A Message from Linda

COVID-19, virtual meeting, networking

To our clients and friends,
With all of today’s health concerns due to COVID-19, we wanted to let you know that our primary concern is the health and safety of our clients, networkers, and colleagues. I am always available remotely for meetings, sessions, and inquiries. Our March and April networking meetings will be held virtually in response to needed safety concerns and I am more than happy to change any in-person meetings to video conferences or telephone calls.
Businesses will push ahead and this health pandemic will pass. I have included a free document for you to download in the hope that it will help shift your mindset in these uncertain times. Virtual interviewing is soon to become the norm and this document will help you with your preparation and presentation for your career campaign. Scroll down to find the free download.

Stay healthy and safe,




If you are ready to sign up for our virtual SERT Meeting, register like you normally do. Linda will send the virtual meeting link to all attendees via email ahead of time. Once you are registered, download this form, fill it out entirely, and send back as a Word Doc to Linda the day before your meeting.


See why Fairfield and Westchester County Senior Executive Networkers say:

  • My Executive Career Coach offers a professional way of engaging with high level professionals.” Chris P.
  • “The best of my networking groups.”  Lee N.
  • “I love the high quality of talent & energy in the room… and so well run.” John R.
  • “An excellent venue for sharing ideas and best practices networking.” Michael M.

Who Attends?

Senior Executive Round Table meetings are for CEO. COO, all C-Suite Executives and other top level executives at compensation levels of $200,000 and above. It has been designed to provide a unique forum for top corporate professionals, like yourself, to network, build quality relationships, exchange leads, experiences, ideas and peer feedback specifically for your career development. Click here for complete details..

What is in it for you?

This senior level group will provide a controlled, discreet, confidential environment where you can make important contacts and share information with others from different industries and functions. Whether you are currently in transition, confidentially investigating, or a career smart professional that knows that constant networking is critical to your career, this group can become an invaluable resource to you and you to it.

The First Time Leader’s Guide To Success

By Linda Van Valkenburgh, MS, CCMC, CJSS, CSMCS, CELDC

You’ve worked hard for years, arriving early, staying late, and volunteering for projects. Your hard work has been recognized, and you’ve accepted a promotion offer. In your new position, you have the opportunity to manage people for the first time in your career.
This new position of leadership presents new challenges and requires skills that you may not have developed yet. Set yourself up for success by keeping this guide in mind as you prepare for your new position.

Don’t Underestimate Your Transition
Getting promoted to a management position is a career milestone and one that shouldn’t be taken lightly. This is a new phase in your career, and you need to prepare for it with the same vigor that you did for the last phase.
Many companies lack the necessary support for their first time leaders. If you are in this position, look for development and learning programs that can help you develop the skills you need to succeed in your new role. The skills you mastered to be a top-performing employee are not always helpful as a leader.

Improve Your Listening Skills
When you can communicate effectively, you can keep your team engaged and inspired. The quality of your interactions will affect how your employees feel about their performance, your leadership, and the overall company.
When you actively listen to others, you develop trust and improve your team’s perception of you as a leader. This can generate more creativity and boost job satisfaction.

Actively Seek New Challenges and Experiences
It’s been long touted that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to master a new craft. While recent scientists have debunked this exact number, there’s an important message to this saying. You’re new to leadership, which means you haven’t mastered this new role yet.
All too often, new leaders fall into the trap of working harder and longer because that’s what worked in their old role. But you’re a leader now, so this approach isn’t the most effective. Instead, seek out situations where you can develop and learn new leadership skills.

You Work for Your Employees
You may be the leader, but it’s your team that will make you a success. Their performance is the barometer of your effectiveness as a leader. Learn how to identify their needs and how you can adapt to provide for them.
Learn how to identify what motivates your team. For each person, it will be different; money, status, or recognition. By learning this, you can tailor how you manage and reward that person to effectively motivate and boost morale.

Be Kind
You may have feelings of insecurity and nervousness as a first time leader, but don’t let this manifest when you interact with others. Give the impression of confidence and security in your new role by building up those around you. Be kind and compassionate to your team members, and you will garner their trust and respect.

Learn to Trust
Have you ever worked for a manager that didn’t trust their team? They place tight restrictions on all areas of the job, they micromanage, and there’s an overall oppressive feeling to the workplace. Don’t be this manager.
It can be tempting to lock down control as a way of dealing with your insecurity in your new role. Ultimately this does you and your team a disservice. Instead, offer your team open trust as the foundation of your relationship. Then slowly take that trust away if your team does something to lose it.
By developing this open and trusting relationship, you will become the leader that everyone wants to work with.

Seek Professional Guidance
One great quality all leaders have is the ability to identify when you need assistance. As a first time leader, you can seek out guidance by networking with great leaders. Learn from their experience and guidance to develop your leadership style.

