The Brief: Female Entrepreneurs, Gymtimidation, and the Vadjacent

Female Entrepreneurs 101

Everyone wants to be a female entrepreneur and here’s the proof. One of the most popular classes at Stanford Business School is venture capitalist Fern Mandelbaum’s course on female entrepreneurship, according to Fortune. “Entrepreneurship from the Perspective of Women” is so popular that it has a waiting list, and the school decided to turn it into a full quarter course, beginning in 2015. Most MBA classes focus on learning how to raise funds and corporate strategy, but Mandelbaum’s course looks at building a diverse culture, managing emotions and expectations, having work-life balance, and handling risks. In other words, it’s the building blocks for starting your own company. Here are 5 lessons you can learn from female entrepreneurs.

Money, Money, Money

And speaking of higher education, we have some good news for the class of 2015. Fifty-one percent of employers plan to offer signing bonuses to the students they hire from the class of 2015. This is more than any class in five years, according to a survey from the National Association of Colleges and Employers. So if you’re drowning in student loans, you’ll still be drowning for a while, but you’ll be able to pay them off faster and forgo the standard ramen dinners. Now before you get super excited, you should know that most of these generous offers are given to business, engineering, or computer-science majors (once again confirming that it doesn’t pay to be a philosophy major except at cocktail parties). And for 2015 graduates of masters programs, most can expect an average signing bonuses of $20,250. Not too shabby.

Wake Up. Get Pulled Out of Bed By Stranger. Gym. Wait, What?

You know how you want to work out in the morning before work, but just can’t seem to ever get out of bed? Well, good news: There’s an app for that now (and no, your mom didn’t invent it), according to The New York Times. SIN Workouts (Strength in Numbers) is a fitness concierge service that’ll do anything to get you to that gym, from banging on your door with coffee and a banana to awkwardly waiting for you to get dressed. A person will physically come to your apartment, which is probably way more effective than an alarm clock.

But SIN employees don’t just get paid to create awkwardness in the morning, they’ll also provide a car, a green juice, help you navigate the fitness studio (sometimes locking a locker can be the bane of your existence), reserve you your favorite machine, and act as your fitness trainer. Yes, this sounds very New York, but founder Vanessa Martin has already opened up another location in Miami, and Chicago is coming soon. If they replace the banana with a waffle, it could really take off.

Slit it Up

2014 may have been the year of the posterior, but 2015 is shaping up to be a bit more interesting. Elle.com has declared 2015 the year of the “Vadjacent.” What’s the Vadjacent you ask? No, it’s not an obtuse angle, but rather a part of the female anatomy being highlighted in red carpet fashion right now. It all started with Angelina Jolie three years ago at the Oscars. She stuck her long, gorgeous leg out of an even longer slit. Then Kendall Jenner took this look to another level this summer when she wore a dress with two huge slits. She made the phrase “going commando” seem unimpressive. But for those of us who don’t regularly walk red carpets and think string bikinis are basically dental floss, this look is probably not for you. Justine Harman of Elle wrote, “Pulling off the Vadjacent is no rookie move. The Vadjecent requires a talented waxing professional, a healthy aversion to underwear, and more than a pinch of old-fashioned chutzpah.”

Levo Loves…

You’ll be the hit of the party with this gorgeous and practical Three Jane Bottle Opener Bracelet. It’s part of our Eight Days of the Holidays Giveaway! Get all the details about entering here.

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10 Benefits of Eating Healthy

Whether you’re trying to lose weightget in shape, or just live a healthier life, eating healthy provides a variety of benefits. No matter what motivates you, here are the top 10 reasons why you should sneak a few more nutrient-packed foods into your diet.

1. You’ll be more productive.

Just like your car, your brain needs quality fuel to run efficiently. One study found that eating unhealthy foods puts you at a 66 percent increased risk of productivity loss. Eating a healthy, balanced diet to make sure your brain has the fuel it needs means more energy and increased productivity at work.

 2. You’ll be happier.

What we eat has an impact on our brains. Did you know bananas contain 10 milligrams of dopamine, a chief mood booster in the brain? Dark chocolate, packed with polyphenol, is also known to boost serotonin, a neurotransmitter that many antidepressants also target. You should see a doctor if you’re seriously concerned about your moods, but for the rare gloomy day, try a dark-chocolate-covered banana.

 3. You won’t be as stressed.

Certain foods have the ability to moderate our body’s level of cortisol, the stress hormone. Some studies have found that foods packed with vitamin Comega-3 fatty acids, and magnesium help reduce cortisol levels. When the body is in a chronic state of stress, it breaks down protein to prepare for battle. Eating a protein-rich diet, including fish and dairy, can help replenish protein stores and keep cortisol levels at bay.

 4. You’ll control your weight.

Simple healthy choices such as replacing soda with water, choosing carrots instead of chips, and ordering a side salad in place of fries not only will help you lose weight, it also can help you save money. The average household spends about $850 a year on soft drinks, which could easily be replaced with healthier—and free—water.

5. You’ll eat less.

When it comes to eating healthier, quality trumps quantity. Fresh foods contain fewer low-nutrient fillers that the body burns through quickly. If you’re buying and eating less food, then you’ll have more money in your pocket.

6. You’ll think it tastes better.

Who would trade their Big Mac for a beet burger? Although taste is subjective, healthy food can taste delicious if it’s prepared well. One study showed that people perceive healthy food as tasting better even if it doesn’t. In a blind taste test, participants said organic coffee tasted better than regular coffee, even though the two cups were the same. So perhaps the beet burger is better after all—even if it’s only in your head.

 7. You’ll age better.

Why pay for expensive and painful Botox procedures when you can improve your skin through your diet? Fruits and vegetables high in antioxidants can help protect your skin. The antioxidants in fresh berries and salmon’s omega-3 fatty acids both help improve the health of your skin’s cells and slow premature aging.

8. You’ll be healthier.

Unhealthy eating—especially over the long term—can be a risk factor for chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. If you miss out on too much of the protein, vitamins, and minerals that your body needs, your muscle mass will decrease as your fat stores increase. Some estimates say at least 30 percent of cancers are linked to poor diet. One study of over 6,000 women found that those who ate the most cabbage, turnips, broccoli, cauliflower, and kale had a lower risk of developing breast cancer after menopause.

9. You’ll live longer.

Healthy eating can help you avoid diseases that may lower your life expectancy. One study showed that a diet of fruit and vegetables, in combination with exercise, extended life expectancy for women in their 70s. Elsewhere, researchers reviewed a group of studies that suggest vegetarian or low-meat diets could help you live a longer life. And another study points to nuts as a way to reduce your risk of early death. No matter how you cut it, a healthy diet can play an important role in how long you’ll live.

10. You’ll save money.

Many of the benefits of healthy eating contribute to potential savings. If you stay healthy, you’ll have fewer medical bills to pay and by cutting back on food, you’ll eat less and have fewer groceries to purchase. Save your body and your wallet and eat your greens today.

This post originally appeared on NerdWallet.com.

Photo: JayMantri / Pixabay

6 Apps to Help You Succeed at Work

6 Apps to Help You Succeed at Work

If you’ve ever felt tired, stressed, or just generally rundown while at work, you’re not imagining the fact that your out-of-sorts attitude is affecting your office performance. According to leadership expert Claudia Chan (watch her on office hours), one of the best ways to get ahead in the workplace is to practice the art of self-care.

“To me, self-care is three things: physical care, meaning diet and exercise; psychological care, meaning healthy thoughts and what we’re feeding our minds; and financial care, or making sure that you’re setting up a smart system for yourself,” Chan explains. “When these three areas are prioritized, a person’s career potential is limitless.”

Below, Chan breaks down six apps that you can download right now to jump-start the process.

1. Bloom: Create mantras and remind yourself of them.

One of the things that you need to cultivate is self-confidence. We can only become what we believe. That dream that you have—whether it be to start a business, become a CEO, or change the world with your nonprofit—will require a relentless belief in yourself. When you pursue anything that’s courageous, when you take risks, you just have to believe that your dream is possible. To do this, I write mantras. In the Bloom app, you write a mantra and it’ll pop up [on your phone]. You can even put them in a specific order. Find positive quotes and messages, and then set a reminder to think about them. The power of the mind is incredible.

Bloom, itunes.com 

2. Yoga Glo: Get up and move throughout the day.

After a workout class, your energy is completely transformed. You have to get up for your own mental health. It’s so important to have those breaks in the day. Sometimes inspiration isn’t going to hit you when you’re writing an article or trying to come up with the next great idea to bring to a meeting. So I use Yoga Glo. It has all kinds of meditations, and I can get in 15 minutes of yoga flow. Anytime I get stuck, I just get up and move.

Yoga Glo, itunes.com 

3. LearnVest: Save money and budget.

The LearnVest app makes budget tracking and financial goal monitoring incredibly simple and convenient, especially because I can use it on the go on my iPhone. It’s so amazing for tracking my cash spends because it’s easy to forget where you’re really putting your money. The app comes in handy for that.

LearnVest, itunes.com

4. iTalk: Get ideas down.

When inspiration hits, honor it. Sometimes you have the best ideas when you’re lying in bed or in the car. I have an app called iTalk where I just hit record and get down my thoughts. I can capture all of my notes because it’s such a shame to miss a great idea. Journaling is also a really good way to get your thoughts out of your head. I love that.

iTalk, itunes.com

5. HeadSpace: Meditate.

I met the team behind HeadSpace at Arianna Huffington’s Thrive conference. They do a “Take 10,” which is 10 minutes of meditation. I love to listen to the meditations before I go to bed at night. Rinse out a million things that happened that day and prepare yourself to have amazing, beautiful dreams. We need to create space for new ideas to come in. People just have incessant self-talk sometimes, and we need to clear our minds. Then you can begin your next day super refreshed.

