The Smart Woman's Guide to Getting Things Done: 7 Essential Skills to Cultivate for Career Happiness


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Workplace success requires more than expertise and diligent work. Achieving career success requires balancing many needs: those of your organization, team, management and your own satisfaction. In this talk, Amye and Leslie explore seven essential skills that ensure that you can balance those needs effectively while continuing to excel in your technical career: negotiation, communication, setting boundaries, networking, information discovery, navigating social structures & using unproductive times to your advantage.

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  • Title slide:\nIntro selves - Amye then Leslie\n\nGo over current roles.\nWhat we are doing now and what we have done background-wise.\n\n
  • Agenda:\n7 Essential Skills for Career Happiness\nAnecdotes from personal and professional lives.\nBroad Overview assuming audience of undergrads entering workforce\nHow many are beginning / mid career / etc.? This is what you listen for to improve skills vs. teaching mentees - Amye has year ranges\nIf show of hands shows no, retool to "teach this to your mentees"\nInterrupt with Questions\n\n
  • Disclaimers:\nCould fill books - we have a reading list included at the end of this deck\nExplore topics in depth with your mentors, peers, colleagues and managers\nThese are the standard disclaimers you should have in your talks; hint for later. - LH takes\n\n
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  • Ask for What You Need:\nSarah and needing more memory - LH\nBring up Women Don't Ask - LH\nQuarterly review to do self-assessment and make sure you are asking for and getting what you need - Amye\n\n
  • Vale of Suck:\nall LH - quick recap of David Eaves' workshop\n\n
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  • Know Your Audience:\nLH - ConvergeUS event and realizing I was perceived as aggressive\n\nAmye will give awesome example of just how you dial it back\nTake the steel out of your voice \n\n
  • “e on the end of my name” \n\n
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  • Manage Time:\nLH - need to be able to effectively set your priorities\n\nAmye - campaign mode\n\n
  • The pitcher plant here is to remind of ‘pretty but has a purpose too.’ \n- Friendly, helpful, useful, knowledgable but balance with being able to limit your availability. You will be asked to do more than you know how to or can do. Pushback. \n
  • Setting Priorities:\nLH - Whiteboard principle\nAmye - how this works when your manager is 3 time zones away\nLH - quarterly review for major look but need to do this weekly at minimum\n\nAmye - Getting Things Done as a framework, mention limitations\n\n\n
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  • Discovery Processes Vary by Context:\nAmye - Gathering Information by Walking Around; always getting more info than you knew before\n\nLH - Body Language: crossing arms and avoiding eye contact geeks vs. non-geek (know your audience!)\n\nAmye - Con calls & question that makes all hell breaks loose: what happens when only voice and awkward pauses\n\n
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  • Relationships Are Key to Getting Things Done:\nLH - Key Players in Written Communication - if Google searches fail you, learn intuit power structures from responses on mailing lists or to written reports\n\nAmye - love your admin - admin is the one who has the keys to the throne - control your boss' schedule\n\nLH - understand colleague needs - accounting dept at Google and Summer of Code\n\n
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  • Group Dynamics: \nAmye - social networks, user groups, online communities; at some point you may need to decide if it is worth it for you; this is totally ok, you can decide to go away, valid decision to make; you don't have to do everything\n\n
  • Cultivating Your Public Persona:\nLH - Everything you say online is public - screen capture, etc\nSteve Yegge Platform post example\n\nAmye - positive things to do to build your public persona - make sure your profiles are matched up to who you want to be; make sure tagline on email matches blog; on flip side creating authentic public persona make sure people know you are who are before they meet you - Twitter avatar, etc. should look like you\n\n
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  • Sometimes, You Can't Get It Together:\nLH - The Three, three, three thing - do the first three easy thing then the next then the next; if nothing else you got 9 things off your plate and may rekickstart you into high gear.\nGive yourself time to be human. If someone close to you passes away, is getting married, breakups, housing changes, etc., you will be unproductive to some degree. Recognize it. Plan for it. Try not to put major projects in at the same time. Feel free to ask for help from your management in reallocating tasks if you need to during stressful times. \n\nAmye - Make sure you have good judgement about what is a stressful time. Getting a cold is not a stressful time. Chronic illness is a stressor. Long term unproductive times are something we apply the three day rule to….\n\n
  • The Three Day Limit:\nAmye - fantastic quote from Steve Jobs - three days in a row and last day of your life and yes, if three days saying no then I need to make strong decisions about what I need to do to make this stop; if we spend 3 days in unproductivity mode then things suffer, namely our own happiness\n\n
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  • The Smart Woman's Guide to Getting Things Done: 7 Essential Skills to Cultivate for Career Happiness

    1. 1. The Smart Woman’s Guide to Getting Things Done Seven Essential Skills to Cultivate for Career HappinessAmye ScavardaLeslie HawthornGrace Hopper ConferenceNovember 10, 2011
    2. 2. Agenda• Negotiating Skills• Communication Skills• Boundary Setting Skills• Discovery Skills• Navigating Organizational Structures• Networking Skills• Unproductivity Skills
    3. 3. Disclaimers • Each of these topics could fill its own book. • These are our own opinions, not those of any employer. • Your mileage may vary.
    4. 4. Negotiating Skills
    5. 5. Ask for What You NeedPhoto courtesy of Sarah Sharp. Used under a Creative Commons License.
    6. 6. Avoiding the Vale of Suck Interests Highly Aligned Interests Highly Aligned Relationship Poor Relationship Excellent Interests Interests Poorly Aligned Interests Poorly Aligned Relationship Poor Relationship Good RelationshipMore at
    7. 7. Communication Skills
    8. 8. Know Your Audience Communication stylesyou develop and employin all male environments can be perceived as aggressive or angry.
    9. 9. Communicating Online “Gentlemen, cut it out.”
    10. 10. Boundary Setting Skills
    11. 11. Managing Your TimeSetting your prioritieseffectively is essential. (Especially when in “campaign mode”)
    12. 12. Balancing a Persona 12
    13. 13. Setting Priorities Make sure your task list is always visible by your manager. (Even when you’re distributed) Use it to negotiate!
    14. 14. Discovery Skills
    15. 15. Discovery Processes Vary by Context• Gathering Information by Walking Around• Observing Body Language• Managing Conference Calls• Asking the Question that Makes All Hell Break Loose
    16. 16. Navigating Organizational Structures
    17. 17. Relationships Are Key To Getting Things Done • Recognize Key Players in Written Communications • Love Your Administrative Professional • Understand Your Colleagues’ Needs
    18. 18. Networking Skills
    19. 19. Group Dynamics Treat your social networks like investments. Know when to walk away.
    20. 20. Cultivating Your Public Persona Remember,everything you say online is public.For better and for worse.
    21. 21. Unproductivity Skills
    22. 22. Sometimes, You Can’t Get It TogetherThis is perfectly ok.Take a walk, get someexercise and if you needto, take the afternoon off.
    23. 23. The Three Day Limit
    24. 24. Thank You! Questions?@msamye@lhawthorn
    25. 25. This presentation is licensedCreative Commons AttributionNon-Commerical 3.0 Unported Please use, remix and share widely. 25
    26. 26. Recommended Reading• Women Don’t Ask• Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In• Expect To Win• Ambition is Not A Dirty Word• Post: