3 Pillars of Executive Presence

The 3 pillars of Executive Presence: Appearance, Communication and Gravitas.

If you identify as a woman of color in Corporate America, executive presence is monumental when trying to move up the ladder. As women of color you need to work twice as hard as your peers – period. Its not fair but that is the reality. Over the course of my career I came across many individuals who voiced their concerns about not having the platform to grow within their space. The common denominator in those situations was executive presence or the lack thereof. 

As a young professional looking to excel in your career I urge you to develop a network of mentors and sponsors. Its critical to have people in your corner who are honest and upfront. Surround yourself with those who not only understand your vision but support you as well. Being good at what you do isn’t enough. Having people to vouch for you ultimately will elevate your career. It will open doors – but to get there you need to demonstrate executive presence. Below are tips on how to develop EP.

Appearance: “Dress for the job you want not the one you have.” This quote is very cliche. But its true – dress tastefully it matters. First impressions are everything. Always maintain a clean and tidy appearance. 

Communication: In a corporate environment its important to voice your ideas. Know your audience before walking into a meeting or conference call. Be short and concise while being respectful of peoples time. 

Gravitas: Carry yourself in manner that elicits respect and trust in others. It may take long to develop this trait as it comes with experience. Place yourself in situations that make you feel uncomfortable such as presenting in front of a senior audience.

What I’m wearing:

Currently obsessed with everything snake skin, its truly my favorite trend this season. I was able to find this cute top from Zara which can be worn many different ways. I chose to style the top with black jeans and Stuart Weitzman sandals. Also pictured is a wood watch from JORD Watches which is very versatile and goes with any outfit. JORD creates and sells unique, luxury wood watches. Enter your name and email in the link below for a chance to win $100 to shop at Jord Watches. Trust me you will be obsessed…

Enter the giveaway below! Hurry the contest ends on November 18th.

https://www.woodwatches.com/g/ookaykaren

Wooden Wrist Watch
//www.jordwatches.com/widget-article/

Sincerely,

Ookaykaren

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Adidas HIIT the beach event

Adidas women sponsored a beach workout event which brought together the athletic community in NYC. This all day event included sailing from the North Marina in Tribeca to a private beach in Brooklyn. It was picturesque to say the least. We enjoyed views of the Statue of Liberty and One World Trade Center while sipping on wine and eating lobster rolls. Who could complain? Furthermore we got the opportunity to network with likeminded women.

The beach workout was instructed by Jaws Nelson an Adidas brand ambassador. It was a full body HIIT workout which left us all drained at the end. Nonetheless, it was a great day filled with laughter and good vibes.

Moral of the story: surround yourself with likeminded people and watch the magic flow. That is exactly what I did this summer. If you start having different interest than your friends get new ones. Connect with people that share the same hobbies or values as you do. To be clear this does not mean drop your old best friends. However, if they don’t share your vision or hold you accountable for your goals – get moving! Real friends will always be there no matter what. No one can replace your best friends. But its important to build relationships with people in your profession and areas of interest.

White is the new black

Admittedly, I was hesitant to follow the white shoe fashion trend. Mainly because growing up my mom would make me wear puffy dresses, white shoes and ruffled socks every Sunday to church. Once I was a pre-teen I was elated to never wear white shoes again – well I thought wrong. Now I’m obsessed with pairing every outfit with a hint of white. Not only is it super chic but it lets your shoe standout as a statement piece.

They can be styled with boyfriend jeans, wide leg pants or a midi dress. In the past white shoes were a thing of the summer. But unless you’ve been living under a rock – you know its a street style trend worth trying all year round.

Outfit details:

Boots

Blazer

Jeans

Top

Sincerely,

Ookaykaren

New year new me .. well not really

As the year comes to a close I can’t help but to reflect on 2017. Without a doubt it was TOUGH AF – well unless you were Cardi B. From the Trump election to the gun violence, terrorist attacks and natural disasters – it was a roller coaster ride. To be honest, love, God and having tons of faith got me through this year.

On a professional note this year brought a lot of growth. I focused on building my network and it really paid off. I now have what I call “my front row” which consist of senior managers that are supportive of my career. These are my go-to people that I can turn to for professional advice.

It’s such a relief to close this chapter and start the year fresh. I look forward to making new memories, crossing things off my bucket list and remaining true to myself. Admittedly, I dislike new year resolutions. During this time of year most people make unrealistic resolutions without putting in the work. It takes more than one year to completely change your life. Of course you will see gradual change but don’t place hard expectations on yourself. Enjoy the journey but keep your eyes on the destination.

Shop the look:

Turtleneck

Oversized biker jacket

Pants

Bloody shoes

I recently took my Christian Louboutins to the Leather Spa to repair the red sole. At first I didn’t really think I needed to replace them. However, after seeing the results I’m glad I did. Without a doubt owning a pair of Loubs is considered an investment. I don’t plan on buying replacements so its important to take care of them. I decided to try Leather Spa after some extensive research. They have various locations in midtown so I utilized the most convenient location which is Grand Central station.

Once you drop off the shoes the Leather Spa team examines them carefully. Honestly I was expecting to spend $35 per pair as advertised online. But, things started adding up once they pointed out what needed to be fixed. One pair costed $80 dollars to fix as they were boots. As much as it hurt I dropped them off and left. They called me back about two weeks later informing me the shoes were ready.

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I absolutely recommend repairing your Louboutins (or any other shoes). They did an amazing job and the shoes are basically spanking new. The cheapest way would be to protect the red sole as soon as you purchase a new pair. The less they have to repair the cheaper it cost to fix.

With love,

Ookaykaren

The opposite of love isn’t hate its indifference… 

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I seldomly deviate from writing about all things lifestyle. However, I couldn’t help but to weight in on the recent violent events such as what occurred in Charlottesville, Virginia. The violence was the latest development in a series of tense drama unfolding across the United States over plans to remove statutes and other historical markers of the Confederacy. President Trumps response to the catastrophe was simply unacceptable. Not only did he not respond strongly enough to racism but he failed to condemn the white nationalist. Its time to pay attention to whats really going on in America.

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I’m deeply saddened by the plague of violence and prejudice which has spread out nationwide and internationally. It appears as our country is reverting back to the 19th century. The KKK? White nationalist? Is the white house trying to cover the sun with one finger? Not much has changed, these are real issues. Let us strive to be an advocate of change. Be kind to others, do acts of service, simply be a better person. Unfortunately we don’t have control over the decisions being made in the white house. However, I believe that change is possible if we stick to those values.

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With love,

OokayKaren

Outfit Details

Dress: Zara

Shoes: Gianvito Rossi

OokayKaren takes Cuba


Havana, Cuba is definitely one of the most popular travel destinations of 2017. I spent 5 days in this beautiful island and was enamored by its people, culture and history. Cuba was absolutely an experience rather than a typical vacation. 


My Experience 

My Airbnb host arranged airport pick-up which was very convenient. Once I landed in Cuba it took two hours for the luggage to arrive. Things in this country move very slow – this was a culture shock as people in New York move with urgency. I was able to change my money from euro to cuban pesos before exiting the airport. My Airbnb host emphasized how important it was to bring CASH as its nearly impossible to find an ATM that take “American cards.” To my surprise the taxi was still waiting outside after a 2 hour wait. The ride from the airport to Vedado was 20 minutes. I decided to stay in this neighborhood because it was right outside of Old Havana. Vedado is a calm suburb with mostly locals and bed and breakfast.

Overall, I absolutely loved my trip to Cuba. I would recommend it to those looking to learn about the culture. Its a place where you can literally disconnect (NO internet) from the world. Every street is filled with so much history. This experience made me see life from a different perspective. I returned to New York with so much gratitude. Before booking Cuba I suggest to talk to those who have visited before. Its important to get tips and recommendations. 


Where I stayed: My Proud Havana Bed and Breakfast Network. 


As I mentioned earlier, I booked an Airbnb room in Vedado, Cuba. I thought it was best to stay in quiet neighborhood outside of busy Havana. Upon my arrival my host showed us the ropes. He gave us a map of the city and pointed out the best restaurants in the area. Luckily this Airbnb provided breakfast each morning for an additional 6 cuc per day. The attendant was super nice and even offered to do our laundry. 



The room felt homey with a flat screen tv, king size bed and most importantly AC! It can get very hot in Cuba. I recommend staying somewhere with AC to sleep comfortably. 



The People…

Wandering in the streets of Havana I couldn’t help but notice that locals rarely made eye contact with tourist. However, they are very helpful when stopped for directions or suggestions. To my surprise there was a law that prohibited Cuban people from socializing with tourist. My Airbnb host explained that locals can get arrested if they “disturb”a tourist in anyway.

Where I ate…

Do not visit Cuba with high expectations on food. In my opinion the food was a hit or miss. Luckily, I had a list of recommendations from friends and stuck to it for most of the trip. The best food is found in “paladares” which are basically restaurants located inside a home. Nevertheless, there are a couple of good restaurants in Vedado which I absolutely recommend.

Paladares los Amigos: Located in Vedado – very affordable homey restaurant with amazing food. Not a fancy place but gets the job done.

Decameron: Located in Vedado – great for a night out. But its more on the pricey side. The customer service is great and you will leave with a full tummy.

Atelier: Located in Vedado – this was my favorite restaurant! The food was absolutely delicious. The customer service was good as well. Although a bit pricey the large portions make up for it.  

Places to see…


Get lost in the streets of old havana. It can literally take a whole day to explore and capture everything. 


 Viñales is the ultimate  “campo” experience. The views are spectacular! Its long drive from havana (about two hours and  change) but worth every penny. Be cautious of where you eat! I suggest bringing your own snacks. 


Fabrica de Arte Cubano very dope art gallery/ bar / club. This place is filled with modern art. They charge a fee to get in but the drinks are cheap. You should never pay more than 3.00 cuc for a drink!

You can’t avoid a Brand its yours by default or design.. 

People will always remember you by what you represent – I learned that early. We all know what a brand is, but do we really take time to invest in our own? Often times people think that branding is only for those that own a business. However, your brand is what ultimately sets you apart from your peers.


My brand has evolved throughout the years but a couple of things have remained constant: professional developement, wellness   and family values. Below are a few tips on branding:

Branding tips 

Be visible.. don’t just show up, make your presence be known.  

Readiness.. have your elevator speech ready. (60 seconds to say who you are, what you can do and what you’re hoping to do next)

Add value.. what are you working on and how does that add value to your organization/business.

Network.. make your brand known through building strategic relationships. Your network should know your skills, strength and career interest.

Develop and manage your image.. what messages are you sending? Are they messages that will send you in the right direction?

Self promotion..bring yourself to the representation of others without misrepresentation, hype or false promise.


Outfit details:

Top: Zara

Jeans: Zara

Boots: Christian Louboutin

Bell Sleeve Obsession

The weather was perfect in NYC for Presidents Day weekend. Although I’ve been busy with my career, family and personal life – I couldn’t help but take a trip to the city & shoot this look.

Lately I’ve been obsessed with statement blouses. I found this perfect bell sleeve piece at Zara (it literally goes with everything.) I paired the top with boyfriend jeans to make the look casual yet chic. Below is how I styled it!


Shop the look:

Top: Banana republic

Jeans: Levis

Bag: Saint Laurent

Shoes: Marc Fisher

Coat: JCREW

Xoxo Karen