It’s Not Early to Think About Your Pension Plan

It’s Not Early to Think About Your Pension Plan

Let’s face it – we live such hectic lives nowadays that even thinking about next year requires some time off in order to consider our options carefully. Retirement? Well, that is light years away! So, we avoid thinking about it. Or we say to ourselves, ’I’ll deal with that later’ and we never do. However, with all the fuss that had become our daily routine, we really can’t afford not to think about our future. Because it is bound to catch up to us and we better be prepared.

Know where you want to be

It is a psychological thing – if you have an idea of what you want your retirement to be like, you will be able to organize yourself early on in order to achieve this. Having a well-defined aim in life has been proven to be beneficial for mental growth. Therefore, creating this aim could be one of your goals in life. Maybe not a predominant one, but a goal nonetheless. So, if your ideal retirement is sipping martinis on a beach, we advise you to start thinking about it as soon as you can and start making arrangements. Even if you have no definite idea, we still advise it, as drinking martinis or spending your time in spas sounds like a solid retirement plan to us. There are also so many different types of retirement plans to look into from traditional ones to Self-directed IRAs. The sooner you look into it, the sooner you can start saving for where you want to be. Even if it is a simple Google search for companies in your local area then that simple “houston tx quest ira” search into IRAs is still a step closer to saving for your future.

Build your habits

It does not come as a surprise that people who think about their pension plan, tend not to spend their money that often. It is understandable to splurge once in a while, but don’t overdo it. While we are not advising you to start saving every cent, we are saying that thinking about your retirement plan can help you live more frugally. It is simple math, the earlier you start thinking about it, more you will have when you actually reach your retirement. Those martinis will not pay for themselves. Jokes aside, if you start thinking about it early on, you will probably manage to save up more. After you get married and have children, you will not be able to save as much as when you are single. It is a good idea to try doing an age pension income test to find out how much you should be setting aside to be able to benefit fully later on.

Avoid upsetting your loved ones

This might not be an example for everyone, but the author of this article has spent several months with an extremely low pension fund and managed to upset half of the family and quite a few friends. “Do you not think about the future?’, ‘What will happen if you can’t work tomorrow?’, etc. It is not just you who thinks about your future. Your loved ones will also worry if they think you are being too reckless and not taking into consideration that a lot of things can happen between now and your retirement. Therefore, reassure them and show them that you are thinking about it and doing everything you can at this stage in life to ensure a comfortable future. If some of them are your age or younger, you can reassure them by letting them know that they will not be the ones you will come to if you need funds.

Later might be too late

While we do think that it is never too late to start planning our pension and saving for it, we never know what the future might bring. This doesn’t mean you should jump into the first plan that comes your way because sometimes promises are made by IRAs but never happen. If this happens to you then you may be able to get compensation for bad pension advice. You should take your time choosing a plana and pick one that’s best for your future. One of the saddest sights you can see is an older person struggling to make ends meet. Do you really want to give up some things in order to have money for the bare essentials? We don’t think so. You should start saving now while you are younger and able to earn more money, and put some aside for when you are older and not so able. Now when you have the energy and opportunity to work more, you can get an additional part-time job to supplement your income. However, if you lack money later on, it will not be so easy to get it.

Shape your future

So, to sum it up – it is never early to think about your pension plan (unless you are a teenager!) for many reasons but the most important of them being – because you can. You cannot change the past but as the future is not written in stone, you can plan it and while at it, why not include pension plans into your consideration as well?

Alex Williams is a journalism graduate, and a rookie blogger. She feels blogs are the perfect opportunity for presenting herself to wider audience, getting the chance to showcase her expertise and receiving recognition. She is a regular contributor at Bizzmark Blog “”.

What To Do When Your Career Stagnates

What To Do When Your Career Stagnates


When Your Career Stagnates and Your Opportunities Seem Limited…. It can be demoralizing, anxiety-producing and downright depressing.  Believe me, I know.   In my 20s and even still today as I approach 40, I frequently experience age and gender discrimination.  I look young and enjoy fashion (a stint at Saks in grad school left me with an affliction for designer handbags and shoes).  And sometimes people equate that with a lack of experience, intelligence and business sense.  If I had a dollar for every time I heard “Oh, you wouldn’t understand this reference because you’re too young,” or “I can’t believe how much you have accomplished in your short career”.  It seems like more often than not, people are surprised by my expertise, professional accomplishments and network.  However, those who know me are not.  At work, I’m assertive, knowledgeable and confident.  But I wasn’t always this way.  Early in my career, I was quiet, shy and afraid to speak up and share my ideas because I was afraid to sound stupid or be wrong. 

