Home Away From Home

Dear Debra: After being laid off, I started a small web design business. It’s great commuting to my office (my couch) in pajamas. I have paying clients. But some days it’s hard staying motivated, disciplined, and organized. –Solo in New York

Get out of bed on the right foot. Even if you know you’ll be working from home all day, get up, shower, and put on clean clothes; sweats are fine but no pj’s. Don’t work in socks or bare feet: there is something about wearing shoes when working from home that is grounding and legitimizing.

Continue reading "Home Away From Home" »

How To Take It Back

Dear Debra: After I spearheaded a major project for our division, my boss singled me out for praise I deserved. I don’t know why I did it—to be humble and nice, I guess—but I “shared” the glory with a coworker I felt sorry for who did barely a fraction of the work. Now, it looks like that co-worker (who has turned out to be manipulative and backstabbing), not me, will be joining my boss at the next inter-departmental briefing on this project. Can I recover from shooting myself in the foot? –Limping, 29.

What do you do when you’ve missed an opportunity and given away your credit? You need to fix that mistake. Here’s how one of my clients—Liz—did it.

Continue reading "How To Take It Back" »

Speechless in Seattle: How to Make a Great Presentation

Dear Debra: I’ve been asked to present at a high-profile company event. My bosses, colleagues, donors, and board members will be attending. I’m petrified. Help!

Practice until you can’t stand the sound of your own voice. Practice breeds confidence. It’s impossible to over-rehearse.

Continue reading "Speechless in Seattle: How to Make a Great Presentation " »

The First 10 Things You Should Do When You Get Laid Off

  1. Take a deep breath. Put aside emotions. Think rationally about practical questions you need to ask in the here and now. Go into calm, problem-solving crisis mode. Take notes. Say: “I want to jot this down because I’m sort of in shock and want to be able to remember what we discuss.”

  2. Negotiate your severance package. If your employer offers two weeks, negotiate for two months based on stellar performance. Can you cash in unused vacation or sick days to be included on you final paycheck? Will your lay-off package provide outplacement services such as career coaching?

  3. Offer to be an independent contractor on an hourly or project-based rate; your soon-to-be-former employer may become your first consulting client.

Continue reading "The First 10 Things You Should Do When You Get Laid Off" »

Get Unstuck by Recognizing Your Expertise

Dear Debra: I’ve reached the highest level possible at a small company. My well-paying, mid-level marketing job leaves me depressed and uninspired, but I can’t see any other options for someone like me who just lucked into this job and stayed for five years. –29, boring, and stuck

Take off your blinders. Your success is a result of your own talent, hard work, and volition—not luck. I give my clients a simple exercise to remind them of their marketplace value:  Go through your resume and take in the sheer volume of experience and knowledge you’ve accumulated. Then update your resume.  Write down everything you did and learned on the job.  Go through your files to refresh your memory about your educational and professional accomplishments. Record recent wins, awards, raises, formal and informal feedback. Get your successes out and in order.

Continue reading "Get Unstuck by Recognizing Your Expertise" »


It has been said that "the surest way to keep a man in prison is not to let him know he's there."  And the surest way to keep a woman from embracing her pure career ambition is to make her believe she's already done it. 

Don't believe it. 

Heading into 2009, we women still are not advancing in our careers the way we should.  We're not getting the fulfillment we desire or making the money we deserve.  And this time it's not men who are holding us back.  This time, sisters, we're doing it to ourselves, because ambition-for us-is still a dirty word. 

Do you unconsciously buy into our prevailing cultural paradigm, that double standard that says: ambitious men are go-getters, but ambitious women are bitchy, greedy, cold, arrogant females who attract enemies, repel lovers, make rotten mothers, live lonely lives and, in one way or another, miss out on fulfilling lives because of their ambition? 

Are you not advancing in your career as quickly as you'd like?  Are you not making the money you deserve and getting the fulfillment you desire?  Are you afraid of what you might have to sacrifice if you pursue your big goals? 


Continue reading "PROTECT YOUR PASSION IN 2009" »

Power Marketing Tips

1. Use speed coaching to give prospective clients a taste of why to hire you.  At your business conference vendor table, display a professionally printed sign: "Complimentary 5-Minute Speed Coaching" plus your name, logo, and expertise (e.g., "How to Get Media Attention-Fast!").  Spend five minutes with each person, answering one burning question.  Also jot down your advice on the back of your business card.  Warmly invite them to schedule an appointment and hand them the card.

2. Use promotional magnets.  A C.P.A. could create a Save the Date magnet with April 15th circled, plus three brief tips for staying on top of taxes, including "Call today to schedule an appointment with me; plan ahead!"

3. Offer information-packed telephone seminars to clients and folks who ask to receive your newsletters.  Rent an inexpensive bridge line (think giant conference call).  Participants simply call, sit back, and enjoy your expert advice and Q & A.

4. Factor gold-standard information product creation into your long-term business strategy.  Record your seminars and workshops.  Turn them into Cds, MP3s, and transcripts.  Sell these high-quality products or use as marketing giveaways.

5. Pick up the phone today and brainstorm with your informal advisory board.  A brain exchange of creativity is free, fun, and productive for everyone involved.  Breaking isolation and sharing ideas prompts inspiration.


Dr. Debra Condren wrote the bestselling book, Ambition Is Not A Dirty Word: A Woman’s Guide to Earning Her Worth and Achieving Her Dreams. Debra is a career and executive coach, speaker, and columnist. Read her advice at: AmbitionIsNotADirtyWord.com.

Coaching On Speed

Dear Debra: I'm a small business owner, a publicist, currently short on clients. I'm belt-tightening, but have already paid for a vendor table at an upcoming entrepreneurship conference. I'm trying to come up with creative ways to build interest and get myself some serious new clients at this event. Any ideas?

Offer complimentary speed coaching at your booth to give prospective clients a taste of why they should hire you. (Think speed dating.)

Continue reading "Coaching On Speed" »

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I’m all about creating ways for ambitious women to share our stories with each other.

I am a business psychologist, researcher, author, executive coach, and career advisor. I lead workshops and lecture frequently on women’s need to embrace our ambition. I founded the Women’s Business Alliance, a motivational think tank for more than 2,500 women. For more details, see my about page.

I’d love to hear your story. Ambitious women owe it to ourselves—and the world—to make the contribution we were born to make. Let’s keep the dialogue flowing.


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