Confidence: The Top 3 Things To Focus On

How do you appear confident on the outside even if you are not feelin’ it on the inside?

The Young Nonprofit Professionals Network in San Francisco recently held an event featuring Lisa Rowland, a consultant with SpeechSkills to give a 2 hour primer called, “The Credibility Code.” In these 2 hours, Lisa shared tips and tricks to appear confident through adjusting body language.

Lisa Rowland of SpeechSkills speaks to a crowd.

Lisa Rowland of SpeechSkills speaking to the audience.

Here are Lisa’s top 3 things to focus on for increasing how confident you appear:

  • Posture (Stand up straight, keep your head level and point your nose directly at your listener)
  • Voice (Articulate clearly, keep your pacing relaxed, speak with optimal volume – not too loud or too soft, though most of us could stand to speak a bit louder)
  • Eye contact (Hold eye contact for 3 – 5 seconds per person when speaking to a group of people and keep your attention forward)

The workshop was great; I came out of it being more aware of the way I hold myself and the way that I communicate others. I’ve realized as well that I may have habits that take away my credibility and make me appear less confident, even when I am feeling confident internally, and have been able to correct some of these.

Lisa Rowland

Lisa Rowland of SpeechSkills – thanks Lisa!

Part of being a working professional, in any industry, includes instilling a sense of trust and authority into the clients or stakeholders that you work with. Whether you’re an optometrist, sales person, sailor or line cook, confidence is key.

A huge thank you to YNPN and Lisa Rowland for making this happen.

What have you learned about confidence in your life? Are there any tricks you’ve learned to make you appear (and maybe even feel) more confident? 

Let me know if you notice any difference in the way people perceive you with any of the tips above. 



Jen Burstedt

3 Great Tools for Learning a New Language

Learning a new language can be daunting. Luckily, there are a huge selection of online tools to choose from which can help you to achieve your desired level of fluency in a new language.

The flip side of the problem, though, is how do you actually know how to pick which ones to use?

Lyon, France

The best way to learn a language? Travel to the country where you need to use the language of the host country. In Lyon, France, I improved my French skills.


I’m going to focus on a 3 tools that I have found to be the most useful when learning a new language, all of which I’ve been using for at least a year if not more:

(1) Conversation Exchange

This is a great website where you can search people’s profiles and connect with people who want to learn another language. You can search for someone who is located in your hometown or connect with them via Skype. I’ve met a few great French speakers this way (who live in San Francisco). Superb way to connect offline or online and practice your conversational skills.

(2) WordReference

This is a fantastic dictionary for a number of languages (it originally just had a robust dictionary for Romance languages but has since spread to other languages). They provide a number of entries for any given word, and the forums are well frequented and have great back-and-forth-discussion.

Necessary for when you’re online and need to look up something quickly – I prefer it to Google Translate, in particular because you can understand the nuance of words with their explanations. I’ve used this for French and Spanish translations.

(3) Memrise

Whether you’re looking to pick up 15 words in Japanese for a business trip to Tokyo, or you want to expand  your Spanish vocabulary to know more words, Memrise is an online system that helps you learn and retain new words. Within Memrise, you get to choose a set of vocabulary words, many collections which have been created by other users. Once you start learning the words in the collection that you have chosen, the system prompts you to pick a funny story in order to remember this new word or phrase.

These are just 3 great resources. There are many more which I haven’t used in too much depth (like iTalki or DuoLingo) but which I’ve heard great things about, and would encourage you to check out as well.

What tools have you used to learn new languages to meet your fluency goals?


Jen Burstedt

5 Tips for Scoring An Apartment in San Francisco

Moving into a new apartment in San Francisco, either from another city or from another district in San Francisco, is no small feat. If you find that you are not having any issue at all finding good apartments in decent areas of the city for a reasonable price, then you are either 1) extremely well connected 2) outside of budget constrained category (lucky, you!).

