Archive | May, 2012

Enjoying The Simple Pleasures In Life

31 May

My husband and I always have conversations about saving and spending money. It is one of those conversations that literally sounds like nails on a chalk board to me. He is usually the one talking and I am usually the one nodding my head, pretending to listen. Sure, I understand that we need to save money to buy the house that we both want and to pay off our massive student loan debt. I get it. And usually I agree that I can cut out some of my spending on needless things (like the pair of pants I will only wear one time or the heels I can only wear out to really nice restaurants). What I don’t agree with is cutting down on those simple pleasures in life that make us all happy. The latte from Starbucks, the book from Barnes & Noble, the $40 dinner with good friends, the trip to the nail salon. I have heard so many people say that they have cut out their Starbucks addiction in an effort to try to save a little money. My response is always the same. Why? Why cut out the one thing that really makes you happy? Why force yourself to save that extra $5?

While my thoughts may seem outrageous to some of you, author Laura Vanderkam agrees with me in her book All The Money In The World: What The Happiest People Know About Getting And Spending. Like me, Vanderkam agrees that you should buy that Latte because it is the small pleasures in life that matter most. According to Vanderkam, “small, repeated pleasures . . . are the bread and butter of human happiness. In an interview with Forbes, Vanderkam states, “the problem with giving up those simple pleasures is that it requires you to exercise self-discipline every single day. “The question is whether you want to be exercising self-discipline every morning as you pass by Starbucks or if you’d like to use it for something more important in life – for instance, in your job or in your interactions with your family.” I don’t know about you, but I would rather use self-discipline at work and home than on those things that make me happy when my work life and home life frustrate me.

Ok, so you are probably wondering how you save money if you are always indulging in your favorites simple pleasures. Just as I said above, saving that extra $5 a day really won’t break the bank as much as purchasing a Mercedes that requires you to pay $500+ a month or purchasing a house that makes you live paycheck to paycheck. I guess it depends on who you are and what makes you happy, but for me driving around a Mercedes ranks lower on my list of pleasures than other things.

What are your favorite simple pleasures in life? Mine are as follows (ranked in order of importance):

  • Buying a good book on my Kindle Fire
  • Eating dinner out with my husband
  • Enjoying a night out on the town with friends
  • Enjoying a nice bottle of wine or my favorite beer (Shocktop)
  • Getting my nails done

While I do allow myself to enjoy my favorite simple pleasures, there are some limits. Obviously I don’t go get my nails done every week (that would be expensive). Usually I go about once a month. So there is some restraint, but at the end of the day if I want to go get them done I don’t hesitate.

Do you agree that we should all be enjoying our favorite simple pleasures more often?

Are You Unhappy At Work? Make A Change!

30 May

I was recently talking to a good friend about how her job was going when she told me that she pretty much does her boss’s job without her boss’s pay. When her husband suggested that she go into the office the following day and ask for a promotion I totally agreed. Here is a woman who has been busting her ass at work for a very long time without being properly recognized. So we all waited for her to say “Yes, I will go ask for that promotion,” but she didn’t. Instead she seemed uneasy with the idea and said that while she did do things outside of her pay and skill level, she was afraid of having to learn something new. She was also uncomfortable with the idea of managing people who were at least five years her senior.

While I understand that asking for a promotion and a pay raise can be extremely nerve-racking, I am of the opinion that if you are unhappy you need to make a change. If you continue to go above and beyond everyone’s expectations without asking for more your company may never give you more. This is what we call taking advantage of the little man. All of us do it, and if you don’t do something about it you will find yourself looking back ten years from now wondering why you didn’t just ask.

That’s it. All you have to do is ask. And as you have heard your entire life, all they can say is No. If you think about it that way it makes the whole process a little less scary.  So, if you feel that you are working harder than your co-workers but are in a lower level position or are not being paid well enough, JUST ASK.

But how do you know when it is appropriate to ask for a promotion or pay increase? The truth is that there is no “appropriate” time to ask. The “best” opportunity to ask will probably be at your annual review, but if that has already come and gone then you need to think of other options. Try scheduling a meeting with your boss and say that you would like to discuss how you are doing at work. If you feel that is too formal for your work environment then simply walk into your boss’s office when he/she seems the least busy and ask if you can talk to him/her. Yes I know it is scary, but you can do it!

Before going in to speak to your boss think about how your company is growing and changing. For example, are people from your team being moved to different positions? Is your company merging with another? Are there openings in a position that you are interested in? When companies are changing and growing it presents a great opportunity for you to go in there and ask for a promotion.

