For me, success always looked like something external. Something “out there”, reserved for someone else. Maybe it was getting all A’s, money, or job title, or perhaps what looked like the “perfect life” (whatever that is, I’m still not sure). But it was always something just out of reach, and always on a timeline. Or a deadline. Or both. Then the pandemic happened. And now we are all working (and studying) from home.  Sometimes it feels like life is on hold.

Can you relate?

The good news is it’s never too late to make a change and become a student of success.  Here’s my study guide to help you prepare for your next success test.  Because opportunities are all around us.

Karen Mangia home office

Karen Mangia in her home office.

Our expected timeline for success is almost always wrong.

We think success is linear, following a pattern, the result of hard work. And success is scheduled to show up on Thursday at 4:00pm. Then life happens. Your appointment with success gets moved up, or moved out, or moved onto someone else’s calendar.

Success doesn’t always come in a sequence.

When we let go of our preconceptions about what success looks like, that’s when we see it. When success is free to show up in whatever order and at whatever time – even unannounced – that’s when it is most welcome.

That’s what I discovered early in the pandemic when I was on a deadline for my second book – Listen Up!: How to Tune in To Customers, And Turn Down the Noise. I called my publisher to check on the manuscript. We started chatting about the new normal, and I shared how I was deeply involved in the Work from Home Taskforce at my job. “Working from home?” she said. “How would you like to write a book on that subject?”

And that’s how the world’s biggest publisher of business books pitched me on my latest book idea:  Working From Home: Making the New Normal Work For You. Does that story sound impossible? I thought so, too – except it all became real when I brought two words into the conversation….

Two words invite success.

There are two words that have really opened me up to new possibilities (like writing two books at once). Two words that have helped me to see beyond my own thinking.

“Why not?”

The first step in conquering the impossible, I have found, is a change in perspective. Want to get better grades?  Want to redesign your work-from-home world?  Don’t think about why you can’t do it. Ask yourself, why not?  Want to advance your career, make an impact, find a new job or (let’s go big) fall in love again?  Right out of the gate, I bet you’re telling yourself a story that doesn’t have a happy ending.  How would it feel to release that story and replace it with two simple words. Why not?

Two words limit success.

Have you ever said or heard these phrases before?

  • We should be back to normal by now.
  • I should be dating or married by now.
  • I should be accepted to grad school / promoted / driving a fancy car / owning my own business by now.

Does any of that sound familiar?

Does any of that sound successful?

No. Not really. Labeling your life with a “by now” tag is a recipe for suffering, not success.

What we should be able to do, by now, is a source of either pressure or discouragement. Take two words away from your definition of success and it gets more realistic. More real. More right now.

Success is available to anyone, anywhere.

Success is not a location.  It can happen anywhere, as soon as you allow it.  As soon as you let go of the two words that are holding you back (“by now”) and find the two words you’ve missed (“why not”).  The pandemic has changed everything:  why not change your definition of success?

 About the Author

Karen MangiaKaren Mangia is a CICS alumna and Vice President, Customer and Market Insights at Salesforce. Her work focuses on strategies for personal and professional success, and she regularly works with executives, managers and future leaders at companies all around the globe. She has two new books coming out in 2020: Listen Up! How to Tune Into Customers and Turn Down the Noise and Working from Home: Making the New Normal Work for You – both from Wiley. She has been featured in Forbes and regularly writes for Thrive Global and ZDNet. Committed to diversity and inclusion, she serves on her company’s Work from Home Taskforce and the Racial Equality and Justice Task Force. She is a TEDx speaker and the author of Success With Less, a book that chronicles her own personal journey through a life-threatening health crisis. Her high-impact keynotes help organizations to access the future of work via innovative insights around the voice of the customer. Find her online at or connect via twitter @karenmangia.

 About “Working From Home: Making the New Normal Work For You”

WFH book jacket

In her latest book, Karen outlines clear strategies for productivity, collaboration and career impact. From burnout to barking dogs to breaking through the fourth wall on yet another video call, Karen covers the insights that everyone needs, right now. Ultimately, this book is about success. And hope. And resilience in the face of the greatest global crisis in modern times. Karen Mangia captures the hard truths and powerful breakthroughs that everyone needs to know about the new normal.

Working from Home is your personal blueprint for mastering the one thing that every employee and every organization is seeking, right now: accessing the adaptability that’s critical to the future of work. The book, available for pre-order on Amazon, will be released on August 25, 2020.