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The Missing Piece in Many Corporate Training Programs

Each of us has probably experienced a moment when a leader enters a room and she instantly attracts the attention of everyone present. Heads turn, conversations halt and everyone just gravitates toward her. Perhaps you can recall a time listening to a CEO address the company or simply chatting with a successful team leader at a holiday party - you just want to listen and engage. You feel motivated and inspired, and led. These people have what some might call a wow factor, and in business it's usually referred to as Executive Presence. There’s quite a bit of research that’s been done on executive presence, and most of them come back to some version of what’s laid out below:

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Most people will agree that to be successful in many career paths, certainly those that involve high-level leadership and management, a certain level of executive presence is crucial.

Most people would also agree that companies should provide training to their employees to help guide them along in their career development and provide growth opportunities. In fact, 68% of workers said that training and development is the most important workplace policy for them. It’s particularly important to millennials, 87% say professional development opportunities are very important. (per a State of the Industry Report from ClearCompany).

According to the Association for Talent Development (ATD), “companies that offer comprehensive training programs have 218% higher income per employee than companies without formalized training. These companies also enjoy a 24% higher profit margin than those who spend less on training. It would seem that continuing to invest in training and development, even when there are economic downturns, is the smart play.”

So what does all this have to do with executive presence, you might ask?  Well, we’ve seen our share of really robust training programs and we’ve talked to many professionals who have been on the receiving end of these programs.  Between the three of us, we've spent decades at companies where they have truly invested in their learning & development programs; offering Presentation Skills, Conflict Management, Leadership Training, Writing & Business Communication Workshops, Negotiation Skills and Effective Brainstorming, just to name a few.  These courses are phenomenal. They help develop character, form behavior and they ensure there is substance and clear communication.  That said, we’ve yet to see any courses that focus specifically on those other key elements of executive presence - style and appearance.

That’s one of the reasons we founded FirstSeven!

According to a study done by LinkedIn, 27 percent of North American businesses are going to spend more on internal learning programs in 2018. Hopefully, some of this increased investment will fund programs to allow employees to explore the power that image has on improving their executive presence and enhancing their career!

Today we’re busy putting some final touches on a program for a top global law firm that has recognized the value of personal branding and executive presence.  We’re so excited to share it with a room full of very successful professionals. Check in next week and we'll tell you all about it!

Baby It's (getting to be) Cold Outside! 3 Must Have Toppers That are Warm AND Chic!

We’ve been a bit spoiled, temperature wise. We’re coming off of one of the warmest Novembers in history. In fact, several cities across the country set record highs this past month. Don’t let these above average temperatures lull you into a false sense of security...winter will come (for most of us), and when it does, make sure you’re prepared!

Let’s face it, most of us don’t love freezing cold weather, especially when we're forced to commute in it. That said, a great coat will help you weather the storm (pun intended). We’ve rounded up a few of our favorite winter coat styles that will have you looking great and feeling toasty. Don’t forget to shop the blog for these styles, and more. We’ve even added some great winter accessories, (they make fabulous gifts).

The Puffer

Could there be a less flattering name for a coat? The puffer has come along way in the past years. They went from being...well, pretty much how they sound, super bulky and Michelin man-esque. They weren't cute, but they were warm. Now, you don’t have to sacrifice one for other, you can can find cozy styles that are flattering. Choose one that has some sort of waist defining detail, like a belt or some gathering at the waist line. This will keep the coat from overwhelming your shape. We also recommend choosing one with a fur or faux fur lined hood - this comes in handy if you choose to wear your hair in a bun, top knot or pony. We also recommend going with a slightly longer length that will work well over skirts and dresses.

Source: Popsugar

Source: Popsugar

The Trench

A classic wool trench will never go out of style, and it's a perfect choice for the office as it works well with dresses, skirts and suits. Since this is such a classic style, consider purchasing one in a color. There’s really nothing like a bold winter coat to brighten your mood. If you really want to be on trend, consider one in a plaid or check print.

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Faux Fur

So soft, so cozy, it's like wearing a blanket, but much more elegant!  There’s no limit to the choices out there for faux fur coats. While we love a bomber style, those are best kept for the weekend. For the office a longer and looser fit works best. It's great for a desk-to-dinner kind of day!

