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As I said in an earlier post, my high-achieving clients often struggle with procrastination. I've been expanding my knowledge of this concept lately, and have found so many out-of-the-box ideas to overcome this habit. (Yes, it IS a habit.)


Why do some people struggle more than others to start AND complete a task? 


Enter Neil Fiore, Ph.D, the author of The Now Habit, with the idea of 3-D thinking. Sounds like a pretty fancy concept . . . what exactly does it mean?

One of the reasons people procrastinate is they view a project in 2D mode - all work, all at once. There is no beginning, middle or end . . . just lots of work. It can be very overwhelming.

When you change your viewpoint and examine the project in 3-D mode, you can take into account the size, length, and breadth of the work. Or, in other words, you can factor in the little parts of the project that make up the whole, and the time it takes to do each part. (Use this Project Worksheet to break your project down into parts.) 

Instead of thinking about the entire project, you can think about the piece of the project that you could complete in one block of your UNSCHEDULE. This quickly reduces the overwhelm.

One strategy that goes hand in hand with 3-D thinking is the Reverse Calendar. Once you create the sub-parts of the project, you can begin to decide target dates for the work to be completed based on the due date and the time you have available.

This allows you to know when you need to get started instead of “pushing it off” until you are up against the wall.


Get more done and STILL enjoy your nights and weekends! Curious about how to incorporate these ideas into your life? Schedule a complimentary Propel Your Productivity session. No obligation. No pressure. Just specific ideas to help you move forward.

One of the most common challenges my high-achieving clients have is procrastination. Now, you may think that “high achieving” and “procrastination” shouldn’t be used in the same sentence . . . but it is true! Because of this, I’ve been doing a lot of reading on procrastination. What causes it? What are some strategies to overcome it? What makes it easy for someone to start a task but hard for the same person to finish it and vice versa?


Enter Neil Fiore, Ph.D, the author of The Now Habit, with the idea of the UNSCHEDULE. I’ll admit, I was a bit skeptical of this idea at first, as it is the OPPOSITE of how I typically teach calendaring and scheduling strategies.

Typically, when you think of laying out your schedule for the day or week, you plan all your work obligations and appointments first. Then, with the time that is left, you plan in your fun and social obligations.


Dr. Fiore recommends doing just the opposite!!!

Schedule your exercise, social, and fun stuff first.

Then schedule in your meetings, doctor’s appointments, and other commitments.



The time left is your “unscheduled time," the time you have for work.

When you work for 30 uninterrupted minutes, you get to shade in the block of “work” time in your schedule. As long as you block in some work time, you get to take advantage of the fun stuff in your calendar.

WHY does this work?

Typically when you procrastinate, there’s a feeling of “I have to do this” and “I’ll make myself work and I won’t get to do anything fun.” Often we sacrifice “fun” for working on a project we’ve been putting off for hours, days, weeks.

But, when you become clear about how much time you actually have for work (which after all this fun stuff isn’t very much!) you actually get started earlier.

Plus, by flipping the thought to 30 minutes of work and then getting a reward, you are much more apt to get started so you can get your reward.

And you know . . . once you get started . . . 

What do you think about the UNSCHEDULE?

How do you plan to make your best impression?

How you do you plan to connect and engage with new people and opportunities?

How do you plan to be remembered?


OTC is a big, huge rush of activity and opportunity -- seems like everyone is racing to and from somewhere.  Making it far too easy to blend in and go unrecognized.  But you can make the most of this short opportunity.


What can you do?


Plan what you’re going to wear so you don’t blend in. 

  • What events will you be attending?
  • Who will be there?
  • Are you speaking?
  • What impression do you want to make?


  • Don’t merely reach for the tried-and-true black jacket/pants combo - they're business-world camouflage.
  • Wear color in the way of a jacket or a dress which will combine and yet contrast with a black jacket or dress.
  • Look for some pattern (like narrow stripes) to contrast with it. 
  • If you’re wearing pants, add a blouse in a color to contrast with them and the jacket.
  • Beware too much cleavage - check that v-neck before you leave the house.
  • Accessories can add a final touch, but don't expect them to save the outfit.  Making an effort to include more visual interest in your outfits will power up your engagement and bring more lasting results to your connections.

Stand out and be noticed - this is your time.#

Who knows who you’ll run into and what opportunity might come from it?

