05-the-brief-header-post-Friday

The Brief: Taylor Swift Was Named Fortune’s Greatest Female Leader

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Fortune just released its World’s Greatest Leaders list and you’ll never believe which woman ranked the highest. Well, maybe you will if you believe a good leader writes catchy songs about their exes, knows the power of a strong girl gang, and really, really likes cats. That’s right. Taylor “Shake It Off” Swift is the top-ranking woman on the list. This means she beat out Hillary Clinton, Meg Whitman, and Sheryl Sandberg. Yes, the girl can write a fabulously catchy pop song and can orchestrate a really great Instagram pic, but world’s greatest leader? Well, Fortune does make the point that she has incredible brand power and can sell albums like it ain’t no thang. They wrote, “And she’s done it without resorting to dumbed-down salacious gimmickry. (Swift, ahem, is arguably the anti–Miley Cyrus.) With 1989, the top-selling album in 2014, Swift’s efforts to ensure she gets paid for her music could have a huge ripple effect on the way artists are compensated in an era of free streaming.” Plus she survived dating John Mayer so yeah, this makes sense. Here are some ways to be seen as a leader. 

Where Are All the Entrepreneurs?

During the height of the most recent recession many jobless people decided to go out, start companies, and it worked. The companies that came out of those years include Uber, Airbnb, and a little thing called Pinterest. But even though it seems like a new company is starting everyday, that really isn’t the case. According to a new survey of unemployed managers and executives by outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc., 5.1 percent of these job seekers started companies last year, down slightly from the year before, and a major decline from 2009, when 9 percent of such job-seekers ventured out on their own. It dropped to its lowest point (3 percent) in 2011, then went up a little in 2013 before falling again last year. So why is this happening? Well, first of all there are just less job seekers (which is good) but also people are just more risk averse. Plus, companies are offering some pretty perks these days. Here are five lessons from female entrepreneurs. 

Hollywood High Rollers

Big day for ranking women. The Hollywood Reporter just released its list of the highest paid actors and women fared relatively well. Robert Downey Jr., Leonardo DiCaprio, Sandra Bullock, Angelina Jolie, Denzel Washington, and Matt Damon are all members of the $20 million club. That means 33 percent of women account for this list. Plus, Melissa McCarthy and Jennifer Lawrence made it in at the $15 million-plus range. Way to go girls! Here’s what Sandra Bullock would tell her high school self. 

The Wolfe Pack

Whitney Wolfe may have figured out how to make a feminist dating app. We all know many dating apps give a lot of women of trouble. Yes, your online dating horror stories make for great happy hour fodder, but sometimes they’re downright offensive. But this 25-year-old former Tinder employee may change all that. With her new dating app, Bumble, Wolfe encourages the women to take control by requiring them to make the first move. No more dead-end ‘Where is this conversation going?’ matches. Wolfe told Racked that her ”Sadie Hawkins-inspired” app has already made more than a million matches since its official launch three months ago. Maybe it’s because this is more than just about dating. This is encouraging women to be bolder in general and speak up (just like they should at work). She told Racked, “There’s this unwritten rule that it’s not ladylike, or it’s wrong, or the guy should go first. The whole thing feels silly and outdated! Women are extremely independent in every facet of our lives, except dating. We wanted to encourage a confident connection. Making the first move, whether a woman is matching with a man or a woman, gives her a boost of confidence right off the bat.” Sounds good to us. Get the buzz on Bumble here and here are six apps to help you succeed at work. 

A Very Frappy Birthday

Yes, you may be prepping for bikini season, but the Starbucks Frappuccino only turns 20 years old once. And Starbucks has really outdone itself with its Limited Edition Birthday Cake Frappuccino. Plus, McDonald’s stopped selling the Shamrock Shake and you still have a week until Easter candy time, so your blood sugar levels are probably way too low or, you know, normal. Plus, you’ll get an awesome Instagram pic out of it (but maybe diabetes) and that’s what counts.

Levo Loves….

The lookbook for the new Target and Lilly Pulitzer collection! It’s perfection for spring! And here are six life lessons from Lilly Pulitzer. 

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Common Phrases to Avoid in the Workplace

Common Phrases to Avoid in the Workplace

Some of the most popular comments we make at work may be our undoing. While saying things like, “I’m not sure,” may seem innocent enough, honest even, it isn’t always interpreted that way by our coworkers and managers. Career experts representing a range of disciplines spoke to Levo League about the common phrases overheard in their workplaces. Here are the ones they recommend you avoid, along with more positive alternatives.

1. “I don’t know.”

Michele Helene Cohen, founder and CEO of fashion startup Wabi Sabi Eco Fashion Concept, says saying “I don’t know” only creates doubt about your knowledge and credibility.

“It makes the person–whether it be a client, boss, coworker, or collaborator–feel uneasy. ‘Let me check on that for you’ or ‘I’ll get back to you with the exact answer’ gives a clear response that reassures what it is you will tell the person and the time frame that you will need to get the answer to them,” Cohen recommends.

2. “I could be wrong.”

According to Irina Baranov, executive coach and speaker, the phrase “I could be wrong, but…” is shudder-worthy.

She tells her clients, “It diminishes whatever you’re about to say next.”

Baranov also thinks there is a better alternative to the auto-pilot phrase “here’s what I need you to do.”

“It’s much better to go with ‘here’s what needs to be done, as it’s less condescending. I also advise that my clients avoid saying ‘this is how we’ve always done things’ since it often comes off as being close-minded to new ways of doing things,” Baranov says.

3. “When do you need it by?”

Mitzi Weinman is the founder of TimeFinder and especially hates the question “When do you need it by?”

Weinman says it only brings on vague deadlines that breed confusion and misunderstanding.

“Asking this question gives someone else control over your time. When someone is giving you work, suggest when you can get it back to them. For example: ‘I can get this back to you by tomorrow after 3:00 p.m. Will that work?’ If it does, great, if it doesn’t, then ask when would be better and begin a little negotiation.”

4. “I’ll try.”

Brad Hoover, CEO of the automated proofreading company Grammarly suggests that the most dangerous word to use at work is “try.”

“I cringe when I hear, ‘I’ll give it a try,’ because the phrase suggests failure to me. The alternate response ‘I’ll do it’ inspires confidence every time.”

5. “I deserve…”

As HR Manager at an Inc. 5000 company in Nashville, TechnologyAdvice, Heather Neisen has collected her fair share of inappropriate phrases overheard at work throughout her career.

One of the biggest pet-peeves she has is hearing the phrase: “I deserve a raise for what I’m doing.”

She says, “If you’re adding value and taking on more responsibility, you’re going to be rewarded for it. Being openly frustrated and telling others you deserve a raise is often an indicator that your work is either not engaging you or that you feel entitled.”

While there are instances when an employer should truly review your compensation to be sure it’s fair, Neisen says that more often than not just saying you deserve a raise is not the best way to get a new performance review.

[Related: Learn the Right Way to #ask4more]

“It is better to present your case tactfully, requesting a time to sit down and talk about what the plan is instead of making demands,” offers Neisen.

6. “I’m done.”

Another phrase she can’t stand–and is sure other managers aren’t fond of either–is the exclamation: “I’m done with my work!”

“For me, this conjures images of kids telling their parents they are done with their homework so they can go watch TV,” Neisen says. “You may have powered through your to-do list for the day, but staying engaged in the workplace means you’re never really done with your work because there is always something you can do to be productive, whether it’s helping out your teammates or learning something new.”

What other phrases should be avoided in the workplace?

Photo: David Young-Wolff / Getty Images

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How to Make Time for a Side Business

When people ask how I made room and time for a side business, I’m not always sure how to answer. I want to respond, “I sat down and did the work.”

Simple as that. There are no fancy tricks or complicated tips that made it any easier. It was hard, and it was work. A lot of hard work.

That’s what it feels like sometimes, that it really is that simple and there’s nothing else to it. And in some ways that truly is the big secret to any success. People who do big things do the work.

But there is more to it than that. Because “doing the work” involves planning, time management, prioritizing, learning efficient systems and processes—and for me, many, many times it involved someone to lend a helping hand.

If you’re wondering how to make time for your side business, use these tips to help get you started:

1. Cut off the TV. 

If you want to make time in your life limit yourself to a Netflix subscription or an antenna (if you can pick up channels where you live). Get rid of your cable package and you’ll save yourself hours of time plus plenty of money each month.

2. Put time limits on tasks. 

Work takes up however much time you allow it. Set yourself 15, 30, or 60 minutes to accomplish a task—and then get it done. Don’t multitask. Schedule a time for everything and stick to it.

