Advice Post: How to use food to combat anxiety, Kim Love

Kim Love

Kim Love

April is National Stress Awareness month, and with stats abounding over ever increasing levels of stress – up to 83 percent of us – it’s time to pay more than lip-service to what’s got our goats.

We’ve all heard the grim statistics of the health effects of stress. According to the APA, “Americans continue to recognize the impact of stress – 66 percent believe their stress has a moderate, strong or very strong impact on their physical health, and 63 percent believe the same for their mental health.” But what can we do to self-arrest before we hit cardiac arrest?

Besides the obvious stress reducers like taking time to smell the roses, exercising, removing toxic situations and meditating, there is a powerful tool many of us don’t typically consider when we aim to chill out. Our diet.

But imagine this: What we choose – or don’t choose – to feed ourselves not only fuels our physical bodies but also greatly affects our mind. And in fact, what I’ve witnessed through working with thousands of clients over the years is that food is one of the most crucial foundations. In fact, of all the areas our clients track – sleep, weight, allergies, skin, pain, digestion and more – food is the one that’s grown to be my very favorite and early on was also the most surprising. By merely personalizing their diets, the majority of our clients reduced their stress and anxiety levels dramatically.

Here are some great ways to combat the daily toll of stress and anxiety with the power of food:

1. Start with the basics. There’s no rocket science to this one but eating whole, non-processed foods is key. No fancy dietary footwork can overpower the junk. Sugars, breads, cakes, cookies, chemical laden snacks and anything else calling your name in the middle of an afternoon slump is crazy making. Literally. When we nourish our bodies with vegetables, non-factory farmed animal proteins, beans, seeds and whole grains our body and mind receives nutrients it needs to stabilize.

2. Keep a health bevy of protein snacks nearby. Hankerings get the best of us and create a h’angry, unhappy self. H’angry selves make poor choices, creating a vicious cycle, which includes destabilized blood sugar. Protein creates blood-sugar stability. Easy, portable snacks such as nuts, seeds and hummus restore sanity. Pay attention to the difference between a healthy protein snack versus merely gnoshing on a piece of fruit or something sweet. Ask yourself: How are my energy levels and mood responding in the hours following each?

3. Eliminate Caffeine. If stress and anxiety seem to be a constant in your life, one of the first items to omit is caffeine. Some are very sensitive to caffeine, even small amounts can be enough to have profound impact on our mood. The best way to know for sure is to give it a whirl and see if you notice any changes. Give yourself a week to go through caffeine withdrawal before making any assessments. Keep a journal of your stress levels and after a week sans caffeine, see if you notice any differences. This level of inquisitiveness is key to the march toward a personalized diet and a better understanding of how different foods affect various areas of your life. Once you’re able to determine what’s working and what isn’t, it then becomes easier to be the best version of yourself.

4. Uncover inflammatory foods. This one’s a biggie. Many people have unrecognized food intolerances, which lead to inflammation in the body – the root of much disease but also many symptoms, including fatigue, sleep issues and brain clarity. Whether the inflammatory food is citrus, gluten or tomatoes, I’ve seen an undeniable correlation with personal trigger foods and our anxiety and stress levels. Discovering our personal inflammatory foods next levels our lives.

The correlation between food and mood, particularly where our stress levels are concerned, is a relationship worth examining. When we move away from traditional diets and embrace our bodies’ preferences and aversions, we awaken to the power food holds. As we begin to identify what our best self feels like, this will become the standard of care and a topic of dinner fare.

Kim Love is the founder of LoveLife Program, a food discovery system that helps individuals identify the impact food has on their body and mind. Aimed at helping people live at peak performance, LoveLife has helped thousands uncover what their bodies uniquely need to live life well.

Game Coding for Girls: MakeGamesWithUs

Coding is an important skill that all children should be taught, and with organisations such as Women Who Code and Girl Develop It making huge strides, I was recently excited to hear from MakeGamesWithUs.

MakeGamesWithUs teach high school and college students to design and code iPhone games through a two month summer academy where they ship their own game to the App Store. Over 250 students have taken the organisation’s in-person courses, and nearly a million students have used their online tutorials since they launched in 2012.

