Editor’s note: Congratulations to Linette Singleton (@NPDIVUS) and Yvonne Schuster (@SodexoYvonne) for winning Anna Runyan’s (@classycareer) e-book, “The Professional Woman’s Guide to Managing Men!”
— NonprofitDiversity (@NPDIVUS) January 26, 2014
Not a bad idea for a segment in the show, right? I contacted Anna Runyan who graciously agreed to offer advice to women who hesitate in speaking boldly and standing out in the working world.
Bridget Roddy (@vsfsAtState), who is program manager of Virtual Students Foreign Service, a federal government program for current college students. She will give us more info how you, the college student, can participate in a worthwhile virtual internship program.
Mark: Thank you so much for joining us, The Voice of Job Seekers . Today is a little bit special since that I’ve been getting just a little bit of feedback lately, in fact, let me tell you a little story. It is probably going to take about 30 seconds.
I was dragged into a conversation with women and interviewing and how it is hard for women to be open about their accomplishments.In other words, they find it very hard to brag about themselves. I just want to give a quick shout out to Lynette Singleton who’s the founder of a nonprofit diversity organization US, and I’ll have that information in a little bit. She’s a reader and a listener of our blog. She had initiated this discussion with me I guess she was in middle of discussion with someone else.
Anyway, I thought this would be an excellent topic for the show, and since we’re talking about excellence I just want to bring on Anna Runyan who is the founder of ClassyCareerGirl.com, which is her blog and podcast, with the same name. Anna is also a professor of Career Development Journalism and Management of DeVry University. Also, she’s the author of a newly released book entitled “Professional Women’s Guide to Managing Men”. Her site is a Forbes top 100 website for your career. Her career in office and fashion advice was featured in Peoples Stylewatch Magazine. I just wanted to invite Anna, welcome to the show and thank you for your patience Anna.
Anna: Of course and thank you for having me. I’m very excited to be here.
Mark: Glad you were able to join us. Now I’ve been watching for a while watching your video cast, the videos on YouTube and a couple of your webinars. You were sharing how it was your own struggles working with men and dealing with men, and I’m sure it kind of trickled into interviewing with men or women and I just would like for you to share a little bit about your background and a little bit about your struggles and how you came eventually to be a rock amongst men if you will.
Anna: That’s awesome. So, I worked for 8 years at a place called Booz Allen Hamilton, and it was a male-dominated industry. So I work for Navy military program, and what happened is I found it to be really tough to get my ideas heard, to communicate with the men, get that respect, and to build that trust. I felt kind of like an outsider, I was like the only woman and couldn’t get into that boys network.
I really struggled a lot, and I created a lot of stress. I was a perfectionist and they weren’t. I was putting a lot of stress on myself, but I learned a lot I hit rock bottom one day, and I said okay I have got to learn how to work with men and to manage men better if I wanted to succeed and reach my career goals.
So I kind of made up my own research project to kind of watch the men and see what they were doing and then I put it into a book and I blog about it now, and what I’ve learned and the mistakes I have made and its what I’m passionate about now. I love teaching other people what have learned and helping you all to not make the same mistakes that I did.
Mark: Right. Do you mind sharing with us a couple things that you struggled with, and how you were able to overcome them? What was probably the biggest thing that you had to struggle with as far as your abilities to open up and actually really be who you really are?
Anna: I think the biggest thing was being assertive. In the beginning, I was really scared to come out of my shell and kind of tell them what I thought. I think a lot of women we like people to like us we have that people-pleasing attitude we want people to like us, and I had to go out there and speak louder than I thought was loud. You’re not speaking too loud when you think you are in a group of men so once I started to raise my voice a little bit and asserted myself a little bit I kind of showed them that I had ideas I started speaking up in every meeting.
Getting over that bridge was probably the most difficult part but once I was able to assert myself I realize they don’t dislike me. They respected me more because I was able to assert myself and put my ideas out there. That’s the biggest thing. Women are afraid to be bitchy or they don’t want everyone to not like them I say go for it!
You have to put your ideas out there! I recommend once you’re in the meeting ask questions or provide some idea you have them put it out there because the men on your team want your strengths that other men don’t have and they want to hear that.
Mark: Now, did this trickle over to job interviews for you?
Anna: Actually I didn’t have too many issues a lot of my interviews were with women, but with the interviewing process, I definitely learned a lot about confidence and not to be timid when you are in an interview and talking about yourself. The biggest thing is for interviews, is kind of going back to what you said in the introduction is promoting yourself.
