Reap All the Rewards: Develop a Mentoring Program

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Sometimes I get lost — even with the help of my iPhone GPS blaring in my ear. Siri shouts “Turn right!” at the exact moment I take a left onto the interstate. And while it’s tough getting lost on the way to work, its worse when you feel aimless and adrift at work.

Luckily, there are mentoring programs to provide direction and support to lost employees. To keep your organization at tip-top shape and to ensure your employees are doing what needs to be done, think about developing a mentoring program. Sound difficult? It can be. But I’ve got some tips for you to make your life a whole lot easier. And I’m putting the tips into a list for you — because, in my opinion, lists make info easier to digest.

So grab a pen and write the list down, why don’t you? Or, better yet, take a screenshot. Oh, technology. How you’ve simplified everyday tasks. Anyway, let’s move on to that list I was talking about, shall we?

How to create a successful mentoring program: Define your objectives.
* Why do you need a mentoring program in the first place? What are your business goals and how can this program help you accomplish them?

Structure your program.
* How do you want this program designed?  Would an online program or an in-person program be more advantageous? Consider the pros and cons of each — make a list! 

Who are your leaders?
*Build leadership roles within the program. Your mentors need to act like leaders — define their role and allow them to lead the initiative.

Promote your program. 
*Outline some rewards or benefits for your employees.  They need some incentive to do this program as well.  And make sure your employees know how to enroll in the program — don’t overcomplicate it!

Oh, and don’t forget to properly train your mentors. If they don’t know what they’re doing, the program might lack success.
*Get some feedback. Allow mentors and mentees to provide comments or critiques.  What better way to make sure your program is reaching its objectives?

Mentoring programs can be beneficial for everyone within your company — both for mentors and mentees.  It’s up to you to figure out how exactly you want to design your program, but by following the list above (and formally structuring your program) will allow you to reap all the rewards within your company. At DFSCC, it’s what we do – and find our mentoring program to help us immensely. Try it out!


#GirlBosses Break Rules (In a Good Way)

I recently read one of those so-good-you-rip-it-out-and-fold-it-in-your-agenda-for-later articles in InStyle’s March 2017 issue (also, one of my favorite #GirlBosses, Amy Schumer, is on the cover so I was immediately sold). Titled “Dress to Unimpress,” the article by Lena Dunham (another great #GirlBoss) eloquently satirizes fashion’s golden “rules” and gives her top five tips for breaking them. Regardless of your stance on age-old fashion restrictions, it’s worth a read for a good laugh.

Inspired by Dunham’s good-natured humor, I thought I would take a stab at my top five workplace “rules” I think are worth breaking (if you can). I’m not nearly as funny as Dunham, so keep your expectations low.


  1. Don’t bank on your degree.


It’s super awesome that you graduated summa cumma kappa alpha magna laude from your liberal arts college no one has heard of. It really is. But, if you can’t problem solve on the fly, take direction quickly, or be nice, no one will care. Even worse, if you keep reminding people of your summa cumma kappa alpha magna laude degree, you likely will not get invited to the office holiday cocktail party.

Good grades don’t make friends for you, and they don’t get you promoted, either. They might get you a good job, but they don’t mean you will do a good job. Keep working hard and tell yourself you did not peak in college. Your mountain-top moment is yet to come!



  1. Do wear clothes that make you happy.


This is the 21st century, people. Times are not that tough. You can now buy office-appropriate clothes that reflect your fun personality. No, you do not need to look like you are a member of the CIA. No, you are not required to look like Anne Hathaway in the beginning of The Devil Wears Prada and give off the scruffy, I-haven’t-slept-or-bathed-in-three-days-because-I’m-so-committed-to-my-job look. No one is asking you to do that. Unless you are a Deal or No Deal case girl, you can freely choose your own work uniform. Wear clothes that reflect who you are. Work feels way more fun that way. (And if you are Dorothy Self, you will wear camo skinny pants with cheetah stilettos. And she gets stuff done in that outfit. Case. In. Point.)



