How to Get a Significant Raise

Almost all companies go through a review process to measure employee performance. Knowing this only happens once a year, I plan out my development to fit as much substance in a 12 month time-frame that I can. A higher year-end rating equates to a higher salary increase, which drives the incentive to do more. The hard part is formulating your wins in the right platform to receive the recognition you deserve.

This is something that took some serious finessing for me to figure out. At my current company, we have two touch points when it comes to employee reviews. In December, the department goals are shared for the upcoming year in which we align and pick a few to focus on. At mid-year we’ll meet with our boss and review how we’re tracking to these goals.

Without a doubt, year-end reviews are one of the most dreaded company processes among employees because you’re trying to compile all significant achievements (it seems daunting to remember 365 days worth) and you’re also forced to brag about yourself (#awkward). After doing a variety of different things for the past six years, I’ve figured out the top 3 that benefit my achievements the most.

  • Keep a running draft of all accomplishments. I fill out an email in my drafts at the beginning of each year and keep track of any and everything on a weekly basis. I’ve gotten in the habit of remembering to fill it out whenever something noteworthy happens. For example: You make have headed a project and presented it to your department, maybe you saved the company X amount through your negotiation efforts on a specific product or you volunteered for a company event. Keep track of everything, you’re your own advocate and it will save you a lot of time at the end of the year.
  • The Year of YES. I personally love the idea around this because it represents coming out of your comfort zone and not being afraid to try something new. (I’ve been using this in my personal life as well, kinda like a YOLO). At work, I want to take every opportunity I can, so when I’m asked to participate in an upcoming project or volunteer event, the answer is always yes. I may have a lot on my plate, but I’m being approached for a reason and I never want to lose that.
  • Write your review like a story. I used to be a fan of bullet points, however your words are incredibly impactful when they’re presented in an organized and thoughtful way. It’s all about how you present it. For my review, it was personally important to separate my accomplishments that fall within my role and responsibilities and the ones I’ve accomplished that are above and beyond. This is so key. If you’re working to get a raise, promotion or recognition for what you’ve accomplished that sets you apart, you need to formulate it that way. Your reviewer will completely appreciate reading a document that flows. They’re reading multiple year-end reviews, so making it as clear as possible helps to separate the difference.







Challenge the Status Quo

I decided to incorporate something new into my commute at the start of the new year. (You can find my morning routine post here). On a typical weekday, I’d flip back and forth between a variety of music genres, my Pandora, or listen to nothing at all. With January being the perfect time to implement new and improved habits, I wanted to incorporate something to my daily commute that felt more productive. After reading this great article from Career Contessa, I downloaded a podcast app called Overcast and researched some of the most influential podcasts based on my interests (Business, Finance, Society & Culture).

You guys, this has seriously transformed my commute. In the mornings I tend to listen to business focused podcasts that get my mind focused for the day. On my way home, I love listening to the ins-and-outs of finance. I’m absolutely entranced how others spend and save their money. I basically negotiate costs for a living, so I see how the two connect (thought I was cray cray for awhile).

Anyways, that was a long winded answer as to how I came about this blog topic. It was through a podcast by Tim Ferris, called “The Tim Ferris Show,” episode #173 Lessons from Geniuses, Billionaires, and Tinkerers in case you want to download.

A reoccurring theme in this 2 hour 45 minute discussion talks about consistently reinventing yourself. Typically, we like to focus on the things that we have done well. We want to continue to do the same thing over and over again in hopes to achieve the same success. Truly, we know that isn’t possible so why do we focus on getting the same result by essentially changing nothing? Because it’s what we know.*light bulb* If you’re looking to grow and develop, look beyond where you’ve succeeded. There are things you haven’t touched that are waiting for you. Discover them.

A common thread I’ve also noticed within the corporate culture is that very few people challenge those in senior level positions or who have this “perceived power”. For example, I was just in a meeting last week with a large group. As the presenter was going through the deck, there was an acronym being used “SWOTT.” The presenter obviously knew what the acronym stood for (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats, Trends), but not everyone in that room walked out knowing what it meant. Why? Maybe out of fear for asking a stupid question.

Asking why, to clarify, or challenging the status quo are by far the largest ways you can grow and develop yourself. When someone is presenting, they’ve had exposure and access to certain information and contacts that the audience hasn’t. It’s very easy for the presenter to skim over specific information or assume the audience is aware only because they’ve spent so much time with it. Raise your hand and ask. I can promise you there are others in the room with the same question. Challenging the status quo is a great quality to have.

