How to get unstuck in your career: Tip #2

When you feel stuck in your career, it’s important to choose the problem-solving path, not the problem-generating one. That’s how you deal instead of dwell.

Let me explain:

The problem generating path is where you create problems by being too negative. You lose confidence on this path, and you lose your way. It’s where you:

  • Dwell on the past
  • Worry about the future
  • Doubt yourself
  • Shut down
  • Get stuck

“Dwell” is the operative word here. It’s natural to feel anxious and fearful at first. In fact, discomfort often drives change. But, when you dwell on the negative, you mentally go around and around and come out at the same place—nowhere. No wonder you get stuck!

Now, let’s look at the problem solving path. When you problem solve, you gain confidence. You move forward towards success. It’s on this path that you:

  • Acknowledge and accept your fears
  • Take control—talk yourself through it
  • Begin to think positively
  • Ask “What are my next steps?”
  • Take action
  • Turn fear and doubt into planning and action

This path helps you deal instead of dwell. You take control, think empowering thoughts, ask better questions and take action.

See how it changes? Which path keeps you stuck and which one takes you forward and closer to your goal?

You decide.


Copyright 2015 Michelle Kerrigan

How to Get Unstuck in Your Career: Tip #1

Tips on how to get unstuck

From time to time, throughout your career, you will feel stuck. Trust me, you are not alone.

This feeling brings up questions. Many of which may sound like this:

Should I leave my present employer?

Should I take that job that pays less but has more meaning for me?

Should I change direction completely?

Should I start my own company?

Should I ask for a raise, even though I might leave?

What should I do??

The first thing you need to know when you’re feeling stuck is this:

Don’t put yourself down for being who you are and where you are.

Which leads me to tip #1 for getting unstuck: Stop using the word “should.”

“Should” is a pressure-point word that sets limitations and suggests guilt, anxiety, and wrong-doing.

Often, “should” relates to someone else’s expectations, and not your own. Think of someone pointing a finger at you (a parent or spouse, perhaps?), and telling you what you should be doing. And, now you’re pointing the finger at you!

Uncomfortable, yes?

So, try this instead: Replace the word “should” with words such as, “could,” “would,” and “if I wanted to.” For instance: “If I wanted to, could I start my own company?” and “Would I like to change direction in my career?”

Should means “supposed to” and “must” do. “Could, “ “would, ” and “if I wanted to” opens your world to possibility and “can” do.

Which sounds and feels better to you?

When you base your decisions more on desire, and less on demand, it’s easier to get unstuck.

The choice is yours after all.

So—what would you like to do?


Copyright 2105 Michelle Kerrigan

Startup Keys to Confidence: Key #9—Behold the Power of Networking

At a recent start-up/founder breakfast, the topic of networking came up. A few of the founders asked “Why should I network, if my main target is investors?”

For over three decades, I have helped people become more confident and successful at work. Success depends largely on our ability to grow and change without feeling vulnerable or resistant in the process.

I have already shared the first 8 start-up keys to confidence, which can be found here:

The 9th key answers the question about the importance of networking, especially for startups.

For one, networking helps you build your social skills, which is critical to your success. You may not be ready to tackle the big investor fish, so practice on smaller fish first. Networking gives you the perfect opportunity to try out your pitch and to hone it.

Next—networking helps you market your ideas, understand your audience and competition better, and build relationships that could be very helpful in the future.

Networking can also bring wonderful—and surprising—opportunities. I know of a consultant who was asked to speak at a small event as a favor to his wife. Unbeknown to him, the wife of a CEO was part of the audience and, impressed by the consultant, introduced him to her husband. A $300,000 contract was the result!

Finally—and most importantly—we all need support. Being a founder can be a lonely occupation. Networking is a wonderful way to find and build the support you need: People who can advise you, motivate you, focus you, and ease your journey.

When was the last time you networked?


Copyright 2015 Michelle Kerrigan

How’s your day going?

Today started out crazy for me.

I had taken most of yesterday off to attend the Christie’s preview of Magnificent Jewels. I specifically wanted to view an 80 carat diamond before it was auctioned this evening. The weather in Manhattan was terrific—we’re finally showing signs of spring in New York. And, the yes—the diamond was magnificent! It—and my day—were flawless.

But, this morning brought a dismal, rainy start, filled with a long catch-up list. By 3 o’clock (and after too many interruptions), I was ready to write the day off as a total disaster. Then, the weather started to improve, and so did my mood. I began to pick up steam, and zipped through my list!