  1. Do ask a lot of questions.


I completely understand the desire to appear like a know-it-all on your first day. I also understand the fear that accompanies approaching your boss because you truly do not know how to complete your task. It’s the worst. But, even more awful is Googling how to do something and proudly showing your boss your work, only for them to go, “Oh, nope. That is not what I meant.”

Asking for help/clarification requires vulnerability and humility. But it is so worth the five seconds of awkward. Ask away. I promise your boss would much rather you do it right than try to prove yourself and do it wrong.



  1. Do build up your coworkers.


If you haven’t caught on to the words of affirmation theme on the #GirlBossBlog, you must be new. Dorothy and I thrive on words of affirmation (in a major way, we’re kindred spirits). And something I have picked up from Dorothy is her tendency to text me after a day in the office to follow up on a conversation we had or a difficult situation navigated together. Knowing that she thought of me while driving home, making dinner, or catching up on emails means the world. Wash, rinse, repeat on that one. Great buildings were never built from materials working against each other – but rather with each other. And the people building had to work together, too.

Don’t fall into the trap of gossip or petty talk. It gets nothing done. You can read more about how much I appreciate encouraging work environments here, here, and here. Oh, and here.


  1. Do become friends with your boss.


In my previous jobs, there was a major “us vs. them” mentality when it came to boss/employee relationships. I think that’s how we are conditioned to approach work since childhood, thanks to the ever-present “us vs. them” attitude toward our teachers. The boss is the bad guy and the employees bond over how much they can’t stand the dull meetings, invalidation, egos and lousy memos. (Think about those side interviews in “The Office.” They are so funny because they are so accurate.)

Dorothy once told me to pick the boss, not the job (her first boss was Melissa Cabocel of the Consumer Bankers Association, and I am headed up there to meet her soon – can.not.wait to meet the very first link in the chain of DFSquad #GirlBosses). This idea might sound counterintuitive – being friends with your boss – but after building my friendship with Dorothy over the past nine (I mean really!) months, I realize how right she is (what else is new). The right boss, if you let them, will inspire, encourage, and push you to be better. They will find your strengths and magnify them. They will want to teach you. They will want to be your friend, and friends build up friends. They will care, and they will see the strengths that God has given you, and they will honor that. And I can say that I’m 100% sure she appreciates me every day! That’s a freeing feeling, and empowering too. No filing of emails for me – she believes in me full stop. She trusts me with her friendship and her business she started from the ground up. That’s no small responsibility, but that’s what friends do. So forage that good relationship with your boss. You might just learn from them, and benefit along the way.

So, if you get in trouble for committing a classic workplace faux pas, you can blame me. But, in my experience, some rules are worth breaking to enhance the work experience. And if you really want to go wild, wear white heels before Easter. *gasp*


Stand and Deliver

Public Speaking. It’s like a middle-school relationship. It’s awkward and uncomfortable and it leaves you with sweaty palms (side note: What’s with the excessively damp glands of 6th-grade-boy hands? Asking you WebMD writers out there).

But let me tell you something about public speaking and young-love, you can improve both with a few tips from those who are more experienced and with lots of practice. Luckily for you, I’m here today with vast knowledge from my Public Speaking-101 course and a little help to help you ease those big-crowd-jitters.

Confidence is Key. A saying that is true in pretty much all aspects in life, and is no exception when it comes to the delivery of your speech, presentation,  or elementary wedding proposal. Your confidence level affects your audience’s attention, participation, and ability to connect with what you’re saying. So say it loud and say it proud.

A huge component of your audience buying into your confidence level, even if you’re totally faking it, is your body language. The way you present yourself will arguably do more speaking than you will. So here are 5 tips to looking more confident.

  1. The Box: Imagine that there is a cardboard box in front of chest and confine your arm movements to the inside of that box. It turns out that exaggerated movements are interpreted as “untrustworthy” to an audience.
  2. Hold the Ball: Pretend you’re holding a basketball while speaking, it will subconsciously suggest to the audience that you are literally holding your idea and thus exude more confidence.
  3. Pyramid Hands: Shaking hands giving you away? Not anymore. This idea comes straight from those sturdy Egyptian pyramids to settle your trembles. Those babies have been around for about 5000 years and haven’t flinched. Not once. Mimic our model by clasping both hands together in a relaxed pyramid. Now you’re calm, cool, and collected.
  4. Wide Stance: Channel your inner Beyonce (minus the leotard) and stand proud with your legs shoulder distance apart. This will exude control the whole way through
  5. Palms Up or Down: If you occasionally gesture with you palms up,  it indicates openness and honesty. While if you gesture palms down, it can be viewed as a sign of strength and authority. Either is a win! Just make sure to use them intentionally and that your gesture matches your mood.


