Workplace Confidence TV: International Etiquette

Business a la carte--basic tips for business dining

To doggy bag, or not to doggy bag….that is the question.

On my recent Workplace Confidence TV show, my guest, Robert Salvatore, and I answered that question.

We discussed etiquette—especially the international kind. Etiquette is not so much about which fork and spoon you use, but how you modify your behavior to make others feel more comfortable.

In this clip we discuss how knowing local customs before you travel can have a positive impact on international business relations.

Take a look:

Bon appétit!,




Copyright 2014 Michelle Kerrigan

Quick tips for more confidence at work.

  • You can depress yourself with your own words. Don’t. Choose language that’s confident.
  • Speak to yourself with encouragement, not discouragement.
  • Change “What if I fail?” to “What if I succeed?”
  • When you feel good on the inside, you project confidence on the outside.
  • You gain confidence by believing first, then doing! So, get past your fear and DO!
  • The first sale is to yourself.  Amen to that!



Copyright 2014 Michelle Kerrigan

Do you need career confidence?

Interviewing--What not to do

Yesterday, a friend of mine called to ask for advice. She is looking for a job and saw one listed on the site of the corporation where she used to work.

She was struggling with the online form that had a million fields to fill out. She wanted to know my thoughts on salary and was also stressing about putting her date of college graduation.

It was clear to me that this form was making her very anxious.

I was shocked that she was even filling out a form for a company where she already had contacts. I advised her to forget the form and start reaching out to the people she knows. To ask them if they know—not the “hiring agent,” which signals Human Resources—but the decision-maker: The buyer. The one who can say “yes.”

My friend hesitated. Even after all these years, she still felt shy and awkward.

Here’s a true pro—one with years of incredible experience—and the hiring process was getting the better of her.

I know that once she gets the job, she will shine.

It’s selling herself to get the job that’s the problem.

What she needs more than anything else is to believe in herself and her skills, her personality, her true value, her self-worth. To see that she has what it takes to produce excellent results, especially as she’s done it many times before.

Then, she needs to start networking. Networking strengthens relationships and builds confidence, which preps you for the main event: The interview.

So, stop relying on a form. Pick up the phone. Send out an email. Reach out for help.

You gain confidence by believing first, then doing!




Copyright 2014 Michelle Kerrigan

5 Ways to Embrace Social Media with Grace and Confidence

I recently attended a social media boot camp. It was an intensive course for training businesses and non-profits who wanted to learn how to use social media (such as Facebook and Twitter) for marketing.

The boot camp provided help for mastering the practical how-to’s, which allayed some concerns as there’s an ever-changing landscape with social media. New forums are always popping up, and the rules and functionality on many of the well-known sites are forever changing. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed.

As an expert in workplace confidence, I can see that social media brings about a whole new set of anxiety-producing behaviors. Gone are the days when most of the marketing dialog went one-way. Social media talks back, which can be a positive thing if you know what you’re doing. However, it can also feel like public speaking where the fear of sounding stiff, ungenuine and uninteresting is there. It’s also where hecklers can hit you broadside.

But, the practical is not the only key to confidence here. It’s the emotional that captures your audience, and like your company (or brand) it is made up of people. Your brand’s personality is what effectively reaches and influences your customer. While technical skills are very important, it’s the soft interpersonal touch that lingers, leaving a positive, lasting impression.

To help you move forward with grace and confidence, here is some advice for embracing social media:

1.   To get it right on the outside, first you must get it right on the inside.  Many businesses and non-profits need to grasp this. I call it “marketing from the inside out”: Employee confidence breeds consumer confidence because they support the brand from the inside out. The same elements needed for employee buy-in and great service —communication, participation, education, commitment — are the same elements needed for customer buy-in and great sales. Considering that the nature of social media is building ambassadors for your brand, your best marketing campaign and biggest revenue driver is sitting right in front of you.

2.   You need to be successful in traditional social interaction to be successful in social media. Think as though your audience is right in front of you—not this huge black hole on the internet. Social media is just a technological way to demonstrate social skills, so if you’re not confident in traditional settings, your discomfort will be magnified on social media. Speaking in conversational tones, using etiquette (e.g. “Please” and “Thank you”), and actively listening to your audience is highly advised. Remember: You are developing relationships, which is the key to developing business.

