The Pursuit of Happiness

As part of my volunteer work I write for the AWIS Washington Wire,  an online newspaper that brings  interesting and useful stories and articles to Professional Women in the Unites States.

For this weeks assignment, I was tasked with writing about Work-Life Satisfaction. Initially, I was a bit underwhelmed by the idea as the “10 Ways to Achieve Work-Life Balance” headlines have been grossly overused and offer little practical advice.

As I dug deeper into the stories that are shaping careers, however, I came to realize that “Work-Life Balance” was just a fancy way to say “How can you be happy in your life?”

The topic of Genuine Happiness is one that has  interested me more, and more the older I have become. In both work, and life it has started shaping so many of my decisions and has changed the way I perceive the world.

From establishing more fulfilling, supportive relationships to aligning your career with your true passions, happiness (and not necessarily success) should be the goal we are all striving for.

Here’s a round-up of some of the articles I got to explore for this weeks research!


Achieving Balance for High-Powered Women.
Venture capital fuels innovation, but with only 7% of partners at the top 100 venture firms being women, how can you thrive in a demanding industry, whilst achieving balance?  In an interview with Kendra Ragatz, COO and general partner at Aspect Ventures, the life of a high-power working woman is explored, as she discusses the ways that she finds balance in her career and personal life.
A balancing act

Making Balance the Law
We’re all over-connected to our phones, making it harder to leave our work at the office. In New York, however, change might be on the horizon. Following in the footsteps of some European countries, a new law would allow employees to ignore employers outside of work hours. With the average work week now around 47 hours, the bill would allow employees to draw a line as to when their work day begins and when it ends.
Switching off

What to Look for in a Great Workplace
In April 2017, the Spanish company Visual MS ranked as one of the best workplaces in Europe. The company, whose average length of service is 11 years, draws talent from all over the world, including from the highly-paid employees of Silicon Valley. What is it that prompts people to seek out employment at a small company with modest earnings though? This article reflects on what makes a great workplace, and the how changing the way we treat work can lead to happier employees.
Work happy

Science in Images: WIB Seattle Be Your Own Advocate and Build Allies for Career Success

For Women’s History Month, WIB Seattle took on the topic of Advocating for Ourselves, and how we can all build our careers into something we truly love. 

Executive coach Hien DeYoung led participants through an inspirational workshop, utilizing real-life examples to solve the challenges we face in our everyday careers.

Trying to get to where we want to be can often seem a like daunting task. A lack of natural negotiating skills, insecurity, and self-doubt can all contribute to holding us back in our work lives. So how do we get the courage to ask for the things we really want, and how do we get the things we really need?

In a step-by-step process, Hien explored Advocacy, and How we can Advocate for Ourselves.


Advocacy; Any ACTION that speaks in favor of, recommends, argues for a cause, supports or defends, or pleads on behalf of self or others.
-Alliance For Justice


The ability to advocate for ourselves, and for others, can build self-confidence and will open doors to new career opportunities. Having the courage to express yourself in a constructive though way can be difficult, so where do we start?

The first, and possibly the most important take-home message of the night was this;

 “Believe You Deserve What You Are Asking For

No matter what scenario you find yourself in, or where your ambitions may take you, ultimately your career is your responsibility: there is no other person who can speak for you in this matter. Being able to pragmatically look at the bigger picture (Hien calls this ‘getting up on the balcony.’) and assessing what it is you want, how it can benefit your employer, and how it will effect others is the first step to success.


The Game Plan.
Formulating a game plan for self-advocacy at work is as simple as answering a few basic questions. When put together though, they form a strong basis for getting what you want, and negotiating even when you often find it daunting.

The Questions.

  1. What do you want, and why do you want it?
  2. What does the employer need right now?
  3. How do your needs align?
  4. How does your request help other employees, or your team?
  5. What good reasons are there to say no?
  6. Who could support you in this?

Once you have the answers to these questions, you’re in a much better place for advancing in the way you want. The final piece of the puzzle? Know your audience.


Know Your Audience.
Is your boss data driven? Are they a team player? Do they care about the bottom line? Knowing the answer to these questions will change how you approach self-advocacy. If your boss really cares about profits, really lean-in to how your need could advance the business long term. If they care about the team,  tell them how it will help develop other employees. No matter what drives them, make sure to speak to it as it will give you a better chance of success.

Keep Emotions Out of It.
When we let emotions take the driving seat, we lose our control of the situation. If you are angry or upset you are in a weaker place to negotiate, and no matter how well devised your game plan you will be less effective. Take the time to settle your emotions first, and get your head into the right space to think clearly.

And if your caught by surprise by your emotions? Stay silent! Hien shared a wonderful story about such a time.

At the time she was angry and upset, and the employee who was responsible wanted to meet. When faced by her emotions, she didn’t lose her temper (as she would have been justified to do) and instead she just sat there in silence, looking at the other party. By controlling her emotions, and not letting them control her, she gained the power in that meeting. And as a result? She was respected by that party moving forwards. So the old adage stays true, if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.


And to go full circle?

The most important bit of advice for getting what you want?

Believe You Deserve What You Are Asking For! 

Confidence is everything!


if you’re interested in Women in Bio, or want to get more information, check out the website or register for our next event!

A huge Thank You to Hien for delivering such a powerful evening, and supporting all that Women in Bio does. Women in Bio succeeds because of the support of our community, and its members.