Your Brilliant Career Podcast

The go-to resource for getting the most out of your career

This podcast provides an injection of energy and practical insights to women who are committed to their career. I share tactics, tools and stories that inspire capable women to think bigger and unapologetically achieve the success they deserve.

One of my early realisations was that there are many unwritten rules about career success that no one tells you. Smart women are tired of generic career tips. They want accessible, relevant and practical tips. Each episode includes content that inspires women to step up in their career and experience the energy and reward of being more.

Your Brilliant Career is a podcast that aims to help more women rise and reach new heights in their career.

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EPISODE HIGHLIGHTS

I put out the call in a recent newsletter to "Ask me anything!" This episode is all about answering your questions. I've selected five that seemed to be top of mind for many of you. Drumroll please!!!

  1. How do I convey what I'm good at at work?
  2. How do I deal with feelings of impostor syndrome?
  3. Do I stay or do I go? My boss is a nightmare.
  4. How do I speak confidently with senior leaders? 
  5. You wanted to know more about me!

I'm also giving out a free guide on Becoming Your Own Cheerleader, so check out the show notes to grab your copy.

Right, let's dive in!

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Links we talked about on the podcast include:

Join the waitlist: RISE Accelerate program

FREE GUIDE: Becoming Your Own Cheerleader

FREE GUIDE: Confident, Not Cocky: The Executive Woman's Guide to Strategic Self-Promotion

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Your transcript

This episode is a special one because it's all about your questions. So in a recent newsletter, I threw it out there, ask me anything, and I'll do my best to answer your questions in an upcoming episode. Well, here it is. So thank you for all the responses. I love seeing them land in our inboxes. I can't reply to all of them, but you have given me so many terrific ideas for future episodes too.

So if your question isn't covered off in today's episode, it doesn't mean it's off the radar. Look out for future episodes. The other thing I wanted to flag is given that career advancement, it's not always straightforward when you're giving advice around that. Sometimes it can be a little bit more complex than expected.

There's rarely a four word response to any question. So, my approach today is I'm tackling five beautiful questions in this episode. I picked the themes and questions that sort of came through the most that I think you will enjoy the most. So, if variety and lots of tips are your thing, then you are going to love this episode. Let's dive in.

[00:02:00] Okay. Well, welcome to the Your Brilliant Career podcast. Let's dive straight in to question one. And it's this. How do I convey what I'm good at, at work? So Cassie asked, you know, a senior leader recently asked me what my strengths were in my role. And I found myself at a bit of a loss to respond well. This question does come up. I think it's mostly associated with interviews. You know, what are your strengths? What do you do well in your role? But people can ask you this exact question from time to time in your current role. And often in the most unexpected way, like it can land when you're not ready for it. So, it's a good thing to have something up your sleeve here.

[00:02:45] I also think it's incredibly valuable for you, no one else, but you to know your strengths. Like there is real value in appreciating what you're good at. Like it builds certainty and confidence just knowing that. Now, some of you listening will know this because you've been on programs, you're alumni, that many of my programs have mini assignments in them.

And I love assignments because well, I want you interacting. It's not just about fixing the women. I certainly don't believe in that theory. I want you learning and I want to create experiences that are relevant in your day to day work, not just this isolated, content driven learning experience and my participants love it.

It just brings things to life for them much more effective way. And the opportunity from my perspective is also about helping women expand their business knowledge, like get more visibility in the business and in some cases, gain a deeper understanding of how they are perceived in the workplace and what they can do better.

[00:03:47] And I want to talk about that last piece a little bit more, because one of my mini assignments is called the Personal Brand Survey. Now, just this week I was coaching a group of women in a large organisation. I've worked with this company for four years now, delivering sponsorship programs. And this year I have a cohort of 16 women at mid-level leadership level, and they completed the brand surveys and they brought their results back to their first coaching session with me.

