An Hour a Day – A Resolution

“I just don’t see how you have the time to always look so put together”, said a former fulltime working mom who recently transitioned into a stay at home mom. She is an incredible mom and had invited me to a party over the summer with some of her new, stay at home mom friends. She had organized the party to break up the long summer of having the kids out of school. It was a mid-week chance for the moms and the kids to catch up. I arrived at 10:00 AM party ready for the day to find the rest of the moms in yoga pants and without makeup. It was a Wednesday, but it wouldn’t have mattered to me if it was a Saturday, if it’s after 8:30AM, I am ready for the day.

Desk to Dinner
This great “desk to dinner” look is as versatile as it is practical and stylish. A tailored leather jacket is a great way to add a chic flare to any office dress- taking you from day to night. A hair cut and style that is easily manageable is also a great way to keep your look polished and transferable to whatever you may have on your schedule that day. Keeping the makeup simple and natural also makes for easy wear as the day unfolds.

Truth be told, the reason why I get ready for the day even on the weekends, is because I do not have time. It may seem counter-intuitive, but it’s true. When you are responsible for juggling kids, a company, and multiple civic/charitable causes, you don’t have time. Especially to make mid-day clothing changes or to go home and take a shower. While I do take a change of shoes with me on the weekend, I rarely change my clothes throughout the day and my hair and makeup can usually make it into the evening for whatever we have on the social agenda. It’s a huge time-saver and I never have that awkward moment in the grocery that some do when they aren’t feeling presentable.

Also on the topic was our local Burn Boot Camp. Several of the women were raving about it and the social aspect of the group. It came around to me and I mentioned that I workout in my basement with some free weights, an elliptical, and some Youtube videos. Plus, I have a park across the street in which I can walk. I legitimately do not have time to drive to workout and I am not interested in the social benefits of group fitness, as I have a full social calendar. A mom piped up and said she “didn’t have the time to work out either” but later rattled off a list of the TV shows she was watching on Netflix.

Speaking of TV, the topic took center stage at the party. One thing all of the moms had in common was a love for watching TV shows. In an attempt to be inclusive of me, one of the mom’s asked what I watch. I realized that I have no idea of what’s on TV, but I love listening to NPR in the morning while I am getting dressed.  I immediately felt like a huge nerd…huge nerd… so I also said that I listen to their non-news programming on Sunday’s when I am cooking dinner for the week. I cook on Sunday’s for most of the week to save time during the busy week. This was met with awe and silence. I explained that 3 hours on Sunday afternoon/evening saves me 6 hours during the week. My make-up and day to night presentable appearance were excused in this one simple concept of cooking multiple meals, double batching and freezing to save time in between practices and school engagements.

What I really wanted to say to the group overall, is this – you are only an hour away from proactively managing your day. Wake up an hour earlier, get ready for the day, have your workout finished and take a few hours on Sunday to manage your week. As you sit down and think of how to accomplish your resolutions for the year, consider waking up an hour earlier and see how it can change your day, week, and life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Gift of Poor Leadership

“I’m not going to put numbers down in an offer until you tell me you will take the role”. That was the offer proposed to me by a former boss’s boss who was seeking to replace my boss. How could I possibly take the internal promotion without knowing what the offer was in numbers and expectations? Because she was technically my bosses boss, I understood the importance of treading lightly. Losing my job was not an option for me. My bosses boss, sitting in a different office halfway across the United States, would frequently call me in regard to my boss’s whereabouts. I grew up with a chain of command mentality, so I would often reply that I was unaware of his whereabouts and that she should contact him directly. It wasn’t that I was a fan of my immediate boss or that I was seeking to protect him, rather that I was abiding the rules of appropriate engagement.gift (2)

After speaking at the Women Who Count Conference several months ago, I was invited into a table discussion regarding inspiring female role models at work. As the conference attendees spoke about the powerful female role models they had experienced at work, I was coming up empty. I legitimately could not think of a single female role model in the workplace. Perhaps this is because the industry was male-dominated at the time. The only female in a superior role to me had been the individual I mentioned in the former paragraph.

