Tag Archives: women’s transition issues

Painful redirects

It is easier this late in my transition.  Reframing that is.  Earlier this week I had an interview for a professional opportunity.  It wasn’t my finest hour.   At the end of the day I am disappointed in myself.   Transition is full of learnings – successes and failures.  I thought today I might share a little about how I’ve learned to reconcile the less than stellar events along the way….


At this moment I am frustrated with myself for not doing better.  The rich data and conclusions that I had to share barely came out.   In the moments since I have comforted myself with a continuous stream of negative self-talk.  Ever been there?  How could I have blown it?  In a spectacular fashion I might add…..

In my book I talk about techniques to help us reframe a situation.   Re-framing  contributes in two ways;  it acknowledges that there will be hits and misses during transition, and it embraces perspective – an incredible gift.  In transition we need to learn from the misses but not get stalled by them.

In my book I introduce a technique called externalizing.  It helps you bring objectivity to an experience.  It asks women to change adjectives to nouns.  By adopting this approach I would say, “you are not the problem. The problem is the problem.”   For example a friend of mine is very angry about her transition’s length.  The anger is a mix of many emotions – including shame and a real fear that she’ll never be able to get the job she desires.   She is very connected to how it might look – this extended job search.

For her this technique would ask her to change an adjective – like being angry – to a noun.  Instead of saying, “I am so angry,” the woman would talk about “How long the anger had been influencing her.”  The technique challenges my friend to redirect her energy away from negative self-talk and towards more positive activities.  It puts separation between her and her emotions.

Nelson Mandela in his Long Walk to Freedom said, “do not judge me by my success.  Judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.”

I find that my stumble earlier in the week was a gift.  It helped me recalibrate – at a critical time.  It brought me back to reality.  I had been a bit untethered.


A week or so ago my publisher asked me for a list of people who could possibly write a forward for my book.  Not all books get forwards.  The mere question sent me into the stratosphere.  It was a sign –  a good sign – she and her publishing house really believe in my project.

The gap between these two experiences was sobering.  The gift is that it has helped me hunker down on finishing the book.  It reminded me of the importance of bringing honesty to the experience of transition.  An honesty that from my viewpoint know one has cared to do before.   Yes there are painful days – even those days when the pain is self-inflicted.

Your transition will be characterized by wins and losses.  I hope that you have the presence of mind to bring objectivity and grace to your worst moments.   Within each is a gift – waiting for an appropriate frame.

Copyright © 2015 NovoFemina.com.  All rights reserved. No content on this site may be reused in any fashion without written permission from NovoFemina.com.


A Simple Direction

Three of us had lunch.  We got together because one of our crew was embroiled in a complex issue at work.  We listened to facts.  We agreed.  We disagreed.  We offered opinions.  Two minutes before parting the two of us not in the spotlight that day gave quick updates.  I told the story about my editor’s pre-Holiday remark, “I am finally hearing YOUR voice.”  She said it to me after patiently reviewing draft upon draft of my book.   Out of the blue a note arrived a few days after our lunch…. Continue reading


“If I had to do it again I wouldn’t give so much energy to the down cycle,” shared Cindy in an early interview for my book.  She had been a researcher/scientist at a well-known bio tech company in CA.   Cindy was no shrinking flower.  She started out as a PhD candidate who was handpicked while still a student to join a cross-disciplinary team at her future employer.  Post graduation she ignored feelings that she wasn’t really happy in what she was doing.   When she and her female partner moved to the East Coast for her partner’s job Cindy began to honor her feelings more.   “I am surprised at how personal it was. My transition was long, evolving and gradual.” Continue reading

V is for….

Voice.  Do you exercise yours?  On the surface it seems like a silly question.  But I’m not talking about vocal capabilities.   I’m wondering about voice as our expression of ourselves, our opinions.  Powerful.  Impactful.  Or muted.  Underutilized?  How would you characterize your voice?      Continue reading

Right of passage….

“The greatest invention there ever was,” said my neighbor.   He was referring to bubbles while watching my children screech in delight as they ran around blowing and popping and laughing.   Even this professorial neighbor who doesn’t offer much by way of conversation smiled and laughed.  What a simple gift…. Continue reading

The Progress of Silence…

“If you do that once you’ll spend the rest of your life figuring out how to make that happen every year,” said a friend.  I was explaining that I was escaping for the summer with the kids to a shack near the beach on Cape Cod.   Another woman we both knew had done something similar years before.   My friend shared that this decision had altered that woman’s course from then on.  My transition had just started.  “Let’s face it,” I reasoned out loud, “no one is looking for me for the first time in decades.”  Why not?…I said trying to convince myself. Continue reading

Opinions of others….

“It would be incredibly valuable to the companies and potentially very lucrative,” remarked my then boss, the CEO of a Fortune 500 company.  We were brainstorming about my next moves.   We both hailed from the tech start-up arena.   He was angling for me to return.   There was a lilt in his voice. ‘What fun!’ He seemed to be saying.   For whom?


I often get the question, ‘how?’ to start a transition.  One of the toughest challenges, I think, is that our networks and people close to us see us as how we ‘are’ versus seeing us as what we aspire to be.

I thought I’d use my own before and after to illustrate this point.

That day my boss was trying to get me to start a new business, a boutique consulting firm.  His concept?  Leverage the incredible experience I’d gotten at the big company and marry it to the emerging tech world that we both loved.  He had it all figured out.  I’d partner with pre-IPO companies to establish SEC compliant processes.  He reasoned that this would be invaluable to the many companies who arrive at the pre-IPO altar with tin cans and string for processes.

“Why not cash in on what you’ve done here?” He remarked.    He loved the IPO dream.  He’d led many smallish tech companies but never to that ultimate Valhalla.

Here is the rub.  I actually considered this path.   I reasoned that I could easily start the business.   I could even be very good at it.   There was a real market need.   As ideas go this one was borderline great.

But, did I want to do it?   I had two kids under age 6.  Was I ready to hop into a services business, particularly one that was deal driven like the IPO market?

Also my exit from this gentleman’s employ had me teetering on the verge of disaster.  Years of five hours-a-night of sleep, spontaneous travel and the demands of my family had taken their toll.    Would transition give me enough traction to stay clear of the magnetic pull of these type of ideas and really listen to what I wanted?   Was it time to afford myself that luxury?

William Bridges, author of Transitions: Making Sense of Life Changes (Summer Book Review #2) said, “changes are driven to reach a goal, but transitions start with letting go of what no longer fits or is adequate to the life stage you are in.” (Transitions, Bridges, pg 128)   He noted that during the first phase of transition,  “we break our connection with the setting in which we have come to know ourselves.”  (Transitions, Bridges, pg 17)

I found an old document on my hard drive this week while searching (unsuccessfully) for something else related to my book project.  The document was a draft aspiration worksheet from 2012 – roughly two years after this conversation with my boss.

My draft said:  I am pursuing my interests in women’s development. This manifests itself in two ways: (a) contributing to Golden Seeds, LLC, an angel capital network dedicated to providing growth capital to women-led start-ups; and (b) authoring the blog Novofemina.com, a celebration of Women’s Transition Issues. I am also interested in serving on Boards to leverage my experience as Board Chair of a high-tech start-up and as a facilitator of the Compensation Committee of the Board of Directors of a S&P 500 company. Long term, unqualified success? To be a recognized thought leader on Women’s Transition globally.

Right or wrong it’s quite a pivot from my SEC compliant start-up.   How did I make the leap?

Today’s and the next few posts will cover the many techniques that I used.  There was no silver bullet.

One important early one was starting the iterative process to answer a few basic questions.  Together these questions helped me re-articulate my identity.   They are:

I am ___ (Who).

I do _______ (What).

I love it because ____________ (Why?).

I hope to ________________ (Impact).

Could these work for you?

I wrote the answers to these questions occasionally.   Months would go by and I wouldn’t touch it.    But then I’d have a free moment and take another crack at it.

After a few iterations I broke free from replicating the world I’d just exited.    I married this simple Q&A technique with a few visioning exercises (I’ll cover visioning in an upcoming post).

That coupling really got me started.  Once the aperture of ideas was expanded it became easier to eliminate the boundaries that I or others had erected for me.

Would it surprise you that my former boss has pivoted to a ceo role at a tech start-up?   It makes his heart sing.

At the end of the day we both got something important.

I got the courage to know that more was possible and the humility to keep exploring it.

How will you proceed?   Will you begin?   Are you ready for questions?  Or more importantly are you ready to listen to YOUR answers?


Copyright © 2014 NovoFemina.com.  All rights reserved. No content on this site may be reused in any fashion without written permission from NovoFemina.com.

Three and counting….

“I really want to work for …..,” earnestly stated my friend Beth.  She and I had worked together for many years.  She wanted to parachute from technology into the sciences.    The company she targeted was impressive although by no means alone in its field.   Beth knew she could get an interview. But a job?   She reasoned to herself that it was this company or nothing.   Ever been there?

Continue reading

A network’s gift….

“I’m going to prove to him that I can,” shared a friend who was struggling with a decision.  She’d been in finance since we left college.  She was really interested in statistics and the insights it could provide.   She was thinking about going back to school for an advanced certificate in stats.   She’d sought the advice of a professor who was involved in the program.    He wasn’t encouraging when they met.  But, his negativity fueled her.   ‘I’ll show him’ she seemed to be saying.   I couldn’t help but wonder if this guy was a barrier or a catalyst for her?  Continue reading

Passion’s Gift….

“From running, I learn to be passionate,” shared Yujue Wang one of seven runners on Boston University’s 2014 Boston Marathon Team.  Wang’s story was part of a sea of media coverage this week commemorating the 2013 Boston Marathon tragedy.   The BU team is running in memory of 23-year-old grad student Lu Lingzi who was killed last year close to the finish line.   Miss Lingzi studied statistics.  She loved American culture; blueberry waffles, Godiva dark chocolate, a CD cover of an Itzhak Perlman violin concerto (The New Yorker 4/17/2013).    I was surprised and thankful to happen upon Miss Wang’s passion quest.  I hadn’t up until that point connected its powerful gift… Continue reading