But the economy sucks right now so they probably won’t give me what I want, right? WRONG! Yes I know that the economy is not at its greatest, but you have to understand that if you are a valuable employee (and if they are smart) they will do what they can to please you and keep you at the company. Obviously if your company is going under it may not be the best time to ask for a promotion, but if that is the case I would suggest looking for a backup job.

Make sure you can tell your boss exactly what you have brought to the table. Asking for a promotion is one thing if you are actually making the company grow or better off, but it is an entirely different thing if you aren’t bringing your company any benefit. Make sure that you are prepared to defend your promotion by showing your boss how valuable you are to the company. At my last job I had a meeting with my boss about the pay increase I was promised. At that meeting I went in prepared to tell him that I had saved the company X amount of dollars in legal fees that year and had accomplished things that no one else had accomplished at the company. In the end my boss was more than happy to give me the pay increase, and so will yours if you can show him/her why you deserve it.

Make sure you know what you want before you go speak to your boss. A lot of times we assume that our bosses have these big plans for us and know which direction we are going within the company. The truth is that a lot of times your boss doesn’t know what you really want out of the company and whether you are truly happy. So when you go to ask for a promotion be prepared for your boss to ask you what it is you want. Do you want more responsibility? Do you want to manage others? How much of a salary increase do you think is appropriate? Be prepared to show that people working in your field and performing your responsibilities make X amount of dollars before you ask for an increase in salary.

If you get the promotion or pay increase good for you! Be happy and celebrate, but make sure that you understand your boss’s expectations. Your best bet will probably be to have another meeting with your boss in which you go over everything that your new position entails and make a list of exactly what your boss expects from someone in your new position.

At the end of the day asking for a promotion or a pay increase is NOT easy, but it is necessary if you find yourself completely unhappy at work. Remember, we all have the power to change our own lives, so if you are unhappy go out and do something about it.

Have you ever asked for a promotion or pay increase? How did you go about asking and how did your boss respond?

What To Wear To A Company Pool Party

24 May
Daytime Pool Attire

Just last week I received an email from one of the big time execs at my firm that basically invited everyone in the office, their families, and children to a pool party. I thought nothing of it at first, but once the women around the office began talking about whether or not they would be wearing a bathing suit to the pool party, I soon realized that having to attend a work related pool party can be a bit awkward. I mean surely the executives wouldn’t want to see me sunning in a bikini, and I sure don’t expect to see them in their swim trunks either (hopefully!).

So, what is appropriate to wear to a work related pool party? Obviously I think it depends on what type of event it is going to be. Is it going to be sort of fancy where everyone just eats and drinks around the pool? Is it going to be very laid back? Is it at night or during the mid-afternoon? The party I was invited to is mid-afternoon and very casual and will even have a food truck there. I am still not quite sure what I am going to wear and whether I think wearing shorts is appropriate, but here are some ideas:

Wearing a pair of long shorts or even shorter shorts with a nice blouse and sandals would be perfect for sitting outside and enjoying everyone’s company. The first outfit to the left above is a great example. The white shorts are summery and yet still not too revealing. This type of outfit would be perfect if you were unsure of what to expect at the pool party or completely unaware of how everyone else will be dressed.

If everyone will be wearing a bathing suit, the middle outfit would be perfect. Yes, I know it is a one-piece bathing suit, but it is cute and conservative enough if you pair it with a mid-thigh length skirt and cute sandals. While I would probably still feel uncomfortable in this around my co-workers, if you work in a more laid back environment or with a bunch of young people this may be just the perfect outfit for you.

I always think wearing a cute sun-dress is safest way to go when you are invited to a work related summer party. The green Flared Dress from Etsy above is so adorable that I have seriously considered buying it myself. Pairing the cute green sun-dress with some cute wedges and a big floppy hat would be perfect for a company pool party.

What do you guys think? Have you had to decide what to wear to a company pool party?

Flared dress
$58 – etsy.com

Custommade silk tank top
799 DKK – musthaves.dk

Joe’s Jeans short shorts
$139 – zappos.com

MICHAEL Michael Kors swimwear
$108 – michaelkors.com

Jack Wills tulip skirt
$80 – jackwills.com

Rosegold leather sandals
$158 – nordstrom.com

Sam Edelman leather sandals
$110 – coggles.com

Gabriella Rocha summer sandals
$36 – zappos.com

Kendra Scott dangle earrings
$58 – endless.com

Astley Clarke pink jewelry
$180 – astleyclarke.com

J Crew beach hat
$38 – jcrew.com

Heidi Klein raffia cowboy hat
$130 – matchesfashion.com

Always Prepare For Your Speech Beforehand

21 May

This past weekend I had the pleasure of attending a beautiful wedding in Halifax, Massachusetts. The wonderful couple was friends with my husband in college and are just about the nicest people ever. Not only was the wedding a wonderful opportunity for me to finally relax, but it was nice to sit with my husband’s good friends in the sun and enjoy a few cocktails.

