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The W4, also known as your Federal Tax Form, it usually is followed with, “Do I put 1 or 0?” Sound familiar now? This is just one of the several tasks you need to take care of with your employer when getting married. So often women get wrapped up in the fun and frills of planning a wedding, the only legal document they think about is the marriage license. In your race to the alter, remember to add these important items to your “to-do” list for the office:

Dan Veit, director of human resources with the Habegger Corporation, says that this, along with health insurance, should be the first two things you change when getting married. Like many single people, parents, siblings or other extended family are assigned beneficiaries, so it is important to make necessary changes before getting married. Veit says that beneficiary documents can be internal, or outside your company, so make sure to check all possible roads. Examples of documents that typically have assigned beneficiaries are:

  • Life Insurance
  • Accidental Death
  • 401K
  • Outside Individual Retirement Accounts (IRA’s)


  • WHO – When deciding on if the bride or groom should carry the insurance, Veit states that “each person should asses their company’s medical plan to determine which has the best coverage and is the most economical for you.” In most cases, it is cheaper for the two of you to go on one plan rather than carry two single plans, especially if there are children involved.
  • WHAT – Be sure to check dental and vision, as well as other plans that are best for family coverage. Many companies are beginning to offer a variety of plans to choose from that best suite your personal needs, as well as coverage for all sorts of family types. Veit says to keep in mind that just because one of you carries the health insurance, doesn’t mean that the same person has to carry dental or vision. Once again, assess which coverage is best for your new family.
  • WHERE – Check with your HR department on where resources and tools are for policy research. Many companies are making their health insurance plans available online. Policy details and guidelines are often available right at your finger tips, so plan a night to sit down together and go over everything.
  • WHEN – Veit reminds us that marriage is considered a “qualifying event” to add or drop your medical coverage. This means you can you make the needed changes at any given time, not just when open enrollment comes around. If you don’t get to make the necessary changes before the wedding, you still have time. According to Veit, the window of opportunity is typically within 30 days of the date of your marriage.
  • WHY – Veit stresses that health insurance and beneficiaries should be taken care of first. Depending on when your company or carrier allows you to change, you should try to get this done before the wedding. The real life stories of honeymoon horrors are out there — falling off cruise liners, murders in foreign countries, accidents on the way to the reception hall. One episode of Oprah should cover it. Emergencies can arise at any given time, so it is important to make sure you and your new loved one is taken care of.

Surprisingly, tax forms aren’t as time sensitive as beneficiaries and health insurance, and can usually be filled out after the honeymoon. Don’t wait too long or you might forget, and you can possibly miss out on paying less!

W4: Federal Tax Form
W4 forms can be obtained, and modified at any time, from your payroll or HR department. The simple part is changing your status from “single” to “married." The tricky part is the "dependents" issue. Veit says it varies depending on your individual tax basis, and to look at both of your incomes combined. He suggests getting the help of a tax preparer. They can help determine the number of exemptions and dependents that are best for the two of you. Typically, both husband and wife change to “married” withholding status, and in most cases, utilize the number of exemptions when children are involved.

State Tax Withholding
When changing your W4 status, remember to change your state withholding as well. Most people use the same information that they used for the W4. As with the Federal Tax Form, the State Tax Withholding can be obtained from your payroll or HR department.

When getting married, Veit says, people should consider all beneficiaries and policies. Be sure to look at not only life insurance and accidental death, but also short and long term disability. Also, check out benefits, policies and investments outside of your company. As stated before, find something that works for both of you and any children that might be involved.

As women, giving up our last name or hyphenating adds a little extra work to the already mounding pile. Don’t forget about the small things around the office such as:

  • Company e-mail address – If your email contains your last name, change it accordingly. Contact technical support or the appropriate department to make the changes. Check to make sure that e-mails sent to your old address can be forwarded to your new one, and it might be a good idea to e-mail your contacts so they are aware of the change.
  • Signature Change – Your signature on things such as e-mail closures, stamps, payroll, automatic sign-offs, etc. should be changed to reflect your new name.
  • Contact information – Without wasting paper, replace business cards, letterhead or any other pre-printed document with the correct contact name. Even if you aren’t ready to order anything, still change your template or contact the distributor to make sure changes are in effect. Don’t forget about the company directory and voicemail.

Check with your company’s HR department for their individual policies. They might have a different timeline on when things need to be filed. Then, when the wedding is over, start enjoying the other benefits of being married.


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041607CAREER.jpgUniversity of Illinois researchers found in a study of 256 office workers that listening to music of their own choice soothed frayed nerves, drowned out distracting office chatter, boosted mood and significantly enhanced office performance.