HeadSpace, itunes.com

6. Evernote: Organize your life.

I live and breathe Evernote. I organize my entire life there. I have a notebook that’s called Health and Diet. I have one called Happiness—just joyful and fun things, like where I want to travel with my husband. I even have one for recipes that I love and another for favorite articles. And I can access it anywhere. It’s truly a great way to organize your personal and professional life. You can also keep your contacts in there. It’s easy to forget who you even know! Life gets busier and we need all of these tools to lead optimally and live optimally.

Evernote, itunes.com

This post originally appeared on DuJour.com.

Photo: SplitShire

4 Ways to Practice Socially Responsible Investing

4 Ways to Practice Socially Responsible Investing

You probably consider yourself to be a pretty values-driven person.

Maybe you’re rigid about recycling, always support your local firefighters, volunteer at the soup kitchen during the holidays, and try to donate a pint of blood to the Red Cross. What you get in return is the feeling that you’ve done your part to make the world a little bit of a better place.

But what if you could give—and get back? Watch your money make a difference and give yourself an opportunity to build a nest egg? Enter socially responsible investing, or SRI.

At its core, it’s when you weigh both social impact and financial return while choosing investments for your portfolio—and it’s become an increasingly popular way for people to invest in causes they believe in.

In 2013, $6.57 trillion in assets under management were devoted to socially responsible investing—an increase of 76 percent since 2012, according to the Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment in the US, or US SIF.

Nancy Somers, a Minneapolis–based life coach, began shifting parts of her portfolio about a decade ago into more SRI-oriented investments because “it’s important to me [to know] where my money is going and what it’s doing in the world,” she says. Somers invests in a mutual fund that tracks socially responsible companies, as well as bonds and other micro-lending vehicles that enable her to provide financing for people living in poverty.

“I researched a lot and found the funds that I felt were doing what I wanted [them] to do,” she says, noting that she’s owned her mutual fund for five years and has been very pleased with its performance. And her microfinance efforts “have enabled me to do one-on-one lending—I’ve gotten a lot of satisfaction out of it [and have been able to] support many people.”

Interested in putting your own money where your values are? We delve into four of the most common ways to get started with SRI, so that doing good goes from just being a warm and fuzzy feeling to something you can take to the bank.

How Socially Responsible Equity Funds Work

You probably already have some exposure in your portfolio to exchange-traded funds and mutual funds that track the performance of a specific equity index, like the S&P 500, or perhaps you follow the stocks of companies based on size, also known as market capitalization.

So why not invest in funds comprised of companies that follow socially responsible principles?

These types of equity funds hold companies that have met certain benchmarks for environmental, social, and corporate governance standards, also known as ESG. These benchmarks can range from how well they adhere to sustainability practices to their business ethics, such as having strong measures in place to prevent fraud or employment violations.

According to US SIF, $1 out of every $6 in assets under professional management is screened for ESG-related factors.

SRI funds also tend to exclude companies—such as manufacturers of firearms, tobacco producers, or alcohol companies—that produce controversial products or services.

Katherine Collins, founder of SRI research firm Honeybee Capital and author of The Nature of Investing, likes these types of mutual funds and ETFs as a way for the typical investor to dip their toes in SRI.

“[These are good for] any investor looking to align their investing with the rest of their lives,” Collins says. “They’re time-tested traditional vehicles, meant for average folks in it for the long haul.” Another pro that Collins points out: “These investments usually have fairly low fees and low minimums.”

And, as with non-SRI funds, they can “make it relatively easy to get diversification in one fund pick,” says Brian Mahany, CFP® and founder of Sustainable Financial Planning in Toledo, Ohio. “The caveat is that once you get into a niche, like wind power, there isn’t a lot of diversity to offer. So look at your goals,” he adds, to really see if those types of niche investments would be a good fit.

For the most part, larger SRI indexes carry a good mix of companies and aren’t as restrictive as some investors have perceived them to be. The same big tech or consumer products company you may get access to through a typical index fund, for example, could very well be included in an SRI fund.

How Socially Responsible Bond Funds Work

In the same way that equities-based funds have an SRI equivalent, so do those that track fixed income, also know as bonds. SRI bond funds can help diversify your portfolio as well as provide an opportunity to partake in values-based investing.

“Almost anybody who’s using mutual funds for an SRI mix would be a good candidate” for SRI bond funds, says Tom Nowak, author of the forthcoming book “Low-Fee Vegan Investing” and a CFP® and founder of Quantum Financial Planning in Grayslake, Ill. “Very few folks will be 100 percent in stocks, so [it’s one way to] balance a portfolio.”

SRI bond funds operate on similar principles as their equity-based counterparts, and are composed only of bonds issued by companies, governments, banks, or nongovernmental organizations to help fund socially responsible projects.

An automaker, for instance, might issue a corporate bond to help finance the development of more energy-efficient cars. In fact, so-called “green” or “climate” bonds are among the most popular SRI-based bonds out there—the S&P estimates that the green corporate bond market will double in size this year.

“If you’re interested in corporate bonds, there’s no reason not to be interested in SRI bonds,” Collins says. “You want to think about the long term here.”

Just make sure to keep a close eye on fees, cautions Nowak, who notes that the screening that’s required for SRI bonds can result in added administrative costs that can eat into returns, which tend to be lower for bonds than for equities.

How Microfinancing Works

Ever wondered how you could get involved in causes halfway across the world without having to hop on a flight? The answer could very well lie in microfinance.

“It describes [extending] financial services to low-income individuals or those who don’t have access to typical banking services,” explains Jason Riggs, director of communications and media alliances for nonprofit crowdfunding microfinance site Kiva.org.

One of the most common forms that microfinance takes is when individuals loan small amounts to others—typically small business owners in developing areas—in an effort to help people work their way out of poverty and contribute to local economic development.

Riggs gives an example: One Kiva loan recipient, a woman in India who was the only tailor in her village, was able to double her business after getting a microloan that enabled her to purchase a second sewing machine.

“Oftentimes, people around the world have the passion, but they don’t have the money [to grow their businesses],” Riggs says. “The most popular sectors for loans are the food industry, agriculture, and buying things in bulk for retail.”

Perhaps the biggest benefit to microfinance is the generally low cost of entry. Kiva, for example, only requires $25 to start lending. Another peer-to-peer microfinance site, Zidisha.org, only requires $1 to start.

“I think it’s one way for people to get involved in SRI,” Collins says. “Microfinance is a perfect example of a sector where you have billionaires investing, as well as folks who got $25 for Christmas from their grandparents.”

For the investor, returns can vary greatly, and as a lender, you still assume risk that you may not get all of your principal back. Additionally, some organizations, like Kiva, don’t pay out any interest, so if you keep your repaid funds in a Kiva account—versus cashing out or making another loan—you’re essentially using it as a no-interest savings account.

Other microfinance institutions, by contrast, may lend at high interest rates. The global average is around 35 percent, but it can be much higher depending on where in the world your loan recipient is based, or if you’re using a for-profit lender. While this could mean a stronger return for an investor, some people may feel uncomfortable lending at such a high rate.

Bottom line: It’s important to know all of the details surrounding your microloan and really assess what you’re hoping to get from being a lender.

“If you want to think about [microfinance] as gifting, there are a lot of choices—and if you want to make money, there are many choices too,” Collins says. “It’s untrue that you won’t gain [a return] through microfinance—it has an unusually wide range of ways to get involved.”

Somers has made loans ranging from $25 to $500 through microfinancing, and likes its global reach. “I like to say I’m an ‘international financier’ tongue-in-cheek,” she says. “There are people out there who need my money more than I do.”

How Shareholder Activism Works

When you think about shareholder activists, you probably envision hedge-fund kings like Carl Icahn or Bill Ackman, who can use their standing as big-time shareholders to try and force change on the corporations they invest in.

But you don’t have to be a billionaire to try and sway a company toward making more socially responsible decisions.

“Even if you own just 100 shares, you have a right to be heard,” Collins says. “And you can do it via shareholder resolutions. In fact, some of the best shareholder activists are nuns.”

Shareholder resolutions are proposals that investors (who meet certain qualifications) bring up for a vote, so that their fellow investors can weigh in on them at shareholder meetings. Activist investors have used these resolutions to push for votes on everything from investigating how a company contributes to greenhouse-gas emissions to being more vigilant when it comes to not using sweatshops.

Sometimes the proposals pass and sometimes they don’t, but they give investors an opportunity to make their opinions known nonetheless.

If owning direct shares in a company doesn’t appeal to you, you can take a look at activist funds that are set up similarly to mutual funds—they track the stocks of companies that have been targeted specifically by shareholder activists. “They enable the average investor to enter into [shareholder activism],” Mahany says.

But shareholder activism isn’t something to be taken lightly. No matter how much stock you buy, there’s no guarantee your activism will achieve results—and you could be putting your portfolio at risk by being too concentrated in a stock position.

“I always come back to goals, risk, and asset allocation,” Mahany says. “[If you want to try shareholder activism], you might want to do it with just 5 percent to 10 percent of your allocation. But you may want to focus on your other goals first, and then, perhaps, it’s something to look at.”

This post originally appeared on LearnVest.com.

Photo: Thinkstock

10 Reasons to Love Winter

10 Reasons to Love Winter

Where I come from, we don’t have winter. In Texas there are no seasons; the weather goes from unbearably hot to bearably hot to almost-not-hot, and come April it’s back to unbearably hot all over again.

