Becoming the expert in your field is easier than you think

Who’s the first person people think of for your expertise?  If it is not you, find out how to become the answer to questions everyone is asking in your industry.

I remember the time when I was consulted on a particular case.  After I accepted the task, I almost immediately started to feel doubt creeping up.  While I had performed the required study hundreds of times, this was the first time I was going to help with the procedure.  I prepared myself by studying the specific case and the required images. When the date of the procedure came I was so ready that I was able to offer a new point of view that was not thought of before.  The procedure was done successfully and suddenly I was considered an essential member of the team.

From an early age many women are expected to under perform.  In some cases they grow up being told that they don’t need to go to school, that their husband will take care of them, or they “don’t have to worry about (insert favorite situation)”.  These words have the impact of undermining one’s confidence.  They dis-empower you and pull you down.  These words are so powerful that when you experience a fail or someone tries to bully you at work, once again you are transported to that place you were made to feel worthless.

Anytime you feel less than or that you are not good enough I want you to shut down that voice and pull yourself out from that mental place.  Break the cycle and accept yourself.  You are supposed to do a job, make it happen!  If you are going through doubts and afraid of what people would say, repeat to yourself:  It’s not about you, it’s not about you, it’s not about you.

When people reject your work it is not about you as a person.  Even if you actually fail at a task, it doesn’t determine who you are.  Forget about what others may think and go for it!  Do your thing, take the challenge.

This is important because in order for you to build a strong foundation of beliefs, you have to truly believe in yourself.  Even if it’s a new job assigned to you, believe that you are perfectly capable of doing it.  Although you may feel unprepared, rest assured that you don’t need more degrees and certifications.  You already have what it takes.

Your goal should be to make others think there is no one better than you for the job.  You want to be the first and in may cases the only person people think of when they are looking for someone who has your skills.  Be the “it” person.  Make them feel they cannot do the job without you.  For this, you have to be consistent and let others know they can count on you.

Remember, you have to believe you have what it takes and perform in a way that makes clients feel they can’t do the job without you. Maintain your presence by being approachable, being present, being accountable & respectful.

What else are you doing to be the expert in your field?  A lot of my clients struggle to convince themselves first. Ask me about a coaching session if you want to take yourself to the next level.

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Carry yourself with class: three steps to make a great impression

Are you concerned that your words don’t match your intentions?  Could your body language be costing you valuable relationships? Read these tips to help yourself project your best image.

I am not making reference to your external physical appearance.  I am referring to your inner self, your beliefs.  How do you see yourself?  Do you worry too much about what others think  about you?  Do you avoid taking new challenges out of fear of making mistakes?

What if I told you you are not alone?  Those fears and insecurities are more common than you think.  In fact, most people have them, even those who seem to always shine and do everything right.  You know who I am talking about.  That person who always says the right thing at the right moment.  The one everyone else wants to be around and admires.

Well, you’re no different.  You are perfectly capable of taking on new challenges and shine just like that person.  The only difference is how you see yourself and how you project yourself.  You see, when you exude confidence, you project a better image which leads to being better accepted by others.

One of the best ways to do this is taking on new challenges.  This seems risky but let me explain why you should try it.

When you decide to take on a new challenge and you succeed, little by little you shut down that voice that lurks in the back of your brain and and chews away confidence.  Once you overcome that obstacle it becomes easier for you to tackle new ones.  As this happens, you gradually get more comfortable with the idea and start building a strong foundation of beliefs.  Eventually your confidence boosts, you sense it mentally, show it physically and others take notice.  Pretty soon you become the “it” person.  Now you are valued as an essential member of the team.

To make things easier and get you started in changing your mindset to project a better image I’m going to number three things you can do:

  1. Set your mind.  Decide to move past your fear and be assertive.  Instead of hiding, be available to take on a new challenge.
  2. Show confidence.  Carry yourself well, stand up straight, don’t fidget and look people in the eye when speaking.  Organizing your thoughts before speaking tells others that you are self-assured, increasing the chances that they’ll trust you.
  3. Speak well.  Use proper grammar, avoid slang and speak in a normal, calm tone.   Showing maturity when you speak makes people want to hear more.

