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13 posts from November 2010

November 30, 2010

How to be a better brown noser

Brown-nosing-1 Whoever thinks brown nosing is easy is mistaken. There's an art to brown nosing and if done properly, it can yield all kinds of perks that will help with your work life balance and advance you in your career.

As The Careerist points out, we all know that kissing up works.  "Yes, sucking up builds careers, especially if you're just passably smart, as most of us are. But the big question is how to do it well," writes Vivia Chen.

She went to two business school professors for suggestions. Below is a combination of their suggestions and mine:

1. Pretend you're seeking advice. Example: “How were you able to close that deal so successfully?”  Mentoring is very in--so let that incoherent partner think that he can actually teach you something. Remember, people feel important when you ask them for advice.

2. Argue a bit with the kissee about his opinion or approach. Do not agree immediately. But, needless to say, ultimately agree.

3. Tell the kissee's friends or family how much you adore/admire her. Just pray that word ultimately gets back to the kissee--otherwise, you've wasted a lot of time. Holiday parties are a great place to work on this.

4. Flatter the kissee by pretending that you're actually a reluctant flatterer. Example: “I don’t want to embarrass you, but your presentation was really top-notch. Better than most I’ve seen.” This can be timely as the year comes to a close. Example: "I hate to admit this but you had an amazing year."

5. Agree with the kissee’s values before agreeing with her opinions. The goal is to convey how you both share the same big picture--that vision thing.

6. Tell people in the kissee’s social network that you really share those values. Again, you are counting on word getting back to the kissee that you are kindred spirits.

7. Finally, hint that you are part of the same circle, such as a religious organization or political party. 

8. Let your respect shine through.  You can respectfully follow orders even if you don't always agree with them. Although bosses may like yes-men, show enough respect for him that you occasionally voice disagreement.

To be effective, you will need to kiss up well beyond your immediate circle. Some people have perfected ingratiating behavior, and that might be why they got ahead in your organization. But be careful not to go overboard with brown nosing.  As HowStuffWorks points out: It's hard to draw the line where flattery becomes unethical.

Do you continue to believe that being good at your job is all that should be required? Or have you realized that kissing up can help you get ahead?


November 29, 2010

Jessica has a mission on her 30th birthday

Recently, I had the privilege of meeting Jessica Kizorek. Rarely, do I come across people as focused as Jessica. She knows just want she wants to accomplish and has balanced her personal and business life around her goal. I hadn't even realized she wasn't even 30 years old, yet. Today, Jessica turns 30 and she will mark the occasion with the publication of an e-book. What a cool birthday present to herself!

To celebrate, Jessica is my guest blogger. She explains why she launched her own business, what obstacles she has overcome and why she puts on programs to get women motivated to accomplish great things.

Here are her thoughts:

As a businesswoman there’s a certain protocol: Don’t be too loud or too daring or too different. Be professional. Be appropriate. Let your hair down after work, not from 9-5.

Badass Business Women asserts that the old model of fitting in is exactly the problem women often encounter, and the reason why so many entrepreneurs are going out of business. 

I founded Badass Business Women in February 2010 to encourage women to break the mold and put some personality into their business. Being a Badass Business Woman is not about running stiletto-clad circles around men. It’s about gracefully striding forward in the business world with a radiant strength and confident dexterity that is uniquely female.

At my workshops, I encourage you to be outrageously self-expressed and have fun at work. I give you the freedom to be yourself. Business is no longer about fitting in.  It’s about standing out.  How else will you make a name for yourself in an extremely crowded and competitive marketplace?

Today is my 30thbirthday.  For those of you who have already turned 30, you know it makes you think about what your life is really for, the purpose. I’m on this planet to inspire and challenge businesswomen, then give you a congratulatory high five when you unleash your inner badass.

 Today we are releasing, “Badass Business Women: The Manifesto,” which I’ve written with the help of Michelle Villalobos, Marci Alt, and dozens of Badass Business Women members.  The foreword is written by my hero Nell Merlino, Founder of Count Me In For Women’s Economic Independence.

