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Balancing Your Corporate Image, Personal Style & What’s On Trend

Over the past 10 years, I've spent a fair bit of time sitting in company foyers waiting to be greeted prior to hosting corporate leadership branding workshops.

With the advent of "Bring your whole self to work", I have seen many interesting interpretations to this statement. I've seen women wearing short leather skirts, see-through tops, and hot pants and that's just in the foyer.

While these might be the right choice for the weekend I have a deep fear that women are putting themselves at risk of not being taken seriously in the boardroom. This doesn't stop in corporate organisations either.

Lately, I've seen more and more T.V personalities and Entrepreneurs exposing a crazy amount of cleavage and I've wondered why? Is it really necessary? Do you need to expose that much of yourself to get your point across....me thinks NOT!

You all know I'm a huge advocate for women claiming the leadership positions they deserve so when you read this post know that I am coming from a place of wanting to see all women succeed at the highest level.

At the end of the day, women shouldn't lose sight of the fact that they are still going to a place of business to do business.

Given women have so many clothing options they can find themselves in dangerous territory if they don't balance their corporate image, personal style and what's on trend.

I'm a huge advocate for "bringing your whole self to work" but as women, we need to keep the focus on the quality of our work and not on our body parts.

Personally, I think "bringing your whole self to work" brings a wonderful opportunity for women to re-discover their true personal style. To date, women have been conditioned to dress and act like men and some of my clients have forgotten how to tap into their strong feminine energy.

One of the most common questions I get asked by clients is, "How can I inject my own personal style and still look office ready?

Here's a simple formula that I created and share with clients. I hope it helps you find your balance.

Generally speaking an outfit is made up of 3 key ingredients – also known as "Rule of Three". Here's a previous article on this. If you follow this formula, it should put you in good stead to strike the right balance.

1. Always have one structured classic/timeless piece in your outfit. Whether it be classic style pant, skirt or jacket. The structured piece will keep your outfit looking tailored and professional.

2. Always have one piece (structured or unstructured) that reflects your personal style. This piece can incorporate your style with the use of a print, colour choice or fabric choice.

3. The final piece should give a nod to what’s on trend and within reason (ie a top, necklace style, scarf, the style of pant, a lip colour, bag or print).

Here are a few examples to demonstrate the above.

Image 1: The overall look is office ready. The skirt is a classic style in an "on-trend" colour being burgundy. Leather can have a suggestive effect, however, because its worn in a structured, classic style/length it's still office appropriate. You'll notice the top and sleeveless vest are in neutral/classic styles.

Image 2: The black cigarette pants and top are very classic and timeless. It's paired back with a classic structured blazer that's in an "on-trend" colour. P.S Wearing all black on the inside creates a slimming effect.

Image 3: Everything about this outfit is office ready. A classic blazer (with a slight twist) teamed with a pair of "on-trend" culottes. The culottes offer a twist on the classic pant but are well and truly office appropriate.

Image 4: The black skirt is your classic high waisted style. It's teamed it with a top that is currently on trend and overall the look is office appropriate.

Looking at the above examples, the women all look office ready, on trend and strike a great yin/yang balance that is office appropriate and signals their ready for the next leadership opportunity that comes their way.

Regardless of what's trending at the moment, try to stay true to yourself. Know what you look good in, what you like and stick to that.

As you get dressed for work tomorrow morning, think about your short and medium term career goals and present a personal leadership brand that is going to take you one step closer to achieving your professional goals.

Here's to all women claiming the positions they deserve.


P.S If you're an ambitious, heart-centered professional women who wants to leverage your leadership brand then please come and join our LinkedIn group here.

Stage and Screen Presence For The Professional Woman

Whether you realise it or not, every day you will find yourself on a "platform" where you'll be presenting, be it on stage, in a meeting room or in front of a screen.

Officially you may not have "speaker" as part of your job description but the truth is we are all speakers.

Like most professional women you will be required to step up and speak whether it be on a stage, in a meeting room, at an event, on a podium, in a lecture theater or pitching to key stakeholders.

Your leadership brand is the first element of your executive presence that provides insight into who you and what you are about as a person.

With our world becoming smaller and teams becoming global, there are a plethora of virtual communication tools that allow you to be seen and heard. So how are you leveraging your Leadership brand for maximum impact?

Let's dive deep and explore ways to maximise your leadership brand for both stage and screen.

