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.

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

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

How to Bring Positivity to the Interview Process

Businessman smiling with arms outstretched

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

Positivity is contagious. It can uplift the people and the energy surrounding you.

Bringing positivity to an interview demonstrates your can-do and problem-solving attitude. This is an attractive quality in a leader, as they are often responsible for motivating their team to overcome challenges. Everyone has challenges, but an individual that can see the positive in every situation is easy to trust and appears more reliable.

Here’s how you can be proactive about bringing positivity to the interview process.

Prepare For the Interview

Preparation will boost your confidence. Confidence naturally breeds optimism.

When interviewing for an executive position, you may be asked questions that are outside the scope of your education, experience, and qualifications. Recruiters are looking to gain an understanding of your capacity as a leader, as well as how you have managed difficult situations in the past.

There are several things you can do to prepare yourself for the interview:

  1. Research possible interview questions. You will be better prepared to answer if you have been anticipating certain questions and you have had time to determine your response ahead of time.
  2. Learn about the company. Do your research and go in-depth. The more you know, the better.
  3. Search your memory. Consider real-life stories and examples you could share to demonstrate your competence and leadership ability. I ask my clients to prepare 12 to 18 validation stories so they are “at the ready” during an interview to prove you do what you say you do.
  4. Utilize the Job Description section on the responsibilities the job will cover. Turn these into questions and practice answering them.
  5. Prepare questions. Be ready to ask questions of your own. Asking questions exhibits definite interest in the position and also shows that you are also searching for the right fit.
  6. Practice your body language. Remember to smile, look the interviewer in the eye, be attentive, and speak clearly. Work on your body language regularly to project confidence and poise in the interview.
  7. Dress for success. Ensure your professional wear is in top shape for the interview.

Remain Present

It is easy to get distracted during an interview. Staying in the moment allows you to bring your awareness to the conversation. This will enable you to give more on-point, relevant answers to the questions being asked. You will think of better examples to bring up and demonstrate a clear understanding of the questions with your responses. You will feel sharper.

When you are fully aware, you will feel it become easier to be positive during the interview. Instead of dreading the things you must do later in the day or thinking about what went wrong in the past focus on the positive aspects of the interview process. You can give your attention to what matters most in the moment.

Concentrate on what you are looking to accomplish and you will find that your anxieties and fears will vanish.

Build Your Self-Confidence

If you are looking to add necessary experience or qualifications to your resume be proactive about educating yourself. Take courses, attend seminars, read books, or even listen to podcasts.

If your energy levels are low try exercising, eating well, and meditating more regularly to boost your self-image and feel better in your own body. Try to get seven to eight hours of sleep per night to help you feel rejuvenated each day.

If you have been feeling down or negative change your self-talk. Learn to see the upside in every situation. Tell yourself that you are worthy and capable. Repeat and reinforce positive phrases to yourself.

There are many ways to improve your self-image, but it can take time and persistence. When you feel good about yourself, it will be easy to be positive in interviews.

A positive individual is a rare individual, which is why they always stand out.


Be prepared to ask for the job. Many people leave an interview without finishing their thoughts. You can easily avoid this situation by making it clear that you feel the position would be a good fit for you.

Positivity may take some practice, but it is worth every bit of effort you put into it.

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

5 Body Language Tips that will Boost Your Effectiveness

Man hand turning a knob in the highest position, Concept image for illustration of high impact communication and advertising campaign.

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

You are an executive. You want to present yourself with confidence and poise.

With effective language, you can send the right message and communicate with authority every time. But communication is not just what you say verbally – it is also what you say with your body.

Practicing effective body language can help you achieve better results with interviews, meetings, and even with casual conversations.

Here are five tips that can help you improve your body language.

  1. Practice Active Listening

Actively conversing and paying attention to small details during conversations can instantly separate you from others. People are more apt to converse freely when they know their audience is paying attention. You can show your appreciation through your body language.

To demonstrate your active listening, hold eye contact for a comfortable length of time. Nod occasionally. Lean forward. Face the speaker. Repeat a few facts back to make sure you heard them correctly. As these behaviors become habitual, they will also become more natural. Actively listening will demonstrate that you are engaged, and you will find you remember more about the conversation.

Your overall communication will improve when you are able to remember these small details and bring them up again in future conversations.

  1. Work on Your Feet

When it comes to body language, people often focus on practicing their facial expressions, posture, and gestures, but forget to rehearse their feet. A person’s feet can reveal very much about how they are feeling.

When your own feet are still and comfortable they communicate confidence. This posture shows you are collected, grounded, and engaged in the moment.

You can observe other people’s feet to read the room. Increased movement, shuffling, and fidgeting can be a sign of anxiety or discomfort. Reading this body language is a good indicator to change the direction of the conversation.

  1. Uncross Arms & Legs

Crossed arms and legs can indicate introversion or lack of receptiveness. Keep a more open posture by unfolding your arms and legs. This posture can help you absorb and retain more information in conversation. This body language will communicate approachability and openness.

Whether you are in an interview, at an important meeting, or at a conference, it is always best to remain attentive and appear receptive to conversation. Keeping open posture will help you stay engaged and on-point with your communication, both verbal and non-verbal.

Closed posture, or crossed arms or legs is something you can watch for in others. This may indicate defensiveness or a good time to take a break and shake things up.

  1. Master the Handshake

Your handshake seals your interactions with a confident, poised, friendly gesture that others can remember you by.

A good handshake should not be too limp, squeeze too hard, shake for too long, or grab the wrong part of the hand entirely. Practice your handshake with willing friends or family members to perfect your technique. Ask for feedback as you try different things.

Mastering the handshake can take time. A little practice can go a long way when trying to create a lasting impression.

  1. Use Hand Gestures (but not too much!)

Hand gestures can help emphasize, clarify and improve points that are being verbally communicated. The key is to keep them clear and controlled. Your words should be more emphatic and memorable than your hand gestures.

You can use your fingers to emphasize numerical values or enumerate conclusions in your presentation. Bringing both of your hands together can mean “coming together.” An open hand with palm facing up can be used to demonstrate trends.

And one I think is especially important: during interviews, use one arm / hand gestures vs. both arms / hands.  One arm / hand gestures demonstrate an executive stance and presence.

These and other techniques are often used by the world’s most effective presenters and speakers. Use your hand gestures to enhance your words, but not distract from them.

Final Thoughts

To create a great impression with everyone you meet, make sure your body language is as confident and poised as your words are. Pay attention to the body language of those around you. Their body language will tell you how you can approach them to be most effective.

Let’s get to work!

– Linda

If you have questions about your executive career search, please contact me at 203-323-9977 or lindavan@myexecutivecareercoach.com