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    • 02/16/2018 2:42 PM | Jan Molino (Administrator)

      How many of you know about the Women in Business Initiative Board with the School of Business at George Mason University? 

       It is an exciting initiative with a mission to build a supportive network of female business professionals who can assist and open doors for Mason’s current female students, female alumni and other businesswomen. 

      Yes, it is for women! Consider this the “club” for today’s woman! Professional women like us owe it to young women to help them get a head start on their careers and provide them with opportunities to meet successful role models. I wish I had an executive woman role model when I was in college. That’s why I am on the Women in Business Initiative board.

      This year we will have four events that truly require great sponsors (like all of you) who have influence in your companies and to support recruiting top-performing female talent for your companies. You will also get the opportunity to be a provider of business insight in support of women in the workplace. These events are ideal if you are looking to mentor students, hire interns or young alumni, or get your company’s brand out in front of future employees.

      • The Tips for Success event is hosted by the Women in Business Initiative with support of the School of Business Career Services. Hosted in the fall, this event presents one employer a unique opportunity to interact with School of Business students, faculty, staff, and young alumni. This interactive panel event is geared towards offering our students tips from professionals in the industry. As a sole sponsor and partner in action, you stand side-by-side with the School of Business as we inspire and teach the next generation of women entering the workforce.
      • The Women in Business Etiquette Presentation is hosted in the spring and this event presents one employer a unique opportunity to interact “up close and personal” with School of Business students and young alumni. This interactive luncheon and dinner is geared towards teaching our students business and dinning etiquette from professionals.
      • 3rd Annual Tour of Greater Northwest Wine Reception. This event supports Women in Business funded student scholarships at George Mason University. Who doesn’t enjoy a great glass of wine? And who would walk away from the opportunity to help a women be the first to graduate college in her family! Sip on Greater Northwest wines courtesy of Vienna Vintner, indulge in regional hors d'oeuvres, and get you passport stamped for chances to win wine-themed door prizes. Check out the photos from last year’s event here! Mark your calendars for Thursday, May 3, 6:00-8:30 p.m. Country Club of Fairfax. Register:http://business.gmu.edu/womeninbusiness/program/
      • Power Networking for Women, July 2018. Join us for an evening of networking and wine with the most influential businesswomen in the national capital region. Build your network and share knowledge while supporting Mason's effort to promote women in the workplace. Here are some great photos from the event
      So, let's make a real investment in future women leaders!

      Please contact Nikki Jerome at njerome@gmu.edu Women in Business Liaison with the School of Business or call 703-994-9850 for more information.

    • 01/10/2018 9:20 AM | Jan Molino (Administrator)

      Career Management should not start when you are suddenly faced with your job being eliminated at the end of the month.

      Regardless of your current job status or whether or not you’re considering new professional opportunities, it is vital to have a well-thought-out career management strategy in place.

      People don’t think twice about engaging a health professional to manage their health. 

      Or a financial planner to help manage their money.

      What about a career management professional to help manage your career?

      So, what is your career plan? 

      Does your resume sell who you are and your accomplishments?

      Does your LinkedIn profile tell the same story as your resume?

      Effective career management is an ongoing activity that is a powerful tool to help advance your career. 

      So, let’s talk about return on investment. By proactively managing your career, you’ll have more money for your financial advisor to manage. Just don’t stop when you find your next executive position. 

      It’s ongoing, remember?

      We have enhanced our career management services to include Certified Executive Resume Writers in addition to our executive career coaches who will provide expert guidance on career path management, job transition, career changes, professional resume development, board readiness, LinkedIn Profile, social media presence, and many more customized services.

      Our Career Management Service includes:

      • One-on-one executive career guidance
      • Coaching Packages available for: Career Management; Corporate Board Development; Executive Communications/Media training; Corporate Coaching; Executive Coaching; and Social Media
      • Strategic networking
      • Professional resume development, executive bios, cover letter, curriculum vitae (CV), and much more to facilitate executive career transition.

      Ready to manage your career?