3. Hack your productivity.

Try techniques to increase your efficiency and productivity to get more done in less time. Try crossing off your most-dreaded to-do list item as soon as you sit down to work on your side business (in other words, swallow the frog). Or make a list of 3 things to do each day; things that if you get them done the day will be a “win” no matter what else happened. Or try something that I’ve been using lately: the Pomodoro technique.  (As fanatic as people are about this I feel a bit like I’ve joined a cult by using it myself.)

4. Prioritize and write it down. 

We all have limits, so the reality is that we won’t get to every single task every single day. But you can prioritize what must be done and what’s truly important to you. Then write it down; stick it on your calendar; put it in a planner; schedule everything out. My Passion Planner helps me with this. (And to be honest with you, I have two planners. A small blank one that I use to scribble all over and make sure I write down all tasks, and the Passion Planner which is how I schedule and prioritize all the scribbles.) You can download and print pages from the Passion Planner for free if you want to give it a try.

5. Replace unproductive, unfulfilling activities with meaningful work. 

Before I started developing a side hustle—and then a side business—whenever I would get bored I’d seek out something to occupy me. Instead of doing something constructive, creating something, or learning something new, I would do something completely meaningless just to fill up my time. I would go shopping and spend too much money. I would hang out with toxic people (who were probably just as bored and unproductive as I was) and gossip. I would get sucked into Pinterest or blogs for hours. This didn’t make me happy and at the end of each day I’d go to bed frustrated that I didn’t makeanything useful that day. If you can identify with this at all, replace those activities with a few hours of making. Write. Draw. Play an instrument. Develop a business plan. Outline a course you could teach.

6. Reach out for help. 

Don’t be too afraid or proud to ask someone to help you when you need it. This might be outsourcing parts of your business to someone else who could do a better job than you could. Or it could be accepting a meal your spouse cooked for dinner because you were working away. I’ve done both and am extremely grateful for all the help I’ve received (and continue to receive). I could not manage a side business without the many helping hands that have supported me.

We tend to put importance on a sense of “busyness,” on displaying our flurry of activity to prove something. (I’m not sure of what.) We may think that there’s a correlation in value and an outcome that is more elaborate, more complex, or just more—more to read through, listen to, see.

That’s not the case, though. More is not always better.

Sometimes, you make time for your side business by cutting the fluff and getting down to the point.

You take advice on managing your day to squeeze just a few more minutes out of every hour. And then you do the work.

This article was originally published on Kali Hawlk.

Photo: Better than Stock

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22 Socially Conscious Companies You Don’t Know About Yet

Driven by the financial and social success of companies like TOMS and Warby Parker, more and more entrepreneurs are creating companies that give back. Almost anything you want or need to buy—from soap to diaper bags—can help make a difference in the world. From employing artisans in developing countries to making sure kids in need can have the comfort of a stuffed animal, these 22 companies might be flying under the radar now, but any one of them could be the next big thing. Who knew our shopping addiction could actually help others?

1. Better Life Bags

Founded by a mom-preneur, Better Life Bags lets you customize your own diaper bag, laptop tote, crossbody purse and more. With each purchase, founder Rebecca Smith donates to low-income entrepreneurs in developing countries. She also helps her own struggling Detroit-area community by employing women and offering them a living wage.

2. WeWOOD

If you’re looking for a sustainable watch, it doesn’t get much more eco-friendly than WeWOOD’s timepieces. Not only are they made from scrap wood, but WeWOOD also plants a tree for each watch sold.

3. Hand in Hand Sustainable Suds

Founded by a husband and wife who were on a mission to be social entrepreneurs, Hand in Hand provides soap and a month of clean water to children in need around the world for each bar purchased. Plus, you can trust that their soaps are all-natural, which is becoming harder and harder to find lately.

4. fashionABLE

Based in Nashville, fashionABLE began their mission of providing sustainable job opportunities in Africa by selling scarves beautifully woven by women in Ethiopia. They’ve since expanded into jewelry and leather goods, providing even more opportunities for former sex workers and helping to keep them off the streets.

5. Kammok

Shopping to give back doesn’t have to stop at shoes and accessories. Seller of camping equipment (including these sweet hammocks) Kammok gives 1% of their profits to CTC International. An Austin-based nonprofit, CTC helps develop communities in Kenya by helping Kenyans build necessary infrastructure.

6. Purse + Clutch

If you’re looking for a truly unique, jet-setting bag, then the purses and clutches from Purse + Clutch should be exactly the style you’re looking for. Sourced from artisans around the world, these fair-trade bags are all priced under $100 and help the makers keep making.

7. Baby Teresa

When you’re clothing your baby, you can also help clothe a baby in need. For each piece of clothing sold, an outfit goes to a baby in need, and for each accessory, a portion of the profits buys formula for babies in orphanages.

8. Panda

The sunglasses from Panda are all made from bamboo, an eco-friendly material. They’ve partnered up with Optometry Giving Sight, so each purchase provides an eye exam and pair of prescription glasses to someone in need.

9. Roma Boots

The founder of Roma, Samuel Bistrian, grew up in poverty in pre-revolutionary, communist Romania before moving to the United States at the age of eight. He made it his life’s work to help those in need. For each pair of rain boots sold, a pair filled with school supplies is given to a child in need somewhere in the world.

10. Noonday Collection

Supporting artisans around the world, Noonday lets you shop by country and shares the story behind each piece of jewelry, scarf or bag. Noonday even helps women in the US become social entrepreneurs with their ambassador program that lets you create a marketplace in your own city.

11. Hydros

This BPA-free, filtering water bottle does more than provide you with clean water. Together with Engineers Without Borders, Hydros uses a portion of their profits to bring clean water to countries in need of a sustainable water infrastructure.

12. Barnabas Clothing

You can dress the whole family in conscious clothing from Barnabas. Ten percent of the profits from their extensive clothing collection goes to Living Room International, a non-profit in Western Kenya that provides comprehensive care to those living with HIV/AIDS and other illnesses.

13. Sevenly

A great way to learn about new charities while shopping for cute tees, Sevenly donates $7 from each purchase to a new featured charity each week. Or, if you’re obsessed with subscription boxes like we are, sign up for their quarterly CAUSEBOX that sends you a collection of socially conscious products on the regular and lets you choose which cause your subscription supports.

14. Krochet Kids

Founded by three guys who like to crochet, Krochet Kids offers unique accessories and clothing handmade by women in Peru and Uganda. By providing a job, education and mentorship to these women, Krochet Kids provides a unique opportunity for them to lift themselves and their families out of poverty.

15. Hiptipico

Based in Guatemala, Hiptipico seeks to preserve Mayan culture and traditions by shipping directly from Guatemalan artisans. From shoes and throws to pillows and camera straps, Hiptipico is the place to go for a unique, authentic gift that helps make a difference.

16. Red Earth

Named for the red dirt roads of rural Uganda, Red Earth describes its jewelry as “rugged elegance,” which is an aesthetic we can get behind. Not only does Red Earth purchase its pieces from artisans around the world, but they also provide interest-free loans to the artisans so they can get everything they need. Read all about the artisan behind each piece and feel good about what you wear.

17. Tukula

Based in Jinja, Uganda, Tukula employs seamstresses who can’t find steady work. They also provide internships that allow these women to finish school with a guaranteed job making their stylish bracelets, bags and headbands.

18. Mitscoots

Socks are one of those things that’s easy to take for granted, but they would be one of the first things you’d miss if you were living on the street. Mitscoots prides themselves on employing the marginalized to make high-quality socks in America, as well as donating a pair to someone in need for each one purchased.

19. Raven + Lily

Devoted to “empowering women through design,” Raven + Lily was founded by two friends who wanted to use their love of fashion to lift women out of poverty. They now employ women in India, Ethiopia, Kenya, Cambodia, Pakistan, Guatemala and the United States to make their super stylish pieces by hand.

20. Everything Happy

Started by one ambitious young entrepreneur at the age of seven, Everything Happy specializes in baby blankets and stuffed animals. And for each Happy Blankie or Happy Pal purchased, one gets donated to a child in a hospital or orphanage.

21. Out of Print

Selling clothing and accessories for both your bod and your home, Out of Print specializes in literary-inspired pieces. Through a partnership with Books for Africa, they donate one book to a community in need for each product sold

22. Sseko

These accessorize-your-own sandals let you find your personal style, while providing jobs and scholarships to women in Uganda. So far, they’ve given 47 women the opportunity to pursue an education. Also, you can buy extra ribbons, so you can switch up your look all summer long.

Do you have a favorite company that gives back? Tell us about them in the comments!

This article was originally published on Brit + Co.

