By Jessica Carlson
As an individual in a professional career, I spend a lot of time in all kinds of meetings, whether they are internal, client, or business partner meetings. Even though I have been in my industry for the majority of my adult life, I still have trouble speaking up in these meetings. I have been this way my entire life. As a student, even if I knew the answer and was confident, I refused to raise my hand. If I finished a test first (and I regularly did), I would wait until at least one or two people turned theirs in to get up and walk to the front of the room. This can all be traced back to my disaffinity for being the center of attention.
If you have been invited to a meeting, it is likely that you are going to be expected to speak up. This is one of the ways that some organizations measure your readiness to be a leader. So, why is it so hard? What causes knowledgeable professionals to freeze up in a meeting environment? I have been researching this question and have come across a variety of factors that contribute to the difficulty.
- Fear of looking stupid. What if you completely forget what you were going to say and freeze up? It is a threat to your credibility as a professional.
- You are unsure of how to articulate yourself. This goes right along with looking stupid. If you cannot put the words together, how will anyone else understand the point you are trying to get across.
- Fear of being judged by your peers. What if they realize you are not as smart as they thought?
- Fear of criticism. What if all they have to offer you is negative feedback?
- Fear that you will not be able to answer their questions.
Most of these fears go hand in hand. If you cannot answer a question, you will probably feel like you look stupid. So, how do you ease the anxiety that is building up?
- Prepare in advance. It is much easier to get your point across if you have had time to research and bring a few bullet points to back it up.
- Speak early in the meeting. It is a lot harder to get a word in if everyone else is already throwing their ideas around.
- Use your strengths. Do you have an area that you are a bit more knowledgeable in? This can be helpful to bring your confidence out if you believe in what you have to say.
- Ask questions. They say there is no such thing as a dumb question so if you need clarity on something that is happening, ask. Your colleagues would much rather you ask them questions than have to go back and start a project all over again.
- And lastly, just take a minute and breathe. This can center you as well as strengthen your voice so you speak with confidence.
The bottom line? If you are scared of something, you are going to avoid it. If you avoid it, you are not going to get any practice. If you do not practice, you are not going to get better. If you are not getting better, you are going to continue to be afraid. This loop of fear does not have to continue if you decide to break the cycle with a few of the approaches listed above.
By Jessica Carlson
Something that has come up quite often over the last several months, while working through some professional development courses, is emotional intelligence. But what exactly is it and how do I know if I’ve got it? Check out the article linked below where they will explain what it is, what the benefits are, and how to develop your own emotional intelligence.
By Ashley Snodgrass
If you’ve ever had a work problem, where do you turn for help? Maybe you had a dispute with a coworker, or your boss isn’t giving you the feedback you need? My favorite resource for workplace advice is Ask a Manager, a work advice blog written by Alison Green. Ask a Manager is a great resource for anyone engaging in a professional life, whether you’re job hunting and trying to crack the hiring process, or if you are a boss needing advice on how to manage a tricky subordinate. In addition to thoughtful, helpful advice, you will also see plenty of fascinating workplace horror stories!
I’ve gathered a few of my favorite posts below:
By Tonya Mott
Disclaimer: Lyme Disease is extremely complicated, medically and politically. I will do my best to share what I’ve learned and my references. I am nowhere near an expert on the matter, I only wish to bring awareness in hopes of helping others. Please feel free to reach out to me directly if I have misspoken about any information I’m about to share.
Have you ever had someone close to you experience complicated health issues? You’re not the one, and watching what they go through is exhausting. Not only are they dealing with the symptoms of their illness but they are also trying to navigate our complicated health system (providers, caretakers, procedures, insurance, government, legal, etc.). I first experienced this with my Grandma. She suffered from a laundry list of health problems. Then my husband started to experience medical issues, most of which are still undiagnosed and that includes a trip to the Mayo Clinic where he still didn’t get any answers.
Between my Grandma and my Husband, I thought I’d seen it all until my best friend, was recently diagnosed with Lyme Disease. Let’s just say, mind blown. Watching the pain and suffering this has caused her has been heartbreaking.
Here’s how it all began…
We have been best friends since kindergarten (30 years). When I was a kid, Kelsey’s house was my second home. I spent many nights at her house (even on school nights). We’d make homemade pizza, followed by hot chocolate in our jammies, and if we were lucky we’d have a snow day which meant NO SCHOOL!
A few snapshots from our glory days:
Last September, Kelsey had returned from a long road trip and we made plans to meet at her parents and relive the pizza making days.
Instead, I got a text that just about made me fall out of bed. It was this:
The infamous bullseye rash, Kelsey has Lyme disease. My initial research was that if you spot the rash (not everyone is lucky enough to see the rash before it goes away) you most likely caught it early and after a 30-day treatment of antibiotics you’ll be back to normal. I thought, Phew, she’s in the clear she caught it early. I was so wrong…notice in the pic how she has two bullseye rashes. This meant Kelsey has systemic Lyme and most likely has had Lyme for years.
What I thought I knew about Lyme disease prior to Kelsey’s diagnosis:
- Alaska doesn’t have ticks so I don’t have to worry about it
- Avril Lavigne disappeared off the face of the earth and when she resurfaced years later she said she’d been battling Lyme disease
What I know now:
- Alaska has ticks (not saying Kelsey got Lyme from a tick in Alaska, I don’t know where she got Lyme, I’m just saying, Alaska has ticks): Research Tracking Tick Increase in Alaska
- Phases of Lyme in the simplest explanation I’ve found: https://drpompa.com
- The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimate that 300,000 people are diagnosed with Lyme disease in the US every year. That’s 1.5 times the number of women diagnosed with breast cancer, and six times the number of people diagnosed with HIV/AIDS each year in the US. However, because diagnosing Lyme can be difficult, many people who actually have Lyme may be misdiagnosed with other conditions. Many experts believe the true number of cases is much higher.
- Lyme is called “The Great Imitator,” its symptoms mimic many other diseases. It can affect any organ of the body, including the brain, nervous system, muscles, joints, and the heart. Patients with Lyme are frequently misdiagnosed. In one article, I read that its symptoms can imitate up to 350 different illnesses. Most specifically mentioned:
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Various psychiatric illnesses including depression
- Dr. Dietrich Klinghardt, a leading expert and innovator in Lyme disease treatment for over 30 years, says his practice has never tested anyone with Parkinson’s, ALS, Multiple Sclerosis, or Alzheimer’s that does NOT test positive for Lyme. To quote Dr. Klinghardt: “Lyme Disease is not a bacterial illness; it is an activation of retrovirus caused by the bacterial infection.” Basically, if your DNA has a predisposition to the above mentioned diseases, Lyme may trigger them to become active.
- The Controversy – aka “Lyme Wars”. I’ve found this part hard to summarize but I’ll take a stab at it:
- The CDC, the country’s chief public health agency and the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) doesn’t acknowledge the existence of Chronic Lyme. The CDC endorses the IDSA’s written guidelines for treating Lyme, which says Lyme disease is hard to get and easy to treat.
- The 14 members of the IDSA that wrote the guidelines around treating Lyme, have several conflicts of interest:
- 6 of 14 Hold patents associated with Lyme
- 4 of 14 Received funding from Lyme test manufacturers
- 4 of 14 Were paid by insurance companies to write guidelines or serve as consultants in legal cases
- 9 of 14 Received money from Lyme vaccine manufacturers.
- Insurance companies have resisted accepting the validity of Long-term Lyme disease. Doctors who disregard the insurance companies and CDC guidelines for treating Lyme, and who prescribe long-term treatment for patients with Lyme, risk being investigated by government agencies and medical boards. Treating a disease that some believe doesn’t exist can lead to losing a medical license or being charged for fraudulent billing.
- The Stigma – “The symptoms are all in your head”, Lyme comes with a host of symptoms and the Centers for Disease (CDC) recommended “Western Blot” test almost always provides a false negative.
False Lyme diagnosis in 1991 Simpsons episode – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VjkCj0HJnLs (20 seconds)
I could go on and on about the controversies and conflicts of interest but it would just hijack this entire article.