      Schedule your complimentary career assessment and get ready to manage your career at info@aspire-ascend.com

    • 12/13/2017 2:16 PM | Jan Molino (Administrator)

      “Building Power as a Female Executive”

      I recently had the privilege of speaking at the 9th Annual Virginia Women’s Business Conference where I met amazing women leaders and entrepreneurs. I spoke about building power as a female executive, a topic dear to my heart. 

      Anyone who knows me, knows that I believe in the power of women.

      I believe that women have a unique perspective for leadership, and I truly believe women can shape the future of the workplace. 

      And I believe that the biggest key to building power is to surround yourself with powerful people.

      Women executives lead busy lives and deal with complicated business situations. Add to this, women often are in charge of family responsibilities. So, it is very easy to forego “discretionary” tasks like networking meetings. But it is a proven fact that the time you spend on this has a direct impact on your status and power.

      I learned a long time ago that successful women, those who shape their own destiny and disrupt the workplace, understand the power of networking. They know that strategic networking creates what is known as a “virtuous cycle”, a chain of events that build on themselves. It goes like this:

      • a powerful network increases your visibility; 
      • visibility increases your power and status, 
      • which in turn increases your ability to build and maintain the right relationships
      • and with those relationship, get more done through them. 

      I don’t remember who said it, but I agree with the sentiment: “even the Lone Ranger didn’t do it alone.”

      And I have seen it time and again, women enhance their power when they build the right network and, for me, that means developing a “toolkit.” Let’s call it a Power Networking Leadership Toolkit. 

      Read the rest of story on Huffington Post

    • 12/05/2017 4:56 PM | Rhiannon Collins (Administrator)

      Coaching Corner

      Our experienced coaching team focuses on helping executive women increase their effectiveness, identify their strengths and development needs, build confidence and support to make bold moves and set and achieve challenging goals.

      Jan Fox

      With more than 25 years and four Emmy Awards to her TV journalism credit, Jan Fox is a popular speaker, speaking coach, and author. She has coached company owners, CEOs, and senior leaders to improve their presentation and speaking skills. Her client list is among the most recognizable names in corporate America including nonprofit organizations and government agencies. Jan is also a highly experienced TEDx Talk coach and has prepared many speakers to appear on television and to deliver industry keynotes.

      As part of the coaching team at Aspire Ascend, we asked Jan to share with us a few insights for women executives on public speaking:

      Tips from Jan:

      The executive women who come to see me usually fall into 3 categories:

      • They don’t speak up at all, because they suffer from a serious case of speaker jitters.
      • They speak up timidly, but they can’t command the room.
      • They speak up often and loudly, but they don’t get the attention of others around the table.  
      Each of the above categories requires a specific approach, and, believe me, I want all of these smart women to see fast results.
      THE NON-SPEAKER: I use my ever-evolving list of mind-shifts for the women in first group.
      • We work on the belief that no-one else has their exact set of skills. Definitely, no one else has their personal and professional stories or their list of experiences.
      • I stress how they are obligated by the universe to share with the world. We find their stories that meet their personal and professional purposes. We practice and practice.
      • Then we target the exact moment to bring a story to life, and they tell it. When it’s over, they learn they still have a pulse, and the accolades are enough for them to try again and again. They learn to love sharing what they know.
      THE TIMID SPEAKER:  More often than not, all these women need to do is increase their volume and energy.
      • We use video to show that simply increasing their volume makes them seem bold and confident. They feel it.
      • We immediately see what they need to do to enhance their personal presence.
      • Their home work is to practice speaking louder with that presence in every conversation. I’ve heard story after story of their pride, when the pens and phones around the table plop down and every eye is now on the new bold speakers.
      THE POWERLESS SPEAKER:  This often takes a little more time.
      • If this is you, start by listening better right away. Listen to the questions being asked in your meetings. Notice who comments, for how long, and with how much conviction.
      • The powerful speakers use fewer words but more passion and stronger eye contact. If you’re speaking, but no one listening, you’re often the exact opposite- monotone, passionless with way too many words.
      • Home work is to talk to the organizer of the next meeting where you might have to speak. Ask for the agenda. We mark exactly where you can add something to the conversation. You make a commitment NOT to speak on every point and NOT to speak up first.
      • We practice and practice the places you can speak up. You stick to the plan! Almost every time, someone comments on how important your contribution was. That’s another one off and running with new-found confidence.
      These may seem like small steps, but the results are new-found joy and personal freedom. I love watching it happen! "