Photo: Panda Sunglasses / Facebook 

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5 Music Festivals to Check Out This Year

With Spring quickly (hopefully) approaching, you’ll see more and more people flock over to super loud, super crazy music festivals this year. I never expected to enjoy them, but it’s been a great experience going to festivals with friends and experiencing completely new music. It’s also okay if you know you wouldn’t like music festivals! They’re not for everyone and can feel overwhelming for some. If you’re looking to check out some music festivals this year see the ones below for inspiration! It’s not all the crazy parties and insane crowds. Music Festivals can be a great getaway trip with friends, a doorway into new music and cultures, and an opportunity to travel to a new place!

1. Coachella – Indio, California

April 10-12, 17-19

Right in the middle of the desert, this famous festival has had spectacular performances year after year. With huge headliners and activities all around the concert areas, there’s no doubt you’ll have an unforgettable time. This year’s line up includes Drake, Jack White, AC/DC, Florence and the Machine, Azealia Banks, Raekwon and Ghostface Killah, Interpol, Alabama Shakes, Run the Jewels, Kaskade, St. Vincent, Hozier, and more.

2. Ultra Music Festival – Miami, Florida

March 27-29

One of the most famous EDM rages in America, come out to this huge festival to hear amazing DJs and other artists. This year’s line up includes Avicii, David Guetta, Skrillex, Kiesza, Tiësto, Eric Prydz, Steve Aoki, Krewella, Die Antwoord, Gorgon City.

3. Governors Ball – New York, NY

June 5-7

Always a great time to party in New York City with amazing artists and people alike! I’ve been able to score free tickets for volunteering a few hours at the local animal shelter selling drinks! Putting in time back for the community helped me save money and enjoy the concert for free. This year’s line up includes Drake, the Black Keys, Deadmau5, Florence and the Machine, Lana Del Rey, My Morning Jacket, Björk, Ryan Adams, Chromeo and more.

4. Bonnaroo – Manchester, Tennessee

June 11-14

This one is known to be one of the best camping festivals of all time. Hundreds of people camp out the entire time while watching artist after artist. Check it out and see if you’re up for it! After this kind of festival you’re a festival champion! This year’s line up includes Billy Joel, Mumford & Sons, Deadmau5, Kendrick Lamar, Florence and the Machine, My Morning Jacket, Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters, and more.

5. South by SouthWest – Austin, Texas

March 17-22

SXSW isn’t just a music festivals. Hundreds of brands, corporations, and start ups come out to Texas to show off their companies and get to know what else is up and coming. Beyond music you can discover new food, new companies, and new friends. This year’s lineup included The Dodos, Jessie Ware, The Pop Group, Three Oh Sees, Carl Barat and The Jackals, Ben Kweller, Pharmakon, and more.

Check out other music festivals in your area or grab a ticket and discover a new city! No better time than now to find a new adventure.

This article was originally published on Be Moxie.

Photo: Desi Mendoza / Unsplash

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5 Things to Do Before an Interview

Feeling nervous before speaking in public is often the result of insufficient preparation. You take the stage, scan the crowd, and suddenly realize that you haven’t practiced as much as you should have. And that’s when the butterflies kick into high gear. We’ve all been there.

Job interviews are no different. The more insight you have about your position and the company for which you’re interviewing, the more poised you’ll be during your talk with the hiring manager.

Doing your homework before the big day will help you reach that peak level of confidence. Here’s a look at five things to do before setting foot in the interview room.

1. Study the job inside and out.

In the days leading up to your interview, the job description for the position you’re applying to should become your best friend. Study it closely to get a better sense of the skills the hiring manager is seeking.

“Before an interview, pore over the job description and pick out the five most important duties or skills,” says Pat Joachim Kitzman, director of career and professional development at Central College in Iowa. “Think of examples of when you have successfully used those skills during an internship, part-time job or volunteering [experience].”

Julia Browne, director of Connecticut College’s career development program, advises interviewees to think about how skills they’ve picked up over the last four years “translate into the ‘value add’ they bring to the workplace.”

Talking about a particular project or paper can highlight what you’ve learned over the last four years, which can segue into a discussion about how those newly attained skills “would be of value to the company and/or the job for which you are interviewing,” says Dr. Mary Spencer, director of career services at Milwaukee School of Engineering.

2. Research the company.

Although you’ll learn a lot about the organization during the interview, be sure to do some investigating beforehand. Familiarize yourself with the company’s mission statement and culture by checking out its website and social media platforms. Companies are working increasingly hard to hire not only the right employees, but the right people. Being a good cultural fit can go a long way in securing a job.