Whenever you’re in a meeting with your senior level leader, pay attention to how they contribute to it. Ten times out of ten they will ask a question for clarification or provide input. They don’t leave a meeting unless they understand next steps and expectations. I truly try to follow this when I’m in meetings and have found that others have the same question as I do. I will be the first to admit it’s hard to ask a question in a large group of people, so if you’re more comfortable one on one, then by all means find a time that person is free for you to pop over. No one will ever object to that!





Two Thousand Sixteen

As I reflect on 2016, I can’t believe we’re days from the start of a new year. I’m sure that’s what everyone says, but it’s true.  It’s been a year of many firsts, both professionally and personally, and also one of the most fulfilling years of my life.

I’ve completely settled in as an apparel product developer (just hit my 15 month anni!) and had the opportunity to be part of some high visibility projects and important work throughout the year.  I’m surrounded by great co-workers and a fearless leader who I strive to emulate on a daily basis. I’m so thankful to have her as my compass.

This Spring I travelled on a development trip to China, which had been a long-term goal of mine. Our Spring 2017 trip is already booked and we’ll be adding India to the mix! Out of all the years Ive spent in product development, I’ve never been so comfortable in my abilities to do my job well. I hope this place loves me as much as I love working here.

On a personal note, this year was my first as a fiancé! It was filled with wedding planning, saying YES to the dress, a very large excel spreadsheet to keep organized, engagement photos, food tastings, small and big decisions, and even more planning. We’re officially six months out from the big day and I couldn’t be more excited to celebrate. Last week marked our last dating anniversary – it’s #11 if y’all can believe that number!  It sure is bittersweet. *A special thanks to my friends and family who have put up with my 1 billion wedding questions. I’ve hashed and re-hashed decisions with them and never once did they lose their patience. It hasn’t gone unnoticed.

We took our first family vacation with my parents since 2001 (!!!!) to Mexico where I also asked my sister to be my MOH. I’m so thankful for that trip and the memories we made together as a family.

Our sweet English bully, Morty turned 2. Yes, I realize he will have a birthday each year but he brings so much happiness to our lives every day it would be impossible not to mention him. He will start doggy daycare in January, so If y’all think I was batty before, just wait until Morty brings home his first art project.

We completed our bathroom remodel (pictures coming soon!) and hope to finish our mudroom next year. It’s in the middle of renovation right now with exposed insulation and cement floors. So, it looks like homeless people live in the walkway right now – naturally.

On a more serious note, I’ve become extremely grounded in my relationships. My fiancé and I have dated for more than a decade, so we’ve been a part of so many celebrations for our friends and family. I like to think of myself as that fearless supporter you can always count on. If it’s important to you, I will be there. I learned throughout this year that not everyone will relentlessly support you as you had to them. You can’t change someone’s decision to be committed or not committed to what you find important, what’s happening in your life and what you want to celebrate. You can only adjust your focus. Where I’ve previously placed time and energy and discovered the same isn’t reciprocated, I’ve adjusted. Genuinely asking about what’s happening in another’s life are qualities I consider to be a no-brainer in a friendship, but I realize not everyone is as interested in your life as they are about their own.

On the other hand, it’s has been so refreshing and comforting to see those people in my corner draped with bells on. I get warm fuzzies every time I think about it. Big or small, a text message checking in, advice, or your time – y’all know who you are and I love you from the deepest depth of my heart. I can’t wait to see what 2017 has in store for us.

This year has been filled with so much good. Not every day of course, but I can’t pull out any bad that’s worth talking about. As we lean into 2017, it’s my chance to celebrate one of those once in a lifetime moments we get – like becoming a wife and all of the little celebrations that lead up to it.

May your New Year be filled with lots and lots of love, happiness, great people, better moments, strong drinks and continued success.

img_2540*Trying on wedding dresses has been one of my favorite moments of 2016. I picked my dress with my sister and parents, but of course this isn’t it. The real one is to die for 😉





It has definitely been a hot minute since my last post. When life gets crazy busy and I’m stuck in the dust storm, I always find myself back here – wanting to write and create.

Since my last post, a lot has happened. Just last week our country elected a new President and as the political uproar starts to settle, I’m looking forward to uniting and seeing the change America hopes for. In my professional life, last week also brought some big changes as we faced layoffs and a restructure.

This is the third time I’ve been through corporate layoffs and they’re brutal in every sense of the word. In two of these instances, employees were given notice regarding the changes to come, which I believe to be a blessing and a curse at the same time. As opposed to my first corporate layoff experience which happened without notice, our desk phones were shut off to avoid any news leaked to the media, and phones randomly rang if you were called into HR. The weeks leading up to “D-Day”, as we liked to call it in the office, were tense and full of uncertainty. Change isn’t always easy, especially when it directly affects you. Co-workers who become friends, sometimes even family, are left jobless and that’s a difficult reality to swallow. I’ve been fortunate to withstand the storm and continue to work for a company that I truly love being a part of. However, I’m not naïve to the fact that I will likely face layoffs again and may not always be left standing.

My advice to those in a similar situation is to remain valuable. I promise if you’re an asset to the company, one that would be difficult to live without, will most likely surpass any impact. Be the most valuable person in your expertise and push yourself to go above and beyond. A company will always keep you if they can’t afford to live without you. If you’re swimming with the rest of the fish in the sea, you’re not setting yourself apart or proving your significance.

However, sometimes a layoff is necessary for you personally whether you can see it at that time or not. You may not be happy in your position, you feel stuck, or dread coming to work and receiving your layoff notice was the final kick in the butt to see what greater opportunities lie ahead. I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason, so if change happens to come your way – embrace it. As difficult as it may be to see the positive, it’s out there.

In the weeks that led up to the layoff news, I read a few articles from those who have been through this. I wanted to be prepared if it was me. This article from Refinery 29 talks about coping with that reality and it’s bound to give some reassurance and encouragement.





Morning Routines

Let me start by saying I am not a morning person. Getting up at 5am to work out before heading into the office isn’t logical for me– mainly because I physically will not get out of bed for the gym. For some people it’s a must and that’s great, I wish I could be more like you! However, just because I’m not waking up to go to the gym doesn’t mean that my mornings can’t be productive.

I’ve tested a few techniques after reading through articles over the past few months from successful people and how they spend the first few hours of their day. Some are at the gym, some read or meditate, some spend their morning with coffee and breakfast with their kids. Getting your butt out of bed when your alarm goes off is the hardest part. Overcoming that was really hard for me because I love sleep. I mean who doesn’t, but I now go to bed between 9-9:30pm so I can wake up earlier. For example, this morning I had an early conference call with my China supplier so had no choice but to get up before 6am to be in the office before 7:30am. It’s these mornings that I’m able to appreciate the extra time. Here are my techniques that I’ve adapted for a more productive morning:

  • Shower at night. I always hear that people don’t like to shower at night because they sleep with a wet head and wet pillows are gross. I beg to differ. I personally love to shower at night because it helps me to relax and fall asleep faster. My after-shower routine is actually one of the longest for me so it helps to do this at night when I have more time.
  • Oils. If I have a lot going on and know that I need the extra help to stop my brain from thinking, I’ll rub Lavender Oil on the bottom of my feet and back of my neck. It knocks me right out!
  • Pick out your outfit. I use to be religious at doing this and I’ll be honest, I need to get back on the wagon because I spend too much of my morning staring blankly inside my closet. Having what I’m going to wear ready and waiting ensures a seamless start.
  • Do something you love. I’m obsessed with my English Bulldog, Morty, which isn’t a surprise to anyone who knows me. I love to spend my mornings chasing him around, playing tug-a-war, and stealing a bunch of squishy kisses. When I get to spend just a little bit of my morning with him before I leave for the day, I’m in a great mood. For some, this may be spending the morning with your kids or helping them to get ready. Whatever it is that gets you, do it before your day of commitments begin.
  • Morning drive. I have a good hour commute in the morning to work and I use this time to collect my thoughts and top priorities for the day. I actually typically enjoy my morning commute, it’s a guaranteed hour alone where I can listen to whatever music I’m feeling in the morning (sometimes I choose silence, my brain is loud enough!) and walk myself through my day. Now that I’m thinking about it, I should probably start listening to NPR or a few podcasts to make my drives more productive – 2 hours a day is a good chunk of time!
  • Warm cup of coffee. I’m an addict, a Starbucks latte addict. But, it’s part of my morning routine and helps kick my gears in forward motion.

What helps you to be productive in your morning routine? I’d love to hear about it.