    • 12/05/2017 4:42 PM | Rhiannon Collins (Administrator)

      Member Spotlight:

      An interview with Marcia Davies
      Chief Operating Officer, Mortgage Bankers Association

      You are currently the Chief Operating Officer in an industry that still has a stunning lack of women in executive roles. Your knowledge of that lack of gender diversity has been the driving force behind “mPower” - an exclusive network for women in the real estate finance industry. How do you see this network leveraging the power and influence of women? What have been the challenges? Where do you see mPower having its biggest impact?

      The real estate finance industry, like many others, has been slow to recognize women as senior leaders. mPower is designed to help women engage, network and learn both from one another and through professional development opportunities we provide.

      We have seen tremendous success with our mPower events. In one year, we had over 1,000 women participate in eight events. Just last month, we held our first full day of programming for women called mPowering You in conjunction with MBA’s Annual Convention in Denver. Over 350 women participated in the Summit and the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. There were women from all stages of a career, from those who were just starting out to experienced professionals who have been in the industry for a while. It was so rewarding to hear the event inspired and empowered everyone – no matter level or tenure.    

      mPower also has a secure online community where women can post questions or share ideas with one another. The community has been active for one year and has over 1,300 members. One challenge has been while the community is large, the number of women participating in posted discussions could be more robust. We have seen an increased engagement, but it would be great if more women shared their comments and opinions. Often I hear women talk about how much the posts from other women helped them but, for whatever reason, they chose not to comment directly.   

      What strategies have you learned about advancing your own career that you could share with other women? 

      First, I would say: “don’t be afraid to take risks.” Stepping out of your comfort zone and taking on new responsibilities is not only very rewarding, but also provides a way for you to be seen in a different light, which most often is appealing to senior leaders within an organization.   

      Second, stay true to yourself. Be authentic. Don’t compromise your values or your integrity. And, make sure there are parts of your job that bring you joy! 

      How do you think being a woman impacts your leadership style?

      I strive to lead by example, treat people the way I want to be treated, empower my team and be an active listener. Those qualities are not unique to women but they describe my leadership style.

      You exude confidence in your abilities and career path.  Where did you get this confidence? 

      For me, building confidence was an evolution. It took time, making the right decisions and choices and producing a lot of beyond expected results.   

      What do you think is the most significant barrier to female leadership?

      I’ve read articles and hear a lot about the differences between men and women when considering applying for a new opportunity. Women will often hold themselves back when they don’t have 100 percent of the job requirements when men will more often take the risk and apply for that opportunity.
      I had a boss who encouraged me to take a position that was well outside of my comfort zone and one that I did not have direct technical experience. He indicated the position needed a strong leader with excellent instincts, who had the ability to influence others, who was decisive and a proven track record of creating high performing teams. He told me I had all of those skills and the technical expertise comes from my team. 
      So, I took a leap of faith and stepped in that job. It changed the course of my career in ways I never envisioned. In addition to expanding my resume, I became known for my expertise and success in an entirely new area.

      Where is your career heading? What will your next career challenge be?

      I see my career continuing to grow. Over the next few years, I will devote more of my time to expand mPower and its impact in the industry. I want to see mPower thrive so MBA can continue supporting women in the real estate finance industry.

      What will be the biggest challenge for the generation of women behind you?

      It’s my hope that there will be more women in leadership so the next generation of women will have role models and leaders that help them navigate the challenges women face.

      What advice do you have for women aiming for a senior leadership position?

      Put yourself out there. Take on new assignments, stay actively engaged, participate in meetings, demonstrate quality decision making and be visible. Let management know who you are and how capable you are!

