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Career Advice

Below, find some of our recent career advice stories. Have a question for Kat? Check out the Contact page.

The Best Spotify Playlists to Help You Focus

Spotify Playlists for WorkWhile some of us need absolute quiet to be productive at work; others prefer some background noise, whether it’s classical music, indie rock, or something else entirely. Earlier this year, Kat talked about her favorite music for different moods and situations (and readers discussed theirs in the comments), and in the past we’ve discussed wearing headphones at the office and how to be productive when you work in an open office. Today we’ll round up some Spotify playlists that are perfect for the workday. Here are five that can help you get your work done:

Productive Morning:
Description:
“Get into a morning flow with this focus playlist.”
Length: 39 songs; 3 hours 11 minutes
This playlist is filled with slow, mellow music, mostly without vocals/lyrics (which is helpful if words make music too distracting for you to work to — that seems to be the case with a lot of people). Listening to this might even calm you down if you’re feeling stressed about work or personal stuff — but I won’t promise anything. Two sample tracks are “Hibernation” by Random Forest and “Breathturn” by Hammock.

Deep Focus:
Description:
“Keep calm and focus. This playlist has some great, atmospheric rock to help you relax and concentrate.”
Length:
112 songs; 8 hours 29 minutes
Here’s some more slow and relaxing music for your workday, again without vocals. Your brain will likely be able to keep these sounds in the background and help you focus on the task at hand, while the song and band names will either seem poetic or laughable, depending on your tastes and mood. (Examples: “Gusts of Wind Blowing in Different Directions” and “In Collusion with the Waves.”) Two sample tracks are “Passage” by Lowercase Noises and “Petrichor” by At the End of Times, Nothing. (Speaking of poetic, here’s a fun fact: “petrichor” names the smell of dry, dusty ground when rain falls.)

Intense Studying
Description:
“Music to help you concentrate and stay focused during your most intense studying sessions.”
Length: 100 songs; 13 hours 15 minutes
This playlist is the only one of the five listed here that contains classical music, and it has a lot of it: 13 hours’ worth. The composers include Mozart, Bach, Brahms, Vivaldi, Beethoven, and Chopin, and you’ll find some more recent music as well — pieces by Philip Glass, Osvaldo Golijov, Terry Riley, and Steve Reich. I don’t think this one needs “sample tracks” provided — you get the picture. (To counteract that huge list of male composers, here is another Spotify playlist for your workday: Women of Classical, at 50 songs, 7 hours 36 minutes.)

electroNOW:
Description:
“Banging tracks with Ravitez and Afrojack, b2b!” 
Length: 56 songs; 3 hours 25 minutes
As you can tell from Spotify’s description, this playlist is a little different from the three above. It’s full of electronic music, originals and remixes from artists like Calvin Harris and DJ Snake (don’t worry if those names don’t mean anything to you) with energetic beats to keep you motivated and repetition to help you focus. Two sample tracks are “Tell Me Why” by Sagan and “Everything Changed” by DBSTF.

Brain Food:  
Description: “Feed your brain with hypnotic electronic”  
Length: 140 songs; 9 hours 49 minutes
Like the last playlist I mentioned, this one gives you lots of electronic music — but these tracks have less of a club/party feel and more of a chillout atmosphere (probably self-explanatory, but here’s a link anyway), so in other words, it probably won’t inspire you to get up and dance at your desk. You’ll find dubstep, electropop, and general dance/electronic music on this playlist; two sample tracks are “Creep” by deadmau5 and “Mimosa” by Psychedelic Stereo.

What’s your favorite kind of music to listen to while you’re working? Do you have a subscription to Spotify (and if so, what’s your favorite Spotify playlist?), do you use Pandora, or do you just listen to your own music? Or, do you prefer not to listen to anything while you’re at the office?

Pictured: Pixabay. 

The Best Spotify Playlists to Help with Focus

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Movie Tuesday: His Girl Friday

his-girl-fridayLadies — did you get a chance to watch the movie His Girl Friday? This is part three in our series on “working girl” movies; you can check out our earlier discussion of the movies 9 to 5 and Working Girl. (You can stream it for free on Amazon Prime if you haven’t.)

I hadn’t seen this movie in a few years, and I was interested to see it again for this discussion — I’m a big fan of Cary Grant (my youngest son’s middle name is Grant because of him) and director Howard Hawks, and while I haven’t seen a ton of Rosalind Russell’s work this movie has made her beloved to me. There are obvious parts of the 1940 movie that don’t translate well to 2016, such as a few intolerant lines, but I still thought it was interesting to watch. Some notes, in no particular order:

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Executive Presence for Women Leaders

Executive Presence and How to Get It (Or Fake It) | CorporetteHow would you define “executive presence,” particularly for women? Have you worked to build your executive presence? What are your best executive presence tips? Here are some qualities of women with executive presence that Corporette readers have mentioned during conversations that have taken place in the comments:

  • having a “cool, calm, and commanding” presence
  • being a skilled public speaker
  • appearing put-together (clothes fit well, hair is neatly styled, etc.)
  • seeming “knowledgeable but not a know-it-all”
  • staying cool in a crisis
  • showing confidence
  • having an attitude of “the buck stops with me”

Earlier this year, we discussed new research that showed that looking “put-together” and exhibiting “good grooming” can boost women’s salaries (even more so than being considered attractive), and a couple of years ago we talked about a study that stated wearing more makeup makes women look more competent. Today we’ll go beyond that to take a closer look at executive presence and what it means for women leaders at work. (In the past, we’ve shared posts on imposter syndrome, the difference between confidence and arrogancebeing taken seriously when you look young, and books and resources to help you become a leader and a better manager. We’ve also discussed the book The Confidence Code.)  

According to research from Sylvia Ann Hewlett, the founder and CEO of the Center for Talent Innovation, executive presence is composed of “how you act (otherwise known as gravitas, the most important quality), how you communicate, and how you look.” A 2013 Business Insider article describes it with 7 Cs: composure, connection, charisma, confidence, credibility, clarity, and conciseness. Hewlett (whose book we link to below) says that executive presence “accounts for as much as 28 percent of a woman’s success” (!).

These definitions sound straightforward enough, but cultivating executive presence requires women to walk a very fine line, thanks to the maddening contradictory messages we receive about how to act at work. You know: If you don’t ask for a raise, you’re blamed for the gender wage gap, but if you ask for a raise, you’re viewed as “greedy, demanding or just not very nice.” If you act with confidence and strength, you’re “too aggressive” or “a bitch”; if you don’t appear assertive enough, your behavior is interpreted as weakness. (As social psychologist Dr. Heidi Grant Halvorson puts it, the typical dichotomy for women is “competent and cold — that’s the bitch — or warm and incompetent — the doormat who no one takes seriously.”) Of course, this predicament extends to physical appearances, too; research shows that women with “unkempt nails” lose executive-presence points but that those with “overly done” nails are also viewed negatively. Faced with this “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” minefield, some women are paying $2,000 to $5,000 to attend special workshops on executive presence.

Putting all of that aside for a moment, here are a few concrete tips on exhibiting executive presence at work:

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Working Girl: The Discussion

working-girl-movie-discussionWelcome to the second installment in our discussion of some iconic movies featuring “working girls” — today, we’re discussing the 1988 movie Working Girl. You can find our earlier discussion of the 1980 movie 9 to 5 here. So, ladies, what were your thoughts on Working Girl? If you haven’t seen it before, what were your thoughts with fresh eyes — if you HAD seen it before but rewatched it for this discussion, did you have any new insights on the movie?

Warning, spoilers ahead…

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The Best TED Talks for Working Women

best-ted-talks-for-working-womenLadies, what are some of your favorite TED talks for working women? Which ones do you think about the most; which have you heard a ton about but haven’t yet watched? Some of the ones that I think about the most are:

ted-talks-for-women

1. Sheryl Sandberg, “Why We Have Too Few Women Leaders

This is the talk that came out before Lean In, and I’ve thought about the talk as well as the book a lot over the years.  Description from the page: “Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg looks at why a smaller percentage of women than men reach the top of their professions — and offers 3 powerful pieces of advice to women aiming for the C-suite.” (Here’s our original discussion on the talk, as well as our Lean In discussion.)

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