That's great, right? All you have to do it pick something – or that thing, or this thing, or maybe that other thing – to listen to at work.

For those of you with a wide variance of what qualifies as your "own choice" of music, here are some suggestions to get exactly what you need throughout the day from different types of music:

Staying Awake, Increased Energy
If you're feeling like you need a little more blood in your caffeine stream, maybe you just need some up-tempo, fun music. Pull out the jazz, country, reggae, pop or classical allegro movements. Turn up the volume a bit, but be considerate of those around you; they may not need the sonic hit you are looking for.

Studies show that being exposed to amicable music with a medium pace causes positive effects, such as boosting mood and decreasing blood pressure. So, consider some of these titles as background office music: Susie Suh, Israel Kamakawiwo'ole, Vika & Linda or "Ladies of the Canyon" by Joni Mitchell.

Increasing Concentration
Researchers at the University of California at Irvine found that college students who listened to Mozart’s Piano Sonata K. 448 for 10 minutes prior to taking a spatial IQ test scored eight points higher than those who did not. The concept is that listening to music might somehow enhance the brain’s ability to perform abstract operations immediately thereafter. This phenomenon is known as the "Mozart effect."

Some experts believe that classical music – including Mozart, Brahms and Bach – induces a relaxed-mind alert state, where concentration, memory and imagination is heightened. Technically speaking, beta brain waves – those between 14 and 20 hertz – are most common. Relaxed concentration or lucid awareness is when alpha waves between 8 and 13 hertz are present. Music with about 60 heats per minutes shifts the brain's activity from beta to the higher-awareness alpha waves. So, "Bach On" with your bad self if you need to concentrate!

Getting Technical
There are many iPod accessories you can pick up for your office, such as the JBL OnStage 2 speaker system. This little unit has a nice sound and won't take up much space on your already cluttered desk. With this fancy dancy device, you can listen to your music without the need for headphones. It has touch-sensitive volume buttons on the front of the unit, a little remote for skipping, volume and pause/play as well as an auxiliary jack for hooking in other devices – such as a portable XM reciever for days when your favorite radio station is offering a giveaway that you just can't miss out on.

Watch the Volume
Contrary to the beneficial effects of amicable music, being exposed to music you dislike causes negative effects, including higher blood pressure and stress. Go ahead and assume that not everyone enjoys the Purple Rain you pour all over the office every time you need a pick-me-up.

Here are some ways to be more courteous with your workday's soundtrack:

  • There are bluetooth adaptors to some music devices, so you can listen to your chords without the cords.
  • Wear the headphones that came standard to your MP3 player or iPod. To make sure you don't tune yourself completely out of the workplace happenings, just put in one headphone bud.
  • Take a walk with your iPod. If you really need your music to whisk you away, step out of the office for a few moments with your iPod in hand. Turn up the volume, and enjoy this little worry-free window. For those of you working in Kentucky, remember to take advantage of those state-mandated breaks! You get a paid 10-minute break for each four-hour work period.

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Sure, we would all like to have the corner office with the great view, not to mention a door. But make the most with what you’ve got for now.

First, get organized. There are a variety of items that can help you keep your 4×4 organized and save on space. Go shopping at an office supply store, online or discount store.

There’s an array of shelves that can be hang from your cube walls to store paper, folders or binders. Another option is a swank desktop file organizer. To free up desktop space, consider a storage box for under your desk. Finding storage outside of your cube for items that you don’t use on a daily basis can also free up space.

And oh, what you can do with a binder. Store related information in a binder with lots of tabs and a snazzy label. Line 'em up in a row, so you can quickly access everything you need.

By the way, do you really need those sticky notes posted up all around your cube? You know the notes like the faded one from Bob in IT on how to reset your printer. Collect all your post it notes, type them on one tip sheet and keep it close at hand.

Your cube should be functional, but fun too. Personalize it. Remember, there’s about 300 cube clones just like yours. What’s your life all about? Sports fanatic, hound dog for Elvis or world traveler? Express yourself! Decorate your cube and hang a Bengal’s banner, Elvis poster or your lei from Hawaii. Just don’t junk it up! Remember, we just got organized.

Personalizing your cube shows your individuality, and can be a great conversation starter. So, bring in your pictures, paraphernalia and punch up your cube.

But it’s not all about you. Help out your cube mate. Pass on these tips to help them spruce up their cube.

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For generations, women have taken on outside work from their homes to supplement family income. My mother took in ironing, as well as children from a fledgling group of the 60's working moms. The extra money paid for “luxuries” like straightened teeth.

While in-home daycare is still an option, others turn to home-based businesses like Mary Kay, Longaberger and Pampered Chef to pad the budget, but discover that it enriches their lives, as well.