      What are you doing to ensure you continue to grow and develop as a leader?

      I always try to learn from mistakes and make sure I ask my management team what they need from me. Leadership isn’t a one-size fits all so it’s important to understand strengthens and weaknesses within yourself as well as your team to become the most effective management team possible.

      What haven’t we covered that you think is an important message for women? 

      Women need to support one another. Share your successes and failures with one another. Step up if you see a woman struggling in the workplace and see if you can coach or help her. Working together is so powerful. 

      Why did you decide to join Aspire Ascend and the Executive Edge? How does Aspire Ascend support your career and/or personal goals?

      Networking with other senior executive women is so important, and I wanted to expand my network beyond my industry. Aspire Ascend Executive Edge membership provides great networking events and provides timely information. In addition, the executive coaching provided – I chose to hone my public speaking with the help of Jan Fox – has been very helpful.

    • 11/08/2017 12:57 PM | Jan Molino (Administrator)

      How Much Are You Really Worth?

      I recently had the privilege of speaking to a group of women pulmonologists at the American College of Chest Physicians’ annual CHEST conference. I was asked to speak on the subject of contract negotiations. Since all physicians at one time or another in their careers must master negotiating skills or leave significant money and other benefits on the table, I thought this would be a fairly routine talk. So routine, in fact, I was concerned that I wouldn’t be able to hold their attention through my 20 minutes at the podium.

      But, as I spoke, I noticed how quiet the room was, heads bent taking notes and a focus on what I was saying.

      We usually think of physicians, women doctors included, as being in charge and able to control any situation. And, here I was, speaking to 300 accomplished professionals, many of them leaders and trailblazers in their own right, absorbing my advice on how to master the art of negotiating…for themselves.

      Following the talk, many in the audience who wanted “real world” advice and guidance on their specific situations surrounded me. They all voiced one major concern: the lack of financial opportunity and advancement for women in medicine.

      Among all physicians, women earn an average of 74 cents for every dollar a man makes, according to a new report from Doximity, a social network for healthcare professionals. That translates to female physicians earning roughly $91,000 less a year than their male counterparts, and they are promoted less frequently to leadership positions in their practices, hospitals, and academic centers.

      That’s an even worse track record than the average full-time woman worker who earns an average of 82 cents for every dollar a man made in 2016 – up from 77 cents.

      As I flew home from the conference, I asked myself, if these women were having difficulty navigating contract and salary negotiations, how much more difficult must it be for a woman with far fewer letters following her name?

      Read the rest of story on Huffington Post

    • 10/20/2017 12:51 PM | Jan Molino (Administrator)

      I never thought I would be writing about sexual harassment! I don’t know why I thought it happened to others but not me.  I am a product of the 70’s & 80’s where blatant sexism was pretty much the norm, according to Harvey Weinstein.

      It is an age-old problem that is still with us. Despite policies, despite the lawsuits recently won by some high-profile women against some very powerful men…it continues.

      The Equality Act of 2010 defines sexual harassment as ”unwanted conduct of a sexual nature which has the purpose or effect of violating someone’s dignity, or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for them.” But it also includes what appears to be vague legislation that suggests it is hard to tell the difference between humiliating remarks and banter.

      It isn’t.

      The new ABC News-Washington Post poll made the point that over half of all American women - 54% - have experienced “unwanted and inappropriate sexual advances” at some point in their lives.  According to Fortune magazine, “ thirty percent of women have endured such behavior from male colleagues and 25% identified men with sway over their careers as the culprits.”

      I have always thought of myself as a strong, independent woman.

      And yet, I am one of those 54%. 

      When I think back to my early professional career and over the years, I remember instances now where I ignored, or didn’t recognize, clear signs.  But as I read the stories of other women under the banner of “Me, too” I realized that there were at least three instances of straight up sexual harassment and over the course of my professional life, many, many instances of sexism.

      I guess I thought it was something you put up with, as you needed that male supervisor’s reference and advocacy to move up the ladder. 

