Alyssa J Freitas

May 23, 2018

How To Be Confident When Dating

I remember turning 16 and being bummed out that I was "sweet 16 and never been kissed." Not that any of my friends were more experienced (I went to an all-girls high school, so it's not like there was daily opportunity), but I still was anxious to start dating. I had a boyfriend in high school and went on a fair amount of dates after that, but after my first college boyfriend and I broke up, I began using dating apps and that's when the real fun began (I will admit I vacillated on using Tinder and ultimately made out better on Bumble, but overall I am very glad I used dating apps because they were a gateway to meet people).
Click to read now or pin to save for later! Do you find yourself losing confidence or experiencing self-doubt when dating? Here's what you can do to change your mindset and embrace dating
I got to meet all types of guys and have different dates. From concerts, to picnics, to rock climbing, to museums, to movies, they introduced me to their interests and I had a fun time getting to know each one (well, most...there were definitely some dud dates mixed in there).

While it mostly came naturally to me, it was still hard to put myself out there. It's one thing to stop talking to someone who you've just been texting, but another thing to have someone decide, "hmm I've had the chance to spend time with you and now I've decided I'm not interested." But we know that going out there and giving it a try is the only way to find out if you are good for each other and when you gain confidence you can have an awesome time in the process.

Here are my top tips to be confident when dating and make the most of the experience.

Get your expectations in order

Dating with the expectation that you're quickly going to find the love of your life is not setting yourself up for success. While it could happen, the likelihood is slim and you're better off going into dates recognizing that you are learning about yourself and other people and hopefully doing fun things in the process. This mindset takes pressure off of the situation and allows you to relax; a key element of being confident.

Know that you have a lot to offer, and that not everyone is going to see it

It's essentially inevitable (there are always exceptions, which is why I keep using all of these qualifiers) that it's going to work out more often than it doesn't. If 16 year old me knew I'd have to kiss so many frogs before getting to the prince, I probably wouldn't have felt as bad about not getting started yet. 

So understanding that most things aren't going to pan out can be another way of not taking the pressure off. I'm not saying you should be skeptical and never get invested, but you certainly don't need to look at every date as though it's the do-all and end all.

Experience is the only way you'll learn 

Being good at dating is like anything else: you have to practice. I learned so much from each guy I dated that prepared me for when I finally met the right guy. I figured out how to express myself and read other people better. I understood how much I was comfortable revealing and doing at each stage of our relationship. And while there are differences in every relationship, you can establish your baseline.

By adopting this mindset you can free your mind to focus on the fun and enjoyment of dating, learning about yourself and having new experiences without doubting your every move.

What are your best tips to be confident when dating? What's your biggest challenge? Would you like to see more relationship centered posts? Let me know!


May 16, 2018

How To Ensure Minimalism Doesn't Go Too Far

There are varying degrees of minimalism. There are the people who own 52 items, there are the people who aim to own the least amount of stuff possible in certain categories, the people who go on cleaning sprees when the seasons get the point. While I cannot claim to be the most minimal of minimalists, I can say that I am exceptionally good at not bringing more stuff into my life than is necessary. However, I've recently realized that I can deprive myself to a fault.
Click to read now or pin to save for later! Have you ever found yourself challenged by minimalism when you don't have exactly what you need? Find out how to determine if your minimalism has gone too far
For example, I was on a work trip and realized I didn't have my headphones. Instead of buying another pair (why have two pairs once I got back home?), I took the six hour plane ride with fussy children, sitting between two old lady friends (one liked the aisle seat and the other preferred the window) sans headphones. Not my best call. Or how about this guest post about a minimalist who purged his book collection with great regret? 

With determining what you will bring into your life and selecting what must leave, you can end up making decisions that are not optimal. I wrote a post a few years back about how to decide if you need something, and it was quite philosophical (may need to write a post on how not to take yourself so seriously to give myself a reminder haha). While the suggestions in that post are valid for a lot of items, I've realized that there are two key elements that can help you make decisions on purchases more quickly: usefulness and time.

Ask yourself, "Is this something that will help me save time/be happier on a daily/weekly basis?"

Since I have the tendency to say "no" more often than "yes" to physical purchases and spending money in general, I often end up wasting time trying to make things work. For instance, take the backpack I use for work and travel. I literally live out of that bag for days at a time and yet it did not have the right functionality to accommodate what I needed. The pockets weren't quite right, the closure was not secure, and still I insisted on using it instead of seeking out an alternative because I didn't want to spend the money. I'd spend extra time rearranging the contents and constantly adjusting the bag as I walked to prevent my items from falling out.

But then, I smartened up. I realized that spending money on a new bag that would better suit my needs and retiring my other bag for occasions when I'm not traveling didn't make me a bad minimalist; it made me a smarter master of my time and energy. Plus, it's something I use on a daily basis!

This also happened recently for a purchase that was not physical. I love to listen to music; when I sleep, when I shower, when I work, when I walk, when I read, just about any time. I was using a combination of a free account from Spotify, YouTube, and Amazon music (back when I wrote about music with a Prime subscription in 2015 there wasn't a distinction between Amazon Music and Amazon Unlimited). I would spend time looking for playlists, and jumping from platform to platform, and getting distracted by ads. 

Finally I decided it would be worth it for me to pay for Spotify premium. I can get personalized playlists, eliminating the time I used to spend searching around for songs, and ads are no longer a distraction and interruption to my work.

You have to find the right balance between the value of your money and your time/happiness. Especially when it's something that will impact you on a regular basis! The next time your minimalist side is urging you to hold back, examine if you could actually be better off bringing something different into your life.

How do you decide to make purchases? Have you ever held back on a purchase and regretted it later? Or find yourself struggling when a small investment could actually end up saving you? I'd love to hear about your experiences!


May 9, 2018

How To Approach Blogging Like A Minimalist

Isn't it interesting how there is a whole genre of blogs about blogging? I don't remember this being a thing back when I got into blogs; this meta-blogging, if you will. It's been great for people like me who enjoy browsing tips and incorporating some of what I read into my blogging workflow, but if you're just starting out it can be overwhelming to try and make use of every piece of advice that's available (I've written a few posts about blogging if you want to check them out here...but the last one was nearly a year ago, so I certainly can't claim this as a regular category).
Click to read now or pin to save for later! Are you overwhelmed by the sheer amount of blogging advice out there? Here's the essentials you need to know to approach blogging like a minimalist
With all these blogging instructions floating around, it is challenging to distill it down to what you really need to know. Surprise, surprise, I'm going to share my *minimalist* perspective on how to approach blogging to cut through the noise and avoid unnecessary overwhelm.

1. Write about something you're genuinely passionate about

People can tell when you are truly excited about what you're sharing versus when you're trying to check off the boxes on your editorial calendar and hit on the topics you're "supposed to." Not only do you need to pick an overarching theme that is interesting to you, you need to be unafraid to change it or deviate if it feels right. When it comes to making your blog a business, it wouldn't be the best idea to change willy nilly (if you're interested, here's a site that describes the origin of this phase...but I digress), but you are also not locked into a decision and don't need to feel that you are at the expense of the quality of your work.

2. Consistency

This is just as much for you as it is for your audience. There's consistency in content (that I touched on in 1), but there's also consistency in frequency of posting. The reason I say this is important for you is because having a set number of times you want to post per week will get you into a positive practice of creating and help you to hone your style and improve. The actual number doesn't matter; I started out posting 3 times per week, then went down to 2, and now I've reduced to 1 while my friend Austen has gone in the opposite direction (she's up to 2 blog posts, a video, and email newsletter every week)! Even though our numbers are different, both of our work has improved because we've created consistently and found a method that works for us.

A practical way to keep yourself on track is to have a dedicated time to blog and a dedicated day to publish. For me, I write my posts on Saturday mornings and schedule them to go live on Wednesday morning. This schedule is what I've come to expect of myself and what I have committed to all of you, so it's tough to find an excuse not to deliver. Plus, the buffer of a few days between writing and posting allows me some flexibility if I don't end up writing on Saturday. 

3. Keep it simple

When I started my blog it was called "Keep It Simple" (although I quickly changed it to the available url of Alyssa J Freitas) and I still believe in that sentiment when it comes to nearly everything in life. It is especially true with blogging. You can overcomplicate this process and add countless steps and "shoulds" to your blogging to-do list, but when it comes down to it all you need is to write about something you care about and do so consistently. 

How do you view blogging? Is your process minimalistic, or do you have other elements that in line with different goals? I'd love to hear about it!


May 2, 2018

Professional Life Lately In Acronyms: ACAMS, WBC, NYSE

Do you notice that professional organizations love acronyms? They seem to say, "Listen, we're busy, there's a lot going on. We simply do not have time to use the full name of anything. Acronyms are the only logical way to communicate." Alright, I'll go with it. Here's a recap of my professional life lately, organized by acronyms.
Click to read now or pin to save for later! Here's a recap of my professional life lately, as told through 3 acronyms

ACAMS: Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists 

A few weeks ago I attended ACAMS's 24th Annual International AML & Financial Crimes conference in Hollywood, FL. If you aren't caught up on my post-Summit role, I am part of the Watson Financial Crimes team, so this conference was right up my alley. Getting acclimated to all new language has certainly been a challenge, but attending this conference and being able to keep up with the discussions showed me how far I've come in a few months and how fortunate I am to be in a meaningful area of IBM's business.

