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Career advice you can sip by the cup

Zhena Muzyka_life by the cup

Zhena Muzyka’s life always comes back to one thing: tea. The entrepreneur, who started with a simple tea cart, has made a living selling hand-crafted, fair-trade, artisan brews through her company Zhena’s Tea, which has become a multimillion-dollar company.

Now an executive coach and women’s empowerment guru, Muzyka has tapped into the many lessons she learned from her Ukranian Gypsy heritage as well as, well, tea, in her new book Life by the Cup: Ingredients for a Purpose-Filled Life of Bottomless Happiness and Limitless Success.

Part memoir, part career guide, the book is grouped by tea-inspired chapters like, “Blend What You’ve Got” and “See the Forest for the Teas”—each of which relays a hard-earned lesson to working women. We’ve picked some of the best bits, which apply no matter where you are in your career. (And don’t worry, we won’t tell her if you’re sipping green juice while you read them.) —Molly Gallagher

zhena_life by the cup

1. Always see the cup as half-full. “The law of success is truly a positive mental attitude. Everything we pay attention to grows…if we’re paying attention to a tough situation or the negativity instead of a possible solution, we’re making the problem bigger,” says Muzyka. That’s why she’s serious about tracking her successes in a journal—it keeps her focused on the good stuff.

“I keep a list of things I’ve done to remind myself that I’m actually making progress,” she says. “We tend to see everything that has yet to be accomplished.” Truth!

2. Work with what you’ve got. “We often think that we can only be successful if we have all the things that other people had when they started,” says Muzyka. But it’s when you have to think creatively about your assets (and limitations) and about how you can blend them together that things really get exciting. “Whatever you have, use it to create your own flavor,” she says.

3. Collaborate, collaborate, collaborate. “When I was in a hurry, tired, focused on [my son] Sage’s illness [he was born needing life-saving surgeries], or raising capital, I would almost be too busy to realize the power of asking other people for help—and realizing the power of collaboration,” says Muzyka. “As soon as I started asking asking people for help, they would start coming up with ideas. Through collaboration the activity increased, reach increased, and energy increased.”

4. Cultivate curiosity and ask questions. This is equally true if you’ve been in your field for a while, or if you’re looking to break into something new, Muzyka says. “Curiosity makes you ask better questions and makes you more attractive in the workplace,” she explains. “It means you’re interested and imparts enthusiasm.”

5. Be generous—it breeds fearlessness. “Every time we start to see fear increase in ourselves—not getting the job, not having a good outcome on a project—instead of worrying, you can offer your services to someone else,” Muzyka says. When she finds herself feeling stressed out or fearful, for example, Muzyka goes to the animal shelter for a few hours and lets that worry melt away. “Fear is a spell we fall into,” Muzyka says. “Generosity breaks the spell.”

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