How To Ask For A Raise



When the Wall Street Journal asks you to be an expert on a webcast panel talking about a sweet-spot issue like “How To Ask For A Raise” – you say yes.

Or, in my case, “Hell, yes!”

I was happy to participate and happier to share the recording with you:




WiseWork Career Story: NASA’s Cady Coleman

Cady Coleman


About a million years ago in the seventh grade, I met a small, observant girl with dark bangs. We both played the flute, we both liked to write, we both had a fairly sly sense of humor.

Which meant, for middle schoolers, that we were slightly beyond potty humor. Only slightly.

Cady Coleman was someone I admired in school because she was wicked smart and had the kind of industrious work habits my parents could only dream of for me. Through middle and high school, we often found ourselves in the same science, history and literature classes, but over time Cady went deep into the sciences and I went deep into writing. (I only took physics, as an example, because there were 23 boys in the class and only two girls. That particular sort of math still happens to appeal to me.)

After high school, we went our separate ways – Cady to MIT to study chemistry, me to Virginia Tech to study writing.

Around our tenth reunion time, I learned that Cady had become an astronaut. A real, honest-to-goodness astronaut. At NASA.

And you know what? I wasn’t that surprised, because in my mind Cady embodied all the characteristics you’d want in an astronaut – smart, resourceful, resilient and diligent.

Over the years, Cady has been up on three missions – she’s the 333rd human to go into space – including a six-month stint in the International Space Station. For that mission, she was launched the day after her 50th birthday proving that age has nothing to do with anything whatsoever.

Cady was my guest this past week on the WiseWork radio show, and she was her usual charming, self-deprecating, wise, insightful self. Would you like to listen to the thirty minute show?

NASA Astronaut Cady Coleman on Working in Space

When Cady describes what it’s like to be launched, what it’s like to orbit the Earth and to see our bright blue ball from space – you can sense her awe and passion.

When she talks about how her family couldn’t afford college but how she made it work for herself, you’ll see grit and determination.

When she talks about the road she walked to get to the place where she could join the astronaut corps, you’ll be inspired.

When she talks about how she leaned in, you’ll be intrigued.

And when someone walks into her office looking for cake right in the middle of our interview, you’ll hear her kindness as she directs her colleague to the fridge.

I am all about working smart with heart, and Cady Coleman exemplifies how any of us can dare greatly enough to reveal our passion for our work. And feel fulfilled as a result.

Thousands of people have listened to the show since last Tuesday. It’s really making an impact – and for that I’m exceedingly grateful, because Cady’s story deserves telling. You can listen by going to BlogTalkRadio or iTunes.

Cady – that flute playing, science-loving, funny, smart seventh grader who sat one desk over from me in so many classes – went on to become one of a handful of American women who’ve been in space. What a privilege it is to see, firsthand, what’s possible for any of us who dare to work smart, with heart.




Death To Anxious Striving



Sometimes the words “anxious striving” pop out of my mouth, usually when working with someone who’s making a big change in his or her life.

“Anxious striving” is often what’s brought them into coaching in the first place. They’re stressed, they’re out of sorts, and they know something’s got to give.

And it’s so very hard to let go of anxious striving, since many of us were raised at the knee of hereditary anxious strivers who were driven to go-go-go, bigger, better, best.

We’ve learned from parents, peers and bosses that the optimal state of being is in constant motion towards harder and harder work, for which rewards may or may not come (depending on the mindset of whoever you listened to – some of us got a heavy dose of the always inspiring “work is hard and people like us never get a break – deal with it”).

Anxious striving is a mindset where we’re always the horse yoked to a heavy wagon, pursuing the dangling, unreachable carrot at the end of the stick perpetually in front of us.

It’s relentless pursuit of pursuit, for motion’s sake.

And it can be exhausting.

Now could be the moment where I wax rhapsodic about the joys of simply being. Of chasing butterflies in fields. Of wearing linen in a softly-focused life of repose.

But… nah.

The majority of us live here in the real world where we have meetings, and mortgages, and people who rely on us in one way or the other.

Plus, there’s a lot of meaning in work. I actually love working. The satisfaction that comes from doing a job that’s important to you, and doing it well, and hearing from someone that the work you performed really mattered – there is nothing like that in the world.

But anxious striving swamps meaning’s boat. So we have to find ways to eliminate it so we can be fully immersed in the Big Reason Why we’re doing what we do.

Here’s a good way to start. At the outset of anything you need to do, just ask yourself something my friend, the writer Jen Louden, suggests: “What are the conditions of enoughness?”

I love this question. And let me give you a simple example of how it might work. Let’s say I’m playing golf in a foursome, and let’s just say some money has been put down in a few side bets, raising the competitive stakes a bit. You with me?

Now, the competitive part of my noggin could start with anxious striving with messages like, “Michele, you’ve got to beat them! Twenty whole dollars are on the line! Par every hole, girl. You’ve got to par every hole.”

Hold your horses, there, kid. Did you know that the average amateur golfer shoots thirty over par on every round of golf? That’s at least one stroke over par on each hole. But me – anxious golf striver – have just said that my goal for today is to play at the level of a pro golfer, with no practice, training or skill.

I’m really something, ain’t I?

If at the outset, I’d considered the “conditions of enoughness” around the match, I might have done something quite different. I might have looked at the scorecard in advance and made my own par. It would be enough to have four strokes on that par three hole surrounded by water. Maybe I will realistically get a double-bogey on that long par five. Those new goals become my new par, and if I finish the round close to the new score I chose to shoot for, I will have done enough.

But more important, my energy would be calm, balanced and engaged rather than anxious, worried and graspy. Golf would be fun.

And the really crazy thing I’ve found in my own life is that by serving my own conditions of enoughness, I often create such a balanced and happy feeling of accomplishment that I do even better than I thought I would when I started.

Anxious striving drives so many of us, with powerful and problematic consequences – like workaholism, stress, disconnection from joy and meaning, and loss of self. Let’s put it out of its misery once and for all, and embrace instead the idea that we alone can decide what’s enough for ourselves, and getting to enough is… enough.

Random Thoughts #3



Sometimes little thoughts flit through my mind, so I thought I’d share them with you…

A person who’s nice to the busboy is my favorite kind of person.

The older I get, the more I understand math and science. Such as: Task divided by Time plus Enjoyment = Fun.

Making new friends at any age is a joy.

Rediscovering old friends is a blessing.

Politics just get weirder and weirder.

Speaking of weird, the Pirates of the Caribbean movies have grossed $3.72 billion dollars. Now, there’s an idea for the federal budget deficit…

It’s only because of the past that we can see the future.

Sometimes the challenge is in making peace with what is realistically possible.

Technology allows me to have clients all over the world. I can visit the Philippines, Brussels, South Africa, Alaska all in one day. And still get to the grocery store.

I need a vacation.

To be financially secure, spend like someone who’s financially secure.

The phrase “in this economy” needs to be banned from use. Indefinitely.

This is a great article about negotiation.

We need to fully honor and acknowledge women heroes.

Little kids playing tee ball for the first time are the most inspiring athletes.

Couples who have been together 45 years and still hold hands inspire me.

There is profound wisdom in pop songs.

Today’s teenagers are more committed to change than we were at their age.

What goes around really does come around. So live your life accordingly.

The only thing I can truly control is my own energy and attitude toward the moment I find myself in.

Random thoughts are not that random after all.


It’s A Craft

Confluence is such a great word, and an even better thing to experience. Don’t you just love it when the pieces come together and you get a whole new perspective?

I had such a epiphany this past weekend while in New York City for Thanksgiving. My daughter and I went up with a list of things we wanted to do and places we wanted to see, and hit the ground running as soon as our suitcases hit the floor.

The first point of confluence came at about 9 o’clock Wednesday evening in the Chelsea Market. Have you been? It’s a foodie’s crack den, with store after store peddling chocolates, cupcakes, spices, fruits, lobsters…in other words – heaven.

A glass-enclosed production kitchen caught our eye. The bakers were surrounded by racks and racks of apple pies, pumpkin pies, breads and rolls. We checked the sign – “Sarabeth’s Kitchen” – and squealed, because we had reservations to eat our Thanksgiving dinner at the Sarabeth’s restaurant near Central Park. As we worked our way further into the store, we saw an older woman hefting trays of pastries into rolling racks and generally getting things into order. I spoke: “You all have been busy!” She smiled, and said, “It’s the biggest day of the year for us, and I think we’re ready.” I tossed in, “Well, we’re eating at the Central Park restaurant tomorrow, so I guess we’ll be eating some of this stuff.” She nodded, hands constantly busy, “These or ones just like this.” She smiled again and kept moving racks.

My daughter whispered, “Mom, that’s Sarabeth.” I cocked my head to the right, surprised. Here, the night before the biggest day in the restaurant trade and the owner of nine restaurants and a booming online business was on-site, with no entourage, making sure things got done?

That’s attention to detail. That’s honoring your work. That’s being true to your craft.

Regardless of how big you get.

And our Thanksgiving meal was richer for having seen Sarabeth’s commitment to her work.

Another confluence point came the next day. We had tickets to a new musical – A Christmas Story: The Musical – based on our favorite holiday film of all time. What better way to kick off the season than seeing a Christmas musical on Thanksgiving Day? Most of the theatres on Broadway are dark on Thanksgiving, so actors and technicians can take a well-deserved night off. But A Christmas Story has a limited run and every performance is a countdown to the final show. We took our seats and noticed that the folks in front of us seemed to know one another. There was a lot of hand-shaking, back-slapping and hugging.

We overheard one man laughingly say to another, “Here we are on our day off, in a theatre!” And then a man approached the fellow right in front of me and said, “Are you who I think you are?” [We, out-of-town rubes that we are, didn't know who anyone was.] They shook hands and the man said, “I love the way they worked your number, you are awesome in it” and it became clear that the entire two rows in front of us were full of performers, writers and directors of other Broadway shows and their families – taking their one night off to watch a new show. I watched their reaction to the performance as it unfolded in front of us – the professionals were as caught up in the great singing, dancing, and production as anyone. And as the new show roared into its finale, it was the other actors who immediately jumped to their feet in a standing ovation.

That’s commitment to craft, too. By allowing yourself to be a member of the audience, rather than being on stage. By learning from watching others doing what you do. By immersing yourself in the work, even if someone else is doing it.

And that’s the thing, I think. When you find the part of your work which is your craft, and you honor it rather than begrudge it – when you do more than just show up, punch the clock and endure eight or ten hours – that’s when you find the meaning. The art. The joy.

Whether you are a CEO or a project manager, a mom or a car salesman, an entrepreneur or an actor – you owe it to yourself to infuse your work with the art of craft. And to celebrate everyone else who’s also honoring your craft by doing it well, and with heart.

When we do that, we’re all lifted up. And it’s a true Thanksgiving.