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10 posts from February 2011

February 25, 2011

Best Careers for Family Caregivers

One day at work, I got a call from the hospital. My elderly aunt was being released and wasn't well enough to go home. She needed to go to a nursing home, the hospital told me. And, it needed to happen within hours. I was the nearest relative and the one who had brought my aunt to the hospital. Suddenly, my life was in a frenzy. I took the afternoon off work and found her a nursing home. But that was just the beginning.

That was about 15 years ago and I had very young kids. I was thrown into the world of family caregiving, raising children and trying to keep my job. Anyone who has been a family caregiver knows how hard it is to balance work and caregiving responsibilities. I am thrilled to read in Smart Money that some employers are pitching in to help their workers who are caregivers.

Below is a snippet of the SmartMoney story. I hope it helps those of you who need this info. If you're not there yet in your life responsibilities, bookmark it for your future.

Best Careers for Family Caregivers


For the 43 million Americans taking care of another adult, climbing the corporate ladder may seem all but impossible. Now, though, help is coming from a surprising corner: Your employer.

A decade ago, few people had ever heard of corporate benefits like elder care leave and caregiving referral services. Now some 10% of companies currently provide them, a percentage experts expect to keep growing. Flex-time, which is critical for dealing with emergencies or monitoring care, is also getting more popular. Almost one in five companies say that in 2011 they plan to add or increase the amount of flex-time options they offer employees, according to a survey by executive search firm Amrop Battalia Winston.

For those that have found caregiving to be a career killer, it's a welcome change.

Read more: Best Careers for Family Caregivers

February 24, 2011

When is it okay to text at the table?


Recently, I had a business meeting over breakfast. One of the participants was texting while the rest of us were engaged in conversation. It offended me -- a lot! I wanted this person to be part of the conversation and I felt like even though she was present, she wasn't really there.

That brings me to the question: when is texting at the table okay?

Is it less acceptable if you are a service provider? Is it more acceptable if you are a CEO? Is it more acceptable if there are more than two people at the table.

I asked my husband, a financial executive at his company, whether he feels it's rude and unprofessional if he's on a business lunch and someone in the group, possibly an overworked attorney, is answering email or texting at the table. My husband told me when that happens, and is has happened, he tries to end the lunch as soon as possible. Even if there's a group, he believes it's not okay.

Not long ago, I would go to lunch with my boss and she would be on her BlackBerry during our lunch, clacking on the keyboard a few times during the meal. For some reason, that didn't offend me. I knew she was an editor in the news business and news happens all the time. I gave her a pass.

Now, I'm starting to rethink whether I should give anyone a pass. If you're outside the office, having lunch or some other meal, can't you disconnect for an hour? Is anyone that important that an hour would make a huge difference? Are we giving too many passes and enabling people to become smart phone addicts by not speaking up?

You might want to think about the message you are sending to your dining companions when you text at the table, even if you aren't part of the direct conversation. Without you realizing it, everyone at the table is judging your manners. 

As a mom, I always have one eye on my cellphone. Over the years, I've received a call or text message when one of my kids are sick and need to be picked up from school. Does being a mom make it okay to text at the table while I'm dining for business? Actually, I don't think being a working mom gets you a pass.  Even a mom with a sick child should excuse herself and go outside to take the call or respond to the text.

Saturday night I was out with friends and my daughter sent me a text about needing a ride home. I texted her back. While doing that, I realized how rude I was being. I didn't like it when it had been done to me. I've decided it's not okay to text or take calls at the table, even during a social meal. The New York Times tackled the topic in an article, Play With Your Food, Don't Just Text.  San Francisco Chronicle critic Michael Bauer says he has no patience for people who text while they eat.

What do you think about texting at the table? Do you think there's a scenario when it's okay? Has texting at the table ever cost you business?

February 23, 2011

Job Search Makeover: Find out where job seekers go wrong

Last week, I met Kimberly Bishop at Starbucks in Fort Lauderdale. Kim is one of the country's top executive recruiters and is based in New York. Her visit to Florida came at the ideal time. I had just completed a column on Buster Castiglia and his wife Esther. Their marriage has been put to the test over the last year as Buster, 67, searches for a new job after 37 years as a banking executive.

Kim and I were talking about her new book and about all the mistakes candidates make in their search. For example, not sending a thank you email the same day is a big no-no, she says. As we talked, I found myself asking her questions about Buster and how someone older might want to approach their job search. I asked Kim if she would work with Buster and allow me to write about it. 

How do you do impress potential employers regardless of your age? Read On.... 



Posted on Wed, Feb. 23, 2011

Job-search makeover for Miami-Dade man

By Cindy Krischer Goodman


A top recruitment expert gives advice on impressing potential employers

Most of us know that job seekers should approach their hunt like they would a job: Set specific hours and allow themselves time off to stay balanced. Buster Castiglia does that. But a year into the search, he needs some expert guidance and I asked Bishop to help.

Because Bishop works from New York and Buster lives in Coral Gables, Castiglia e-mailed his résumé and the two spoke by phone.

Bishop opened the conversation with Castiglia by asking about his ideal job. Castiglia had an answer but it wasn’t succinct. Bishop believes every job seeker should have a crisp answer to this question. “It should flow off your tongue,” she says.

Bishop suggested Castiglia always address salary expectations on an interview. This is a huge area of trepidation for unemployed executives. “I made a six-figure salary for years, but I’m downsizing, selling my home and willing to be flexible,” Castiglia says. Bishop advises Castiglia to reveal his most recent compensation, and follow it with this: “Based on the economy, here would be the range of what I’m looking for now.”

Not addressing compensation or coming across as too flexible is a mistake, she says. “People need a range to figure out if you are in the ballpark.”

Also, address the issue of being overqualified for a position. “Indicate that you are really interested in this position and explain why you want the job and why you would be a great fit.” Bring it up even if they don’t, she says. “Being proactive shows confidence and enthusiasm.”

Bishop also suggests addressing it in a cover letter: “As you see from the résumé, my experience is vast and I could be viewed as overqualified, but I want to tell you why I am interested.”  Read more:

By the way, I highly recommend Kim's Book, Get Down to Business and You'll Get the Job! Here are some more of her job-search tips:Kimberlyb :

  • Be focused and clear about what you are looking for, your goal. Recognize when you may have to take a low-level job and move up to your goal.
  • Establish a job hunting routine and stop at the hour you’ve planned.
  • Create a resume that contains all the information that is necessary to present a complete picture of what you have to offer. Don’t leave out jobs just to condense.
  • Prepare a job search pitch that conveys what skills you possess.
  • Register on LinkedIn. Use a tutorial if necessary.
  • Target recruiters in your area of expertise
  • Do your research before the interview and don’t be vague about your goals.
  • Be straightforward in explaining resume gaps.
  • Make sure you aren’t doing more of the same thing instead of figuring out what you might do better



February 21, 2011

Surviving Manic Monday

You are having your Sunday night dinner when thoughts start to creep in your mind about the work week ahead. Your heart starts to beat a little faster as you think about the dreaded beast known as Monday.

Stressed person This Sunday night creep sparked by the dread of Mondays hits more people than you realize. It apparently has worsened with the uncertain economic times and weak job security. Some people even have physical symptoms such as headaches and stomachaches and  experience the blues. A co-worker of mine, a single mom, told me her whole body starts to feel numb on Sunday night as she gets overwhelmed by all she has to do in the week ahead.

Mary Ann O'Neil, principal of One to One Leadership, a leadership and management consultancy in New York, told CareerBuilder.com:" The real world is about making decisions and managing others. When Sunday night approaches, the fun and relaxed atmosphere of the weekend becomes a faint memory."

When you work from home as I do, I dread Mondays because the house is a mess and I'm left to put it back in order and get back to business. Can any of you work-from-homers relate?