3.   Be confident, not arrogant. Yes–have a strong, consistent voice.  Don’t be afraid to experiment; but, be careful not to sound brazen and arrogant, which is easy to do from the safety of a computer. In fact, studies have been conducted about false bravery when your message isn’t delivered face-to-face. Most people can sense fake and phony, and don’t appreciate either. Think “Wizard of Oz” marketing: Pull back the curtain, and there is no mighty, all-powerful brand—only a mousey man pulling levers. It’s not only what you say—it’s how you say it that matters.

4.   Be wary of over-delivering. When I first began my blog, I thought I had to post full articles every time to keep it interesting. This was my anxiety and lack of confidence talking. Many of us tend to over-deliver because we think whatever we do is not enough. But, it is. It’s the quality of your message that matters.

5.   Confidence comes when SoMe is not SoYou. When your message is wrapped around helping others, your confidence increases and your voice get stronger because you are focused outside of yourself. Always keep in mind the core beliefs and needs of your audience, and what will be memorable to them. You want a brand that people can identify with and embrace. After all, the key here is embracing them so they’ll embrace you.

Remember: Your image and reputation are two of your greatest assets, which both rely heavily on the personal touch. Your social savvy, like all skills, needs to be to be exercised continually to be most effective. If you want your business to grow, you need to grow too. After all, you are your own best public relations and marketing person. And, as your confidence grows, so does your potential to draw more business to you.



Copyright 2014 Michelle Kerrigan

Watch Workplace Confidence TV Tonight!

If you live in New York—Nassau County and Western Suffolk, to be exact—tune in to my show tonight: 8:30 pm, Channel 28 Fios, 18 Cablevision.

My guest, Robert Salvatore, and I will be discussing International Etiquette!

So be there!

Pinkies up ;) ,





Copyright 2014 Michelle Kerrigan

Even Superheroes Get the Blues.

Yesterday, I finalized my new avatar for my social media platforms, and here it is—ta-da!

Super Executive!

I was thrilled as we uploaded it to Twitter after a long day of tweaks and discussion. It has just the right combination of corporate confidence and empowerment with a nod to the superhero in all of us.

Later that evening, my husband saw the drawing lying on my desk. When I told him what it was, he was concerned—thinking it looked playful, not powerful; but I wanted both.

His comment made me start to doubt myself and feel anxious.

My cape no longer fluttered, but drooped sadly on the floor.

It was then that I realized that, after a long day of doing good, even superheroes can feel tired and cranky.

After a good night’s sleep, the world—and this drawing—looked so much better.

So, if you’re a superhero who battles for good daily, give yourself a break.

Relax and hang up your cape.

You need your rest to do your best tomorrow.


Copyright 2014 Michelle Kerrigan


Depression at work.

Yesterday, I had an entirely different post planned. Then, I learned of the death of Robin Williams. Heartbreaking that he suffered for so long while he brought joy and laughter to so many. I just wish that he could’ve found peace here, in this world.

One out of every 10 people battling depression commits suicide, and I believe with technology overload,  social media comparisons, internet bullying, extreme expectations, and heightened insecurity in our worlds, this number will, unfortunately, rise.

With this in mind, I am sharing the top signs of clinical depression from WebMD, as well as the warning signs of suicide. Plus, here is a link to the WebMD site to help you if you, or someone you know, suffers and needs help:

Signs of clinical depression include:

  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
  • Fatigue and decreased energy
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and/or helplessness
  • Feelings of hopelessness and/or pessimism
  • Insomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
  • Irritability, restlessness
  • Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable, including sex
  • Overeating or appetite loss
  • Persistent aches pains, cramps, headaches or digestive problems that do not ease even with treatment
  • Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” feelings
  • Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts

Warning signs of suicide with depression include:

  • A sudden switch from being very sad to being very calm or appearing to be happy
  • Always talking or thinking about death
  • Clinical depression (deep sadness, loss of interest, trouble sleeping and eating) that gets worse
  • Having a “death wish,” tempting fate by taking risks that could lead to death, such as driving through red lights
  • Losing interest in things one used to care about
  • Making comments about being hopeless, helpless, or worthless
  • Putting affairs in order, tying up loose ends, changing a will
  • Saying things like “It would be better if I wasn’t here” or “I want out”
  • Talking about suicide (killing one’s self)
  • Visiting or calling people one cares about

Please—be aware. Reach out. Get or give help. Don’t ignore or run away. Let friends, family, and colleagues know you are there.

Thank you.



Grateful for this wonderful medical information, Copyright 2005-2014 WebMD, LLC


Why “Yes” = Success

handling rejection

I had lunch the other day with a friend who had recently been downsized.

She spoke non-stop about all the things she would NOT do in her future career.

After 30 minutes of negativity, I finally stopped her.