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A winter coat is an investment piece. It's a coat you’ll wear day after day for several years, so buy the highest quality you can afford - you’ll be glad you did. Stay warm out there!

What We're Thankful For This Year...

For those of us at FirstSeven, 2017 has been of year of change, both professionally and personally. We lost the stability of working for a company we loved, doing what we loved (bringing the power of personal styling to clients all over the country). This wasn’t easy, trust us! But, instead of taking the safer and easier road, the three of us came together and conceptualized and launched our own company, FirstSeven.  As a company, we’re thankful we have this opportunity and for the support we’ve received.

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We asked each co-founder what they’re thankful for, read their answers below:

Faith Rim

“This year, in particular, has been filled with a lot of big changes for me and my family. Through the ups and downs I think I’ve learned to be grateful for all seasons. Seasons of loss, gain, disappointment and hope have all had their place this year. I’m grateful for perspective; to understand that there’s a lesson and a reason for every situation that we face in life. I’m blessed to experience it all with an amazingly supportive husband and three little jewels who love me unconditionally. Life is not always easy but living it with a grateful heart has certainly made it more beautiful!”

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Lili Morton

“This year I'm most thankful for my relationships. In good times and bad, over and over again, I'm shown how blessed I am to be surrounded by kind, supportive and amazing people. In addition to those I've known for years, this year introduced me generous, thoughtful, smart and good, quality people who have enriched my life.”

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Stacy Gatto
“I know this is so cliche, but every single day I’m thankful for my family, they’re everything to me.  I’m thankful that I have the privilege to walk my daughter school every morning and be the one to pick her up most days.  Not a lot of working moms get to do that, and I don’t take it for granted. Last, but not least, I’m thankful for the opportunity to pursue a career/business that I’m so passionate about. I wouldn’t have this opportunity without the support of my family.”

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What's Your Thanksgiving Style?

Thanksgiving, and the official kick off of the holiday season, is right around the corner. That begs the question...what are you going to wear? Thanksgiving style is very personal and very dependent on your destination, and how you're planning on celebrating the big day. Your style could range from super comfortable (maybe just a step of from PJs), if you’re staying home with your immediate family, or you could get dressed up if you're heading to a gathering with extended family who you only see once a year. Your destination and mode of transportation could play a deciding factor between choosing your OTK boots or glittery fashion sneakers. Maybe your family likes to head outside after the big meal and play a game of touch football or maybe the party continues inside with an extended cocktail hour. Whatever your destination and family traditions are, we’ve got you covered. 

Take this quiz to determine your perfect Thanksgiving style! And don’t forget to shop all the amazing pieces - there’s still time for delivery before the big day.

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Maybe you’re Classic & Traditional. You always look elegant, but simple. Your holiday table embodies this style too, with fine china and traditional dishes that are served every year. A beautiful neutral dress, straight leg trouser and a silk blouse or a soft cashmere twin set and pearls are your go-to pieces for this holiday.

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On the other end of the spectrum, you could be Trendy & Fashion Forward. You’re always the most stylish one at the party and you want to make sure all your cousins notice your outfit. In fact, you know all your friends and family look forward to seeing what you’ll be wearing!  This year you might be debating between a ruffle sleeve dress, a velvet jumpsuit and a deconstructed top. Are those glitter booties too much? Never!

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You’re looking forward to catching up with good friends and family. You want to be able to get down on the floor and play with your nieces and nephews, but you also want to look nice for the family photo! You’ll be Casual, but Refined. Denim and a cashmere sweater or booties and a midi dress is what you’ll be dining in this year.

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You’re spending the holiday with people you see pretty much every day, no need to dress to impress.  Today is all about staying comfortable and relaxed. Your style is definitely Comfortable & Casual; think cozy cardigans, sweatshirts and leggings.

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Whatever style you choose, be comfortable, be happy and most importantly take a minute and just be Thankful.

Introducing #MondayMuse!

What’s a Monday Muse you might ask? #MondayMuse is a term we use to refer to all the successful, accomplished women we look up to. They are the women who inspire us to get out of bed every Monday and start the week full of energy and optimism. Some of our Monday Muses have overcome enormous set backs, but came out the other side stronger than ever. And, because we’re stylists at heart, all of our Muses are polished, professional and exude their very own enviable, personal style.

