TIME career

The Best Negotiation Books for 2015

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Get what you deserve

If there’s one thing we believe (there are many things but sure let’s call it one), it’s that working women need to know how to negotiate and #askformore. As always, that’s far easier said than done. So we’re here to provide you with all the negotiation information you’ll need to get up to confidence to ask for more, clearly demonstrate your value, and get that raise. Just in the past few months we warned you about avoiding common negotiation mistakes, we talked to Mika Brzezinski on why she won’t stop until women “know their value,” and we published a whole slate of personal essays from real women who asked for more.

Now, it’s your turn. 2015 should be the year you ask for a raise, because there’s still a massive wage gap in this country and if we don’t negotiate for ourselves, we’re getting nowhere. These books will help you get to work and get what you deserve.

1. The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance—What Women Should Know by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman

Scared to negotiate for a raise you know you deserve? Join the club. If you aren’t confident about your value, there’s no way you can sit down at a negotiation table and convince someone else of it. The second book from the authors of Womenomics, The Confidence Code was met with a fantastic reception when it was released last year. Cosmopolitan Editor-in-Chief Joanna Coles said, “The Confidence Code belongs in the bag of every woman in America. It combines groundbreaking scientific research and firsthand accounts from the world’s most powerful woman.” If you need to work on your confidence, start here.

2. Perfecting Your Pitch: How to Succeed in Business and in Life by Finding Words That Work by Ronald M. Shapiro

Next step? You’ll need to craft a pitch and hone it to perfection. The importance of nuanced language can’t be unestimated in situations like this, and Shapiro will help you strike the perfect chord. Daniel H. Pink, author of To Sell is Human, said it best: “Perfecting Your Pitch covers a staggering array of life situations, from salary negotiations to personal relationships, in which a wrong word or an inept phrase could mean the difference between success and failure. Sometimes you only get one chance to ask for what you want or express how you feel—and this book is the perfect guide to help you make the most of those opportunities.” Don’t let that stress you out, just grab this book and always speak thoughtfully.

MORE 6 Annoying Things Women Are Told About Their Salary Negotiation Skills

3. The Global Negotiator: Making, Managing and Mending Deals Around the World in the Twenty-First Century by Jeswald W. Salacuse

Admittedly, I hadn’t thought about negotiation in global terms until I read about this book. Jeswald W. Salacuse is a professor of law at Tufts University who teaches executive training programs sponsored by the Harvard Program on Negotiation, so he will certainly have a more academic, big-picture perspective on the art of negotiation. Library Journal called The Global Negotiator “a unique, outstanding guidebook breaks down the intricacies of international negotiations into understandable segments and provides the tools to ensure success in the creation, management, and remediation of international deals.” If you want to take your negotiation skills international, you may want to check out this guide.

4. Getting To Yes with Yourself: And Other Worthy Opponents by William Ury

You’ve probably heard of Ury’s bestselling Getting to Yes, originally published about thirty years ago. Based on the work of the Harvard Negotiation Project, Ury provided a step-by-step guide to reaching mutually beneficial agreements in any conflict. In his years of coaching, Ury found that more often than not, the problem in negotiations is not the opposing party, but ourselves. So with this new release, Ury asks an even more compelling question, “How can we expect to get to yes with others if we haven’t first gotten to yes with ourselves?” Don’t miss this one.

5. Negotiating at Work: Turn Small Wins into Big Gains by Deborah M. Kolb with Jessica L. Porter

Negotiating at Work was wholeheartedly endorsed by one of our favorite people, Mika Brzezinski, so we know it’s a winner. “Deborah Kolb continues the important message of Knowing Your Value in her latest book by providing specific tools and tactics that have the power to reshape a woman’s trajectory at work,” Brzezinski said. “I recommend Negotiating at Work to every woman, leader, and organization that is truly invested in ensuring quality and diversity at the top.” That’s more than enough for me to give it a read.

MORE Career Books Every Young Woman Needs to Read

6. Persuasion Equation: The Subtle Science of Getting Your Way by Mark Rodgers

Once you’ve built up your confidence and determined your value, it’s time to get persuasive. Persuasion Equation is full of practical ideas that you can put into practice ASAP, including a seven-step persuasive action plan, “moment of yes” dos and donts, and 10 emergency actions when things are headed south. You have a bit of time before this book hits shelves, so add it to your “to buy” list as a final step before your big ask.

This article originally appeared on Levo.com.

TIME Innovation

Are We Breaking Up With Saudi Arabia?

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

These are today's best ideas

1. Is the special Saudi-U.S. relationship on the rocks?

By Ray Takeyh at the Council on Foreign Relations

2. Two-year degrees can really pay off.

By Liz Weston at Reuters

3. A self-contained urban farm, delivered in a box, could slash water use by 90 percent.

By Danny Crichton in TechCrunch

4. How a lake full of methane could power Rwanda and DR Congo.

By Jonathan W. Rosen in MIT Technology Review

5. Nope, we’re not going to live on crickets in the near-future.

By Brooke Borel in Popular Science

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.


9 Part-Time Jobs That Pay Lots of Money

dog walker
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These gigs keep the cash coming even if you aren't doing them every day.

If you’re trying to get out of debt, a part-time job can help you accelerate your debt payoff plan. Or maybe you are a parent with kids still at home or nearing retirement and you want extra income to avoid getting into debt, but you don’t want to be tied to a full-time job. Here are some of the most lucrative part-time jobs that also offer flexible hours. (Of course, earnings will vary significantly based on experience, geographic location, demand, etc.)

Rideshare Driver

Range: $15 to $30/hour

What you need: A reliable vehicle, smartphone, ability to pass a background check.

“Over the past year, we’ve seen a huge influx of drivers and a few rate cuts so while it’s not as lucrative as it once was,” drivers can still make good money, says Harry Campbell, publisher of TheRideShareGuy.com. “Generally, the bigger the city, the better the money.” He says drivers tend to make the most money on Friday and Saturday nights. Best of all, he says this work offers “immense flexibility.”


Range: $10 to $75/hr

What you need: Training ($250-$600), ServeSafe Certification ($40), uniform and bar kit (about $50 together).

Lea Hatch, owner of the event planning and bartending company, A Shot Above Entertainment, Inc. says that she, her husband and their staff work mostly on weekends, giving them a full-time income for a part-time lifestyle. “A bartender/server with our company will make a minimum of $80 for four hours,” she says, “but in general we average $100 to $150 per night. Our most lucrative events net us $800 to $1,200 per staff member.” In bartending jobs, income is often heavily dependent on tips, which can vary.

Office Professional

Range: $20 to $30/hour

What you need: Experience requirements vary depending on position.

Companies looking for part-time experienced workers are often in a “high-growth stage” but “hesitant to invest in human capital, just don’t have the work to justify 40 hours per week,” says Ellen Grealish, co-founder of FlexProfessionals, LLC. “Top part-time roles in terms of number of requests are finance (bookkeeping and accounting), administration (personal assistant, office manager, administrative, etc..) and HR (generalist, recruiter),” she says.

If you have specialized skills — you are a whiz at Quickbooks, for example — you may be able to bring in $25 to $35 an hour, contract specialists often make $50 to $60 per hour, and some attorneys who no longer want the grind of working full time can command $85 to $100/hour, she says.

Special Events Worker

Range: $12 to $15/hour

What you need: Requirements vary, training may be provided.

Special events, such as hotel banquets or concerts are often staffed in part by part-time workers who handle the influx of customers. Companies may find these workers through sites such as Shiftgig.com. “Highest paying gigs come from customer service positions at silent auctions that pay $15/hr and includes a $20 travel stipend,” says Shiftgig co-founder and CEO Eddie Lou. “Onsite managers can earn $20/hour.”


Range: $13 to $18/hour

What do you need: Clear background check and drug test, CPR and first aid training, speak fluent English.

Working professionals, celebrities and families looking for childcare help when traveling or attending special events often need reliable screened adult babysitters to watch their children. They turn to firms like The Babysitting Company where the screening has already been done for them. “Our professionally trained sitters work both part time and full time,” says Rachel Charlupski. She adds that there is a great degree of flexibility and many sitters are students, nurses or retired professionals. “Some sitters work with one family throughout the year and others wait for shorter-term assignments whenever they are available and remain on call. We have even booked travel assignments as 5 a.m. where a sitter had to be at the client’s plane at 8 a.m. to travel to Germany.”