I’ve opted to live with roommates during the 6 years I’ve lived in the city for both financial and social reasons. My multiple apartment searches have required me to be creative and persistent, and have included sending off multiple emails, attending apartment showing and open houses and talking with everyone I know in order to get referrals for new places.

Like a job search, you need to be exploring multiple avenues at once in order to get a good place that will be a fit.

Here are 5 tips for getting a great apartment in the City by the Bay:

1) Prepare to spend at least a month for your search. Keep your weekend open for the month prior to move in – or block off your weekdays during that month. You’ll need to set aside a few hours at least a week in order to find something, assuming you’re looking for a shared situation (whether it’s for that connection who is your second-cousin’s-friend’s-neighbor or a completely random Craigslist stranger).

It can likely take time for this search – consider it a nice gift if the search takes less than a month.

Apartment viewing schedule

Scheduling your apartment viewings – essential to keeping organized during your apartment search.

2) Create a list of desirables (must-haves and want-to-haves) in your new living situation. Before you talk to anyone, you need to make sure you know what you want out of a living situation, and can communicate this to your potential future roommates. Know that you wouldn’t want to live with a cat? Need someone who can handle having overnight guests on the couch once every few weeks? Have a short list of these must-haves (and include a few nice-to-haves).

It will help you in the long run to avoid a situation that you’re not happy with (which would eventually re-launch you in the apartment search).

3) Create your “rental portfolio” before meeting anyone in person. 

This includes:

– Rental resume (like a resume but includes addresses and contact information of landlords from past 5 years)
– Credit reports (available for free download once every 12 months at with birthdate, social security number and any account numbers blacked out
– Check book in hand (although I’ve never put down a check at a showing, it’s a good fall back item to have – especially if you’re looking to move on a very tight timeline)
– References (again, may not be applicable right away, but it’s good to have 3 people you know agree to be references – including old landlords, colleagues or friends that could act as a reference for you)

4) Use multiple online tools to track availability of new places:

Craigslist (be discerning and though don’t overlook places without images)

Apartment List (apartment hunting resource)

Apartment List robot

The Apartment List robot.

PadMapper (aggregates Craigslist data)

Going through a realtor for your rental is another option. As a renter, you don’t have to worry about realtor costs – the landlord is the one who is paying for the cost of the realtor.

5) Have a back-up plan. If all else fails: where would you go if you aren’t able to find a place by move-in day? Give up, move outside the city or to a neighborhood that you really don’t want to live in?

Short term options exist, such as sublets (commonly found through Craigslist) or weekly rentals. Airbnb in a less expensive part of town might even be in option, since it will allow you to commit for a shorter amount of time.


Oh, and read this Bold Italic article, too – “The Do’s and Don’ts of Applying to Rooms on Craigslist.”


Remember: the search takes time! Good luck in your search.

These are some tips I’ve picked up through the years. What advice do you have for the tough apartment hunt?


Jen Burstedt

Motivational Interviewing: Working Together for Change

How do you motivate someone else to change their behavior when they haven’t previously responded to your advice, knowledge and repeated expertise, and is ambivalent about making change?

Yesterday, I finished day 2 of a 2 day workshop where I started to learn a skill that may prove to be more powerful than persuasion, at least in the context of changing someone else’s behavior who is ambivalent about something in their life: motivational interviewing.

My day job at California Quality Collaborative (CQC), a program of Pacific Business Group on Health, works to educate medical groups, health plans and hospitals to teach specific trainings on quality improvement and build capacity of individuals to sustain the change through skills and methodologies. This workshop was one of the trainings we organize.

The key message of motivational interviewing: this is a skill that allows you to work more effectively with someone and change their behavior (and there is even clinical evidence to support it).

Instead of demanding that someone changes, you first:

  • Treat them with compassion
  • Accept who they are
  • See your relationship as a partnership
  • Work in the spirit of evocation (compassion, acceptance, partnership, evocation = CAPE)

4 interaction skills are crucial to engaging with someone for motivational interviewing:

  • Open ended questions
  • Affirmations (affirming things that are good about a person but not complimenting someone)
  • Reflections (reflecting or repeating back to the patient what was said)
  • Summaries (summarizing what the patient said)

You can learn so much from people and build trust much faster when you use compassion, acceptance, partnership and evocation – and by asking people genuine, interested questions that leave space for answers.

Have you heard of motivational interviewing?

What has happened in the past when you try to help someone make a change in their life?


Jen Burstedt

Cutting Sugar Out of My Life (For 2 Months)

Sugar has been an addiction of mine for a long time, and I don’t use the term lightly – I truly think that my obsession with sugar was unhealthy, but it took me a long time to notice that it was a problem before I could go about fixing it. As a child, my favorite candies: Pixy Stix, Fun Dips and Sugar Daddys. If you’ve ever had any of them you know – they are some of the most sickly-sweet choices you can make when buying American candies.

Multi-colored Pixy Stix

Pixy Stix – pure sugar in powder format. One of my favorites growing up.

I’ve always thought that I had a sweet tooth and gravitated towards extra sweet snacks, cereals and sauces, seeing it as a part of who I was. I had wanted to make changes in my diet and eat better, but was finding that the diet part was difficult. Even though I didn’t overeat, I always had that nagging thought that too much of my diet was based on sugar.

One of the first times that I actually thought about how much sugar I ate was when an ex-boyfriend of mine told me how he had dropped 40 pounds by cutting out any foods with corn syrup from his diet. 40 pounds! How much could I impact my health and weight if I were to cut out corn syrup and refined sugar from my diet?

This is what inspired me to go on a no-refined-sugar diet. My first foray into this was January 2012, and it was brutal (I also had decided to cut out alcohol and caffeine, making for a very healthy but unexciting time of my life).

On a side note – do you know how hard it is to go out to a sports bar and drink water? Or any bar, for that matter. But I digress.

How did I make this change? I dove right into it, quitting cold turkey, abruptly starting a 2 month challenge (after which time, I planned to have food with refined sugar and corn syrup again). In addition to the normal, obvious things that have sugar in them, I had to cut out:

  • Chips (except for a few natural brands made without sugar)
  • Cranberries (they all have sugar added to them!)
  • Granola bars of most types (I allowed Kind bars)
  • Ketchup
  • Soda (both diet and regular sodas were excluded under my self-imposed rules)
  • Peanut butter (though I did find alternative brands, regular p/b has sugar)
  • Peanut sauce (mostly applies when going out for Thai)

It was definitely a hard thing to do – I did break my diet once or twice, with 4 cheat days over the course of the 2 month span.

I noticed a few things over the course of the 2 months. I:

  • Slimmed down
  • Had less sugar cravings
  • Have more interest in eating a complete, filling meal (since there would be no dessert)
  • Paid more attention to what was in my food

Though I knew I wouldn’t deprive myself of sugar forever, I’ve become much more away of which foods have refined sugar. It’s hard work but was valuable in becoming more aware of what I was putting in my body.

Have you ever tried cutting something out of your diet? Do you have similar cravings towards sugar, or another food or habit of eating that you’re trying to break?

Jen Burstedt

Batching Technique & My Lunch

Batching technique in action - vegetable soup.

Homemade soup that I can eat the entire week.

Tim Ferriss of The Four Hour Workweek talks about “batching,” a technique he uses to be more efficient with his time.

Batch printing can be used to explain how it works. When a t-shirt is produced and the design is printed onto it, the cost of 1 t-shirt might be $151, while the cost of 5 t-shirts might be $155 (given that the the cost of a plain shirt is $1). $150 is spent towards the set up and plate creation fees.

So, the bulk of the time and expense in producing t-shirts is due to the burden of setting up the printing plates.

Similarly, when you get ready to do a given task – whether it is answering emails, doing bills or stuffing envelopes – it takes you a certain amount of time to get prepared and set up to do the task. Then, once you finally get “in the zone” and are busy executing the task, you can be extremely efficient and get a lot done.