The Manifesto defines what it means to be a badass, the benefits, and our shared dream as a community.  So come join us.  Be edgy.  Be vocal. Be playful. Unleash your inner badass.

For a free copy of “The Manifesto,” sign up as a member at www.BadassBusinessWomen.org. Below Jessica shares a glimpse of what to expect.


November 24, 2010

Stuck at the office? Managers are not taking vacation this holiday season

This holiday season is going to be different from years past.

Many workers and managers will sacrifice their long ski vacations
and time hanging around home with the kids. Most will either be at the office, or
completely plugged in through e-mail and voicemail.
   "It's an all hands on deck mentality this year," says Ryan Skubis, district president
for Robert Half International/Office Team in Florida, a consulting firm. Office Team's holiday survey discovered the trend.

 Blame the economy, the job market and the calendar. Most managers say they are too
nervous or overloaded with work to take more than a day off through the end of the year.

 Sales at some companies still haven't rebounded and unemployment remains in the double digits in many states. As a result, higher-salaried managers are unnerved. Is it realistic to be so worried for our jobs? Maybe it doesn't matter. We feel worried. Yet few employers would fire a good performer for taking a vacation day, employment lawyer Terence Connor believes.

Another contributor to this year's Ho-Hum holiday for workers: the calendar. Christmas
and New Year's Day fall on Saturdays. Typically, when Christmas falls mid-week, a manager
or worker might take the whole week off.  But with it landing on Saturday, for most
people, there is no need for any break from the regular work routine.

Those of us who do take time off, likely will stay tethered through electronics. George Boue vice president of HR at Stiles Corp. will take time off before Christmas to spend with his daughters home fo the holiday from college. But he plans to check his email often.

The danger is companies will head into 2011 with a workforce on the verge of burnout. I'm envisioning workplaces where a "Merry Christmas!" elicits dirty looks.

OfficeTeam makes these suggestions to managers:

Make time. Take vacation days when you can and encourage your teams to do the same. Even a day or two can make a difference.

Get backup. Figure out who can handle your tasks while you’re away.

Spread the word. Let others know when you’ll be out and who has been assigned as your point person.

Have a re-entry plan. On your first day back, arrive at work a little early 

November 23, 2010

Lessons from Eneida Roldan, female CEO: getting the top job is only half the battle

Eneida(Eneida Roldan)

The news that Eneida Roldan has resigned as  CEO of Jackson Health System in Miami has got me down. I interviewed Roldan right after she took the top job and was impressed by her. She is a woman who balanced work and family and succeeded. Roldan, a Jackson-trained physician, was the first woman and the first Hispanic to lead the country's public hospital system. She's smart, focused and an advocate for women. I had such high hopes for her.

During her 18-month tenure as CEO, Roldan put up with more intense pressure to stop the hospital's massive losses than most top executives endure over their entire career. The final straw for Roldan was yesterday when a county commissioner questioned her integrity and moral fiber.

Roldan inherited a mess when she took the CEO job and her tenure was marked by severe ups and downs. A grand jury report in August called Jackson a "colossal mess."  The hospital has losses of more than $244 million. Now, I'm not saying Roldan isn't to blame for any of the mess that the hospital system is in. I'm not saying she is to blame. I am just saying that I would have loved to write the story of a successful female CEO, a mother of two, who was able to take on the challenges of running a public health system and making it financially solvent.

Her story reminds me that getting the title of CEO is just one part of the struggle for women. Keeping it, is the more important part.


November 22, 2010

Thanksgiving: Time for a work life balance check in

This year, Thanksgiving feels like just another big to-do on my already too long list. As I prepare for the stampede of relatives that will soon arrive hungry, I'm trying to stay calm, take a step back and be grateful for having a wonderful family. Of course, I'm already mentally stressing about the craziness of the holidays that lies ahead. When will I get my shopping done? 

That makes it an ideal time of the year for a check in with ourselves.