I started my Mary Kay business as a retirement hobby. Though seriously skeptical of sales, I realized that I spent my entire teaching career selling my love of literature and writing to reluctant adolescents. Four years later, my client list tops 200. My life is richer. I’m more confident , I have a circle of wonderful friends and I’m never bored. My neighbor, Jamie Cella, a multiple sclerosis victim, found new direction and purpose through her Mary Kay business, and says since the onset of her illness, “It’s the best thing that’s happened to me.”

Many home-based consultants are motivated by love of the product and discounted price. Melissa McCabe of Cleves supports her Longaberger “habit” from her 25 percent profit, end-of-year product bonuses and recruitment incentives. Amy Arnold’s 20 percent Pampered Chef commission and bonuses provide kitchen tools for her new Lawrenceburg home. Both love the freedom and flexibility. I enjoy a 50 percent discount, commission, bonus program, free products, superior support and and, of course, great skin.

However, success in any home-based business requires planning, self-discipline and time-management Bonnie, administrative partner in her Hamilton family business, says the biggest drawback for her is the “uncontrollable urge to do laundry.” Proximity to the daily housekeeping grind can skew one’s focus. Controlling distractions and procrastination is a struggle, but manageable with family involved. Children acquire a work ethic through exposure to a home-based business, while spouses become valued partners who share the vision. My husband manages my expense reports and offers solid marketing ideas. As partner in my business, he’s more amenable to my absences, delivery side trips and unfamiliar people in our home.

In addition to family support, my professional background made the transition to self-employment easier. As a relatively autonomous classroom teacher, I planned lessons and evaluated progress, so setting business goals and priorities was a natural transition. Though I loved teaching, I don't miss it, as my business is my creative outlet. Likewise, most consultants find their days so full, once they work their business and can be home with their children, they don’t miss the grind of their previous employment

However, like many other consultants, the biggest roadblock to my success was “working the phone.” I realized the phone didn’t have hair and fangs when I finally started hearing, “I’m glad you called.” If I’d had a boss pressuring me, I’d have probably quit before I discovered that.

An additional roadblock for some is “spending money to make money.” Whether for promotions, supplies, transportation or phone/Internet, independent consultants earmark 10 percent of profit toward these tax deductible items. But I could earn a car, 85 percent insurance and free trips. The rewards are great. Numerous consultants have become millionaires. Though that’s not my goal, my life truly has been enriched through my in-home business.

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032607CAREER.JPGTaking part in an employee resource group will not only equip you with the answers to the questions you seek, but it will also help you to form important relationships, become comfortable speaking with executives and arm you with the resources you'll need to further your career.

Among the nation's companies that have these programs, is Duke Energy. In 1993, when they were still CG&E, a program was launched in attempt to provide women performing traditional jobs, such as clerical work and accounting, with the information they needed to advance their careers. In 1996, a second chapter began. This was created for a completely different group of women: those with nontraditional jobs. In 2002, Duke meshed all of the groups together and formed the Business Women's Network (BWN).

Today, BWN is a Washington, D.C.-based organization providing resources, publications and benchmarking services for business and organizations related to diversity and women.

This group, and groups like it, are growing in popularity and helping women of all career paths, backgrounds and job titles to reach their goals. The first chapter of the BWN had 30 people and today that number has grown to 275. This program's mission is to “motivate and support all women.”

“Women can go to our Web site [ ] and fill out a membership registration form,” explains the Midwest BWN chair, Dovetta Dangerfield. “This is how you contact the officers to let them know you are interested. Throughout the year, there are many ways for women to become aware of this program. We have fliers and posters and we send out emails and invitations with the information about the program.” They also send out questionnaires and surveys to help them understand what information will be beneficial for the women involved.

BWN members meet during and after work. If there is training to complete or a topic to discuss, the members will meet during their lunch break. They attend a conference each year, participate in volunteer activities, have “lunch and learn” sessions, as well as their monthly meetings.

“The main focus is to get information that is beneficial for moving up, to the women who are interested,” says Dangerfield. “We provide training and communication about professional development, health and wellness, work life, home life and even spiritual life.”

Groups with similar missions have been popping up all over the nation. Deloitte, an organization of member firms devoted to providing professional services and advice, has a program similar to the BWN. Since its inception in 1993, the Women's Initiative (WIN) has helped thousands of women to succeed through a number of leadership and professional education programs.

“WIN is driven at all levels and through all avenues within our organization,” explains Jennifer Gardner, director in Deloitte's HR division and regional advisor to WIN. “Our approach is to leverage multiple avenues and multiple programs to address a variety of needs. At the end of the day, everyone is responsible for the success of WIN. Each team utilizes multiple approaches to support our vision.”