In 2013, only 15% of their students were girls, but 4/5 of award winners at the demo day were girls! This year, MakeGamesWithUs are working with organizations like Women Who Code, Girl Develop It and more to teach more girls to build games through a number of workshops, with the ultimate goal of encouraging girls to apply for their Summer Academy. MakeGamesWithUs are also keen to ensure that  every location has at least one female programming instructor.

The deadline for the Summer Academy is May 3rd and you can find out more about MakeGamesWithUs here. 

Do you know about any similar programmes taking place in Wales or the UK? If so contact us! 

Women In Web Weekly Round-Up


Happy Weekend! Refresh and recharge this weekend, but also be up to date with our weekly round-up!

We featured two great Q&As this week. The first, from Broadcast Ready Editor Kerry Hopkins profiles her time at the BBC and ITV and tells us about Broadcast Ready’s mission to get more women on the news. Check it out here!

We also have a fantastic guest post from Theresa Zagnoli who provides her top tips for asking for a raise. If you’re thinking about asking your boss for a raise you do not want to miss this post!

Do you have a story that you’d like to share with us? Get in touch and your story could be featured on Women In Web!

Other stories that have caught our eye this week include…

The Women of the Time 100 list

The Thrive conference-highlights and further information

EMILY’s List gives Stacy Abrams the first Gabrielle Giffords Rising Star Award 

The #thrive video with Arianna Huffington and Mika Brzezinski that you don’t want to miss!

We’d also like to say a BIG CONGRATULATIONS to the amazing Tina Cassidy who completed her first Boston Marathon this week! Tina was running in a team in memory of Martin Richards who tragically lost his life in the Boston Marathon bombing last year. You’re such an inspiration!

Ten Mistakes to Avoid when Asking for a Raise

Theresa Zagnoli

Theresa Zagnoli

Thinking about asking for a raise but not sure how to go about it? Check out our guest post from Theresa Zagnoli, founding partner and CEO of Zagnoli McEvoy Foley LLC!

One of the psyche’s greatest fears is rejection. Ask for a raise; get turned down, ergo, rejected. It is often easier on the ego to wait for the annual handout. It is easier for those of us determining compensation, too. People asking for raises out of turn wreak havoc on the budget. Thus, the first step is to have some understanding of the company finances. Know how the company is doing financially – are there any plans in the near future for large capital expenditures? Have there been layoffs? It is important to ask what the raise structure is when you are hired. Surprisingly, most newbies do not do this. They are just happy to have a job.

Next, put your raise profile together. Dust off your job description and figure out if you have been doing the tasks listed and more importantly, doing them well. If it says at the bottom of the page, ‘and any and all other needs to make the company run smoothly and look good’ and you recently refused to stay late to help the support staff on a large project or walked past a dead plant for a month without saying or doing anything, you might want to reassess your job fulfillment. Esprit de corpse.

Determine what you have contributed to the company since the last look at your salary. Take on more responsibility with or without the raise. Once you have profiled yourself on paper, write an email to the person you want to meet with. Ask for a meeting to discuss a salary increase. Attach the major points you intend to discuss. The reason for this is that most individuals do not determine salaries on their own – even if they have the authority to do so, they will want to discuss the request with others. With your memo in hand, I am able to discuss the request with the necessary people. Thus, when we have the meeting I am able to respond with something other than “I will look into it and get back to you”. Remember that this is a negotiation – you want to do everything you can to stay at the table. Like most CEO’s, I want to pay a person as much as I am able to.

Make it easier to do so by avoiding the following ten mistakes:

  1. Asking the wrong person hoping he or she will deliver the message for you – they won’t.
  2. Apologizing. Sit tall in your chair, wear your best outfit and show up big.
  3. Thinking you “deserve” more money – you don’t.
  4. Mentioning that you need a bigger home, better car, etc. – I don’t care if you live in a cave.
  5. Talking about what someone else earns – not only bad taste but dangerous.
  6. Threaten to quit – you won’t or if you do, I won’t care.
  7. Complaining about your workload – try mine for a week.
  8. Not coming prepared – do your homework.
  9. Ignoring the importance of timing – Timing. Is. Crucial.
  10. Not quantifying your contribution – it’s all about the money.

Theresa Zagnoli, founding partner and CEO of Zagnoli McEvoy Foley LLC, is a leader in the field of communication consulting and has been providing practical trial consulting and communication solutions to attorneys and business leaders for over 20 years. Her knowledge of the American juror has made her one of the most sought-after trial consultants in the nation.

