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14 posts from October 2008

October 08, 2008

Workers want help

    Like most of you, I'm worried about the economy and the daily decline of the Dow. But to me, and most of my friends, my bigger concerns are with how we live our daily lives as working Americans. We worry about health insurance, affordable after-school care, and whether taking time off to care for a sick child or parent will cost us our jobs.

     What are the political candidates positions on these work/life issues? Family advocates say the candidates at national and state levels aren't focusing on the things working families REALLY care about. A great website, MomsRising.org, has sample questions to write in for the candidates in the next presidential debate. The website also features Bingo cards that tally when candidates talk publicly on issues like affordable child care, health care, paid sick leave, equal pay and

     This morning I address the topic in my Miami Herald column and on CBS4/My 33. Ellen Bravo of the Multi-State Working Families Consortium, made a good point in a conversation I had with her. She says it's more important than ever for government to mandate workplace policies such as paid sick leave because employees feel vulnerable and less empowered to ask for them.

     Do you know what groups in your state are doing to fight for equal pay, paid sick leave and more flexible work options? Which candidate do you think has a better grasp of the need for new workplace standards?

October 06, 2008

Over-involved parents

    This weekend, I offered my son a trip to Toys R Us if he played more aggressive defense in his flag football game. Shame on me. He just wants to have fun on the field. I just want him to try hard and do well. I, like most parents today, want my son to be great at something. I want scholarships for him, awards, recognition...

      We are all so busy, working longer hours, tethered to our laptops and PDA's. Not enough hours in the day. Yet, as an article in the Weekend edition of the Wall Street Journal notes, we are making time for intense highly involved parenting to turn our offspring into prodigies.

     The WSJ article highlights Josh and Zach Martin who were 6 and 8 when they began a series of focused practices, lessons and games aiming to become the two best young golfers living under the same roof. The boys, now 11 and 13, play as many as five rounds each week and have scads of trophies. Their father says he forced his kids to concentrate on a single sport and gave them top instruction. Dad and mom devote hours of their time to taking their kids to tournaments and keeping calculations. Can we blame them for being obsessed with turning their kids into the next Tiger Woods?

      Apparently, parental involvement, or over-involvement, in the minutiae of our children's lives is as widespread as it has ever been. Why this trend? The journal says it is because today's families are smaller and parent have greater resources that they are putting into raising exceptional children. "Working parents have dealt with their limited family time, and their guilt about leaving their kids at home, by being more intensely involved when they are with their kids," psychologists say.

   An article in Money Magazine says, " for most of us, pushing our kids even a little reflects terrible anxiety about our children's future. We fear that if they are not among the few big winners in society they will end up with the many losers. The job for parents--some seem to think--is making sure their kids wind up in that ever-elusive winner's circle. So they press their children hard to cultivate their native talents and shape every childhood activity toward some immediately tangible success."

    I see parents making great financial and time sacrifices for their children -- running them to practices or recital halls before the start of the work day or late into the evenings. For many parents, this is what it means to balance work and family.

     Before I get caught up in it, I have to step back and ask: Are parents simply steering our kids in the right direction, encouraging them to be their best because we know the great rewards it can bring them? Is this the best use of our time? Or have highly involved parents gone too far, turning hobbies into anxiety-producing obsessions?

October 02, 2008

Don't bring work stress home

    Today, I'm stressed at work. Who wouldn't be with co-workers all around me packing up their desks after a recent round of (in)voluntary buyouts.

    Just look around at what's going on in businesses. Not only are people worrying about losing their homes or paying for their groceries, they are afraid to go to work, fearing whether their company will remain afloat or whether they still will have a job. Corporate executives, business owners, and busy professionals are stressed because, not only are they expected to produce more with less, but competition for their position is of major concern. Cora_2

    Dr. Gaby Cora, a Miami board certified psychiatrist, medical doctor, wellness coach, mom, spouse and author of Leading Under Pressure says stress in the workplace has reached epidemic numbers.

  What can we do to manage our stress in challenging times? How can we keep work stress from creeping into our personal lives? Cora, who works with clients to maximize their health and wealth, once again weighs in on my blog and provides tips for readers:

  •   USE STRESS TO YOUR ADVANTAGE. Stress can be motivating, stimulating, and inspiring, but too much affects your ability to bounce back from tough situations. Keep things in perspective and concentrate on your here and now to resolve your immediate challenges.
  • AVOID PEOPLE WHO HARP ON THE NEGATIVE. Try your best to keep a positive outlook about the future realizing the rough times will pass. Follow your plan if you have one and create one if you don’t have a plan.

  • MAKE HEALTH A PRIORITY. Many executives and business owners are so busy these days they don’t realize burnout is around the corner. Many people wait to see a doctor until they are already experiencing heartburn, chest pain, or panic attacks. You can easily change your work strategies if you are feeling at your best and yet, this is difficult to do if you are feeling deflated of energy.. You will be well-prepared to face challenging times if you are in good shape physically, emotionally, and intellectually. This is the secret to long-term success as we face challenging times.
  • FOLLOW A ROUTINE. Stay healthy by following a routine exercise plan, eating healthy, getting the proper amount of sleep, and relaxing. Once you have mastered these lifestyle strategies then plan the best of your business strategies, prioritizing your work needs, successfully resolving challenges as they come.
  • LOOK FOR OPPORTUNITIES. Although challenging times are a common cause for distress, they are an excellent opportunity for change. Create a plan to resolve the difficulty and look for untapped opportunities.

    Do you feel you are experiencing more stress than last year? Is everyone around you complaining of the same? Do you manage your stress effectively? Do you have a business plan? Do you follow a plan to stay healthy?

October 01, 2008

Time-effective networking

     If you think  you are too busy to network, think again. As Entrepreneur.about.com notes, we are constantly being introduced to new people anyway, every day, with no disruption to our schedules. Be ready to make the most of , you never know who can lead you to new business or a new job.

    In my Miami Herald column today, I share some tips from experts, professional networkers. I also talked about the topic on CBS4/My33 this morning.

     But I also want to share some great websites I came across on networking:

      Buzzy Gordon writes about effective networking for busy people. He says:  All networking requires is a slight shift in attitude, and adopting one simple rule. Greet each new acquaintance with an openness to learn more about that person, a willingness to help, and an offer to stay in touch.

      One of the best blog's I've read, Networking Now, is by guru Ivan Misner. He encourages us to get out there and network, especially in these tough times. "People who look for opportunities when times are tough will not only survive, they will thrive," he insists.

      For strategy, check out John Remson's Top 100 Tips for Working The  Room.

      If you want to network in South Florida, Brian Tannebaum's blog is a must read.

     If you have networking strategies that work for you, please share. Do you think online networking is effective?