Web Designer

Range: $20 to $150/hour

What you need: Web design skills

“Designers with strong portfolios can make incredible money, particularly if they team up with small website marketing firms that build/maintain websites for small- and medium- (sized) businesses,” says Josh Lindenmuth, CIO with the payroll company Payce, Inc. He says one designer he knows personally made over $15,000 a month on the side. “The key was that he became extremely good at churning out great sites fast. He could get done a $1,000 site every two days, while a less skilled designer/developer may take two weeks,” he says. Web design skills — which can be learned online or at local community colleges — and a great portfolio are essential.

Designers with special skills can also command higher incomes. For example, motion graphic designers on the marketplace shakr.com earn 70% of all revenue earned (indefinitely) through their Adobe after-effect templates.

Dog Walker

Range: $15 to $75/ hour

What you need: Must love dogs! May also need to be licensed and/or bonded, and purchase insurance.

Earnings depend on locale and will increase if you can walk multiple dogs at the same time. On the plus side, “It provides plenty of exercise and you will meet new and interesting people on your walks,” says career counselor and executive coach Roy Cohen. “My dog, Oskar, is walked twice a day by a group of folks who are all artists, actors or students,” he says.


Range: $15 to $200/hour

What you need: Ability to tutor children or adults in specific subjects.

“For teachers, ex-teachers, college instructors and grad students this is a great option,” says Cohen. It may help to work through a tutoring company initially to learn the ropes, though pay will be lower than if you work on your own. Increasingly, good tutors can work through online portals, which means less travel to client homes, and those skilled in high-demand areas, such as SAT tutoring, can earn more.

Business Consulting

Range: $150 to $300/hour

What you need: An MBA from a top-tier business school and/or specialized expertise.

Rather than hiring large consulting firms, some companies are now working on a more ad hoc basis, hiring individuals for strategic planning, process improvement, creating presentations and more. Rob Biederman, co-founder at HourlyNerd.com says technology now makes it simpler and more affordable to connect consultants to companies that need help. Our consultants “make a profile that feeds into an algorithm and when a project gets posted you will be automatically invited to bid on it.”

Marisa Goldenberg, whose education included a computer science degree from Princeton and an MBA from Harvard, often earns $250/hour and up as a consultant to top companies through HourlyNerd.com. “Depending on your experience level and what kind of project you are looking for you can set it up to work as much or as little as you want,” she says. She says she often sprints for a month, working very hard, then takes a break.

Whatever side income you pull in, just make sure you save it or use it to strategically pay off your debts. (Don’t make the mistake I made right out of college when I worked part-time in a retail job where I spent a good portion of my earnings on clothes!) Paying down debt can boost your credit scores (and you can get your credit scores for free on Credit.com to track your progress) which in turn can help you get out of debt faster. And that can make all that extra work worth it!

More from Credit.com

This article originally appeared on Credit.com.

TIME career

How to Practice Self Care in Your Career

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Boundaries aren't just for maps


Whether you’re starting your working life or just starting a new job, deliberately thinking through how you’ll take care of yourself is a must-have part of your professional development plan. A former boss put it this way: “Put yourself first, your family second, and your job third. If you aren’t healthy, you can’t be at your best.” How do you do that? Begin by making self-care a priority.

1. Plan Your Trip

The first time I heard the term “self-care”, I was well on my way to burnout. I was a third grade teacher at a small school in New England. I was living alone for the first time, had no social life beyond my fellow teachers at the school, and it was taking everything I had to manage a particularly difficult class that year. I will always be grateful to the colleague who gently asked, “How are you taking care of yourself?” The truth was, I wasn’t. I had let Me get taken over by Everyone Else. I started hesitantly — a hot bubble bath and candles every night; “Orange Food Nights,” consisting of mac-n-cheese and Cheetos, when things were particularly stressful.

ACTION TIP: Do an inventory of the following things: What makes you happy? When do you feel most at peace? What is your toolbox of activities that bring you back to you? Going for a run? Dancing in your kitchen? Meeting up with friends? Making art? Meditating? Massages? The point is not to lose yourself. The point is to reconnect with yourself.