Alexas-Picture Today, my guest blogger, Alexa Sherr Hartley, offers a few great suggestions for conducting that check in. Hartley is an attorney and executive coach who runs premierleadershipcoaching.com, which provides in-person and telecoaching services to individuals and groups. Below is her advice: 

Decide if you are happy. It is important to step back and take an inventory of your professional life.  Ask yourself: Do I have balance in my life?  What are my accomplishments, setbacks and goals? Look inward once a quarter. By taking stock at scheduled intervals, you provide yourself with perspective and give yourself the opportunity to see the big picture.

Reach out for help. If you are out of balance, do something. Many of us refuse help when offered and fail to ask for help when needed.  This is a big mistake – no one can do it all, alone, all of the time.  There is a supportive individual, and in some instances, teams of individuals, behind every woman who obtains her professional goals.  It is insignificant whether the person supporting you is a spouse, nanny, parent, or community resource, but you must have someone.  Delegating certain tasks makes you available for those responsibilities which you truly must perform yourself.  To ensure that you are not forced to decide between your career and your family, reach out to those around you. 

Get emotional support:  What do successful executives or business owners have in common? They have people around them who provide emotional support. It is integral to staying in the game at work. It can be a great comfort to reach out to those in the same boat. Often, we relate best with --and garner strength from-- those who are struggling with similar issues.  Rely on your colleagues and peers for advice; tap into them as a source of information.A formal or informal peer support group is a powerful resource.

Look for role models. Those who have successfully found a balance can be a great example of how you can find that balance too. If you can't find a role model in your work place, look for examples within your industry.

When was the last time you did an work life balance check in? Do you feel like this year family has taken a back seat to work? Are you planning to do anything about it?

November 18, 2010

Is work life balance possible for an entrepreneur?


(From Left to Right: Simona Paige, Jennifer Behar, Laura Paresky Gould) 

When you are building a business, the experience can be overwhelming and work life balance is a huge challenge, according to women entrepreneurs who joined me for the Female-Powered Products Panel during Global Entrepreneurship Week at University of Miami. Three women, each who launched innovative companies in the last five years, said their business takes much more time than they ever imagined.

Simona Paige, founded Gourme Mist which sells an olive oil mister, said even when she isn't actually working on business, she's thinking about it. She says the way she finds balance is by staying organized. "Wearing every hat is difficult. Sometimes you have to delegate. You also have to make sure you aren't growing too quickly. It's about knowing your end goal and how to get there."

Simona also feels being entrepreneur and finding balance is about riding the tide. "Sometimes I'm on all the time, working to midnight, it doesn't stop. Sometimes it's a little slower.

Jennifer Behar founded Jennifer's Homemade, which sells all natural bread sticks and flatbread to large grocery chains and gourmet shops. She said,  "When you are working at building a business, you're operating at a very high adrenaline level, but you can't do it forever. You have to find balance because it's easy to lose yourself."

 In Jennifer's case, she took a step back when she realized her life had become too much about business. "I take an hour for myself to exercise. If I'm not healthy, it isn't good for my family or my business."  A single mom, Jennifer says her daughter has a desk at her workplace where she does her homework after school. "When you start a business, you have to make sure you are all in."

Laura Paresky Gould started Alphabet Goods, which sells personalized products for kids from its website, alphabetplates.com. Her big advantage is no overhead -- she works from home and doesn't have inventory. Her adorable products, such as personalized placemats, feature words in many languages, giving her a worldwide customer base. Laura says balance is a big issue for her. She's trying to do most of her business tasks while her kids are at school or at night from 8 to 11 p.m. "Success for me is a balance of business and spending time with my kids."

During the "Questions From The Audience" part of our discussion, one woman noted that she was an entrepreneur who burned out. She ran a business for six years, put in seven days a week, and never took a day off. She sold her business for $1 million but says she was so stressed when she sold that she has done nothing for the last two years.

Her message rang clear: there is a point which is crossed  when the thing you are most passionate about becomes an addiction.  To be truly successful, you have to take time off from work to gain clarity.

If you are an entrepreneur, what techniques do you find useful for adding more balance?