Women have a tough time promoting themselves and put their selves out there we like to be humble. I’m totally like that my dad was constantly bragging about me as a child and I was like stop dad. I don’t like all the attention on me, but that’s what I had to learn for interviews you have to go out there and tell all your accomplishments not just a task you did but really promoting yourself and telling the great things that you’ve done with a lot of confidence.
So that’s what I’ve learned the most with interviewing you really have to promote yourself and put yourself out there you can’t float on by you need to talk about some stuff that you did and promote yourself.
Mark: I don’t consider people telling about their accomplishments and the results they’ve had as necessarily bragging but I guess to put people in the right frame of mind is that the way we have to put it bragging about ourselves or are we just being truthful about whom we are and what we have accomplished?
Anna: I think you said it exactly right A lot of times we are sitting in our cubicles working really hard to make something perfect which is what I was doing but I wasn’t telling one what I was doing.
We are working so hard, but you have to remember share that e-mail, spread that word, and tell people the awards and accomplishments you are receiving and this is another key thing when they say good job you have to say thank you back. You can’t say its no big deal you have to show value in yourself and what you bring to the table. So make sure you take that “oh, it’s no big deal out of your vocabulary”.
You always want to be telling people what you are doing and talking about your accomplishments every week you don’t want to just work, work, work, you want to tell people how you doing. I once had an assessment process where I wanted to get promoted to a higher level and my manager didn’t even know all the great things that I was doing. He said, “No we can’t promote you you’re not qualified yet”.
And I turned around I had presented this whole presentation of all the stuff that I have been doing that I had for the past year, all the accomplishments and the manager experience I had and then he turned around and promote me because I had all the stuff that I have been doing. But it was bad on my part because I had not told him the whole year I waited until my annual review, so you have to make sure you’re constantly doing that.
Mark: I think you have to make sure you doing that and women are not the only ones who struggle with that honestly. With me and when we do do that with a kind of exaggerated a little on our accomplishments sometimes. We do brag, and it does come across as slightly arrogant because we go the extra mile in doing that. Do you think that maybe Women need to think about the extra mile to get to the next destination?
Anna: I feel your right men do have an easier time bragging about themselves and promoting themselves and I think it is just the extra step and forcing yourself, and I’m doing the same thing right now with my book. I have to work really hard promoting myself and promoting my book and sometimes it feels uncomfortable, but I have to push myself past that to the next step and be like yeah I did write a book and it was an accomplishment. Sometimes I even forget to do that little extra step as well. Is just really take it in next up and showing people what you really bring.
Mark: Well let me just ask you a little practical advice what if that woman does get the job, she walks in and here are all the male influence that she’s been immersed in. What are some of the tips that women can apply to their work life when they first walk through the door and realize it’s a male dominant workplace?
Anna: One of the things for women is knowing how to communicate with men. And so I think from the very beginning is knowing that men want to get right to the point. So when you are talking to them you need to present that first deliverable to present to them and make sure you get right to the point, don’t give to much storytelling. You want to tell them as soon as possible what that important thing is.
Also remember to focus on the big picture A lot of women kind of get down on the details of all of the things that they have to do. Especially when you get started you want to focus on the big picture. If you’re just starting one of the things that I struggle with is having the perfectionist attitude when you want things to be perfect. You just starting and you can’t be perfect so be willing to make mistakes and go out of your comfort zone because that’s the only way you really going to learn.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions and assert yourself to ask questions as long as they have smart questions and show that you really catching on and you’re learning. Asking questions is a great way to assert yourself and show your knowledge and that you really want to learn. So these are some tips right in the beginning I think will really help women.
Mark: In my experience, I used to be a part of a management team once upon a time the general expectations at least in my time that no one’s going to be perfect but when you try to be perfect that’s where a little conflict may go awry. Has that been your experience as well?
Anna: Yes, it creates a lot of stress. I look back over time I can recall a time when I was stressed out. I was trying to make spreadsheets perfect, I was trying to make all my reports perfect, and I was working a lot of hours that I didn’t need to, I was staying late, coming in early and on weekends just to try to be perfect.
And I noticed there were a lot more men on my team having fun, using humor and jokes, competitions, and just having fun and enjoying their jobs. At one point, I was thinking why do I hate my job and they all love their job?
That’s what I think now. Instead of trying to be 115% correct just focus on being 80% correct as much as possible.
That factors in when you are making decisions too, sometimes you have to make it a skill to wing it you have to go with the best decision that you have at that point, you may not have all the information, but is really important to show you have confidence in yourself and your decisions when you’re in the spotlight.
