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Expert Ellen Pao Gives Her Best Tips On: How to Spot a Company That Cares About Diversity

A lot of companies talk about diversity and inclusion, but how do you vet if they walk the talk?

Ellen Pao has experienced this firsthand: When she was considering a role at the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins, her future boss’s pitch to her included the fact that it “was one of the few VC firms with women, and he wanted to bring even more onboard; diversity was important to him,” she wrote in her memoir, Reset: My Fight for Inclusion and Lasting Change. She took the job. But several years later, she sued the firm for gender discrimination.

These days, Pao is the CEO of Project Include, a nonprofit organization influencing tech startups to include more diversity which leads to improved teams, more innovation, and increased financial returns. These are her tips on finding a company where diversity and inclusion are more than just talk—and where you can thrive.

1. Check Out Who’s in Charge and How the Company Presents Itself

It’s easy to say you’re working on diversity and inclusion, but if those words aren’t backed up with evidence, they don’t mean much. So, look at who’s in charge, Pao says. Are there all kinds of people in leadership and on the board? Or do they all look the same? If the executives and investors are a homogenous group, it “indicates a lack of attention to important areas of inclusion.”

Then look at the company as a whole and its employees across all levels. “Go to the company website and look for diversity on the team,” Pao says. “Are there people on the team or in the photos on the website from different racial backgrounds?… Do they talk about diversity and inclusion anywhere on the website?”

2. Look at Their Track Record

One of the best indicators of what a company and culture are like in the present is what they were like in the past. So do your research on the company’s history. “You can do searches on Google for the company name and ‘harassment,’ the company name and ‘racism,’ the company name and ‘lawsuit,’” Pao says, “and see what kind of controversies they may have been involved in and see if you feel comfortable with how they’ve handled it.”

3. Ask the Right Questions

You can come right out and ask about diversity and inclusion in your interview, Pao says. “Like, ‘How do you think about diversity and inclusion?’ or ‘How is diversity and inclusion part of your company culture?’”

You will want to dig deeper than that once you know they want to hire you. “After you get the offer, ask them to tell you about a hard situation involving diversity and inclusion and how they addressed it,” Pao says. “No matter how well-intentioned and how inclusive their values, there will be some hard conversations and issues that come up. And the biggest thing is not hiding issues but addressing and resolving them in a transparent way.”

In other words, you shouldn’t expect that a company has never encountered any problems. Instead, you’re trying to gauge how your prospective leaders and colleagues react to those problems and talk about them. “That question can show whether the company is committed to having uncomfortable conversations and resolving issues or whether they kick the can down the road and try not to deal with it right away,” Pao says.

No list of questions and clues can capture everything about how a company handles diversity and inclusion. It can be hard to tell whether a company is truly committed in exactly the ways you find meaningful before you start working there. That said, we always encourage you to think of creative questions, such as these, to dig deeper and vet the company before you make a commitment to them. With this attitude and this information, you can learn a lot more than you may have thought.

Need more tips on vetting prospective employers? Our award-winning coaches at the Ignite Your Potential Centers offer a complimentary 25-minute phone session to help. We are the #1 career coaches in San Francisco and Los Angeles, let us show you how we earned that praise.

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Signs You’re Not Cut Out for the 9-to-5 Life

Many of us were raised to a subtle beat (or loud gong) that went something like, “Get good grades. Get into a decent school. Get a solid desk job. Be happy.”

Problem is, for some people this formula doesn’t lead to career fulfillment. In fact, for some, it’s a formula that ultimately makes them want to crawl out of their own skin or run screaming. Could this be you? What are some signs that you may, in fact, not be cut out for a traditional, 9-to-5 job?

Here are a few signs, plus what should you do if this speaks to you.

1. The Office Makes You Feel Like a Caged Animal 

It is not always about resenting authority. For some who aren’t cut out for traditional jobs, it’s the endless sea of desks that makes them want to run screaming.

What to do if you feel trapped?

If your job requires you to sit in one sp and stare at a computer all day (and you actually don’t mind the work), you may consider requesting the option to telecommute a couple times a week. If your role doesn’t really mandate sitting in one place every day, start planning your day (or requesting to do so) in a way that gets you out and about at least a time or two every day.

2. You Don’t Like Working Regimented Hours

Similar to the feeling that a cubicle may give you, being required to punch in and out each day can make some feel like they have no say in their career or life (and having no say make them want out).

What to Do If You Despise Set Hours

If this is your job (and it’s making you nuts), you may want to consider a new position or line of work. If the imposed hours are arbitrary, perhaps you could put together a proposal that shows your boss how you can achieve your goals outside of the current schedule.

3. You Resent Being Told What to Do (by Anyone)

If you feel a bubbling rage when asked to attend a meeting you don’t want to go to or work on a project you don’t think is a priority, this could be a warning sign. If you don’t think you shouldn’t have to arrive at a certain time or put in a request for vacation time at all? The writing’s on the wall.

What to Do If You’re Not Having it with Authority

If you’re feeling super resentful about having to answer to anyone, it may be a clear indicator that you’re meant to be your own boss. This isn’t us saying, “March right in and quit.” In many cases, this could be reckless. But if you truly despise working on someone else’s agenda, consider how you might earn a living as the one who gets to make the agenda.

If you’re simply not cut out for a 9-to-5, find strategic, creative, or brave ways to redefine your current role, or create your own.

Our award-winning coaches at the Ignite Your Potential Centers offer a complimentary 25-minute phone session to help. We are the #1 career coaches in San Francisco and Los Angeles, let us show you how we earned that praise.

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Icons Who Will Inspire You to Never Give Up

“Never give up.” It’s probably one of the most cliché phrases you’ll hear as you’re building your career. But there’s a reason this saying is common—you never know when success is around the corner. 

Believing that is easier said than done, so we collected the following stories of icons who definitely never gave up, including J.K. Rowling and Stephen King, for starters. These folks are now household names, but they didn’t become one easily. Read on and get inspired!

J.K. Rowling

J.K. Rowling had just gotten a divorce, was on government aid, and could barely afford to feed her baby in 1994, just three years before the first Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone, was published. When she was shopping it out, she was so poor she couldn’t afford a computer or even the cost of photocopying the 90,000-word novel, so she manually typed out each version to send to publishers. It was rejected dozens of times until finally Bloomsbury, a small London publisher, gave it a second chance after the CEO’s eight-year-old daughter fell in love with it.

Stephen King

King was broke and struggling while writing his first novel Carrie. He lived in a trailer with his wife—also a writer—and they both worked multiple jobs to support their family while pursuing their craft. They were so poor they had to borrow clothes for their wedding and had gotten rid of the telephone because it was too expensive.

King received so many rejection letters for his works that he developed a system for collecting them. In his book On Writing, he recalls: “By the time I was 14…the nail in my wall would no longer support the weight of the rejection slips impaled upon it. I replaced the nail with a railroad spike and kept on writing.” He received 60 rejections before selling his first short story, “The Glass Floor,” for $35. Even his now best-selling book, Carrie, wasn’t a hit at first. After dozens of rejections, he finally sold it for a meager advance to Doubleday Publishing, where the hardback sold only 13,000 copies—not great. Soon after, though, Signet Books signed on for the paperback rights for $400,000, $200,000 of which went to King. The beginning of his success achieved!

Tyler Perry

Perry had a rough childhood. He was physically and sexually abused growing up, got kicked out of high school, and tried to commit suicide twice—once as a preteen and again at 22. At 23 he moved to Atlanta and took up odd jobs as he started working on his stage career.

In 1992 he wrote, produced, and starred in his first theater production, I Know I’ve Been Changed, somewhat informed by his difficult upbringing. Perry put all his savings into the show and it failed miserably; the run lasted just one weekend and only 30 people came to watch. He kept up with the production, working more odd jobs and often slept in his car to get by. Six years later, Perry finally broke through when, on its seventh run, the show became a success. He’s since gone on to have an extremely successful career as a director, writer, and actor. In fact, Perry was named Forbes’ highest-paid man in entertainment in 2011.