According to Elaine Allison, international speaker and author of The Velvet Hammer: PowHERful Leadership Lessons for Women Who Don't Golf (Positive Presentations Plus, 2005), programs such as the BWN and WIN have the power to affect the future of companies and the future of society as a whole. “If organizations tap into this source within their companies,” says Allison, “they will be more profitable as they reach out to demographics they may not have considered. When we garner the perspectives of both genders in our corporations, politics, religion and even sport, I feel it will be magic.”

Women within Duke are already seeing positive change in their careers as well as the success of the company. “Programs like the BWN are already beneficial,” states Dangerfield. “I started in a job that was traditionally held by a man. I was the first female gas plan operator and without the BWN I would have been lost. The ratio of women to men in upper management has already increased.”

Deloitte's Gardner feels the same about WIN. “I have personally benefited as a result of Deloitte's Women's Initiative and my involvement in it,” says Gardner. “I have had the opportunity to work with some exceptional women. Through them, I have forged professional relationships, found mentors and role models and developed a network of professionals that support me in my own professional and personal development.”

Women like Dangerfield and Gardner pull from their own personal experiences to know what information will best help the women of the BWN and WIN. They've traveled the path to upper management and they will do anything in their power to help others do the same because they were assisted in reaching their goals.

“I have an 11-year-old daughter, and for most of her life I was a single mother,” explains Gardner. “Deloitte's commitment to providing flexibility is directly responsible for my success here. I frequently telecommute to accommodate her school schedule or even just to attend a school event in the middle of the day. Deloitte creates an environment where I can be a valuable, successful professional, and a good mom. I don't have to choose between the two, and that means the world to me!”

Duke Energy and the Buisness Women's Network is devoted to the betterment of the lives of the women working there. As the BWN's mission statement says, “It provides employees an opportunity to engage in conversations with senior leaders concerning the leadership skills specific to women's shared experiences and professional development needs. It enables employees to acquire and develop those skills. BWN also provides heightened awareness of women's issues in order to remove barriers to personal growth and development. As such, it is recognized as a valued resource within Duke Energy.”

If you want to be a part of a program like the BWN, within your organization, or you are interested in having a mentor, don't be afraid to contact executives. “It is up to the individual woman whether or not she wants a mentor,” explains Duke Energy Ohio and Kentucky president, Sandra P. Meyer. “If you want to go through formal mentoring, all you have to do is apply. Call and ask. You don't have to wait.”

Meyer is an executive sponsor of the BWN. She is one of the original founders in Charlotte, N.C., and she participates in the original committee. Meyer urges all employees – men and women – to get involved in employee resource groups, as she knows from personal experience the power of a united group of people working together for the same cause: your rise to the top.

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One timeline shows that it all started in 1837 when Susan B. Anthony asked for equal pay for women teachers, another in 1848 with the first women’s rights meeting. Sometime between then 1920s, burning bras and shoulder pads, women have made their mark in the working world.031207_big_CAREER2.jpg

No pun intended, but are all these efforts really paying off in the workplace? The 19th Amendment provided women with equal rights, but are we holding ourselves back when it comes to earned income? Statistically, according to a recent Boston Globe report, women make 77 cents to a man’s dollar, but this isn’t always management’s fault. The real power to be the leader of the pack is in your own hands, you just have to know how to use it.

Once in a blue moon, we women occasionally do something wrong. Unfortunately, when it comes to bringing home the bacon, women make quite a few mistakes in comparison to their male counterparts. Dr. Nancy O’Reilly, a specialist in women’s issues, says that when it comes to not earning their worth, mistakes made by women are:

  1. Waiting for a miracle to happen instead of making it happen themselves
  2. Failure to match their skills and experience with the job best for them (or staying in a dead-end job)
  3. Refusal to find a good support system, such as mentors, coaches, or workplace team

Our mistake might also be genetic. The missing link between women and the big paycheck is a “Y” – chromosome that is. Author and management consultant Don Schmincke says testosterone drives aggression. This allows men to naturally push for what they want, where as women have to force themselves. Schmincke states research has shown “that women are held back not because of policy, but due to lack of aggression.”

It’s not always anatomic reasons why guys make more. Schmincke uses negotiating a starting salary as an example. Research shows that when discussing pay, men were more apt to push for something higher, while women tended to accept the first offer. Schmincke continues, “When women exhibited the same aggressive behavior as men, they got what men got.”

Alas, not having that Y-chromosome does have its benefits. Women are able to perceive things better than men, which can really come in handy in negotiations or sales. Schmincke says women tend to notice things such as auditory signals and color changes in skin, as well as a high olfactory sense, particularly with pheromone detection.