“Candidates for jobs, especially new or upcoming college graduates, need to use social media to connect with a future employer,” Kitzman says. “Perusing a company’s Facebook page, liking a couple of features and adding a short comment is an excellent way to demonstrate interest in the employer.”

Jon Neidy, executive director of the Smith Career Center at Bradley University in Illinois, urges applicants to “be prepared to explain what specifically attracts you to the company and why you think you would be a good hire for them.”

3. Tap into your network of contacts. 

Speaking of social networks, don’t forget to make use of your own collection of contacts. Reach out to your school’s alumni to see whether anyone has experience in your field of interest. Or, if you know someone employed by the company you’re interviewing with, arrange an informational session with him or her. If all goes well, that person will probably put in a good word for you.

“Tap your network of contacts,” says Twyla Hough, director of career services at Trinity University in Texas. “Depending on the alma mater, the employer may have alumni working for them. These individuals can be a great resource for preparing for a strong interview. Look them up in LinkedIn alumni groups or through the university alumni office.”

4. Prepare questions for the hiring manager. 

A successful interview will feel more like a conversation than a one-sided interrogation. Although Browne advises students to rehearse short elevator speeches that can be used if the hiring manager asks them to tell him or her about themselves, it’s equally important to have additional questions ready. Ask for more detail about your potential role, the company and the interviewer’s experience at the organization.

“Have questions for the interviewer, but not questions that have already been answered in the job description or that are easily found on the website,” Hough says.

Neidy notes that “the more insightful and thoughtful the questions, the more interested you will appear in the company.”

As well as highlighting a genuine interest in the job, asking questions will buy you some time to collect your thoughts while giving you an opportunity to take a deep breath or two.

5. Use positive body language.

Parents don’t prod their kids to sit up at the dinner table for no reason. In an interview room, good posture matters, and the way in which you deliver your responses to questions is nearly as important as the answers themselves.“Body language and attitude speak volumes,” Spencer says. “Show interest and enthusiasm for the company and the position.”

Because this doesn’t come naturally to everyone, take some time to practice in front of a mirror or with a friend. You want to come off as professional as possible.

“This includes emails, phone calls and in person to anyone with whom [interviewees] come in contact with during their meeting,” says Alana Albus, director of the Career Center at Muhlenberg College in Pennsylvania. “Many people miss these little nuances that can make a difference.”

The Takeaway

Although you might not be able to eliminate them, preinterview anxieties can be decreased by taking the right steps to prepare for your interview. Making the effort to get as ready as you can should leave you feeling in control, something that a hiring manager will pick up on the minute you enter the room.

This article was originally published on NerdWallet.

Photo: Stokpic

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4 Tips for Acing Your Job Interviews

I spoke to a career group last weekend and my speech was titled Seven Critical Career Questions. The questions covered topics that ranged from choosing a profession to improving your interview results. I want to share what I told them about interviewing in this blog post.

As I mention in Chapter 14 of Fast Track Your Job Search (and Career!), “Interviewing has become a performance art and the person who handles the interview process best tends to get the job.”

What do I mean when saying that interviewing has become a performance art? Just like an actor auditioning for a part in a play, your job interview is your audition for a part in a company’s daily operations. In each case the desired result is picking the candidate who will perform best in their role.

So, here are four tips to improve your performance:

1. Do your research.

Be prepared to demonstrate that you’ve done your home work. You need to be able to discuss the company intelligently and know enough about the interviewers to engage them with your knowledge of them. The company website, Google searches, and LinkedIn are generally helpful.

2. Smile more.

The fact is that people many times get nervous when they interview and fail to smile. Smiling more makes you appear friendlier and well adjusted…. even easygoing! Smiling also tends to cause the interviewer to smile, which reduces their nervousness and makes them feel better.

3. Keep answers under 60 seconds.

Interviewers are regular people and regular people have short attention spans. Keeping your answer compact will keep their attention. It also forces you to be more hard-hitting and to the point. It also prevents you from rambling and getting lost.

4. End strongly.

The most important parts of the interview tend to be the beginning, when you are making a first impression, and the ending. A strong ending leaves the meeting on a strong note. Express confidence in your ability to do the job as well as strong interest in having the job.

Many people accomplish some portion of this list, but few people I have met do a good job of accomplishing all of them.

The next time you have an interview for a job you really want, make the effort to follow these four tips and you will increase your odds of success considerably.

This article was originally published on Personal Branding Blog.