Women in Journalism: Kerry Hopkins, Broadcast Ready

Kerry Hopkins

Kerry Hopkins

Kerry Hopkins is the Editor of Broadcast Ready, a one-stop database for journalists to find spokespersons that are good for TV and radio news. Kerry has sixteen years media experience split between ten years corporate communications and public relations and as an Assistant News Editor at ITN’s ITV News, where she also carried out field producing, Newsnet Editor, Planning and overnight News Editor roles. She also worked as a Broadcast Journalist for the BBC News Channel. Kerry Hopkins is an experienced media trainer at C-suite level with FTSE 250 companies and continues to broadcast media train and coach at Broadcast Ready.

Kerry was the Head of Broadcast and Digital at Newgate Communications and also worked in corporate communications at The Walt Disney Company. In PR agencies, her accounts have included Microsoft, Samsung, JP Morgan Asset Management, Investec, Schroders, Cisco, GlaxoSmithKline, adidas, Technogym, Isokinetic Medical Group and the Trading Standards Institute.

Tell us about how your journey to where you are today.

I have a background in PR/corporate communications and TV newsroom journalism. I completed a postgraduate diploma in TV Journalism at City University London in 2006, and whilst on the course I got a job at ITN’s ITV News because the field producer said she was so impressed with me on a shoot we did in Essex that day. When you’re offered a paid role after a day’s work experience at the broadcaster of your dreams you don’t say no!

I’ve also worked at BBC TV News writing the news, and I also headed the broadcast media for Samsung at the London Olympics. The timing of when I left doing that role was perfect as I had a deadline of four months to upgrade my PG Dip to a Masters in TV Journalism. I wrote my dissertation on why aren’t there as many female comedians on TV as there are male comedians.

My dissertation found that producers tend to pick the same women for comedy panel shows, for example Dawn French, Jennifer Saunders, Miranda Hart, Jo Brand and Sarah Millican. Many of these women have their own sitcoms or television programmes, and do not necessarily want to appear on panel shows which are often seen as the stepping stone to a comedian’s own show. Because the pool of female comedians stands at about 20%, there aren’t as many individuals to choose from too.

I suggested that they develop a strategy such as hiring producers specifically and solely tasked to recruit more female comedians from the circuit. The producer would also plant ideas into female college and university students that a career in comedy is a good one that they could consider. It’s hard for people to aspire to be like someone if they’re not seeing many role models on TV. There was only one comedy TV show at the time that did that. As part of my research I interviewed the commissioners of comedy at the BBC, series producers from the BBC, ITV and Channel 4, psychologists, the managing director of the UK’s largest independent production company for comedy and comedians including Ian Hislop and Zoe Lyons. I put them on the spot and at the same time factual articles on the same subject were published in The Independent and The Guardian, which put pressure on the commissioners to do something about it to stop the negative press their shows were receiving. Two months after I submitted my work, the BBC publicly admitted that they had failed female comedians and were going to do more to rectify the situation.

Lis Howell, Director of Broadcasting at City University London shared my views on why there aren’t enough expert women on the news, and used some of my ideas to raise awareness and make a difference with her and Broadcast magazines Expert Women campaign, launched in February 2012. There is still alot more to be achieved, and people think that because it’s being talked about a lot that change is happening and we’re there. We’re not. The numbers of expert women on the news has marginally increased but is still woefully low and this will take many years to reach an acceptable number to give women a voice. It’s more complex than producers aren’t giving women a chance, they are in many cases, it’s that women often let their male colleagues go on the news instead or the company doesn’t ask women to be spokespeople as much. And of course, the fact that there aren’t many expert women on the news so that other woman can be inspired and think: “I’d like to do that too, I can do that, I will do that!” The Expert Women campaign calls on broadcasters to put 30% of women on the news as experts. This campaign for change needs to be sustained over a long period of time or it’ll just be hype and will have minimal improvement. With the voices of females who make up half the population getting louder and louder though on this, change will happen eventually as it can not be ignored.

It’s a combination of my work as a TV journalist, a corporate communications professional and the in-depth research I did on female comedians on TV that has opened the door that I built and created myself for the work I am doing now with Broadcast Ready. I left my previous job as Head of Broadcast and Digital to establish Broadcast Ready, and I am determined for it to succeed.