That changed when I moved to the Midwest. The year before I got to Missouri, they had their own Snowpocalypse. My college town was buried in feet of white and shut down completely for about a week. That winter was the first time I saw snow fall from the sky. It was also the first time I discovered that coats, hats, boots, and gloves exist for a reason.

Some find winter humdrum, or even depressing, but for me it comes with its own set of perks that make it the best of all seasons. In honor of winter solstice on Sunday, here are 10 reasons to love winter. When mid-February hits and you’re desperate for warmer weather, revisit this list for a morale boost. We’ll get through this together.

1. Snow

There’s something magical about white flakes of not-quite-rain-not-quite-ice falling from the sky. Snow covers any landscape’s imperfections and makes the streets hushed and beautiful. It makes a lovely swishing whisper as it falls, is fun to crunch in the proper footwear, and activates kids’ automatic instincts to go outside. Shoveling aside, there’s nothing not to love.

2. Fireplaces

The best part of winter is spending as much of it as possible, as close to a fireplace as possible. I inch up to the flames to the point of near incineration, but that’s a personal preference. Any way you do it, hanging out fireside is a cozy, crackling, heartwarming experience.

3. Cozy Sweaters

A close second to fireplaces on the coziness scale, sweaters are arguably the best invention in fashion since stretchy pants. They come in all shapes and sizes, are always soft and warm, and some even have turtlenecks. Fall is iffy for sweaters because the temperature tends to rise during the day, but in winter you can sport all your cuddliest knits with a perspiration-free guarantee.

4. Pretty Lights

Gorgeous strings of lights add yet another magical element to the season. It’s hard to be downcast when you’re driving past twinkling houses, or walking by shop windows lit up like they’re celebrating.

5. An Excuse to Stay in Bed

Everyone could use a mental health day, and the cold weather is a great excuse to snooze your alarm and crawl back under the covers. When you’re in bed the possibilities are endless: Netflix, Seamless, novels, the Internet… the world is your oyster. If you’re not a night owl, shorter days make it even easier to turn in early.

6. Comfort Food

Putting on winter weight is a natural part of the seasonal cycle, so why not embrace it? Now’s the time to go hard on hearty soups (butternut squash, anyone?), homestyle favorites like mac ‘n cheese, or simple warm sides like baked potatoes. It’s called comfort food for a reason.

7. Winter Sports

If you’re a hockey fan or a slopes junkie, this is your season. Winter is the only time to cheer on your favorite team, or to break out the skis and snowboard sitting in a storage closet. If you’re looking for something more accessible, go crazy ice skating and sledding before everything warms up!

8. Old Faces

When winter rolls around it brings with it a sense of an ending and a feeling that draws people together. Whether you’re reuniting with loved ones for holiday festivities or realizing it’s been a while since you’ve seen so-and-so, this is the perfect season to spend with those you love.

9. New Beginnings

With every ending comes a new beginning; every year January follows December. Winter is the perfect time to start fresh. Resolve to make some lifestyle changes, excel in your career field, or get your finances in order. If change isn’t your thing, now is still a great moment to reflect on the past year and to plan ahead for the next.

10. It’s All Daylight from Here

December 21st is the longest day of the year. Going forward, there’s nothing but sunshine!

Photo: jingoba / Pixabay

What to Do When Your Temp Position Is Ending

What to Do When Your Temp Position Is Ending

In these days of freelance and temp, of part-time and “job hopping,” leaving a temporary position is an increasingly common situation in which you may find yourself. Personally, I’m in said position this week, and have prepped and researched how to deal so you don’t have to. Use these tips for a graceful exit and even more graceful swan dive into new employment.

1. Don’t fizzle out.

In other words, don’t slack off during your last week because you know you’re about to bounce. This is the last impression you’re leaving on people who could very well hire you again, and who you will certainly look to for recommendations. Don’t let months of hard work go to waste by ending on a sour (lazy) note.

2. Make sure all your projects are completely wrapped.

In the same vein, go out of your way to ensure all of your projects are thorough and complete. If there’s no possible way to finish something, make sure you inform all necessary parties what stage the project is at, what has yet to be done, and who should follow up on it.

3. Take time to figure out what’s next.

This seems obvious, but when you have a job it’s easy to slack off on finding a new one. You get home, you’re exhausted, you have three other freelance gigs—who has time to send new applications? You better. Don’t wait until you have two weeks left and panic. Set aside time starting at least a month in advance, whether it’s a half hour in the morning before work, right before bed, or during your lunch hour.

4. See if you can stay on in a different capacity.

If you like the company and would like to stay in the loop, make sure your managers and bosses know you’re interested in any opportunity to keep contributing, whether that be in freelance or—hey!—that full-time position that just opened up. They know you, they hopefully like you, and they’ll be more likely to request freelance work from someone who knows the company.

5. Ask for a LinkedIn recommendation.

I’ve asked several bosses for LinkedIn recommendations (You’re more than welcome to connect and take a gander), and they’ve been incredibly helpful. Sure, you can give yourself glowing praise on your profile, but showing potential employers the great things former bosses have to say about you is much preferred. They get noticed, I promise.

Ask your most articulate boss who has overseen the most of your work, not necessarily the nicest one. And after he or she agrees, don’t be afraid to say, “Thank you so much. I would love if you could emphasize my [management] skills” or whatever you want played up. Bonus: Trade endorsements with some colleagues, though those aren’t nearly as important.

6. Meet with HR even if you don’t have to.

For full-time positions, you’ll most definitely be required to do an exit interview. For temporary or part-time, you probably won’t. (I’m not.) Request a meeting with HR anyway. They are the people who know all the openings in the company, and who you want to have a relationship with if you’re looking to return. Let them know how the job went, what you’re looking for next, and ensure they keep you in mind in the future.

7. If it’s holiday time, give your boss a gift.

This is just a nice thing to do. We have an entire guide of perfect gifts for your boss—pick one.

8. Organize and clean out your damn files.

There’s nothing more annoying than having to make an unexpected change on the project of a former employee and having no idea where to find the files. Just make it easy on them, please. Get your files organized and make sure your colleagues know where they are.

9. Be specific about keeping in touch.

“Keep in touch!” is a worthless statement if no one has your contact information. Don’t just assume that people will search for it. Put your email and phone number on a Post-It note and give it to everyone you worked with. (If it’s a cute colleague who you now want to date, don’t forget to add a heart. Crucial.) So next time someone asks them “Can you think of anyone off the top of your head for this project?,” that Post-It gets whipped out of a holster.

Photo: Hero Images / Getty Images

My Power Outfit: Founders of Dagne Dover

My Power Outfit: Founders of Dagne Dover

Names: Melissa Mash, Deepa Gandhi, Jessy Dover


MM: Co-founder and CEO
DG: Co-founder and COO
JD: Creative Director and Designer

Brief description of what you do in your role:

MM: Right now I handle the business development, PR, and promotions part of our business.

DG: I like to think of myself as the company problem solver: handling all things operations, supply chain, analytics, finance, and customer experience related.

JD: I’m the creative one of the bunch. I spend about 25% of my time on high level creative planning, and the other 75% of my time researching, designing, and creating our products.

My Power Outfit: Founders of Dagne DoverFeature: Melissa Mash, Jessy Dover, Deepa Ghandi

What are you wearing?

MM: Front Row Show floral jacket, ASOS leather pants, Theory tank, and Gourmet metallic silver python kicks.

DG: American Eagle white jeans, Villa cable sweater from Asos, Report Reid flats, and Club Monaco leather combo moto jacket.

JD: Joe Fresh Button Down top, Madewell jeans, See Specs, Superga Sneakers, Vera Meat rings, and other Stories Bracelets.

Why does it make you feel powerful?

MM: Let’s start with the kicks. Like an organized handbag, the right sneakers can literally make you feel like you can do anything. If you needed to run across town to make a meeting in 10 minutes, you could. They’re also a great conversation starter–men, women, old, young–all talk to me about them! The floral jacket is just comfortable and fun. I don’t believe in dressing to a particular audience. There’s basically no separation between work and personal for us, so I strive to dress as my natural self 100% of the time.

DG: I believe in classic, timeless staples that you can wear for any occasion. My leather moto jacket is my most reliable piece. I bought it years ago when I still worked at Club Monaco and it has never failed as the perfect way to pull an outfit together. I also love wearing white year-round since it always looks clean and chic, as long as my clumsiness doesn’t get the best of me!

JD: It’s important for me to feel free and comfortable in anything that I’m wearing. Denim and cute kicks are my favorite things right now. When styled well, and paired with the right accent pieces, they say, “I’m fashionable, smart, and approachable.” I also love feeling like I can take off running at any moment. My best friends and I had matching rings made a couple of years ago for Christmas/Hanukkah. They’ve become a staple to my power outfit and a constant source of strength, support, and inspiration. I also love feeling weightless, so carrying the Tiny Tote suits my needs perfectly, and I can be hands free at anytime!

Any advice for women who are looking for a workbag that’s fashionable and functional?

MM: What makes a bag truly “functional” has changed. The notion of “function” and the expectations of smart design have changed dramatically across all consumer categories in the past decade. Handbags are no exception. Women are trading in their black-hole bags for our bags because we take the thinking out of the equation–we’ve all got enough to worry about in our everyday lives–handbag problems shouldn’t be yet another thing! Our success is a testament to our generation thinking differently about quality and design. As I like to say, I’ve got 99 problems, but a bag ain’t one.

DG: Be honest about what you need to carry to feel like you can take on each day. People often try to make organization synonymous with streamlining what they carry, but you shouldn’t feel like you have to downsize to be organized. This is why we offer a variety of silhouettes and options ranging from The Tiny Tote to The Tote. Match the perfect handbag to your lifestyle rather than trying to change your life to work with a handbag.