      As women, we all have learned to minimize situations that make us uncomfortable.  We have all laughed at offensive remarks, comments or off color jokes about women.  Or we have taken ourselves out of the situation so we didn’t have to deal with it. 

      It is uncomfortable, but that is how sexual harassment continues.  How many times have we swallowed a sharp retort when we were belittled? “Laughing it off” was a way to de-escalate the situation.

      I once heard it said, “It is the reality of being a woman in our world.  It’s laughing off sexism because we felt we had no other choice.”

      After all that has been written this week and the past year regarding sexual harassment, I now know I can’t watch from the sidelines. I have to take a stand and make a big deal about it. 

      That is what it means to be a woman today!  We need to help each other and really listen to what is happening to other women around us. 

      When you read an article about another woman who has been belittled for calling out sexist remarks, don’t belittle her for her remarks.  Empathize with her, and support her. Speak up for her and stand up with her.

      We have all heard those sexist remarks.

      Believe women when they tell their stories!

      After all the dialogue and hashtags and stories this week.  After reading all the responses on your news feed to “Me, too” and joining in.  After all of this, it is now time for all of us to do something about it!

    • 09/25/2017 12:10 PM | Jan Molino (Administrator)

      .........It is your leadership edge!

      Even today, many women executives are skeptical about social media. Many are even uncomfortable articulating their understanding of how to use social media to advance themselves or their company's business interests. More often than not, they don’t fully understand how powerful social media can be to growing their business and executive profile. Think about Arianna Huffington as a role model! 

      But, as a female executive, you need a well-crafted social media strategy or you will be left behind in the race to the top!

      At Aspire Ascend, we know that the executive development of top leaders has a direct impact on the business. We also know from experience that social media is a bona fide leadership tool! 

      By expanding your leadership toolkit to include social media, you are accomplishing two of the most important aspects of leadership: strengthening your reputation as a leader and enhancing your company’s brand. 

      Women executives who are social media-savvy are perceived as more accessible, transparent and trustworthy business leaders. Engaging in social media is a true investment in your personal brand.

      It has been proven to be especially useful for CEOs, providing opportunities for employees to know their personal side and to demystify the myth around their executive role. 

      Crafting a strong and authentic personal brand is key to executive presence.  If you don’t take charge of your online brand, search engines and third party tweets will do that for you. 

      And here’s one more key reason you need an online presence: It is the skill set that will set you apart from the competition for CEO positions

      This is the primary reason that I added a new social media coaching program to our arsenal of executive career tools for senior women. The one-on-one social media coaching can help position you as a thought leader, complement your existing messaging arsenal, prepare you to engage with diverse audiences, and prepare you to respond instantly in crisis situations. 

      In short, we help you up your game!

    • 09/14/2017 9:06 AM | Jan Molino (Administrator)

      Please join Aspire Ascend CEO,Jan Molino, when she presents career-building strategies during her presentation - "Keys to Power: Surround Yourself With Powerful People" - at the Virginia Women's Business Conference on Friday, Dec. 1, at Lansdowne Resort and Spa. Learn more and register here --> http://buff.ly/2vHdVid +VaBizCon +VisionPassionPower +VAevent

    • 09/12/2017 8:22 AM | Jan Molino (Administrator)

      Women need to make their corporate board interests known in the first place. It takes research and preparation to get a board seat. Here are a few tips:

      • Promote your career through non-profit board involvement, political connections and company activities, so you meet people who are themselves on boards.
      • One of the key credentials for board members is experience being accountable for the profits and losses of a company.  Since women have held fewer P&L roles than men, you have to work that much harder and your network needs to be that much stronger
      • Be strategic.  Acquire marketable expertise. Knowledge of digital technology, the regulatory environment and executive compensation are in high demand.
      • Parlay those skills into a board membership through stronger and strategic networking.  
      • Create a digital footprint. Online connections can lead to pleasant surprises.
      • Go global. International experience is in demand. Depending on the company that could mean: an international posting, extensive overseas business travel, or responsibility for foreign markets; or deep understanding of the culture and consumers, or the executive have “on-the-ground” experience. 
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