How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?

I was the natural leader of my group when I was in at school. My father also had his own company employing 60 people so I was brought up learning from him every day. I think good leaders are learning themselves though through their experiences on a daily basis how to be even better leaders.

How have you learned from your challenges and successes?

I’ve learned every time I fail not to repeat it! Or certainly not more than twice. I also like to push things further so I’ve found that I deliver bigger results than other people in the same team. For example, when I was working at one broadcast media agency I tried to get a spokesperson on TV for a story – in one week I got them 33 television and radio interviews, when others in the team were not getting anywhere near as much. I’ve always had this knack since my very first job!

The experience I’ve gained on both sides of the fence in corporate communications and journalism has given me a 360 degree viewpoint so I’m conscious of passing on what I’ve learned onto other members of the team, which at did at that agency and meant the whole team then went on to have a better overall success rate. This gives me a great feeling to help other people and I know they’ve appreciated it as it’s made their lives easier and the business has benefitted. I have greatly appreciated people passing their knowledge and experience onto me to help me. Now I’m at an age where I have to pass on what I know and I feel it’s my duty.

Tell us more about Broadcast Ready.

Broadcast Ready is a one-stop database for journalists to find spokespersons that are good for TV and radio news. Our site uses key words to help users find the expert they’re looking for. Journalists see a video of the expert, their biography and contact details and know that because they’re on our database that the expert will be of good quality. We also provide a proactive service too and both email and telephone journalists directly about our experts.

Journalists find the experts on the database themselves and call them up, and journalists are also told directly by us about experts too. This combinational approach is really working incredibly well in delivering successful on-air results for our experts. All broadcasters have signed up to using it and also many journalists. I’m looking for experts in every field, and particularly want to have women as well as men from the areas of security, intelligence, counter-terrorism, banking, finance, the City, business and aviation and other areas too.

In the third month that Broadcast Ready was live, we were personally invited by UNESCO into their global alliance of 500 organisations including broadcasters to support their Women Make the News initiative.

We have tickets left for our “How to create the best possible chance of getting your spokespeople on TV and radio news as experts” workshop on the morning of Wednesday 7th May. It’s for PR’s, corporate communications professionals, marketers and experts. We’ll be sharing some statistics and inside information that’s never been revealed to a group of this mix of people before and will greatly benefit them getting their spokespeople on air. Anyone attending whom later signs up to the Broadcast Ready database in 2014 will get a full refund on the ticket price, which is still a low price and great value.

We have multi-billion dollar brands on the database, Conservative and Labour party politicians, SME’s, university professors as well as individual experts on the database.

What have your highlights and challenges been during your tenure at Broadcast Ready?

One of the biggest challenges was setting up the company and online video database! Project managing getting the database correct from a technical standpoint where users can find an expert in 3 seconds flat as well as ensuing the design of the user interface was pleasant, took longer than I expected but was vital to get it right.

In terms of highlights, it’s the backing the concept and company has received from editors at ITN, the BBC and Sky. We’re featured on ITN’s intranet. We know many of the journalists we deal with anyway from having worked there ourselves but we did the rounds and met several editors to ascertain and confirm what they needed and we have an on-going supportive relationship with them and their team to deliver what they need.

A major highlight was that it was fantastic to see loads of individuals and firms applying to the database on our launch day. I wasn’t expecting that many applications to come flooding in all at one time as we strategically and deliberately only did a trade media launch and twitter launch! We were inundated with applications through the website’s application page and by telephone and email. The range of applications came from companies with hundreds of thousands of employees to individual experts. I invented Broadcast Ready in response to societal, broadcast journalism and company PR division demand, and getting all those applications was the physical evidence that it was the right thing to have done. It’s very exciting to be part of it all.

How do you hope that Broadcast Ready will make a difference?

I want Broadcast Ready to encourage organisations to put women forward as their company spokespeople, as well as men. And then for us to actually performance train those that need it and provide the portal and service to get them on air to deliver results

How do you maintain a work/life balance?