I told her that all I was hearing was “No, no, no, no.”

I get this. When we are rejected, it hurts. So much so that we tend to reject anything before it rejects us.

This type of attitude can kill any chances of success.

I told my friend, you need to wake up saying “Yes!”

You need to stop rejecting and start having an attitude of positivity.

An attitude of “Yes.”

When you do, you’ll find that yes is the key to success.


Copyright 2014 Michelle Kerrigan

30-Second Cure for Anxiety

I was walking down 7th Avenue in New York City the other evening when I saw a giant SUV inching its way crosstown.

Hordes of pedestrians kept walking in front it, impeding it’s progress.

Finally, the exasperated driver opened her window and yelled “Bow down bitches!!”

She and I locked eyes for a minute and began hysterically laughing.

It got me thinking about negative and self-defeating thoughts, and how often they block our path and slow our progress.

The driver of the SUV couldn’t control the flow of traffic.

But you can control the flow of your thoughts.

So the next time those negative and self-defeating thoughts get in your way, yell “Bow down bitches!”

Run those thoughts over, and have a good laugh!

Copyright 2014 Michelle Kerrigan

Women need more Confidence at work

Last September, I wrote the following piece after attending a symposium focused on women entrepreneurs. The big questions were: Why aren’t there more women entrepreneurs? More women CEOs? More women at the top?

After months of research, including advising and interviewing women, I am convinced that the main reason there are fewer women leaders is lack of confidence. We need more of that fabulous fuel that compels us to take action, keep us on track, and get us from dream to dream-come-true.

I will be sharing more about my findings in upcoming posts. For now, consider the changes I discuss below. These still hold true.

How Women become Better Leaders: Change begins and ends with you.

When the question arose at the symposium–”why aren’t there weren’t more women at the top?”–of course, the first target of discussion was men. They are the problem.

Ladies—this is wrong and you know it.

As I listened to cries of “men don’t treat us as equals in the board room”, and “they don’t take us seriously,” the first reason came to mind: it’s how we perceive ourselves that matters. Trust me, I’ve chaired enough high powered meetings where I’ve been the only woman, and, anyone who knows me knows I can hold my own. That’s because I don’t look around the room and say—“wow, these are all high-powered men.” I just see them as colleagues, teammates, equals.

We are never a minority, unless we think like one.

So, change #1: Think of yourself as an equal. Stop walking into the board room with preconceived ideas, a chip on your shoulder, or looking for differences. We are all created equal.

Now—back to the meeting….. While there was a loud cry of inequality, a female law partner, who headed the panel, told a different story.

This woman spoke of her experience as an associate moving up the ranks, always being backstabbed by other women associates. She vowed that when she made it big, she would help other women, because she knew what it felt like to be hurt. I’ve seen her in action. She kept her promise.

Moral of the story: once you storm the citadel, don’t shut the gates behind you.

Which brings me to change #2: Women need to be better team players. Maybe the guys have an advantage because they’ve played more team sports as kids. I’m not sure. I am sure that leaders need to be exemplary team players. In some of the talks I’ve given, we’ve discussed great attributes of team players, and how to assess ourselves. The top descriptions are: reliable, supportive, positive, adaptable and accessible. Does this describe you? If it doesn’t, then remember: the only person you control is you. Your thoughts. Your behavior. That’s how you become a better you, a better teammate, a better leader.

And this brings me to change #3: We need to stop trying to change, correct—or should I say, “fix”—other people. C’mon—if you have a husband, boyfriend, or significant other, you know what I’m talking about.

I was just in a creative seminar where we were broken out into groups. My group contained four men, one other woman, and me. Our task was to come up with our own book titles, and then help each other develop chapters. We were to get our creative juices flowing by collaboration and free thinking—no editing our thoughts. The guys shared ideas without any judgment. Then the other woman chimed in. Many of her ideas were great, but, she spoiled it by constantly criticizing the way I spoke. She told me not to start any of my sentences with the word “but”, and constantly interrupted my creative flow by trying to correct me. But, I wasn’t looking for her to change me. I was looking for her to help me.

You see, no matter how much we might try, the only people we can control and change are ourselves. We can’t control men, the world, injustice and bad things that happen to us. The only things we have power over are our own thoughts and actions.

Taking control of ourselves in a more supportive and less critical way gives us more confidence and self esteem. That’s what it’s really all about.

When we change ourselves for the better, and feel good about who we are, there are no barriers. Positive change begins and ends with us. And there are no ifs, ands, or buts about it!



Copyright 2013, 2014 Michelle Kerrigan