What My Mom Thinks I Do for a Living

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Sometimes I think my mother wonders how it’s possible that we share the same genetic material.


  • She hates being the center of attention; I’m on different cameras, screens and microphones practically every other day.
  • She doesn’t have a sarcastic bone in her body; clearly, I take after dad.
  • She never had any academic aspirations; I spent decades in higher education.
  • She’ll stand to the side at a social event until someone approaches her if she doesn’t know anyone; I find the first person who looks interesting and strike up a conversation.

(I said to her once, “Mom, you named me LAURA SICOLA. It’s literally an anagram for AURAL and SOCIAL… what did you expect?!”)


I asked her once what she tells friends who ask her what I do, and she said, “Well, I don’t really know, but I tell them you travel to speak at conferences and work with people at banks and places like that. What exactly DO you do with them?”


I thought that was pretty good, especially since words like “executive coach” aren’t part of her vocabulary.


I’ve made many references to crafting an ‘elevator pitch,’ on the podcast and elsewhere, but it occurs to me that a great yardstick by which to measure the effectiveness of your elevator pitch is whether or not your mother (or father) can paraphrase it back to you with meaningful accuracy after they hear it.


Think about it: you still have to explain your role and/or value in a way that is simple without being condescending, and specific enough for them to understand why it matters.


I was certainly glad to know, however, that I’m not the only one who has this challenge.


In a fun exchange later in our conversation on this week’s episode of Speaking to Influence Ashley Sardjoe, head of people and culture at Novartis Canada, also confides that he wishes he were better at explaining his job to his mother!


We shared a good laugh over that mutual experience, which also reminded us of the importance of maintaining a sense of humor at home and at work, as humor can create a sense of belonging and connection, which is never more urgently needed than in today’s virtual world.



Some other important lessons Ashley shares include how he learned:


  • To be truly present and (and not multitasking!) in order to connect with others.
  • How to handle concerns about public perception when things didn’t go right.
  • That taking risks requires clear communication and accountability to key stakeholders.
  • How having an accountability partner can helped him with diplomacy
  • To overcome the challenges of building trust and connection in the virtual world by managing distractions and technical issues.

And more.


Listen to the conversation here or watch the video on YouTube here.


Speaking of mothers and other influential women in our lives, last Friday, March 8, was International Women’s Day.


As women we are called to lift each other up, and I hope the experiences shared will encourage and inspire more women (and men!) to find their own paths and make their unique mark on the world!


And that’s exactly what I also got to do last week when I was a guest on the Harvard Business Review’s (HBR) Women at Work podcast. A fun, live experience, I got to coach a caller, Mary, in real time.



Still rather early in her career, Mary knew that executive presence would be a key factor in her career trajectory. In an act of courageous vulnerability and generosity, Mary asked questions and openly received constructive feedback on how to improve her own leadership brand, allowing herself to be a case study for everyone listening to learn from.


Now that’s the kind of leader I’d want to follow!


Listen to it here.


I was also honored to be one of the four women entrepreneurs recognized by the Loyalty Alliance, in partnership with the Foundation for the Support of the United Nations, in “Breaking Barriers: A Celebration of Women Entrepreneurs.



Special thanks to Cindy Field, the “Business Fairy Godmother,” for the invitation to this conversation.


And last but certainly not least, I always love to speak – in person – at local events, and the Burlington County Chamber of Commerce’s annual women’s conference did not disappoint.



Led by president and CEO Kristi Howell (in the pink jacket), and joined by other speakers including Lita Abele, president and CEO of US Lumber; Dr. Tiffani Worthy, CEO and president of the All Things Are Possible Foundation, and Marianne Aleardi, Publisher and CEO of SJ Mag Media, it was a powerhouse lineup full of inspiring stories of rising to positions of power beyond what any of us ever dreamed possible.


And here’s a thought – next time you’re planning to go to one of these events, bring your mom! By the end of the event, not only will she have gained immeasurable value, but I’ll bet she even is clearer on what you do for a living!

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