The first step to earning your worth is to break through the barriers. This should be fairly easy to accomplish because they are essentially self-imposed. O’Reilly shares some common barriers that keep women from earning what they should be or more:

  • “Having little or no self-value” If you want to make the big bucks, you need to know that you are worth the big bucks. Repeat after the ever-so-wise Stuart Smalley: “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough and gosh darn it people like me!”
  • “Lack of networking/working alone” Co-workers and superiors cannot see how great of a worker you are if you don’t let them. If you like to work by yourself, try something as simple as being involved in project meetings.
  • “Fear she will not be liked or ideas have no merit” This goes back to knowing you are worth your keep. This doesn’t mean walking around like a proud rooster, but take confidence in what you do. Speak up and share your ideas before some other genius does. Your idea might be groundbreaking.
  • “Worrying about ‘thinking out of the box’ and more worry if the box is secure and predictable” Many of us are resistant to change. However, new and innovative ideas are what put us ahead of the competition. Just think, if Benjamin Franklin was afraid of the unknown, he wouldn’t have flown a kite in a thunderstorm. Try this exercise to see how simple an open mind can be:

Draw a line connecting all of the dots using only four straight lines:


Resist the urge to do your best, Chef Emeril impersonation, but kick it up a notch. Get out there and start doing something. Once as you get through your own barriers, let yourself be seen and start earning that green! Here are five ways to increase your skills so you can ask for that raise (or negotiate your salary) with confidence:

USE YOUR STRENGTHS: See Schmincke’s comments in “What We Do Wrong.” O’Reilly also says that women are good communicators and have a niche for details and planning.

BE RECOGNIZED: Network and join in on collaborations.

LEAD WELL: Be competent and show others that you capable of managing yourself and whatever may come your way.

FOSTER POSITIVE WORKING RELATIONSHIPS: Be a team player and avoid office gossip and politics.

PRODUCE RESULTS: Express ideas, use innovative thinking, and execute plans. Here is how to think outside of the box:


Now get out there and make the women who came before us proud. Live out their dreams and efforts, but please, leave the bra torching in the 70s. Those things are expensive!

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“Burn·out (bûrn-out): exhaustion of physical or emotional strength or motivation usually as a result of prolonged stress or frustration b : a person suffering from burnout”

That’s according to Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, but we tend to describe job burnout differently. “I hate going to work everyday, my co-workers tick me off, and I do all this crap for a skimpy paycheck,” just about sums it up. Sound familiar? The dictionary basically names stress as the root cause, but when job burnout occurs, it actually means that your work is no longer meaningful to you. But what really causes you to dread heading to your job everyday, and what can you do about it? Check out these common problems and you might soon be on your way to time clock bliss.


Self-worth You feel that you are worth more than what your paycheck says you are, or you believe you are overqualified and underpaid.

Pam Sackenheim, professor of human relations at Miami University, says to “evaluate where you are in your career and be realistic.” If you are just starting off in your field, keep in mind you are a beginner. Also, think about where you are in your career life cycle. As you climb up the company ladder, your pay will climb also. Remember, we like to think highly of ourselves, and confidence is important, but if you were meant to be paid like Bill Gates, you would have invented Windows®.
Comparison to co-workers/friends Friends and co-workers talk, but problems can arise when salaries are brought up.
It’s taboo to talk about how much you earn with your buddies, and often a company “no-no” to discuss pay rates with other employees. Save yourself (and everyone else) the stress and just don’t talk about it.
Local job market In comparison to other jobs, you think your compensation seems a little on the low side. If you feel that you aren’t being paid a fair wage, Sackenheim suggests checking the local job market. Job hunting sites usually offer comparisons for what others are earning in your area, and the Census Bureau offers information as well. Be sure to check all factors – compensation is just not your hourly pay. It also includes health benefits, 401Ks, vacation time, disability and much more. Weigh out the differences – you might be surprised to see you’re still on top.


Lack of praise from superiors We like to hear, “Good job on that project,” but when our boss doesn’t seem to notice, it can make us think we really didn’t do a good job.
“Ask your superior how you are doing,” says Sackenheim. A lot of companies offer the “open-door” policy, so utilize it. You will feel better about where you are in the company, and it can even improve your relationship with your supervisor.
Personal need Simply just that – we feel an overpowering need to be praised for a job well done.
To this, Sackenheim simply says to have self-confidence. How does that old saying go? “You must first love yourself…”


When your job becomes meaningless, so does your attitude.
Try to stay positive and kick those negative habits. You’ll find yourself in a happier place and others will find you a joy to be around.
Problems outside the workplace Issues with family, spouses, and friends can all affect your life at work. As hard as it seems, Sackenheim tells us to leave them at the front door. Avoid making and receiving problematic phone calls, or only allow work related emails to be sent to you. Keeping that added stress out of your work life can help you be more productive.
Lack of inclusion You seem to be the odd-ball out, or you don’t know anyone. Sackenheim suggests trying being a “joiner” or planning an event to do with co-workers. If you don’t really know anyone, make small steps to get to know people. After a while, you’ll feel right at home.
Being green with envy has got you seeing red.
“Be satisfied with yourself,” advises Sackenheim. Jealousy gets you nowhere, especially in the workplace. Focus on how to be a better you, not on how someone thinks they are better than you. You will feel more confident about the work you do, and in the long run be happier about it.