It did get me thinking though. I felt lucky that I had the exposure to a chaos-inducing boss. Not only did she cross professional boundaries, but she would also cross personal boundaries. She felt the need to be in the “know” with employees personal dilemmas and would often let others know of the employees lives outside of work. I watched as she manipulated employees, specifically females, by gaining their trust in keeping secrets of their personal lives. In return, she would use it as leverage as an employer. She often pitted individuals against each other and would watch the fallout only to come in later to aid in the reconcile and secure her status as the perceived peace-maker. She encouraged her employees to live just outside of their financial means as a retention strategy. I learned to keep her at an arm’s length and it earned me the name “Ice Queen” in certain circles.

I do not believe that she did this out of malice, but out of her own insecurity. She had come to the top of the industry from a lot of hard work, but the investment in her as a leader wasn’t returned. She was a producer, not a leader, which are equally important in every company. She had no idea of what leadership meant and it was not her fault. As a distraction, she created unnecessary chaos throughout the company which destroyed employees trust in each other but left her in her position as the “steady” leader. She lost some of the best real talents I have ever seen in the recruiting arena. Had she the foresight to ask for help in her development it may have been different and perhaps I would still be with that company. It may sound odd to have a tremendous amount of respect for what her lack of fundamentals and toxic leadership taught me, but it’s enabled me to be a better leader for my company. She taught me how to not lead and that is a gracious gift.

Regarding the position she sort-of offered me, I declined and I followed my husband’s career in Germany instead. It was one of the best decisions I have ever made. Since then, I heard the Board of Directors finally invested in her and she has overcome a good deal of her flaws as a leader. I am happy for her and the company that she leads. Her past serves as an example of what not to do while her future is an example of how anyone can overcome flaws. Poor leadership is a gift in many ways. Happy Holidays from The Office Protocol and enjoy the season with those you love.

Clothes that “WORK”

We are excited to have our very first guest writer, Valerie Inglesby. Valerie is the COO of Crescent Investment Group which invests and manages large class A office parks such as UBS Plaza in Minnesota and Lenox Park in Atlanta. While Crescent Investment Group’s success has largely stemmed from her leadership style, her personal style is also noteworthy. Valerie knows the value of a great real estate investment and wardrobe investment pieces. Read below from Valerie:

Today’s Everything Woman has to embrace versatility. Between managing our business and managing our home life, there are multiple new and different ways to accomplish this now mutually symbiotic relationship.  Options such as flexible work hours combined with grocery delivery services allow us to work from home and order groceries while at the office. Women today have evolved into having a versatile mindset open to doing things differently than the way they were traditionally done in the past.  One area where this is becoming more apparent is in managing our wardrobes.  Many of us work in a business casual office environment and our daytime wardrobe can easily transition to an evening out. At times, our office attire has to work for our dinner plans because we are going directly from the office to an evening event!

To demonstrate how your clothes should work for you, for all aspects of your lifestyle, we visited a trusted local boutique; Range Boutique, which has an amazing selection of clothing along with experienced personnel available to assist with shopping, and pulled together three business casual and OOO (out of office) looks using the same pieces throughout all the styles.
Cocktail Dress:

 

 

Denim that Works:

 

 

Sweater Weather:

 

We found some key themes to live by for creating a wardrobe that really works for you;
1. Buy cocktail style dresses that can be worn to the office with the simple addition of a jacket or sweater.  Cocktail dresses are tricky because they can be expensive compared to the more functional items in your wardrobe, but they are worn less often. In addition to the multiple looks you can achieve, buying a dress that can be dressed down accomplishes two things; first, it simplifies your wardrobe by eliminating the need for clothing items for different dress codes and second, it provides you the opportunity to wear your cute dresses more often.  A word of caution though, do not try this with dresses that are shiny (sequins or satin) or with more formal style materials like lace and tulle.
2.  Take some time to find beautiful jeans with a great fit. You will love wearing these with heels when you’re out for an evening, but you can easily wear these same jeans with a blazer or structured top for daytime looks. Also, denim works like a blank canvas – the outfit options are limitless when you utilize a range of shoes and accessories.  Please keep in mind that jeans with too much distressing or holes will not transition as easily as solid colors and textures.
3. Never buy slacks that you will only wear to the office and not for any other reason.  This means that you don’t really like them or they are too conservative for you to wear where someone will actually see you…which really goes back to the first point. If you buy well made clothing that you love, all of your trousers will be office appropriate when paired with more traditional looking business attire. Think blazers and button down shirts, which also work well layered. Mixing tops with cute pants this way will not work if any of your clothing is too tight or if you are in a true business professional environment, and while we all love yoga pants, I’m not sure we are quite there yet!