And, if you need help, I’m available this weekend.  Contact me and let’s get started! 832.707.9339  

This date symbolizes how far into the year women must work to earn what men earned in the previous year.  The day was originated by the National Committee on Pay Equity (NCPE) in 1996 as a public awareness event to illustrate the gap between men's and women's wages.  And the wage gap is even greater for most women of color. 


There are many ways you can get involved in the movement, but one way you can take personal responsibility is to be certain you always look like the role you're in and the role you want to BE in.  Humans are visual creatures and we make instant judgments about people’s capabilities based purely on the image.  It’s called the Halo Effect, a type of cognitive bias in which our overall impression of a person influences how we feel and think about his or her character.  "She's fun, so she must be smart!"  


So every day you are at work, it’s critical that your clothing supports your ‘brand image’ – the qualities and value that you bring to the work every day.  Being comfortable is good, but being respected and valued is better for your career.  Strategically using the subliminal signaling of your clothing is a constant reminder of what you uniquely bring to the work.  Plus, when your clothes make you feel strong and confident, you can continue the work on this issue.


It’s been suggested women wear red on Equal Pay Day to symbolize how long we’ve “been in the red” for the year. 


If you or your company, organization, or association would like me to offer a refresher course for your women’s groups, please contact me and I’ll be happy to customize.  Each business culture has its unique demands, but there are clothing options out there for every women.  I do realize this isn't purely an image issue, but looking like you're in the game is the best way to start.  It's too easy to just settle for just wearing any 'ole thing to the office.  But that doesn't illustrate your best qualities.  You've got to get your foot in the conversation to make an impact.


Why? Why? Why should we do this?  Because you’re worth it! 



Imagine, you have your project list in front of you. You have chosen 3 projects to focus on, they all relate to your goals.  And, you’ve added the project to your Rule of Three list each day. 


Yet, you aren’t making much progress on the project.


When it comes time to work on the project, you decide to spend time working on something else. (Or you don’t even consciously decide - you just push it off.)


What’s happening here? It may be as simple as the words you used to write the project on your Rule of Three list.


You want to include ONLY tasks on your Rule of Three list, not projects. A task is something you can typically complete in 15 minutes or less, while a project is comprised of many tasks. The advantage of putting a task on your Rule of Three list is that you know EXACTLY what to do. 


When you put a project on your Rule of Three list, then your brain searches for what to do. What comes first? How do you start? Do you need any materials? Then, you start to feel overwhelmed and decide (consciously or unconsciously) to do something else. We avoid “hard.”


One of my clients had “Add 3 New Workplace Wellness Clients” on her Project List. She then put the same phrase on her Rule of Three list each day. At the end of the week – she THOUGHT about doing this activity A LOT, but she didn’t actually spend any time on the activity. 


Because she didn’t know where to start!


During our coaching session, we broke “Add 3 New Workplace Wellness Clients” into simple tasks:


  • Identify potential clients
  • Find people that can provide a warm introduction
  • Decide on talking points and value statements
  • Call to set appointments

After identifying some of the beginning tasks for the project, she added the tasks to her Rule of Three list. This allowed her to know exactly what actions to take.


Good news – she added 3 clients within a month!


Remember that old elephant we're always trying to eat? Stop looking at the big picture - your productivity will skyrocket when you look at the baby steps involved.


I've developed a free resource to help you with this process! Click here to access your own Impactive Strategies Project Worksheet and always know where to start! 


David Feldman


Posted by David Feldman Champion Mar 9, 2018

We worry about problems, but worry is itself a problem.  It inhibits clear thinking, it drains us of energy, it upsets our sleep and our digestion.  It can make us irritable, bitter, regretful, pessimistic, depressed... What a price to pay for something that serves no useful function.


The truth is that we are our own worst enemy and many of our troubles are inside our head.  We put the stamp of who we are on every perception.  We see the world from the viewpoint of ourselves and in doing so our emotions and fears blur our vision.


All of us who have worried have become experts in it over the years.  But worry itself is cunning, it is a distorting lens which hides from us the lessons it is teaching.  It causes us to see an opportunity as a risk and a challenge as a problem.