JD: Understanding and analyzing what makes you feel the most confident and stress-free will help you make your choice!

  1. Write down what you must carry with you in any given situation and decide whether your needs change from day to day. Sometimes I need my laptop, but other days I’m free of all tech devices besides my phone.
  2. Identify what you want to say with your bag, and choose your color and silhouette accordingly.
  3. Make sure you get a bag that suits your needs both logistically and aesthetically. It sounds simple, but sometimes our emotions get the best of us, and we buy things that don’t make sense with the reality of our day to day lives. Spoken from a repeat emotional purchase offender.

Photos: Sam Teich / Levo League

The Brief: Your Thursday Boredom Buster

The Brief: Read This Because It Has Nothing to Do With the Sony Hack

Can’t We All Just Get Along?

A new study finds that men and women don’t exactly enjoy working with members of the opposite sex, but that teams with both sexes tend to be more productive. “Our results suggest that, consistent with the previous economics literature, employees are more cooperative in more homogeneous settings,” authors Sara Fisher Ellison and Wallace P. Mullin writes in the study. “These more homogeneous units, however, seem to be less productive overall.” But the study found that most people liked the idea of working on a more gender diverse team, it was just that when they actually worked on the team they disliked it. Hmm. A lot of contradictions. Here are some tips on how good teamwork will help build your network.

Just Say No

Shocking news: Women are bad at something! A new study has found that it’s very difficult for women to say no to doing extra work. And they’re blaming society. Typical. Because women are expected to be more nurturing and helpful than men, when they actually do say no, it doesn’t seem normal and they receive backlash from managers. In the study, women who did say “no” fared worse in performance evaluations, received fewer recommendations for promotions, and were considered less likable. Sometimes taking on extra work can be a great thing for your career and help you move up, but if you already have a full plate, this can be a bad move. Here’s the gist: Learn how to say no, but in a way that shows how hard you’re working. 

Travel Tips from Anna Kendrick

As a busy working actress, Anna Kendrick (who currently stars as Cinderella in Into the Woods) is often on airplanes, and has been known to take an Ambien to help her sleep. This week she told David Letterman a story about taking the powerful drug on a flight back from London (watch the clip here). “This last time I took it as soon as we took off, and I remember thinking, ‘Ah, I should put on something comfy to sleep in,’” she began. “And then nothing. When I woke up, I was wearing everything that was in my carry-on bag, and I had a 90-second video of my salad. Not like an accident—like, I was Scorsese filming this salad.” She continued, “The troubling thing about everything in my carry-on was that I clearly had the thought [to] put on some sweatpants or something—it’s a long flight—but I thought, well, changing would be a hassle. So it’ll just go straight over the jeans, straight over the boots.” Oh A-Keds, you really are the best. Even when you’re drugged out on a plane. 

Wine Not?

Continuing on about things that make you fall asleep faster, we have some bad news about wine. Wine can make so many things in our lives better: stress, relationships, sitting on a bench on the sidewalk, convincing ourselves that it wasn’t the wrong decision to get bangs, the movie Glitter. And it was also supposed to be a great way to help you fall asleep a little faster (20 percent of Americans slug a glass before bed regularly), or so we thought. But new research from the University of Missouri shows that while a nightcap can make you sleepy in the short term, regular alcohol consumption before bed interferes with the body’s sleep regulator and can actually cause insomnia. Bummer. But on the plus side, our friends over at Bustle came up with six ways to open a bottle of wine without a corkscrew (and none of them involve starting a Kickstarter campaign. Watch this hilarious video and you’ll understand).

Interesting Stuff in a Sentence (or Two)

The Sony Hack shows how lawless the Internet really is. (Harvard Business Review)

Sienna Miller actually has a sense of humor! Who knew? Watch this hilarious spoof video she made for Vogue. (Bustle.com)

Who run the world? GIRLS. Here are 15 awesome women on how to be confident. (Elle.com)

Levo Loves…

This gorgeous Passport Cover from Persifor that’s part of our Eight Days of the Holidays Giveaway! Get all the details about entering here.

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4 Ways to Land a Job Using Social Media

4 Ways to Land a Job Using Social Media

Despite the popularity of social media, many job seekers don’t realize how powerful it can be during the job search process.

Although in-person networking is very effective, social media can open the doors to connections you can’t make on a daily basis. Especially if you’re looking for a job in a different city or state, social media can create more opportunities for job seekers.

If you’ve been using social media during your job search, but haven’t landed an interview, there are a few steps you could be overlooking. Here are four unusual ways social media can help you land a job:

1. Look for people who can refer you to jobs.

As you scour LinkedIn and Twitter for people to connect with, think of people who can actually refer you to jobs.

Do you have a friend from college who works in a city you want to move to? Are you still in touch with a previous employer who’d have a great industry connection? Think of people who could lead you to valuable connections that could help you land a job through social media.