November 16, 2010

Kerrii Anderson's Career Journey: from bus driver to Wendy's CEO

Imagine growing up on a farm, driving a tractor, then a school bus, and one day becoming CEO ofNew 073  Wendy's International. That sums up the life of Kerrii Anderson, who now sits on four corporate boards at a time when most women are thrilled to land on just one. 

This morning, I had the true pleasure of hearing Kerrii talk about her rise to the top at a meeting of Women Executive Leadership. She told us that she grew up on a farm and drove a school bus at age 16. After high school, she worked for a small supply company. Later, she earned a college degree and went to work for a public accounting firm. She says her financial background served her well. She became CFO of a homebuilder, CFO of Wendy's and eventually rose to CEO at the fast food giant. She held that position for 2 1/2 years until Wendy's merged with Arby's. Anderson, mother of a 17-year-old and a 14-year old, shared her triumphs and missteps with a room full of women and provided some tips on landing a board position.

Here are her thoughts on some timely topics:

On getting ahead: Commit to lifelong learning. Strengthen your qualifications even if you don't want a promotion. Just get better at what you do and become more efficient."

On being CEO: It's lonely at the top.

On work life balance: "I don't like the word balance. I like integration. Balance sounds like you can get it perfect. A lot of times, I spent long hours at work. Then I will shift and spend time at home. For the first time in 17 years, I had lunch with my daughter on her birthday. Being on boards allows me to do that."

On how the dynamics shift with women on boards: "When there's more than one women, we tend to speak up more."

On how to communicate with staff: Give the opportunities to understand how they can add value and you have engaged them.

On four traits needed to succeed: Passion, Vision, Change, Communication.

On relocating with a family: "My husband is my strong supporter. He's CEO of a family business. I've had a nanny for 17 years and always treated her respectfully. I have a performance review with her every year to talk about what is going well and what isn't. I wouldn't make any job change unless she was on board."

On the work ethic of the younger generation: "At Wendy's I had to understand that the shifting workforce in fast food is highly Hispanic and put out more materials in Spanish. I also had to recognize that kids don't want to work in places without new technology."

On getting out of comfort zone for a new position: "Ask yourself, can I learn the job and will I work hard at it."

On female contributions to corporate boards: "In succession planning, we are asking, what does the candidate pool look like. Is there diversity?"

On characteristics that led to her success: Willingness to embrace change and being comfortable knowing what I don't know and learning how to do it.

On how to get on corporate boards: "A lot of it is about relationships. Make sure you are relationship building. Don't burn bridges. That doesn't mean you don't make tough decisions, just do it the right way."

Anderson says she never has stopped to think about the significance of being the first female CFO of Wendy's or the first female CEO. "I just wanted to be the best."


November 15, 2010

George W. Bush on making time for friends

Recently, I had every intention of checking on a friend who is having a tough time and the week went by without my making the phone call.  Shame on me. In balancing work, family and community involvement, making time to nurture friendships requires that extra effort. Former President George W. Bush made me realize how important it is to fit friendship into work life balance.

As a child, when Bush’s younger sister died of leukemia at age 6, he saw how his parents friends gave them solace. He, too, turned to his friends at that time, spending his days riding bicycles and playing baseball with them. Nearly 60 years later, he still considers those playmates among his closest friends.

In in interview with Parade Magazine, Bush tell how close friends later became his relief from stress during trying times as President. He says he depended on them to give him perspective. When I picture Bush, I see his family and his political life. When asked how he managed to find time to maintain friendships, he answered: "There's no magic formula -- you just stay in touch. I've always made it a priority to call, write or see friends when I have time."

For him, the impact of friendships has been huge. Bush, who has a new memoir called Decision Points, says: "Quite often, a conversation with a friend has changed the course of my life."  Have you felt that way, too? I have. Friends often offer perspective in a career decisions or relationships that you just can't get from family. 

In a recent Wall Street Journal article, Sue Shellenbarger goes beyond Facebook to discuss the benefits of deeper friendships. Those benefits include better health. And, as Shellenbarger points out, some friendships change and it's healthier to end them.