The irony is that we don't even make an effort to eliminate it, but just listen to that same old tune of hopelessness and gloom.  But by establishing a coping dialogue we can diminish and dispel the tedious repetitiveness of worry.  Take time out every day to give yourself a pep talk.  Be upbeat, confident, determined.  Simply tell yourself with as much conviction as you can muster that you are going to take deliberate action to achieve what you can and refuse to be troubled by circumstances that are beyond your control.


Below are some tips on how to control your worrying.  I know from experience that this is not an easy thing to do, but with a little patience and perseverance, you’ll soon be able to control your worrying instead of it controlling you!


1. Think about what is worrying you, and ask yourself what possible action you can take to alleviate the problem.  Then take that action immediately.


2. To bring harmony into your life is to accept that some things are quite beyond our control.  As the saying goes 'Change what you can change and accept what you can't'.


3. Worry thrives on inactivity and lack of choice, it lies coiled in quiet places.  So, launch yourself into a busy routine of work and leisure, by keeping your mind occupied on other things will give it less time to worry.


4. Worry also thrives on delay and procrastination, so take action against anything that worries you, put the same energy into solving problems as worrying about them and sufferance will soon be a thing of the past.  When you have taken all possible action then remember to let go of the problem.


5. Failure is an attitude, a state of mind.  It is not reality.  Cultivate a positive attitude and affirm to yourself your intention to succeed.


At the end of the day… the world isn't what we see, but what we think we see.  And the way we see it determines the degree of happiness we enjoy each day.  So, follow these steps above and start looking at life more positively, this isn't always easy to do but by forcing your mind to think positively it will eventually become a habit.  Now go out there and live a worry-free life! 

1. HERWorld 2018 is this week!


It’s finally here!  Yay!  This year’s HERWorld theme is: The New Energy Playbook: GRIT – Growth, Resilience, Innovation & Transition


The evidence of dramatic change is all around us and it’s happening at exponential speed. The industry, as a whole, is entering the dawn of a new era of transition and transformation. A resilient, reliable, and secure energy future is essential to the global economy, and it’s no surprise the energy industry and the entire value chain is undergoing a transition.  New fuels, technologies and innovation are driving opportunities, and the New Energy Playbook is all about G.R.I.T!  


This is the 3rd installment HERWorld and will be broadcast to cities, again, globally to bring together energy professionals in a unique learning and relationship building setting.  HW2018’s main stage will be in Houston, Texas at the Norris Conference Center.


Our keynote speaker will be Dr. Jen Welter.  Jennifer Welter, PhD, made history as the first woman to coach in the NFL when she joined the Arizona Cardinals at training camp in 2015. The story of how she got there is nearly as remarkable as the accomplishment itself, and a must hear!  Private and public events will be held worldwide, and members and others can participate from any internet connected device.


2. Annual CERAWeek to be held in Houston this week.


The 37th CERAWeek, an annual energy conference that features presentations and discussions by energy industry and governmental leaders, started Monday here in Houston.


This year’s theme for the event is "Tipping Point: Strategies for a New Energy Future."


As leaders and industry experts gather, the plan is to discuss the dynamics of the energy markets, technology, governmental policies, environment, the new global economy, and the strategies meet the challenges facing the energy industry in the coming year.  CERAWeek is expected to have 3,000 global industry leaders and policymakers from over 60 countries and the energy value chain.


3. US shale oil output is booming.


U.S. shale output has surged to a 47-year high must faster than anyone anticipated, hitting 10 million barrels a day in November and going up from there.  This has put the U.S. ahead of Saudi Arabia as the world's second-biggest oil producer behind Russia.


The growth is expected to continue over the next five years, but the amount of cash that gets put to work in U.S. shale fields will play a major factor in future output.  As of now, few drillers have the needed assets to fulfill future demand. That means frackers remain dependent on debt, equity and other types of outside capital to replenish rapidly depleting wells.

I recently presented a workshop focused on scheduling and calendar skills for entrepreneurs and business owners, and was starting to work through the blocks of time that should be represented in a calendar on a daily or weekly basis.

  • Planning time
  • Maintenance time
  • Email time
  • Self-care time
  • Client time
  • Prospecting time
  • Project time

This discussion led to many of the participants feeling like they just don’t have enough time, which is a common response!

One woman asked, “How do I fit in all these blocks, plus all the urgent tasks that come up on a day to day basis?” I asked her about her typical routine, and she responded that she starts her day looking at email so she knows the landscape and any “hidden surprises,” and then moves on to whatever task is time sensitive.

Most of the participants followed a similar daily pattern. They allow the urgent / time sensitive tasks to push out the equally important but not urgent tasks.


However, given enough time, anything can become urgent!

  • Skip self-care time and you run the risk of a health crisis, making sleeping, exercising, and eating well urgent.
  • Skip prospecting time and you run the risk of a slow sales funnel, making prospecting time very urgent.
  • Skip project time and eventually that project becomes time sensitive and urgent.

What’s the solution?

Spend 15 minutes each day on a task that is not urgent for your business and personal life. Everyone can find 15 minutes! (Recently one of my clients wrote a book using the 15 minutes each day strategy…it took her 4 months. She’s been “working on” this book for 17 years!)

Maybe you pick the first 15 minutes of the day, maybe you choose 15 minutes before lunch, or every day at 1:00 you stop what you are doing, or 15 minutes before bed, or…

Now, 15 minutes a day may not fully prevent the “everything becomes urgent given enough time” challenge. But it is certainly enough time to start to break the pattern. Remember the old adage of “How do you eat an elephant?” Prevent the urgency by taking one bite at a time!

If you haven’t had the chance to read one of my blogposts here's a quick rehash.  HERWorld is THE day to network with an amazing slate of energy professionals.  Women you might not be able to access otherwise.  This is an remarkable opportunity to make connections and expand your network of women who will support you.  And you will be making that critical first impression ALL DAY LONG.  So dress like you mean business!


Here’s your checklist:


Most critical:  Do you need a haircut, color, highlights, whatever else?  Book it NOW!  Get it done this weekend – beg your hairstylist if necessary. Don’t let a tired haircut or style, or faded color drag down your professional look.  Will your hair stay in place all day?  If not, bring what you need to control it.


What are you wearing to look your most professional?  Does your outfit proclaim who you are?  Photos that will end up on the internet will be taken all day long.  Does the garment fit well, is the garment clean, is the hem OK?  Does it need pressing? Here’s my hint, if you want to be seen in the photo, wear a COLOR. So many women wear black and taupe, it’s pretty easy to stand out and be seen and help people remember you.  (I have actually been asked by a photographer to stand in a photo so I could BE the color)  And don’t forget, blue is the color of trust.  So if you’re going to buy something new, look for cobalt blue!


What shoes are you wearing?  Not boots, professional shoes you could walk into a boardroom in.  Can you stand in them all day?  Are the HEELS in good condition?  Do you need to get a new pair you can wear all day?  Remember, shoes ARE in photos, so don’t embarrass yourself.


What bag are you carrying?  Does it look like a trashed-out diaper bag or the tote bag of a sophisticated professional?  Reasonably-priced, plain tote bags are available everywhere from Target to Steinmart.  And no-label totebags don’t cause purse-bias or logo-bias.


Make-up?  And back-up?  Conference centers have overhead canned lights or fluorescents that wash out our natural color, so we need to use make-up to enhance our facial features.  The basics are foundation, UNDEREYE-COVER (lighten up those shadows!), powder, blush, mascara, and lip color.  (And I try to make my eyes look bigger by using brown shadow in the crease).  For a full-day conference you can buy a make-up setting spray you can find in Sephora or Ulta that helps it last longer.  In your back-up make-up bag bring, at a minimum, lip color, blotting papers, and powder.  In photos, if you look “glowy” it reads “oily”, so I try to carry powder, or at least a pre-powdered puff, to knock that glow off!


If you wear nail polish or shellacs or whatever, get them done this weekend.  Don’t show up with chippy, peely, grown-out nails.  We talk with our hands – what will YOURS be saying about you?


If you haven’t downloaded the Whova app from HERWorld, this may reduce the need for business cards.  It certainly looks promising, but I’d still bring a stack if you have them.  Looking like a professional is most important.


So what’s your best accessory?  Your smile, of course!  Smile, make eye contact, and have a firm handshake – proven to be the best way to connect.  Literally show a new friend how happy you are to make that connection!  Where might this lead?


Let’s all get out and make our presence known!  See you there – come and say hello to me!

Imagine telling a significant role model in your life something new and exciting. An idea or event that has stimulated you both mentally and physically. It can be anything from joining a sports team, beginning a new career, starting a new marriage, losing weight, developing a new outlook, changing your image, or continuing your education. Instead of receiving an encouraging comment, what you hear instead is: “That’s ridiculous,” “You’re always daydreaming,” or “You’ll never make anything out of yourself.”


Negative statements such as the ones mentioned above can create fear of failure and fear of rejection within a person. This situation can leave an individual on the receiving end feeling helpless. Negative attitudes create barriers toward individual accomplishment.


Now imagine if the person saying those things was YOU!  So many times in life, we are the ones that sabotage our own success.  Maybe it’s because you believe you might fail.  But, what I think happens to many of us… is we are afraid to SUCCEED!!!


Do you set yourself up for failure and sabotage your success by telling yourself that you can’t perform well? Is it possible that you allow unproductive and negative vocabulary to dominate your thoughts? Negative self-talk takes away your motivation and is an inner barrier that must be eliminated.


Here are three ways to overcome the fear of success:


  1. Continually tell yourself that you welcome challenges. Stand ready and willing to challenge yourself to your maximum capacity. Move forward in your communication by deleting all negative self-talk.


  1. Believe that whatever you set out to accomplish, you will give it one-hundred percent. Stop providing excuses to blame yourself, becoming disempowered from achieving your goals and increasing your self-esteem. Believe that your “pride of accomplishment” motivates you to eliminate all the “shoulds,” “oughts,” and “musts,” from your vocabulary.


  1. Be the best you can. Continually “see” yourself in an evolving way. Stretch every mental, emotional, and physical fiber within you. Believe and feel that you are one dynamite, ecstatic, and powerful person. Remember, your beliefs impact the way you feel and act.


By following these three steps you’ll be able to get rid of self-doubt and unlock your full potential.  There are enough people out there telling you it’s not possible… don’t be one of them!

Are YOU ready for HERWorld?  As in "I've got my act together and I"m ready to go?"


HERWorld will be here in just over 2 weeks, March 8, which is also International Women’s Day.  An opportunity for us to show up, learn, and be seen.  This is a grand opportunity to network with like-minded women in the energy business.  So, here’s a few tips to help you make the most of this amazing opportunity to engage and connect.  And these tips will help you prepare for ANY conferences you may attend.


Pink Petro | Jumpstart: The Art of Presence with Marilynn Barber 


First of all, remember this is a super-charged, business-professional networking event.  You’ll meet many for the first time, so you’ll be making that critical first impression.  The impression that will remain in their minds, likely forever.  So prepare for it.  You are coming together to learn and discuss business, so dress like your role in business.  Express the title on your business card.  And if you’re looking for leadership opportunities, dress like the leader you want to be.


“The soul never thinks without an image.”  Aristotle


Plan your image:

A dress-with-a-jacket or slacks-top-and-jacket are the most professional looking and most pull-together looks.  Black is the most easily-found color, but try to find some additional color to add to this black palette so it doesn’t suck all the color from your face.  And keep in mind photos and video will be taken, so add that color to stand out from the crowd. I like to find a jacket with good pockets so I can have business cards ready so I don’t have to distract with the dig-through-the-purse exercise while I’m talking.


Try the outfit on now to make certain it fits well.  Often jacket sleeves are too long and need to be taken to the tailor or seamstress to be shortened.  Yes, this is important so you don't look clueless, but like a women who takes care of all the details. Jacket sleeves should hang just below the knob on your wrist, not halfway down your hand.


How about the hem in your pants?  Hem pants to the height of your shoe.  If you’re walking on the hem, wear taller shoes OR shorten it.  And hems falling out are the height of “she just doesn’t care”.  Take the time to check on these.  And if you need help with this, I offer a really inexpensive package to give you some closet guidance. Check out my website  It's important to invest in yourself too.


And if you’re on a panel and need to sit on a stool or chair while wearing a dress, make sure when you sit down the dress provides enough coverage to be modest.  If you don’t you’ll be embarrassed and uncomfortable and so will the audience.  Your message won’t be heard and that’s not the impression you want to leave.  A pashmina over your knees is an alternative, although not a great one.  Pants may be a better choice.


Shoes – I always travel with two pair.  Flats to wear from the car across the parking garage.  Then I have pumps to change into before I make my first appearance.  On a day like HERWorld, you might even want to bring out your closed-toe, wedge-heels.  Usually these have a rounder toe to accommodate swelling feet and a slightly lower heel because you may be standing more.  Your feet will probably be in photos, so make sure your shoes look as good as the rest of your outfit.  Any height heel offers a better image than flats.  


Does your purse look professional?  Don’t let a beat-up purse take away from your image.  I saw some great inexpensive tote bags at Target yesterday.  A tote bag is great for a conference because it doubles as a purse and you can stash extra stuff you might need in it (like a phone charger and back-up make-up).  Look for one with a zipper across the top so you can keep everything in its place.  I even tie a piece of ribbon on the handle so I can easily identify it as mine.


Make-up – Yes, wear some.  Between the lighting in the conference center and the flash from a photographer, your face can look washed out if you don’t make the effort to do some foundation, undereye cover, blush, mascara, lip color.  And a matte powder is best for these events because you’ll be photographed and matte is a better look than the fashion penchant for “glowy.”


Nail polish is not mandatory, but if you have polish ON, be certain it’s not chipped.  Another bad image you don’t want to leave.  It's easier to fix it than apologize for it all day.  Wastes perfectly good networking minutes.


Plan for networking:

Got up-to-date business cards?  How many are left in the box?  Order today.  Have you ever gotten the dog-eared card with the scratched-out and hand-written e-mail address on it? How professional does that look?  Is this person a professional capable of planning ahead?  It’s easy to get biz cards, so order up now.  And if you’re in search of a job, add a good photo on the card so they can remember you.  If your LinkedIn photo is good, use it so they’ll remember you when you send them a Connection request!


And since you’re networking, is your LinkedIn profile up-to-date?  And even more importantly, is the photo on your LinkedIn profile a professional one?  If you make a good connection, YOU need to send them a connection request with a personal note in it to remind them where you met.  Then, when they look at your profile it needs to reflect and reinforce the image you left when you met them at the event.  Simple, right?


If you want MORE tips and tricks to look like the image of success, sign up for The ART of Presence this Thursday, February 22 at 11:30AM at PinkPetro Headquarters.  Bring all your questions and you can even bring a jacket if you want me to look at it.  Let’s get you ready for all the opportunities coming up – you don’t want to miss any one of them!  Pink Petro | Jumpstart: The Art of Presence with Marilynn Barber 

Everyone wants to be treated with respect, but respect means different things to different people. It also means different things in different cultures, so treating others with respect often becomes a serious problem. If you want to avoid offending someone by being disrespectful, you must think about both what they need and how you act.  Here are 25 ways to show respect in all your actions.  Some are opposite… because it all depends on the situation and the culture… what lessons about respect have you learned on personal and business trips across the world?  What lessons have you learned about respect in the workplace?  What lessons have you learned about respect in your home?


  1. Look at me and make eye contact.
  2. Don’t look at me.
  3. Listen attentively when I speak.
  4. Respond to what I mean instead of to what I say.
  5. Ignore my emotions when I am supposed to appear strong.
  6. Keep the agreements you make with me.
  7. Keep time agreements with me. Don’t keep me waiting.
  8. Notice what seems to be important to me and comment on it.
  9. Remember what I like and dislike.
  10. Don’t force me to encounter things I hate.
  11. Allow me my privacy.
  12. Don’t ignore me.
  13. Acknowledge everything I do well.
  14. Don’t demean me by commenting on my expected work.
  15. Offer to shake hands.
  16. Never disagree with me.
  17. Challenge my thinking.
  18. Don’t interrupt me.
  19. Interrupt me, it means you are listening and you care.
  20. Protect me.
  21. Challenge me ¬ give me tough things to do.
  22. Always speak in a calm way.
  23. Match the energy of my excitement.
  24. Always use my title.
  25. Use my first name.


Yes, it is contradictory! How can you sort it out?   First and foremost, recognize that people are different from you and from each other.  A lot of people follow the Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”


But maybe it’s more important to follow the Platinum Rule, “Do unto others as they would have you do unto them.”


Pay attention to how others respond to you and, when possible, when you can do so without violating your own principles, treat them as they expect and wish to be treated.


Let’s hear your thoughts on the topic!

I had two vastly different experiences with clients last week. 


One client asked me to speak to his small town law office to explain their new dress code – specifically what they COULD wear to work.  Clients had started calling him to comment about the overly-casual manner in which they were dressing for work.  Uh-oh.


And then I had another client call me to ask for help packing for a 10-day business trip to another country.  She has a closet full (as in smashed together there’s so much) of designer-named business clothes, and was still having trouble pulling it all together.  (No longer fits, too heavy for the weather, dated, over-photographed, bad color, and the all-too-common “it makes me look fat.)”


What’s common about these two dramatically divergent challenges is that neither had a plan or clear system; there was no specific strategy to dressing for work.  And what you get is a bunch of disconnected, random garments of random colors.  Nothing works together and worse, their clothes don’t communicate any story, much less THEIR unique story. 


And since I’m being dramatic, let me take this one step further -- we recognize superheroes because they’re wearing their superhero costumes – it’s perfectly obvious who they are and why they’re there.  Usually they’ve come to save the day, kind of like what women do EVERY day!


Join Marilynn for the Art of Presence, Thursday, Feb. 22! Click here to register.


In the first case, the young women kept pushing the boundaries of casual dress until the lawyer finally noticed it was affecting his business and his image as a respected law firm.


In the second, this woman is crazy busy so she shops randomly and haphazardly.  She has lots of clothes, but I was challenged to put together a working collection for 10 days of business that would fit in a suitcase.  We finally settled on her buying a few new things to get through this trip and we’re going to work on her brand image when she gets back.  (Here’s a tip, if it doesn’t fit you now, move it to another section of the closet so you don’t keep pulling it out when you’re trying to get dressed.)


In our busy, discombobulated world we STILL need to stand out to illustrate our personal message of confident, composed wisdom and experience – the look of leadership.  So here’s my short list of how to accomplish this.


  1. Structured garments, like a blazer or jacket over a dress or pants, look more pulled-together and in control.  Men read this as ‘disciplined,’ especially if they’ve been in the military.  Baggy cardigans are too casual and make you look heavy, they visually add pounds.  And you don't look pulled together and in charge.
  2. Cooler colors (navy, royal blue, teal, dark gray, brown, burgundy, black) are taken more seriously.  Use these as the canvas of your outfit and add small touches of color or pattern for drama.
  3. Any height of heel is better than flats.  Flats are too casual and give the impression of a young, naïve girl.  Flats are functional, like you need to traverse the parking lot, or long distances.  Change into your closed-toe, heeled shoes when you make your presence known.
  4. Wear SOME make-up to look polished and complete.  Light foundation/BB cream, blush, lip color, mascara, at the minimum.  If you despise foundation, remember many have the SPF you need to wear anyway, so shop around for a light one you can tolerate.  Add powder when taking photos so you don't look oily.  I once was the official powderer-of-the-CEO's-bald-head when the photography group didn't want to hire a make-up artist!

And since I’ve referenced super heroes, remember, even Wonder Woman had to WORK to develop her full powers and true destiny.


If you’re wondering how to get yourself ready for YOUR greatness, join me for The Art of Presence at PinkPetro next Thursday, February 22 at 11:30AM.  Spring is coming, so let’s talk how to get your presence polished and your wardrobe ready!  Bring your questions and I’ll see you there.

Pink Petro | Jumpstart: The Art of Presence with Marilynn Barber 

We allow so much “good” into our lives, that these activities often push out the room for the “great.” Here are some real-life examples from some of my clients over the past month!

  • You say “yes” to hanging out with some work acquaintances after work (you had a free night, and you like your work pals, so good), but then are unable to take your parents to dinner before they leave for vacation (you value your relationship with your parents much more than your work pals – great).
  • You agree to volunteer at the animal shelter (fits your goal of “volunteering in the community” – good), but then don’t have the time or energy to volunteer at the domestic violence shelter (the charity that is closest to your heart – great).
  • You decide one way to build your business is to cultivate referral partners, so you decide to have lunch with a potential partner 3 times each week. You lunch with people you know from your networking group (good), but then realize that time could have been better spent lunching with people that are actually influencers of your ideal client (great).

So, how do you fix it? Here are some ideas loosely based on The Power of Less by Leo Babauta.

Become clear.

What ARE the commitments on your plate? Here are some categories to get you started.

  • Work
  • Side work (freelance, odd jobs)
  • Family (spouse, mother, daughter, grandmother . . .)
  • Kids (their commitments are yours also!)
  • Civic / Volunteer (board member, officer, volunteer, organizations)
  • Religious (attending services, church activities)
  • Hobbies (running, cycling, comic books)
  • Home (maintenance, cooking, cleaning)
  • Etc.