Now the surveys are super helpful in identifying their strengths, their future potential. Like it extracts so much fantastic content. But then when I ask them, how do they use those insights? So, you know, if I ask them right now, what do you bring to the table that others don't? How are you going to respond to that question now you have this information? And in most cases they had absolutely no idea. Like even though they had all that good information explaining what they were good at at work, it wasn't clear how they should articulate that, how they should build that into a compelling narrative. And I think here lies the problem for many women, including Cassie, who has asked this question.

[00:05:03] We know our strengths, but we don't know how to bring them together into a cohesive and compelling narrative. So I want to share a simple technique that might help you do this. Okay. And maybe you've heard me say this in the past, and you'll probably hear me say it in the future again, too.

I love the idea of women knowing their value. It's so important to know your value, to be able to articulate your value. If you don't believe in your value, how can other people believe in it? But let me go back for a moment to the women that I was coaching this week. They did the survey. So they get this great framework that helps them uncover their strengths. And it's, it's a very authentic information that they get from the survey, in my opinion. And I know it's probably a biased opinion, but this survey is far more effective than most 360 degree and diagnostics. Because the survey gets really deep, specific information that helps you think about your performance and future potential. But anyway, they get all that information, they get examples to support each point. They have lots of great content, right?

[00:06:07] So, let's just take the example of the women that I worked with last week here. And let's imagine that we've been hit up with that question… talk about your strengths. Yep. And how we might start that conversation in terms of responding to that question. Because I feel like that opening piece, that very initial part can often be the hardest. So here's my suggestion. They could say, and I'm just talking about the in-organisation women or anyone who's on my programs, really.

It's interesting you should ask me that about my strengths because recently I participated in a career program and we were asked to do a survey that included seeking feedback from others about our strengths. Three emerged strongly for me. They are, and I'll return to that part in a moment. But you can see a credible and easy entry point to start responding to that question.

Now, if you haven't participated in one of my programs, you haven't done the brand survey, what in the world. You definitely need to sign up for RISE Accelerate. Well get on the waitlist anyway, because you will learn so much. If you like this podcast, honestly, you will love the program. It's a place to really up level your career.

Like you will walk away feeling so much more confident and validated in your work and so clear on your value. So I'll leave the link in the show notes. It's yourbrilliantcareer.com.au. So if you haven't been in a program, you obviously can't use that narrative. You need a different one, but you could say something like this.

Interesting you should ask that because recently I did an activity around my strengths, really considering what value I bring to the business and what are my top strengths that allow me to do that. And this is what emerged. dot, dot, dot, because I'm going to get to that part in a second, but can you see that is quite different again?

And you're probably sitting there going, well, Gillian, what activity are you talking about? I haven't done any activity, but you can do this. You can do an activity to identify your strengths. And I think you can sit down and figure a lot of this out yourself, if that’s what you want to do. And, and here's some questions, right?

If you're going to do this, you could ask yourself, what are three strengths that you think of right away? Like without sitting there thinking about it over a long coffee, like just impromptu, what are the three strengths that come to mind straight away? And then think about what are you proud of in your work?

[00:08:43] Like think more deeply about that. And then finally, what do you do better than others? And when you've got all that information, you should be able to land on three strengths. Okay. So that is the activity. So when you say interesting, you should ask that because recently I did an activity around my strengths, really considering what value I bring to the business and what are my top strengths that allow me to do that. This is what emerged. So that's your entry point. Okay. So now we need to move on to how we elaborate, and let's just pretend that you land on three strengths, problem solver, reliable and analytical. Okay. They're going to be our three headlines and we want to provide examples of how you've used them in the past. How they've added value to the business. So important. And finally, the results you've gotten. Okay. So we want to be super specific with your answers. We don't want to just say I'm good at problem solving. We really want to go deeper. And I think the secret here, and you'll see this in a moment, is to be very conversational in your approach, but also concise in your delivery.