Photo: Joshua Hodge Photography / Getty images

My Power Outfit: Jacqueline Rose Ranieri

My Power Outfit: Jacqueline Rose Ranieri

Name: Jacqueline Rose Ranieri

Job: Founder & CEO

Company: Jacqueline Rose LLC

Brief description of what you do in your role:

As the Founder and CEO of a fashion jewelry company, it’s my responsibility to provide the latest trends to the top mass market retailers in the world; all while maintaining or enhancing each individual brand’s aesthetic, quality, and price point.

Jacqueline Rose LLC has two divisions; private label and brand licensing, and an in-house branded line. Since I’m deeply spiritual in my personal life, I wanted to incorporate remnants of what I love into the design inspiration. I’m obsessed with numbers (numerology), astrology, angels, and affirmations, so that has become the POV for the line.

I’ve recently partnered with leading manufacturers around the world to take my business to the next level, which I’m really excited about. As a business leader, it’s important for me to create an environment for my team that allows them to constantly learn, create, flourish and enjoy life to the fullest.

What are you wearing?

Pants – Custom designed by me and handmade by seamstress, Laura Lieberman
Vest – Juicy Couture
Shirt – H&M
Shoes – Jessica Simpson
Necklace, Bracelet & Earrings – Jacqueline Rose
Rings – Satya Jewelry, Vintage
Watch – Marc Jacobs
Bag – Tucson gemstone show

My Power Outfit: Jacqueline Rose Ranieri

Why does it make you feel powerful?

The general rule of thumb about attire for professionals in the fashion industry is that anything goes–at least for the trailblazers and the more creative types. What this means to me is the freedom to be authentic, and that’s what makes me feel most powerful. My personal style has always been an outward canvas of my inner world. I like to wear pieces that are original, bold, vibrant, fun, and young at heart. This outfit captures all of that perfectly.

Any advice on using jewelry to make a fashion statement?

Jewelry (or any accessory for that matter) is a great way to enhance or update an outfit. A pair of skinny jeans and a classic fitted tee can go from drab to fab in a matter of seconds with a bold statement necklace, glitzy earrings, or an arm party of bracelets. Not really the minimalist type, I personally think the more bling, the better! I also love pieces that have versatile functions and can be worn in multiple ways. I’m a huge fan of wearing chain belts as necklaces or long necklaces as wrap bracelets. Certain stretch bracelets make great ponytail holders too!

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Photos: Sam Teich / Levo League

How to Take Beautiful Instagram Photos

The 3 Things You Should Always Do on Instagram

Instagram is undoubtedly one of the most powerful social media platforms in our arsenal today. It boasts over 300 million active users, and generates 120 times more engagement per follower than Twitter and 58 times more than Facebook.

A huge part of what makes Instagram so special is that it’s, as MavSocial put it, a “social discovery platform.” Instagram users aren’t just pumping out their own content, they want to interact with quality content from others, too. At The Brand Gals, an LA-based branding and design agency, we hear people say all the time that Instagram is how they found us or the reason why they reached out. There’s no doubt that this unique and beautiful platform has so much potential.

How to Take Beautiful Instagram Photos

If you’re like us, then you’re spending your working days brainstorming ways to tap into this amazing market that is Instagram. And when it comes to increasing your following, you need to give people a reason to follow you.

Potential followers only have a photo and, if you’re lucky, a few moments to decide. The key is to be inspiring. Instagram is a platform to put your own unique stamp of beauty out into the world, so it’s important to have standards. A good rule of thumb? If you’re questioning whether the photo’s good enough, you probably shouldn’t post it.

How to Take Beautiful instagram Photos

Here are a few tips to make sure your photos hit the mark every time:

1. Take photos in daylight.

This is probably the single most important factor that separates the good photos from the really, really bad ones. Photos taken at night or indoors are almost always going to have weird, yellow lighting and yucky shadows. Along the same lines, always avoid using your flash. If you have no other choice, simply don’t post it. keep that one for yourself.

2. Try a variety of angles.

You might be surprised by what the tilt of an iPhone can do to the overall quality and composition of an image. Even if you only post one photo, you’ll at least be able to choose the best of several different angles. My favorite angle is directly over head (make sure your camera is perfectly straight) for a beautiful laid-down effect.

3. Don’t use Instagram filters.

Seriously. They were kinda cool when Instagram first came out, but now so many updates later, they’re dated, dark, and just plain ugly. They also decrease the quality of your images. That said, Instagram has recently introduced some really cool new editing options that eliminate the need for bad filters. You can adjust the brightness, contrast, saturation, and a lot more. These new tools make is really easy to post beautiful photos every time.