2. Pay Attention to Your Check Engine Light

I formed some bad self-care habits early. Growing up, it was very difficult for my mother, a high school teacher, to take time off from work, so unless I was bleeding from a major wound or throwing up, I went to school. “Bleeding or throwing up” is a terrible baseline for self-care.

ACTION TIP: When you feel yourself careening toward the edge, take a mental health day (you don’t even have to be bleeding or throwing up to do it!). See a movie matinee. Surprise your kids by picking them up from school and getting ice cream. Leave your work email be for now. You aren’t being truant. You’re being responsible to your life.

As a self-employed entrepreneur, this is more challenging but also even more important. After a meeting the other day, I stepped out into the Manhattan winter sunshine and turned the grocery shopping I had planned to do on the way home into a grand adventure. It took hours longer than I’d planned, but when I returned home, the joy of the day was like oxygen for my soul. I’m learning that “Saturdays” happen at various times — not just on Saturday. Saturday is a feeling, not a day on the calendar.

3. Get Regular Inspections

Make the time to be with people who feed your soul. I have a standing coffee meeting that is mostly work-focused, but our conversations inevitably drift off into the rest of our lives, too. I leave our coffee shop refreshed and filled with renewed creativity and focus. This person could be a mentor, or just someone who provides perspective. Getting out of your head is one of the most important things you can do as you find your way.

4. Enjoy the Drive

“Work/life balance” is a mythical goal. You don’t want “work/life balance.” You want flow between the two. So respect the flow. Sometimes, you’re going to be in such a good groove that you’re going to work 12 or 14 hours at a time. Work at its best feels like art- immersive and creative. Honor that. This, too, is a part of self-care.

Knowing how to care for yourself is a critical part of being a successful professional. Invest the time to understand how you best nurture yourself.

You can learn more about Susanna on her website, and follow her on Twitter @SusannaDW.

This article originally appeared on Live in the Grey.

More from Live in the Grey:


6 Things Millennials Should Do Now That Will Pay Off Big Later On

Try these tips for getting started when you have limited funds and lots to pay for

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Getting started as a saver and investor can be a tricky balancing act. You have bills to pay, student loans to settle, and a career to jump start. You have to create a cash cushion for emergencies at the same time that you are being urged to salt away money for a far-off retirement date. Here’s some smart advice on how set your priorities.

Adapted from “101 Ways to Build Wealth,” by Daniel Bortz, Kara Brandeisky, Paul J. Lim, and Taylor Tepper, which originally appeared in the May 2015 issue of MONEY magazine.

  • 1. Tuck away a month of expenses.

    money tucked in mattress
    Steven Puetzer—Getty Images

    Even if this means paying off debt more slowly. The money can cover surprises like car repairs. Once you’ve hit that point, says financial planner Matt Becker, focus on the next goal: six months of expenses, to cover you should you lose a job.

  • 2. Juggle emergency saving and a 401(k) by playing it safe.

    Szefei Wong—Alamy

    Until you have six months’ liquid savings (see No. 1), investing isn’t a top priority. But you should put enough into a 401(k) to get an employer match. To partly reconcile the two goals, hold some less risky fare like bonds, says Lillian Wu of Research Affiliates. With taxes and penalties, cashing out a 401(k) is a last resort. But if you’re forced to do it, it’s better to have some safe money.

  • 3. Start first, be an expert later.

    pyramid of money on table
    Martin Poole—Getty Images

    Getting going on a 401(k) can feel like jumping into the deep end. How much in stock funds? What about bonds? But early on, saving at all matters more than picking the best mix. Say you put away 6% of your pay, with a 3% match, starting at 25. For 10 years you earn a lousy 2%, and then adjust your portfolio so that you earn 6% for the next 30 years. That wobbly first decade will still have added 47% to your total wealth by age 65.

  • 4. Begin your career in a wealth-building city.