A main topic of conversation is the upcoming deadline to comply with the Customer Due Diligence (CDD) Final Rule. You know how when you open a new account at a bank they collect information from you like your birthday and address? They gather this information as part of their CDD process to ensure they know who you are and can confirm the level of risk of doing business with you. Well, now regulators are requiring financial institutions to identify beneficial ownership of a legal entity (like a business trust or LLC), and to update that information when there is a triggering event (such as an unexplained change in account activity).

Financial institutions are challenged by this new rule, but something the regulators who were present at the conference stressed is that they are expecting banks to manage risk, not manage to zero risk. With these increased challenges, vendors are focused on using technology to decrease the burden of complying. AI was a major focus in every session, and leveraging this technology to decrease the inflow of alerts and tasks for agents is a highly sought advantage. At the same time the regulators require that institutions be able to explain how their tools work and justify the decisions. As you can tell, with each new change and solution, anti-financial crimes professionals are faced with another challenge...I am certainly not jealous of their role and am glad my job is to help!

WBC: Women's Bond Club

Soon after joining IBM full time, I became part of the WBC of New York, one of the oldest organizations for women in the financial services industry. The club brings together women from all different companies with events, volunteering opportunities, and mentorship. Recently I volunteered with the Grace Institute (a workforce development program in New York City focused solely on women) to provide interview coaching, and I was only made aware of this opportunity because I am part of the WBC.

My most recent WBC experience was the IBM hosted Tech Symposium. Our SVP and CMO (look, more acronyms!) Michelle Peluso moderated a panel of leaders in the industry in discussion on new platforms and business models driven by technology, and how the incumbents can be the disruptors. The panel included Hillery Hunter, IBM Fellow and Director of Accelerate Cognitive Infrastructure, Jessica Moser, SVP of Small Business Solutions Group Benefits at MetLife, Ayeesha Sachedina, Director of Innovation at Bank of America, and Maria L. Wieck, GM of Blockchain at IBM.

As you would imagine, much of the discussion was around AI and blockchain. My main takeaway was that in order to have effective change in your organization with these technologies, you need your people to buy in and you need to realize that it will take time to see the full, promised benefits. When asked which technology they thought would be most life changing, my favorite response was "Who knows. In 10 years we may all be back here b*tching about blockchain, like we're complaining about our legacy system now." It's true: who knows, but I'm excited to find out.

NYSE: New York Stock Exchange

I'm guessing this acronym will be the most recognized. Last week I went with a group of former Summits who are now in the financial services industry to take a tour of the NYSE. We were there for the opening bell and the company Pivotal had the honor of ringing it because that day was their IPO (and here we have our final acronym, I promise). It was interesting to learn from our guide which role each type of company plays, from brokers to media outlets, and to see in person what we're used to viewing on television.

So there we have it, life lately as defined by acronyms! TTYL (sorry, last one, I had to).

What are you excited by in your professional life lately? How do you continue to learn and get involved in a community?


April 25, 2018

How To Stay Close With Friends Post-Grad

Next month will mark one year since I graduated college. Excuse me, but WHAT?! First of all, I find that nearly impossible to believe, second of all, so much has changed. I knew that a lot would be different (that's why my mantra for 2017 was "growth comes from discomfort." I wanted to prepare myself), but what I didn't fully anticipate was how much my friendships would change.
Click to read now or pin to save for later! Staying in touch with friends after graduation is a challenge, but here are some ways you can prioritize your friendships
They say that once you graduate it's much harder to see your friends. I thought I had a solution to that: "well, we all live in New Jersey, how hard can it be?" Perks of going to a state college, right? Despite our relative geographic proximity, it has been incredibly difficult to see my friends on what I would consider a regular basis. 

So, how do you deal with conflicting schedules and competing priorities and the general challenge of remaining close when you're not living right next door? Here are the saving graces I've found one year out.

FaceTime...FaceTime, FaceTime, FaceTime

FaceTime is a life saver! Sometimes it really is just too hard to get together in person and quick texts don't do the trick. That's when a FaceTime date saves the day. Although a spontaneous call is nice, you're usually better off scheduling it ahead of time so you don't end up playing phone tag.

Set goals

A few months after graduating, you and your friends will have a pretty good idea of how often is reasonable to expect to see each other in person. Of course there will be ebbs and flows in availability, but you'll have a baseline. From there you can set goals of how often you'll see each other and actually put it on the calendar. Sometimes you won't be able to meet the goals, but having something to work towards gives you a better shot than thinking "hey, wonder how long it's been since I saw *insert name of friend here*."

Give yourself grace

A lot of times when I pick the topic of a blog post, it usually indicates something I'm working on myself. Although I would love to see all of my friends frequently, the reality is that it's a challenge and it will continue to change as time goes on. Figuring out how to spend your time (at work, on side projects, with family, with your significant other, with friends, and throwing in some alone time too) is tough, but by giving yourself grace to do your best, you'll be able to stay close to those you love and not wear yourself too thin either.

How do prioritize seeing friends after college? I would love any advice you have!