Batching from a time management perspective means that you save time when you do a good number of tasks within a certain category at one time, at intervals that are not too frequent but still effective. With emails, for example, Ferriss batches his by answering them twice a day to avoid spending time in getting in and out of the zone of processing emails.

I’ve experimented in doing this with my lunches and, as someone who can get excited about leftovers, it’s a technique that I love.

On Sunday afternoon, I’ll decide on a menu and plan out my meals for the week. I’ll then head over to the grocery store, pick up groceries for the week and cook a few huge pots of food that I can eat during the week. This has also helped to be more efficient at the grocery store, given that I actually plan meals and the ingredients which go into making them ahead of time.

Lately, I’ve made things such as French Lentils and Quinoa Salad, enjoying them all week.

Try it! It saves me time and hassle during the week, plus it gives me a fresh and healthy lunch option during the work day.

Do you batch in order to save time during the week?


Jen Burstedt

5 Strategies I Used To Boost My Professional Development

Reflecting on where I am now in my career, there were some key elements which accelerated my professional development. These are strategies that I continue to use now as I advance in my career and deepen my functional and industry level skills.

As a health care marketer who came from 4 years of experience in pharmaceuticals, it’s been an awesome and humbling experience to again be new in to an industry (it’s my third industry). Figuring out the jargon, systems and complexities of the industry while also getting to learn about how to navigate the new organization I started at 6 months ago takes time, but the high-level advice of achieving success is relatively similar.

4 Hour Workweek Audiobook

The 4 Hour Workweek – which I listened to on audiobook via Audible. Interesting ideas – some but not all of which I’ve applied to my own life.

Here are 5 strategies that have boosted my professional development throughout my career:

(1) Actively listening, then asking questions. I don’t worry about looking ignorant when I listen intently and then ask questions. Even though I could still be considered “new” to the industry, being brave to ask questions at any point in your career is important. Daring to ask your colleague “can you briefly explain that?” can help you set you up in the right direction so you don’t make wrong assumptions about work-related discussions, and can have a firm foundation of knowledge on how things work rather than a myriad of guesses.

(2) Seeking out educational opportunities. Learning about marketing involves reading books, talking to others and then trying out new concepts in my life. I have been working through several business related books which have been enormously helpful in my lifelong self-education (The Start-up of You, The Education of Millionaires, The 4 Hour Workweek and The Personal MBA to start); putting principles into practice then helped to solidify and actually retain the lessons taught to me.

(3) Seeking good mentors in my life. Time and time again, people say you need to good mentor. For me, most of the most influential mentors in my life have been through my volunteer experiences when I donated time to use my professional skills (event management, budgeting and writing). Some of the professionals I volunteered alongside were extremely driven and ethical, and saw volunteering as a way to contribute. They had many years more experience than I did, were people that I admired, and were able to pass on their words of wisdom because we spent so much time together giving back.

(4) Career coaching. Even with mentors in my life, I found career coaching to be a great way to focus my energy and get an outside opinion into my thoughts. Career coaching for me came in the format of someone that I hired, but Mastermind Groups (often free and lead by a great person) can lend this same type of structure. Career coaching for me created structure, time sensitivity and accountability for the systems and goals I was working towards.

(5) Find work that you love and find ways to love the work that you do. Most of us don’t have the luck, self-awareness or foresight to know how to land the job we love when we launch our professional career. Look to be in a job that you enjoy, but in the meantime, if you’re not in the most desirable place, look for parts of the work that you do enjoy.

Listen to that voice that’s saying, “I hate spreadsheets” or “I hate spending hours and hours by myself writing code.” Start to pay attention to your preferred work activities, your strengths and your skills. Liking what you do makes work so much easier.

Have you used any of the above strategies to enhance your career? Have you read any good business books lately?

Proudly powered by WordPress
Theme: Esquire by Matthew Buchanan.