Episode 140: Building Trust and Unity In The Workplace During Difficult Times, with Laura Gallaher

Thank you for listening to our Finding Brave show, ranked in the Top 100 Apple Podcasts in Careers!

“When we choose to be neutral on things where people have deep emotional responses, then we are not creating that kind of connection and community that we want to have in our culture.” – Laura Gallaher

Improving organizational culture now is extremely critical for the future longevity of companies everywhere, because the struggles that workplaces worldwide are currently facing are numerous. Today’s Finding Brave expert guest draws from her incredible experiences to share how we can all address these challenges, as well as how we can more fully recognize the unexpected positive changes to culture that are coming from the pandemic.  

Dr. Laura Gallaher has worked in the field of professional and personal development since 2005. An organizational psychologist, speaker, facilitator and executive coach, Laura is the founder and CEO of Gallaher Edge, which she started in 2013 and rebranded in 2018.

Laura began her career at NASA after the Columbia exploded upon re-entry in 2003, where Laura and a team of organizational psychologists were hired to change the cultural influences that played a role in the accident. She worked there for eight years to positively influence culture, develop leadership capacity and improve organizational performance at Kennedy Space Center. After then working as a Talent Management Consultant at Walt Disney Parks & Resorts, she founded Gallaher Edge – a management consulting firm that creates transformational change in businesses through meaningful and impactful human experiences. 

Now is the time for everyone, not just leaders, to build strength, maturity, self-awareness and self-acceptance. Each one of us has the ability to operate with more grace and compassion for one another, which will increase humanity not only in our workplaces, but also in a world that needs this so badly right now. 

Highlights from this Episode:

  • What organizational culture is really all about [8:10]

  • A big realization that Laura has made about fear, and why this is so relevant to workplace culture [9:55]

  • What’s going so wrong in organizational cultures today, and why it’s important to understand that culture starts from the inside of each of us [17:35]

  • The positive benefits of leaders who have maturity, and what can result from them not having this [18:43]

  • What’s behind the fear, hate and divisiveness that’s overtaking organizations, individuals and societies, and what can be done to overcome it [24:01]

  • How to talk about the significant global issues of today in the workplace, and why being neutral is not really neutral [29:00]

  • The specific action steps that leaders can take to build a more positive workplace culture [39:15]

  • What each of us can do in this remote world to build a more inclusive and safe environment for everyone [42:51]

For More Information:






Resources Mentioned: 

Order my new book The Most Powerful You today!

In Australia and New Zealand, click here to order, elsewhere outside North America, click here, and in the UK (avail January 1, 2021), click here.

If you enjoy the book, thank you in advance for leaving us a 5-star rating and positive review on Amazon!

Subscribe to Kathy’s weekly newsletter at https://kathycaprino.com for book updates, free offers and giveaways, free webinar training, and more. And to discover if you are experiencing any of the 7 damaging power gaps today, take Kathy’s Power Gap Survey and find out!

Other Resources Mentioned:

Kathy’s Power Gaps Survey & Support To Build Your LinkedIn Profile To Great Success

Kathy’s TEDx Talk, Time To Brave Up & Free Career Path Self-Assessment

Become a Sponsor!

If you are interested in becoming a sponsor of Finding Brave, we’d love to hear from you! Please write to info@kathycaprino.com with your proposal and for more information.


“The environment that you create for somebody can absolutely change the relationship that they have with themselves.” [11:51]

“Intuition and your gut are incredibly powerful, and I want to learn to hone those things, rather than suppress them.” [16:37]

“Culture is from the inside-out, like everything is, so it’s always going to start with self.” [17:35]

“There’s a lot that’s really scary right now in our country, and acknowledging fear and having that vulnerability is exactly what we need.” [25:24]

“We’re never responding to the world around us. We’re only responding to the story that we’re telling ourselves about what that means.” [28:10]

“There is no objective truth when it comes to our human experiences.” [34:49]

“I actually see it as a silver lining of the remote world, that we have to be intentional about our communication.” [44:43]

Sponsor Highlight!  

I’m thrilled to share that Audible.com is a sponsor of Finding Brave! Take advantage of their great special offer of one FREE book of your choice with a 30-day FREE membership trial! And feel free to keep the book even if you cancel the membership. Click here to sign up for your free book! http://www.audibletrial.com/FindingBrave

Watch video versions of my interviews on Finding Brave! 

Don’t forget – you can experience each Finding Brave interview episode in both audio and video formats! Check out new and recent episodes on my Youtube channel at YouTube.com/kathycaprino. And please leave us a comment and a thumbs up if you like the show! 


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How To Get Exceptional Results In Your Career Through Authority, Warmth And Energy

Part of Kathy Caprino’s series “Today’s True Leadership”

Ever wonder why some people who have the same level of technical skill and ability as you do seem to catapult forward fast while you stay stagnant, at the same level or compensation, for years? As a career and leadership coach, I’ve connected with many professionals around the globe who, while extremely talented and accomplished, don’t seem to achieve the high-level success, impact and recognition they feel they deserve. And they are often extremely confused as to why this is happening.

To explore more about behaviors and traits that can propel us forward quickly and powerfully in our careers, I caught up with Steve Herz this month, who has a new book on just this topic. In Don’t Take Yes For an Answer: Using Authority, Warmth and Energy To Get Exceptional Results, Herz explores how we can catapult our careers and lives forward with three key communication strategies―authority, warmth, and energy, and how we often need some tough critique and feedback to let us know how to shift our ways for more success

Herz is President of The Montag Group, a sports and entertainment talent and marketing consultancy. He is also a career advisor to CEOs, lawyers, entrepreneurs, and young professionals. Prior to joining TMG, Steve was the President and Founding Partner of IF Management, an industry leader whose broadcasting division became one of the largest in the space, representing over 200 television and radio personalities. The agency represents some of the biggest names in sports and news media, including NBC Sports Mike Tirico, ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt and Dan Shulman and CNN Chief International Correspondent Clarissa Ward.

Here’s what he shares:

Kathy Caprino: You argue that we don’t get enough honest feedback at work, so it’s crucial to proactively ask your boss how you’re doing. Is this especially true right now, when we’re all working remotely and lacking valuable face time? What’s your advice on how to ask for feedback?

Steve Herz: We should be trying to get feedback all the time, pandemic or not. For reasons I explore in the book, we get a lot of positive feedback that we don’t actually deserve. Mixed messaging, or flat-out omissions, have generally replaced direct dialogue and tough conversations in the workplace and in nearly every space we inhabit, resulting in a lifetime of what negotiator Christopher Voss calls “the counterfeit yes,” in which we hear a fuzzy “yes” all while life is actually delivering an all-caps “NO”:

You didn’t get the promotion; you didn’t get the sale; you didn’t get the girl or guy. You can’t trust all the yesses you hear. In fact, if you’ve checked off all the obvious boxes necessary for a stellar career in your field – education, credentials, years of experience – but you still aren’t where you want to be, that lack of honest feedback is probably part of what’s holding you back.

It’s critical to ask for—and be open to—an honest assessment of your performance. And this is more important than ever right now, given the massive unemployment we’ve seen and the increased job insecurity. So, if your company is thinking (as many are) about layoffs, you want to make sure there’s nothing about your performance that you’re blissfully unaware of – that could doom your immediate future.

When you ask for feedback, make it simple. Ask – “what is one thing you think I could improve upon?” This is especially important if you usually only receive positive feedback from your manager. Or make it fun – if the situation is appropriate – and ask, “if you were a genie, what is one thing you would change about me that would improve my performance?”

For example, a young agent in our company who, after a few weeks as a trainee, asked me how he was doing. I told him he was doing great, to which he said, “Oh no, I’m not taking that from you. I know the book you are writing. And I hear how to talk to other people. I want to know what you think I’m not great at.”

