducing transaction fees associated with trading and tend to diversify your portfolio more. Transaction fees can erode returns over time. Usually, long-term investors aren’t putting a lot of dollars towards one type of stock. If the price of the stock falls, there is a temptation to hold onto a stock in the hopes that the stock price rebounds. Of course, sometimes the stock price rebounds, and sometimes it does not.

Many women are known to be budgeters. If you are regularly allocating funds for investing as part of your budget, you are using a strategy that is called “dollar cost averaging.” This means you are placing a fixed dollar amount into an investment on a regular basis regardless of what is occurring in the financial markets. This can reduce volatility and remove the emotion of market timing.

This steady approach is a great way to reach your goals.

Q: Women now control more than half of all U.S. wealth. But we still invest less than men do. Why is that? And, are there signs this is changing?

A: Many reasons have been given why women invest less than men do. Investing can be intimidating. It can seem confusing unless you are well versed in financial jargon. Quite often the analogies used to make investing easier to understand don’t resonate with a lot of women.

Also, finding a financial advisor that you trust can be challenging. Traditionally, it has been a male-dominated industry. Many women seeking financial advice often feel more comfortable with someone who understands their experiences. Women typically live longer and are usually the primary caregiver both for their children and parents. Shared experiences help to build trust.

The Internet and social media have aided in building confidence and connections. They are great tools to locate and connect to financial advisors who share your values. They have also given women the opportunity to educate themselves. There are several websites that offer investment education and tools. Once you understand investing, you are less likely to be intimidated by it and more likely to do it.

Q: Should we think about investing as a smart way to advance wealth equity?

A: There are so many factors that come into play on both pay equity and wealth equity. They are closely related issues. It’s true that certain low-paying industries do traditionally attract female workers. It is also true that many women earn less than a man for doing the same job.

Working in a male dominated industry like financial services, I have either experienced or been witness to many instances of inequity or inequality. I have one piece of advice that I have learned along the way: Be assertive. Volunteer for that project, ask for the pay raise, express your worth and educate yourself. I know that is easier said than done, but by doing these things you are potentially growing your income. More income gives you the opportunity to save and invest. And, investing increases your wealth. If women can do this on a consistent collective basis, things can change.

Q: Businesses still have a long way to go to make gender equity a reality. As women, should we be thinking about investing in companies that have made clear commitments to gender diversity?

A: I am a big proponent of women in leadership roles. Women bring a different perspective to the workplace that is beneficial. I wish more companies would establish programs to develop a well-trained, diverse workforce. Diversity is one of many factors that investors should consider when investing in a company. Research has shown that companies that have a diverse workforce are more productive than companies that don’t have one.


AMY SOLANO is a graduate of the University of Delaware and began her career in financial services in 2003. She was first licensed in 2009 while working for Bank of America Merrill Lynch. In addition, Amy has held various positions at MBNA, Barclays, and UBS Financial. At WSFS Wealth Investments, Amy combines the experience she has gained throughout her financial services career with a deep concern for her clients’ personal and financial well-being to produce plans and portfolios that help her clients better achieve their personal, emotional, and financial goals. She holds her FINRA Series 7 and 66 securities registrations through Commonwealth Financial Network®. Amy earned the AIF® designation from the Center for Fiduciary Studies. The AIF® designation certifies that she has specialized knowledge of fiduciary standards of care and their application to the investment management process. She is currently working toward the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™(CFP®) certification. She also holds life and health insurance licenses.


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The financial advisors of WSFS Wealth Investments offer securities and advisory services through Commonwealth Financial Network®, member FINRA/SIPC, a Registered Investment Adviser. Investments are not insured by the FDIC and are not deposits or other obligations of, or guaranteed by, any depository institution. Funds are subject to investment risks, including possible loss of principal investment. WSFS Bank is not a registered broker-dealer or Registered Investment Adviser. WSFS Bank and Commonwealth are separate and unaffiliated entities. Fixed Insurance products and services are offered through WSFS Wealth Investments or CES Insurance Agency. WSFS Wealth Investments, Greenville Center, 3801 Kennett Pike, Suite C200, Greenville, DE 19807. (866) 727-6537.
Posted in Speaker Articles, Financial Fitness Tagged , |

Why You May Be Better Equipped to Navigate Today’s Changes Than You Think

natural haired black woman smiling while looking away onto the street and thinking

If you’re like many people these days, you’ve been dealing with change as you never did before—changes that you didn’t seek out as the next positive step in your career or personal life but had thrust on you by outside circumstances.

But here’s a little good news:

The skills you need to deal with today’s unexpected changes are the same as the skills you likely have already tapped to create positive changes in your life. In other words, you may be a bit more prepared for the turmoil of 2020 than you think.

“I think the real difference between this type of transition and one initiated by your own desire is just in how you approach it,” Erica Williams Simon says in the newest episode of Women Amplified. “It’s about attitude,” the author of You Deserve the Truth: Change the Stories that Shaped Your World and Build a World-Changing Life, says.

“If the life that you thought you were living no longer exists, there’s a moment for grief, a moment to recognize that you weren’t expecting to have to make a shift here. But once you get there, however you get there, you have the power to determine your direction,” she says.

William Simons is host and CEO of Sage House, a company that creates spaces and content to surface wisdom about “who we are and how we want to live.” She is also using this moment to encourage women to make decisions that align with their needs but also their values, passions, desires, and vision for life.

Some years ago, Simon recognized that she was “successful” by most standards. She was listed on several “30 under 30″ lists as a rising political star and TV commentator. But she wasn’t happy. So, she quit and dove into a period of exploration that helped her understand that there were certain cultural narratives that shaped her idea of what it means to be successful; but they had nothing to do with what she wanted out of life.

Since then, she has been on a mission to help others understand the stories that shape their lives and create new ones that lead to the life they actually want— encouraging women to ask questions, such as: How does it make me feel when I use it? What am I seeking? What validation does it bring me? What is the impact? Does the impact match up with my vision for my life?”

This often takes a lot of experimentation, she says—and, as these times make clear, the need and willingness to pivot and pivot again.

“There is no yellow brick road anymore, if there ever was one. And so, the idea that you can talk and plan and think your way into your dream life is just unrealistic because the world is so unpredictable,” she said. “What you have to do is take steps and then put your finger up, check the wind like Moana [the character in the 2016 Walt Disney movie of the same name] and see what’s happening and how am I feeling and where am I going.

“I think that’s how you end up in the life that you want, which ultimately—and this is the mind-blowing part for me—may be different than what you think you want today. You only gain that perspective and that insight into what a new dream for yourself could be by living, by experimenting, and by doing.”

Listen to the entire conversation with Erica Williams Simon on Women Amplified.


More from the July 2020 Newsletter

Posted in Speaker Articles, Life on Your Terms, Embrace the Unknown, Career Choices, Transitions, Life Balance Tagged , |

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