But if George and Laura Bush made time for friendships, all of us can. I love this quote from George about the friends who shared his final ride after Obama's inauguration: "They were friends before politics. They were friends during politics. They'll be my friends after politics."

Do you find it increasingly difficult to maintain friendships with more work pressure today? Do you thinksocial networking makes it easier to maintain deep friendships or does it make it too easy to skip the person to person interaction that is important in keeping a friend?


 George W. Bush with parents George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush in 1955. [Photo by Polaris]


November 12, 2010

Employers are screening job candidates credit reports

Imagine being unemployed, falling behind on your bills, and getting turned down for a job because your credit now stinks. It seems so unfair. Shouldn't our personal financial situation be private?

Whether we like it or not, about 60 percent of employers are using candidates credit reports in the job screening process. There are real examples of employers who are turning away a job candidate in favor of another, less qualified one, with a cleaner credit report.

Employers use credit reports to screen workers because they say they believe it allows them to predict future behavior based on their financial history. They believe checking credit reports ensures applicants are leading honest lives.

  “It’s easy to put on a façade, but a credit report doesn’t lie. It’s a credible source to use to get to know an individual,”  Joey Price, a human resources specialist with TW & Co., a security firm told Workforce Management.  

But now there's a Catch-22. Some candidates theses days are out of work for months and may find it hard to avoid racking up debt and fall behind in paying bills. And there are other things that factor in, too. A low credit score also may not indicate anything about job performance if debt problems resulted from a major event such as a divorce or expensive medical procedure.

 Four states have ban the practice of allowing employers to check credit reports —Hawaii, Oregon, Washington and Illinois (effective Jan. 1, 2011)—and 15 other states have proposed similar legislation.

Would you be okay with a future employer scrutinizing your credit report? Do you think it's an acceptable part of backgrounding a potential hire? Or do you feel its personal and not relevant to your ability to perform well in a specific job?

November 10, 2010

How to fit retirement savings into your work life balance

When Joanna Harris started her own South Florida business, CrunchCare, earlier this year, she kept a part time job for one reason: it gave her access to a retirement savings plan.
Unfortunately, most busy women don't even have retirement savings on their radar. We're juggling kids, jobs, elderly parents, spouses and housework. But a peek at the numbers are scary. Too many women are living their senior years in poverty. Less than half of women have any retirement savings. Most mothers today are living paycheck to paycheck or counting on our spouses to save for our golden years. But we need to change that because women earn less over our careers and we live longer. That means we will need more money to retire comfortably.
``Women think retirement savings is one of those things than can always wait,'' says Jan Knight, a financial services advisor with MML Investors Services, in Fort Lauderdale, a MassMutual subsidiary. ``All it takes is to just get started, baby steps.''
Here are a few tips to get started:
Know what you are spending. ``You can't invest if you don't have a surplus,'' Knight says. ``You need to figure out how to save a little, then you can talk about what's the right thing to do with that money.''
Make a retirement plan. Jane Hardwick, a certified retirement coach, says knowing what you want to do when you retire, where you want to live and who you will spend time with paves the way for figuring out how to get there.
Make retirement savings a priority. That may mean stashing away less for a child's college education. ``One of the best ways to help your kids is to put yourself in a position where you are financially OK in your own retirement,'' Hardwick says.
Start young. Women need to start saving sooner than men, as early as their 20s, because by the time they retire they will most likely have been in the workforce 13 fewer years than men, experts say. Financial advisors recommend stashing away 10 percent of your paycheck when you are young and as much as 30 percent when you reach your 60s.

Seek out advice. Look into free classes at community banks or ask for a consultation with a financial planner with the goal of trying to demystify the savings process.

Look into all available retirement savings plans. If you're working, save as much as you can in your company's retirement plan, or in an IRA in which you can make tax-deductible contributions. Most women have to invest more aggressively than men. The average individual balance for men (including all IRA types) was $91,000, while for women it was $51,000. Men also contribute more to Social Security because they are less likely to take time off from their careers.

Check financial statements regularly and readjust as necessary.

If you are like most women, you plan to think about retirement savings later...But later is now!