You ever felt that way?  There were a number of factors that changed my behavior over time but probably the biggest influence was a boss I had named Jacqui.  Jacqui was smart, assertive and didn’t fit the mold of a typical corporate woman – she played in a man’s world, but was true to who she was and was also someone I genuinely enjoyed hanging out with.  It was from working with and receiving feedback from Jacqui that led me to break out of my shell.   But if you don’t have a “Jacqui” in your life, what can you do to establish your brand and stand out so you can get the promotion, raise and respect you deserve at work? 

Well here’s a few things that I’ve done over the years that have helped me…



 Take the time to understand what you’re good at.  You can do this by taking assessments, self-reflecting and asking others to give you feedback.  Equally important, understand your ‘non-talents’.   Then, rather than try to improve on your ‘non-talents’, become more of who you already are by building on your natural talents.  We wouldn’t expect a goldfish to climb a tree right?


 Like it or not, we live in a visual, superficial society.  Appearance is important.   You don’t need to be a model or spend a fortune to look polished and stylish but it does require a little effort.  Figure out what styles make you feel the most comfortable and confident and stick with those.  Sticking to certain silhouettes and colors can make getting dressed fast and simple.  Develop an easy-to-maintain hair and makeup routine.  You may need to get advice on these things – ask your stylish friends, your hairdresser and the makeup artist at Sephora for tips.  It’s not silly and superficial…it’s part of how you present yourself and your brand.


 Successful women take care of themselves.  They exercise, eat healthy and are cognizant of their mental health.  Take the time to figure out how you can incorporate regular exercise and a healthy diet into your life.  Stay away from toxic people who sap your energy.  Do things outside of work that make you feel good and rejuvenate you.


 Once you recognize your natural talents and develop your personal style, OWN IT.   Don’t sit quietly in your team meeting waiting to be called on.   Stand tall and confidently share your insights.  If the thought of this is too scary, start by having 1:1 conversations with peers you trust.  You can bounce your ideas off them first and build up the confidence to share them in a larger group or with your boss.


Everyone is busy and most likely, your boss isn’t spending much time thinking about how to get you everything you want professionally.   YOU are in charge of your path, even if you work for someone else.   Take the time to figure out where you want to be in 6 months, 1 year and 5 years and let people know.  Even if they don’t think you’re ready, ask them why and how you can get there.  Then take this feedback and think about whether you can act on it or if you are better off looking outside of your current job for the type of opportunity you are looking for.  I realize these steps may not be easy for everyone.  But taken in small chunks over a period of time, they are doable and can help you take your career to the next level, even if you’re feeling stuck, underpaid and unappreciated.

Hope this helps if you’re finding yourself in that space.


     Elena Lipson has more than 15 years of healthcare consulting experience, serving federal and commercial clients and mentoring emerging companies. She is a Principal and Founder of Mosaic Growth Partners, a consulting firm based in Washington, D.C., that helps organizations and entrepreneurs in the healthcare and aging industries with business growth strategy consulting. The firm offers market intelligence and growth strategy services, as well as personalized trainings and workshops and individual and group coaching programs.

Prior to founding Mosaic Growth Partners, Elena led AARP Services’ business development efforts in health and caregiving. At AARP, Elena was responsible for securing strategic partnerships, developing new business models and serving as an innovation champion. In this role, she built deep market knowledge and a strong industry network by working with hundreds of emerging and established companies.

Elena also spent nearly 10 years as a management consultant, primarily with Deloitte Consulting, where she led strategy, human capital and technology engagements for federal health clients and the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions. She also led sales and capture strategy, teaming, strategic business development and client excellence for the Department of Defense Military Health System account.

Elena is a Project Management Professional and a certified Agile Scrum Master. She graduated with a Master of Public Policy from American University and a B.A. in Political Science with High Honors from the University of Michigan.






Should Freelancers Focus on Business Branding or Personal Branding?

Should Freelancers Focus on Business Branding or Personal Branding?

When doing business as yourself, it can be hard to know where lines need to be drawn between your personal life and your business.

For most, it can be impossible. Part of how you built your notoriety up to begin with probably started with word of mouth and personal recommendations. As you grow and choose to expand, do you continue to keep pace with putting your personal self out on the social media line or do you make a plan to transition to the collective and camouflaging “we” of doing business.

The short answer is that it just depends. Let’s look at a few guiding factors.

Personality and Uniqueness

Dr. Seuss said, “There is no one youer than you.”

In the freelancing world, your personality, voice, and uniqueness are the things that will make you stand out. A lot of people like to do your type of business with a familiar face.

They want to know the person taking their family photos or designing a logo. They want the the warmth of a personal relationship and the personal recommendation from a friend. So in this case, building on your personality is a dynamite plan of action for freelancers. A great way of using personalised branding is using something like US Imprints Koozies. They’re basically personalised drinks holders, but you can personalise them with your company logo or slogan. They’re eye catching and I can almost guarantee no one with a similar business to you is using them as a form of marketing. Make them personal and unique, and everyone will want to know who you and your business are. When you have a business, you’ll want to make sure that you can build and grow it. There are many ways that this can be done, not just through personalised drink holders. For example, there are marketing companies out there that can help you with this, so if this is something of interest to you then you could check out The Top Class Agency here to help you with this form of marketing.

As a business owner, you are also permitted to push the envelope when it comes to your digital presence. You get to interact with people online as a living, breathing person, and not the collective “we” of a larger business.

What Does Your Client Prefer

When beginning a business plan, it’s always advisable to take a really long look at your target audience. Who does your target audience prefer to do business with?

Are they formal? Would they prefer the careful marketing of a well-oiled business? Do they prefer working directly with a person and hearing a familiar voice on the phone every time they call? While this may not be your sole marker for making the decision on how to brand, analyzing your clientele effectively will never steer you wrong.

As you further get to know those you are working for, you can fine tune your branding approach and grow your social platforms to cast a wider net.

Selling Yourself (Short)

Another factor when deciding how to brand is whether or not you can sell yourself and your services appropriately.

Can you strike deals that are worth your time and effort without apologizing or flinching? The answer to this question will determine whether you should keep it personal or go the business route.

You don’t want to make the mistake of building up your likability only to let that be a disadvantage when it comes to closing a deal.

If you feel like your business will be more lucrative with a business brand, then think through the sacrifices you are making by moving it in that direction.

What Does the Future Hold?

Will you always be a one-man show? If yes, then a personal brand is your yellow brick road. If you intend to grow and build a thriving business then it’s probably best to head out the gate with that type of branding.

It would be difficult to become a household name and go through the painful and uncertain process of rebranding once your endeavor exceeds your solitary abilities. You can still start out with a unique approach and use word-of-mouth to drum up business.

Those initial successes will be residuals from your personal branding up to this point, but have a strategy for reaching clients while maintaining a warm persona.

Freelancing businesses are often one person’s pursuit that involves a lot of blood, sweat, and tears. The decisions surrounding branding are critical as you begin to get clients and want to expand your reach.

Deciding whether to keep with a personal branding style or break out into a business model depends a lot on what your goal is. Either way, you have to take a look at what your online reputation is doing for you right now.

Analyzing your target clientele and who they prefer to do business with is a great first step. Then you can dream about your goals. Do you want to run your photography business as a one man show where clients always do business directly with you? Or would you rather grow the reach and employee base of your company by hiring and turning it into more of a small business?

Ultimately, understanding your clients and what kind of business you want to represent are the most important questions to answer when deciding how you should market your freelance business.

Sabrina ClarkSabrina Clark is a proud Marist College alum with degrees specializing in public relations, business administration and Spanish. While at Marist, she co-founded the Marist Student Entrepreneur Network to support students with entrepreneurial aspirations. Upon graduation, she accepted a marketing position with a tech startup focused on the home improvement industry where she managed integrated marketing, sales and strategic partnership initiatives. She is excited to now be a part of the BrandYourself team and help sculpt the future of the online reputation management industry.

4 Ways Women Can Thrive In A Male-Dominated Workplace

4 Ways Women Can Thrive In A Male-Dominated Workplace


According to the U.S Department of Labor, almost 47 percent of the U.S labor force are women. And more than 39 percent of these women serve in capacities that contribute to three-quarters of the workforce.

With women occupying such a central stage in the corporate world it is imperative that they have a can-do attitude and are able to make their way up the corporate ladder.

However, this doesn’t change the basic reality that women have been substantially outnumbered by their male counterparts. This makes it absolutely essential that women play their part in advancing their careers and establish a unique identity in a male-dominated workplace! Here are some ways career-oriented women can do so:

Get Yourself Heard

Having confidence in what you have to say helps you project your opinion in a more palatable manner.

Speak up with confidence. According to a study published in Harvard Business Review in 2014, women were found to be less vocal during meetings than men. Of those women, who spoke up, they had an apologetic tone and were easily interrupted. This establishes the speaker as powerless or insecure. Inculcate a sense of assertiveness in the way you talk.

Make sure that your opinion is not only heard but also respected on all forums for you to gain the needed exposure to excel in your career.

Embrace Your Feminity With Pride

Women often try to imitate men in their mannerisms to get recognized in the workplace.  However, little do they realize that they have their own unique personalities that exude compassion. Great deals for women are available online to help them dress confidently, after all you feel good when you look good.