Here are some tips from a variety of experts for avoiding a Manic Monday:

* Plan some weekday relaxation. A mere 15 minutes of "me time" can give you something to look forward to on Sunday night.

* Organize on Friday. Review what you accomplished and what needs to be done the next week. This saves time on Monday morning and might alleviate some of the dread.

* Minimize Mondays. Start of the week in a fun way such as stopping at Starbucks or reading your favorite blog.

* Resist checking e-mail on Sunday nights. 

* Focus on the positives about work. Instead of thinking about deadlines and meetings, think about co-workers you want to talk to or a customer you enjoy being around.

Have you ever experienced anxiety leading up to a Manic Monday?

February 17, 2011

Working moms have sicker kids

Sick kid  
Is my job compromising my kids health? New research says yes.

A new study from North Carolina State University concludes that children of mothers who work outside the home have a significantly higher risk of health problems, accidents and injuries.

Here I am buying organic foods, preparing health meals and getting my kids flu shots. And still, it turns out I'm an inferior mother because I work.

Dr. Melinda Morrill, the N.C. State economics professor who authored the study, warned against making sweeping moral judgments against moms who work outside the home. But she notes that parenting choices involve trade-offs that must be acknowledged. "Maternal employment imposes a burden on a mother's time and may result in the poorer supervision or care of her children," Morrill's study says. "A child's health is at least partially a function of time-intensive activities such as healthy meal preparation and house cleaning."

To me, that explanation is ridiculous. I know stay-at-home mothers whose houses are just as cluttered and dusty or who give their kids just as much fast food as working mothers.

But still, the research findings are ugly and pretty darn comprehensive. The study found  that kids of working moms have a 200 percent increase in the risk of experiencing overnight hospitalizations, asthma episodes and injuries or poisonings. Her research looked at 89,000 kids age 7 to 17, examining 20 years of data from the federal National Health Interview Survey.

This new research runs counter to previous studies that have shown that children of working moms have improved health. Those researchers believed that kids of working moms benefit from increased income, from better health insurance options and from a boost in the mother's self-esteem.

What I think is that working mothers put our kids in child care at an early age. Our kids tend to get sick more because of it.

What I also think is that working mothers are desperate to keep our jobs. Many of us don't have paid sick days or reasonable bosses. So when our child has a cold or cough, we're more likely to send little Johnny to school and tell him to suck it up. The result is our kids doesn't get better as fast as the kid who stays home with mom and rests.

And, it may be true that working moms give our kids more freedom, more independence and maybe in doing so, our kids get injured more. But does that make us inferior?

In the big picture, all kids grow up regardless of how healthy they are as children. Whether our kid has the sniffles more often than the neighbor's kid whose mother didn't work isn't really that important. I believe what is important is whether we parents take the time to teach our children values such as work ethic, responsibility and honesty. Raising productive members of society is what sets good parents apart from the rest, regardless of whether we work outside the home.

What do you think of the study's findings? If money wasn't a concern, would the research change your mind about staying at home with your child or working outside the home?


Making your dream a business

If you think like I do, the ultimate in work life balance is making your dream a business. Which leads me to my pal Jessica Kizorek. Jessica brainstormed and designed a business around her dream of creating a way for women to be more successful by putting some personality into their business persona. Did I mention that Jessica is only 30?

Her site,  BadassBusinessWomen.org , has just turned a year old and Kizorek is celebrating on Friday night with a bash at South Beach's The Pink Room. I can't wait to celebrate with her. The event will  mark the first time all of these Badass Businesswomen will finally be come together face-to-face. And Kizorek says, this will undoubtedly help them build out their relationships, as well as their businesses, even further.

Jessica is getting lots of buzz around her goal. NBCMiami wrote about her party, sponsored by Absolut, and her mission to bring powerful businesswomen together. The entrepreneur says her dream of impacting 1 million women already is well on its way to becoming reality: "When we put our heads together, we can be far more powerful than as individual businesses alone."

During her first year in business, