Awesomeness in the World

…and we’re back! (kind of)

I promised back in October that we’d be back in touch come November and with one day left in the month, I want to keep my promise (though I have no idea how on earth it got to be the end of November, but somehow, here we are).

I also promised you updates on new happenings. You may have noticed some of our regular bloggers went a little quiet earlier this year. Melissa has moved on to a new adventure in her career and we wish her all the best. She’s going to be all kinds of crazy successful and we can’t wait to see what happens next. Ashley has also taken on some new job responsibilities and is also focusing on her new dog, Sawyer. It’s possible he may be the cutest dog ever and I don’t blame her for spending more time with him. I’m so grateful to both of them for sharing their wit and honesty with us, and hopefully we can have them back as guest bloggers in the future.

Additionally, I’ve been hard at work on a new project of mine, Good for Her Soul. Not to be confused with the consulting and training offerings here, Good for Her Soul is support and celebration of women at every stage of life. Through the new website, we make it easy to congratulate your friend on her achievement, toast to a new chapter or let her know you’re thinking about her during a difficult time. You’ve got her back, so let us have yours. We’ve brought together everything you need to show her you care — cards, gifts, services and educational resources.

We often want to reach out, but aren’t quite sure what to say or how to say it, and this is where Good for Her Soul can help. You can check out our inspiration wall to get ideas of what’s been helpful to others during times of joy or heartache, or browse ideas and options by type of occasion or event.

While things will be a little quieter on this front for a while, I’ll continue to check back in. In the meantime, I hope you’ll enjoy Good for Her Soul, and I wish you success in all your adventures as well!

Career Karen

The Winter of Business

“I write probably 80 percent of my stuff over the winter.” -Bob Seger

Using the metaphor of seasons, every business – no matter what type – goes through a winter season.

Spring is fresh and new.

Summer is vibrant and steady.

Fall is transition and change.

Winter… oh winter… winter is stillness.

In winter, the leaves aren’t flourishing on the trees. The ground is covered with snow. The wind is cold.The lakes are frozen over. The land is sleeping.

Business is similar. One of the important reality checks for any business is preparing and planning for winter seasons.

Before winter, pioneers would prepare for the barren months. They’d store up food, stack up firewood and winterize their homes. They prepared for winter.

Why would business be any different?

Don’t fret the winter season. Rather, prepare for it. Add it to your projections. Calculate it into your budgets. The ‘what if’ of business.  Some call it Risk Management.

After all, the winter of business isn’t so bad.

Ok, sales are down. Profits are waning. Payroll just got a little tougher. Spending is lean. And it’s part of running a business.

I’ve always believed that when times get tough, it’s our chance to re-create, re-think, re-strategize and re-maximize our opportunities.  

Winter is the preparation for new growth and your business is like a tree. It’s in those times when you strengthen your roots to handle more, not less.

What can you do to strengthen your roots? What new thinking can you activate? What areas have you not yet explored? Look for the new.

There’s always room for improvement.  Here are a few examples:

  1. Is the company running smoothly? Are there any areas internally that need adjusted?
  2. Have you done an outstanding job expressing value, recognition and reward for your staff’s contribution and do you have plans to improve your already impressive customer service?
  3. Are employees being re-trained to empower them to be a great winning team? Is your leadership unified and building the same vision, together?
  4. Is your message relevant and attracting new customers? Is your marketing campaign looking tired and ineffective?
  5. Is your product of superior standards? Are your procedures consistent across the boards?
  6. Are you setting and implementing new goals to keep you moving forward? Are you maximizing your resources and opportunities?

See what I mean?  Winter isn’t so bad. Strengthen your roots. You need strong roots to grow strong trees and produce a fruitful grove.

Embrace your winter.

– Karen Thrall

*also published on


Libby On the Job

Temporarily Yours

I just finished up a three-month temporary work gig. I’ve temped at other times of my life, and while it’s a great way to fill in gaps when you need it, it can also be stressful: being new and unfamiliar with the organization, not getting enough work, not getting the right kind of work, being ignored and feeling awkward in the break room, etc.

Not this time – this experience was 100% awesome, and, while I’m glad to be moving on to something more substantive and permanent, I’m going to miss it. What made this time different?

  • Connections: I got the gig not through an agency, but through a friend I made in a professional capacity who needed the help due to a vacant position. As a result, there was already a level of trust and respect there that might not have been if I had come randomly through an agency.
  • Tasks: How many of us – as full or part-time professionals – have the luxury of getting a task and then working on it through to completion? Or how often do you have work that doesn’t have a real immediate and VERY IMPORTANT deadline? In my experience, those are both pretty rare things.
  • Brain Food: In addition, I was getting both ends of the task spectrum: data entry and strategic planning. That is also rare – too much of either one can make your brain hurt. As The Temp, I was given things that had piled up due to higher priority deadlines, or nice ideas that no one had the time to purse. What a bonus for me!
  • People: Folks at this organization were very friendly. One, it was made pretty clear that I was there for a very specific amount of time, so no one felt threatened that I was there to take their job, and two, they’re just nice people! They welcomed me, invited me to participate in staff activities, said hello every day and got my jokes. It was a very warm environment.
  • Thanks: People really were grateful for my help, and I was actually helping (which helps!), which made it that much better. But more than that, they made a point to tell me that – by not only giving more to do, but also verbally expressing thanks. That sounds a little silly, but you’d be surprised how many people forget to do that.

This opportunity came at a time of transition for me as well as for them: I helped parts of the organization grow while adding to my own professional development; I relieved some of their professional stress, and they offered me some financial stability; I provided some fresh ideas and perspectives on changes and opportunities and they offered support and friendship. I thank them for bringing me into their fold and remain forever temporarily and most sincerely theirs. Have you thanked your temp today?

– Libby Bingham

Inside My Head

On Time vs. Timely

Everyone has a different relationship with time. For some, it’s an absolute and for others, it’s more of a guideline. And in many cases, it can be very dependent on who else is involved, or may be different between personal and professional lives. I’ve been thinking about time lately and how my approach to time shapes my brand. When it comes to work, I have a very strict approach that has developed over the years: I am not just on time – I am timely. This means more than being on time for meetings (which is important!). Being timely means I meet deadlines, early if possible. I respond as quickly as I can because I know someone is waiting on me. I try to respect other people’s time by given them enough notice for things rather than dropping in at the last minute. I only accept meetings I plan to attend. I try to avoid cancelling at the last minute at all costs. These are all things I take seriously because they are part of my reputation. There are lots of things people could say about me, but I don’t ever want one of them to be that you can’t count on me to be responsive.

I had a staff member tell me once that being on time was “my thing.” That was curious to me because I hadn’t ever considered it my thing. I had always considered my relationship to be driven by the situation. In this case, we had published hours of operation and people could show up at any time during those hours, so yeah, being on time was important for all of us – not just me and “my thing.” And being on time meant being there 15 minutes before we officially opened so we were ready for guests right when we said we would be, even if most often, our guests wandered in later.

Time is a funny thing in the fact that we’ve managed to all get on the same page about the 24 hour day, but past that, it all seems relative. What’s your relationship with time?


Inside My Head


I’m looking for Someone. Someone has been taking on a lot these days. Someone is very busy, yet not really seeming to get much done. And I’ll be honest – I’m a little frustrated.

Someone seems to get in our way with way too much regularity. Much too often, we look to Someone. Someone should do something about our rowdy neighbor. Someone should tell the boss she’s micromanaging us. Someone should take on that project we’ve been talking about for so long. Someone should organize that trip we keep meaning to take. Someone should do something. And yet, despite everything we keep assigning to Someone, nothing seems to actually get done. Huh.

In defense of Someone, he’s really gotten the short end of the stick. We’re quick to assign tasks to Someone because it’s easier than doing it ourselves. We may not take action for a variety of reasons. We’re scared, we don’t know how to fix it, we don’t have the time, we’re know if will be hard, we might hurt feelings…the reasons are endless. But we know there’s a problem and we want to get credit for pointing it out and then delegating to Someone. As long as we verbalize it and get Someone on it, our hands are clean.

Spoiler alert: Someone doesn’t actually exist, and you don’t actually get anything done by assigning anything to him. It’s up to each of us to pick up the slack that Someone has created by letting things slide. We certainly can’t pick up all the things Someone was supposed to do, but if each one of us can tackle one thing Someone was supposed to do, imagine how much we might actually accomplish. So let’s make an agreement to help Someone out and quit delegating things to him. I’m in!

Career Libby

New Kid on the Block

I have started a new job. Technically, I don’t start for a few more months, but I’ve been offered and hired and already sent to a meeting.  It was great, this meeting; it is a terrific way to get the lay of the land. It also made me very aware of my “new kid” status.

I was at my last job for over eleven years so not much was new to me, but now everything is new – it’s slightly disconcerting but it’s also very exciting.

  • Lingo: All the jargon and lingo for this organization is new to me – it’s a new industry full of new acronyms and terminology. I got lost about ten minutes into the conversation but kept jotting down everything I didn’t know – I’ve got a laundry list but it’ll be fun to cross each one off as I learn!
  • Reputation: I came from an organization where a lot of the staff where actually members – to them, I probably seem like some kind of anomaly in their midst. I am not sure of my reputation. I know that I’m held in high esteem by upper management, my new boss, but I’m not sure about my peers: Did they like my work? Did they learn from me in the past? Was my style collegial or off-putting?
  • Relationships: The staffer running the meeting seemed hesitant to have me there at first – maybe there was concern that I’d try to interfere or insert myself. It all ended up fine in the end: he welcoming, me complimentary.  But it was a reminder of the process that I’m going to have to go through to get to know people and have them get to know me: gaining trust is not an easy road…it takes hard work and a sensitive eye.
  • Work ethic: In my old job, it was (until the end) a situation where everyone knew I would get my work done and do it well. I don’t have that level of trust yet so I think that means I’ve got to work harder than ever before. My position is virtual, and aside from a few meetings, I haven’t been required to physically go in to the office – it’s my choice to go in once a week for staff meetings. I think it’s important to have that face time to build trust and new relationships, observe how I interact with people, understand that the job is important to me and that I’m a team player.

It’s been a long time since I’ve been the new kid on the block, but I’m going to do whatever it takes to make sure they know I’ve got the right stuff.

– Libby Bingham


Find the Tina(s) to Your Amy

While this article was posted last year, it just recently came across my path: What No One Tells You About Your Career When You’re 22 by Katie Burke. The concept itself isn’t new – passing along wisdom gained through experience to those who don’t yet have said experience – but among the advice you might expect to see, there was one piece that stood out to me.

We would expect to see advice about receiving feedback, strengthening weaknesses and taking ownership, but number three on Burke’s list if “find the Tina(s) to Your Amy.”

“A lot of people talk about how developing friendships at work can improve your personal life, but these relationships can also have a huge impact on your career path. Just look at Tina Fey and Amy Pohler — they’re best friends who also push each other to achieve amazing things in their respective careers.”

Full disclosure: I LOVE Amy Pohler. I adore Tina Fey, too, and since Burke has claimed Fey as her spirit animal, I’ll happily take Pohler. I admire their individual talents, smarts and candor, but the thing I love most is how much they love working together.

One of my favorite quotes from Pohler is “do work you are proud of with your talented friends.” As I’ve grown in my career, I’ve learned I work best with a partner in crime. I step up my game, I enjoy the work more and two heads are always better than one. I also love having a co-conspirator – someone with whom I can plan surprises for the larger team. And I especially love a break from the Real Housewives model – women going after each other for sport. Lifting up two women who go out of their way to support each other and other women around them warms my heart. Those are the examples I want to see.

