Tag Archives: second act

Friday’s Fave HEUCY Gal: Q&A with Executive Coach Merritt Tilney

With the start of school, and the return from our own version of “summer break” (I mean, truly, who really worked the last half of August?), we thought it would be timely to interview our friend Merritt Tilney.  Merritt recently left her corporate career to launch an executive coaching business that helps executives and key managers take their performance to the next level.  By building strong trusted relationships, Merritt helps clients gain self-awareness, fresh perspectives and new leadership skills to improve communication, decision making and performance.  She has some great tips for those of us who are considering a different path…and for those of us who just want to get better at what we do.

Be warned: Merritt is one of those people who can elicit envy in many people.  She graduated from Yale and Stanford Business School, and she looks like a supermodel.  She’s also incredibly smart, nice, witty, candid and really fun to be around.  Her full bio is at the end of this Q&A.  And some great career and lifestyle advice is right here.  Happy Friday, Gals!

Tilney Picture

Hi, Merritt!  Can you tell us a little bit about your personal career journey, from the corporate world to a more entrepreneurial path?

It’s been a bit uncomfortable for me as an entrepreneur because I am not a huge risk taker. It took me a while to make the jump. Several years ago, I realized the part I liked best of my various management roles was working with individuals on leadership. Having my own business was crucial because coaching is so personal – you need to be the right fit for your clients.

And how did you take the leap?  Did you prepare your boss and those around you gently, or did you just pull the ripcord?

For me, it was a very gradual process but that’s not right for everyone. I decided to share my thinking with the senior leadership at my company because they were open to it. It worked out well because they were supportive and helped me with the transition. I was able to coach internally before I went out on my own. My advice on this front would be to try to leverage where you are so your new endeavor has the support of what you have done before.

Why, and how, did you decide executive coaching was the right place for you?

Throughout my career, there were times when I faced a challenge I was not sure how to address. I worked through them leaning on friends, colleagues and family. When I finally worked with a coach, I realized that having time carved out and the facilitation of a professional really helped. As a coach, it’s amazingly rewarding to see clients improve their performance and their happiness.

Now it’s time for some fun, personal questions.  We know you’re happily married with two adorable kids.  (Yours truly has seen this first-hand).  How do you find time for yourself, and for your spouse, in the midst of building a business and parenting?  Any tips for women who are constantly time and sleep-deprived?

This is a tough one. I work with so many clients trying to create some personal space and balance. One thing that has worked for me is to prioritize. Be ruthless; do fewer things, delegate and be ok with the A minus. There is a helpful blog post from Erik Barker http://www.bakadesuyo.com/2014/08/how-to-stop-being-lazy/ . Develop habits – it makes those things that are easy to skip (going to the gym, taking a few minutes of reflection) automatic. We all have a limited willpower but once it is a habit we don’t need willpower. Finally, really, REALLY commit to sleeping enough. The research shows that sleep deprived people can still execute rote tasks but executive function and creativity suffer. That creativity helps you deal with the inevitable meltdowns, whether kids or peers. With a good night’s sleep you may also find you are more productive because you don’t feel overwhelmed. I’ll come clean, for me getting enough sleep is still very much a work-in-progress.

On that note, tell us your favorite vacation destination.  Past, present and future.

adirondacks

Before kids I loved going to a new city with my husband, my sister or a friend and exploring both the tourist destinations and checking out the local haunts. With kids, we try to avoid long plane rides and big time changes. Every summer we go to a very rustic cabin by a lake in the Adirondacks which provides a good balance to New York City. We hike, swim and canoe.

Do you have a “uniform” or go-to pieces in your wardrobe to accommodate the lifestyle of a busy mom/entrepreneur?

ProblemSolver

I am a very simple dresser – think jeans or a casual dress (LOVE the Problem Solver). This works for kids and, with a blazer, my entrepreneur coaching clients. For corporate clients, a dress and nice pumps or in the Fall, boots. A great scarf can add some color to a basic black or navy dress.

Lastly, any words of wisdom for those of us who are still figuring out what our “second act” might be?  Are there good resources, websites, meditations we can reference?

power-of-storyspirit_meditation_290x218

Be clear on your priorities and what motivates you. It can be hard to distinguish what we think we “should do” from what we really want to do. Be confident – too many women don’t give themselves enough credit. I hesitate to recommend a book because my bedside is a tower of books I haven’t finished but Jim Loehr’s The Power of Story is good. Loehr has worked with a diverse set of people – military, athletes, professionals – and has tangible tools to figure out where you want to go and more importantly how to get there. Some useful ideas include visualization and writing. A short period of meditation every day can feel like an impossible luxury but makes a huge difference. When I did a meditation class the instructor said, “If you don’t think you have the 5 minutes a day to meditate, you definitely need to meditate.” Gil Fronsdale at the Insight Meditation center (www.insightmeditationcenter.org) is a good place to start.

Merritt Tilney’s Full Bio:

Merritt Tilney combines extensive business experience with coaching skills to help executives and key managers take their performance to the next level. By building strong trusted relationships, Merritt helps clients gain self-awareness, fresh perspectives and new leadership skills to improve communication, decision making and performance.

Merritt has a strong understanding of different environments and cultures gained from 20 years in operating roles and as a management consultant. Merritt has worked in Marketing, Strategy, Operations and Finance roles at ETRADE, Citigroup, Gap and several start ups. Merritt holds a B.A. in Economics from Yale University and a MBA from Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business. She completed her coaching accreditation through Columbia University’s Coaching Certification Program. She is a qualified administrator of the Hogan Assessments Tools and Neethling Brain Instrument (NBI). She lives in New York City with her husband and two children.

#Movember and The McConaissance

mcconaughey

We just realized yesterday, it’s (past) the middle of November and we haven’t really done anything to celebrate #Movember and the men in our life.  We are polling some HEUCY Dudes for holiday gift guides and other awesome top ten lists…but in the meantime wanted to celebrate a man who successfully reinvented himself from vapid sex symbol (okay, truth be told, we like those too) to serious actor.  Yep, we’re talking about none other than Matthew McConaughey.  His McConaissance is a “second act” worth noting (especially if you love “True Detective” as much as we do).

And since we mentioned “The New Yorker” in yesterday’s Top Ten reading list, it seemed only appropriate to share a great article written by Rachel Syme back in January, after McConaughey was nominated for an Oscar.  Check it out here.

More #Movember to follow!

xx,

The HEUCY Team

A HEUCY Gal & Chocolate Works (Thought That Would Get Your Attention :)

RachelJ

Lately we’ve been talking to lots of friends who are about ot embark on their “second acts”.  One is leaving a long, successful career in banking.  One left a career in HR to pursue her passion, photography.  And our friend Rachel, shown here, recently launched her own Chocolate Works store on the Upper East Side.  Rachel’s store is at 1410 Lexington Avenue, between 92nd and 93rd…in case you’re craving chocolate, like every other red-blooded human out there 🙂

RachelinHSR

We asked Rachel what the title track to her life is right now, and she said, “Firework, by Katy Perry.”  We can see why!  Rachel has two young kids, a husband and just embarked on a major entrepreneurial venture.  Despite all of this on her shoulders, Rachel looked “red hawt” in the HEUCY #HighSchoolReunion at the Chocolate Works opening on Sunday. We asked her why she’s chosen this “second act”…and how she is staying sane and put together amidst the chaos of opening a business and raising a family.

(Side note: we were also very energized by last night’s episode of “The Profit” on CNBC…really good stuff and much lighter fare than “Homeland”.  Watch it if you get a chance!  Especially if you’re thinking of opening a small business and/or need to feel better about yourself.)

Now back to Rachel.  Here is some awesome insight she gave to Team HEUCY — in addition to the hours of business advice she has already provided to us, for free.  Thanks, Rachel!!  You are a #HEUCYGal inspiration!

1. How did you come upon this “second act” in your career? Where were you before, and why did you choose to leave that path and do something different?

AFTER OVER 12 YEARS IN CORPORATE AMERICA (AND 5 YEARS IN GOVERNMENT BEFORE THAT), I DECIDED THAT MORE THAN ANYTHING I WANTED TO BE MY OWN BOSS AND WORK FOR MYSELF. I LOVED WHAT I DID BEFORE BUT I ALWAYS FELT THAT THERE WAS TOO MUCH OUT OF MY CONTROL AND I WANTED TO SET MY OWN DESTINY. MOST RECENTLY, I WAS SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT AT GILT GROUPE AND BEFORE THAT I WAS AT BARNES & NOBLE.COM; TOYS R US, AND FAO SCHWARZ. I STARTED OUT IN GOVERNMENT WORK.

2. Why did you decide to open a Chocolate Works store? Do you love chocolate, or was it a desire to own something?

I REALLY WANTED TO OWN SOMETHING AND THE OPPORTUNITY CAME TO ME THROUGH A SMALL BUSINESS BROKER. IT IS A FRANCHISE, WHICH I NEVER THOUGHT I WOULD BUY. BUT IT JUST FELT LIKE THE RIGHT FIT. I HAVE BEEN IN THE KIDS BUSINESS FOR YEARS AND I LOVED THE IDEA OF DOING A CHOCOLATE STORE. EVERYONE IS HAPPY AROUND CHOCOLATE.

3. You have two young kids and a busy life! What do you do to unwind?

MY HUSBAND AND I TRY TO GET A BABYSITTER AND GO OUT TO A MOVIE EVERY WEEKEND. IT’S AN EXPENSIVE MOVIE BUT IT IS WORTH IT.

4. And how do you manage the chaos? Do your wardrobe choices ever reflect what’s going on in your life?

I DON’T, REALLY. BUT I DO JUST TRY TO STAY AS ORGANIZED AS POSSIBLE. I KEEP A VERY DETAILED “TO DO” LIST AND WITHOUT THAT, I WOULD BE LOST. I MAKE MY BED EVERY MORNING BECAUSE I LIKE THE FEELING OF COMING HOME TO SOMETHING NEAT AND CLEAN AFTER A LONG DAY.

5. What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received? And what advice would you give to someone now, who is about to embark on an entrepreneurial venture?

THE BEST CAREER ADVICE I CAN GIVE IS THAT YOU SHOULD PAY YOUR DUES EARLY ON AND WORK YOUR WAY UP BY BUILDING CORE SKILLS AND NOT WORRYING ABOUT PAY AND TITLE. THAT ALL COMES LATER. JUST WORK HARD AND PROVE YOURSELF. THE REST WILL FALL IN LINE. AND TAKE THE TIME TO FIGURE OUT WHAT YOU REALLY WANT TO DO. SOMETIMES THE ONLY WAY TO DO THAT IS TO TRY DIFFERENT THINGS.

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.  Thanks again, Rachel…and good luck!  This makes me want to have some chocolate.  Fortunately I’m wearing my comfy black #HighSchoolReunion dress today…with a forgiving waistband!

xx,

The HEUCY Team

Coco Chanel & HEUCY’s Problem Solver

B_CM0881coco-chanel

Today, HEUCY met with Julie Sabatino (our new girl crush and founder of “The Stylish Bride”, http://www.thestylishbride.com) and our conversation veered toward the subject of hem lines.  You can’t really discuss (ahem) hem lines without talking about the one and only Coco Chanel.  Julie also mentioned that she had started out working in finance before finding her real passion as a fashion and wedding stylist.

Which led us to another stream-of-consciousness thought.  One of HEUCY’s favorite Coco Chanel quotes is, “A girl should be two things: who and what she wants.”  As we near the official launch of HEUCY’s e-commerce site later this month, Suwha and I have had a chance to think about “second acts” and being who and what you want to be.

One thing we will never be: perfect.  Honestly, who is?  And would you really want to be around someone who is?  One thing we can be: ourselves.  It’s exciting to know that you can leave a career you’re not satisfied with, or not inspired by, that’s not really “you”…and pursue something else.  Or leave a relationship, be it work or personal, and find something that’s more fulfilling.  The hard work and sacrifice is worth it, to land on a pursuit that makes you happier, smarter and “better” in the long run.

On that note, we’d like to highlight the HEUCY #ProblemSolver in Black.  This was Julie’s favorite style, and we think it captures today’s thoughts nicely.  One of our goals at HEUCY is to solve problems — you don’t have a ton of time to get dressed in the morning, you don’t have time for multiple outfit changes throughout the day…and/or you are on your “second act” and the usual suspects (workout gear, business casual, skinny jeans) just don’t work for you anymore.  Here’s a little tool to help make those problems go away.  Available for pre-order now at http://www.heucy.com.

xx,

The HEUCY Team