Oprah Winfrey

Oprah’s dealt with a lot throughout her public life—criticism about her weight, racism, intrusive questions about her sexuality, just to name a few—but she never let it get in the way of her ambition and drive. When you look at her childhood, her personal triumphs are cast in an even more remarkable light.

Growing up, Oprah was reportedly a victim of sexual abuse and was repeatedly molested by her cousin, an uncle, and a family friend. Later, she became pregnant and gave birth to a child at age 14, who passed away just two weeks later. But Oprah persevered, going on to finish high school as an honors student, earning a full scholarship to college, and working her way up through the ranks of television, from a local network anchor in Nashville to an international superstar and creator of her OWN network (we couldn’t help ourselves.)

Jim Carrey

When Carrey was 14 years old, his father lost his job, and his family hit rough times. They moved into a VW van on a relative’s lawn, and the young aspiring comedian—who was so dedicated to his craft that he mailed his resume to The Carroll Burnett Show just a few years earlier, at age 10—took an eight-hours-per-day factory job after school to help make ends meet.

At age 15, Carrey performed his comedy routine onstage for the first time—in a suit his mom made him—and totally bombed, but he was undeterred. The next year, at 16, he quit school to focus on comedy full time. He moved to LA shortly after, where he would park on Mulholland Drive every night and visualize his success. One of these nights he wrote himself a check for $10,000,000 for “Acting Services Rendered,” which he dated for Thanksgiving 1995. Just before that date, he hit his payday with Dumb and Dumber. He put the deteriorated check, which he’d kept in his wallet the whole time, in his father’s casket.

“Never give up” still might be one of the most cliché phrases you’ll hear (even after reading these amazing success stories). But our award-winning coaches at the Ignite Your Potential Centers offer a complimentary 25-minute phone session to better explain why ‘never giving up’ is important when it comes to your career and life. We are the #1 career coaches in San Francisco and Los Angeles, let us show you how we earned that praise.

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Tips for Work Travel

Below are the Ignite Your Potential coaches pointers for making “the bag drag” a bit easier. Know that you can never guarantee a “restful” journey, but these tips will help you feel more polished when you get there.

Dress

To state the obvious, get a few no-brainers, no-wrinkle, all-purpose work outfits down cold, so you don’t have to think about what to pack (especially for relatively short trips). Invest in a large silk scarf or cashmere wrap. It’ll serve as a travel blanket first and foremost, but make sure it’s also polished enough to function as a compact layer for meetings. (It’s impossible to escape the tyranny of male-biased air conditioning, no matter your destination.)

Pack

Bring a carry-on only, ever. End of discussion. (And even if you have a bag that fits the carry-on dimensions, be sure to check weight limits on international flights. Another tip is to bring an extra tote bag in there, in case there’s space to cram your nonessentials in the overhead bin at the last minute (and give yourself some extra leg-room). Also, make sure that the bag at your feet stands up on some sort of base; you don’t want a shapeless laptop bag dumping your belongings all over the aisle.

Self-Care

Pack a sheet mask or two for your final destination to help restore moisture at night. Hey, it’s a spa trip! Bonus: Put some rose water in a travel-sized spray bottle and use it to freshen up your face and/or underarms after a flight or long day.

To (help) avoid getting sick, take Emergen-C before and immediately after a flight. And—this is where it gets a little socially awkward—always clean the tray table, arms, and entertainment screen of your seat with a travel-friendly pack of disinfecting wipes.

Need more tips on how to successfully travel for work? Our award-winning coaches at the Ignite Your Potential Centers offer a complimentary 25-minute phone session to help. We are the #1 career coaches in San Francisco and Los Angeles, let us show you how we earned that praise.

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How to Make Your Commute So Much Better

At some point during your daily commute, you have likely experienced all five stages of grief. And while traffic is inevitable, it’s important to remember your morning commute doesn’t have to be a never-ending sequence of white-knuckling your steering wheel or squeezing yourself onto a full subway car. 

Here are a few ways to make your commute not only more bearable, but even enjoyable, whether you’re driving, biking, carpooling, or taking the train.

Drive Your Way to a Better You

Podcasts and audiobooks make the morning and evening commute worth living. Audible has over 425,000 books for you to choose from—you could be driving in your car every second for the rest of your life and you would never run out of books to enjoy.

Have you wanted to learn another language, but never seem to have the time? There are thousands of books that will help you get a leg up on all kinds of languages, whether you’re just starting out, or you want a refresher course for the Spanish you took in college. 

Practice Self-Care

One of the best things about taking the bus to work is that you can let yourself go—just promise that you won’t take your shoes off.

Sure, if you have the elbow room, you could open your laptop and get some work done by catching up on email, but it’s also an excellent time to de-clutter your mind. Step up your self-care regimen by unplugging your brain and starting a meditation practice.

Meet New People

What if there was a way to meet new people while driving to work AND get access to the glory that is the carpool lane? Sure, Waze can make your commute a little smoother by crowdsourcing your traffic trouble spots in real-time, but you can also use their carpool app to find coworkers or other passengers to share a ride with.

Not only are you eliminating congestion from the highway, but you’re also connecting with your fellow travelers. Plus, by taking other cars off the road, you’re producing less carbon and pollution, all while saving money on gas and tolls.

The time you spend commuting to work doesn’t have to be time wasted. Crack open an audiobook, find a little Zen, or make a new friend. Our award-winning coaches at the Ignite Your Potential Centers offer a complimentary 25-minute phone session to help you find ways to improve and hack your life. We are the #1 career coaches in San Francisco and Los Angeles, let us show you how we earned that praise.

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What is an Executive Coach?

“Executive coaching isn’t therapy. It’s product development, with you as the product.”

Definition

Dan McCarthy from The Balance Careers explains, “An executive coach is a qualified professional that works with individuals (usually executives, but often high potential employees) to help them gain self-awareness, clarify goals, achieve their development objectives, unlock their potential, and act as a sounding board. They are not consultants or therapists (although many have consulting or therapist backgrounds) and usually refrain from giving advice or solving their client’s problems. Instead, they ask questions to help an executive clarify and solve their own problems.”

Why You Need It

Executive Coaching has become a common practice among individual executives and large corporations because companies are reaping the benefits and because employees want to have an edge. Below are three reasons Executive Coaches are beneficial.

  • Increased Self-Awareness

Boosting self-awareness is an essential element of becoming a successful leader. Being familiar with how you feel and respond when specific situations occur will provide mindful reactions. This allows you to be proactive rather than reactive. As a person of authority, this is important because you are setting an example for your employees and counterparts. Raising self-awareness improves relationships, expands good reasoning, and gives you the ability to not take criticism personally. 

  • Develop New Skills

You will find yourself improving in diversified areas of your leadership such as emotional intelligence, time management, problem-solving, risk management, active listening, and much more. Ignite Your Potential coaches are experts in communication and leadership. We can efficiently help you obtain new skills until they become second nature.  

  • Create and Achieve Goals

If your goal is to be a great leader you are coming to the right place with Ignite Your Potential. However, that goal is not specific enough. One of our Executive Coaches will assist you in articulating clear, achievable, and productive goals. From there, we will collaborate on a strategic action plan that leads the way to success in accomplishing your most cherished goals. Additionally, acquiring professional guidance holds you accountable and keeps you on track to fulfill your objectives. This will make a remarkable improvement in the way you lead.

How We Can Help

With over a decade of experience Ignite Your Potential executive coaches have the tools to make you successful in your position of authority. We will provide professional advice as well as challenge and support your journey to reach your most exciting targets. Do you have an open mind and willingness to learn? Schedule a complimentary 25-minute phone session with an Ignite Your Potential professional. We are the #1 career coaches in San Francisco and Los Angeles, let us show you how we earned that praise.

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Find a Hobby You Love (Becuase It’s Good for Your Life and Career)

Having a hobby that you enjoy—whether that’s crocheting mittens for your sister’s new baby, curling up with a book to get lost in an unknown world, or moving your hips in a Zumba class—has all sorts of benefits, from lower levels of stress to an increased sense of belonging.

Hobbies make a serious impact on your quality of life. But they also improve your work performance. How? When you’re engaged and fulfilled in your life outside of work (when you’re pursuing meaningful hobbies) that happiness spills over. That happiness has the ability to make you more focused and enthusiastic when you’re on the job.

Having a hobby that you love can do good things for your life and your job. But what if you don’t have a hobby you enjoy? That doesn’t mean you can’t find one. It doesn’t matter if you’re 20 or 80 years old—it’s not too late to find something you love and let it spur you on. Our Ignite Your Potential career coaches have curated a few strategies to find a hobby you love.

1. Make What You Already Love into a Hobby

Take a look at how you enjoy spending your time and figure out how this can become a hobby. Have you watched Kevin Hart’s stand-up special on Netflix…four times? Try taking an improv class. Is your favorite part of the day playing with your dog? Try volunteering with a rescue organization. 

2. Reclaim Your Childhood Interests 

When you were a kid, what did you like to do? Did you spend hours finger-painting masterpieces to hang on the fridge? If so, you might want to try taking an art class. Or maybe you spent the entire year looking forward to Field Day at school—in which case, you could join an adult softball team or flag football league. When you were a kid, you had hobbies—revisiting them as an adult is an effortless way to rekindle that love.

3. Try New Things

The truth is finding a hobby can be hit or miss. And that is OK! If you want to find something you love, you need to put yourself out there—and be willing to accept not everything you try is going to be a win. Think of anything you might find interesting—whether that’s skateboarding, painting, or weight lifting—and take a class. If you like it, great! If not, cross it off the list, and move on to the next one.

It might take a few attempts to find a hobby that you love, but the key is to not give up. Our award-winning coaches at the Ignite Your Potential Centers offer a complimentary 25-minute phone session to help you find a hobby that will change your life and your career. We are the #1 career coaches in San Francisco and Los Angeles, let us show you how we earned that praise.

Take a Risk: 10 Inspiring Quotes

Ignite Your Potential coaches want you to experience all life has to offer. You will never know where you can succeed if you stay within your comfort zone, so be brave and take a chance at the possibility of uncovering your life’s purpose. To find self-love and confidence, learn something new and discover unknown opportunities, consider some strategic risk-taking. Embracing positive risks will change your life in unexpected ways.

Need some inspiration? Read these fuel firing quotes:

  1. “Don’t be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson
  2. “I believe that the most important single thing, beyond discipline and creativity, is daring to dare.” — Maya Angelou
  3. “…If there is no risk, there is no reward.” ― Christy Raedeke
  4. “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” ― Michael Jordan 
  5. “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.” -Henry Ford
  6. “Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.” – Andre Gide
  7. “Never let the odds keep you from doing what you know in your heart you were meant to do.” — H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
  8. “Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far it is possible to go.” — T.S. Eliot
  9. “The biggest risk is not taking any risk…In a world that’s changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks.” ― Mark Zuckerberg
  10. “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor, catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” — Mark Twain

Whether it is investing in a property or applying for a job that you feel unqualified for, we hope this list of inspirational quotes inspired you to take some risks. Don’t want to take this adventurous journey alone? Ignite Your Potential Center coaches can be by your side every step of the way. We are #1 in San Francisco and Los Angeles, let us show you how we earned that praise. Remember, all of the award-winning coaches at the Ignite Your Potential Centers offer a complimentary 25-minute phone session to help you meet your life goals and career goals.
We challenge you to step out of your comfort zone today.

3 Tips to Overcome Fear of Rejection

“Each of us must confront our own fears, must come face to face with them. How we handle our fears will determine where we go with the rest of our lives. To experience adventure or to be limited by the fear of it.” – Judy Blume

Fear of rejection can negatively affect most aspects of one’s life. It’s so powerful that it discourages the achievement of goals and living a full life filled with happiness. It also has many consequences. Facing this fear is not easy, but it is necessary. Here are three tips to help you start overcoming your fear of rejection:  

1. Don’t Take it Personally

Everyone has a different reason for saying no, and it could have absolutely nothing to do with you. Maybe you didn’t receive a job because the interviewer had a current employee in mind for the position. Or maybe a person at the bar (you finally mustered up the courage to approach) declined a date because they recently got out of a bad relationship. Not every opportunity you pursue is meant for you. Timing and compatibility are two things that are completely out of your control.

Being confident in your personality and capabilities is essential to facing rejection. You’ll be able to detach your self-worth from the opinions and acceptance of others. This could lead to your life flourishing in ways you didn’t know were possible.

2. Don’t Run, Stay Engaged

Often times when we face rejection the fear centers in our brain tell us to flee from the situation. However, as a reframe, welcome the feedback that rejection offers. Instead of running away and never looking back, if it’s appropriate, ask why. You may find that the feedback is constructive.

Jia Jiang, author and founder of Wuju Learning, has an amazing Ted Talk titled “What I learned from 100 days of rejection”. Jia outlines his experience with fearing rejection and how he overcame his fear. He also shares how he continues to inspire others to do the same.

3. Embrace Rejection

Rejection has a negative connotation, it’s viewed as a form of failure. Finding the lesson in every experience you faced rejection is very valuable. From every “no” there is an opportunity for self-growth, self-exploration, and self-improvement. It is important to understand rejection does not define you. Let your reaction to being rejected showcase who you are.

Think about the last time you were rejected. Now think about all the opportunities that came from that closed door. Celebrate your rejection because you stepped out of your comfort zone to get closer to achieving your goals. Staying positive and working hard will introduce you to new opportunities. Embracing rejection is truly a catalyst for your odyssey to self-fulfillment.

After reading this article, we hope your perspective of rejection has improved. Remember, all of the award-winning coaches at the Ignite Your Potential Centers offer a complimentary 25-minute phone session to help you meet your life goals and career goals. We are the #1 career coaches in San Francisco and Los Angeles, let us show you how we earned that praise. We can’t wait to witness your pursuit of living a life without regrets.

Why Do You Need a Career Coach?

Here at Ignite Your Potential, we understand some peoples’ hesitation in using a career coach. But do you know what makes career coaching so valuable? Read on to learn 3 things that anybody can gain from spending some time working with a skillful coach.

1.You Get Personalized Advice

There is plenty of career advice out there on the web. But while there is a myriad of general advice on how to develop your personal brand, you’d be hard-pressed to find an article on, “How to Succinctly Explain Your Diverse Writing and Communication Skills While Also Sharing Your Accomplishments and Mentioning Your Love of Sports” (or whatever your situation may be). General career advice will only get you so far. With career coaches, you have someone listening to your situation and giving you expert opinions on how to handle it.

2. Allotted Time to Make Progress

One of our clients’ favorite aspect of our coaching sessions is that it forces them to put everything else aside and spend time defining and vocalizing their challenges. Having set sessions gives you the accountability needed to sit down and actually make progress. It’s your own personal project manager whose main project is the achievement of your goals.

3. You Get to Experiment and Improve

Working with an Ignite Your Potential career coach is a refined, low-stress way to experiment with different ideas for your future. The time spent with a career coach allows you to get an outside perspective on new ideas, without any actual repercussions. That means you have more space to experiment, and then get real-time feedback and strategies from your coach on how to improve.

Consider giving career coaching a try, we have a hunch you’ll be pleasantly surprised. And remember, all of the award-winning coaches at Ignite Your Potential Centers off a complimentary 25-minute phone session to help you meet your life goals and career goals. We are the #1 career coaches in San Francisco and Los Angeles, let us show you how we earned that praise.