1. Align your personal style to your audience

Each speaking engagement may require you to alter your personal style depending on your audience and objectives. Select three adjectives that give you a framework of how you want to be perceived. Whilst it's important that you consistently deliver on your personal brand, there will be times that you need to make slight adjustments so that you have impact and influence with your audience. There is a great concept called "Yin/Yang" that I teach my clients who are speakers and those who need to wield influence. Click here for more information.

2. Select your stage outfit

Ultimately have this action completed one week prior to the event/session. This will allow you ample time to try on your outfit and rehearse. This will also help you visualise yourself in the moment and what you will look and feel like.

If you are planning to present from a large stage, avoid too many stripes, checks, small patterns and bright colours. Block solid colours usually work best. The fit of your clothing is also important. Ensure there are no pulls going across your hips or chest particularly if you will be moving about the stage.

Ensure you know what the background colour is. For example, some TED talks are held in a room with a black background so it's best not to wear black otherwise you'll look like you have a disembodied head.

Don't forget to consider your accessories. Avoid dangling jewelery that could interfere with microphones.

3. Colour Contrast

Whenever you are giving a presentation to a smaller audience, the best contrast to aim for is “medium”. Medium contrast is when you combine a light colour with a dark colour in your outfit as seen below. This level of contrast has just the right amount of colour to keep the audience engaged without distracting them from your message. This will be especially important if listeners can only see the top half of your outfit.

If you are presenting from a large stage, wearing high contrast will give you presence. 

There are 3 levels of contrast, high medium and low. Here are examples.

4. Colour Placement

If colour is the very first thing our eyes notice then colour placement becomes paramount. Our main communication portals are our eyes and mouth. Ideally, when talking with someone, we want them focused on what we are saying. Placing colour high up in your business outfit will ensure the focus is on your message. Consider a high-placed accessory, lipstick, earrings, tie, glasses, brooch, scarf as your vehicle to direct others to where you want them to look.

5. Influencing Triangle

Did you know that the FIRST thing people remember about you are elements to do with grooming, rather than the specific clothes you wear? That might come as a surprise to some of you reading this post.

When watching T.V presenters, many times we can only see them from the waist up. Our eyes quickly scan and take in the whole picture and then our eyes typically rest on a portion of the body known as the influencing triangle. This area is at a point at the breastbone and then comes up and out – taking in the whole of our head. We specifically notice their hair, skin, eyes, teeth and lateral details around attire. If you are presenting on a screen the influencing triangle will play a big role in how you display your leadership brand.

6. Don't neglect your shoes

Test and break in your shoes. There would be nothing worse than trying to move around a stage or meeting room in pain. All women reading this post will know exactly what I mean. Don't forget that your shoes could be at eye level with the audience if you are speaking from a stage so make sure the heels and toe are in good repair.

7. Bring your energy

Energy, when it comes to conveying commitment, is not about movement, but about focus and passion. The communicator’s mouth and voice carry this energy – and the body naturally follows. To get you in state consider power posing and using affirmations to increase your energy levels before presenting. Did you know that Tony Robbins gets himself in the zone for about ten minutes prior to taking the stage. He gets his body “awake and alive” by jumping up and down, spinning around, fist pumping, stands with his arms outstretched, and even bounces on a trampoline. He has enough energy to keep 4,000 people engaged for 50 hours over four days (WOW)!

8. Consider your vocal pace

There will be times when speaking slowly gives your audience the mental space to breathe and take in what you have to say. This allows you to connect with them at a high cognitive level. During a teleconference, your voice is the whole thing, your only personal signature. Use all of it! It can help you convey all that you intend: precise meaning, level of confidence, and conviction. Respect the power of the pause. Be especially sensitive if the call is global or includes any participants whose first language is NOT English.

In essence, think of every speaking engagement as an opportunity to create a TED-like talk. It's an opportunity to share your unique message and for your personal and professional brand to gain visibility and authority. Many professional women want to have more visibility and this is a great way to achieve it.

If you are a professional woman and you'd like to learn more about how to leverage your personal brand, come and join me and 20 other ambitious women and learn, The Art Of Self Packaging For Success. Click here to register. Limited seats. 


Success is not about competition, it's about contribution

Success is not about competition; it's about contribution.

That was the message by organisational psychologist, Adam Grant during his Ted Talk. 

Many of you will know of Adam Grant as the co author to Sheryl Sandberg's latest book, Option B.

He urges organisations to reward and recognise "GIVERS". Those people who are always happy to take on additional projects and always happy to help colleagues.

I know many of you feel like you go unrecognised at work, and I know you always go the extra mile to ensure you deliver. You are GIVERS.

Adam wants to live in a world where GIVERS succeed and so do I.

This is exactly why I created The SELF Leader Brand Map.