Being yourself will help you acquire your place in the corporate landscape. After all women tend to be active listeners, have superior analytical and problem-solving skills and are definitely different from men in many aspects.

Challenge Traditional Gender Roles

Often the basic difference that differentiates men and women are their behavioral choices and not their gender in specific.

Masculine traits establish the authority and aggressiveness of men over women. Women who are observed to depict self-monitoring behavior got 1.5 times more promotions than men with similar qualities as shown by study conducted by the Stanford Business School.

As aforesaid, every woman should be comfortable in their own skin and should in no way sacrifice their feminity, as challenging gender roles entails proving yourself worthy of professional success. This could be as simple as mustering the confidence to ask for a pay raise and accepting credit for your work.

Your Take On The Role Of Women In The Workplace

Your body language speaks volumes about your beliefs in the power of women in the workplace and the impact they can have on the business. If you have a firm conviction on the fact that women are equally capable to succeed in their careers as men are, their communication styles and decision-making ability will automatically reflect that. 

This internalized belief will propel you to distinguish yourself and prove your mettle as a successful businesswoman against all odds. You’ve just got to believe in yourself and flaunt that suit with confidence.


Kasey Rodriguez

Kasey Rodriguez is a passionate health and lifestyle blogger who loves to write about prevailing trends. She is a featured author at various authoritative blogs in the health, fitness and lifestyle industry. 

What Is Your Career Brand?

What Is Your Career Brand?


We all follow very different paths in our career but the choices we have made make up what others perceive as your career brand. Career branding can be as intricate and as unique as our very own fingerprints. Let’s stop to think about your career to date. Think about your resume and each job you have had along the way. You have found yourself here, reading this post today through your very own special and individual way. So let me ask you, what does your career say about your brand so far?

There are no two career brands which are identical. Like me, you may have chosen the corporate route only to find passion in creating your own service or product down the track. Or, you may be happy in your 9-5 job but you’re looking for a little side hustle to keep things interesting. Or, you may be just like Vera Wang who chose to change careers at 40. Let’s get one thing straight. Careers are meant to be messy. Gone are the days where structured career paths are required to be successful. The more undone the better 😉

Because no two career brands are identical it’s important to stress that whist we may have idols and inspirations we can’t create a carbon copy career map to be just like them or as successful. We all have our own unique path to follow.

Your career brand is made up of these 3 factors:

  1.  Values
  2. Passion
  3.  Skills



If I asked you this, ‘what are your 3 core values?’ could you answer it?

Your values are the lifeblood that make up your happiness. Exploring your values will lead you to identify what makes you tick and what drives your passion. Ultimately, they’re the key essential things that make you feel fulfilled and happy.

Values link to the way you make decisions in life. From a career perspective it’ll help you think critically about the jobs you accept; that next promotion you may or may not take, and overall the career you want to carve out for yourself.

If you don’t know what your values are, never fear! I’ve put together a super easy and quick worksheet to help you work it out. Download the Values Worksheet right here. This should take less than 5 minutes and it’ll change your life. It’s designed to help you have a much clearer perspective on how you tick and why you make the decisions that you do.



When I was in my early 20’s I made a drastic decision to switch careers from Accountant to Recruiter. I took no less than a $55k pay cut. It hurt a lot financially and it meant I had to sacrifice on things that I got used to such as a fancy wardrobe, weekly Friday night cocktails and yearly exotic holidays. Overall though, I adjusted quite well. Perhaps it was because I didn’t feel the need to fill the emptiness I felt with a passion-less work life and found I was more motivated finally doing something I loved! And when you have that amount of passion and positivity on your side, the financial gain follows. I made back the loss of salary in less than 15 months and today I base my business around my passion for Career Branding and Recruitment! I’m so glad I stuck with my gut. My 20’s were full of messy decisions but looking back, this was one of my smartest moves.



Now wouldn’t we all love to pick a career and just go do it. Well, perhaps you can and you’re naturally gifted in a particular field, but in most cases you need to check in with your skill set. What kind of talents have you acquired along the way and what additional learning do you need to do to follow your passion? If you can do this early it’ll help you achieve your dream career a lot quicker. In my example I went back to university to study for a Masters in HR and applied my learning along the way whilst I worked full time as a junior recruiter. If you’re unsure where your gaps are, look at job ads that you aspire to apply to or speak to relevant people who inspire you to point you in the right direction. Remember, not everyone needs to go through formal study to skill up – webinars, mentoring, courses will all contribute to a more well rounded you!

What if you don’t like your career brand?