First, Invest in Yourself

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Valerie has an impeccable personal style and knows a boutique when she meets it. She’s styled by Sabrina Davis at Range Boutique from head to toe.

“It takes me 10 minutes extra to really feel confident all day long”, said my best childhood friend, Valerie (Wampler) Inglesby, as she leaned into the gym mirror applying her eye makeup. “I see these moms looking and feeling tired all day but for me, it’s a 10-minute fix”. This was 9 years ago, and I was home from Germany for a week. I went to visit her and her young family for a day, which always means a stop at the gym for a quick workout and a shower. I didn’t have kids at the time, but that moment has always stuck with me. I have always marveled at how Valerie, at every stage, projects confidence even when she may not feel confident.

Valerie and I grew up together and met through the 6th-grade orchestra. We also IMG_2212pursued the middle school cheerleading squad because we thought it would be funny for a couple of “Orch Dorks” to show up at try-outs. We didn’t really anticipate getting on the squad, but we made it, and it cemented our friendship. We’ve been finishing each other’s sentences ever since.

 

Currently, Valerie serves as the Chief Operating Officer for Crescent Investment Group, a major commercial player in the real estate office arena. She is married with three kids, one of which is still a toddler and the other two are in middle school (playing multiple instruments).

Valerie has never had any issue investing in herself first in order to take care of her investment business better. Here are a few tips for Valerie’s ROI.

  1. You’re never too far away from being your best self

It doesn’t matter how old you are or how far you must go. Every day is an opportunity to work towards being your best self.

  1. Find your joy in exercise

Exercise is a necessary part of being successful in business and in life. If you don’t find a way to enjoy exercise, even if that means watching your favorite show while you exercise, then you will always fall short. Valerie says she is a different person walking out of the gym than she is walking into the gym. And speaking of Val’s exercise habits, you can tell that she has worked hard for her physique.

  1. Invest in yourself even if it feels exorbitant

If there are things or issues you have with your clothing, mental health, physical appearance or whatever else there is that tends to take up too much space in your brain or keeps you in negative self-talk mode, fix it. The cost of dwelling on an issue is a larger investment than fixing it and moving on with your life.

 

Valerie is one of those rare exceptional people that truly does have it together, and it’s wrapped up in this perfect package of health and wellness. So much so, that she’s about to pursue her passion and help others in a professional coaching business. I’d encourage all of you to follow her advice as she is a model of success. She will be our very first guest blogger on The O Protocol next week as well!

Level The Playing Field in Honduras

“I need you to look as unattractive as possible.” Those were the words that Ron Hicks, Executive Director of Lunches for Learning spoke as I landed in the Tegucigalpa Airport in Honduras. Ron had visited my Rotary club, Roswell Rotary, a few months earlier to speak about his Lunches for Learning program. A program operated in rural Honduras with a focus to break the lifecycle of poverty through feeding children that stay in school.  When he spoke, I was immediately invested with my checkbook but wanted to see the operation with my own eyes several months later. I was lucky that my friends Kay Love and Lisa Carlisle were equally invested, but unlucky in the sense that we are all blonde hair, blue eyed women that stick out amongst the brown eyed, brown haired Hondurans. Ron was intent on keeping us safe as well as engaging us in the work he had been pioneering for almost 6 years. At the time I had no idea how much this trip would expand my horizons and connect me to the most amazing women on the planet.Photo Nov 18, 4 11 10 PM

 

Lunches for Learning began during a vacation for now retired Executive Director, Ron Hicks. As he drove his motorcycle across Central America, he came to the border of Honduras and El Salvador on Central American Highway 1. While trying to cross the border a little, “street urchin” as he referred to her, was begging him for coins. He wondered why she wasn’t in school and handed her some coins and she ran off. After he returned to Montgomery, Alabama from his month-long trip, he couldn’t erase the little girls face from his memory. He got back on a plane, flew into Tegucigalpa and drove 3 hours to the border town of Amatillo, Honduras. He found the girl, the school she was supposed to attend and the principal of the school, Roxana Gonzales. Ms. Gonzales came

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Coila Gonzales the community matriarch and former Principal

from a long line of educators as her mother, Coila Gonzales was the former Principal. The Gonzales women informed Ron of the desperate situation in Honduras of starvation and that children at the age of 5 had to choose between feeding their stomachs or their minds. From there, Lunches for Learning began, and Ron and Roxana Gonzales built a model in the first Lunches for Learning School in Amatillo.

Food insecurity is an understatement for those living in extreme poverty in Honduras – starvation is the more appropriate term to describe the situation. Lunches for Learning keeps children in school by providing lunch thus erasing the issue of feeding their minds or feeding their tummies. The communities that this program serves in the Valle District rallies around it. Every member plays a role with keeping their children in school by serving in the kitchen and being active in the education process. Families stay intact and kids can become literate, which enables them to have a better job than scouring the landfills or begging for money in the border towns that dot the Valle District.

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Kids from the Amatillo School.

While my friends and I remained invested both emotionally and financially in Lunches for Learning, we started to think beyond food. People in the region of Valle, located in the dry corridor, die from starvation or water born diseases.  Kay is sophisticated with navigating complex processes as she had spent the duration of her career in government. I have a knack for fundraising, and with Rotary International’s ability to leverage funds and their international network, we knew it could be accomplished. We just had to find a Rotary Club in Honduras that would be our co-sponsor.

Our first attempt at finding a partner didn’t go so well. We visited a Rotary Club on the outskirts of Valle in Choluteca, Honduras. They were 20 minutes away from the project but wouldn’t work with us because the project was being led by women. They did not work with women. I later found out that this club, along with another were the only two in Honduras that did not have women as members.

We ended up meeting through Lunches for Learning connections of another Rotary Club,

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Wendy on the left and Myriam on the right joined by Armando and J.J. all Rotary members.

three hours away in the capital of Honduras, The Villa Real Rotary of Tegucigalpa. A club with women leading up front and invest in both business and community. Our first connections to the females in the club were through Myriam Osorio McCormick and Wendy Ayestas, sisters in law and real-life superheroes. Later they were joined by another female superstar, Sonia Rameriz and the rest of their club.

I am not a details person but thank God Wendy and Kay have that covered. There were some long years put into the initial water project. Multiple government entities and detailed requirements for the application of funding and then, of course, the initial fundraising, which was the easy part (and my responsibility). It wasn’t pretty, but we got it done. And our final product of water to 1900 people was so good that it’s about to be replicated in several communities in the region.

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Myself, Kay Love, Wendy Ayestas, Sonia Rameriz

As we are in the season of giving thanks, I must hand it to these incredible women. They go above and beyond for other women and children. They can literally say they are carrying a region in the poorest country area in the western hemisphere that nobody noticed, even their own government, a decade ago. Thank you, Kay and Lisa, for taking that initial leap of faith and boarding a plane. Thank you to Wendy, Myriam, and Sonia for joining in with us and Rotary International for giving us a greater platform to serve. I must give equal thanks to Roxana Gonzales and Ron Hicks, for being the spark that lit the fire. These women (and Ron) save lives. And thank you to those of you who have followed along in our footsteps to donate their time, treasure and talent to strangers in a desolate and otherwise insignificant place. You’ve made your mark without a drop of makeup on too. But nothing is more beautiful than to give to others.

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Taking a trip to Honduras may be out of reach for most, but it’s easy to be invested here as well. We have our annual fundraiser coming up in February in Atlanta. So as we line up to give thanks with our families and have our tables full of food, consider passing it along to some very deserving children. Or better yet, come to join us on the dance floor as we celebrate the success of others. www.roswellhforh.com  Ron would say it’s acceptable to be attractive at this event as well.

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