I’ve feathered your wings and you’re ready to fly! So fly, my child, fly! *I say with a wide stance, with my palms down as I gently flap my “wings” with in the box, obviously*.




Understand Customer Relationships. . . Better

Customers are the driving forces behind your business, and nothing is more important than developing excellent relationships with them. The only problem: we do not always know everything about our customers, and often, they do not always know what they want. So, how then can we begin to satisfy them?


Form relationships with heavy users

There are three types of consumers: Early adopters, repeaters, and heavy users. Aim for the latter of the three. These are people who use your product in high amounts—making them the most valuable. It is very important to keep them happy! In addition, you must figure out what they love about your product and why they always come back. This information could be the difference between another consumer sticking with your brand or opting for someone else’s.


Close the space between being adequate and extraordinary

Consumers may desire something great, but are willing to settle for “alright” if there are no other options. If they are simply settling for your product, then they are easy targets for you competitors. Once you learn to fill the space between satisfaction and longing, customers will continue to stay loyal and others will be drawn to your brand. People don’t want things that are just okay. They want something that fulfils their desires, yet this is not always available to them. It is your job to make sure they always have this option. Create your product so that it is as close to what your customer wants as possible. This way, they will never have to settle for less again. 


Tuesday Tips with Dominique

Marketing strategies for a small business – not as scary as it sounds, trust me.

Marketing strategies are the backbone of any successful business, DFS included, but more often than not small-business owners do not take the time to develop a long-lasting approach that delivers consistent results. That’s where we come in. Here are three simple #girlboss tricks that should be considered before you implement a marketing strategy for your small business.

1. Consider your target audience (we repeat this on.the.hour)
Do you want adult males buying your products or do you offer services catered to teenage girls? Knowing exactly who you want to target is crucial to develop an awesome marketing strategy. This is also the time to research your audience and discover what they like and what they don’t like. A quick survey is a great way to start! Sounds basic, but there are many ways to acquire this knowledge. Let us help you. It’s our thing. (One of them, at least.)

2.   Decide what marketing avenues your audience responds well to
Small businesses may not need as many different outlets as a major company, but knowing how you can influence your main client base is the key to success. This step heavily relies upon the research conducted in my previous point, and should steer you in the direction of which medium your audiences uses the most. Know your people, people! And know them well.

3.   Decide how success will be measured
This is crucial, because if something you are doing is not working then it’s time to regroup! It’s ok to try new things while still hanging on to tried-and-true methods. . . Regardless, you should always, always, always be measuring success. Otherwise you will never know the true value of what your dollars are getting you.

Having your own small business is exciting, but when marketing is done correctly, strategically, and creatively. . . It is rewarding as well.

Your ideas should be fun and truly reflect your brand and who you are as the owner. These simple tricks will take your small business to the next level, and should you let us, we’ll be right there to toast to your success.


Tuesday Tips with Dominique

We’ve all heard the saying, “Diamonds are a girl’s best friend,” but I’d like to improve upon this. My new phrase? “Delegation is a girl(boss’) best friend.” And ladies, nothing could be more true.

As #GirlBosses inevitably rise through the ranks of management (go us!), we must learn how to oversee a team. This may seem like a daunting task, but one thing that can ease this burden is learning how to properly delegate work. Just because you are in charge does not mean that you have to do everything alone. In fact, delegating tasks to your team members will actually increase their individual performance as well as further your entire project.

Here are the 5 simple steps to delegate in order to get the results you want, while investing in your team:

1. Pinpoint who is the right person for a specific assignment
Find a task that is challenging and thought-provoking. Then, delegate this task to someone who you think will be passionate and eager to learn. This combination is crucial for success.

