Tuesdays With Motivation – 23 February 2016: Assertive

I attended a tech job fair last week. Not to actually job hunt, per se. I was there for professional networking reasons, since I recently started my own business. I was also there because I knew that a friend of mine would be in attendance, and it was an easy way to meet up with her. Two things, by the way, that are important and that you should always make time for — professional networking and reconnecting with friends or acquaintances. 

When my friend and I spotted a company we both wanted to speak to, we headed to their table. I noticed a woman, in a suit with resume in hand, standing just far enough away from the table that I wasn’t sure if she was waiting to talk to them or not. “Excuse me,” I said, pointing, “Are you waiting to talk to this company here?” She replied that she was, and had been waiting a while. Always trying to be the problem-solver, I suggested that perhaps she was too far away and that the company didn’t know she was waiting to talk to them. She dismissed my idea and said that she wanted to be polite and give the people already at the table room and privacy.

That was a beautiful and admirable statement she made. But, it was a job fair. Basically, the Hunger Games of employment.

My friend and I stood with this well-mannered job seeker and chatted with her for a few minutes. All the while, my Katniss urges of survival were bubbling to the surface. Once again, in the vein of being helpful, I suggested to this woman that if she didn’t move closer, that someone else could cut in front of her. I also reminded her how long she said she had been waiting. She still disregarded my suggestion and stayed put. Frustrated, I stopped chatting with her and we stood in silence in an oddly-formed queue at a weird distance from the vendor we all wanted to see.

Within a blink of an eye, there was turnover at the table. A man appeared from out of nowhere and stepped right up to the vendor, bypassing all three women standing in line waiting.

I turned to my friend and said, “We just experienced what happens to women in tech, or in any work environment — we get ignored or bypassed. I mean, we were just literally cut in front of.” Now, I’m not trying to make a villain out of the man who made his way to the table before us. But, the symbolism of it all was hard to ignore. I am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt that he didn’t realize there was a line. I will, however, remain annoyed at the vendor representatives who really should have had some better crowd control skills. By “crowd” I mean three women standing in an ill-conceived and albeit awkward queue.

The mild-mannered job seeker then stood there, mouth agape and incredulous that her strategy of giving way-too-much personal space didn’t work out the way she had envisioned. Frustrated, I leaned closer to her and through somewhat gritted teeth said, “You need to just go up to that table now and join a conversation in progress, or you will be standing here all night.”

I didn’t do that to be mean to her. If I wanted to have been mean, I would have bypassed her myself. I wanted her to step up. To be assertive.

That’s assertive, not aggressive. Don’t confuse the two. Very different. While there may be times when aggressive behavior is warranted, this wasn’t one of those times.

You can still have manners and be polite, while being assertive. They are not mutually exclusive.

It’s not always going to be easy. For example, read this article about how “For Women, ‘Assertive’ Still Means ‘Mean.'”

As they say, pick your battles. Step up when you need to. Be assertive in a situation where you might otherwise find yourself to be a shrinking violet. Don’t keep standing around, waiting for things to come to you when they may literally be only a few feet away.

If you are looking for a job, read “3 Ways to Surviving the Job Hunt, from The Hunger Games.”

May the odds be ever in your favor.

Tuesdays With Motivation – 16 February 2016: Swift

Swift, as in Taylor. I honestly don’t know that much about Taylor Swift or her music. I know that she’s originally from Pennsylvania, and like to take some Keystone State pride in that. I’m familiar with most of her big hit songs, but don’t know any deep cuts. I guess what I know the most about her is how, to me, I think she seems like a good role model for young women. I would be devastated if it were to be revealed to have been smoke and mirrors this whole time. But, I have faith that she seems genuine and she puts forth a positive message.

For this week, Taylor Swift is my motivation and she should be yours as well.

Tonight at the Grammy Awards show, she accepted the Album of the Year honor with a few words that were a not-so-veiled retort to Kanye West lyrics about her.

…there are going to be people along the way who will try to undercut your success or take credit for your accomplishments or your fame. But if you just focus on the work, and you don’t let those people sidetrack you, some day when you get where you’re going, you will look around and know it is you and the people who love you who put you there.

Her words immediately made me think of both women in the tech industry as well as the female library & information science students and new professionals I know. Just this week, results of a study have been circulating in which computer code written by females is considered to be superior — unless the gender of the coder is revealed to be a woman. (As an aside, I’d love to see a female coder use the name George Sand and see who gets the reference.) There is also the article from January of this year in which it was reported that 60% of women working in Silicon Valley experience harassment. Hell, Beyonce received harsh criticism from many over her new song/video “Formation.” The woman danced in heels on a torn-up football field and managed to save herself from falling on stageand made both look easy. Women can’t catch a break.

But, I digress.

Sadly, Taylor Swift is correct that, yes, haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate.

The Harvard Business Review wrote about a study of how women get less credit for teamwork.

Whether you are a solo or in a group, you will be marginalized if you’re female. But, don’t despair, my Millennial and whatever-comes-after-them friends. Be prepared with this knowledge. Call people out on it. My advice is for you to pick a strong female as your touchstone to get you through those discouraging times you may come across if someone takes credit for your ideas or  you are overlooked because of your gender.

Whether it’s Taylor Swift, Beyonce, Sheryl Sandberg, Joan from “Mad Men,” or your mother, have some #SquadGoals of strong women in your arsenal for inspiration … then, go set the world on fire.

Tuesdays With Motivation – 2 February 2016: Changes

For those of you paying attention, I did indeed miss a “Tuesdays With Motivation” entry last week. But, it was for a good reason. I was very busy launching my new business, Sherpa Intelligence LLCYour guide up a mountain of information.

This is a huge change for me. It means leaving the comfort of a good job I’ve had for 7 and a half years with a great employer. I will be an independent information professional and carving out my new path. The reception I received from my librarian colleagues when I made my announcement has been full of excitement and encouragement. Some of them even calling me or messaging me privately to tell me how brave I am, that they would never have the courage to make such a dramatic change in their lives.

Making this leap didn’t seem so scary after I thought it through. I took a long, hard look at the state of my profession, my industry, and my own needs. Then, I wondered what took me so long.

I still don’t know what I was waiting for
And my time was running wild
A million dead-end streets
And every time I thought I’d got it made
It seemed the taste was not so sweet

What I previously thought was making me happy professionally, just wasn’t anymore. Then, a combination of planning, hard work, support, luck and networking brought me to the day that I made my resignation official.

Change must be contagious. Among those messages of support from friends, colleagues and acquaintances have also been statements about the changes they now felt empowered to make in their own lives. I’m happy to be a catalyst for positive change in other people’s lives, even though that was never my intention.

You still have eleven months left in 2016. Do you want to keep your course, or is there a change you’d like to make?

I watch the ripples change their size
But never leave the stream
Of warm impermanence and
So the days float through my eyes

Of course, I don’t mean any disrespect by chopping apart the lyrics to “Changes,” but these passage speak to me with their own meaning.

Find your change, or ch-ch-ch-ch-changes.

As for me and my new professional endeavor? Well, David Bowie said it best, “I don’t know where I’m going from here, but I promise it won’t be boring.”


Tuesdays With Motivation – 19 January 2016: Late

It is never too late to be what you might have been. – George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans)

In the youth-obsessed culture of today, it’s easy to think that the passage of time equals missed opportunities for goals and achievements. Although that may be true for some things with specific age limitations (I’m looking at you, Menudo) for the most part, you can still have success even if you start late. Or, what society deems as late. But, for you, it’s just right. As Aaliyah sang, “Age ain’t nothing but a number.”

Tuesdays With Motivation – 12 January 2016: Fear


It can be a great motivator.

It can make someone cut bacon and butter sandwiches out of their diet, out of fear of high cholesterol.

It can make someone cut back on alcohol, or not drink it at all, because they have seen what it can do to some people.

Fear can also be a great inhibitor.

Is the comfort and safety of “the devil you know” heightening your fear of “the devil you don’t?” Professionally speaking, is it making you stay at a job longer than you should probably be there? Is fear keeping you away from learning a new skill, that could benefit your career sometime down the road?

Today’s Tuesdays With Motivation message is all about taking the fear out of fear in your professional life.

I used to keep this mid-to-late 80s Nike ad on the wall in my room: fear


In hindsight, I probably shouldn’t have. It was meant to be motivational, “Just Do It” and all. Instead, it just put into black type what exactly was going on inside my head; a vicious cycle of of inertia due to paralyzing fear of action or fear of inaction.

I previously wrote about overcoming fear of a different sort in this blog post about my difficulties of riding a bike. Now, professionally, I am embarking on learning (or, in some cases, re-learning) computers and technology. The learning curve is a little steep for me in some places, so my fear of failure would tell me to be afraid. Instead, I am determined to tell the fear to take a hike and brace myself for the impact of failure. The good thing about failure? Once you are down, the only place to go is up.

“There is no illusion greater than fear.” – Lao Tzu

What in your professional life are you afraid of that is holding you back? What part of the illusion of fear is making something elude you? Use the fear as your fuel.

Fear. It’s a great motivator.

Tuesdays With Motivation

In my effort to make 2016 truly one of personal and professional growth, I decided that I will post something motivational every Tuesday. This “something” may be a quote, a photo or maybe even a reading recommendation. This is as much for me as it is for all who see it. Since that famous African proverb says that we go farther together, it seems like the right to do is to share motivation with others.

Why Tuesday? I found this explanation that summarizes it beautifully for me:
Tuesday is ruled by Mars, and great for initiating things, such as beginning the work week, and most any other endeavor.

There are 52 Tuesdays in 2016. Here’s the first:

“Always do your best. What you plant now, you will harvest later.” – Augustine “Og” Mandino II, American author

It’s Like Riding a Bike

Today, I rode a bike. It was a bubble gum pink beach cruiser with fat tires and a wide seat. I rode on the bike path that hugs the coastline from downtown Monterey, California out past the Great Tide Pool in Point Pinos. It’s about a 10-mile round trip journey.

Why is this worthy of a blog post? Bike riding terrifies me.

You know those crippling anxious feelings some people have about public speaking, heights or riding a roller coaster? That’s how I feel about bike riding.

The expression, “it’s like riding a bike,” means that once a skill is learned it is never forgotten. In my case, it’s not just the muscle memory of bike riding that I never forgot, but the anxiety that always accompanied it.

It all stems from my childhood epilepsy. Based on medical advice, which I assume at the time, was considered to be sound; I was forbidden to ride a bike. It took me a few years to convince the pediatric neurologist to clear me for bike riding. Once he did, when I was 10 or 11 years old, it was with one caveat – I had to wear a helmet. Nowadays, helmets are mostly a given and even required by law in some states. However, in the early-to-mid 1980s, it wasn’t exactly the norm. It also wasn’t the sleek helmets that are available now. Think of the Rick Moranis character of “Dark Helmet” from the “Spaceballs” movie. Now, imagine that the helmet is red with a sharp, inflexible thick plastic white chinstrap. That was the far-from-cool headgear I had to deal with.

So, me and my gigantic red helmet learned how to ride a bike when I was about a decade old.
Yes, I got looks, stares and even mocked.
Yes, I cared that was happening to me.

Between a couple of unfortunate wipeouts and the general social ostracization of it all, bike riding became that thing that other people did.

After a handful of half-hearted attempts to conquer this fear, it wasn’t until I turned 43 that I really started to proactively slay this two-wheeled dragon.

I’d ask myself, what’s really the worst that could happen?
I could get hit by a car and die.
I could wipe out and get injured.
Or, I could be less dramatic and have a pleasant experience while gaining confidence.

Slowly, I began to chip away at conquering that fear. In June of this year, I rode a bike through the streets of Boston. Me. On a bike. On real streets. In Boston.

The next month, in July, I rode a bike a few times on the Schuylkill River Trail during lunch. Me. On a bike. During lunch. In Philadelphia.

That brings me to today’s biking adventure. I told the bike shop employee that I might be back in five or ten minutes. I then nervously chattered on about being a novice bike rider and something traumatic might happen to me and I would turn around and not be gone very long. The shop clerk smiled at me sweetly and said, “I’m not here to judge you. You take however long or short as you want. But, if you do only take five or ten minutes, please know that I still have to charge you the whole hour.” Fair enough.

As I clumsily pedaled away from the shop, she yelled to me, “I believe in you!”

Bolstered by her non-judgmental bike shop employee confidence in me, I completed my 10-mile ride without incident and only with minimal fear.
Well … manageable fear.

A very wise person reminded me yesterday, over a lunch of giant burritos, that we all have impediments to happiness. It’s the ability to recognize and then chip away at those impediments is what matters.

The happiness that I received from letting go of the fear and feeling the wind in my face on that bike was my motivation to keep pedaling.

Slowly, but surely, the muscle memory of bike riding is what I will retain more than the stressors of it. What I am finally understanding, after all these years, is that multiple earnest attempts at conquering something add up. Those attempts then start to squeeze out insecurities, fears and anxieties. You know, the things that prohibited enjoyment of that activity in the first place.

What would you do, if you weren’t afraid?
Go on, try it again and keep at it.
Soon, it will be as natural to you as riding a bike.

pink bike

#InfoProChat: “Who Wants to Know? Online Security and Privacy for You and Your Library”

Join us for the inaugural #InfoProChat on Thursday, October 8th from 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm ET (8:00 pm – 9:00 pm UTC.) What is #InfoProChat? Click here!

Our first Twitter chat is entitled, “Who Wants to Know? Online Privacy and Security for You and Your Library.” We will spend the hour discussing questions like:

  • What role should we have in regards to advocacy for privacy and security?
  • How do you get involved with these types of initiatives if you’re not a part of your library or workplace’s IT department?
  • Do we have a professional responsibility to be tech-savvy? If so, what tech should we know?
  • How safe are you with your own online practices and cyber hygiene? Are you a “do as I say, not as I do” kind of professional, or do you really walk the walk?

We will discuss these questions and more on Thursday. Prepare for our Twitter chat by reading articles like these:

  1. Library’s Tor relay—which had been pulled after feds noticed—now restored

  2. Crypto activists announce vision for Tor exit relay in every library

  3. The Importance of Cyber Hygiene in Cyberspace
  4. Librarians Versus the NSA
  5. Considering the Librarian Tech Skills Gap
  6. Virtual Privacy Lab

Follow @LibrarySherpa on Twitter and the hashtag #InfoProChat to participate. @LPikeSeeley will be asking follow-up questions, so follow her as well!

We are anticipating an active discussion and might not get to all of these questions. Join in and have your (Twitter) voice heard, and we’ll address as many of these topics as we can!

Your #InfoProChat hosts – Tracy Z. Maleeff and Laura Pike-Seeley.

(From 3 Geeks and a Law Blog) News Flash: Entry-Level Associates Lack Key Practical Skills

Mark Gediman wrote, “Any law firm librarian who works with summer associates and recent law school graduates can tell you how ill-prepared they are for the “real world” in a firm.”


Read the full-text of his article here:
“News Flash: Entry-Level Associates Lack Key Practical Skills”

#uklibchat agenda – Tuesday 4 August 2015: Careers surgery

The #uklibchat Twitter chats are always fun and a great resource for LIS information. I’m particularly interested in the upcoming August 4th chat about careers. I’ve had quite a career journey myself and hope to possibly impart some wisdom onto others. Join us on Twitter on Tuesday, August 4th from 1:30 pm – 3:30 pm Eastern Time. Follow @uklibchat and #uklibchat to participate in the conversation!


Our August chat will be a ‘Careers surgery’: a chance to talk about our career issues and questions. Talk to fellow library and information workers or students about their career journeys, how they’ve found new jobs, what’s helped them be successful in getting jobs, and any tips and advice people have to share.

The chat will be on Tuesday 4 August, 6:30 – 8:30pm UK time.

The agenda is available here:  please add the questions that you would like to ask.

We also have a feature article written by Katharine Schopflin to get you thinking about the topic.

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