Since establishing Broadcast Ready in August 2013, I’ve not been great at maintaining a work/life balance and have only just started to get into one. For six months I worked solidly seven days a week more or less. I had entrepreneur’s burnout! There’s nothing to regret as that’s what was needed at the time and was very addictive because I love the work but that level of work can not be maintained at the top level in the long term so now I ensure that I take time off, so that I can have a life too which will keep Broadcast Ready going in the long term. It also took time to recruit a team too and that means that it is managed well now and strong.

What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace?

Anecdotal evidence from speaking to bosses has shown me that women aren’t as forthcoming as men – many women don’t ask for a pay raise or a promotion at all, and if they do many often do it using emotion rather than logic and this isn’t the same successful approach that men use. Even though women produce amazing results, they don’t, on average, ask for things they want or need like men do, as men on average feel more self worth and entitlement to get promoted and move closer towards earning what they believe they’re worth. I think it also depends who the boss is. I’ve seen examples of a leader who is female and then the next layer down of employees are all male.

There are of course also the challenges surrounding women who want to have families. Women shouldn’t fear that their career will go downhill in deciding whether to have a baby or not as the right employer will support them when they return. I’ve heard that some women are even better bosses once they’ve had children. I remember working at one firm and they even promoted her whilst she was on maternity leave and so she came back to a more senior position, how amazing is that? Another big firm had a crèche on its premises to offer employees with young children and babies.

How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?

It’s a gift to be able to call on people for advice and I have always found nearly all men willing to help and the majority of women. I always try to give something back for the advice I have received, and good advice helps your personal life, as a solution in your professional life then doesn’t impact upon your own time.

Which female leaders do you admire and why?

I admire Deborah Turness, the former editor of ITV News, and now the President of NBC News. She was always very charming and nice, and stood her ground in a respectable inspiring manner whilst involving her team in discussions. She never passed on bad energy despite a stressful job. I also admired Margaret Thatcher.

Which words sum up where you have got to today?

Curiosity and hard work.

Women In Web Weekly Round-Up


We hope you are having a lovely Easter weekend with lots of sunshine, treats and fun! Check out our weekly round-up whilst eating a yummy hot cross bun, or munching on that last chocolate Easter egg.

This week we spoke to Theresa Brown, Partner in charge of Microsoft Dynamics GP Practice at Armanino. If you are seeking a career in the financial industry this Q&A is one that you don’t want to miss. 

Sheryl Sandberg recently re-released her successful book Lean In, and it now has a bonus section for graduates. There are some great Google Hangouts coming up covering topics in the book. Click here to find out further details.

We were honoured to interview Tiffany Dufu, Chief Leadership Officer at Levo League and a launch member of the Lean In team. Tiffany has dedicated her life to empowering women and girls, and formally served as President of the White House Project. Check out her inspiring Q&A and thoughts on how we can inspire women and girls here.

This week’s question from co-founder Ena is: “The success of a job interview depends on your ability 2 sell yourself and for the panel to sell the job. Post offer, what do you consider?” We’d love to know your thoughts, so please share them with us!

Other stories that have caught our eye this week include…

The confidence gap

Does Westminster have a problem with women?

Young girls depict history’s most compelling women

Great interview with Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to President Obama and Sally Blount, Dean at Kellogg School about helping women become leaders

Empowering Women and Girls: Tiffany Dufu

Tiffany Dufu

Tiffany Dufu

Named to Fast Company’s League of Extraordinary Women and by the Huffington Post as one of 19 women who are leading the way, Tiffany Dufu’s life’s work is advancing women and girls. She is a nationally renowned expert and speaker on women’s and Gen Y leadership. Tiffany serves as Chief Leadership officer, Levo League and on the Launch Team for Lean In. She is former President, The White House Project, and was previously at Simmons College and Seattle Girls’ School. Tiffany is on the board of Harlem 4 Kids and lives in New York with her husband and two children.

Tell us about your journey to where you are today.

My personal and professional journey are the same because my life’s work is advancing women and girls. My first formal job on this path was raising money for Seattle Girls’ School. I was then a Major Gifts Officer at Simmons College in Boston before moving to New York where I eventually ran The White House Project and am now Chief Leadership Officer for Levo League. All of these organizations have a goal of creating a world where women’s talents and voices are leveraged for everyone’s benefit. Along the way I’ve had many women mentor and sponsor me. I’m the product of their cumulative investment and I thank them for my success.

How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?

My parents taught me that if you want something you’ve never had before you’re going to have to do something you’ve never done before in order to get it. For me, that means not being afraid of taking risks. The first one that comes to mind is running for class President in middle school. It was terrifying, but when I lost I learned the most important lesson: that you can fail, wake up the next morning, and the world hasn’t fallen apart.

It’s been your life mission to advance women and girls, and you have served as the President of the White House Project, and most recently as the Chief Leadership Officer at Levo League and a launch team member for Lean In. What have been the highlights and challenges you’ve experienced during these positions and how have you met your mission?

My mission is something I strive for consistently. I’m not sure we’ll reach the end goal in my lifetime. My highlights are always in moments when I’m interacting with women who recognize their own power. Whether they are students demonstrating their knowledge to a large crowd with unfathomable poise, or a woman who decides to run for office, or a young professional who musters up the courage to ask for a raise, I’m most inspired when I see women realizing their own potential and purpose through my work.

How do you think the Lean In movement has made a difference?

One of my sponsors, Marie Wilson, taught me that if you want to make any meaningful impact in the world you have to meet people where they are. And you have to leverage popular culture. Sheryl did that with Lean In. She captivated the attention of the masses and many more people that otherwise wouldn’t be are now talking about women in leadership – and doing something about it. It’s been wonderful to see.

What advice can you offer those seeking a career in non-profits?

The non-profit sector is expansive. It includes everything from an ivy league college to a small community center. Conduct lots of informational interviews to learn about how others navigated their path and to explore all of the different opportunities. I also think it’s helpful to be clear about your own passion so that even as you transition to various organizations throughout your career your brand remains consistent.

How do you maintain a work/life balance?

I don’t. It’s all the same to me. I just do the best I can every day to be the kind of person I would want my children to grow up to be. I also listen to loud music and dance all over my furniture…frequently.

What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace?

Unconscious bias. Many workplaces purport to be a meritocracy but they are all complex political ecosystems, and the role that gender plays in them is powerful.

How can we collectively close the leadership gap and advance opportunities for women and girls?

Pass legislation that creates affordable childcare options for families, ensure there is equal work for equal pay, and mentor and sponsor women.

How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?

I wouldn’t be here without it. My mentors have helped me to develop a level of self awareness. They help me to achieve clarity through guidance and encouragement. I consult them whenever I’m making any major decision. Their wisdom has been priceless.

Which other female leaders do you admire and why?

My mother-in-law. She is a fierce negotiator and amazing entrepreneur. If it weren’t for her, my husband wouldn’t have the assumption that ALL women are supposed to rule the world. I’m also indebted to Janie Williams and Marie Wilson, who really saw me and gave me opportunity even when others didn’t.

What is one word that sums up where you have got to today?


Lean In for Graduates

Graphic _4

We’re passionate supporters of the Lean In movement and it was exciting to hear that a new version of the book has been released especially for graduates.

Since Lean In was published a year ago, it has sparked a global conversation about gender equality. Now Sheryl Sandberg has enlisted the help of experts to create Lean In for Graduates, a handbook that offers instruction and inspiration for the next generation.

Lean In for Graduates includes the full text of the original bestseller as well as new chapters on finding your first job, negotiating your salary, listening to your inner voice, and leaning in for women of color and millennial men.

There are lots of exciting ways to get involved over the next few weeks:

Make sure you get involved!


Women in Business: Theresa Brown, Partner at Armanino

Theresa Brown

Theresa Brown

Theresa is the Partner in Charge of the Microsoft Dynamics GP Practice at Armanino, and has more than 25 years of experience in management consulting and accounting leadership roles. Prior to joining Armanino, her industry leadership experience included finance roles at Peet’s Coffee and Tea, Mizuno Sports and The San Francisco Music Box Company. Theresa focuses on recommending comprehensive solutions to the broad spectrum of challenges faced by the CFO Organization. Exhibiting her expertise in mergers and acquisitions, Theresa managed the strategic acquisition and successful integration of Rose Business Solutions, a fellow Microsoft Dynamics Inner Circle partner, to expand Armanino’s national Dynamics GP practice. Theresa is a Microsoft Dynamics GP Certified Master and Microsoft Dynamics Certified Trainer (MCT) and sits on the Microsoft Product Partner Advisory Board. She was awarded the 2008 #1 Trainer for Dynamics GP in the United States by Microsoft. She is also the current East Bay Chapter President and a long-term member of the Accounting and Financial Women’s Alliance.

Tell us about your journey to where you are today.
I grew up in Alaska, a wonderful place for any kid to grow up. This last frontier makes it a necessity to become pretty independent at a young age. I cannot tell you how many times I had to bail my car out of a snowbank! Like most, I worked through school, and when attending my first accounting class I realized I was pretty good at it. I was immediately asked by friends to tutor them, followed closely by an invitation to teach computer labs at night (I helped to teach Lotus 123 and Peachtree classes). Fast forward to my first accounting job where I did accounting for a husband/wife team that owned several businesses.

After my parents migrated south, I followed them to California and landed a job as an Accounting Supervisor for a rapidly expanding retail company. It was right about this time I took a small sabbatical and did modeling for a year, something I had done on the side for several years and I wasn’t going to be persuaded to not try it. I had an offer to go to New York to model for a big agency but really didn’t like the starving model life, plus I was madly in love with my husband (then boyfriend) and would not leave him. So, back to accounting I went and from there, I had progressively more responsible roles as Cost Accountant, Accounting Manager, Assistant Controller and Controller.

Married, with two children, by this time I was a little exhausted by some big changes, including two cross-country relocations. I grew tired of the monthly grind, and my company was hunting for a new ERP system. I helped select and implement it, then decided this might be a new career for me, one that allowed me to call on my historical experiences, and afforded more flexibility for family life. I quit my job, became a consultant and haven’t looked back. After 15 years in consulting, I’ve recently been promoted to Partner. It has been a wild ride, and I can honestly say I would not change one thing about the journey.

How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
A variety of roles, industries, and cultures has given me a great opportunity to be exposed to many things. Without this exposure I would not be able to speak my client’s language, problem-solve or lead a team.

How have you learned from these challenges and successes?
Failures as well as successes are what define me, I think the most important thing has been learning how to handle both. One of the things has taken me years to learn, (I haven’t yet mastered this but continue to try) is how to spend more time focusing on proactive, positive things, rather than dwell on and be reactive to the bad things. I spend a lot of time on proactive, teambuilding activities, and allow the team to lead the meetings. I don’t claim to know everything, I am not in the trenches every day and I don’t believe that my ego should rule my career. I don’t succeed – the team does.

What have the highlights and challenges been during your career as an accountant and consultant?
My biggest highlight was making Partner at Armanino! I was so honored to be chosen – I finally have achieved my goal. The problem is, I haven’t yet planned beyond this goal, so I now have more work to do. My biggest challenge was participating in the downsizing and relocation of a sizable company – and moving across the US, twice in two years. The integration was rocky and unsuccessful for me, my family and most of the other relocate-ees. Hence, the second move (back to where I started). I don’t regret trying, and am glad to have had the experience.

What advice can you offer women seeking a career in the financial industry?
When seeking a job, do your homework! Think about your personal interests and try to align yourself as best you can. Foodies might look for something in the hospitality industry. Pet lovers could seek out a non-profit that helps animals. If you enjoy taking time off during the holidays, you might choose to avoid retail! Look at future career potential. If you have the desire to move up, be sure to ask a potential employer about their planned growth, succession planning and opportunities for advancement. Depending on the size of the organization, the opportunity may not even exist. Look for a position where you will learn from leadership – find a mentor, if not your immediate boss. Set goals for yourself, review them with your mentor and track them.

In business, do not be afraid to take risks. Once you’ve formulated an idea and done your homework, go all in! I allow myself one moment of doubt, recognize it, and tell it to go away. Self-doubt is a deal-killer.

How do you maintain a work/life balance?
Mastering my own schedule and prioritization – making time for myself has been the hardest thing to master and the most impactful on my happiness and well-being. I live by a calendar, and share all my appointments with my husband, who helps to keep things running smoothly. Daily workouts are important – my husband and I go first thing every morning. I feel stronger, happier and more alive by making this the first thing I do, plus there is no guilt the remainder of the day and no opportunity to find other more important things to be done. When my children were young workouts were a luxury, so I found this personal time by simply pulling over on the side of the road a few blocks from home, and unwinding before I came home to a busy household.
I love to cook and spend time with my family, so when I’m in town, I make it a point to prepare meals. I try to not to do emails on the weekends or at night, which allows me to focus on my family. I found by not sending emails on nights and weekends, my team also does not feel obligated to respond, allowing them the same family time courtesy.

I am so very fortunate to have a loving and supportive husband, an IT Manager for a Fortune 200 company, who works from our home. Over the years he has been our home manager, shuttling kids to and from school, practice and doctor appointments. I don’t know where I would be without his support.

What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace?
Family planning. From pregnancy to childbirth and beyond, women bear the lion share of this responsibility. Toward the end of my second pregnancy, I was at a doctor’s appointment and was going into labor far too early. The doctor told me to go straight home; I was to be on bed rest for the remainder of my pregnancy. Of course I didn’t quite follow those orders, I dropped by the office to pick up my computer. (What else was I going to do for three months in bed?) Due to my uneasy feelings, I took a short four weeks off with my first child and only two weeks with my second; not nearly enough time for bonding. Though it is illegal to discriminate, each time I wondered if my job would still be there when I returned from my leave. Employers need to lay out action plans in advance that help families and the company survive and thrive.

What are your thoughts on Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In book and movement?
I have been following Sheryl throughout her many interviews and in all honesty haven’t made my way to the end of her book, but I haven’t put it down since I started reading it. I am saddened by some of the statistics that Sheryl has exposed. I must admit, I’ve been a little blinded by my own life experiences, I wasn’t raised to see a difference between what men and women could do. My great-grandmother worked as a translator for the French Embassy. My grandmother worked as an electrical draftsman for the Navy, drawing plans for ships and submarines. She worked in this capacity at a time, after the war, when women would not dare to ask for a raise or a promotion. Still, they realized her talent and she was promoted several times. My mother owned her own accounting business for mechanical contractors, and in the 1980’s took that a step further to keep our family business afloat, becoming HVAC and Sheet metal certified. While none of them aspired to the “C” suite, they all worked in male dominated professions, and I’m amazed that they progressed further in their careers as single parents than they did when they were married.

How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?
I would not be where I am today without strong male and female mentors. From my mother and friends, to CFO’s and VP’s, I have always searched for those with a passion to share their knowledge; ones that will sit with me and take the time to talk about the bigger picture. I also look for those who will challenge me when I am getting complacent!

Which other female leaders do you admire and why?
Oprah and Hilary Clinton are both women I admire, both have set high goals for themselves and neither has been deterred by failure. Their humanitarian efforts put them on the top of the list in my book.

What is one word that sums up where you have got to today?

Women in Weekly round up


This week’s round up has articles on women who have had more than one career- which provides some well placed advice if you are thinking of starting your own business! There’s also some interesting thoughts on the impact of our current culture on women.

If you are thinking of starting your own business in the near future Natalie Ekberg, Founder of Live Better coaching shares her top ten tips. Not only are they very practical, she also encourages you to think about how you can develop relevant skills and experiences in your current role. Read the tips here.

Arianna Huffington’s new book, The Third Metric had me nodding in total agreement when she likened the current culture that defines success by two metrics- money and power. I’m particularly attracted to the idea of placing such importance on wellbeing, wisdom, and most importantly to me, giving back. Read Laura’s thoughts on her book here.

Our Q&A this week is with Antoinette van Heugten, a former international trial lawyer and mother of two autistic children. Van Heugten’s first novel, Saving Max, was widely acclaimed and is a USA Today bestseller. The story follows a single mother whose teenage son has Asperger’s syndrome and becomes the primary suspect in a gruesome murder case. The book is based on her real-life experience raising autistic children. Have a read of Van Heugten’s Q&A here.

This week’s question from Co-Founder Ena is: “We were wondering, in two or three years from now, where would you like to be professionally? Have you thought about what would you need to achieve now to accomplish this? Share your thoughts with us via Facebook and Twitter.

Other articles than caught our attention this week include:

Six things shy people can teach us about success 

Meet Roma Agrawal: Structural engineer who helped design The Shard

Push To Boost Number Of Women In Boardrooms

Have you voted yet for the digital awards? 

Sheryl Sandberg speaks to a new generation of women in ‘Lean In: For Graduates