Showing posts with label women in business. Show all posts
Showing posts with label women in business. Show all posts

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Are You Ready to be a Mentor?

Mentoring Monday!
Sponsored by Business Journals, Mentoring Monday events across the country give women the chance to meet with successful area business women. The goal is to help grow and strengthen a community of talented and committed women who are dedicated to making women a business force in our country. 

Mentoring Monday simultaneously brings together 10,000 business women in 43 markets across the country. Its format allows for face-to-face “speed mentoring” from female leaders in each city.

Mentoring Monday enables (women) to reconnect with long-time contacts and to connect with people who you would like to meet but might not otherwise have access to.” (Source1)

This goal makes sense!

Giving women mentors who have “been there” and know how to overcome the obstacles present in today’s business world is invaluable.
But while Mentoring Monday is a great start, it shouldn’t stop there. Mentoring should be something that is embraced throughout the year.

And that is especially true in the workplace!

When done right, Mentoring can truly help jumpstart a person’s career.
While some businesses already understand the benefits of a strong internal Mentoring program, not all are as yet so savvy.

Business owners would be wise to embrace the idea of Mentoring. It is a great way to “onboard” new hires, especially those who have recently graduated and interns just entering the workforce. It can also be valuable as a way to get existing employees ready for promotion.

Why Should You Be a Mentor?
A great way to make a difference in your own and someone else's life is to think about what you can do for others. Why not take what you have learned and "pay it forward"? Become a Mentor!.

Many of us can say we had a teacher or parent that helped guide us into becoming who we are today. They encouraged us, led by example, and gave us the tools to achieve our goals. 

But does it, or should it, stop there? I believe we need to keep that momentum going and Mentoring, especially in our professional lives, is where I believe we can shine!

To me, being a Mentor requires that you be genuinely interested in another person’s growth, with no real expectation of tangible personal gain.

Invite the mentee into your “inner circle”. Introduce them to who you know and include them in your professional groups. In other words, “Pay it Forward”, “Make A Difference”, and Pave the Way!". 
excerpts from “Mentoring ~ How You can “Make a Difference”!

If we are lucky, many of us will or have had great mentors in our lives. It may have been a former boss, a teacher, or even a trusted friend.

Good mentoring is not easy. It really takes a sacrifice of time and energy to do it well. But the reward of knowing you have truly helped someone find their own success is worth it.

Do You have what it takes to Be a Mentor? “Tweet This”

How will You know if Mentoring is Right for You?
Being a Mentor is a time commitment. You will need to be there to guide your mentee, help them make connections, and answer their questions when needed. It also helps if you go in with your eyes wide open.

The best mentors are people who:
  • Teach and Lead by Example
  • Truly want to share their Experience and Knowledge
  • Enjoy encouraging and motivating others
  • Are willing to help their Mentees network with other Leaders and Executives
  • Can Step Back and allow their Mentee to set the pace
  • Realize the time commitment and are willing to be flexible and see it through
  • Are Open to Learning something new themselves
  • Can Recognize when it isn’t working
The last trait is perhaps the most important in any mentoring relationship. People that mentor go into it with good intentions. But, as in any relationship, there are times when personalities clash or your or your mentee’s situations change. There simply may come a time that continuing the mentoring relationship is no longer viable.

That is when you may need to part ways. This is not a failure, it is just being realistic. However, there is no need to sever all ties. Instead, you could suggest another mentor that may be a better option. Or, at the very least, keep in touch. You never know when situations may change and your mentoring relationship can move forward.  

But, when it works, there is nothing like it. The best mentoring relationships create a feeling of mutual respect and friendship. They can even forge a potentially life-long connection.
My husband is the perfect example of this. Through the years he has consistently helped people further their own careers. He was there to help them get new and better jobs, answer their questions, encourage their pursuits, and listen to their concerns. He truly feels his greatest professional accomplishment was being able to see so many of the people he helped become successful.

Despite having recently retired, it is a true testament to the kind of mentoring job he did that he remains very close to everyone he has ever helped and is in touch with them often.

When done right, Mentoring is such a positive experience that many mentees pay it forward and eventually become mentors themselves.
And that is when you know your Mentoring has really made a difference!