What if you make a mistake, you may ask.  That’s a topic for the next blog post.  Until then, what changes are you going to make?  Which of these ideas make the most sense to you? Have any advice about representing your brand? If you want to bounce some ideas with me let’s talk.

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Summer reading

Summer is here and this brings some well deserved break. The kids are not in school and for most, the hectic routine slows down a bit. Thank goodness for vacation, right? We can take time off and spend it with family and friends or even go on a trip. During the summer people are more willing to read books maybe because they are able to slow down. For a minute they can stop and smell the roses.

If you are looking to read books for personal and professional growth, I want to share with you some that I have enjoyed and helped when making important life and work-related decisions in the past.

The first one is Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg’s well known bestseller. In it she shares her own experiences as a student and then as she climbed the ladder (she refers to it as “monkey bars”) all the way to her present position at Facebook. I love how she empowers women by inviting them to “Sit at the table” and to “not leave until you leave”. I took her advice to heart and started seating at the table at department meetings. You see, cardiology has traditionally been a male dominated field and I am still working at the same hospital where I trained. That means I am working with people who may still see me as their junior and I have to confess I may see some of them as my mentors. Talking about pressure!

The first time I decided to sit at the table was not easy but I was determined to sit there and only if I was asked to move then I would. Well, I sat there and to my surprise no one asked me to move. Not only that, in future meetings I was expected to sit at the table and contribute. Wow! I had just been accepted! Not really…I had been accepted long time ago, I just didn’t believe I deserved it. Now I know I do.

The second book is Getting a Grip by Monica Seles. She was the #1 tennis player until a fan of her opponent entered the court and stabbed her in the back. She not only had to deal with the emotional and physical damage from her wound, but her ranking dropped quickly afterwards. In a second she went from being the #1 woman in the world to losing it all. This was not some error she made that she would fix with practice for her next game. To top it all, her father got sick with cancer.

In her book she passionately describes her struggles to get back on the court, gaining weight and trying to lose it, as well as coping with her father’s disease and his eventual death. You can almost feel her powerlessness among the tragedy. I love how she describes the way she finds herself and gets a grip. As an athlete in my younger age who had to stop doing sports due to lesions and the demands of medical school, residency, and dealing with my own father’s disease and eventual death to cancer I totally identify with her life story.

It really opened my eyes to the curve balls that life throws at you and that you cannot force yourself to get out of certain situations. You have to be mentally ready otherwise you continue slipping and falling no matter how hard you try. You need to have the right mindset.

I read these books a few years ago.  More recently I started How Remarkable Women Lead, by Johanna Barsh and Susie Cranston. This one caught my eye while scanning through the aisles of the bookstore. I can’t remember what I was looking for, but when I saw the title I started reading it right then and there and couldn’t stop. The author starts by describing experiences lived since her daughter’s childhood years all the way to adulthood and how she helped her child respond to challenges and fears. Needless to say this is on my night stand and I have to read at least a few pages every night.

I invite you to read these books if you haven’t yet or other books that you find interesting. The summer is here and while the days are longer the season goes by quickly. Take advantage of the break to find ways to help yourself get to where you want to be in life. Before you know it we will be back to packing lunches, hectic mornings and running out the door to make it on time to carpool before the bell rings.

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The Second Half

June is here! Can you believe the first half of the year has passed?  You know what that means, right?

A little over six months ago many of you made goals and resolutions for this year. You made the decision to write down a list of things you wanted to accomplish. Were your resolutions to lose weight, run a marathon, change jobs or have more time for yourself? What you have done so far? Have you forgotten all about it?

It happens to all of us, myself included. We have the best intentions to do something, but then as time goes by we get busy and tend to leave things for later. It may have been that “things got in the way” or “life happened”. Sometimes we take too many responsibilities knowing that we are already booked but we don’t want to disappoint others by saying no. The problem is that we end up disappointing ourselves and not doing the things that will help us accomplish our goals. We put ourselves last and our goals never get done.

If you find yourself making the same list year after year and not accomplishing anything, it’s time to revisit. The good thing is you still can go back and act on those resolutions. Be determined. Whether you have to start anew or get back on track is just a matter of taking action.

In order to make things happen it’s necessary to prioritize. Identify what is making you deviate from accomplishing your goals. Are you spending time doing something that doesn’t help you get where you want to be? Do you find yourself watching TV for 4 hours straight instead of dedicating 30 minutes a day to exercise? Are you dreading your job every day but haven’t yet updated your CV?

If you have not made your goals a priority it is unlikely that you will see any change.  You got six more months to act before the end of the year. Now is time to put them in your calendar, set an alarm and make them happen.  Go on, you can do this.  There’s still time!  I even invite you to add another goal to your list:  make the resolution to complete your goals and not letting anything get in the way.

Have a successful second half of the year!

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Social media platforms

As I am coaching clients, I frequently get asked about the different types of social media platforms and what is their use. People are often confused trying to understand them. I have to be honest, when I started developing my brand I as a little confused too, about which social media platform was optimal for my business and how to use them.

You see, each platform has a different way of presenting the information about your business and brand. Since it is too ambitious to be on every platform, you want to make sure that the purpose of the one you are using aligns with your message.

Here I am going to give you my interpretation of the ones I use and how they can help you present your brand and move forward in your business:

  • Facebook: Most of us know this one and most people use it, but are you using it strategically? Besides your website, this is the face of your business. While most people have a personal (profile) Facebook page, some business owners do not have a business “Like” page and put everything in their profile page. Although this may work, ideally you should have a separate page strictly for business. It may not be worth the risk having your friend’s funny pictures and comments seen by your clients or business associates.
  • Instagram: Think of this one as your photo album. It brings the human experience to your brand, showing you as a person not only as a business. Instagram is ideal for those business owners who have a physical product however, if you are in the service industry do not deny yourself the opportunity. Here, you can show behind-the-scenes photos and videos and still be seen as a business.
  • Twitter: This is more like up-to-the-minute news. At 140 characters, Twitter feeds are short and they also move fast. In order to have impact on Twitter you have to post several times per hour. While this requires more hands-on work, it is a good platform when you are attending events and you post as things occur. You can also post fragments of a larger message throughout the day.
  • LinkedIn: Remember the Rolodex? This is your digital version. Here you want to connect with other professionals. This is not the place to post your pet’s videos nor what you had for lunch. Here you want to keep our CV up-to-date and post about your blog and brand. You will be connected to to other professionals who want to do business with you.

Regardless of what platforms you use, one thing is common to all of them: You need to be consistent in your message and post frequently to be effective for your business.  Contact me to help you use social media for your business.

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Networking errors

As the year goes by, networking events start to happen and people start to attend more. A couple of years ago I was attending a meeting where a marketing expert was guiding us on errors that people make during networking and how to avoid them. I want to share some I think can make the difference between a successful event and a less than optimal experience.

1. Not knowing how to interact with others. Let’s be realistic, it is hard to mix and mingle in a room full of strangers. If you understand that people who attend these events usually do not know others, then you are not at a disadvantage. Try starting the conversation with small talk and evolve from there.

2. Bringing a friend. Not that it is totally wrong, but if you spend the event with someone you know, other people may find it hard to “break the union” to introduce themselves. If you bring someone, make it clear that when you get to the venue you will split and go by yourself around the room to meet others.

3. Handing a business card to everyone at first sight. I’ve said it before, the purpose of networking is to make connections and to know the person before making any business deal or transaction. People feel uncomfortable when a total stranger insists on giving them their card and other marketing materials without getting to know them first.

4. Asking for everyone’s business card. Everyone knows you want to grow your email list and get more customers, but it makes an awkward situation when people ask for someone’s business card without first knowing what that person does.

5. Hanging out too long. You may have clicked right away with this person you just met and you may be having this great conversation going, but other people in the same space may want to know you too. You may be missing on meeting other equally great connections if you spend all the time with only one.

6. Drinking more than you should. While I have not yet seen this, does it need an explanation? You should know how much is enough and exert self-control. You most definitely don’t want people to remember you for the wrong reason.

I’m going to stop here now to keep the list short. I hope you can network successfully and if you are hesitant on connecting with new people, this helps break that barrier. If you are a seasoned at networking, feel free to share your experiences.

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Do you do it all?

“How do you do it?”  I get asked this question almost on a daily basis. As a female Cardiologist, in solo private practice who is also a wife and mother, I happen to be asked this question a lot by other women in cardiology. Usually these are younger women still in training who are either thinking about their future career and having a family.

It makes me truly proud to see more women engaging in careers that are still traditionally male-dominated however, the demands and expectations seem to still be different for women.

As women, we feel the responsibility to take care of the house, the children and the husband in addition to performing well in our careers. Our phones are the first ones that ring when the school nurse calls informing one of our children is sick and we are the ones being called in the morning by our husbands and children when socks and shirts cannot be found.

At home we are the ones holding the fort. We are the ones juggling behind the scenes making things happen. That is a great skill however, in a work environment this, may bring confusion and discrimination. I know I am not the only woman who has been rejected from a job opportunity after having children or who was thought of as not wanting the job as much as the guy next to me because I am married.

Women are qualified to do any job however, it may help to change things around a bit. In order for us to perform we have to decide what is our role in each situation. Are we the directors or the performers? Do we have to take care of every little detail and troubleshoot all the time? This is something we need to have very clear because it will determine how well we can perform and how we will maintain the energy along the day.

Being able do it all, does not imply we have to do it all. When we try to do it all most likely we end up failing in one place. It is important to know that other people are also capable of doing lesser tasks that would take time away from those things that have a high priority and only you can do.

Whether it is relatives, hired help our our own spouses and children, delegating on others makes our lives more feasible. For some, having a diverse support network may be key. In case one person is suddenly unavailable we will have the option of tapping another one’s shoulders and getting the help we need.

How do I do it? Well..I do not have a magic formula but I have learned the hard way that the more I do the less I get accomplished. While I am still a work in progress with room for improvement, I now delegate more and drop my expectations. Even when things are done differently from how I would do them, if the end result is the same I will take that any day and spend energy on what really matters.

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The Importance of Networking

Over the past few months I have upped my game on networking. I have joined a couple of professional women groups and have attended meetings. I have not only met new people, but have met women of different professional backgrounds.

It has been an eye opener how these women support one another and help each other move forward. They cheer on them, promote each other and their businesses and provide accountability. As a business owner and entrepreneur it is very easy to fall back and lag behind on your goals. It is a lonely road that can lead to deviating from your initial plan if you are not focused.

When you have a support system and an accountability group you just make things happen. It has a lot to do with not letting others down. Also, your accountability group can offer tips on better ways of getting where you want to be since most likely there will be people who have already been in a similar situation and can offer their experience.

It is not unusual for people to be discouraged to network, not understanding the importance of it. Many times the return on investment is not appreciated. Let’s be realistic, it takes time and money to network. You may have to spend money on membership fees, travel, and so on however, if you understand the value of what you get in return it is worth it if done right.

If you think you are too busy or too important to network, think again. It can hurt your business or career goals if you don’t. Remember the say; out of sight, out of mind? Well, it’s true. You need to be seen. Even with people whom you’ve known for years, if they don’t see you, they will gradually forget you until they stop thinking about you. Eventually, you become a thing of the past. Why would they think of you and your business?

So long story short, if you want to grow your career or business you should consider networking regularly and meeting new people. Get out of your comfort zone and expand your circle of acquaintances. You’ll be surprised at the relationships you can establish just by getting yourself out there. Who knows?..maybe your next business partner is waiting to meet you.

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When Is The Best Time to Exercise

When is the Best Time To Exercise

This post originally appeared on Certainly Her

I get asked a lot if exercising during the week is better than exercising during the weekend. Everyone’s schedule is different. Some people exercise during the morning, others prefer to exercise at night. Others barely get any physical activity.

According to the American Heart Association the recommendations for overall cardiovascular health are:

“At least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity at least 5 days per
week for a total of 150 minutes;
OR

At least 25 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity at least 3 days per week for a
total of 75 minutes; or a combination of moderate-and vigorous-intensity
aerobic activity,

AND

Moderate-to high-intensity muscle-strengthening activity at least 2 days per week
for additional health benefits.”

For lowering blood pressure & cholesterol:
“An average 40 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous-intensity aerobic activity 3 or 4
times per week.”

Exercise helps improve blood pressure, pulse, and helps with weight management. Usually the bigger challenge is to stay motivated enough to avoid stopping, which leads to gaining back the weight and increase in blood pressure.
I encourage my patients to keep “appointments” in their calendars by separating daily blocks of time dedicated to exercise. In addition to blood pressure readings, I ask them to include exercise sessions in their logs and bring them to me in the follow up appointment. Not only I see their activity level, but it helps them realize how active they have been in a certain period of time. Honestly, not all of them follow through with the recommendations, but at least I am educating them. By being consistent, many times I have seen a change in their behavior leading to weight loss, improved cardiac function, lower blood pressure, and occasionally decrease in medication use.
In general, any exercise is better than no exercise and the best time is when you can actually commit to at least the minimum amount of exercise recommended.

What is your exercise schedule?

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Weight Loss Beyond New Years Resolution

New Year's Resolution

This post originally appeared on Certainly Her

Patients ask me all the time about the best way to lose weight. They are either requesting a diet or an exercise program that I think is best for them. While I try to educate them about eating less calories, reducing food portions and exercising, there is another aspect of weight loss that they need to learn about.  As any other goal in life, a weight loss plan requires what I consider the three essential keys to be successful.

1. Determination. The first step to make any lifestyle change is to actually want to do it. When you have set your mind into making a change, you are actually able to take action and to continue for a longer time to actually see results. Writing your goals makes it easier for you to stay focused and get to your destination. I am not talking about the yearly resolution that people write on a napkin before the clock strikes midnight and forgotten three minute after kissing under the mistletoe. Your best option is to have a journal. Write your goal on the first page and continue entering information as you progress. Looking at the data in print will make you realize your progress and will also keep you accountable of your own actions. It will be a tremendous uplifter when you see the pounds coming off and for those days when you deviate from your plan.

2. Information. You wouldn’t take an exam unprepared, right. Well, the same goes for weight loss. Once you have decided on a goal you should learn as much about the process as you can. But…weight loss is just diet and exercise, right? Wrong! It is about a new attitude, about learning the process and ways that will help you as an individual to actually lose the weight and keep it off. You need to learn about how many calories are optimal for your height, weight, your age, level of activity and so on. In addition, you have to adjust your calorie intake as your weight changes. You also need to learn about what kind of calories you should intake to successfully lose the weight and keep it off. Are you eating more carbohydrates than protein? What about fat? Are you drinking enough water? Do you drink sugary beverages that add calories without realizing it? As you see, there are so many aspects of weight loss beyond eating and exercise that people need to be educated about. You can always find multiple sources of free information online and watch exercise videos. However, the best approach is to consult your physician before starting an exercise program and to consult a nutrition specialist to create an achievable calorie intake plan.

3. Support. This is an essential point that is at many times not practiced. People feel they have to hide their plans from others to avoid shame if they are not successful. However, as any other aspect of life, weight loss is not a straight path from A to B. Dealing with daily life you will encounter many bumps in the road and situations that will deviate you from your plans and interfere with obtaining your goals. Keeping your focus on the goal you are more likely to obtain results. It may take longer than expected but you are more likely to do it if you have someone holding you accountable. Not only that, we all need someone to cheer us up when we do not see the light at the end of the tunnel as it happens when you hit a plateau in your weight for a few weeks straight. Having someone that suggests a healthier alternative to that slice of cake or someone you can look up to who has made a change in their life are ways in which you can find support. Tell your plans to other people that you know will not put you down. Look for weight loss groups and search fitness and nutrition pages on social media. You will be surprised how many people who you don’t even know personally can support you when they are on the same path.

I hope this article helps you in your weight loss plans. Remember to take one day at a time. It is a marathon, not a sprint. You have a whole year to make this happen!

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