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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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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Beat the Back to School Stress

We all know that stress is bad for your health. It raises your blood pressure, it can give you anxiety, headaches, and interfere with your performance at work. Today I want to help you deal with one of the major stressors for families: Back-to-School. Right when we were just too comfortable with the summer vacation we realize that it’s almost time to go back to school. Already?! Pretty soon we will be back to early morning rush and homework evenings.

Because this is a stressful occasion people tend to procrastinate finding themselves later in crowded stores searching for last minute items. Here are a few ways I have developed to be more efficient and have more time left to enjoy the last few weeks of summer.

Order your school supplies in advance: I remember the year my twins started preschool. I was running like a headless chicken from store to store looking for last minute construction paper, glue sticks, nap mats and double of everything! That was on top of working full time in my clinic and seeing patients at the hospital…Ay, Ay, Ay!  When I discovered that there is a company that delivers school supplies directly to the school, I knew I would be ordering from them every year for as long as my children are in school. At the beginning of summer, I take advantage of the dates when they offer free shipping and delivery to the school. It is a major stress reliever to know that with the click of a button your child will have all the supplies on the first day of school. If like me, you live in an area where there are services that deliver your school supplies you are done! If you have not yet done this, find out if there is such a service in your area or order materials online to be shipped in advance.

Get your children’s medical forms ready: Every year I take my kids to their pediatrician for a well-child checkup. That, and the winter flu shots are mandatory in our home.  Being a physician, I know that close to the beginning of the new semester, parents will crowd doctor’s offices in order to fill school forms or get their kids vaccinated before school starts. One sure way of getting this done with less stress is to do it at the end of the school year. Before you go on vacation ask your school for the necessary forms and requirements. Make an appointment with the pediatrician and inform the staff that you need the forms signed by the doctor. Try to fill as much information before you give them to the office staff. It is an easier way to have all forms filled on your appointment day and your physician and staff will appreciate the heads up. You will be relieved when you don’t have a longer wait because the clinic schedule is overbooked. Your doctor and staff will also appreciate that you were diligent and brought the forms one or two months before everyone else.

Tackle the paper monster: We all know that kids bring a lot of paper from school, especially in the early elementary years. When you have more than one child, the mess grows exponentially. You need a strategy to deal with the paper monster, as I call it, in order to maintain your house (and life!) organized. I learned very early that every important piece of paper needs a dedicated place or it will be lost right before you leave for school in the morning.

As soon as your children get home and start taking stuff out from their backpacks, decide what needs to be signed and returned, what will be kept at home and what will be tossed. First, get anything that needs to be signed and returned to school. Sign it and put back in their school bag.

Art projects and crafts sent home are tricky because you obviously don’t want to hurt your child’s feelings however, how much macaroni art can a house hold? Involve your children in the decision of how long it will stay displayed and in the tossing process, if possible (I have to admit I have tossed more than they know, otherwise we would have to find a home only for paper).

Have a color-coded system to file their paperwork and quarterly awards. An accordion file for each child keeps everything in its place.  Scan anything you want to keep and make a file for each child by grade, school year and month. The original can be discarded afterwards. Trust me, the paper pile will grow faster than you think. If you keep things organized you will have more peace of mind, less morning stress and running around. At the end of the year you should be able to purge what is left and decide what to keep.

Having a system before the kids start school makes it easier to beat some stress in your life and helps you enjoy the last few weeks of summer. Let me know what you think about these tips and please share your own ways to stay organized.  See you next time!

Dr. Landrau is a Cardiologist, women’s health advocate, professional speaker, medical blogger and media expert.  She inspires professional women to advance in their careers by teaching them to recognize their talents and voice their achievements. She helps women understand how to best use their skills and to manage their time efficiently. Her talks on empowering women help them regain confidence and to take the necessary steps to become leaders.
Dr. Landrau is available for speaking to corporations, groups and conferences.

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