Fast forward to the reception when everyone is slightly intoxicated and the toasts are starting to take place. Apparently some of the groomsmen had a speech prepared but then decided that they were too embarrassed to speak in front of everyone. So what did they do? They made another groomsmen do it despite the fact that this young man had not even thought about giving a speech.

This is where the story gets really interesting. The young man takes the microphone and introduces himself. After introducing himself he says: “Now, I know the bride because I used to see her trying to sneak out of our house every morning.” YES, HE SAID THAT! And then he went on and on about how the couple supposedly secretly dated one another while they were dating other people and told story after story which left the impression that the bride was promiscuous or the couple was doing things they shouldn’t be doing. Needless to say, the groomsman’s speech was an absolute disaster. Not only did the bride’s grandmother get up and leave in the middle of it, but the bride felt the need to defend herself in front of everyone (which who blames her). Poor thing. I felt terrible about the fact that this drunk guy could have quite possibly ruined her special wedding night and told everyone in her family things they did not need to know.

So this weekend I learned that not everyone is good enough to give an impromptu speech without any preparation. Some people just can’t handle the pressure of everyone’s eyes on them and some people just can’t think of anything (appropriate) to say without planning it out first. The bottom line is that you must ALWAYS prepare for your speech beforehand. Don’t expect to walk to the microphone and have something profound and enlightening to say. When you are preparing to give a work presentation, a speech at a charity event, or a speech at a wedding, please, please, please make sure you do the following:

Know What You Are Going To Say

This doesn’t mean that you have to write everything out word for word, this just means that you need to have a basic idea of what you are going to say and how the speech is going to flow. You need to sit down and think about whatever it is you are trying to say and then decide the best way to say it. You may want to make bullet points of highlights you want to hit, a list of topics you need to discuss, or write out an entire speech if you are prone to blacking out when speaking in front of people (which sometimes I do). Having that list in front of you will help when you get nervous or lost during your speech.

Know Your Audience

This is very important, and obviously something the groomsman didn’t think about this past weekend. Now, the story the groomsman told may have been appropriate if it were made just in front of the bride and groom’s close friends, but not in front of older family members and fathers. When speaking about a certain topic, make sure you know who your target audience is so you know how to appropriately communicate the message. For example, if you are speaking about complex technology and your target audience is high schoolers, you may want to use more layman’s terms than you would  if you were speaking in front of a bunch of tech gurus.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Again, this doesn’t mean that your speech needs to sound scripted, it just means that you need to get comfortable talking out loud about the topic. It is perfectly fine if your speech is a little different each time, just make sure you feel comfortable with the topic and what you are going to say. Sometimes I find that saying things out loud is harder than thinking them in my head. Either my words end up feeling jumbled or they don’t sound as good as they did on paper. Being able to hear your own voice will allow you to gauge whether or not what you have prepared is what you actually want to say.

Be Confident

The worst way to go into any speech is to be uncomfortable and nervous. If you walk in thinking that your speech is going to be horrible you will walk in with unnecessary anxiety that will likely hamper your ability to give an impressive speech. Rather than focusing on the negative, focus on the positive and imagine yourself wowing the audience. If you walk up to the podium with confidence people will be able to see that confidence and will enjoy your speech more.

Have you ever given a speech that was a total flop? How did you recover? What did you do for the next speech to ensure that you were better prepared?

It’s Friday!

17 May
Casual Friday Outfits of the Week

Preen short sleeve silk shirt
£479 – farfetch.com

J Crew slim shirt
$98 – jcrew.com

Mexx short blazer
€100 – mexx.eu

Madewell mid length skirt
$88 – madewell.com

Aubin Wills cotton skirt
$105 – net-a-porter.com

Sam Edelman wedge heels
$225 – stanwells.com

MICHAEL Michael Kors logo messenger bag
£200 – harveynichols.com

Clear jewelry
$23 – fantasyjewelrybox.com

H M chain jewelry
£5.99 – hm.com

Can You Disagree With Your Boss?

17 May

Yesterday one of my girlfriends told me a story about a new employee. We were sitting at lunch, sipping tea and catching up when I asked how work was going. She proceeded to tell me that they had hired a new young female employee. I asked how she was working out, which caused my friend to lean across the table with an I-shouldn’t-be-telling-you-this look on her face, and said, “She got in a fight with her boss after only working there two weeks!” My friend was absolutely flabbergasted that this new employee would have the audacity to openly disagree with her boss – and by openly she meant that the two of them were raising their voices at one another, the new employee not backing down.

“I would never raise my voice at my boss after working for him for ten years, let alone two weeks,” she told me.

I agreed and thought back to all my disagreements with bosses to ensure that I had never raised my voice at them. I hadn’t. But this conversation got me thinking – is it ok to openly disagree with your boss?

Just the other day my boss and I were pouring over a brief that we had to get filed. We were going to be filing the brief with the court of appeals, which only allows the brief to be 30 pages long. Our brief was right at thirty pages. While we were fine-tuning the brief one last time he asked me to look for a few more cases to cite for a proposition. I told him that I was worried that we would be pushed over our page limit because the certificate of service (the proof that we sent the brief to opposing counsel) has to be within the thirty pages. My boss looked at me and said, “No, that is not right. You are wrong on that one.” He then proceeded to open the rule book in search of the answer. The entire time I was sitting there I was biting my tongue. I desperately wanted to say No, you are wrong! But, as you probably guessed, I refrained from doing so because at the end of the day he is my boss and I respect him. At the end of the day I work for him and will do whatever he tells me to do (of course within some reason).

I do, however, think it is ok to disagree with your boss as long as you do it in a respectful manner. If you asked your boss he probably would tell you that he wants to hear your opinion, even if it is different from his. I mean, that is why they hired you, right?

So, how can you disagree with your boss without losing your job?

Make Sure Expressing Your Viewpoint Is Worth It

Some people are bad at dealing with someone telling them that they don’t agree with their view, so make sure that when you feel the need to express your contrasting view that it is worth it. What I mean is don’t express a different viewpoint on small, insignificant issues. Wait until you have a really good idea and the idea relates to an important project or task. Yes, I know this advice may not be how you would normally handle things, but in the working world there is a pecking order people!

Make Your Response Non-Emotional

When someone tells another person they disagree with their opinion, defenses may come up, so try to avoid sounding accusatory or being overly emotional about the subject matter. Play it cool and be professional. There should be no raised voices or tension when discussing your disagreement.

Make Sure You Get It Right

There is nothing worse than telling your boss you disagree with their opinion and then being unable to show them provable facts as to why you disagree. Make sure you know what you are going to say before you say it, and make sure you are right! If you end up being wrong you will just look stupid.

Offer A Different, And Better, Alternative

Telling your boss that their conclusion or opinion is not right and failing to provide a solution is just plain stupid. If you have nothing new to offer, why even bring it up in the first place?

If Your Boss Won’t Accept Your View, Then Drop It

I understand that no one like Yes-Men, but at some point we need to recognize that the person we are disagreeing with is our boss and we have to respect that. If you have told them that you disagree, why you disagree, and have offered a solution, then you have done your job. If your boss doesn’t want to take your advice, then walk away.

Have you ever had a disagreement with your boss? How did you handle it?

Chic Work Attire

16 May
Chic Work Attire
What do you guys think of my new Polyvore creation? I recently discovered this fabulous website and am absolutely hooked on putting various items together to make the perfect outfit. This outfit represents the chic in all of us. Can you just imagine how that black dress with a great pair of black pumps will make you feel? Surely that outfit would give any woman the confidence she needs to walk into a meeting and grab everyone’s attention. The dress is from the UK and is kind of pricey, but there are plenty of similar options for less.
And what about that satin blouse? I always find myself searching through stores trying to find the perfect work blouse. Nothing can make a boring old suit or plain black pants look better than a cute blouse. I think this blouse has the perfect mix of girly and sophistication to make it absolutely perfect for work. AND can you believe it is only 23? I wonder if the quality as good as it looks. Hmm.
 

Alice Olivia cap sleeve cocktail dress
£215 – oxygenboutique.com

Pullover shirt
$23 – pacificplex.com

Karen Millen knee length black skirt
£105 – houseoffraser.co.uk

Christian Louboutin patent pumps
$625 – net-a-porter.com

Louis Mariette brooch
$207 – net-a-porter.com

Tasha hair accessory
$28 – nordstrom.com

H M hair accessory
£1.99 – hm.com

Chanel eye makeup
$47 – amazon.com

Polka dot bow tie back
£2 – dorothyperkins.com