So, I told him he said the word “like” way too often and that the filler word compromised his authority, especially as a young professional. He asked in a way that showed he was sincere about improving and saw it as an opportunity to grow and advance his life and career. I advise everyone to do the same. Look at feedback as a gift.

Caprino: The premise of your book is that the number one thing that determines your success is not your education or skills, but your ability to connect with people. I think we’re all really longing for that connection right now, as we’ve been social distancing for months. What’s the role of “connectability” in one’s career success, and what are its key elements?

Herz : In my work, I discuss the 85/15 rule. Based on a seminal 1918 study by The Carnegie Foundation, this rule states that only 15% of your professional success is correlated to your technical (hard) skills. In my view, the huge overlooked 85% is that ability to connect, persuade, and gain influence and respect from your boss, colleagues, clients.

The key elements of “connectability” are authority, warmth and energy, aka AWE. If you’re competing against people in your field who are all roughly perceived as equal in the technical skills, your AWE is the only differentiator. AWE is about your ability to have that technical substance and the stylistic sizzle; to be seen as one who knows their stuff, is trustworthy and makes others want to follow their lead. There is no other path to maximum influence without those traits.

Caprino: Unemployment is at a historic high right now. What’s your advice to people who have lost their jobs or who are worried about holding onto the job they still have?

Herz: If you are unemployed, try to make sure you have skills that are in demand. While technical skills only account for 15% of your success, that doesn’t mean they don’t matter. It’s crucial to have good technical skills – but the point of the 85/15 rule is that they only get you a seat at the table.

If you realize that your skills aren’t in demand or up to date, the first step is to retrain yourself with the myriad of free or low-cost tools available online. And if you still have a job, make yourself as indispensable as possible. Stay in close communication with your customers, your colleagues, and your manager and make sure you’re doing your job effectively and with very little friction. This is not the time to be the squeaky wheel. And try to use whatever free time you have (outside of family and other key interests) to improve your skill set, as well as your authority, warmth and energy. If you show up (remotely) as a better you, your bosses will notice.

Caprino: As our work interactions move from in-person to video, what should we be paying attention to as we try to connect with people when we don’t have the benefit of being together in the same room?

Herz: Pay attention to the way people are reacting to you. It’s harder to gauge this when you’re communicating virtually, yet you will still receive responsive cues from others. If you notice someone tuning out – like when they stop looking at the camera, start typing, or they’re not nodding at all or asking any questions – you may have to turn up your energy to keep their attention.

Try speaking more loudly or in faster bursts or show that you’re emotionally committed to your message. And sometimes calling out someone and soliciting their opinion also keeps them on their toes and energizes them. If they are not responding, you may have to become more inquisitive and interactive. It’s much easier to lose someone’s attention over Zoom, so it’s paramount to use every tool you have to keep them engaged.

Caprino: You’re an agent for some of the most successful broadcast journalists in the country. How did you come to identify these three elements as the key to getting ahead?

Herz: It was an evolutionary process. I started out working exclusively with sports broadcasters and media talent to other professionals in various fields because I discovered that the key to becoming a superstar manager, salesperson, or CEO is no different than the key to becoming a superstar broadcaster: you have to get your audience, of one or a million, to trust and believe in you.

Over the past two decades, AWE has become the prism through which I observe, assess, coach and grow every single one of my clients. I listen for it when we’re analyzing recordings of their voice, and I look for it while observing them perform simulated interviews, meetings, or sales calls. It takes a special person with a thick skin to work with me. I’m always respectful, but I pull no punches. Because of this, I’ve been hired and fired in the same day by people who were too accustomed to hearing “yes.”

But those professionals who have stuck with me, who have refused to take “yes” for an answer, have seen their stars rise. Anyone in any job can do the same.

Caprino: Is there one element of AWE that is most commonly underappreciated?

Herz: Energy is both underappreciated and probably most misunderstood. Energy is not just your energetic output. It’s the dynamic you create in your interactions. It’s most important to have the kind of energy that energizes other people. And you can sometimes energize others with relatively low energetic output. It’s a question of having the presence of mind to understand what is necessary in the moment. One example is Jeff Feig, who rose to the executive suite and built a billion-dollar business at Citibank based on his key strength: listening to and acknowledging others. He had record low turnover in his tenure because his team felt so energized by his caring ways. It is counterintuitive to think of a low-key person like Feig as energizing. But when I spoke to many of his colleagues, that was the unanimous feedback from all of them.

For more information, visit stevenherz.com.

To build a more impactful career, work with Kathy Caprino in her Career Breakthrough programs and read her new book The Most Powerful You: 7 Bravery-Boosting Paths to Career Bliss.

Episode 139: Editor’s Summer Top Pick: Power Gap #1: Not Recognizing Your Special Talents, Abilities and Accomplishments

Thank you for listening to our Finding Brave show, ranked in the Top 100 Apple Podcasts in Careers!

I’m excited to share our “Editor’s Summer Top Pick” for Finding Brave! This episode is a special favorite of our wonderful editor Matt Mawhinney of PodAssist.com and shares vitally important information about the first of the 7 damaging power gaps that 98% of professional women are facing today that block them from reaching their highest and most thrilling potential. Today’s episode explores Power Gap #1: Not Recognizing Your Special Talents, Abilities and Accomplishments and how to close this power gap for good.

In this episode, I give an overview of all 7 of the power gaps that my book The Most Powerful You explores, and I focus on Gap #1 – THE most prevalent gap that I see in working with thousands of professional women in my coaching programs, courses, webinars and trainings. So many women struggle to recognize that they are indeed talented, to believe that they are actually “great” at what they do, and to see clearly how their talents and abilities truly matter in the workforce and in the world.

It’s essential to understand that it’s not arrogant or selfish to recognize and appreciate that you have greatness inside of you, because when you leverage your talents and passions in a bigger, more confident way and in service to others, you are finally able to make the powerful difference that you were meant to, and experience the joy, reward and fulfillment that you long for in your work, business and career.

“Know that you are amazing. Every individual on the planet is, and the world needs your talents and your abilities desperately. Can you trust and accept that fact, that you are special and you are unique, and now is the time to recognize that clearly?” – Kathy Caprino 

Highlights from this Episode:

  • Why I decided to publish a series of podcast episodes focusing on the power gaps that I see, and the two major questions I wanted to answer by doing this [4:23]
  • What I have discovered over many years of working with professional women about the importance of “positive power” and why women tend to fear it [7:01]

  • A breakdown of all 7 power gaps, and the anecdotes for overcoming them [10:53]

  • How I uncovered my own special skills and took the brave step to reinvent myself [24:43]

  • What research is showing that happens to girls around the age of 13, and how it’s holding us all back in damaging ways [33:23]

  • Some powerful action steps you can take today to overcome this first power gap, including a strategy to maximize the effectiveness of LinkedIn for you [37:10]

For More Information:






Resources Mentioned: 

Order my new book The Most Powerful You today!

In Australia and New Zealand, click here to order, elsewhere outside North America, click here, and in the UK (avail January 1, 2021), click here.

If you enjoy the book, thank you in advance for leaving us a 5-star rating and positive review on Amazon!

Subscribe to Kathy’s weekly newsletter at https://kathycaprino.com for book updates, free offers and giveaways, free webinar training, and more. And to discover if you are experiencing any of the 7 damaging power gaps today, take Kathy’s Power Gap Survey and find out!

Other Resources Mentioned:

Kathy’s Power Gaps Survey & Support To Build Your LinkedIn Profile To Great Success

Kathy’s TEDx Talk, Time To Brave Up & Free Career Path Self-Assessment

Kathy’s Forbes interview with Lauren Letellier on The Crushing Similarities Between Family and Business Dysfunction

The Energy of Money by Maria Nemeth

The Confidence Code by Katty Kaye and Clare Shipman

Core Personal Values Exercise from the CT Women’s Business Development Center  

Episode 4: Gender, Power and Relationships: The Crushing Effects of Patriarchy, with Terry Real

Become a Sponsor!

If you are interested in becoming a sponsor of Finding Brave, we’d love to hear from you! Please write to info@kathycaprino.com with your proposal and for more information.


“You can’t have what you want in your career, and you can’t have the reward, the thrill, the impact, the meaning or the purpose you want if you don’t have any power.” [7:21]

“I don’t know anybody who wouldn’t like a little more confidence right now, and a more power to take the reins on their life and career.” [11:59] 

“You can’t have a rewarding career if you don’t know how you are talented, and if you can’t talk about it or name it.” [15:20]

“People that don’t recognize that they are important and valuable often feel victimized and stuck.” [19:01]

“So many people hold themselves back from a happier life or career because they think they’re faulty, or not as educated or smart.” [19:53]

“What I’ve seen is that so many women actually don’t think they are worthy of the great success and rewards that they dream of.” [33:23]

Sponsor Highlight!  

I’m thrilled to share that Audible.com is a sponsor of Finding Brave! Take advantage of their great special offer of one FREE book of your choice with a 30-day FREE membership trial! And feel free to keep the book even if you cancel the membership. Click here to sign up for your free book! http://www.audibletrial.com/FindingBrave

Watch video versions of my interviews on Finding Brave! 

Don’t forget – you can experience each Finding Brave interview episode in both audio and video formats! Check out new and recent episodes on my Youtube channel at YouTube.com/kathycaprino. And please leave us a comment and a thumbs up if you like the show! 


Download on Apple Podcasts


Banishing Our Nation’s Blind Spot About Blue-Collar Economic Potential

Part of Kathy Caprino’s series “Supporting Today’s Workforce”

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released the nation’s July Jobs Report on August 7, and despite the recession and Covid-19 crisis leaving millions unemployed, a quiet revolution is underway. An ongoing blue-collar expansion continues as business leaders, entrepreneurs and job seekers find growth in this emerging sector. This revolution is what blue-collar entrepreneur Ken Rusk calls the “blue-collar boom.”

According to the Center for Economic Policy & Research (CEPR)’s Blue Collar Job Tracker, employment in construction, manufacturing, and mining and logging increased by 669,000 or 3.58 % in May. The construction sector gained 464,000 jobs in May, a 7.05 % increase, albeit largely a recovery from April’s losses.

To learn more about the blue-collar boom and the economic potential it represents, I caught up with Rusk, the author of the new book Blue-Collar Cash: Love Your Work, Secure Your Future, and Find Happiness for LifeFounder of Toledo, OH-based Rusk Industries, Rusk is a self-made millionaire. He skipped college and started out digging ditches, then worked his way up to buying the business and becoming a successful entrepreneur. Passionate about helping other people achieve their dreams regardless of their educational background or past experience, Rusk has coached hundreds of people without college degrees.

I was excited to catch up with Rusk to tackle the myth that career success requires a college degree (and college debt). Rusk explores how Americans still have a blind spot for the nation’s talent gap and sustained blue-collar growth—a viewed shared by many others including Mike Rowe, dubbed “The Dirtiest Man on TV”—and Rusk contends that despite significant overall job losses, blue-collar workers remain in greater demand than their white-collar counterparts, earning up to six-figure salaries without a college degree or the debt that follows it.

Below Rusk shares about this blue-collar boom and the opportunities it provides for workers everywhere:

Kathy Caprino: Ken, in your new book Blue-Collar Cash, you talk all about a new “blue-collar boom.” Can you share more about this and what it means for professionals today?

Ken Rusk: Long before the Covid-19 pandemic and widespread recession, blue-collar fields have enjoyed a resurgence due to high demand for trained professionals to replace a generation of retiring trades professionals, from plumbers and construction workers, to carpenters and welders, and anyone skilled or willing to work with their hands.  And most people are surprised to learn the earning potential for these professions.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and other sources detail a range of occupations and median annual salaries, many in the six-figures, such as:

  • Construction Manager: $93,370 (top earners: $159,560)
  • Transportation, Storage, and Distribution Managers: $92,460 (top earners: $156,710)
  • Wind Turbine Service Technician: a “green-collar” job where experienced top earners often exceed $104,000

Kathy Caprino: With today’s blue-collar boom, why should people without college degrees have more reason than ever to be optimistic about their future and proud to be in blue-collar work?

Ken Rusk: Despite the serious economic challenges facing us today, and their profound impact on the nation’s outlook, a perfect storm of positive influences now casts widespread optimism across blue-collar industries. This powerful sector of our economy now thrives, with high consumer confidence, huge demand for its services, full employment (with high disposable income) and the highest personal satisfaction numbers in generations. Combined with a serious labor shortage, there has never been a better time to be in the blue-collar world.

Caprino: What did it take for you to end up a millionaire after starting your career as a ditch digger?

Rusk: I could easily answer this question with expected traits: character, persistence and resilience. Though the answer goes much deeper than that, and something I wish educators would teach our youth as they prepare to enter the world.

I created a proactive life plan for myself: I sat down early in life and sketched what I wanted in life, down to the smallest detail, and then worked relentlessly to achieve it, always keeping my eyes open for opportunities to advance. Your life plan, if clearly envisioned, will provide all the motivation you need. You just have to be open to opportunities and seize them as they arise. Earning wealth wasn’t a main focus for me; I prioritized building a life of comfort, peace and freedom, and hit my goals, one at a time.

Caprino: Why do you think so many people overlook blue-collar jobs despite shrinking demand for white collar jobs?

Rusk: The blue-collar life has long suffered an undeserved stigma. With origins in the digital era of our economic transformation in the 80’s, an emerging trend was the beginning of the crisis of the American worker. The tradition of shop class, with woodworking machines, plumbing, electrical, car mechanics and home economics, was soon replaced with personal computing. While computer training was necessary for our kids to learn, it should not have been a binary choice.

The unintended consequence: millions of kids were eliminated from the necessary discovery of learning how to use everyday hand tools in favor of punching keyboards. Colleges, in turn jumped on board to funnel everyone into thinking a college education was the only path to success. Pursuing a trade was somehow gradually perceived as settling for less. And based on the rewarding opportunities that exist today, nothing could be further from the truth. And quite simply, working with your hands is enormously gratifying. The secret is that you can build an amazing life in an industry many others overlook.

Caprino: How did you end up training blue-collar workers to get on the right life path and why do you do this? 

Rusk: Initially it came out of necessity. Some 33 years ago, I started a company with 12 employees we convinced to believe in our mission, stick with us through all the uncertainties, and work very hard in a tough business, all with the promise of making their lives better for it. We came up with effective strategies that we still use today, ideas we continue to modify and improve upon.

With over 200 employees today, I see unwavering loyalty and ever-lengthening tenure of our team members. Over time, the need for constant recruiting slowed significantly as people realized they could build the life they wanted for themselves within the organization. Helping to mold effective goal-driven team members is a key part of my “coaching” outside our organization. I enjoy playing a role in people improving their lives. And this should be a standard practice in any business. The ideas themselves are quite simple; it’s the execution of those ideas where most people fail.

Caprino: So, in your view, what holds back so many blue-collar workers from achieving the comfortable life they deserve?

Rusk: Unfortunately, some people in blue-collar professions haven’t yet seen who they are or who they’re meant to be. So many of us live by the if/then rule. For instance, “If this could happen in my life, then I’d be set. Or “If I could catch a break, then my life would be better.”

We wait for life to happen to us, instead of us happening to life—as it should be. But it’s amazing how much this can change once they have a vision of their future, and then plan it out accordingly. For example, we are all familiar with planning a vacation: pick a destination, maybe book a flight, rental cars, hotels, restaurants, attractions, etc.  And then we wait in joyous anticipation of that day to come. We can see the week unfolding in our minds in crystal clear detail. And yet most of us live our daily lives in much too present fashion.

Research shows how effective a solid visualization strategy can be. According to a study conducted by Virginia Tech professor Dave Kohl (see his book Where Will You Be 5 Years from Now?) ), in a typical group of 100 people, 80 of them readily admit to not having any real goals.  The remaining twenty do have goals but break themselves down in an interesting way: Sixteen of them have goals, however, they remain in their minds—like most hopes, wishes, or dreams, not documented in any real way.

The final four do write them down, yet three of them leave their goals in a drawer somewhere, rarely looking at them again. It’s interesting that the remaining one person not only visualizes their goals but writes them down in very clear fashion and then posts them somewhere where they can be seen daily and therefore reviewed often. They also tend to earn nine times as much in their lifetimes as those who do not follow this practice.  And here’s the best part—anyone can do this.

You have the ability to be that one percent. We all do. With the right habits, you can design and achieve the life you want for yourself.

Caprino: What skills and training have you found to be essential to become an independent blue-collar worker?

Rusk: Historically, trainees would work for years before advancing. Not true today. With the high demand for anyone willing to work with their hands, one can enter the field of his or her choice, and quickly gain the experience needed to rise through the ranks of their chosen trade. So many business owners are in need of quality candidates, they now offer employees everything they can (competitive pay, training, bonuses, etc.) to keep them engaged. It is a workers’ market in today’s blue-collar industry and that bodes well for those looking to change or advance their careers.

Just like the theory in Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers, workers who can gain 4,000+ hours’ experience in a skilled trade, especially within a small company, can propel themselves to the top in both wages and responsibilities. This can also set them up to take the next step—starting their own company. And today it has never been easier to succeed as an entrepreneur.

Caprino: Why do you think women are helping drive today’s blue-collar boom—even in areas like welding and mechanics that were rarely considered in the past?

Rusk: In a not unexpected yet still somewhat surprising development, women are not so quietly moving into lucrative blue-collar positions traditionally held by men. Why? The answer is simple—they’re smart and they see the opportunity in front of them.  Remember Rosie the Riveter? Savvy women are now making six figures in jobs that are in high demand, and both technology and their command of precise details and quality opens many doors. They realize their country needs them, maybe not under wartime duress, but they are now more critical than ever.

Caprino: In your view, what are the keys to comfort, peace, and financial freedom as a blue-collar worker or entrepreneur?

Rusk: I would start by imagining your life the way you want it. Everyone’s picture is different so there are no wrong answers. Only you know who (and what) you are meant to be. And only you know how to live the life you want.

Build on your expectations as you achieve each goal. Begin with the end in mind and forge a clear path to get there. Turn your if goals into when goals, and set exact, precise stepping-stones to measure your progress.

Build your plan with certainty and share it with your trusted support system (friends, family, or trusted coworkers). Once you start to make progress on this plan, you will mentally click into overdrive on your way to achieving your entire picture. Here’s a simple formula to make this point clear: Vocational Passion + Life Vision = Comfort, Peace and Freedom.

Further, I would recommend the following actions:

  • Commit to your goals: get all in and be accountable
  • Turn IF goals into WHEN goals by breaking them down into small, doable steps
  • Apply discipline to make financial goals a reality, using tactics like weekly payroll deductions
  • Envision your best life and sketch it out for yourself … then display it in a place you can’t miss (refrigerator door, bedroom, mirror)
  • Ensure your success by sharing your goals with trusted peers, friends and family.

For more information, visit KenRusk.com and Blue-Collar Cash.

To build a happier, more impactful career, read Kathy Caprino’s new book The Most Powerful You: 7 Bravery-Boosting Paths to Career Bliss, and work with Kathy in her Career Breakthrough programs.

The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People: How We Can Apply Them Today

Part of Kathy Caprino’s series “Today’s True Leadership”

Many years ago when I was in my corporate life, I happened upon the powerful book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and I was very drawn to its simple yet transformative principles and strategies. To me, they just made perfect sense and those rare people whom I found to be great leaders were naturally applying these principles in their lives and work. On the other hand, I saw all around me certain behaviors of colleagues and managers that were in direct opposition to these principles, and it was demoralizing to observe and be a part of.

Later, when I became a marriage and family therapist and career coach, the principles in the book spoke to me in a different, deeper way. And the seven habits remained just as effective whether I applied them to my therapeutic work with individuals and families or in my career and leadership coaching work with executives.

The author of the 7 Habits groundbreaking framework, Stephen R. Covey (1932-2012), has been recognized as one of Time magazine’s twenty-five most influential Americans, and was an internationally respected leadership authority, family expert, teacher, organizational consultant and author. His books have sold more than twenty-five million copies in thirty-eight languages, and The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People was named one of the two most influential books of the 20th century by CEO magazine.

I was very intrigued to hear of the new release of the 30th anniversary edition of the book, that offers fresh insights from Sean Covey, Stephen’s son and president of FranklinCovey Education. With Sean Covey’s added takeaways on how the habits can be used in our modern age, the wisdom of the seven habits has been refreshed for a new generation of leaders.

To learn more about how these habits are still impacting leaders and organizations today and how we can embrace them in new ways in our ever-evolving times, I was excited to catch up with Stephen M. R. Covey. Covey is cofounder of CoveyLink and the FranklinCovey Speed of Trust Practice. A sought-after keynote speaker and advisor on trust, leadership, ethics, and collaboration, he speaks to audiences around the world. He is the New York Times and #1 Wall Street Journal bestselling author of The Speed of Trust, a paradigm-shifting book that challenges our age-old assumption that trust is merely a soft, social virtue and instead demonstrates that trust is a hard-edged, economic driver.

Here’s what Covey shares:

Kathy Caprino: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People obviously inspired a new wave of thinking about personal and professional growth. What do you believe sets the original 7 habits apart from all of the other content out there now, during a time so full of advice telling us how to hack our thinking and actions?

Stephen M.R. Covey: The 7 Habits are built on enduring and timeless principles that apply everywhere, and in all circumstances.

It takes an inside-out approach, which is the only way to sustain personal, team, and organizational development. You move from dependence to independence to interdependence. Private victories precede public victories. If you want to succeed with others, succeed first with yourself.

My father had a gift for making all of this accessible, practical and actionable to people. He framed and organized the equivalent of an operating system for human effectiveness that is so usable. People have been able to apply these habits, and that application has created such enduring and sustaining power.

Caprino: Is there any one original habit that you feel is even more difficult to master or incorporate in this modern day than it was when this book was originally published? Conversely, are there any that you feel are easier to master today?

Covey: I think they are all difficult! I could argue all seven individually, but I’ll highlight just one, that I think is particularly important today and that is “Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood.”

We’re living in a world that has become polarized in almost every way. Habit 5 teaches us why it is so critical that we seek to understand other people first before we try to influence them. Most people do just the opposite. The test of understanding is not when you tell the other person, “Hey, I understand.” It’s when they tell you, “I feel understood.” That is a gift. It doesn’t mean you agree—you may not. It just means you understand them. Once people feel truly understood, they are far more open to being influenced.

I believe that none of the habits have really become easier. But maybe in some ways “Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw”—the whole idea of renewal and the need for self-renewal has become more evident. The need to reinvent, and improve, as opposed to just keep sawing with a dull saw is even more clear. It’s still difficult, but there’s greater awareness of the value.

Caprino: Looking back at the last 30 years since the book was first released, are there any habits that you feel have been most impactful for business leaders and are there any great examples or stories for business leaders who have credited the book for their effectiveness?

Covey: I’ll highlight just a couple. The whole idea of “Habit 4: Think Win-Win” is a mindset for how to see the world. It flows out of an abundance mentality—the idea that there’s plenty for everyone. Many view the world like a pie—if you win some, there is less for me. It’s limited. The whole idea of an abundance mentality and thinking win-win is that you can grow the pie—we can all win abundantly. There’s more creativity and possibility out there than we might have imagined.

It reminds me of some of the research on a fixed mindset versus a growth mindset. Think Win-Win is a growth mindset; it’s an abundance mindset—there’s enough for everyone. I’ve seen many business leaders truly transform their business and their leadership style with this approach.

They give credit to others, extend trust to others, and empower others, and find that none of this diminishes them. It actually grows the organization, grows the people, and grows the leader. In the long run, if you’re interdependent (and we all are), the only sustainable approach is Win-Win. It only takes one to start, and that one can change how the other is viewing the world.

The other one I would highlight would be “Habit 1: Be Proactive,” where we take ownership of our response to everything that happens to us. For example, after Hurricane Katrina, Mississippi Power had lost power in 23 counties and people thought it would take a huge amount of time to get it back. The entire company was deep into 7 Habits training, it permeated their whole culture. Everyone was empowered, proactive and responsible, they were resourceful and took initiative.

Within twelve days after losing all the power, they were back, a feat USA Today called a “case study in crisis management.” You can’t do that in a reactive culture. So while these habits are about effective people, they apply equally to teams and to entire organizations. In fact, many businesses have built themselves around the 7 Habits.

Caprino: Which do you feel is the most important habit?

Covey: People would ask my dad that all the time, and I’ve heard him at different times say each of the 7 Habits! So how do you pick which one is most important? Maybe a way to think about it is that the most important habit for you is the one you’re having the most difficulty living and practicing.

That way we all have a personal way to look at this—which one is most difficult for each of us? That one is the most important.

Caprino: Are there any habits you have ever imagined adding to the book? Why or why not?

Covey: My dad would answer, “yes and no.” The “no” part is that the entire 7 Habits construct is pretty much all-encompassing. My father always felt like, “I can put almost everything I need to into one of those seven.” So I think, in that sense, they are whole. They are complete as-is.

But my father did later write another book called The 8th Habit. This was less about adding an additional habit as it was about giving a new dimension to the 7 Habits. He described it as this: “Find your voice and inspire others to find theirs.”

The 7 Habits help you find your voice. Then your job as a leader is to inspire others to find their voice. That is what leadership is. My father’s definition of leadership is the most beautiful I’ve ever heard: “Leadership is communicating people’s worth and potential so clearly that they are inspired to see it in themselves.” That’s the 8th Habit. You help others to see it, and they come to find it for themselves. That’s what my father added as a new contribution.

Caprino: For people who have already read the original book one or more times, and who are loyal fans and followers of your father because of it, what do you think is the biggest reason they should pick up a copy of this new edition?

Covey: Those who already love The 7 Habits are the ones who will love this 30th anniversary edition the most. It has superb additional insights, examples and stories, including behind-the-scenes interactions with my father. These come from my brilliant brother, Sean, who apart from my father, has spent more time and has written more about the 7 Habits than any other person.

He wrote The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens and The 7 Habits of Happy Kids. He has led the work in education with a whole school transformation process, Leader in Mewhere they have taken the 7 Habits into over 5,000 schools in over 50 countries. Sean is a practitioner of the 7 Habits in every context. At the end of each chapter, Sean shares added insights with examples and stories with my dad on his greatest learnings, applications, understandings of the very things taught in that chapter. It’s insightful, it’s profound, it’s fun, it’s engaging. It’s like being taken into the living room with my father and having a dialogue with him.

Caprino: What one of these 7 Habits has been most instrumental in your own life and work?

Covey: While each of the 7 Habits has had a profound impact on me personally, perhaps the habit that has influenced me the most is “Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind.”  This habit reminds us that each of us can be the creative force in our life, and that the best way to predict our future is to create it.

Einstein taught that “imagination is more important than knowledge.” Similarly, a vision for ourselves and for our lives (along with chosen values to guide us), is more important than memory.

For me, applying Habit 2 has enabled me to identify and focus on what matters most to me: meaning, purpose, and contribution. And finding my voice. I feel I have found my voice around my work on trust, and through my book The Speed of Trust.  For me, increasing trust in the world is my life’s work, and deeply applying Habit 2 has led me to this point.

For more information visit 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

To build more strength in your own career and leadership, work with Kathy Caprino in her Career Breakthrough programs and read her new book The Most Powerful You: 7 Bravery-Boosting Paths to Career Bliss.

Episode 138: How to Grow and Pivot Your Business During The Pandemic and Beyond, with Nell Merlino

Thank you for listening to our Finding Brave show, ranked in the Top 100 Apple Podcasts in Careers!

“I think you’ve got to see everything as an opportunity. You cannot spend a lot of time lamenting the fact that we’re in this, because we are and you need to re-evaluate everything.” – Nell Merlino

Despite the challenges in our current environment, there has never been a better time for women to lead in business and to support one another. As we face these new obstacles, today’s inspiring Finding Brave guest is continuing to help women leaders innovate and grow their businesses and not only survive, but thrive.   

Nell Merlino created Take Our Daughters to Work Day with the Ms. Foundation for Women in 1993, in which over 25 million people participated in the first two years. She then expanded her strategic communications consultancy to develop winning campaigns, strategies and events for dozens of clients including the YWCA, Amnesty International, Gay Men’s Health Crisis, The Sierra Club, Calvert, The Sister Fund and the NGO Forum on Women in Beijing ’95.

In 2000, Nell launched Count Me In for Women’s Economic Independence, the first online microlender in the world. This grew to encompass the Women Veterans Entrepreneur Corp and the Make Mine a Million $ Business program with founding sponsor American Express and champions including Hillary Clinton, Suze Orman, Nely Galan, Valerie Morris (CNN) and Janet Napolitano. 

Recently, Nell has revived the “Count me in” campaign to help female entrepreneurs in the wake of COVID-19, by offering $250,000 in grants, including four $25,000 grants and 15 $10,000 grants.

In this episode, Nell reveals how women in business can access capital, and she gives her strategies and advice for growing and pivoting during this pandemic. Nell shares how everyone can pivot, and it just takes the will and willingness to do so. Countless new opportunities await the women in small business who accept this challenge, and move forward despite their fears and doubts.

Highlights from this Episode:

  • Why The Count Me In Revival is so critical at this point in time, and how it initially came to be [6:38]

  • The big realization that Nell made about professional women back in 2000 that changed everything for her [9:47]

  • What she feels is holding a majority of women back from thriving at the highest levels in their businesses [12:38]

  • The key things you should consider in order to grow and pivot in these times, and why Nell says that everyone can do this [16:22]

  • A big mistake entrepreneurs are making, but need to be avoiding, to improve their chance of survival in business [20:06]

  • How to use the opportunities available to both be generous, and build you business at the same time [21:23]

  • Why being flexible and not overly attaching to a business model or particular outcome is key right now [27:37]

  • The first steps one should be look at when looking to make that next pivot in the marketplace [29:06]

  • Exciting developments from Nell’s organization, and how female entrepreneurs can go about receiving funding [32:24]

For More Information:








Resources Mentioned: 

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List of Funding Resources

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“We don’t listen to ourselves. I don’t think it’s even a question of belief, but I think the voice is knocking and we don’t even open the door.” [12:40]

“You better be sure of who you are and what you’ve got, because nobody else is going to remind you of that except you.” [15:46]

“So it’s understanding how you are going to get customers back and how you are going to get new customers, and it’s not doing anything physical. It’s all online and in figuring out how you are going to communicate in this medium.” [17:28]

“People need to build coaching into their annual budgets. It’s not just something that you do when you’re in trouble.” [25:52]

“How are you cutting your expenses, keeping your cash flow going and paying attention to the trends in your business? Pivot, and then move into whatever is hot, new, better and different.” [17:52]

“We all have to lift each other up. This is not a time for complaining, so much as it is a time for problem solving.” [34:22]

“The more we can see our image and ourselves and other women doing great things, the more we can do great things.” [38:26]

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Composer Eric Whitacre Builds World’s Largest Virtual Choir: How It Impacted Him And The Singers Who Participated

Part of Kathy Caprino’s series “Creativity at Work” 

As a lifelong singer and performer, I, like so many others who sing, were so saddened by recent findings that singers are considered to be “super-spreaders” of Covid-19, and that gatherings of singers, and their public performances, can be a dangerous environment of contagion of the virus. The vocal group I perform with, The Wilton Singers, based in Wilton, Connecticut, was forced to cancel its Spring concert due to the pandemic, as so many other professional and non-professional vocal groups around the world have experienced as well. And plans for our upcoming 2020 performances and rehearsals are still to be decided. Safety is of the utmost concern, but the realization that we cannot come together in song for the foreseeable future (which our group has been doing for over 35 years) is a very difficult one.

According to 2018 Chorus Impact study, choral singing has been on the rise in the U.S. and offers a variety of vitally important benefits. Here are some interesting findings:

  1. The number of Americans engaged in singing has increased over the past decade, with more than 54 million adults and children participating in choral groups today.
  2. More than one in six Americans over the age of 18 sings in a chorus.
  3. Music education in schools has been found to be key to lifelong singing and the benefits it brings.
  4. Choral singers credit singing in a chorus with making them more optimistic, mindful, and resilient.
  5. 80% of singers expect more good things than bad things to happen to them, while only 55% of the general public has the same positive outlook.
  6. Singers are also more likely to feel a sense of purpose in their lives and to find their lives meaningful.

In attempts to provide an avenue for continued group singing during the pandemic, many choral conductors, composers and others have created “virtual choir” opportunities where singers submit their recorded performance of their particular choral part of a piece via video or audio, for assembly into a final edited piece with all parts represented.

But when singers think of virtual choirs, most often one name emerges as the forerunner—that of composer and conductor Eric Whitacre. Whitacre’s first virtual choir was featured in a viral 2011 TED Talk that assembled performances of 185 singers from twelve different countries. To date, Whitacre has created 6 virtual choir projects, and his Virtual Choir 6—“Sing Gently”—premiered on July 19th, 2020 featuring 17,572 singers from 129 countries and has since been viewed on YouTube over 1 million times.

Here’s a look:

I participated in “Sing Gently” and it was a thrilling and moving experience in so many ways. Nine of my fellow Wilton Singers performers also contributed to the Virtual Choir 6, and they shared similar feelings of elation, unity, compassion, connection to others, and a much needed experiencing of coming together to raise our voices as one, which we all had so deeply missed.

To learn more about his latest virtual choir phenomenon, I was thrilled to catch up with Whitacre this week. Whitacre is a Grammy-winning composer and conductor and one of the most popular musicians of his generation. His concert music has been performed throughout the world by millions of amateur and professional musicians alike, while his ground-breaking Virtual Choirs have united singers from over 129 different countries and achieved more than 60 million views.

Here’s what Whitacre shares about his Virtual Choir 6 and the impact it had on him and others:

Kathy Caprino: Eric, can you tell us about your latest virtual choir project and what led you to launch this now?

Eric Whitacre: Well, like the rest of the world, I was just stunned and in shock when the full force of the pandemic became clear. In the middle of March, I talked to Claire Long and Meg Davies of Music Productions—the executive producers of the Virtual Choir Project—and shared my view that if ever there was a time to make a virtual choir, it’s now.

This time when singers all over the world not only can’t sing together but have been labeled as “super-spreaders”—that something so benign and benevolent as singing has suddenly become a dangerous thing. And just this, with this need and an ache to sing together, made me feel that this project was the right thing to do.

Caprino: How did the concept of a virtual choir emerge for you with your very first one? Did you expect such a large response?

Whitacre: It began for me with a single video in 2009. A young woman named Britlin Losee uploaded a fan video to me singing the soprano line—the top line— to a piece that I’d written called Sleep. She didn’t know me. She just pushed play on a CD player and sang her line over the top of that and then uploaded it, hoping it would find me and it did.

I saw her video and I thought her intention and her voice were just so pure. And I thought to myself, “If I could somehow get 25 people doing what Britlin was doing, singing their part—Soprano, Alto, Tenor, and Bass—we could create a virtual choir. As long as they were singing in the same key and in the same tempo, the same speed.

If I literally just took all of their videos and started them at the same time, this virtual choir could unfold. And that’s what happened. This is the very first virtual choir, which is called Lux Aurumque, which is Latin for light and gold, and it had 185 singers from 12 countries.

But I honestly thought that it would only be seen by my fellow choir geeks and the massive response to it was completely unexpected and totally overwhelming. Suddenly, singers from all over the world were writing to me and saying, “This is extraordinary. What is this! And I have to be a part of it. When is the next one?” It never even occurred to me that we would do a second one.

Caprino: Why do you think that it has had such a profound impact on the lives of the performers and the viewers?

Whitacre: I think it’s because, at our core as human beings, this is what we do. We find each other and connect, and there’s no better metaphor for that, I think, than singing. Something beautiful happens when you’re in a choir and sing together—that you literally blend in with the voices around you. It’s not that you lose yourself, but you become part of something much larger than yourself.

The art of choral singing is about the bringing best of who we are and that we come together only to make something beautiful, to make something larger than ourselves.

And so it is when we see the poetry of the virtual choir—literally see it on the screen—with all of these disparate faces coming together from all over the world. We’ve had singers as young as four and as old as 98, of all races, creeds colors, all coming together to make something beautiful.

I feel that it’s very profound for not only the people who are watching it, but the people who are singing in it as well.

Caprino: How has creating these projects impacted your life as a composer, musician and director, and what has it brought into your life?

Whitacre: For the last decade now, I’ve been making these virtual choirs, and so I would say it’s profoundly changed my life as a composer and as a musician, because suddenly I’m making music with people all over the world in a very profound and intimate way.

These are people I’ve never met and most of them, I will never meet in person, but somehow in the process of creating these choirs, I think we’re all bound together in this very unexpected and beautiful way.

It’s brought into my life a sense of beauty and a sense of more and more compassionate empathy for the people around me to see that truly we have this common denominator that is singing and music making together. It is genuinely something that unites any group of people.

Caprino: Tell us about the premiere on July 19th. What were the highlights and the surprises?

Whitacre: Ha! Well, even before the premiere, we had the biggest surprise—we had 17,572 singers participating! I thought to myself, “Oh my gosh – it’s so many people!” I was knocked out by that.

And then when we released it, I was surprised at how emotional I got. This is my sixth virtual choir, and actually we did two more: a virtual youth choir and one for Disney, an honor choir. So a total of eight virtual choirs over the past 10 years.

The videos, the sound of the singing—there was a kind of release from all of the stress and anxiety and the sense of unknowing that we’ve all been having for months. It really came together for me. And I felt it release a bit at the moment of the premiere. That was unexpected and really wonderful.

The highlight for me was the after-party. The after-party is basically an hour of talking and taking questions from people who had been in the virtual choir. And just how extraordinary that is, seeing all of these people from all over the world and how deeply they were impacted by it, how moved everyone was. That was definitely a highlight.

Caprino: Finally, what’s next for you?