How to Take Beautiful Instagram Photos

Remember that Instagram is a visual platform, so the quality of your photos is really the only thing that matters.

If you want to learn more about how to take beautiful photos that create value for your brand and business, and get our top secret recipe to growing a fully devoted following FAST, check out Snap. Workshop coming to LA.

Photos: Viktor Hanacek / Picjumbo; Kelsey Borlan Lee

The Brief: Your Thursday Boredom Buster

The Brief: Pregnant Women Are Winning at Work and Here’s Why

Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Peggy Young (and Pregnant Women Everywhere)

Big victory for pregnant women this week. On Wednesday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of pregnant workers, reinstating the case of Peggy Young vs. UPSYoung was fired from her job as a part-time driver for the United Parcel Service in 2006 after she gave her employer a note from her doctor saying she couldn’t lift packages over 20 pounds during her pregnancy. UPS put her on unpaid leave and took away her benefits. Terrible, right? Young accused UPS of violating the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978, which ensures that pregnant workers “shall be treated the same for all employment-related purposes, including receipt of benefits under fringe benefit programs.” The Supreme Court had some sense and agreed that UPS was in violation of the Act (RBG in the house!).

“Today’s Supreme Court decision is an important victory for Peggy Young, and for many other pregnant workers, because it makes it clear that employers can’t continue pushing pregnant workers out of their jobs while providing accommodations for other, non-pregnant workers,” said Lenora Lapidus, director of the ACLU’s Women’s Rights Project. “Nonetheless, Congress should pass the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which will further enshrine the principle that pregnant workers should not have to choose between their jobs and a healthy pregnancy.” Duhhh. Here’s a glimpse at what it’s really like to be pregnant at work.

Is Twitter DMing Job Opportunities Just to Men?

This is not how Twitter should be spending its nine-year anniversary. Former Twitter employee Tina Huang filed a class action suit on Thursday in San Francisco, according to Pando Daily. She claims that Twitter uses a “black box” style of promotion, where employees are alerted to open job posts via a very secretive “shoulder tap” process. She says this informal process favors men, putting women at the company at a disadvantage. When she complained about being overlooked for a promotion, she was eventually let go. But Twitter says she left on her own. The goal of the lawsuit is to end Twitter’s discriminatory practices on behalf of “all similarly situated current and former female Twitter employees.” Here are 5 career experts you need to follow on Twitter.

Jessica Alba #GirlBoss

The CEO of The Honest Company is having a kick-ass week and inspiring everyone around her. First, her company is collaborating with Nordstrom and Piece & Co., a company that sources handmade textiles from women artisans all over the world. And, Honest has just come out with its own line of bags. They’re technically diaper bags, but honest-ly you wouldn’t know at first glance. They will actually fit all your stuff (even if you aren’t toting around a little tyke at this point in your life), and are made with vegan leather. Jessica Alba, can you just carry us around in your purse?

She also talked with InStyle about empowering women. “We’ve got a long way to go before there are more bossladies out there. When it comes to education, women still make up two-thirds of adult illiteracy rates worldwide—a proportion that hasn’t changed in 20 years. What has changed is the opportunity in technology fields. It’s the largest, fastest growing employment opportunity here and women are the leading adopters of technology.” Here are 3 ways to thrive as women in business.

My Diet Tip? Wine

Seriously, this is amazing news. You no longer have to feel bad about drinking wine, though honestly you never should because it’s just delicious and pretty. A new study (a legit one from scientists, not just me writing down things on a napkin while drinking wine) found that a special extract found in grapes reduced weight gain in mice that were fed a high-fat diet. But here’s the important part: The researchers found that this extract works on human cells, too. So therefore…WINE HELPS YOU LOSE WEIGHT. Put down that free weight and pick up a bottle. Stop running unless it’s to a bar. Okay, so it probably isn’t quite that simple, and exercise is always good blah blah blah. But still, this is progress.

Interesting Stuff in a Sentence (or Two)

Why Princeton’s women’s basketball team is truly amazing. (Self)

10 women on their female bosses. (The Cut)

Ugh. Even in nursing men earn more than women. (NPR)

Levo Loves…

Of a Kind, our favorite indie e-commerce shop that highlights the works of emerging fashion designers, has just launched a collection for Target! Everything is awesome and gorgeous. Congrats to founders Claire Mazur and Erica Cerulo! Read about them here.

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