Become clearer.

Ask yourself these questions for each of the commitments.

  • How does this commitment give my life value?
  • What goal or value is this in line with?
  • How would my life be affected if I dropped this activity?

Decide Good vs. Great.

When you answer these questions, you will be able to see the difference between the different types of commitments. Some will stand out as being GREAT! These are directly in line with your goals, dreams, and vision. They bring the “most bang for the buck” in your life. You don’t want to experience the answer to the question “How will my life be affected if I dropped this?”

Once you can identify the GREAT, then you can start dropping the GOOD from your life. Remember, improvement is a process; you’ll want to start cutting the good activities from your life slowly. Ask yourself, “Which commitment gives me the least return for my time invested?” Start there.

Remember, this exercise is about making sure you have time for YOUR stuff, not just everybody else’s stuff! As you delete one commitment, you can add something from YOUR list of GREAT activities that you just don’t typically have enough time for!

Remember, you only have 168 hours in a week. When you use them wisely, for the GREATS, you will not only get more done, but you will also feel much more gratified! Curious about how to do a better job on prioritizing? Download my complimentary Magic 168 Action Guide and become a prioritizing PRO!

If we worked in a non-visual world, no they wouldn’t.  Everyone would be equal.  Orchestras now conduct blind auditions; the musician sits behind a screen so the judges can’t see them, and then they play their heart out.  They are selected purely for their musicianship.  No names, no visuals.


However, the remainder of us work in a highly visual world where our personal brand is on display at all time.  Plus our photos often end up on the internet somewhere even without our intention.  And, of course, the Holy Grail of business is our LinkedIn profile where image is paramount.  I talked with a recruiter who actually told me she had excluded a resume purely based on the ‘bad’ photo.  In the blink of an eye, a woman lost a chance at a job.  How sad.  It's OUR personal challenge to be completely prepared for any and all interactions that could lead to more career success.


Are you absolutely certain your image represents and reinforces your expertise and values? 


Join Marilynn Barber for the Art of Presence, a learning experience focused on building your personal brand and taking your career to new heights! Two sessions: Feb. 7 & 22. Register today!


Because if you’re NOT sure – that uncertainty insidiously eats at your self-confidence.  And if you don’t feel completely confident, your overall presence is less commanding.  And who needs that?  I want YOU to be the best you possible – so you can go out and conquer your world.


I was working with a client this week and she’s a member of the Greater Houston Partnership.  They had been invited to the campus of a major oil and gas company for a presentation.  She said a female vice president gave the presentation.  But my client (who is president of a large investment management firm) had trouble grasping and valuing the message because the image the female vice president presented did not fully represent the gravity of the event.  Her clothes were OK (her words) and she was not wearing make-up.    I don’t know the goal of the presentation, but it appears the impact did not meet expectations.


Every time you communicate, you are either drawing people closer, or pushing them away.  Every single action creates an emotional connection (or not) -- your clothes, your posture, your attitude.  There can’t be any doubt in their minds about who you are and what you represent.


  "The soul never thinks without a mental picture."    Aristotle


We can’t wear our resume so our visual instant communication system is our clothing.  The way you present yourself is vital to creating an image that instantaneously conveys and supports your message effectively.  Our loosely-defined business casual dress codes have eaten away at women’s professional image and we’ve got to regain it.

The only real risk is the risk of thinking too small.” 
Frances Moore Lappé


Social scientist Amy Cuddy of Harvard Business Review is studying how we evaluate people we meet.  “When we form a first impression of another person it’s not really a single impression.  We’re really forming two.  We’re judging:


  1. How warm and trustworthy the person is and that’s trying to answer the questions, “what are this person’s intentions toward me? And
  2. How strong and competent is this person?”


Research shows that these two trait dimensions account for 80 – 90 percent of an overall first impression, and that holds true across cultures.


We need to seriously re-evaluate how our image is being read by the rest of the world.  If we are the face of the company on occasions we must look like the values of the brand. Anything less is pointless.


If you want me to show and tell you how to accomplish this, join me for the Art of Presence on February 7 or 22 at Pink Petro. We'll have lunch and I’ll give you new “eyes” to see what will enhance and enrich YOUR career.  I can save you time and money too.  That’s the goal, right!  See you there!