Running a business is hard work and when tough times come for entrepreneurs, it can be all too easy to base next-step decisions on fears rather than hopes and aspirations. Business mentor and serial entrepreneur Allison Maslan teaches how to flip the switch on fear-based thoughts and instead embrace the possibility of success in her new book, Blast Off!: The Surefire Success Plan to Launch Your Dreams into Reality.

How to Flip the Switch?

Flipping the switch on fear-based thinking is about first identifying your own fearful beliefs that are coming up to challenge you. Once you’ve identified these, practice reframing them into something positive that will propel your life and business forward in a helpful direction. Here are some examples of fear-based thoughts and how to reframe them into helpful affirmations to help you overcome your toughest entrepreneurial moments:

Fearful thought: “I’m struggling to make money. I’m barely scraping by paycheck to paycheck.”
Hopeful affirmation: “Money is always available to me and my bank account is growing every day.”

Fearful thought: “Trying that new idea is too risky. I might fail.”
Hopeful affirmation: “I enjoy challenging myself because I know I can achieve anything I set my mind on doing.”

Fearful thought: “My competitor is having much more success than I am. I can’t make this work.”
Hopeful affirmation: “Opportunities for growth and success are falling into my lap on a daily basis.”

Fearful thought: “I feel stuck. I don’t know where to go from here.”
Hopeful affirmation: “I have so many options. I give myself the space to choose which one best contributes to my success.”

Place the affirmations you come up with somewhere you can see them every day and read them throughout the day so they are absorbed on both a conscious and unconscious level. Ready to get started?

Photo by Luis Llerena

Hello, fellow millennial ladies.

If you’re anything like me, you’ve been struggling in the job market for a few years.

Millennials were already given the “short end of the stick” when it came to the job market. We were thrown into college with little-to-no life experience, and came out with such high expectations. However, most millennials are now either unemployed or underemployed, and our expectations have been shattered to bits.

Being a millennial is tough, but when you’re a millennial woman it can be even tougher. We struggle even more from underemployment, office harassment, and lack of representative power in higher executive positions.

You would think with the push to include women in STEM-based programs, that there would be more than just 15-20% of females in tech positions in Silicon Valley (our nation’s largest tech-start up region). The numbers are even more dismal when you look at women in leadership positions, either inside the tech industry, or just in the general business sphere. Women are simply not given the platform within business culture, and millennial women especially are left in the dust.

However, through my years of job hunting and research, I’ve found there are specific aspects of being a millennial woman that can help us make an impression. Focusing on these sets of skills can increase our chances of acing any job interview.

Emotional Intelligence
Women are often taught from a young age to be great listeners and to understand and empathize with the emotions of others. Although this idea is rooted in archaic gender-roles, it is the basic groundwork for creating a strong sense of emotional intelligence.

EQ—as it is often called—has been found to be more impactful in business than IQ (or cognitive intelligence). This is especially true in management positions, where handling our own emotions and dealing with difficult situations among employees comes with the territory of being a manager. Studies devoted to the financial impact of EQ have found that companies that prioritize EQ over IQ see a gain of up to 34% in profits. This is because there is less turnover among employees, less stress-related sick days, and overall increased productivity due to better moods across the board.

So when it comes to making an impression, use your heightened emotional intelligence as a highlight about yourself. Give them an example of a time you used your emotional intelligence to quell an angry customer, or showed empathy to an upset colleague. Tell them how much you value emotional intelligence from your managers, and provide examples of when you were able to communicate through a difficult problem because of your high EQ. If they’re a company worth working for, they will see the benefit your level of EQ can bring to their business.

Diverse Perspective
Diversity should never be a numbers game. Adding a diverse set of employees to a business is a fairly recent trend, and luckily businesses are noticing that diversity doesn’t just make their image better, but makes their business better too.

Diversity and innovation go hand in hand in the business industry. New perspectives allow for greater chances and greater rewards. No matter what lies at the company’s core, they should always be open to adding new and unique voices to their team if they truly want their business to succeed.

Since the business world and technology world is severely lacking in female representation, millennial women should use this to their advantage. Look at your prospective employer’s current list of employees (if available) and see what is unique about you that you can bring to the conference table.

Are you a women interested in a male dominated field? Focus on your decision making and your inherent empathy.

Or maybe you’re a millennial interested in a field that is mostly run by the Baby Boomer generation? Talk about your strengths as a millennial; technology proficiency, networking and social skills, and your ability to stay focused even when working remotely.

No matter what your approach is, be proud about your differences and show strength in your ability to distinguish yourself from the crowd. Standing out from their current perspective employees will be sure to leave an impression.

Desire to Learn
One of the key aspects of the Millennial generation is our desire to constantly better ourselves. It’s one of the main reasons we’re so notorious for job hopping. If we don’t see a lasting benefit to staying with a job, then we’ll leave. Unlike our predecessors, we are not willing to work for a living, but to be passionate about why we work.

In this way, Millennial women can use their desire to learn new tasks as a benefit in a job interview. Businesses are constantly in flux, and as long as those working within the sector are willing and able to learn and adjust to change, then they can stay afloat. Employers will look for that desire when they hire new employees, and you can stand out by highlighting that within your own work experience.

No matter where your skills lie, or where you desire to go in your career, you have the ability to achieve better than what was handed to us. As a millennial woman, you can make an impact in the interview process.

Job hunting is the worst—I know first-hand—but don’t let that discourage you from going for that big position. If you play your cards right, highlight your best qualities, and catch their attention, then you are sure to go far in life and your career.

You go, girl. Now, go ace that interview.
Photo by Daria Nepriakhina

Work It, Work It-Pevonia Blog

I am sure you’ve seen Pretty Woman quite a few times. What’s not to love about the iconic Cinderella story starring Julia Roberts as a prostitute with a heart of gold who actually gets her Prince Charming? Did you ever fathom the idea of learning a lesson or two from this film, or better yet, from the celebrated happy face?

You have probably heard it takes more muscles to frown than to smile, yet why are so many of us wasting energy on frowning when in reality it makes us feel worse? I write the word feel in italics to specifically capture your attention. You see, I have a “feeling” that when you read my question, your inner voice was about to say: Because it feels good. Well… it may feel good to crumble a paper and in full throttle, throw it across the room to only find that it flew less than one foot, or perhaps, out of vivid frustration it feels good to slap your hand onto your desk to later shriek the words, “Ouch” when you notice you’re stronger than you thought. All reactions that merit an all say five minutes of pure release and satisfaction for that ole-so-good feeling. And yes…this does feel good, but frowning does not.

For those of you, who already know me up close and personal; know I am a smiling addict. I truly and authentically enjoy smiling. And, I have come to believe I am allergic to those who don’t smile. When I met Goldie Hawn at a charity function, we were both drawn to each other because of our smiles. We actually felt that the others’ smile made the room glow in a lone euphoric way. I later learned during her speech that she practiced laughing therapy. For all I know, based on our commonalities, this woman could have already given me a b-f-f charm bracelet, and I would have been proud to wear it, forever.

I must say, she impacted my day and despite the memory being fifteen years ago, I still remember our encounter. Dale Carnegie, in his book How to Win Friends and Influence People, best summed up the lasting impacts of a smile: “It costs nothing, but creates much. It enriches those who receive, without impoverishing those who give. It happens in a flash and the memory of it sometimes lasts forever.”

So why frown? And especially in a networking situation when you need to sell you as the next rock star of the firm you want to work with? Remember Kit de Luca’s character, played by Laura San Giacamo when she tells Viv, also known as Pretty Woman to “Work it, work it baby, work it…” as she walks toward the illustrious Lotus Esprit? Before we continue though, do me a favor; get your mind out of the gutter, I am surely not suggesting you turn toward selling your body. In fact, at full volume I affirm that I do not agree with prostitution or any symbol associated with it.

Instead, my goal is for you to realize the confidence issues character Vivian Ward was facing—same confidence issues many are undergoing right now, especially those who were recently laid off due to downsizing. Yet, Julia Roberts character had a goal and achieved it by turning her frown upside down. Good bye being someone’s beck and call girl and hello to going back to school; plus, being scooped up by Prince Charming. But, how?  She got a hold of her mind, decided to own the situation, build her confidence, smiled along the way, and decided on values. Plus, she became pretty woman after all.

Now it’s up to you. Will you decide to work it until you get a hold of your goal?

Photo by Nicklas Bajema

Bag Lady Syndrome - Pevonia Blog

Nearly half of all American women, no matter their background, share a fear that may seem odd given the wealth of some: They are afraid of losing their financial independence, otherwise known as Bag Lady Syndrome. Of those who harbor BLS anxiety, 60 percent were the primary breadwinners for their households, according to the Allianz poll of 2,200 women ages 25 to 75. Are you within those ranks? Guess what? If you are… you’re in good company.

“Financially, women’s needs are different from those of men, and the financial industry isn’t meeting them,” says Lance Drucker, CEO and president of the New York City-based Drucker Wealth Management.

“Women typically live longer than men, so they need more retirement savings.  Further compounding the problem is the fact that, in many cases, women are paid less for the same job as men. Finally, many have fewer earning years because they dropped out of the labor force for a time to have and raise their children.”

Drucker, author of How to Avoid Bag Lady Syndrome (BLS): A Strong Woman’s Guide to Financial Peace of Mind, offers seven action steps that women can do to address their financial insecurity:

Identify your pain as well as your goals. Answer the following questions: What keeps me up at night?  What worries me most about my money and my future? What do I want to do with the rest of my life? When can I afford to retire? Can I afford to stay retired? Can I travel, change careers, or go back to school?

Create a budget that includes fixed and variable monthly costs as well as one-time expenses. Based on your budget, start building a cash cushion that will cover six to nine months of fixed expenses. The ultimate goal of retirement planning is to create an income stream that is sustainable and will support your retirement needs.

Create a balance sheet of savings and investments. This includes your savings account, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, investment real estate, cash value life insurance, annuities, retirement accounts, individual retirement accounts, 401 (k) plans and other assets.  Then further break it down by pre-tax and post tax-accounts.

Review insurance coverage and needs. Are you supporting anyone else? Is there a need for life insurance?  Who will take care of you if you get sick?  Do you have Long Term Care Insurance? One mother can raise 10 kids, but 10 kids can’t take care of one mother… Younger and healthier women may be tempted to overlook the importance of this step, but failure to anticipate potential health issues can be very expensive.

Address your estate-planning needs. Do you have a will, a durable power of attorney or a health care proxy?  Have you updated your beneficiary designations on your retirement accounts?  Does it make sense to put your assets in a trust to avoid probate? Answers for these questions are important. 

Develop your investment strategy. Is there a purpose to your current investment approach, or are you just accumulating funds? We recommend something we call a “Four Bucket Approach to Purposeful Investing” that has been designed with the help of a Wharton Business School professor.

Hire a Coach. Studies have shown that those investors that utilize a high quality financial advisor feel more confident, optimistic and significantly more likely to stick to their plan versus do-it-yourself investors.