We don't want to ramble. So let me give you an example. Examples are always good. Right? And I'm working a bit off the cuff here. So let's just say the first strength that emerged for me was my capacity to problem solve. In my role as a customer service manager I'm inundated with problems, it's part of my job. But my strength is not just to tactically address these problems one by one, but to seek out longer term strategic solutions so they're not reoccurring. One example of this is introducing a new system for complaints about delayed responses. So, we created automotive responses to common questions we did some training, and this all led to the number of complaints dropping by half.

The second strength was, blah, blah, blah, okay? So, you can see, it's just a little gentle narrative quite informal, but precise. It doesn't feel staged. That's what I like about it. And it really highlights that strength and validates it with evidence. So you can give this a go. This is not complicated.

[00:11:00] You need a headline. That's your core strength. You need to think about why is it a core strength when it comes to doing your job well, and then you need some evidence that it impacts what you do, like your contribution, your value to the business in a measurable way. And if you write down those things, you will easily pull together a simple narrative that will make you feel so much more confident, so much more prepared when those juicy questions land. Like I'm such a believer in this, knowing your strengths, it will increase your value in the workplace. And the truth is no one will ever know your value, unless you're super lucky, until you know your value.

And high performing people, they seek to understand their strengths and then they learn how to articulate them. So if someone did say unexpectedly, what do you bring to the table? How do you bring value to this role in a way others can't, you're going to know what to say. Okay. That was question one.

[00:12:00] Let's move on to question two. And question two is this, how do I deal with feelings of imposter? So Katie says, I get good feedback at work but I'm constantly worried I'm perceived as not good enough in my role. Now I hear this a lot, or different iterations of it. I've actually done a podcast on imposter syndrome and you can have a listen to that. But even since that time, I've done a lot more research around it and I'm soon to launch a very special new product. It's a guide and it is called Glamour and Grit, Your Guide To Saying Goodbye To Imposter Syndrome. And it's very comprehensive research. I've got a lot of time and energy into it because I think it's so important that women have practical strategies to deal with this.

Imposter syndrome can be incredibly debilitating. Like it can cause stress, anxiety, it can undermine your confidence. And if you don't manage it, it can lead, you know, to that niggling feeling of self-doubt. That constant fear that you're just not as good or as competent as other people. And my view is, and I know you'll agree with me, like nobody wants to spend too much time in a negative emotional state.

Sure. We spend time being anxious or cranky or sad or whatever, and that's, natural, but you don't want to linger there for a disproportionate amount of time. But when it comes to imposter syndrome, it's such an interesting one because most people experience it. So the research tells us that up to 82 percent of people experience feelings of imposter syndrome at some point in their careers.

So that would mean that even the most successful, the most accomplished people have moments of self doubt. But as I said, you don't want to linger there. So what are some of the things you can do? Well, I'm just going to give you a few little tips today. I think they'll be very helpful. So, so let me just dive straight in.

My first tip is this, like adjust your self talk. Like one of the most powerful tools in combating imposter syndrome, is tweaking that internal dialogue when it takes a bad corner. And I'm talking about the stories you tell yourself. They have significant power over your emotions and actions. And this just isn't my opinion. Many respected scholars, one in particular, a respected psychologist, Dr. Yoon, says tweaking your internal conversation can be a game changer in overcoming imposter syndrome. And I agree, like so much of it comes down to thinking about the way we think. And there's so much evidence to suggest that what you think about every day expands into your reality.

[00:14:52] So if you think or believe that, I don't know, you're hopeless at networking, you probably will be. If you believe life is hard, it will be. If you believe you're an imposter sitting in that meeting that morning, then you will feel the self-doubt that comes with that. So this is about consciously molding our self-talk, getting off autopilot.

And it is hard. I know intellectually, this is easy to understand, but it does require you to be intentional about the way you want to feel. The guide that I've produced recently, which will be in market very shortly, gives you a very clear step by step guide, but also evidence-based research on how to do this. So, that is one thought. Okay. Adjust your self-talk. And I think that's a very powerful strategy.