2. Connect with industry professionals on LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is a great way to connect with professionals who aren’t on Twitter or Facebook. When you connect with industry professionals on LinkedIn, send a unique message introducing yourself and stating your purpose for connecting. This will increase the likelihood of you sparking a relationship with the professional.

After connecting with professionals on LinkedIn, ask them if they know of people within their network that could refer you to job opportunities. This is a great way to cast a wide net during your job search and expand your network of professional connections.

3. Build relationships with recruiters.

Recruiters are everywhere on social media. From Twitter to LinkedIn, recruiters are using social media to scope out top talent.

Many recruiters constantly post job openings through a variety of social media platforms. Although recruiters are posting opportunities, keep in mind that they aren’t hiring managers. This is why it’s a good idea to develop relationships with them so you can get connected to the right people within a company.

When you connect with recruiters, ask them valuable and thoughtful questions. Ask them about the types of positions they typically fill and questions about the company’s culture. You could also ask questions about the company’s hiring process and how long it typically takes for them to process applications.

4. Create a list of companies you want to work for, and interact.

The best way to land a job using social media is to follow companies you’d love to work for. After you create a list of potential employers, start engaging with their content.

Ask employers about their company, retweet their content, and connect with employees who work there. You can also try sparking valuable conversations with these employers and professionals as well. For example, don’t say, “I love your company! Are you hiring?” Instead, say something like, “I really like what your company does! Do you have a blog I can read?” This is a thoughtful way to show employers you’re genuinely interested in their company.

The key to using social media to land a job is asking questions and interacting with the right people. By following these tips, you’ll be able to use social media to effectively market yourself to employers and land a job.

What are your best tips for using social media to land a job?

This post originally appeared on PersonalBrandingBlog.com.

Photo: jeshoots / Pixabay

'Tis the Season: How to Manage Holiday Stress

How to Manage Holiday Stress

It’s that time of year again. Between the endless parties and obligations, visiting with friends and family (and sometimes avoiding certain friends and family), not to mention navigating decadent table spreads and endless office baked goods, it’s no wonder we sometimes dread the holiday season. Rest assured, there is a way you can manage the inevitable holiday stress and glide to a new year with balance, poise, and at least most of your sanity in tact.

The key thing for managing holiday stress is to realize that we often can’t change the situations around us, but that we can change how we interact and respond in these situations. Which means, proper stress management starts with you…

1. Take care of yourself.

Know your limits. Make sure to get enough sleep, drink water, balance your eating (which of course includes a cookie or two!) and most important, keep your sense of humor handy. This is supposed to be a joyful season, full of good times and many laughs. Sometimes that means laughing at yourself.

2. Say no.

Thank you so much for the invitation, but we have another engagement.”

Now isn’t that a nice way of saying no? It’s likely that you won’t be able to–or want to–attend every party or engagement that you’re invited to, so here’s a chance to prioritize which ones you’d like to attend and politely decline (with appropriate notice) the rest.

3. Keep calm, carry on, and let go.

You’ve likely seen these “Keep Calm, Carry On” signs everywhere. As simple as they might seem, they’re such a good reminder. One of the best tactics for holiday stress management is to learn what you can control and let go of the rest. Don’t let the hustle and bustle of the holidays overwhelm you. Keep calm in the moment by taking a deep breath, thinking before you speak, and remembering that whatever’s stressing you right this moment is not likely going to matter in one hour, or even one year. Keep your focus on the joy of the season and have fun.

4. Have a little grace.

As women, we put so much focus on small details and often lose track of the overall picture. I can bet you a nicely frosted gingerbread cookie that no one’s going to be focusing on those little details half as much as you are. Let go of control and have grace with yourself. Everyone forgets to serve a dish, or perfectly wrap some gift. Repeat mantra from above: “Keep calm, carry on.

5. Accept help.

Just like you don’t have to control everything, you don’t have to do it on your own. Let someone bring a dish to the dinner party, and then let your friends help you do the dishes when they meal’s over.

6. Get rid of useless worry.

There’s a difference between worry and planning. Trust that you’ll handle situations that might come up and focus on what’s truly in your control. Perhaps you could mentally walk through a situation that could be stressful and practice your response. Plan ahead what you can to minimize stress.

The last step for stress management ends with you…

7. Choose.

Everyone finds themselves in situations that aren’t preferable. Cue the awkward family dinner or significant other’s office Christmas party. In those uncomfortable moments, you choose your memories. How much fun you have is entirely up to you. You can focus on all the reasons why you’d rather be at home with some spiked eggnog in pajamas, or you can be present in the moment and make the choice to put forth an effort and find the good in your current situation.

So when you start to feel overwhelmed by too much family pressure or obligation, all the little details or overwhelming stress of presents and parties, remember that this is the season of joy. Trust that you can and will navigate holiday stress by taking care of yourself, setting and knowing your boundaries, and choosing how you respond.

How do you deal with stress during the holidays? Tell us in the comments section!

Photo: Stokpic