Whitacre: Over the past three years, I’ve been writing a piece called The Sacred Veil. It’s an hour-long piece for choir, cello and piano, and it was written with my best friend, Charles Anthony Silvestri—a poet and longtime collaborator. And Tony, as I call him, lost his wife Julie to ovarian cancer 13 years ago, and finally felt that he was ready to write about it.

So The Sacred Veil tells the story in 12 movements of their first love and courtship, having a baby, the diagnosis, the struggle, Julie’s death, and finally a kind of a benediction at the end. It was recorded just before the Covid-19 lockdown at the end of January, and it will be released August 28th.

I’m very proud of the work that Tony and I did on this, and am humbled to be presenting this work to the world. It’s far and away the most intimate thing that I’ve ever written. In the end, I hope that it can provide a sense of comfort or solace to listeners.

For more about Eric Whitacre and his virtual choirs, visit ericwhitacre.com. And to learn more about The Sacred Veil, visit https://ericwhitacre.com/recordings/the-sacred-veil.

To build a more rewarding and impactful career, read Kathy Caprino’s new book The Most Powerful You: 7 Bravery-Boosting Paths to Career Bliss and work with Kathy.



3 Ways To Demonstrate Your Value And Positive Impact In These Unprecedented Times

Part of Kathy Caprino’s new series “Turning Crisis Into Opportunity”

Since the coronavirus pandemic hit, I’ve been very surprised at the types of outreach I receive on a daily basis now from professionals around the world. As a career and leadership coach, I’m used to hearing from strangers every week who wish for career and leadership growth support. But the inquiries I’m receiving now have a different tone and urgency. Now, they’re more about how people can finally make the significant career and leadership shifts they’ve long sensed they needed to, but previously just couldn’t muster the courage to do it, or didn’t have the ability to focus on how to make the changes they dreamed of.

They’re sharing challenges such as: 

  • I hate this work culture I’m in and now it’s even more apparent how “off” it really is
  • I’m not aligned at all with the type of products and services my company offers and how they’re doing it
  • I’m so tired of the way I’m treated and know it’s time for a change
  • The leadership and management in my organization simply doesn’t get the challenges that we employees are facing every day—they’re completely tone- deaf
  • Women just aren’t treated with the same respect and recognition that men are here and it’s worse now
  • I realize now that I don’t want to be doing this type of work anymore and it’s time for a huge shift

And the most common revelation I’m hearing: 

“Now that I’m not commuting and I have so much more time at home with my family, I never want to return to the incredible, meaningless rat race I was in before COVID-19 hit us.”

I’ve found throughout 15 years of doing career growth work that nothing motivates us more to finally stand up bravely and powerfully for ourselves and revise our lives, than a deep crisis. Just as 9/11 did for so many like myself, a crisis like today’s makes us wake up and realize that nothing is safe and secure but what’s inside of us and how we use our talents and abilities, and it’s time to leverage those gifts more powerfully and purposefully. It’s time to focus on turning crisis into opportunity.

This week, I was speaking to my colleague Tony Vlahos about this issue. Vlahos is the Chief Storyteller and Head of Brand and Learning for ExecuNet. For over 30 years, ExecuNet has shown senior-level executives how to land their ideal next role faster using a proven system developed by their world-class team of coaches, strategists and recruiters.

I asked Tony about what executives are reaching out to him and ExecuNet for right now and the types of challenges these professionals are facing that they wish to address, that are different from the common challenges they shared before the pandemic.

Vlahos shared this:

“Executives are reaching out right now in large numbers sharing different types of challenges than we have seen before. They are realizing more acutely than ever that there is no better time to “come forward” and be seen—truly seen—as value creators, uplifters and difference-makers, to be the kinds of leaders that top organizations would want leading them in challenging times and thriving times.

But many of these executives, both male and female, realize more than ever that they struggle with how to identify and communicate in a compelling, self-confident manner,  what their true strengths and abilities are, and how they lead and influence differently from others. What professionals seem to need more than ever—and what we offer them—is an effective system that helps professionals raise their visibility, demonstrate their impact, build their collaborative network and make a true impression to close the deal in the interview. And at the center of all of that is the person’s value story.”


I couldn’t agree more. Our value story is so important to understand and share confidently and clearly, but millions struggle to do that. To address that need, below are three key ways you can use this unprecedented time to identify more clearly your “value” story, and come forward to share it and leverage your talents, gifts and leadership capabilities to make the positive impact you long to:

#1: Understand more clearly your special talents and how and why they’re important

Each of us has our own wonderful set of skills, talents and abilities, some of which have been developed through education, hard work and training, but others have come very easily to us, from early childhood onward. I always say that each of us is like a thumbprint—totally different and recognizable, with amazing complexity and uniqueness that is important in the world.

Great talents that have been with us since the beginning often don’t seem remarkable or valuable to us, but they are. And these are the talents you should be leveraging for a happier, more meaningful (and yes, financially-rewarding) career.

Many people who are in careers they hate have pursued a direction they thought was “safe and secure,” only to find it isn’t, and further, it’s not rewarding or enjoyable either. Professionals who are happiest in their work are using talents that come easily to them and are also rewarding and impactful in supporting positive outcomes that matter to them.

Take this step this week:

Take some time this week (at least an hour or two) and make a list of every job you’ve ever had. Then clearly articulate:

– What you loved about the job

– What you disliked

– The major achievements

– The hardest struggles

– Your biggest takeaway

And write down every single skill or talent used, then the important outcomes these talent and abilities helped you achieved.

Here are some great examples of talents and key outcomes that a recent client of mine shared:

  • Built important client relationships that lead to substantially increased revenue (skill: listening, relationship-building, client development)
  • Mediated key differences between our clients and our marketing team to create more effective promotions (skill: mediation, marketing, promotion, client relationship management)
  • Devised and delivered successful new products based on market research to help the company diversify its offerings (skill: innovation, product development, product management, marketing)
  • Conducted market and other research on potential acquisitions to ensure these investments were sound (skill: research, analysis, acquisition)
  • Communicated with and supported the top media players in my field in ways that highlighted my company’s leaders as pioneers in the field (skill: communications, public relations, relationship-building)

Once you’ve done this exercise, you’ll see more clearly the talents and abilities you have and the measurable positive impact you’ve made in the jobs you’ve loved most.

#2: Start sharing and demonstrating your value and your “teachable point of view” and become more of the leader you dream to, now

Wherever you are right now, no matter the level, job or function you support, step up to more leadership and more uplifting and educational behavior in that role. Share your value, your innovations and ideas, your mental framework, and what you know. Find ways to bring forward your talents in new ways. Teach what you can teach to uplift people, and do what you can to enhance and shift the work culture to something more positive. You don’t have to be the boss to do this. You can do it in every word you utter, and every statement you choose to make.

Someone once said, “You can say anything when you say it with compassion and love in your heart.” Love is in short quantity at work, especially in fear-filled times, but there’s great truth in that statement. Say what needs to be said in all your conversations, meetings and Zoom calls, but avoid doing it from a frail, defensive ego or with harshness and fear. Inside, bring forth your gentle strength, empathy, compassion and calmness.

Embrace becoming the “highest” version of yourself starting today. By that I mean: Rise above pettiness, egotism, defensiveness, micro-managing and hyper-sensitivity and start embodying what it looks like to be the best and strongest version of who you want to be in the world and at work. When you can embody your highest and best ideals and values from a place of self-respect and self-appreciation, while respecting and embracing others, then you can be a role model for others, and have more successful conversations and meetings with greater positive impact.

#3: Identify three new ways this week that you can bring forward your great talents and use them more fully

Many of us are in “shelter at home” situations and we feel disconnected. But you can use this time to start thinking more deeply about how you would like to show up in the world differently and you can make a start to do just that, even in these times.

Clients of mine have, for instance:

  • Started blogging on topics that have been of burning interest to them for several years
  • Launched a new training series on YouTube
  • Began developing their book proposal
  • Curated content on LinkedIn, sharing the best of what they’re reading and commenting on it, adding their opinions
  • Leveraged their skills in a new way such as taking their design and creative arts talents and focused them on making personal protective equipment for the community
  • Stepped up to spearhead a new philanthropic initiative at work that gives support to communities in need

Another heart-warming example of this at a high level is John Krasinski’s new YouTube show “Some Good News” (I highly recommend it). Krasinski leverages his personality, humor and positive outlook to present content that helps us remember that everything that’s happening is not bad. There is so much good to be relished and celebrated.

While we’re all not top celebrities with a large following, we each have something important and beneficial to offer. The key thing that stops people from sharing their talents in a bigger way is fear that they’re not worthy enough to make the difference they long to. And a deep insecurity that they’ll fail and humiliate themselves doing something more meaningful.

There’s no time like now to turn crisis into opportunity and to walk through that fear to the other side, to greater contribution, impact and joy.

For more information, visit ExecuNet.

For support to make the impact you dream to, work with Kathy Caprino in her Career Breakthrough Programs, and check out her new book The Most Powerful You: 7 Bravery-Boosting Paths to Career Bliss.

Episode 137: Leading and Thriving in Unpredictable Times With History-Making Polar Explorer Alison Levine

Thank you for listening to our Finding Brave show, ranked in the Top 100 Apple Podcasts in Careers!

“I’m scared out of my mind in these environments, but what I’ve realized is that fear as a normal human emotion can actually work in your favor. It can keep you alert and aware of everything going on around you. Fear is only dangerous when it paralyzes you.” – Alison Levine 

I’m so excited to be talking with today’s Finding Brave guest about tackling challenges and achieving goals in unpredictable environments, because her personal story is so relevant in these trying times. Her journey reveals that sometimes you must go backwards before you can move forward, but this is still progress towards the summit of your life. 

Alison Levine is a history-making polar explorer and mountaineer. She served as team captain of the first American Women’s Everest Expedition, climbed the highest peak on each continent and skied to both the North and South Poles—a feat known as the Adventure Grand Slam—which only twenty people in the world have achieved. In January 2008, she made history as the first American to complete a 600-mile traverse across west Antarctica to the South Pole following the route of legendary explorer Reinhold Messner. Alison completed this arduous journey on skis while hauling 150 pounds of her gear and supplies in a sled harnessed to her waist. She made history again in 2016 when she completed two first ascents: Hall Peak in Antarctica and Khang Karpo in Nepal. Her success in extreme environments is noteworthy given she has had three heart surgeries and suffers from Raynaud’s disease, which causes the arteries that feed her fingers and toes to collapse in cold weather—leaving her at extreme risk for frostbite.

In addition to climbing mountains, Alison has also spent time climbing the corporate ladder. She has worked for several Fortune 500 companies in both sales and marketing roles and spent three years at Goldman Sachs. She left Wall Street in 2003 to serve as Deputy Finance Director for Arnold Schwarzenegger in his successful bid to become governor of California.

When not challenging herself in the outdoors, Alison focuses on training others to become strong leaders. She spent four years as an adjunct professor at the United States Military Academy at West Point in the Department of Behavioral Sciences & Leadership. In 2013 she transitioned from training cadets to working with corporate leaders and currently serves on the board and faculty of the Thayer Leader Development Group at West Point—one of the nation’s premiere executive leader development programs. She was a contributing author to the book Leadership in Dangerous Situations: A Handbook for the Armed Forces, Emergency Services and First Responders and is the author of the New York Times bestseller On the Edge: Leadership Lessons from Mount Everest and other Extreme Environments

In this episode, Alison reframes fear by explaining how you should allow yourself to feel it as a normal human emotion, and her perspective on failure is also especially powerful. Alison’s story serves as a reminder that you do not always have to be the best, fastest or strongest to get to the mountain that you are climbing. You just have to be relentless about putting one foot in front of the other.

Highlights from this Episode:

  • How Alison began climbing after overcoming significant health problems from a young age [5:41]

  • What she’s learned on her expeditions about the importance of supporting one another [9:02]

  • Why failure isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and something she says is much worse than failure [13:40]

  • A common myth about fear, and the reframe that she uses when she faces it [15:46]

  • The intentional mindset she uses for goal setting and where many people are going wrong when setting their goals [22:31]

  • Some key leadership lessons to consider when working with a team [24:00]

  • How to get to the top of any mountain (literal or figurative) you are climbing [26:51]

  • A powerful experience that demonstrated true leadership to Alison and the significant impact that this had on her [29:57]

  • Why she says that your weakness does not determine your value [35:37]

  • Details about her amazing documentary that focuses on a woman who defines bravery [36:33]

For More Information:






Upcoming documentary The Glass Ceiling 

Resources Mentioned: 

Order my new book The Most Powerful You today!

In Australia and New Zealand, click here to order, elsewhere outside North America, click here, and in the UK (avail January 1, 2021), click here.

If you enjoy the book, thank you in advance for leaving us a 5-star rating and positive review on Amazon!

Subscribe to Kathy’s weekly newsletter at https://kathycaprino.com for book updates, free offers and giveaways, free webinar training, and more. And to discover if you are experiencing any of the 7 damaging power gaps today, take Kathy’s Power Gap Survey and find out!

Other Resources Mentioned:

Alison’s Book, On the Edge: Leadership Lessons from Mt. Everest and Other Extreme Environments

Her Upcoming Documentary, The Glass Ceiling


Kathy’s Amazing Career Project 

Sign Up For Kathy’s LinkedIn Newsletter, The Finding Brave Circle

Her Power Gaps Survey & TEDx Talk, Time To Brave Up 

Kathy’s FREE Career Path Self-Assessment Survey

Become a Sponsor!

If you are interested in becoming a sponsor of Finding Brave, we’d love to hear from you! Please write to info@kathycaprino.com with your proposal and for more information.


“Being your authentic self is being vulnerable and admitting when you’re struggling. People who care about you want to help you and they want you to succeed and be happy.” [8:36]

“This lightbulb came on and I wanted to go do the things that I hadn’t been able to do because I had these health problems.” [11:31]

“Failure is one thing that happens to you at one point in time, that’s all it is. It doesn’t define you.” [14:56]

“You have to realize the summit can never, ever be the goal, because it is only the halfway point of a mountain and you need to be able to get yourself back down.” [21:21]

“Find your own pace, put one foot in front of the other and remember that when you feel like you can’t go on, you can take one more step.” [27:23]

“If we are so focused on comparing ourselves to other people in areas where they are strong, we never uncover what makes us truly strong and valuable.” [35:37]

Sponsor Highlight!  

I’m thrilled to share that Audible.com is a sponsor of Finding Brave! Take advantage of their great special offer of one FREE book of your choice with a 30-day FREE membership trial! And feel free to keep the book even if you cancel the membership. Click here to sign up for your free book! http://www.audibletrial.com/FindingBrave

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How Your Leadership Can Build Desperately-Needed Psychological Safety Today

Part of the series “Today’s True Leadership”

Fear has a profoundly negative impact on engagement, learning efficacy, productivity, and innovation. And in today’s uncertain times, fear is at an all-time high. In his new book The 4 Stages of Psychological Safety: Defining the Path to Inclusion and Innovation, social scientist and organizational consultant Timothy Clark provides a framework to help move people through successive stages of psychological safety, and gives a blueprint for leaders and organizations to help foster the psychological safety that is so needed today.

Timothy R. Clark is the founder and CEO of LeaderFactor, a leadership consulting and training organization that works with executive teams around the world. An Oxford-trained social scientist and sought-after international authority on organizational change,Clark is the author of five books on leadership, including his newest release.