The other is something you would have heard me say before and you'll hear me say it again and that is celebrate your successes. Take the time to acknowledge and celebrate. No matter how small.

I feel that this practice is, is so important for many women, high achieving women, particularly, because it reinforces what's going well for you. It reinforces your self-worth, it reminds you of your capabilities and you can do different things to do this. You could start by keeping a journal of your achievements. You could use the ‚ÄúTA DA‚ÄĚ method from the RISE Accelerate program. You could make the point of verbally sharing the things that you're proud of that week with someone that is close to you. I think just saying them out loud will help you connect to that achievement, allow that success to sink in a little bit more.

[00:16:34] And I think it's so important to celebrate successes at those points in your career when you least want to do it. You know, those points in your career where maybe you're going through a tough phase, when you're feeling more self-doubt creeping in. But really making the effort here, it's such a great reminder of your accomplishments and the value you bring and who you are. Like it keeps you grounded.

Another idea to celebrate could be treating yourself. Yeah, a little reward. It could be something as simple as an early mark, a pamper at the spa, some shopping, whatever it is for you. And the idea is that these small acts of self-recognition, they can boost your morale. They can reinforce positive self-image. So what I'd like to do today, just to help you really get more thoughtful about things, particularly around your thought processes, is I want to share a free guide with you that you can download. It's all about overcoming limiting beliefs. It will help you quieten the inner critic. It is called Becoming Your Own Cheerleader, how appropriate, and it's packed with actionable steps to help you build your confidence and navigate those feelings of self doubt. So look out for that. You can download it from, you know, the link in the notes. I'll just leave it there for you.

The only other thing I wanted to mention about imposter syndrome is this, it's not a quick fix. It really is a journey. Like it requires consistent effort and self-reflection, but you know, trying these two strategies, what a great start, download the guide and get to work on this.

Okay, let's move on to question three. And I'm not going to read the whole narrative of what came through here, but the question is basically, do I stay or do I go? My boss is a nightmare. Do I stay or do I go? It's like a song. I’m not going to dive into all the details because my response here is pretty straightforward. And it's important to note, firstly, that the number one reason that people leave their jobs is because of their managers. In fact, 57 percent of people have left a job due to their boss. So, who you work for has a huge impact on your job satisfaction and the overall experience you have at work. It makes good sense.

[00:19:23] Now, if you can say hand over heart in this instance, that you've done everything you can to improve the relationship with your boss, and you still find yourself struggling, of course, it is time to consider your options. And here's my advice. First, look for other opportunities within the organisation, particularly if you're part of a big organisation, because you probably do have a good reputation in the organisation.

You probably have built a lot of trust and credibility there, and it can be easier to transition to a new role in the same company rather than starting from scratch somewhere else. So sometimes a lateral move to a different department, can be an easy solution. However, if you've exhausted all options, or that idea just doesn't appeal at all, and you're sitting there stuck in a toxic environment, then I would say to you, it is time to consider making a move. You've got to get out of there.

Because working in an environment that causes you stress, in an environment that is not aligned with your values, who you want to be, it's just not worth it. And over time it will deplete your confidence, it will take a toll on your mental and emotional well-being. So, you know, I have a view that, you should be able to be in an environment that uplifts you, maybe not every moment of the day, right, but definitely not an environment that brings you down.

So, you know, we've got to seek out places that support our growth, that align with our values, that make us feel valued, and you don't want to compromise on that. So that would be my clear cut answer to that question.

All right, moving on to question four. And I had actually several different questions come up around this vein, and it's about seeking advice, ideas, ways to speak with senior leaders more confidently.

And this is a great question because interacting with senior leaders can be daunting. I totally get that. It's a very different experience. And you might be fantastically confident talking among peers, but then feel completely out of your depth when talking with a senior stakeholder. But there are plenty of things you can do to improve here.

So many actually, but I'm just going to share two today. and they're quite different, right? They're quite different. So the first one is what I call fly at the right altitude. Now, what do I mean by this? Well, senior leaders, they operate at a different level. Like they have a broader perspective on the business. They're not interested in the minutiae. They want to understand the big picture, the key points and the strategic implications. So, to fly at the right altitude means aligning your communication with their level of focus. So instead of diving into the weeds of every detail, we want to provide a high level overview. Think of it like flying at 30, 000 feet. You're not pointing out every tree in the forest, but you're describing the entire landscape. So when you're speaking to senior leaders, start with your main point. Like what is the most important thing you want them to know? Think about that. Don't think about the whole narrative, like what is the most important thing that you want them to know?

So, for example, if you're presenting a project update, you might lead with, ‚Äúwe're on track to meet our goals and have already completed 70 percent of the deliverables‚ÄĚ. This gives them the headline. Then you can build out that a bit and then they can ask for more details if they need it. And to that point, always be prepared to answer follow up questions. Anticipate them. Think about what you might be asked and then practice. There's nothing wrong with that. And if you don't know the answer, it's not a deal breaker. You can always circle back with that information in a timely, short, clear email or conversation. Okay?

[00:23:21] My second point is a beauty and you probably won't see this in many of the career books or leadership programs or Harvard business review. And it's this… don't be boring. Don't be boring. Like I feel like this point is even more critical. It's so easy to fall into the trap of mundane small talk and to come across as boring. How are you today? Good. How are things going? Fine, very busy. We're busy right now. How are you feeling about the project? Fine, we've just got a lot to get through by the end of the year, but I think everything is on track. Like these are beautiful moments when you get this opportunity to showcase yourself, maybe even your achievements. But instead, can I just say, it's so easy to be dull. We want to be memorable. We don't want to be boring. We don't want to be dull.

Yeah, now this is a great goal. If you think you're a bit flat in terms of your conversation, small talk with senior leaders, then listen up and consider this scenario. Let me bring it to life for you a little bit, because I feel like these moments happen all the time in organisations.

Like consider wrapping up a meeting. Now you're exiting the room of that meeting and you suddenly bump heads with a senior leader that you value. Yeah, and now it's just the two of you. You're walking down a very long corridor together, an opportunity to shoot the breeze. Maybe it's about a 45 second to a minute walk.

And here's my question to you. What does your conversation look like? I'm good. I'm busy. Yes. It's cold outside today. Maybe, but maybe not. I don't know. But my point is we have so much more to give. Yeah. You want to make a memorable impression in that moment. And how do you do this? Well, my best tip is simple and it's accessible for everyone. You don't need to be the most charismatic person. You don't have to be this incredible extrovert. You can set yourself apart by leading with industry knowledge. And by that, I mean, sharing something insightful or asking a thought provoking question that demonstrates that knowledge.

Now to prepare for these moments. So you have that industry knowledge, you've got to be savvy. I'm not suggesting for a moment that you need to give up your day job to read and research. But you do need to stay informed. Like, this is what senior people do. And if you want to have that level of conversation, this is a really important insight.

[00:25:55] And think about it like this. Like if you have a specific client that the business values, or maybe there's an area of the business that you want to be known for, then you need to stay ahead of industry news on that topic. And you could do this by, you could use Google alerts to stay updated. You could put those specific things in, and you could have those feeds coming directly into your inbox on a daily or weekly or whatever basis versus trawling the internet. Really streamline that process. Yeah.

You could follow thought leaders in your sector on LinkedIn. You know quite often you'll find fantastic research or opinions that can really ignite a conversation. And I think the other point around this is if you just don't know where to start on this, go ask someone else, go ask another senior leader that seems to be well read. Like what do they read? What do they subscribe and go check it out for yourself. Like find your own methodology. But the point is you want to be efficient, but you also want to acquire good information that you can use in situations just like this. It will elevate you so much more and you won't be boring. We don't want to be boring. You'll be able to talk to senior leaders with confidence and hopefully make a lasting impression.