Today we’re going to highlight a couple of our favorite Monday Muses. The best part is, you can shop their style right from the blog! Another fun twist is our #MondayMuse quiz. Take the quiz below and find out which Monday Muse you’re most like (and of course, shop her style).

Jenna Lyons

While Jenna might not be a household name, she should be. Jenna’s story is a modern day fairy tale, with a real life heroine. If you’re not familiar with Jenna, she was (until very recently) the president and creative director of J.Crew, where she became the face of the brand. She spent her entire career at J.Crew, moving up the ranks after starting as an assistant designer straight out of Parsons School of Design.

She has been pretty open in various interviews about her tough childhood. She suffered from a genetic disorder which affected her skin, caused her hair to fall out in patches and impacted the look and functionality of her teeth. A disorder like this is hard on anyone, but it must have been particularly heartbreaking for a little girl. She reports being bullied and as a result, became shy and introverted. Her childhood experiences led her to fashion. She told Sarah Harris from The Guardian, "it was the reason I loved fashion, because it can change who you are and how you feel, and that can be magical." 

At J.Crew, Jenna was a key player in turning the company around in the early 2000s. From 2003-2011, J.Crew tripled its revenues from under $700MM to almost $2B. Now that’s impressive!  

Jenna is also known for her personal style, which has been described as geek-chic. It’s a playful mix of high and low. She loves a great print or two (or three), and her signature red lip and black frame glasses typically complete her look

Jenna left J.Crew earlier this year, and we can’t wait to see what she does next!

 

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Amal Clooney

Amal Clooney is another notable Monday Muse. And no, it has nothing to do with the fact that she married one of the world’s most eligible bachelors. It has everything to do with how accomplished she is in both her professional and personal life; and her style is simply swoon worthy.

She’s a practicing international law and human rights lawyer. She’s an active philanthropist; acting as president and co-founder of the Clooney Foundation for Justice and partnering with the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative to award the Amal Clooney Scholarship each year. She’s also an activist, author, and new mother.

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We’d love to hear from you?  Who are some of your #MondayMuses?

Don’t forget to take the quiz and share your results on your social.

4 Things to Consider When Investing in a New Work Bag

You’ll notice the word ‘investing’ in the title of this post. . . that’s not by accident. A great work bag is an investment. We’re not saying you have to spend thousands of dollars, but this is an item where we encourage you to choose the highest quality you can afford. You’ll be glad you did!

If you’ve decided you’re in the market for a new work bag, here are the four key things you should consider before you take the plunge:

Size:

Think about what you need your work bag to hold. Do you commute via public transportation or do you drive? Do you carry your laptop back and forth? What about your lunch and gym clothes? Answers to these questions will help you decide how big to go. We'll always recommend to size up. One large bag will always look more put together than carrying multiple small bags. Ever hear of the term bag lady? It's not a compliment!

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Organization/Functionality:  

After you’ve determined what you’ll carry in your work bag, think about how you like it organized. Do you like to have a pocket for everything, or do you feel more organized when you have items separated into a few groups? We had a client who was hyper organized and wanted to invest in a new work bag that had a specific space designated for basically everything she would ever carry. We found her a fabulous bag with more pockets (both interior and exterior) than we had ever imagined. She loved it and started using it right away. After about a week she called and said the bag just wasn’t working for her because there were too many pockets. She kept forgetting where she put things and the result was she couldn’t find anything. So, think this through and decide what would work best for you!

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Carrying Options:  

Think about what kind of straps and carrying options you want or need. Do you like to wear your bags crossbody? This is a good option if you have a walking commute and tend to carry a lot - it distributes the weight making it more comfortable to carry. Or maybe you you prefer to carry it in your hand or over your forearm? These are all great options, but we recommend looking for a bag that allows you to carry it different ways. Look for a bag with convertible handles and straps for increased versatility (and comfort!), your chiropractor will thank you!  

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  • Color:

If you’re investing a significant amount of money into what will be your primary work bag, we recommend going with a neutral color. A good place to start is by taking a look at your current work wardrobe, including shoes and outerwear. Do you find you wear mostly black or do you gravitate more towards tans and beiges? This should determine the direction you go. If you already have a great black or tan work bag, choose one in a fabulous color, such as plum, bright red or a deep navy.

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Your work bag says a lot about you. It will also help keep you organized and functional. There are so many gorgeous options out there.  We can’t wait to see what you choose!