So among all the advice to lean in, take risks and embrace gratitude, first and foremost, find yourself a partner in crime. The rest will follow and come what may, you’ll have each other to lean on.


Ah, the Apology Battle

Apologies. Everything has something to say about them. Including me, last year. Lena Dunham just published Sorry, Not Sorry: My Apology Addiction on LinkedIn. Not surprisingly, a rebuttal, Dear Lena, stop telling me to stop saying sorry was quickly published in US Today by Lindsay Deutsch. Apologies are a popular battle ground, especially for women – right up there with swearing (some insist on abstaining and other insist it means you’re smarter).

I was doing a training a couple months ago where we were discussing apologies as part of a well-rounded skill set. We wandered off into a similar discussion being had by Dunham and Deutsch about apologies in the workplace and gender. One of the women asked about apologizing when it seems more and more like women are being told not to apologize. In response, one of the men in the training made the observation that maybe we should be looking at it the other way – rather than telling women to apologize less, we should be encouraging men to apologize more.

Apologies (and swearing!) can be powerful, and it’s dangerous to completely eliminate them from your vocabulary. Like most things, we shouldn’t always or never. There is a time and place for everything, and as Dunham so eloquently points out:

“One of the most important things a person in charge can do is own their mistakes and apologize sincerely and specifically, in a way that shows their colleagues they have learned and they will do better.” – Lena Dunham 



The Price of Silence

6 Ways Nice People Can Manage Conflict by Travis Bradberry recently showed up on Huffington Post and I was struck by his first point: Consider the repercussions of silence. When it comes to conflict, we so often tend to think silence is easier – if we can just grit out teeth and get through it, things will be fine. But the behavior continues and we find ourselves rolling our eyes, coughing loudly, making snide comments and, before we know it, we find ourselves in passive aggressive territory, or even just aggressive territory. Both of which are surefire ways to make sure a problem doesn’t get resolved.

The reason this struck me as the first point is that silence is often viewed as not making a decision or the absences of a decision, but I would argue that it’s very much a decision – it’s a decision to allow the bothersome behavior to continue. We think people know their actions are problematic, but that assumes they make a conscious decision to make our lives difficult. And as much as we’d like to cast people in the role of villain, that just simply isn’t the case most of the time. They’re working with the information they have, which if we remain silent, is just one side of the story – their own.

If we don’t take the opportunity to speak up when we have a preference for something else when it comes to a behavior or decision, it’s just as much our fault if we don’t like the result. In the absence of anything else, our silence is our implicit endorsement. So next time you find yourself thinking it’s easier to stay quiet than to share your preference, think about how unhappy you’ll be next time that behavior occurs or a similar decision is made. Because with your silence, the only thing that’s guaranteed is that the same thing will happen again.

On the Job

Times of Team Stress

Prepping last minute details for a big conference. Launching a new product. Gearing up for your annual sale. Anytime we take a detour from business as usual, we put ourselves in a stressful situation and one of two things seems to happen: we band together in our foxhole or, desperate to save ourselves, we turn on each other.

Much of this is human nature and we can’t help ourselves. It’s rooted in our adrenaline to either fight or take flight in times of stress. And since we can’t typically take flight from our jobs during these stressful times, we’re left with the option of fighting. Fighting isn’t always bad, especially if you can band together against a common enemy – fatigue, mediocrity or unanticipated problems. You can also fight for something together – your highest number of sales, fewest onsite issues or even just making it to the closing bell. Any team member from a successful fight will tell you how much they bonded with their teammates as a result of the battle. You have war stories to tell together, common experiences and inside jokes you had to be there to get.

So when you find yourself in the middle of a stressful team situation and you notice people frustrated with each other, getting shorter with their responses or complaining more, see what you can do to shift the fight and band together.

And for the record, baked goods are always a highly recommended battle tool. Or chocolate. 😉