Alrighty, I'm moving on to question number five, and I had a lot of questions asking me about me, so I'm just entitling it, ‚Äútell us more about you Gillian‚ÄĚ. I call it the dreaded tell us about yourself question. Yes, I even dread it too. And I feel like I do share a lot these days. But it always feels a bit strange talking about yourself. But many years ago, and I'll just share this with you, a dear friend, he's also a peer, gave me some invaluable feedback and he said to me, Gil, people want to know more about you. Who you are as a person, your background, the odd story. And I really avoided that. Even my about page gave away nothing. I don't know how I managed that, but somehow I did. And it took me probably two years to work on that and share a lot more. And I think I've come a long way.

So for those who don't know my background and you're listening my career began at News Corp, and then I moved into the vibrant world of magazines. By the time I was 31, I was leading a team of over a hundred people and managing quite a big portfolio of publications. The role demanded a lot of me. Like I was driving leadership strategy and development. I was dealing with mergers and acquisitions. I reported directly to the CEO. I really had to hone my management skills to look after not only such a large number of employees, but I had big P& L responsibility too.

But I really loved that job. And I'm very proud of everything I achieved in that part of my career. But I will tell you the pressure and demands were immense some days.

So I was a classic perfectionist, set incredibly high standards for myself. My biggest fear was that people would think I was too young for the job and they wouldn't see my value. And I'll tell you, one little side funny story that reflects that thought beautifully. So I had a baby, my beautiful boy, who's now turning 22 this year. And it was a very busy time. So, having a small child, a baby, and being back at full time work and a big job is not for the faint hearted.

[00:29:30] I had a lot of great support. Like my mom particularly helped me. incredibly unlike most situations. I was just very, very, very lucky. But I also, I missed him, right? I missed my baby boy and I'll never forget one day the horror of crossing my legs in a business meeting, I was actually at Channel Seven at the time, and realising they were covered in sand. And here's what happened. I'd just returned from this little secret rendezvous with my mum and Ollie. I met them at a playgroup and I snuck in and took my shoes off and I sat on the edge of the sandpit playing for a bit and then snuck back to work. So I went under the pretence of attending a client appointment.

And I was terrified of getting caught. I thought everyone would think I wasn't committed enough for such a senior role. How about that, hey? And I have to say, looking back, all that worrying was such a waste of time and energy. And I think, you know, like so many women that I talk to today, I created limitations for myself by building up imagined stories about what other people thought of me.

And I have to tell you, life became a lot easier once I decided to trust my abilities and stop letting fear and perfectionism, rule my life. You know, it was kind of only then that I started to find a far better version of me. I was very happy to put aside the hustling, the pushing. They were the things that defined my success back then, you know, maintaining these relentlessly high standards. It was exhausting for me. It was exhausting. And I knew that I couldn't sustain it. So, very interesting time. And I have to say, it is an amazing feeling when you give yourself permission to finally be the person you want to be instead of who you think others want you to be. And that's a big part of what I teach in my programs. Yes, we talk about the tools and the strategies of navigating your career in today's business landscape, but self belief, it plays a big part too.

[00:31:42] So what a beautiful segue to wrap up today. There's some insights around me. I'm sure you'll hear more if you stay tuned into our community. But if you are curious about how you can feel more validated and more valued, I invite you to join the RISE Accelerate program. It is my 90-day career program for women. It's designed to help you acquire the skills to stay contemporary and feel great about yourself, so you don't have to hustle. Like I want you to have more ease in your career and achieve the career success you deserve.

So, if that sounds appealing, you can join the wait list. The doors are opening soon, so we will have another RISE program in August and that will be it for about six to eight months. So no more programs for quite a while. So that is on yourbrilliantcareer.com.au and I will leave the link in the notes.

It has been so much fun. I hope you enjoyed today's episode. Thank you as always for listening, and I'll be back in a few weeks.