It reminded me how often we can write the day off way too soon. Sometimes, even before we leave the house.

A nasty start doesn’t guarantee a terrible finish.

You just need to have confidence that things will improve.

Here’s hoping that your day turned out flawless!


Copyright 2015 Michelle Kerrigan


30-Second Cure for Anxiety: Using Mantras

30-second cure for anxiety

What you say when you talk to yourself is very powerful. You can make your own thoughts and words work for you—or against you–even in the midst of a hectic day.

Awareness is the first key, so, the minute you feel yourself getting anxious and stressed, recognize any negative messages you’re sending yourself. Then, substitute a more powerful and positive message by using a mantra.

Mantras are repeated words or phrases used to help in concentration and meditation. In this instance, a mantra is a form of brainwashing, cleansing your mind of stress, and forcing you to abandon your negative beliefs in favor of something more positive.

For instance: Your boss has just given you a difficult project. Your anxiety is rising as you begin to worry about all the “what-if’s” that could go wrong. You just got the assignment, and are already convincing yourself that you will fail.

With a mantra—one which you create that makes you feel safe and secure—you replace the bad belief with something good. It could be as simple as “I am calm, confident, successful and in control.” It’s the phrase and the repetition of the phrase that does the trick!

Compose a mantra right now that makes you feel good. Repeat it throughout the day, and see how you feel.

Remember: Just as you can talk yourself into the bad, you can also convince yourself of the good.

Try it. Repeat it. And see…….


Copyright 2015 Michelle Kerrigan


The Raise Rules: What You Need to Know to Ask for What You Want. Rule#2:

So, here’s the second raise rule (which I can’t stress enough):

Know your audience.

It’s important to understand that when you ask for anything, you must be aware of the person you’re asking. Remember: it’s never just about you.

Before asking for that raise, consider asking yourself:

“What does the corporate culture indicate about increases in salary?”

“What’s my boss’s motivation in helping me?”

“What does she/he want that I offer?”

“What does she/he get out of all this?”

“What time of day is best to approach my boss and what time is best to schedule an appointment?”

“How will I handle any hurdles, including rejection?”

“Who is the person that can really say ‘Yes,’ and what matters most to them?” (Hint: The “Yes” person is often not your direct report.)

And—“What else do I need to be prepared?”

It’s important to note that when you ask for a raise, you should never make your boss do the work (eg: listing your accomplishments or additional responsibilities, or writing your updated job description.) You must do it for them.

So—do you know your audience?

I certainly hope so!


Copyright 2015 Michelle Kerrigan


The Raise Rules: What You Need to Know to Ask for What You Want. Rule#1:

What you need to know to ask for what you want

I was recently asked, “I’ve been in my company for 13 years, and feel I deserve a raise for that. How do I approach my boss?”

So, I thought I’d share a number of tips to help you become more confident and successful throughout your career.

This question prompted the first raise rule, which is:

It’s the quality, not the quantity, which matters most in your career.

Case in point: A woman who once worked for me insisted that she be promoted from manager to VP simply because she had been in her job for 30 years. Her responsibilities hadn’t changed much, and neither had she, except for her sarcasm and sense of entitlement, which had grown to aggravating proportions.

She kept insisting that she deserved a huge raise and higher title because she had 30 years of experience. What she really had was 1 year, repeated 30 times! She was furious when I told her “No.”

Longevity may have been a useful bargaining tool years ago (especially if you were well-liked, flexible, helpful—a great team player) but it’s not the first and best card to play today.

Today, it’s the value you bring to the present and the future of your company that matters most. It’s not just about what matters most to you. When you’re asking for a raise, what’s more important is what matters most to your audience–the people who can say “Yes.”

I’ll discuss getting to “Yes” more in upcoming rules on your road to success.


Copyright 2015 Michelle Kerrigan


Confidence Quote of the Week: Mahatma Gandhi

“A man is but the product of his thoughts. What he thinks, he becomes.” —Mahatma Gandhi

Truer words were never spoken. Works for women too! ;-)

You cannot control what happens to you. The only thing you can control is you—your thoughts and how you react to things.

Confidence comes from self control.

So, gain confidence by gaining control of your thoughts.

You really can change your life by changing your mind.

Try it right now and see!


Copyright 2015 Michelle Kerrigan

Today: Choose Yaaaaaaahoooooooo!!!

choose yahoo in your life, the power of positve thinking

A long time ago, I remember hearing a story about 2 women learning to ski for the first time: one very fun-loving, one very anxious. The story is told from the perspective of the anxious woman, as she observes the more confident woman descending the mountain ahead of her.

The storyteller is amazed as she watches this woman fly down the slope, all the while yelling “yaaaaaahooooooooo!!!”

The anxious woman descends next, and shares how she goes slowly, cautiously, fearfully…all the while praying that she won’t die.

When the 2 meet and talk at the bottom of the hill, the anxious woman asks, “How did you do that?? Wasn’t your heart pounding like crazy? Wasn’t your pulse racing? Weren’t you petrified???”

The “yahoo” woman replied: “Yes, my heart was pounding like crazy. And, yes—my pulse was racing. But I saw it as excitement—not fear.”

We all make this same choice every day: to live our lives in fear or excitement.

So—what’s it going to be?

I’m going with “Yaaaaahoooooooooo!”

I hope you do too.



Copyright 2015 Michelle Kerrigan


How Leaders Turn Promises Into Results

“The gap between promises and results is widespread and clear. The gap nobody knows is the gap between what a company’s leaders want to achieve and the ability of their organization to achieve it.”—Larry Bossidy, former CEO, Honeywell and General Electric

The gap nobody knows is bridged by day-to-day operations. Everything comes from it. It’s where your company lives and breathes–where ideas spring to life in the form of people, process and teamwork.  It is the heart of execution–where strategy succeeds or fails. It’s a space I’ve worked in for years, and where I help leaders and teams succeed today.

Day-to-day operations comprise roughly 80% of most organizations, making it one of their largest investments.  Yet this asset is often overlooked. Not leveraging its value widens the gap and means your company is leaving money on the table. In today’s economy, where resources are at a premium and you need to organize and expedite at the speed of change, can you afford to do that?

So why is it undervalued and underutilized?

I’ve asked a few leaders this same question, and they all focused on strategy as the one thing that mattered most. In fact, one leader, when asked about day-to-day operations and execution, waved his hand in dismissal and said “that’s management’s problem.”

As dieting is a favorite topic of mine, I asked this leader to compare business strategy and execution with a personal goal of losing weight. You want to lose 20 pounds. You plan on joining a gym, drinking 8 glasses of water a day, controlling food portions and counting calories. That’s your strategy—the direction you wish to take. You can say it a thousand times, promise your doctor or spouse, clip out photos of the ‘dream figure’ and attach it to your refrigerator door.

But unless you take the necessary steps to incorporate your plan into your everyday routine, nothing happens. No change. Not one pound shed. Your weight remains the same—you don’t move forward and you don’t reach your goal. Promises don’t yield results without day-to-day execution.

So, what does it really take to execute strategy successfully and affect positive change?:

  • Have the right resources: Healthy food, personal trainer, scale, calorie calculator–you get the idea.
  • Develop realistic timelines and expectations: 2 pounds a week for 10-12 weeks. The greatest mistake most dieters (and leaders) make is being unrealistic about how long things take. Being realistic limits risk and disappointment.
  • Decide a deadline: Your svelte cousin’s wedding. The holidays. Your launch date. It’s amazing how activity levels rise as deadlines loom.
  • Get support: Choose the best people to help you stay on track: friends, family, personal trainer. Have the right team.
  • Take action every day: Go to the gym, exercise, eat lots of vegetables, count calories. Respect–and complete–all the daily tasks it takes.
  • Stay motivated and energized: Keep your eyes on the prize—what success looks like (Remember that picture on the refrigerator? What’s your company’s vision of success?)
  • Minimize distractions: Especially procrastination and perfectionism. Try to avoid wasting time on the wrong activities and getting discouraged if you veer off course now and then.
  • Allow for setbacks and unforeseen events: Parties that involve red velvet cake are to a dieter what production snafus are to a leader.
  • Monitor for results: Be accountable and follow through: Have someone record your progress on a regular basis. Monitoring is the key to successful change.
  • Link rewards to performance: Reinforce progress by celebrating milestones with small rewards and work towards that big payoff when you reach your goal. (A new wardrobe for a svelte figure, or a new stream revenue for your company.)

The leader appreciated the analogy: Strategy only works when you take the necessary steps every day to move it forward. That’s how you turn promises into results.

Leadership is not just about pointing the way—it’s about being an integral part of the process from start to finish. It’s about dealing with the realistic issues of the day. It’s about tapping into your greatest asset–day-to-day operations–to get your company where it needs to go.

And who knows?  Maybe you’ll lose a pound or two along the way.


Copyright 2015 Michelle Kerrigan