Below are two updates Kelsey shared on Facebook since her diagnosis. I thought it would be best to share her experience in her own words. What she is going through and how she is coping with the whole situation is remarkable.
To learn more about Lyme Disease, I highly recommend watching these two documentaries (free on Amazon Prime):
- Under our Skin (2009) – Exposes the hidden epidemic of Lyme disease and reveals how our corrupt health care system is failing to address one of the most serious illnesses of our time.
- Under Our Skin 2: Emergence (2015) – This highly-anticipated sequel, investigates the deepening Lyme disease crisis and follows its casualties and controversies. And when we revisit the once gravely ill characters from UNDER OUR SKIN, we see that they have moved from horror to hope, arriving at better health and reclaiming their lives.
After witnessing my Grandma, my husband, and now by best friend experience chronic illnesses, the lesson learned for me, is to be patient and be there for them when they need you. Listen to understand verses respond. DO NOT disregard, doubt, or make them feel bad for their symptoms. This is the time they need you the most. Unfortunately, for me it took my Grandma passing to understand this lesson. I want to cry every time I think about how I treated her. I wasn’t bad to her but I definitely could have been more sympathetic to what she was experiencing. If someone close to you is experiencing complicated medical issues, ask yourself, how are you being there for them? They need your support, trust me, coming from an expert.
Pre Lyme disease diagnosis. Full-time Beachbody Coach, the most active person I know, promoting wellness, and selflessly helping others with their health goals.
Post Lyme disease diagnosis. Full-time warrior, yet, still managing to selflessly help others fighting chronic health issues.
By Tim Maudsley
Below is a KTVA article that highlights the spate of commercial copper thefts around Anchorage, fueled mostly by the lure of quick cash. Despite the possibly of great bodily harm, thieves are stealing copper to then sell quickly at local scrap dealers. From an insurance perspective, the theft of copper from a building could be problematic for the policyholder. Most commercial insurance policies contain limitations on coverage for theft related to precious metals, jewelry, gold and related materials. A common coverage limitation is $2,500, and based on the example in the article below, $12,500 of the $15,000 loss may not be covered. It is important for business owners to discuss this limitation with their agent, as coverage exceptions can be made, as well as having the option to increase the limit of coverage for such losses. Finding out about this limitation after a loss is not a recommended risk management approach.
By Alesha Combs
A recent study found that with 26% of Alaska’s businesses being female owned, Alaska now ranks #1 for largest percentage of female owned businesses in the country! Female empowerment has been an ongoing discussion across the nation, but as a woman in Alaska who loves my job, and loves shopping local, I was thrilled when I heard this.
I’m fortunate to work for a company that has a balanced mix of men and women and plenty of opportunity and willingness to advance each person who rises to the occasion. But one of the things I enjoy most about working for RISQ, is that we get to support the success of our local business owners and their employees. Today I want to give a bit of extra support to some of the wonderful female-owned businesses here in Alaska.
Blogger Wandering Chocobo, aka Susanna Kelly, put together a list of some of Alaska’s female-owned businesses, and notes that, “Every dollar spent at one of these businesses supports the local Alaskan economy and the savvy female entrepreneurs that make it so great.”
By Aimee Johnson
I value myself on being organized and able to manage multiple projects, timelines, and execute to the needs of my clients – with the exception of my dreaded inbox. Email management is my arch nemesis and biggest time suck.
I wish the solution was something as easy as asking my supervisor and peers for their tips and tricks in this area. What I learned from this is that we ALL struggle in this area in some aspect and there is no magical solution.
Why is email management so difficult? We can complete this task from anywhere that we can access our email and it shouldn’t require too much, if any, collaboration or team work. So it should be straight forward, right?
Hubspot created an article, “4 Unique Strategies for Reaching Inbox Zero”. I plan on implementing and testing these for Outlook during our busiest time of the year – 4th Quarter. I hope they will provide relief and increase my sanity. Stay tuned for my follow-up on my results and feedback to Inbox Zero.
