Pockets over Purses

I just did an inventory of my closet and realized that I have no less than 11 blazers. Granted, these have been collected over many years, but the finding still shocked me. Especially, considering my boyfriend’s humble wardrobe contained only 5 blazers, despite him wearing a suit to work basically every day.

However, what was even more shocking was the fact that only two of my blazers have – what I call – a “business pocket” (thank you, Massimo Dutti!). You know, that little pocket on the inside of the blazer.

I’ve always been fascinated by all the stuff men seem to fit in this little pocket. It’s like a male Mary Puppins bag, from where men pull the most random stuff. Once, I even witnessed a coworker pull out a bar of chocolate from his business pocket in a meeting. Although he was kind enough to offer me a piece, I was still bummed out by the fact that I did not have a chocola… sorry, business pocket myself.

After starting working full time and attending my fair share of business meetings with clients, I have come to miss the business pocket for other reasons than storing chocolate. You see, in the shipping industry (in which I work), we love business cards. Seriously, if you attend a meeting with someone without getting their business card, it’s like they weren’t even there. Business card, or it didn’t happen!

Which leads me to this question: Where should women keep their business cards, if not in the business pocket? Usually we keep our stuff in a purse, right, but we don’t really carry purses around in the office. Our pants pockets are too small, plus you don’t really want weird shapes and sharp edges down there(!). And carrying them around in your hand definitely seems too desperate.

You see, this is a serious (first) world problem, which has made me invisible in the memory of a lot of potential connections! Therefore I make the following plea to every designer out there, making female blazers: PLEASE give us business pockets so we can lean in and leave our physical mark on a meeting! Thank you.

P.S. Of course I declined the sweaty piece of pocket chocolate from my co-worker… or did I…

Silicon Valley Girl

Marina Mogilko is an entrepreneur and founder of linguatrip.com, a booking site for language courses and language home-stays all over the world. LinguaTrip helps people travel the world and learn languges from native speakers. Marina herself speaks 4 languages, which she learned during “linguatrips”.

Marina founded her first company in 2011 at the young age of 21, while still studying in Russia. In one of her videos she even explains how she in the beginning had to run out of class to take business calls, trying to sound mature and professional.

Although accepted into several major U.S. universities to do an MBA, she instead decided to move to Silicon Valley and chose 500 Startups, a venture capital firm backing promising startups, to grow her business. By 2014, she had grown her initial $300 to revenues reaching $1.5M+, and by 2018 she manages 65+ people internationally.

Marina started her first youtube channel in 2015. Today, she is running no less than three youtube channels, with more than a million followers:

  1. linguamarina, and English teaching side,
  2. Marina Mogilko, her Russian channel; and
  3. Silicon Valley Girl, my personal favourite

On Silicon Valley Girl, Marina discusses the insides to being a young, female entrepreneur. Her enthusiasm and continuous drive is very inspirational and affirmative to watch, especially considering the competitive and male-dominated start-up environment in Silicon Valley.

Click on the links in the text above, if you are interested in learning more about Marina Mogilko or LinguaTrip.

Know Your Worth

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No one will ever pay you what you are worth. They will only ever pay you what they think you are worth. And you control their thinking.” – Casey Brown

The above quote from Casey Brown’s TEDxColumbusWomen talk is one of the most eye-opening statements to me. First, because it forces me to accept that a pay raise is something I have to negotiate for myself. No one else will negotiate it for me, no matter how great my work is. Second, it empowers me to take charge of the negotiation by clearly defining and communicating my own value.

And yes, the second lesson is definitely easier said than done, but think about it for a minute. If you don’t know your own value, how can you expect someone else to? Especially someone who is busy with maintaining an ever tighter budget, company KPIs, work/life balance… Oh, and negotiating his/her own salary with someone even higher (aka scarier!) in the organization.

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Whether you have a salary negotiation coming up or not, I do believe everyone can benefit from considering their own value. As suggested by Casey Brown, this can be done by considering key value questions, such as:

  • What do my clients need, and how do I meet their demands?
  • What do I do that no one else does?
  • What value do I add to the organization?

These questions may seem overwhelming at first, especially for someone new to the work place. Personally, they initially terrified me. I did the mistake of comparing myself to the many great people around me – with a lot more experience than me, may I add. As a result, I did not feel I contributed anything unique or special to the organisation, which made my first salary negotiation extremely terrifying.

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What helped me overcome this insecurity was to compare these key value questions to my job description – to understand what was specifically required from me, and have a concrete benchmark to compare my qualities with. Subsequently, I discussed the questions with people around me, to understand what they considered best practice for someone in my position.

This exercise serves as a confidence boost, because you start appreciating all the things you are doing right. At the same time, it also provides a lot of opportunities for growth, which you can use to develop in your position. And with that confidence and achieved development areas along the way, I am confident that we can all find our own voice and use it to communicate value.