Lack of Challenge
Your job has become so habitual that you can do it in your sleep.
Sackenheim says to “ask for other work that can be done.” If you find yourself in a routine that becomes tedious, see if you can swap duties. Or, if you are finding yourself with time on your hands, as for something new to do. A new task can get you out of that rut, plus it shows initiative.


Not making good time decisions You can’t seem to get things finished by the time you thought would, or you just try to help someone and take on some of their work. According to Sackenheim, don’t take on other’s work unless you have the extra time. It can be hard to decline when someone asks for help, but you have a job to finish. If you are having problems getting your own tasks completed, get rid of distractions, or try making “mini” deadlines for yourself. You’ll be able to keep that pile of work from rising, as well as your stress level.
Lack of personnel Somehow you have enough work for 10 people, but only five are in the office. Sackenheim suggests seeing if workloads can be delegated. If there is more work than actual workers, assign jobs to those who can get them done faster. Plus side to this – you will feel more like part of a team.


If your problems on the job aren’t that serious, but you want a pick-me-up to put a little excitement back into your day, give these a try:

  1. Take a vacation or personal day: It always helps to take some R&R time off for yourself.
  2. Move seats: New surrounding puts a little spice in your life, so check it there is an open desk elsewhere.
  3. Look into a shift change: Switching up your schedule can open up a ton of opportunity, and possibly open up your social life.
  4. Dress to impress: Look professional is to feel professional. Hair, make-up, outfit – it all makes a difference.
  5. Clean or re-arrange your desk/workspace: Feel good about your work area and have a new outlook of your surroundings just by moving things around.

If you want to divorce your job, think about what it is that is making you feel that way. Recognizing that you could just have job burnout can save you a lot of time, stress and money. To keep your career flame from blowing out, Sackenheim suggests to “be confident, work hard, be empowered and keep home and work balanced. Don’t lose sight of those your care about, and take time for yourself.” So go now and renew your vows, take a second honeymoon and relish in your new found love for your job!

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Jessica Selasky, president of Confidence Builders International, Inc. (, offers tips on how to reinvent yourself at work in this exclusive Cincy Chic Q&A.

Cincy Chic: If someone is unhappy with their current position – feeling like they have untapped potential – should their first inclination be to leave their company? Why or why not?

Selasky: No, absolutely not! People job-hop too fast these days. They’d be better off exploring opportunities within the company first. Here are some questions they should ask: Why did I go to work for the company in the first place?; Have I talked to anyone at the company about my unhappiness? (You can’t expect the bosses to be mind-readers).; Was I unhappy in my last job?; Have I contributed what I promised when I was hired?

I left my job at FACS to pursue a dream, which is different than leaving because I was unhappy. However, if you are unhappy, and you have a dream you can make happen, go ahead and do it.

Cincy Chic: What are some steps that people can take to tap into their talents within the same company?

Selasky: Show interest. Years ago, my mom was hired by the American Management Association as an administrative coordinator. She was so interested in the programs, etc. She kept asking questions and volunteering to do more and more. Guess what? She became the first female program directors for the Presidents Association, a division of AMA.

Ask lots of questions. Start a Toastmaster’s club, social club or non-profit project. Talk to people in the company that have been successful. Surround yourself with the “positive” people in the company. They do exist.

Cincy Chic: Is it looked down upon to expand one’s role at a company or transition into a new position (possibly in a different department)?

Selasky: There are so many stories about people starting at the lowest level and becoming senior management, possibly even the president of his/her company. As long as you feel you are growing, learning and having fun – keep moving on up or around.

Cincy Chic: Any other morsels of advice?

Selasky: Be true to yourself. You know if it’s the company or if it’s really you not putting forth your best effort. One of the favorite pastimes at work is complaining. It’s fun, easy and everyone joins in. For example, “Can you believe we have to work tonight?,” “Why don’t they…?”, “Why do I have to do everything?,” “Can you believe so-and-so got that promotion?” Just stop it. Quit whining. Think for yourself. Don’t be one of the complainers. Think before you join in all of the grumbling. Be positive, be authentic and you’ll find your true professional calling.

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Marissa  with Baby .jpgMarissa Woodly, 26, is the kind of person that makes you seriously contemplate what the heck you did with the first 26 years of your life. Woodly earned her B.A. in Communication at the University of Cincinnati and is currently the development manager for SmartMoney Community Services, an agency providing financial services and economic education to underserved individuals in Over-the-Rhine and Greater Cincinnati communities.

But this do-gooder position at SmartMoney isn’t her only one. Since 2005, she’s been globetrotting to Africa with the Cincinnati-based Village Life Outreach Project, (VLOP), a non-profit, non-government organization that sends American volunteers to areas in east Africa to promote ideas of health, humanitarianism, service and social responsibility to the local villagers. Learn more about it at, and learn more about Woodly in this exclusive Cincy Chic Q&A.

Cincy Chic: How did you get involved with VLOP?

Woodly: I became involved with VLOP in 2005, when my friend, Christopher Lewis, MD, recruited me to chair a marketing and development committee for his grassroots non-profit. Given my career background in non-profit fundraising – and general enthusiasm about their important mission – I have been volunteering ever since.

I’ve also and had the wonderful opportunity to travel to Africa on the third annual Tanzania Outreach Brigade in October 2006. I planned several fundraisers and am currently working on the 2007 letter campaign for VLOP. While in Africa, I produced and assisted filming a documentary about the work of each team (water, health and education) that will hopefully spur support and excitement around Village Life’s worthy cause.

The VLOP’s mission is to unite communities to promote life, health and education. The organization’s current focus involves providing health and educational improvement measures to the people of the Tarime District of Tanzania, in east Africa. In these efforts, VLOP aims to not simply provide handouts, but rather to empower poor villagers to address the issues that affect their communities. By illuminating and joining the struggle against poverty in Africa, VLOP hopes to also strengthen the local community by promoting ideas of humanitarianism, service and social responsibility.

How people treat others can be the most accurate sign of how they feel about themselves. Without love for people, love for oneself is incomplete. Village Life Outreach Project was born from a vision to encourage the spread of love. Success hinged on the ability to unite communities and provide service to poor people, to treat disease with knowledge and care and to teach people about themselves and each other. The plan is succeeding because the grace and the power of a concerted effort by a group of people that have worked hard for the benefit of others.

Village Life has successfully visited Tanzania and the three villages of Roche, Nyambogo and Burere three years in a row. During these brigades, VLOP volunteers doctors and nurses saw thousands of patients who have no access to healthcare. The brigades also saw the completion and utilization of home-based water filters made with local materials to help prevent the spread and infection of Malaria-the regions #1 health risk.

Cincy Chic: What has been your greatest accomplishment?

Woodly: Our most recent brigade trip was a huge success for a number of reasons. First, we were able to further cultivate and nurture our relationships with the village leaders of Roche, Nyambogo and Burere, which is key to our overall mission. One of VLOP’s long-term goals is to establish a permanent medical and educational facilities in each village, run and staffed by Tanzanian professionals. Community support and involvement is crucial for success in these endeavors.

Lewis spent countless hours listening and offering insight into the specific needs of each village, while the hard work of the group at large, demonstrated our ongoing commitment to each and every patient, student and villager. Strengthening these relationships will strengthen the services and education we are able to provide in the region.

Secondly, the 2006 Brigade saw our first and monumental success of the Mosquito Net Project! The Mosquito Net Project (MNP) is the most preventative VLOP program to date. The MNP provides mosquito nets to village families to prevent the spread of malaria and other tropical diseases. Jennifer Ernst, MD, a fourth-year pediatric resident, coordinates the project for Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, and longtime VLOP volunteer. Through sales of the VLOP publication Room to Love, a coffee table book of pictures and journal entries set to Tanzania proverbs, we raised enough funds in 2006 to purchase and distribute Mosquito Nets to nearly 4, 200 Tanzanian Families! Most villagers in the region do not have access to or cannot afford nets for their homes, while the simplicity of mosquito nets provides over 70 percent protection from the regions number one deadly disease: malaria. We hope to continue distributing nets throughout the year through our project coordinator based in Shirati, Tanzania.

Cincy Chic: What would you say to other women out there wondering how they can make a difference?

Woodly: My Lord, you can! If there was one thing that I hold in my heart from my recent experience in Africa, is that I am one person who can make a big difference in the lives of thousands. To think we traveled across the world with a team of only 32 volunteers, and we affected the lives of over 4,000 individuals is awe-inspiring! Could you imagine if we all made an active effort to reach out to our fellow man? You do the math. I will remember some of the friends I made while Africa, but I will never forget or let go of how powerful I felt in my endeavor to “truly” make a difference. From simple acts of charity, to traveling to Africa, it all adds up.

Cincy Chic: How long have you lived in Cincinnati?

Woodly: All my life. I went to the School for Creative and Performing Arts, and then to UC. I just couldn’t get away! And now, I’m content to stay, we have a lot of work to do here in the community. If everyone who cares keeps leaving, who will be left to make a difference?

Cincy Chic: When you’re not out saving the world, where’s your favorite local "free time" spot?

Woodly: I used to love Simones, but alas, it’s gone. Now I find myself at Mr.Pitiful’s down on Main Street. I love the bartenders and the owner, Bob. If you’ve never been, you should definitely check it out!

Cincy Chic: Who is your biggest inspiration?

Woodly: Oprah and Lewis, who is not only the founder of VLOP, but also my close friend. I have known Lewis for close to 10 years and I have yet to meet anyone who can inspire love and humanity in others the way he can. I’ve experienced it countless times, in myself my friends and family. Maybe it’s the mission of VLOP that brings out the best in us, but Lewis never stops. He sees 30+ patients a day, volunteers his time teaching medical students and residents and dreams about how he can make this world a better place for us all – every night. I aspire for his passion, commitment and social responsibility to his fellow man.

And Oprah – come on – she’s Oprah! What more can I say?

Cincy Chic: Any other words of wisdom for local women?

Woodly: Repeat after me: “It’s not that serious.” When you’re running late, remember back to when you went to that cheap restaurant and they served you “tap water.” Seeing as how that restaurant was in America, you didn’t think twice about drinking that water, but it would be a grave risk in many other countries. All over the world, people are impoverished, or dealing with sectarian war (i.e., Iraq) in their front yards. So, really, whatever it is that’s is frustrating you at any moment – It’s not that serious. Count your blessings, and I bet you will feel much better.

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"Welcome back, we missed you!”

Although these sincere words were nice to hear, they brought little comfort to me upon returning to work from bereavement leave two years ago.

I lost my husband, Kenny, in the fall of 2004 due to complications of renal failure. He was a loving husband and devoted father to our then nine-month-old daughter, Kennedy.

I could go on for days about this wonderful man, but I must first preface my story. As a student, from the moment I stepped foot on the campus of Tennessee State University, I knew I wanted a career in communications. I had always excelled in expressing messages to various audiences.

I graduated with a Bachelors of Science degree in Mass Communications in 1997. After graduating, I returned to my hometown, Lexington, Kentucky to find little if any work in my field.

Kenny was one of my biggest career advocates and suggested that I move to Cincinnati, his hometown, for better employment opportunities. I took an entry-level sales job at a prominent telecommunications company in the hopes of eventually acquiring a position in the corporate communications department.

Although, I excelled in my sales position, I longed for the opportunity to shine in my chosen field. Human Resources emailed employment opportunities to all employees weekly. I would check them regularly for any opening in the communications department, but to no avail. The few times that a position did become available, I would apply only to be declined an interview.

Four years passed, and I had all but given up hope. I really liked the company and my co-workers, and although discouraged, I put forth a 110 percent at work. My diligence garnered better positions in the sales department and more responsibility.

Losing Kenny hit me like a train wreck; I never imagined a life without him before he passed. I quickly came to the realization that I had to go on for Kennedy. Returning to work was one of the first steps to that path. So I did.

Shortly after I returned to work, a communications position was posted to the internal job board. But I had my hesitations. I knew it was perfect for me, but was I really ready to take on a new position? Could I handle the disappointment if I didn’t get an interview?

I struggled with submitting my resume right up until the application deadline. On the last day, I sat looking at my resume in hand and then thought of Kenny. I could feel him urging me to step out on faith and send it in. My supervisor was extremely supportive as well. She assured me that the time was right, and that I would be an asset to any department, just as I had been to her. She even offered interviewing tips and quizzed me on potential questions.

I succeeded in getting an interview, and ultimately, the position. Turns out, all those years of hard work truly paid off. What impressed my supervisor the most was my ability to successfully handle all the various positions I had been given and excel in them. This was the perfect foundation for my current position.

I‘m now responsible for managing our internal company Web site as well as additional communications. I’m finally doing what I love and I’m constantly learning something new. Even better, my work hours are extremely flexible. As a single parent, this is an added bonus for my daughter.

I still keep in touch with friends from my previous department that shoot me e-mails complementing me on an article I’ve posted or a graphic I’ve designed. I’ve also been blessed with a supportive network of new friends in my current department.

Although he didn’t get the chance to see my dream come true, I know Kenny is looking down proudly still cheering me on.