2.  Make sure expectations are clear
This includes going over necessary steps of completion, how your team member will be evaluated, the time frame they must have this done by, and any other instructions you deem worthy of explanation.

3.  Evaluate their work thus far
Has this person done what they have agreed to do? Are they following guidelines? It is important to recognize a job well done, but don’t forget about mentioning areas that need improvement.

4. Periodically check in and give advice
Once the person has gotten the hang of things make sure to check in with them in case they have further questions. If they are doing exceedingly well, tell them! (We are big Words of Affirmation people around here, in case you haven’t noticed.) It will encourage them to continue their hard work. Has their morale declined? Give them some pointers on how to improve and inspire them to keep going.

5.  Search for more areas to increase delegation
This will increase the strength of your team and develop each person’s individual expertise. Businessman Timothy Firnstahl said, “Delegating means letting others become the experts and hence the best.” And every #GirlBoss wants the best team out there.

Now it’s time to internalize these tips and delegate away! Not only will your team flourish as a whole, but its individuals will begin to cultivate qualities that will enable them to become great leaders (just like you). Delegation is the key that unlocks uncharted potential.

So the next time someone asks you about a girl’s best friend, tell them that its delegation. (Although, there really is nothing wrong with some diamonds thrown in the mix.)

Tuesday Tips: Self-Branding

Self branding is one of the most crucial elements of success. Whether through social media or face to face interactions, how you brand yourself will set the tone of your job interviews, friendships, and your overall encounters and reputation. You may be asking, how do I do this? Have I already branded myself? What do people think of my brand now? Am I too late?
SO. MANY. QUESTIONS. Luckily for you, I’m here with a few #TuesdayTips to help get your personal brand on the right track, and if you think you need a little more help remember that DFSCC is always here with some brilliant marketing strategies!

Define yourself

What are your passions, interests, hobbies, and goals? What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses? Who are your role models? What do you want people to think of when they meet you?

Answering these questions is integral to starting your self-branding process, but I personally found it one of the hardest parts. We all love hearing other people say great things about us, but when it comes time for us to brag on ourselves it can be challenging. I found that using tools like Gallup’s StrengthsQuest helped me verbalize my skills on my resume and relate them to previous experiences. If StrengthsQuest doesn’t do it for you, Reinventing You by Dorrie Clark has been on my reading list forever and is supposed to be the ultimate self-branding-guide.

Privacy Settings work…right?

With social media and technology becoming increasingly prominent in our daily lives, what you post online really matters. I know, I know, you’ve heard this a hundred times. But it’s easy to slip up and forget that a potential boss or client is probably Googling you before committing to working with you. Even if you’re happily employed, it’s important to remember that what you post online is a direct representation of your company, and unfortunately, there can be serious consequences if they don’t like what they see.

Now, don’t keep reading this thinking, “my pages are private so this picture of me (the one I’d rather forget) won’t affect anything” because truthfully, many companies have the ability to side-step social media privacy settings. Watch your pictures and try and refrain from posting about extremely political or controversial topics. It’s also important to be careful about what you say while texting, since you never know who knows who or what’s going to be the subject of a screenshot!

Leave a [professional] digital footprint

While I could go on about the implications that social media can have on your career path, it’s important to emphasize the benefits of leaving a professional online presence.

If you have a portfolio, why not put it online? Create a personal website to document your achievements as well as tell a narrative about yourself. This is a great way to broadcast your personality and appear relatable while still sharing your talents and experiences.

Don’t forget to link your online resume – while your website is most definitely amazing (don’t forget, we can help with that!) it’s still important to condense your experiences into an easily accessible and downloadable file. I recently revamped my resume on and if you haven’t tried it yet, do it, because it has changed my life forever.

If you’re not interested in creating a personal website, make sure to take advantage of professional social media platforms like LinkedIn. LinkedIn makes it easy to document and share your experiences, projects, education, memberships, recommendations and more. With their new update, you can even link to different documents or websites – like your resume or online portfolio – to further showcase your qualifications.

Check out my Personal Website, Online Resume, and LinkedIn page for some #GirlBoss inspo.

Email Etiquette – it’s a real thing

Your email address: a small thing that goes a long way. Imagine receiving an email from (yes, that was my email address in middle school). Would you take them seriously? Most likely not.

If you took my advice about an online portfolio, website or resume, attach them to your signature. This emphasizes your credibility and experience, and can really set you apart from other professionals.

Remember that emails and texting are NOT the same – I’ve seen way too many people send professional emails with misspellings, inappropriate abbreviations and common grammatical errors. Keep your message streamlined, short and to the point. Not many professionals have time or want to sit through and read an email the length of a novel – break up your points into small sections to keep your audience interested. Reassuring people of your capabilities will be a breeze if you acknowledge these professional do’s and don’ts.

Who do you associate yourself with?

Who you associate yourself with is a strong tell about who you are. Although it can seem comforting to befriend everyone who crosses your path, it’s important to remember that you’re judged by the company you keep. Are the people you surround yourself with doing good in the world or promoting an environment you don’t want to be affiliated with? A quote I’ve always kept in mind is, “I’d rather have 4 quarters than 100 pennies”. This can be hard for me, since I’m a typically positive person and love to see the best in everyone, but as a wise woman frequently says, “Friend divorcing is necessary sometimes”. Sound harsh, but you have to look out for yourself and your reputation.

I hope these #TuesdayTips help you on your self-branding journey! Remember, DFS Creative Concepts is always here to help with any of your questions or needs.

Lifelong Learning Starts Young

The capacity to learn is a gift we all share, yet so few of us truly take this opportunity to its full potential. We spend so much time at work that the discovery of new things becomes more of a chore than a treasure. I personally am guilty of this mentality (oops!), but recently I’ve come to realize that the concept of lifelong learning is the secret to a personally fulfilling and professionally flourishing life. And after all, isn’t that what all of us #GirlBosses out there are truly searching for?

In order for us to reach our full potential and transform into the powerful women we know we can become, it is necessary to make learning a habit. Now, this takes hard work, of which we are all capable.

Stating your specific goals is a great way to ensure you stay on track, and distancing yourself from all forms of distractions (bye-bye iPhone) can keep you focused on the task at hand. In addition, I personally find it helpful to surround myself with other women who share my similar motivations and hard work ethic. After all, you are who you hang out with. And I want to be someone who sticks to her goals, and surpasses them. Continuous learning is the key to forging deeper relationships with others, discovering new passions, and even furthering your career.

Learning is not a burden, and with the right group of #GirlBosses around you it can be enjoyable and fun! Making a little time each day to read a classic book, take a sign language class, or even research your political interests will truly benefit you as a person overall. It’s not about being the best, it’s about creating the best you. We are all on our way there, we just need a little nudge!

So ladies, it only makes sense that being a #GirlBoss must include the habit of lifelong learning. Who you are on the inside shines just as much on the outside, and together we are a group of intellectual women who should never stop discovering. Knowledge is power, and power is freedom. The freedom to unlock a world of possibilities and let nothing stand in our way.

Networking 101, the #GirlBoss Way

Every #GirlBoss knows that the art of networking can transcend far beyond the realm of business, and is integral in our everyday lives. Whether you are looking to forge new relationships with clients or just make new friends, networking is an important skill to cultivate. This can be especially challenging when you are just starting out in a new place, and have no foundation on which to build up from. But fear not! We have all the tips and tricks to help you network like a pro, even if you don’t know anyone.

Being a California native living in South Carolina has truly shown me what it is like to have absolutely zero connections (sad, but true). Coming to Greenville from the West Coast was a big change, and I knew that establishing myself would pose somewhat of a challenge. If you are in a similar position, the first step is to dive headfirst into the unknown and trust in your abilities to form new relationships. In fact, that’s really all that networking is. Creating mutually beneficial connections with others.

A key ingredient to this simple recipe is being genuine. This is the only way to establish trust and authenticity in a new relationship. Do not try to be someone you are not. Instead, play up your individual strengths, quirks, and skills. People are more likely to positively respond to you if they can tell you are comfortable with yourself and have put in the necessary work to get to where you are.

Once friendships have blossomed (and how could they not, you’re delightful!), it is easy to stop attempting to meet new people and fall into routine.

But don’t quit there!

New friends can put you in contact with a whole new network of people with whom they themselves have connected. For example, every time I meet someone new, I ask to be introduced to others that they are close with. This has led to me meeting a plethora of new people I would not have known otherwise. The same principle holds true in business. Once you recruit a new client, do not be scared to ask if they know anyone else in need of your services. Odds are, they do.

Another key aspect to networking in a new place is to constantly put yourself out there. Literally. Go to different events that spark your interest and your career goals, talk to your superiors: you never know who you can meet through a single interaction! Networking tools such as LinkedIn are great, but never underestimate the power of a face to face conversation. Reaching out to people may be uncomfortable at first, but it is well worth it. You may find yourself with a new mentor who can share knowledge, or even speaking with a future employer who recognizes your #GirlBoss potential.

The last tip I have is to always follow up. This may seem trivial, but a phone call or email thanking someone for their time or letting them know you enjoyed meeting them can solidify a new connection. Relationships are not formed on one interaction alone, which is why it is important to stay in touch and remind people of how you can help them. I know every #GirlBoss has a lot to offer, and with these simple tricks we can easily form networks wherever our busy lives take us.

GBB Phone Etiquette

Tuesday Tips, Phone Call Edition

As a Client Account Associate at DFS Creative Concepts, talking to clients on the phone is one of the most important parts of my job. Maintaining positive work relationships, communicating effectively and making sure everyone sees eye to eye are just a few of the benefits that generate from these conversations. However, for those who aren’t accustomed to making these regular phone calls, learning how to steer a successful conversation can be a little tricky. It’s not like I started where I am today!

Here are my Tuesday Tips for better business etiquette – phone call edition:

Remember that the phone call starts before you dial. Write a list of all the points you want to cover, all the questions you want to ask, and all the answers you’re looking to find during this call. Keeping that in front of you while you’re talking will help keep your conversation on task. I typically write my list in a black or blue pen and use a colored pen to take notes during the phone call. This way I can easily see what notes I’ve taken while conversing and can cross out or add new ideas from there!

First Impressions Matter. Introduce yourself informatively and confidently. This will set the tone for your entire phone call, especially if you don’t have much familiarity with whom you’re conversing with. It’s hard to gain respect with a stranger, so a professional introduction such as “Hello, this is Claudia Bove from DFS Creative Concepts and I’m calling for Mr. Smith” will go a long way in building your reputation. Tiny Tip: I find that sitting up straight in my chair helps me exude confidence and professionalism in my conversations (even if they can’t see me).

Be Personable. Some people find it difficult to relax during phone calls because they can’t read body language over the phone. I find that remembering details about my clients and tailoring the conversation around this personalization helps them feel comfortable and leaves them feeling positive about their experience with you and your company. For example, if your client makes a comment about their spouse or family, ask them how they’re doing next time you talk to them.
Tiny Tip: Write down notes about more personable stories they tell (see Tip #1) so you can follow up on them specifically – it’s important that your client feels memorable and important.

Be prepared to leave a voicemail. I’m sure I don’t have to remind you that it’s important to speak slowly and clearly when leaving a message. However, you might not know how important it is to say a specific reason for why you’re calling. Your client will call you back prepared to ready to answer any questions or topics you mentioned in your voicemail. For example, a voicemail I might leave could be:

“Hi Mr. Smith, this is Claudia from DFS Creative Concepts. I’m calling to talk about the Facebook analytics on we went over last week. Have you had any time to think about launching the advertisement we discussed? I had some new ideas I wanted to get your approval on. Please call me back at 123-456-7890. Thank you and have a great day!”

Keep your tone of voice in mind. It’s easy to get flustered and stumble over your words or speak too quickly or quietly. Staying confident is key! (#GirlBossPower)

Don’t freak out if you don’t have the answer to a question or don’t know what something is, just be aware of your listening skills and take notes (again, Tip #1) so you can put in some research after the conversation ends. Your client will be impressed that you’ve taken their ideas seriously enough to listen closely, research what they had to say, and follow up with them on it.