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Source1: Connecting ~ Get Ready for Mentoring Monday

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Why You Need to Forget Work-Life Balance!


Can we ever truly achieve balance between our work and personal lives?  

In theory, the idea of “work-life balance” seems to make sense. Evenly dividing our time between our jobs and our personal time should give us the best of both worlds. 

However, I believe that trying to achieve that “balance” causes us more angst than it should.  

We are constantly being bombarded with advice on how we can and why we should bring balance to our lives.  And when we aren’t able to achieve it, we feel guilty.  We worry we are spending too much time at work and neglecting our families.  Or we worry that taking time for ourselves means we are not dedicated to our jobs.

 We are in a classic “Catch 22”!

And I believe that the use of the word “balance” is the problem.

True Balance between our Personal and Professional Lives is Not Possible!  “Tweet This”

The reality is that, at any given time, one or the other will pull on our time and resources.  There will be days, or sometimes even weeks, where either our work or personal obligations needs to take precedence.

According to Merriam-Webster, one of the definitions of “balance” is;
a state in which different things occur in equal or proper amounts or have an equal or proper amount of importance”.

Instead of placing importance on the word “equal”, we should focus on the word “proper”.  Giving something our “proper” time and energy means that we are doing what is appropriate given the situation. 


That is why I believe that Our Lives are more like a Seesaw than something we can ever hope to balance!

Think about the times you have ridden a seesaw.  I remember that at our neighborhood playground, my friends and I would often make a game out of trying to “balance” the seesaw.  We would all carefully sit on either side, attempting to find the right mix to keep the seesaw level.

And yes, we would often win our battle for a moment.  But then, inevitably, one side would drop and the balance we had won would be lost.  The seesaw would once again do what it was designed to do, continually rock up and down, sometimes falling hard to one side or the other.

The sides of a seesaw are much like the different sides of our life, our work life and our personal life.  The weight of each side is capable of changing in an instant according to the demands placed on us.

For example, we may have an urgent project at work that requires us to put aside everything else to complete.  Or we may have a sick child, spouse, or parent that needs our attention.

Whatever the case may be, it is natural to place our focus squarely on who or what needs us at that time.  This means setting our priorities based on our circumstances.

If doing your best means you have to work a 10 hour day to get a major project done, then that is what you have to do.  Just make sure that when your project is complete, you swing your seesaw to the other side, giving the other part of your life the energy it deserves. 

Will your seesaw ever really be balanced?  It is doubtful.   And you shouldn’t feel guilty because of it.  You need to recognize that striving for “balance” is nothing but a losing battle.

Instead, we should all place our focus on who or what needs us the most now, and be satisfied with giving whatever we can to the rest. Being able to roll with it as our seesaw rocks should really be our goal.

Defining for ourselves the kind of life we want to live, and not allowing others to do that for us, is the ultimate freedom.  Creating a blend that works will make us a lot happier in the long run.  

And remember, the real fun of being on a seesaw is the up and down ride ~ so go out and enjoy it!

Please Pay it Forward and Pass this on!  And I would love to hear what you think, so leave a comment!  Thanks!

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Sunday, February 15, 2015

Fighting Gender Bias ~ Why We Need Anonymous Resumes

Did you know that by merely listing a "feminine" name on a resume or application, a woman can be overlooked for a job?

While we have written before on women in business issues; “Women in Business ~ My Case for Why We Need to Help Ourselves” and “The Ability to Choose ~ A Legacy We Leave to Our Daughters” .... This time it is Different.

In, “Case Closed: Women Do Make Teams Smarter”, author Geoffrey James delves into the subject of women in high-tech companies. James calls these high-tech jobs a male dominated field with, at times, an openly hostile treatment of women applicants and employees.

While this was not much of surprise, it is the following quote from the article that really widened our eyes;

“It turns out that gender bias starts in the selection of candidates to be interviewed. Several studies have shown that a resume bearing a man's name results in more job interviews than the identical resume bearing a woman's name.”

We were incredulous. Could it really be that simply seeing a woman’s name on a resume can result in them being overlooked and ignored for the job ~ even when they are equally, or even more, qualified than a male candidate?

That is simply ridiculous! Women are good at their jobs. They come to the table with all the education, skills, and abilities to excel. And employers in all sectors would do well to realize this.  

According to a report by Rochelle Sharpe in Bloomberg Business Week, “As Leaders, Women Rule”,  “female managers' strengths have long been undervalued, and their contributions in the workplace have gone largely unnoticed and unrewarded. Companies are now saying they want the skills women typically bring to the job, but such rhetoric doesn't always translate into reality”.

Employers, managers, and supervisors often pass over women for promotions due to their bias, either conscious or unconscious, about their abilities. Their belief is that traditional “female” traits makes them less qualified and clouds their judgment.   

We would all like to believe that we have evolved beyond this way of thinking, but clearly that is not the case.

The bottom line is this ~ we need to start at the beginning. We need to fight bias during the hiring process.
This is where we found Geoffrey James’ article most fascinating. In it he proposes an interesting solution ~ removing names from all resumes!

James advocates stripping “candidates' names from their resumes before you select which candidates to interview”. He even goes as far as suggesting that the selection process be followed by remote interviews; “with the candidate represented as a neutral-gender avatar mirroring the candidate's facial expressions. Morph the candidate's voice so that it's gender neutral”.

James believes that this will result in a more even playing field. While he is specifically addressing the world of high-tech, we think this could cross over to any field.  

This idea may only get women in the door, but it is a start. As the climate changes and more and more women are given the chance, we can all accomplish great things and create a better world for step at a time.

As B.R. Ambedkar, an Indian jurist and social reformer, states; 

Now about this “equal pay for equal work” issue......

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Monday, June 3, 2013

4 Lessons Facing my 50s and Insomnia Have Taught Me About Business & Life!

“I wanted a perfect ending. Now I’ve learned, the hard way, that some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next. Delicious ambiguity.”              Gilda Radner

When I started my business, I thought it was important to work “regular business hours”.  I believed since I worked from home that putting in the traditional “9 to 5” was essential to promoting a professional image for my business.  There was right time for things and schedules were necessary. 

Now I have come to rethink this.

Since turning 50, I have been plagued by the cliche “hot flashes” and insomnia.  I find myself waking regularly in the middle of the night and alternately kicking off or wrapping myself in my covers.

I lie awake, unable to get comfortable or once again find my sleep pattern.

For awhile, this bothered me.  I was determined to try and force myself back to sleep and keep to my set schedule.

Then I had a break through.  I started asking myself “why”?

Why was I so insistent on the notion that I sleep for at least 6 hours and I needed to wake by 7 to start my work day?   

Instead, I learned to let it go.

Once I surrendered to what was, instead of holding on to what I thought should be, I was free - free to find my own way and free to do what was right for me.  

I began keeping a notebook on my nightstand for any “late night inspirations”.  I also kept my kindle handy.  This way I was able to make great use of the times when I couldn’t sleep.  I was amazed by what I was able to accomplish!

During those “middle of the night” hours, I have found subjects for future blog posts and formulated new “plans of action” for my business.  On the personal front, I have been able to enjoy purely recreational reading and have even planned a redesign of my kitchen and bedroom!

So, in the end, having insomnia and hot flashes has taught me something.  It has taught me some important lessons that have changed the way I approach my business, and my life!

This is what I learned:

  • Don’t fight what you can’t change.  You can’t try and force something to be the way you think it should be.  Sometimes you have to go with the flow.

  • You determine your own schedule.   You need to find what works for you and roll with it.  It may not be the norm, but why should that matter?  You are definitely more productive when following your own path.

  • You need to be flexible.  Believing things will go according to plan usually leads to disappointment.  Being able to embrace uncertainty and not fear it will free you.

  • You need a sense of humor.  I have found this to be my most important lesson.  If you can’t laugh at what business and life throws at you, you are doomed.

All these “lessons” have allowed me to approach my business and my life on my own terms.  I am more productive and relaxed than ever before.

So, although I would love to get a full night’s sleep again, I don’t sweat it.  I have actually embraced my erratic lifestyle, read some awesome new books, and am more at peace with myself than ever before.

And I don’t think I would ask for anything different!

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Sunday, April 7, 2013

Why "Leaning In" is not a Reality for Every Woman!


As women continue to strive for better opportunities in the workplace, I take a look back at my thoughts on what Sheryl Sandberg's words "Lean In" really mean to women.....

Unless you have been completely shut off from the world, it is clear that Sheryl Sandberg's words on "Leaning In" have generated controversy.  Many women are emphatic that Sandberg is coming from an “elitist” point of view and others are supporting her words and saying we simply have to “work harder”.

Let’s face it....not everyone can “Lean In”.  "Tweet This"!

Unique life circumstances cause us all to be very different and come from very different experiences.  That is what makes everyone so interesting.

Opinions on Sandberg’s words run the gamut from complete agreement to openly angered by what she has to say.  I venture to say most fall somewhere in the middle.  But all sides feel justified in their beliefs and disdain for the beliefs of others.

What can’t be ignored is the fact that many feel Sandberg does not speak for the opportunities open to all women - although I believe that she had no intention to do so.  It is obvious that the resources available to Sandberg are certainly not those available to all. 

What I find most disturbing are not Sandberg’s words, but the divisiveness and “bashing” they have unleashed.  Instead of being confrontational, we should be promoting a sense of unity.

It is hard for me to understand why any of us, as women, feel the need to criticize another woman for their choices or circumstances.  It is unproductive at its best and can be crippling at its worst.   

These words from Elizabeth Harrison (American Educator. 1849-1927) say it well;

“Those who are lifting the world upward and onward are those who encourage more than criticize.”

Our goal should be to advance the circumstances of all women.  We need to be there as supporters, mentors, and role models if necessary.  Check out an earlier blog post I wrote on this subject for more of my thoughts; Women in Business - My Case for Why We Need to Help Ourselves!.

Similar issues arise with the phrase “have it all” that is often bandied about.  The reality is that, for most of us, we are simply juggling in order to make things work at even the most basic level.

In most cases, it is not possible to “have it all” at any one time.   Our lives  are an ebb and flow that requires us to concentrate more on one thing than another depending on our circumstances.  That is when we have to make tough decisions based on what is best for our families.  

It is then that we have to focus on what we need to at the moment, put our all into that, then be ready to shift gears when our circumstances change.  In that way we are able to experience professional as well as personal success within our lifetime.

I discuss more of what I believe is life's "seesaw" here!

I close with these words by Kate Seredy, author;

"I make money using my brains and lose money listening to my heart. But in the long run, my books balance pretty well." 

Balancing my books over the long haul is my goal.  And, really, what more can we ask for?

Please "Pay it Forward" and share my article.  I would also love to hear from you ~ Leave a Comment!

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Sunday, March 3, 2013

Free to Choose ~ A Legacy We Leave Our Daughters

Created by Kimberly Kline

“Your ambition should be to get as much life out of living as you possibly can, as much enjoyment, as much interest, as much experience, as much understanding. Not simply be what is generally called a ‘success’.” 
Eleanor Roosevelt

The 1960s was a time when many women were fighting for equality.  We wanted the chance to succeed in every way open to men.  I applaud those strong women who worked hard at putting cracks in that barrier.

I was very lucky that I grew up being told I could accomplish anything I chose to do.  There was never anything that was closed to me.  For this I am thankful.

While things are infinitely better than they were then, the issue of equality still rears its ugly head.  I read stories every day concerning disparate pay for equal work or statistics on the lack of women in top executive positions.

Some of this can be attributed to discrimination.  However, I would also like to propose another possible reason. Women are choosing a different path.

Maybe the need to “have it all” that has been re-evaluated. While we still want opportunities open to us, it is what we choose to do with those opportunities that has changed.

Even Hilary Rodham Clinton, arguably a very “successful” woman in the traditional sense, has prioritized what matters to her:

Our lives are a mixture of different roles. Most of us are doing the best we can to find whatever the right balance is . . . For me, that balance is family, work, and service.

Rodham Clinton’s “balance” lists family first and includes service. Like many of us, she appreciates and values more than what can be provided through her work.

Many of us are placing our focus on this different value set.  A real balance between work and “life” is our goal.  Money and status is not the driving force.  We want to create a life of value.

Creating a Life of Value is the Ultimate Success!  "Tweet This"

That value, of course, is subjective.  But the desire to work at something that “matters” resonates with many.  It may no longer be the big money or boardroom position that drives us.

What we, as women, have now earned is a choice.  Each of us can decide our own goals and have the freedom to pursue them. We also need to recognize that one woman’s choice may not be our own.  The celebration should be in the choice itself.  

It is this ability to choose that we leave to our own daughters.  I know I want my own daughter to find fulfillment in whatever way is important to her.  Whether it lies in the traditional “corporate track” or not is up to her.  And I wish the same thing for our sons.

And that is the way it should be.

My only hope is that finding a life of purpose and value is part of the equation!

I close with these words from former first lady, Barbara Bush:

Never lose sight of the fact that the most important yardstick of your success will be how you treat other people - your family, friends, and coworkers, and even strangers you meet along the way.
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Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Women in Business – My Case for Why We Need to Help Ourselves!

The need to "Help Ourselves", and most definitely each other, should be a driving force for all women in business.  
Here is why......

I present this as a companion piece to another of my articles on "Leaning In" and Having It All!

"No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." --Eleanor Roosevelt

I read these words by Eleanor Roosevelt and immediately had that “aha” moment.  Maybe real value is only placed on the people who demand it

As women, that is sometimes hard for us to do.  We are raised to believe that it is better not to “rock the boat”.  However, continuing this line of thinking is doing a great disservice to us and to the young women who follow.

The trick is, how do we garner the personal and professional respect of others without sinking to the “bitch” label?  I think we can accomplish this by believing in our own value and “helping ourselves”.

Women in Business Need to 
Remember to Ask for What We Want!  "Tweet This"!

Male ambition and competitiveness is applauded.  That “go get ‘em” attitude is praised.  However, that same drive in women is often labeled as “bitchy” and “unattractive”.  But it is not only men that are guilty of this, but other women as well.

Women need to shatter that perception if we want to move forward, and I believe more and more women are doing just that!  Like the amazing and successful women we are, we are seeing the value of “paying it forward” and being role models for the next generation of professional women.

Our goal should be to inspire women to become leaders in their chosen professions.  We also need to encourage them to reach beyond their own success and help to effect positive change in our world.

And I think women are particularly able to promote that change.  

Women professionals bring natural

qualities to the table that need to 

celebrated.  We are capable of strong

collaboration, conviction, and purpose.
What are our strengths?  
I believe our greatest assets are:

Our strong communication skills.   Women know     how to really listen to the thoughts of others as well as convey our own point of view.  We can empathize even if we do not agree.

Our desire to collaborate. Women appreciate the need to “work well together” and “get along”.  We talk things out and “brainstorm” as a matter of course.

    Our ability to ask for help  Women know that asking for help is NOT a sign of weakness.  We understand the need to delegate and if we are unsure of how to proceed, we will ask!

      Our “socially aware” point of view.  Women feel a real need to address and "solve" social issues.  We recognize inequality and strive for fairness.  We believe in creating a better world and are willing to put in the work to do so!

      Now that we know our strengths, what do we need to do?

      We Need to Stop Blaming Others – We need to recognize we can only be treated as we allow ourselves to be treated.  We need to allow ourselves to demand the equal salaries and job opportunities we have earned.

      We Need to Stop Using Excuses – We can no longer say what we can’t do because we don’t have the time, the power, or the support to do so.  We need to grab hold of what we want and go “full steam ahead” to get it.

         We Need to Present a United Front - Women need to help women.  We need to champion our own causes and build a strong professional and social network.  It is not the time to be divisive.  Each of us are entitled to make our own choices and it is not for others to belittle them.  (To me, this should be our most important goal!).

      "What we, as women, have now earned is a choice.  Each of us can decide our own goals and have the freedom to pursue them. We also need to recognize that one woman’s choice may not be our own.  The celebration should be in the choice itself."  

      It is time we take the inspiring words of Eleanor Roosevelt to heart.  The truth is, until we value ourselves, we cannot expect others to do so.  We Must “Help Ourselves”! 

      Please help spread the word and share this article on your favorite social sites.  And leave a comment ~ I would love to hear your thoughts!

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