Mark: Well that’s interesting you say that, I kind of read between the lines here. You seem to be the person that once you have it all together you focused a little more about the relationship with men and being part of the workflow than you did in trying to impress them. Do you think that’s also a key in building a relationship and trying to get a return on the relationship by getting the respect but first applying the relationship part of it?
Anna: I think that it’s crucial, and I always say that my relationship started almost overnight it changed when I started going to the social events they were having and we started to build a trust. It wasn’t in the working environment, but it was after work and a little bit more relaxed and I could hang out and I got to know them, and they got to know me a little bit better to and I will tell you my work changed the next day and it was because they had more trust and respect for me and they knew me better.
So I think is really important on building that trust, building that respect with the men that you work with. And then, you can occasionally throw in those promotive things in there but I will for sure build trust and respect first before you enter promoting yourself and trying to talk all about yourself.
Mark: Yeah, I think it’s intuitive that you know when that trust comes and respect comes. I think trust is really an easier word to kind of swallow rather than respect because respect we know as this very short but very powerful word than trust. Trust is just given at different times some people get it faster than others. When you’ve earned the trust, the respect, and even the accolades will even come after you’ve earned that trust.
Anna: Exactly. Yeah, I think it’s just really important in the workplace to be honest and truthful and transparent. It’s important when you are managing especially men not to sugarcoat anything. Always when you’re giving feedback to a man is different from giving it to a woman you definitely want to be straight up and give them information that they need right away.
Mark: One of the things I’ve been talking a lot to with the clients than here on the show is that you’ve really got to give a lot of more value, and values are going to come with trust, and all that road is going to lead up to is having a voice. A voice is going to be yours, it’s going to be unique. So therefore, you build the relationships, you’ve gained the trust and eventually people will care about hearing from you more but sometimes you do have to be assertive, and you have to be willing to put yourself out there it’s a very vulnerable place, especially if you fearful of rejection.
Anna: Definitely. And the people that you work with I mean they want to work with people who are knowledgeable and experienced. So the more you can show them how knowledgeable and how great you are that’s only going to show them how much trustworthy you are.
They are going to want to come to you for your advice, and for you training, and for your teaching and that’s only going to help your career. Training and motivating people looks great, so it’s a win-win situation even when you’re promoting yourself it’s also helping people understand what your skills are what you’re knowledgeable about so they can come to you for advice.
Mark: That was great stuff Anna. Share a little bit about your book for us. You just released it on Valentine’s Day is that correct?
Anna: Yeah, I just released it last week and it’s been going really well. It’s called “The Professional Women Guide to Managing Men”. And it’s how to guidebook about how to work with men and it have a lot of stories in there, a lot of step-by-step advice so you’re going to find a lot of actionable steps you can take. If not full of a lot of fluff it is basically your how-to manual. I think every professional woman needs to read it. I have a lot of great feedback coming in. We made it to number 30 in Women and Business category on Amazon last week. It’s a great book, and I’m hearing a lot of great reviews.
Mark: Well that’s fantastic. And I think both you and I have interviewed Emily Bennington who wrote the forward to your book. But, that was awesome to be able to have her do the forward there.
Anna: Oh she was amazing. On the blog, you can actually read her forward she wrote. But I was so honored to have her write. She also wrote, “Who Says it’s a Man’s World?” and we should talk about her book too. Yes, she’s a great author and role model for me. I am honored. Its like you go out there and ask someone to do your forward, it’s scary, but once they do and love your book it’s like your book is complete.
Mark: Yes, and I actually gave away that copy of the book as well when it first came out. And there is a lot of people who really like that book, and the book has received great feedback for the review that I gave as well. Just to close out the interview tell us about your leadership academy that you have going.
Anna: Yes so I have a leadership academy that is starting in March and its basically a 6 month program. It goes through every aspect that a female leader would need to know starting from delegation, time management, and going into your female leadership strengths so you can figure out your female leadership style.
It ends with your network action plan, a career promotion plan so basically you have everything you need. It’s for women who are in a job but want to take it to the next level. So they may be in their job but just know they are stuck and need to hit that next leadership level or executive level but need that extra push and that is what that the program is for.
Mark: I definitely want to respect your time and your effort here. If you don’t mind, can you please give us your information if people want to get in touch with you and about your book? How can they contact you or buy your book?
Anna: They can contact me if they go to my website at www.Classycareergirl.com and I’m also on Twitter @Classycareer, and if they want to check out my book its on Amazon and its called “The Professional Women’s Guide to Managing Men” and they can search my name Anna Runyan. I have a free leadership course on my website www.ClassyCareergirl.com
Mark: Anna thank you. And you’ve been listening to Anna Runyan at www.ClassyCareergirl.com , author, great and all around nice person. Thank you