By Aimee Johnson
Has an email ever rubbed you the wrong way? Do you have to confirm where to pin your name tag every time you head to a networking event? Have you ever listened to your conference line’s tinny music for over 10 minutes waiting for your forever-tardy team to call in? Why does this keep happening, you ask? Is business etiquette a thing of the past?
If you’ve asked these questions, you’re not alone. As technology changes and cultures clash, the ways we communicate with each other evolve — and during our 9-5 rush, sometimes it can seem like etiquette and simple manners are left in the dust.
Though they may seem small and irrelevant, I believe these small details can be powerful and set you apart in such a competitive market we live in today. There’s a renewed interest in etiquette. If you want proof, head over to YouTube and type in “manners” and you’ll find thousands of results.
Anywhere you go online you’ll find netizens with questions on proper manners, how to handle certain situations, corporate etiquette, and more.
Below are some great resources for various etiquette topics to help you in your personal and professional endeavors:
- Anna Post: Anna offers
wedding and lifestyle advise, though you can find tips on language barriers at
work and responding to a client’s note of appreciation on her business
- Diane Gottsman: Diane shares
insights on everything from table manners to New Year’s resolutions. Here are
great tips on professional etiquette and LinkedIn interaction.
- Jacqueline Whitmore: Check
out her thoughts on the benefits of handwritten
- Sharon Schweitzer: Sharon offers advice for anyone with questions about corporate and business etiquette. Here are tips for writing emails to international business contacts.
Why is business etiquette still important?
Etiquette is respect in action. Manners are a way of showing people we care about them and/or their ideas. This can help break down barriers and start relationship and trust building.
Sending an email or handwritten letter following an introduction or client meeting takes time and effort. Investing time in another person show them that you value and respect them. You’re not just telling them; you’re showing them proof.
Etiquette boosts morale. Think about when you were first starting your career — when the boss stopped by your desk to congratulate you on meeting your goals last quarter or asked for your feedback on a new project, how did it make you feel?
Etiquette allows professionals of all levels to show their employees that their wants and needs are important, and that their hard work is appreciated. The strongest companies are formed when everyone feels a sense of shared respect.
Etiquette is contagious. The great thing about office etiquette is that it’s contagious. By leading by example, one manager can influence others to adopt a new attitude. A single member of a company can completely change workplace dynamics for the better.
When YOU put a value on etiquette you inspire your colleagues to follow in your footsteps. Make it part of your personal brand and culture!
Etiquette reduces stress. There will always be some stress in your workday. If there isn’t, there should be — a healthy amount of stress shows you’re challenging yourself and taking the risks needed to exceed your goals. But if you dread opening an email from the director of marketing or asking the IT department for help with a server issue, that stress can definitely stall your work, sabotage your goals and even derail your career.
Think of proper corporate etiquette as the grease that keeps your productivity train rolling. When you practice etiquette in all of your interactions, you maintain healthy relationships with, leads, clients and colleagues and your lines of communication retain a healthy hum.
Etiquette raises your brand image. “So honey, how was your day?” When you’re asked this question, is your answer usually positive or negative? How do you think others would respond?
If you think about it, people are talking about your brand every day — and they’re doing it around dinner tables and happy hour menus. Putting an emphasis on etiquette can ensure the picture others paint is a positive one.
By Ashley Snodgrass
What do you do when you get a bill from your doctor or an Explanation of Benefits from your insurance company that doesn’t look quite right? Maybe you have been asked to pay more because a service wasn’t covered, or the claim was processed out-of-network (even when you know your doctor is in-network)? If you’re like most people, you likely grudgingly pay the bill and move on. Before I worked in the health insurance industry, I did the same thing. Primarily, because as a young adult I had no idea how insurance was supposed to work. I also didn’t know what to do if something was processed differently than I anticipated.
I recently stumbled across an article written by an owner of a healthcare advocacy company, where she detailed issues she had trying to sort out an issue with an insurance company for her father. She shares valuable recommendations to help readers get better results when trying to sort out issues with your own insurance company. I encourage you to check it out to learn more about how to work with your health insurance company: