My first real job was a total nightmare. I’d eagerly accepted a role as an admissions counselor for a private university, only to discover that I was actually hired to cold call prospective students all day long.
On day one, I was handed a list of names and phone numbers, seated in a storage room with two other newly hired “counselors,” and told to book as many admissions appointments as possible. I didn’t even have a computer. The worst part? My performance would be evaluated based on how many new students I was able to enroll—and none of the people I called were remotely interested in attending this university. Most of them hadn’t even heard of it.
Initially, I was in complete denial. I kept telling myself that I probably just misunderstood the role and that things would get better. I was determined to make it work. Whenever my friends or family asked how my new job was going, I would tell them that it was great, that I was learning a lot, and that helping people get into college was so rewarding. I was honestly embarrassed and didn’t want to tell them how bad it actually was going.
As time went on, the situation got even worse. My fellow new hires & I were berated for not bringing in any new business, our sales goals were tripled, and we never did get working computers. It also became clear to me that the school was making money by convincing prospective students to enroll on the spot and then walking them over to an in-house loan department where they would be strongly encouraged to take out thousands of dollars in student loans to pay for tuition then and there. (It’s worth noting that this school, along with 90 of its other campuses are now closed, the parent company responsible for a billion dollars for defrauding students.
One day, I finally worked up the courage to address my dissatisfaction with my manager, who told me that I probably wasn’t cut out for this work anyway since I hadn’t convinced anyone to enroll. After that conversation, I was moved to a cubicle—right outside of my manager’s office—so that he could listen to every single call I made.
After about two months, I reached my breaking point. I woke up one morning and just couldn’t will myself to go back into the office. I emailed my manager and asked him to call me as soon as he could. I then proceeded to sweat bullets for the next hour while I awaited his response.
When he finally called, I told him that I wouldn’t be returning, that I felt like I’d been hired under false pretenses, and that I wasn’t comfortable with the way the organization did business. His response? Complete shock. He said he was baffled by my behavior, that I was lucky to have been given this chance, and that I was a huge disappointment. Then he hung up on me. At first, I felt relieved. Then the self-doubt kicked in.
Quitting my job this way was a bold and impulsive move, and I was incredibly lucky to be living with my parents (rent-free!) at the time. While I was spared the financial stress that typically comes with abruptly leaving, I was incredibly embarrassed, depressed, and demotivated. I didn’t feel confident in myself, my abilities, or my career direction, and I had no idea what I was going to do next. So, like the responsible adult that I was, I laid in bed, and binge-watched mediocre daytime TV for a week straight.
Eventually, my aversion to admitting defeat won out over my desire to feel sorry for myself. So, I updated my resume, emailed all my friends & family to let them know that I was looking for a new job, and reached out to a couple of trusted mentors for advice on what to do next. I also started researching tons of different industries and types of jobs to try and get a handle on what might be a good fit for my skills and interests.
Within a couple of weeks, a family friend reached out to me about an entry-level recruiter opportunity at her staffing agency. She loved her job and was confident that she could get me an interview if I were interested. I was, of course, excited about the prospect of getting a new role, but felt leery, nervous about making the wrong choice again. I asked her tons of questions about the company, her responsibilities, her boss, how her performance was measured, and company turnover.
Everything sounded pretty great, so I decided to apply and was ultimately invited to interview with the manager, regional director, and a couple of recruiters on the team. Getting the chance to meet with a variety of people at the company was so helpful, and it gave me the opportunity to ask tons of questions and get a solid feel for what it was really like to work there. I struggled with whether or not I should be honest about my situation throughout the interview process.
Being a recent graduate, I probably could’ve gotten away with not mentioning my failed foray into the world of cold calling, but I worried that the truth would eventually come out. Ultimately, I decided that honesty was the best policy and simply explained that my previous job turned out to be much different than I thought it would be and that the experience has helped me to better understand what I wanted to do next.
The manager was sympathetic and understanding and seemed to genuinely believe that I deserved another chance. This ultimately gave me the confidence I needed to accept an offer—and I ended up loving the job. It turns out that even though I was a lousy cold caller, I was a pretty great recruiter. This job led to a fulfilling and rewarding career and enabled me to work my way up to managing my own recruiting and HR department. I’m actually glad that my first position was so horrible because I don’t think I’d be where I am today if it had worked out.
The Big Life Lesson
Surviving a disastrous first job taught me a lot and made me much savvier when I went looking for my next role. I’m not afraid to ask tough, straightforward questions about opportunities I’m considering, and I know how to spot red flags and warning signs. For example, if the company I’m interviewing with has high turnover or my prospective manager can’t provide me with a clear outline of what my potential role would entail, I think twice about moving forward. I also do tons of research on the organization and scour the internet for company reviews by employees.
I’m now quicker to admit when something isn’t working and more willing to address issues head-on, ask for what I want, or walk away if I don’t believe things will improve. This isn’t to say that I jump ship as soon as I hit a bump in the road, but I’m now able to distinguish between a tough job and an unhealthy work environment.
Having just graduated, I had no idea how to navigate a situation like this. Looking back, I’m proud of myself for trying to make it work, addressing my concerns with my manager, and knowing when to walk away—but I wish that I’d been more comfortable talking to my friends and family about what I was going through. Once I finally opened up, they were extremely supportive and ultimately helped me find a new, better job.
In hindsight, I wish that I’d researched the company and asked more questions before signing my offer letter. I also wish that I’d been more honest with myself when I realized that things weren’t right so that I could have put an exit plan together. And, of course, I should’ve given proper notice (although, truth be told, it did feel good to tell my boss what I really thought, and I was relieved to not have that incredibly awkward conversation in person).
Giving your employer—no matter how terrible—reasonable notice is a much classier move, and I’d be lying if I said I haven’t worried about running into my former manager again. Ideally, I wish I’d been the bigger person, but I also knew that I wasn’t going to use anyone from that company as a reference or include the job on my resume going forward. Burning a professional bridge certainly isn’t a best practice, but I came out of the whole ordeal relatively unscathed (and 10 years later I’ve yet to run into my former boss).
If you ever find yourself in a situation in which you feel like you need to walk away abruptly—whether it’s to leave a toxic job, accept a new offer, or deal with a personal emergency—I always recommend giving at least two weeks’ notice if possible.
But, if you have to quit right then and there, do your best to keep it professional, make it a point to recognize that this isn’t an ideal situation, and apologize for the inconvenience. Just know that you may be forfeiting a good reference and running the risk of hurting your professional reputation (at least within your current company). That said, if you don’t make a habit of quitting without notice, you’ll mostly likely be just fine.
Chances are, we’re all going to come across less than ideal (or straight up unbearable) circumstances at least once or twice over the course of our careers, and that’s OK. Do your best to avoid toxic work environments by doing your research, be honest with yourself when you realize you’re in a bad situation, and be proactive about taking steps to remedy the issue before things get out of hand. Then, pick yourself up, take some time to think about what you’ve learned, and move forward. Someday, you’ll probably look back and be thankful for the experience—or at least grateful that you got the heck out of there.
If “you are what you eat,” what are you?
I don’t know about you, but that question used to make me pretty uncomfortable. Before I learned how to change my eating habits for the better, I had packed on 40 extra pounds from poor eating. Not only did I look bad, I lost the momentum I needed to work the long, hard hours entrepreneurship requires.
Fortunately, there’s an enormous amount of information out there about the foods that are best for your body. Foods do different things for you, and you’ll find that some foods are especially beneficial for your brain and help facilitate mental processes like negotiation, willpower, and focus. Consider the following 15 options as you build a diet that’s designed to boost your productivity.
According to neuroscience research, dark-hued fruits and vegetables are the best foods you can consume to protect your brain against the effects of aging. And, as you might expect, by protecting your memory and other higher brain functions, you’ll enable yourself to be at your most productive each and every day.
One banana holds the amount of glucose your brain needs for a whole day, which is why starting your day with a banana will keep your mind sharp and functioning well.
Eggs contain a B-vitamin called choline that enhances memory and reaction time, giving you yet another reason not to skip breakfast!
Sixty percent of your brain is made up of fatty acids, and salmon is packed with the best kind—DHA. Salmon is full of omega-3s, protein, B-vitamins, and iron—all of which help maintain memory, build focus, and support reasoning.
The nutrients found in eggplant keep your brain sharp by improving communication between brain cells and messenger molecules. That said, if you want to take advantage of these benefits, it’s important to use the skin of the vegetable. That’s where the nutrients you need in order to reap the maximum benefits are located.
A diet rich in spinach slows down age-related brain declines, and can significantly improve learning capacity and memory. It also packs tons of antioxidants, which helps reduce toxins that damage cells.
7. Whole Grain Foods
Whole grain breads and cereals contain a higher percentage of folate than your other carb options. Folate boosts blood flow to the brain, keeping it working at peak levels throughout the day. As you might expect, this is seriously important for your productivity levels.
Besides looking surprisingly similar to the human brain, walnuts can do great things to help keep you productive. They contain roughly 15-20% protein, as well as omega-6 and omega-3s, fatty acids, vitamin E and vitamin B6—all of which are important for overall health. They may also help correct serotonin levels, controlling both your mood and appetite.
Coffee lovers rejoice! There are a host of positive benefits to be had from caffeine, including increased alertness, improved memory, and even helping your eyes focus on the computer screen for longer. For best results, though, hold off drinking it until about 90 minutes after you wake up, as this will allow the natural AM surge of cortisol—which would otherwise inhibit caffeine’s effect—to wear off.
Can this list get any better? If you’re in need of a sweet pick-me-up, dark chocolate contains antioxidant properties that help focus and concentration, while milk chocolate is good for improving reaction times and memory.
11. Green Tea
Freshly brewed green tea enhances both memory and focus. It also contains catechines, which help you stay mentally relaxed, but focused. Green tea also contains antioxidants that can help improve the efficiency and effectiveness of signaling within the brain as well.
12. Dark Leafy Greens
Dark greens have a ton of nutrients, including iron, which helps blood flow and improves cognitive control. They also contain vitamin K, which slows the brain deterioration that occurs with age. If a big salad doesn’t sound that appetizing to you, blend your leafy greens with a combination of citrus and berries to add sweetness.
13. Raw Carrots
Raw carrots have a low glycemic index, meaning that the glucose they contain is broken down slowly and helps fuel your brain at a steady pace all day. Avoiding glucose spikes steadies your mood and keeps your mind clear, letting you focus on your most important tasks all day long.
Broccoli is called a “superfood” for a reason. It’s also packed with an enormous nutrient load, including a great dose of vitamin K. As mentioned above, vitamin K plays a critical role in supporting your cognitive function and brainpower.
15. Sunflower Seeds
A great brain-boosting snack, sunflower seeds impact your mental processing powers and your overall mood. They’re rich in thiamine, a B-vitamin that increases cognitive function and memory. Skip the candy in the vending machine and reach for the sunflower seeds instead—your brain will thank you!
So there you have it—15 foods that’ll boost your brainpower and your productivity. When you eat in a way that works with your body instead of against it, you’ll find that it’s not that hard to feel good throughout the day. When you add these 15 foods to your daily diet, you’ll be able to say goodbye to energy spikes and drops and hello to steady focus and effective productivity.
I excel at getting distracted. Or, more accurately, I excel at turning, “Let me just check what the weather’s going to be this morning” into a 45-minute deep dive into old photos on my phone, followed by giving into the urge to clean out my inbox, followed by a top-to-bottom Instagram scroll.
I’m sure everyone here wants to be successful. No matter how horrible you think your current situation is in life, it is totally 100% possible to live a successful lifestyle. Creating success takes time and it starts with implementing good habits on a daily basis. I read a lot on successful women. From articles, autobiographies, blogs, etc. and I’ve compiled a list of habits I’ve learned that every millennial should practice in order to be successful.
1. Get up early.
I have heard and read time and time again that is so important to wake up early if you want to be successful. And I mean far earlier than the time that you start getting ready only to rush out the door. It’s important for you to take some time out for yourself in the morning to really get your self together. By this, I mean getting in the right head space for the day. Go for a walk, do yoga, meditate, pray, listen to music, think of a few things you’re grateful for and write them down in your journal. Use the mornings for YOU time. It’ll make your day ten times more enjoyable and productive.
2. Write things down.
You can’t remember everything honey, trust me. It’s essential for you to write things down if you want to be successful. This means to-do lists, grocery lists, shopping lists, ideas, appointments, etc. You can use apps like Evernote to record notes and ideas, and Google Calendar to set reminders for your self and keep track of events and appointments. Keep a physical planner with you.
3. Focus on one thing at a time.
Seriously, you can’t do it all and certainly not all at once. Yes, as women we tend to believe that we are master multi-taskers and we can get all this stuff done without getting drained. But, when you try to do things for your business, family, work, the house, the kids—the list goes on, you will get burnt out very quickly. Try doing your tasks in batches like this:
- Write all your blog posts for the week over the weekend.
- Make all calls after lunch.
- Set a time to go through and answer emails.
- Set a day to do laundry.
Completing tasks like this will help you avoid jumping from one thing to another which can lead to freaking out, and “losing your shit”.
4. Be a boss, NOT Bossy.
To get respect, you have to give it. Treat the janitor with the same respect as the CEO. Be assertive, not aggressive. Focus on being a leader more than anything and being someone that your team can look up to or ask for help.
- Don’t be a know-it-all.
- Be open to suggestions and ideas from others.
- Show others what to do instead of telling them.
- Give direction instead of barking orders.
- Don’t demand respect, you’ve got to earn it babe.
- Never ever make it your mission to use people solely for what or who they know.
- Develop and inspire others.
5. Accept criticism gracefully.
Everyone isn’t to have the best opinion about you, your business, or work ethics. Instead of pondering over every little negative thing that people say to you, decide if it something you can learn from and improve upon. If not, take the critic with a smile, say thank you, and move on. The end.
Don’t believe in the “grind now, I can sleep when I die” BULL. You need to take breaks and make sure you’re getting enough rest. Surely, you can’t do your best while you’re tired and drained. Take a 5-15 minute break after you’ve been working for 2 hours or so. Read a magazine, play a game on your phone, or take a little walk up the street and back for a little fresh air. Give yourself time off from work and take a day off. And really take the day off. Do the things you enjoy doing outside of work, pour yourself a drink, and get some extra rest. Create time to relax and unwind.
7. Plan your week.
Plan. plan. plan. Planning will create order for you life therefore giving you sanity. Writing things down is one thing, but you have to create a plan of attack in order to get it done.
8. Read and Never STOP Learning.
You can never know enough. Successful women are always looking to grow, and they never stop. Do this by reading, attending a workshop/conference, taking an e-course, etc. The more you learn, the more you will be successful.
Remember to take baby steps. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t find yourself doing all of these things by tomorrow. Take it slow and try one new habit a day and add on as you go. You’ll be an expert at productivity and creating habits to produce a successful lifestyle in no time, girl.