Well, let’s take control of it! It all starts with asking others what they think of you. Remember, it is not what you think of yourself, that’s your self-image. You want to know how others perceive your career brand. And when you get the answer, ensure you have an open mind. You may not like what you hear, you may be pleasantly surprised. Whatever the case, it’s an awesome opportunity to own it and use it as a way to leverage your so- called weaknesses into inspiring others around you.



Some points to remember about your career brand.

  • Get to know it and understand it – all those experiences you have over time will influence you and change you so check in with people you trust to assess your career brand.
  • Be open minded to feedback – you may not always be happy with what you hear. Try not to take it to heart. Ensure you include to ask people you respect and trust who will give you honest and constructive feedback.
  • If you’re not happy with it you can change it – if you want to shape your career brand, have a plan with measurable goals and timeframes so you can track your progress and hold yourself accountable. It could be that you will do some learning and development, or try something totally out of your comfort zone such as public speaking, anything that you feel will improve your brand in the long run.

Ruby Lee

Ruby Lee founded the career centric community, for ambitiously minded individuals who are on a quest to find passion and purpose in their career. Ruby finds her zen time through spending time with her son, cuddling up on the couch with her hubby and eating one too many almond croissants.

7 Steps to the Perfect Commute

7 Steps to the Perfect Commute


Ahhh…the commute. At times painful (but mostly just a pain,) commuting to and from work can sometimes take hours depending on traffic. Taking a bus, train, or carpool (yay environment!) may help you on the stress level, but still eats up precious minutes.

We normally view our commute negatively: it’s something that keeps us from doing other, more productive things. However, it’s a shift in perspective that can make your commute awesome. Instead of viewing your commute as a necessary evil, try viewing it as “me time.” This is a set amount of uninterrupted time to do with as you wish (safely, of course.) As soon as you view it as a little chunk of paradise before and after a crazy day, your world gets a little brighter.

1. Use Pocket to curate some off-line news

Pocket is this awesome little app (and plug-in) that lets you save and curate articles to read later without wifi or data. For example, have them automatically dump the New York Times’ top articles without any fuss. Or see an interesting story but no time to read it? Pocket it for later.

2. Bring a book

How many of us complain about not having enough time to read a book? There is no better time to get some quality reading done than your bus or train ride. I’m pages away from finishing “All the Light We Cannot See” (could not recommend it more) and read it almost entirely on my commute to work over a month or so. Fiction not your thing? Try some reading about being more creative (“Big Magic” is a great one), or furthering your career (“Own It: The Power of Women at Work”, “Start With Why”,) or finding happiness (“The Geography of Bliss.”) There are more books than we can count, and so much reading to be done.

3. Check your email (but don’t respond)

Those emails can wait for replies (unless they can’t…you know those emails.) But simply looking through your inbox gives you automatic goals to start the day. By sorting through your emails (but not drafting a response), you’re giving yourself a leg-up on work without actually engaging. See what’s going to be your first priority when you get in the office — that way, you’re prepared for what’s to come and can mull it over on your way in.

4. Download some podcasts

This one you can do in your car (the first three definitely should not be!) From food to career to lifestyle to comedy to travel, there is a podcast for everything. On Sunday while you’re doing your laundry, set your iTunes to automatically download a week’s worth of content that you can soak up. Some of our favorites:Adulthood Made Easy, Planet Money, Crimetown, and Magic Lessons.

5. Make a call

You remember your grandma? Yeah, that grandma…the one you haven’t called in weeks. When things get busy, it’s easy to forget to take 5 minutes and check in with your loved ones on the walk to work. Just asking how they’ve been and letting them know you’re thinking of them will undoubtedly brighten their day, and yours.

6. Meditate

Remember that whole “use your commute as me time” thing? Now’s the perfect time for a bit of self-care.Calm is my favorite app/website for meditation: you can choose exactly the length of time you want to meditate (from 3 minutes to an hour,) and can pick whether you want a lovely phantom voice guiding you through it or not. Complete with a beautiful scenery picture and nature sounds (that you again get to pick), you’re on your way to bliss. And even better, Calm has a guided meditation for every situation, even one called Commute!

7. Learn a language

I don’t know about you, but I literally feel this daily intense need to be chic enough to speak fluent French. Luckily, apps like Duolingo are free and can assist you in learning that new language! And a little-known tip: Spotify also has playlists full of language lessons, in addition to international music!


Tori Dunlap

Tori Dunlap is an award-winning social media marketer and entrepreneur. Founder of victori media, helping 20-somethings live life victoriously. Obsessed with finding cheap flights, reading a good book in the bathtub, and you. Follow her on Instagram here.




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