Let’s get to work!
If you are ready to move your executive career forward contact me today at 203-323-9977 or lindavan@myexecutivecareercoach.com

Grow in Your Career Through Self Reflection

By Linda Van Valkenburgh, MS, CCMC, CJSS, CSMCS, CELDC

With 2020 in full swing, now is the perfect time for self-evaluation and reflection. This is different from the standard employee evaluation that your boss probably gave you at the end of 2019. Think of this as your opportunity to think about your career development.

Two common pitfalls that everyone falls into is complacency and overinflating one’s skills. As humans, we seek out comfort and positive affirmation. This can be detrimental to your career. The beginning of the year is the perfect time to do a self-assessment and shake things up. This will help expose you to new challenges and opportunities for your career in the coming year.

Have the Right Attitude
This project isn’t about self-reassurance or ego inflation. You need to have the right attitude and be honest with yourself throughout your entire self-assessment. People tend to overestimate their skills, so keep this in mind when looking at your strengths and weaknesses.

Start With Quantifiable Data
Gather any hard data that can help you evaluate your work performance. This data doesn’t lie and can help you pinpoint weak areas. Think about your performance and look at your track record. This could be anything from getting to work on time, meeting sales goals, or meeting project deadlines.
Your employer will look at this data to evaluate your performance and potential for career growth, so you need to know this information. It can also help you create a more robust resume by showing potential employers actual performance metrics and not just fluffy positive-sounding language.

What Do You Enjoy?
People tend to put more effort into the things they enjoy. You’ll find that these are the areas you perform best in. Identify the areas of your job that you love the most and the skills required for those tasks. Ask yourself a few questions to get started:

1. What have others complimented me on?
2. What am I good at?
3. What are my hobbies, and why do I like them?
4. What have I spent hours on and not gotten tired?

Once you have a list of these skills, look at ways you can build on and improve them. Building on these skills will ensure you don’t become complacent in your comfort zone. You’ll also learn how to apply these strengths to other areas and expand your skillset.

What Do You Dread?
Why do you not enjoy specific tasks? Is it because you aren’t mentally engaged or because you lack the skills to make these tasks easier. Look for weak points in your performance based on the feedback you receive. Then figure out ways you can address these weaknesses. Ask yourself these questions:

1. What projects drain my energy?
2. What have others complained about?
3. What have others had to help me with?
4. Are there things I continually forget or get wrong?

What the Industry Requires
If you want to move up within your industry, what will it take? Compare your current skillset and performance to the position you want to move into. Addressing and improving on your skillset will show your employer you’re committed to growth. If your employer isn’t committed to your growth too, then you’re better prepared to find career growth elsewhere.

Set Achievable Goals
Now that you know what you need to work on, you need to set measurable and achievable goals. Create a timeline wherein the next month; you’ll research ways to build on your skills. You’ll then set a deadline for signing up for a course, conference, or anything else that will help you improve. Create a mid-year check-in where you hold yourself accountable for progress.

Let’s get to work!
If you are ready to move your executive career forward contact me today at 203-323-9977 or lindavan@myexecutivecareercoach.com

Should You Take the Promotion or the New Job?

By Linda Van Valkenburgh, MS, CCMC, CJSS, CSMCS, CELDC

You’ve worked hard at your current position. You’ve done everything you’re supposed to. You’ve put in the hours, volunteered for special projects, over-performed, and delivered above expectations.
Everything you’ve done has led to you receiving praise.. You’re long overdue for your company to offer you a promotion, but there’s no word on you moving up. So you start looking around and score an offer with a new title and a bigger salary at another company.
Now you’re ready to give your notice, and your current company wants to promote you. Do you accept the promotion, or do you take the new job offer? This fork in the road can completely change the course of your career, and the decision can be nerve-wracking.
To help you make the decision, ask yourself these questions.

Where Will I Feel Mentally Engaged and Challenged?
Take an assessment of how you feel about your current position. Decide whether or not you feel mentally engaged. Will you feel that way after your promotion? If you’re confident that you will, then it’s smart to stay put with your current company.
If you have any doubts or know that you won’t feel engaged, it’s time to move on. You should feel excited about going to work. No salary bump or new title will change how you feel about your new responsibilities.
You may feel good about more money temporarily, but that glow will wear off quickly. What you’ll be left with is a growing frustration for the things that drive you crazy. This will lead you to eventually finding a new position out of desperation. Address the problem now while you have an attractive offer.

Which Position Will Let Me Make a Difference?
Your career is a marathon, and you need to think about how your two opportunities will shape your career long term. The position that lets you make a difference will have more of a positive effect on your career. Not only will you feel more fulfilled, but you’ll also feel more motivated to take on new and bigger challenges.
The position that allows you to make more of a difference will give you a stronger resume. This will lead to bigger and better opportunities down the road.

Which Company Has the People That Will Inspire?
You spend 40 or more hours a week with your coworkers; you should enjoy your time with them. Work with people who help you to grow, learn, and be better. They should act with professionalism and respect.
Working in a diverse office fosters innovation and growth. You may feel comfortable and safe with your current coworkers, but a change is good for broadening your perspective and world view.

Which Company Aligns With My Values and Goals?
You could have the opportunity to work on cutting edge projects and work with some of the smartest people around, but if you don’t agree with the company’s values, you won’t be happy. It will be tough to work hard, furthering the goals of the company when you don’t agree with how the company contributes to society. No job is worth losing sleep at night because you don’t feel good about the overall cause you’re a part of.

Did Your Current Company Only Offer the Position Because You’re Leaving?
If your current company is only offering the promotion because you’ve given your notice, is it worth taking? You shouldn’t have to threaten to leave for your company to recognize and reward your hard work and accomplishments.
Asses whether or not the position allows for growth. A new vanity title won’t provide you with new opportunities or responsibilities.

Let’s get to work!
If you are ready to move your executive career forward contact me today at 203-323-9977 or lindavan@myexecutivecareercoach.com

Be the Person Everyone Wants to Work With

By Linda Van Valkenburgh, MS, CCMC, CJSS, CSMCS, CELDC

Think about the best boss you’ve worked for in your career. What made them so great? This person likely created a positive and supportive working environment that encouraged you to learn and grow.
While this sounds like it should be easy to accomplish, only 33% of employees feel engaged and happy with their work. You can change this statistic at your company by changing the culture.
Be someone that others want to work with. Your positive attitude and example will make others want to work with you.

Master the BLT
No, we aren’t referring to the delicious sandwich. The BLT factor stands for believability, likability, and trustworthiness. Your professional reputation should embody these three traits. That way, when people think of whom they want to trust to get the job done, your name is at the front of their mind.
While the ability to get the job done is important, people are more likely to pick the friendly person over the less cordial. So give yourself the edge by not only having the skills but also the personality.

Have Empathy
You don’t have to agree with someone’s opinion to empathize with them. You can thoughtfully consider their feelings while politely disagreeing with their stance. By respecting others and trying to find common ground, you create a positive and proactive work environment.

Be Reliable
When people prove to be dependable, they become the first call when an important project comes up. To further your career, you want to be the first name people think of. This way, you get the most important projects that arise in the future.

Be Honest
Integrity is a rare commodity in the business world today. All successful relationships require a certain amount of honesty, though.
Use your best judgment to determine when transparency is appropriate. Sometimes, owning a mistake or missed deadline will garner more respect and understanding than trying to deceive.

Engage with Others
Pay attention to your body language when you communicate. Your crossed arms or hands in your pockets indicate that you are mentally shut off. Instead, make eye contact, nod in understanding, and mirror the other person’s body language.
Show that you are engaged by asking sincere and relevant questions. Make the questions open-ended so that they require more than one word to answer. Then actively listen to the answer. By showing genuine interest, you’ll earn appreciation and respect from those around you.

Be Openminded
Everyone is afraid of rejection. If you exhibit open-mindedness, people will be more likely to want to work with you. Your accepting nature and kindness will put them at ease.
Don’t immediately judge other’s ideas based on your preconceived notions. Consider where the other person is coming from before you react and respond.

Ace Your First Impression
We all make immediate judgments when we first meet people. Chances are you’ve made a few bad first impressions in your career. While they can be tough to overcome, you can breathe easy.
According to a Yale study, humans want to forgive. That means you can get a second chance at a first impression.
The first thing to do is self-evaluate. Acknowledge the misstep the next time you are around that person. Don’t try too hard, just honestly address the issue and demonstrate your true intentions moving forward.
You can also use this misstep to learn for future first impressions. This way, you don’t make the same mistake twice.

Follow the Golden Rule
All of these tips can be summed up in one simple rule. Treat others how you want to be treated. By doing this, you earn the respect of those around you as someone they can trust, respect, and depend on.
These are all qualities that people want to be around during work or otherwise.

Let’s get to work!
If you are ready to move your executive career forward contact me today at 203-323-9977 or lindavan@myexecutivecareercoach.com

Treat Your Career as a Business

By Linda Van Valkenburgh, MS, CCMC, CJSS, CSMCS, CELDC

How many different jobs have you had since graduating from college? If you’re like most people, you probably have never really counted. For most people, they have 10 different positions before they are 40. This number is only set to grow for those coming into the workplace. 

Develop Your Survival Skills 

Given that you will change careers so many times, one of the most important survival skills you can develop is your job search and career management skills. You already know you have the skills to do the job you are hired to do, but this means nothing if you can’t land the job. 

Take control of your life and career by acting with the same objectivity, forethought, and self-interest that the company you work for uses. It’s nothing personal; the business is going to act in its best interest and so should you. 

Work on your networking skills. Attend events and push yourself to speak to at least one new person. Then develop your connections. This way, you have a network of people you can reach out to when the time comes to switch careers. 

Don’t just update your resume. Modernize it. Resumes today look entirely different than they did ten or twenty years ago. It isn’t enough to just update your resume with your latest position. You need to look at your resume with a critical eye and update the style and format. 

Treat Yourself like a Business 

You work for a successful company, so why not take a few lessons and apply them to your career? That way, you continue to grow professionally. 

Research and Development 

Successful businesses continually identify and develop new marketable products and services. So why aren’t you doing that for yourself? Pay attention to industry and market trends. Then develop your skills to fit the changing needs of the industry. 

Marketing and Public Relations 

Just like companies, you need to manage your professional reputation and brand. Take on opportunities that can increase your credibility. This will increase your visibility within the professional community and make you a voice of authority. 

By developing your professional reputation, it will be easier to change careers to a new company when the time comes. 


When was the last time you evaluated your marketable skills? You need to develop a list of skills that you can sell to both your company and any other you intend to move to. 

Strategic Planning 

You should have short and long term goals for your future. Develop a career plan for the next 1-2 years, 5 years, and 10 years. What strategic career moves will you make over this timeline? 

Create an actionable plan that could involve moving within your current company or moving to a new one. Create alternatives so that you are never caught by surprise. That way, you are never caught off guard and end up in a panicked situation by an unforeseen event. 


Invest in your future by making wise financial choices. Don’t take on an opportunity that won’t deliver a satisfactory return on investment. That way, you always move into a position that will improve your financial situation in the long run.

Certifications and Courses 

One way to show your skills and professional growth is through obtaining certifications. We can help evaluate your professional development and recommend courses and certifications that can you help take control of your career. 

Sign up for your customized career package today, and let’s get started with your professional development. 

Let’s get to work! 


If you are ready to work on your professional development, then contact me today at 203-323-9977 or lindavan@myexecutivecareercoach.com

What do you want to be when you grow up?


By Linda Van Valkenburgh, MS, CCMC, CJSS, CSMCS, CELDC

Many of us begin our careers thinking we know exactly what we want to be.
As we engage in our work, we slowly begin to realize that what we were looking for cannot be found in the job we have taken on.
Now, this is not always the case, but if you do not have absolute clarity around what you want to do and achieve, you can easily become a wandering generality, coasting along until there is no time left to decide.
What was is that you wanted to be when you grew up again?
If you are not sure, it is time to do a bit of reflection and self-exploration.

Do You Know What You Want?
If you already know what you want out of your career, that’s fine, and there is no need to delve any deeper.
However, if you feel like you lost sight of your goals, you are not passionate about the work you are doing anymore, or you are in a rut, now would be a good time to consider your future.
Sometimes, it can be hard to get present to what you truly want out of your career. Seeking out the help of a coach or mentor during this process would be wise, as they can shed some light on your blind spots.
Before you can clarify and identify your next steps, first you will need to determine what you would like to achieve.

Are You On The Right Career Path?
You may have started down a path thinking it would eventually get you to where you want to go.
As you started taking some of the opportunities that came your way, it is entirely possible that you got off course. Now you are on a path that may not lead to the destination you had in mind.
Nobody likes paying their dues when it comes to getting what they want, but it may be time for you to get back to your roots. Take a role that will help you get to where you want to go.

What Are You Passionate About?
School counselors often ask students what they are good at and what they are passionate about.
While these are not the only questions you should be asking as you look to figure out what you want to be when you grow up, passion is a significant point to pay attention to.
If you are passionate about what certain organizations are up to, you are more likely to be excited and enthusiastic about the work you would get to do in those companies. This will also mean that you will be more likely to stay longer in the role too, which can be another important factor for success.

Where Can You Make The Biggest Impact?
Do you see an opportunity to make an impact in the world? Is there a problem you can solve?
More than ever, workers are connected to their values and what matters to them. If you know what matters to you, that means there is a good chance you would be more effective in a role where you know you can cause meaningful change.
So, it is worth evaluating where you can make a difference, as the work you do could far outlive you, leaving a legacy for others to enjoy.

Final Thoughts
People tend to put themselves under a lot of pressure when it comes to making decisions regarding their careers. If they do not make a perfect decision, they end up feeling like their decision was wrong. This leaves you in analysis paralysis.
The reality is this: there probably isn’t a perfect decision you can make – only a decision that is right for this moment. It is far more freeing to think in terms of the opportunities available to you now, and which are the right fit for you, versus trying to manufacture an opportunity that may not even exist.

Let’s get to work!
If you have questions about your executive career search, please contact me at 203-323-9977 or lindavan@myexecutivecareercoach.com