Of course everyone learns and thinks differently – our brains are each hard wired uniquely – different strokes for different folks.

All throughout my formative school and college years, I was a traditional note taker, writing things down with an old-fashioned pen and paper. Despite the advent of many cool tech tools designed to make

Women can be pretty ruthless to each other in the workplace. Backstabbing, rumor spreading, malicious talking, gossiping, purposely excluding someone from an event or meeting, taking credit for someone’s work or helping to push someone out of a job.

I bet many of you have experienced behavior such as the ones mentioned above at the hands of another woman.

I call this the dark side of working with women.

Those close to me know that I have wanted to write an article on how to recognize a mean girl at work and develop strategies to effectively manage her and succeed in spite of her undermining behavior for a long time. (As an aside, I’ve also dealt with a few “mean guys” too, but that’s for a different article.)

Today, I am lucky enough to work in an environment free of mean girls (thank goodness!), that I don’t come into contact with them from time to time, or carry with me the memory of some terrible experiences of working with some very toxic females. Learning how to navigate them is an important skill to have throughout your career.

Before I delve deeper into this topic, I want to make it very clear that are plenty of amazing, supportive women in the workforce, and I’ve been very lucky to work with a number of them. They aren’t threatened by other women, and instead they go above and beyond to help others succeed. They are true role models. This article isn’t about them. I could have written an entire series of articles about the supportive women who have mentored me throughout my career. This article is about those women in the workplace who do not have your best interests at heart, and how to protect yourself against them. It’s important to remember that while you cannot can’t change someone else, you can change your own behavior, and this article will teach you how to do just that. 
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I recently achieved two major professional successes by putting myself out there and asking for them. I know it sounds a bit, well, basic, but I felt really good about going out on a limb and seizing the right moment to make a big ask in each of these situations.

So often, we are afraid

How many of you put off doctor’s appointments and other important items on your personal to-do list because you are just “too busy?” I’m certainly guilty of it, more times than I’d like to admit. I have a list of personal to-do items several pages long that I never seem to quite get to because

Quite possibly the worst thing about dealing with the loss of someone you loved is the anguish when you forget that you just can’t call or text them to tell or ask them something.

On a weekly basis, I think of things – an impossibly funny situation that happened to me on the NYC subway that morning, a question about a family recipe I am about to screw up, general family gossip or advice – that I desperately want to discuss with my mom, and then I painfully realize that I will never be able to do that again with her.

Three years ago today, I lost my mom Lucille to Multiple Myeloma, a rare blood cancer of plasma cells. It causes cancer cells to accumulate in the bone marrow, where they crowd out healthy blood cells and lead to a lot of terrible things, such as irreparable damage to the kidneys, heart, lungs and bones.

My late mom Lucille and me

My mom had this awful cancer for many years and responded well to treatment for many years from the best oncologists in New York City – a cocktail of groundbreaking drugs, chemotherapy, even an auto stem cell transplant – but then just when she thought she was in the clear, it came back with a vengeance.

Then there is a dear friend of mine who lost her husband (who was also a close friend) at the age of 35 last summer. She is now a 32-year-old widow. They were married for less than two years. He was an accomplished law professor who graduated first in his class at law school. He was also an opera singer. For months I have been trying to make sense of his passing, and how life can be so cruel and unfair, and then so wonderful sometimes. I am in awe of my friend’s strength and cannot even imagine what she carries around with her every day.

Lately I feel as if everyone I know has experienced a personal tragedy or profound loss of some sort – the death of parent, a beloved pet, a grandparent, a miscarriage, the diagnosis of a terminal illness – maybe it’s our age. Maybe it’s bad luck. Whatever it is, it just plain sucks.

Here’s the thing though – you can choose to wallow in tragedy, or you can choose to make hardships and the worst times of your life teaching moments and turn them into something good. You’d be surprised just how resilient each of us are if we just believe it.

Also, some of us must choose to be happy at certain points in our lives in order to turn the tide around or just to carry on and not to fall into a dark hole of despair. Happiness doesn’t always come easy to everyone all the time (more on that in a bit). Sometimes a tragedy can serve as the catalyst to cause us to reevaluate what we want from our lives.

Unfortunately, time doesn’t stop just because we are going through a personal tragedy. The sun still rises and sets, and we all still must get up and put on our game faces and go to work, and take care of our families, and just keep going no matter how hard it is.

This article is intended to help those who are facing something profoundly difficult in their personal lives and those around them so that those people can hopefully become more understanding and empathetic toward others, because you just never know what someone else is going though. So many successful people are trying to hold it together when inside they are struggling with loss and grief. I just wanted them to know that it’s okay and that they weren’t alone in this feeling.

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I’ll never forget the day that I was let go from what I thought was my dream job. I was in my mid-20s and I had no Plan B and no rainy day fund. I was a magazine editor, and I loved my job (or at least I thought that I did at the time). So much of my identity and self-worth was tied up with what I did for a living.

But a funny thing happened when I was let go.

I felt an enormous sense of relief. Of course I was scared about finances and my ego took a huge blow, but I had known for some time deep down that the cutthroat world of women’s magazines was not for me. I had just been too scared to do anything about it. Losing my job was the push (or rather, the shove) to evaluate what I really wanted to do.

A few months later, I landed a great job as a writer/editor at a law firm. This job was a much better fit for me because it encompassed everything that I loved about what I was doing in magazine publishing minus the mean girl culture.

Fast forward to the present day (many years later), where I now head up the marketing department of a mid-size law firm in New York City after working in law firm marketing at a number of major firms. You could say that getting let go launched me on the right career path (yes, that’s true) and everything was smooth sailing since then (not exactly). Why? Because I’m not perfect (shocker!), I make mistakes, and I’m guessing that you do too.

A lot of people don’t like to talk about their faults but the reality of life is that occasionally each of us will experience failure. Failures teach us very important life lessons such as resilience, adaptability, self-awareness and most important, empathy. 
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I learned something really important at this year’s 2018 LMA Annual Conference: Successful people are not necessarily happy. But happy people are more likely to be successful.

The takeaway? You should really care about incorporating happiness into your life. Here’s why: In addition to being more successful in their careers, happy people are more productive in their jobs, experience better health and therefore live longer lives. They are also kinder, less hostile and more productive, and the list goes on. To me this seems like the most enthusiastic PSA for happiness in the history of PSAs.

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