    Katina—age fotostock Carmel, Indiana

    Zillow.com says these metros offer job growth above the median 1.3% and homes for less than the typical 2.9 times income:

    Dallas: Its many affordable ‘burbs include MONEY’s No. 1 Best Place to Live in 2014, McKinney.
    Job Growth: 3.3% Housing Cost: 2.5 x income

    Atlanta: Home to HQs of Fortune 500 companies including Coca-Cola and the United Parcel Service
    Job Growth: 2.4% Housing Cost: 2.7 x income

    Indianapolis: Metro boasts another Best Place: walkable, arts-rich Carmel.
    Job Growth: 2% Housing Cost: 2.4 x income

  • 5. Go ahead, have a latte.

    roommates in kitchen
    Bill Cheyrou—Alamy

    Reducing small expenses can’t hurt, but housing is where you can save real money when you’re young. Rent on a two-bedroom, with a roommate, can be 44% less than for a one-bedroom alone, according to Apartment List data.

  • 6. Spend money to invest in yourself too.

    student in computer lab
    Hill Street Studios—Getty Images

    Economists at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York have found that most Americans get their biggest raises during their first decade in the workforce. So lay the groundwork for wage growth early. Don’t be afraid to shell out some money for a business communication class, technology training, or an additional job certification, says Michael Kitces, co-founder of XY Planning Network, a group of planners with Gen X and Y clients. A $500 class that leads to a promotion and raise could pay off in compounding returns throughout your career, as future raises build on top of your higher base wage. “It may literally be the single greatest investment you can make,” says Kitces.

MONEY Ask the Expert

What to Say When a Job Interviewer Asks You an Illegal Question

Robert A. Di Ieso, Jr.

Q: I was recently being interviewed for a job, and it seemed to be going well. But then the interviewer asked if I was planning to have children. Is she allowed to do that?

A: If the question made you uncomfortable, there’s a good reason. It’s illegal to ask—and the person interviewing you may not even know it.

One in five hiring managers say they have asked a question in a job interview only to find out later that it was a violation of federal labor laws to ask it, according to a CareerBuilder survey.

In the same survey, one third of employers who were given a list of banned questions also said they didn’t know the queries were illegal.

Things that are out of bounds for companies to ask about include your age, race, ethnicity, religious affiliation, disability, plans for children, debt, and whether you are pregnant, drink, or smoke.

While it’s unlikely that an interviewer will bluntly ask your age or religion (though that does happen), a lot of interviewers veer into dangerous territory just by making small talk, says Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer at CareerBuilder. “Casual conversation is part of the interview process. When you’re chit-chatting, sometimes the conversation turns more personal.” In other cases, hiring managers want to make sure people are a good cultural fit, so they try to tap into other parts of a candidate’s life, Haefner says.

Sometimes it’s just how the question is framed that makes it illegal. For example, you can ask if a job candidate has been convicted of a crime, but not if he or she has an arrest record. You can’t ask a person’s citizenship or national origin, but it’s OK to ask if the person is legally eligible to work in the U.S.

Some hiring managers may be in the dark because they’ve never gotten formal training or don’t interview people often. But not everyone is just clueless. Anti-discrimination labor laws exist for a reason, says Haefner. “You shouldn’t be asked about information that’s not directly relevant to whether you can perform a job,” she says.

Understanding what’s allowed and what’s not is in a company’s best interest too. A job candidate who isn’t offered a position may say certain questions were used to discriminate against her and file a complaint with the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission or hire a lawyer. Though discrimination may be hard to prove, the company could face legal action and financial penalties.

If you’re the person doing the interviewing, check in with your HR department about training, and prepare your questions in advance so you are less likely to stray into illegal territory.

When you’re on the other side of the interview table, it’s a little trickier.

Whether you should answer a personal question is your choice, but if the question seems inappropriate, Haefner suggests responding with a question of your own. “Say, as diplomatically as possible, ‘I just want to clarify how that is relevant to the job.’”

If the questioner doesn’t take the hint, then it may not be a company you want to work for anyway.

TIME career

Don’t Set Your Own Career Ceiling

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"Power is something you claim yourself, not something you are granted"


It’s hard not to be blown away by how creatively and deftly Deena Varshavskaya has made her mark in the world. At 16, she moved to the U.S. from Siberia. Instead of giving up on the difficult challenge of catching up to her classmates, a few years later she was studying at Cornell University. Ever the trailblazer, Varshavskaya left college just “two classes short of graduating,” as her LinkedIn profile reads, because she couldn’t wait to engage in the real world. Then in a decade she went from dropout to serial entrepreneur and now founder and CEO of Wanelo (from Want, Need, Love).

Touted as the world’s largest mall curated by people, Wanelo was named Best E-Commerce App by TechCrunch. Varshavskaya herself can claim titles like one of the Most Intriguing Entrepreneurs and Most Creative People in Business, which probably makes for really impressive ice-breaker material. Combined with the fact that she gets away with talking about her Ryan Gosling leggings at conferences while still being taken seriously as a businesswoman… can you say #careergoals?

With all of this success to draw upon, Deena shared with us a few of the lessons she’s learned about crafting a fulfilling career.

MORE 3 Graceful Ways to Share Your Successes at Work

Power is something you claim yourself

It’s not always easy to find your place at work while feeling empowered to grow. Here’s how Deena’s tackled this in her career and how she helps her team do the same:

“My goal as a leader is to empower my team to become their greater selves and to fulfill their greatest potential.

“At Wanelo, our team is pretty unique in that it’s the opposite of hierarchical. Everyone has the same potential to contribute to the problems we are solving as a company and grow as individuals in their careers.

“For many who start their careers, there’s often this pressure to blend in as much as possible and not stand out – to be “normal” or “average” because there’s a formula to follow in order to be successful and reach the next level. But I actually don’t believe normal exists because every single person in this world has his or her own quirks. I think it’s important that our team is empowered and unafraid to show these things about themselves and apply it to the work we’re doing.

“I’m very big on encouraging self-expression, and for me, Wanelo has been my space for endless personal growth. My entire life has been about overcoming fears and seeing what I’m capable of, and starting Wanelo was the exact path I needed to express myself.

“I want everyone on my team to find their own path and understand that power is something you claim yourself, not something you are granted. To get there, you should start by declaring really big dreams, then close the gap between what you said you’d do and actually ​doing those things. The smaller the gap between the two, the more powerful you will be.”

MORE 5 Things You Can Do in a Job That’s Not “The One”

Surround yourself with people who make you feel empowered

A huge part of developing yourself is feeling supported to take risks. If you don’t feel like you have that, Deena advises you seek out those who make you feel empowered:

“To be creative, I believe you need to take risks and make mistakes. Many corporate environments lack creativity because employees operate based on fear, where they’re more likely to focus on pleasing the manager than on solving the problem at hand.

“If you’re a person who wants to take risks and you aren’t getting that support from your career, maybe that job isn’t for you.

“If breaking rules and making mistakes to solve big problems is what motivates you, my advice would be to explore a different career. People often get stuck in jobs doing something that’s “good enough” for too long. Don’t settle for mediocrity! Find a job that gives you the space to pursue your curiosities and personal goals. It’s important to surround yourself with people who make you feel empowered.

MORE Why You Should Consider a Lateral Career Move

Don’t set an artificial ceiling for yourself

You might already know exactly what direction you want to go in and have big goals for yourself. But when you don’t feel qualified to become that ideal version of yourself, getting started can feel insurmountable. Pause. Read this first:

The biggest thing is to never set an artificial ceiling for yourself. If you want more growth, don’t hide behind the belief that someone else needs to give you permission to do what you want to do. Your professional ceiling is set by you.

“It’s also important ​to pursue the things you’re curious about, rather than fixate on practical considerations like money and success. Curiosity is what will allow you to find the kind of work that doesn’t feel like work. ​

“Finding your passion starts with setting really high standards and looking at what is possible in your life. Then it’s about moving forward with your intuition and trying the next big thing to see what fits next.”

Grade A wisdom from a grade A role model.

You can learn more about Deena by following her on Wanelo, Twitter and Instragram at @siberianfruit.

This article originally appeared on Live in the Grey.

TIME career

Why You Can (and Should) Become a Mentor

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It's one of the most powerful things you can do as a professional


A few years ago, I made a major career leap. The jump made me a little nervous, so when I saw a “speed mentoring” event in celebration of International Women’s Day, I signed to be mentored. Imagine my shock when two friends, independently of each other, emailed the event organizer and suggested me as a mentor. I switched sides of the table and met with more than a dozen women over the course of an hour and a half. At the end of the night, everyone listed who they wanted to be matched with for a mentoring relationship and I was the most requested mentor of the night!

What is Mentoring?

Mentoring sounds like such a serious endeavor, but really all it means is giving advice to someone– using your own experiences to provide some perspective or providing specific skill guidance.

Who Is a Good Mentor?

You. You’ve lived. You’ve worked. You’ve loved. You’ve failed. You’ve been scared. You’ve succeeded. There is always someone coming up behind you who could use a hand. You’re never too young to mentor. You’re never too old to be mentored.

MORE Why You Should Say Yes to Napping at Work

How Do You Find Someone Who Wants a Mentor?

The best mentoring relationships happen organically. Listen– find out who needs help you could provide. Ask a colleague to meet for coffee. Contact your alma mater’s career development office or your alumni network. Check your professional development association for opportunities. I’ve even connected with people through Twitter. Finding someone to mentor is as simple as deciding that you want to be a mentor.

How Do You Mentor?

Tell your story honestly. The more vulnerable you can be, the more helpful you’ll be. This is not the place to brag or gloss over the blood, sweat, and tears. Talk about the times you’ve failed. Talk about the risks you’ve taken. What people really want to hear is that it’s all going to be okay through proof & specific guidance, not platitudes.

MORE Tips for Making Friends at Your New Workplace

How Much Time Does It Take to Mentor?

It’s up to you. It can be just one phone call or regular coffee meetings or even just an open invitation for continued contact by email. You’ll know what feels right.

What Do I Get Out Of This?

A former boss asked me to talk to a young woman who had contacted him. She was considering a job and location change and wanted to know more about my career path. I remembered so clearly what I had been like at her age– the assumptions I’d held about marriage and family getting blown apart, the wild freedom that took hold in that wake. So here I was, more than a decade later, still unmarried, still childless, with a wild, hairpin turn career story behind me and an uncertain journey before me. For this young woman to tell me that listening to me gave her hope was strangely comforting. Our actual lives provide the alternative narratives to popular mythologies that make life much harder than it needs to be. Even beyond that, in telling her my story, I learned more about myself and my journey no longer felt so crazy.

MORE Escaping the Career Waiting Trap

The Ultimate Secret Superpower

As I got more serious about building my own business, I once again sought a mentor, this time through the New York state Business Mentor program. I sent her everything I had about my business– financials, proposals, plans. The first thing she said to me when we spoke? “I don’t understand why you think you need a mentor.” And that’s the secret truth here- we know more than we think we do. It’s still important to find and be cheerleaders for each other, but you know more than you think you do.

Mentoring is one of the most powerful things you can do as a professional. We all need a “kitchen cabinet” of advisors, people we can call on when we need perspective or guidance. In offering to be that for someone else, you’re likely to find that you’ll add to your bench of cheerleaders, as well. It’s the ultimate virtuous circle.

You can learn more about Susanna on her website, and follow her on Twitter @SusannaDW.

This article originally appeared on Live in the Grey.

Read next: How to Get the Most Out of Having a Mentor

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3 Mantras to Help You Become More Entrepreneurial

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Keep going


Two years ago I was working a run of the mill real estate job in midtown Manhattan. Today I’m running a nonprofit that funds hygiene and sanitation programs in four different countries. Pretty crazy, huh?

Some of you might be pondering a major career leap too… but are hesitant and scared about what life will be like on the other side. That’s what communities like LITG are for. Today, I’d like to share some tips I’ve learned while taking the plunge and adding a more entrepreneurial mindset to all aspects of my life.

1) Get talking

The more people you share your vision with, the more people will know what you’re doing, and the easier it will be for you to connect to those who share your ideas and believe in you.

Another benefit of talking about your plans; getting feedback and helping you refine your ideas and business plan to make them even better.

Ok, so I’m definitely guilty of being an “idea person,” always daydreaming about this new invention or that new website that should be made. But at 23, I had all these ideas in my head and nothing to show for it. The one difference with Sundara is that I told people I was going to do this – I told friends, I told waiters, I told my doorman, I told as many people as I could. Then, all of a sudden, I felt like I had to do it – even on days when I didn’t want to put in the work – because I didn’t want to let these people down. Looking back now, I doubt that most of them cared – or even remembered – but it helped me feel accountable to myself. Try it and see if it works for you.

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2) Ask for favors

Most of us have a lot of pride and feel uncomfortable about asking for favors. We don’t want to come off as needy. We don’t want to burden people. I get it.

Here’s the thinking, though: Opportunities aren’t just going to land in your lap. You won’t get anything unless you ask for it. What’s the worst that can happen, someone says no? Ok, so they say no…Trust me, you’ll live. But here’s the good thing: if you ask the right way, most people will be thrilled to help out and honored that you would think to ask them.

I started a soap recycling program in India last year – which seemed borderline impossible even on the best days. Yet, I decided I was going at the task full force. I asked everyone I knew to connect me to people in the hospitality industry in India. I am sure I was super annoying. Most people were utterly useless. Sometimes I thought about just scrapping the whole thing. But guess what? I went to coffee with an old college friend and he mentioned that he was going to India for his friend’s wedding – and his friend just happened to own hotels in Mumbai. Once you get the first hotel (or the first customer, freelance opportunity, informational interview, etc) the rest don’t seem nearly as tough.

Sometimes the best connections are forged in the strangest ways – don’t miss your chance to find yours!

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3) Just keep swimming

I know this sounds cliche, but if you have an idea and really believe in it with your heart, go with it and don’t stop. There will always be those that doubt you, the pressures of society and your parents’ expectations – but let it go for now.

Accept the fact that you will have bad moments. These mistakes won’t kill you. In fact, they build character and one day (in the not so distant future) you’ll be laughing about it.

I like to say I’m the ‘queen of failure’. My website crashed the first month and it accidentally reimbursed 70 people. I missed a major grant deadline. I had an employee take hundreds of dollars from our company account behind my back and spend it at a nightclub in India–you really can’t make this stuff up! I’ve had weeks where I feel burned out and swear everything went wrong. Some of the people who were closest to me told me I was stupid for doing this and that nothing would come of it.

Keep going. Keep putting one foot in front of the other and trying your best every day. The beginning is always the hardest. However, I know that if you go after your dreams full force, you will be rewarded with something extraordinary along the way.

Without great risk, there would be no great reward. I hope my story inspires others to follow their passions and create that career they’ve always felt was right for them. Your dreams can become reality.

Take the leap – I promise, the fall isn’t as far or as scary as you think!

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You can learn more about Erin and her non profit Sundara on this website, and follow her on Twitter @ErinZaikis.

This article originally appeared on Live in the Grey.

MONEY workplace etiquette

The Phrase You Should Never Use In Your Office Voicemail Message

office phone
Johnny Greig—Alamy

"Not available" conveys to the caller that you're not interested in their business. Here's what to say instead.

How many times a day when you make a phone call do you get someone’s voicemail and hear, “I’m not available?”

What exactly does that mean?

The person could be powdering their nose for two minutes, gone to a client meeting for two hours, on maternity leave for six months—or, have been transferred to the mailroom in Beijing! You have no idea.

You had phoned for a reason: to get information, to place an order, to extend an invitation to meet, to do business. But now you hang up in disgust, your mission thwarted.

Now you have to invest time figuring out your next, hopefully productive, step. Do you check the web for their corporate number, another branch number, or simply find another “source” altogether, giving your business to a competitor? Perhaps with your time constraint you are forced to simply table your project.

If this were your business, you’d have just lost a customer.

Now it’s time to check your own voicemail.

With all of the competition out there and access to information at one’s fingertips on the web, people have untold choices when they need a real estate attorney, a construction engineer, an investment advisor, a party planner, a temp agency… or whatever it is you do.

If you want to build your business, you need to build relationships, and this requires showing respect for your caller’s time and energy.

“Not available” is simply dismissive. It communicates to the person that their need is not that important to you.

And it either causes your potential customer to hang up, or to get stuck going through an obstacle course in which they get the main switchboard and are given the third degree: “What’s your name? What’s your affiliation? Why are you calling? Whom do you want to speak with?

The alternative is simple: Provide in your voice message a phone number and refer the caller to an assistant, a colleague, a cell number—any way of expediting their quest. Help your caller to reach someone who can, in your absence, be helpful and succeed in keeping the business.

And remember to update your voicemail message when appropriate. Recently I called an office and heard: “I’ll be back February 1st.” It happened to be March 17th!

Investing a mere 60 seconds can keep a client and their business while enhancing your reputation.

Arlene B. Isaacs is an executive coach in New York City.

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