This program is designed to provide GIVERS with tangible techniques to help them find their voice, create presence, lead with confidence and find their purpose so that others recognise just how lucky they are to have them in their team and organisation.

The final step of The SELF Leader Brand Map is dedicated entirely to being of service (contribution). This will create more fulfilled GIVERS because organisations and the world need more of them. 

What I have personally discovered through my own journey is that the more I GIVE the more I RECEIVE in terms of true fulfillment and happiness and I want the same for you.

Having served over 3000 professional women during my ten years as a personal branding expert, I have built a strong awareness of what women want and what they need.

I know I'm in the best position to advise clients on what the corporate market is looking for and equally to advise corporate organisations what employees are looking for from them.

The idea for The SELF Leader Brand Map came about because I kept hearing clients tell me:

  • They were being over looked for promotions
  • They feel like they're given less credit for their ideas 
  • They are interrupted more in meetings

When I have shared this feedback with senior decision makers in organisations, the over riding feedback was that they want to empower their employees to take their careers into their own hands and carve out their success without having to wait for someone to tap them on the shoulder.

And this feedback was backed up by a large global survey conducted by Right Management, 2015, which identified that 89% of employees believe they are or need to be responsible for the development of their career. 

So my question to you: Are you the driver or passenger of your life and career?

Are you going to keep making excuses as to why you're not getting the promotion, why your ideas are not being heard, why you feel invisible?

What I know for sure is that those individuals who invest in their professional and personal development and take massive action, are the ones who reap the rewards and find true fulfillment. 

You playing small doesn't serve you or the world in any positive way.

As women, together we will accomplish amazing things. When a woman helps another woman, they both benefit. And when women celebrate one another’s accomplishments, we’re all lifted up. Together women can do more, go further, and change the world. 

Come and join me 29.09.2017at The SELF leader Brand Map. Together we can do more, contribute more!


Three Ways To Power Up Your Leader Brand To Increase Your Impact, Influence and Income

I've had many mid career professional women tell me that they have been told they “aren’t ready” yet for leadership positions they seek.

For many, it came as a surprise and to others, it was the nudge they needed to power up their LEADER BRAND.

Make no mistake, professional women are ambitious. According to a national survey conducted in 2016 / 2017 by Women's Agenda, (39.14%) of professional women ticked ‘looking to earn more’ as one of their ambitions for the next 24 months. It came up well ahead of other options like ‘aiming to get a promotion (32.74%).

One under utilised tool women have at their very disposal which can help them earn more money and yield greater influence is by harnessing the power of their LEADER BRAND.

If I asked you, "What makes a LEADER BRAND Strong"? what would you say?

And if you had to make yours stronger, would you know how to do it?

Your LEADER BRAND doesn’t just incorporate how you look, it also incorporates how you sound, what you say and the way you say it.

Let's take a look at three ways to power up your LEADER BRAND

1. How You Look

Your ability to create a style and authentic brand will stem from how well you can answer these questions.

What values govern the decisions I make every day

What are my super powers

Once you have answers to these questions you can start to create an external image that reflects the authentic you.

For example, let’s say one of your super powers is your high attention to detail. The easiest and most effective way to portray this is to create a look that is aligned from head to toe. It’s all in the detail. This also creates trust in your ability to follow through.

Creating visual presence and confidence is the first step to developing a distinctive style that represents exactly who you are, how you influence others and how you show up to the world.

While you want to "Lean Into" your career you certainly don't want to "Blend Into" the sea of sameness.

Your style will get you noticed but it's your signature that makes you unique, Janette Ishiyama
Once you've created a visual signature there's no point keeping it to yourself. A significant component to creating a visual signature is that you need to share it with others. How visible are you to colleagues, stakeholders, customers and clients?

2. How You Sound

Are you voicing your personal brand?

Your tone of voice can boost or bruise your personal brand. The sound of your voice has a significant impact on how others view you. Be mindful of:

  • Enunciation: Are you clear when you speak?
  • Pace: Do you talk slow or fast?
  • Pitch: Is your pitch very high or very low? 

How you sound also applies to written communication. Consider your digital footprint. Your personal and professional visibility both online and off-line is a major differentiator and has a direct impact on how people perceive you as a leader in your industry. Remember to communicate the problems you solve, the difference you make and the value you add.

3. What you say and how you say it

Do you have a compelling answer to the question “What do you do?” Being able to identify your truth and communicate what is important to you, will influence the way people think, feel and say when your name comes up.

Your body language also shapes who you are and affects the way people make judgements, and these judgements can have very meaningful, outcomes in life – like who is hired and promoted.

The degree to which you are being true to your personal brand affects your ability to command authority, and greatly influence others.

If you'd like to learn more about how to power up your LEADER BRAND to increase your impact, influence and income, click here and join me and other ambitious women who want to take charge of their career by leveraging their leader brand for career success.

Styling Your Success

P.S I'm hosting a FREE Masterclass on Tuesday the 29th of August at 12 noon AEST. It's called "3 Steps To Leverage Your Leader Brand And Increase Your Impact, Influence & Income. Click here to register. In the spirit of generosity, I'll have a FAB surprise to share at the end of this masterclassI don't want to give it away but I promise it will be really worthwhile!


Why Your Personal Brand Needs To Be Both Fierce & Feminine

Do you ever feel like somewhere along your corporate career you've disconnected with the real you?

This was me in 2004. At the time, I was working at Roche, travelling the globe and working on cutting-edge cancer therapies. Whilst I loved what I did, I had this deep desire to want to "SERVE" in a bigger way. Wanting to be of service, sounded weak and vulnerable and I was too afraid of what others might think. So I pressed on and continued to ignore the whispers.

After a significant turning point at work, I realised that I needed to listen to the whispers. For the past ten years, I've been privileged to have served over 3000 professional women and c-suite executives and have helped them create a personal brand that overcomes bias and allows them to lead with confidence.

During this time, it became apparent to me that many of them had become disconnected. They no longer knew who they were. They were dressing like men, sounding like men and acting like men. Yet, I would catch glimpses of their deep feminine energy during our many conversations.

When I'm working with professional women including c-suite executives, creating their personal brand always starts with an in-depth discussion around their values, what they want from their careers and wardrobe and why often they feel disconnected with who they are, what they do and how they do it.

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, former Yahoo boss Marissa Mayer and Vogue editor Anna Wintour have adopted their own “leadership look” based on wearing vibrant shift dresses and heels. While these women’s styles vary, the focus is the same, their clothes fit perfectly, they wear high-quality fabrics, and pay simple attention to accessories and grooming.

When I take my clients through a yin/yang exercise, I discover that many of them have hidden yin leadership qualities that are buried away and are only ever seen at home. Many professional women reject the feminine parts of themselves for fear of not being taken seriously.

Have women been conditioned to be more masculine in a corporate world? I think so! In the past, for women to wield power in what was historically a man’s world, she had to pretty much dress like a man. This is no longer the case and we’re free to present a new image of what leadership looks like.

If I were to ask you, "What qualities do leaders possess". It's highly likely the Masculine / Yang qualities will surface first.

The good news is that the world is changing. We are starting to embrace feminine energy. In the "Athena Doctrine", the author’s proprietary survey of 64,000 people around the world shows, traditionally feminine leadership and values are now more popular than the macho paradigm of the past.

The most innovative among us are breaking away from traditional structures to be more flexible, collaborative and nurturing. All over the world, people are deploying feminine thinking and values to make their lives, and the world, better.

So when it comes to your personal brand, how do you strike the balance between feminine and masculine energy?

Let's look at Oprah as an example.

Oprah naturally exhibits more yang physical characteristics due to her build and dark features. However, when she wears her hair curly, she instantly looks softer (more yin). When she wears her hair straight paired with dark solid frames, she instantly looks more yang as seen below. You'll notice in the top left image, the curved frames of her glasses, although dark, help her look more yin than yang.

When it comes to the overall picture, let's review how your outfit can shift you along the yin/yang continuum.

You'll notice in the images below that Oprah is wearing softer fabrics, no frames, her hair is curly and is wearing feminine colours. All of these elements teamed together make her look more feminine or more Yin.

In the images below you'll notice that Oprah is striking a great balance between yin and yang. When her hair is straight, her clothing has softer edges. When her hair is curly, her clothing is darker in colour and carries more angles. In a corporate context, professional women in positions of leadership need to strike a balance between yin and yang so they appear confident and strong, whilst also appearing authentic and approachable.

There will be times in your corporate career where you will need to exhibit more yang than yin qualities. You'll notice in the below images that Oprah is wearing block solid dark colours teamed with strong angles and straight hair. These looks carry more masculine energy.

Overall, as a professional woman, don't be afraid to embrace your feminine energy. Aim for your outfit to strike a yin/yang balance and remember to always remain true to yourself. When you deny a part of yourself, you lose your POWER!

If you'd like to learn more about our Personal Brand Creation Program for professional women,  please click here,  and let's have a chat to see how I can best serve you.

Styling Your Success


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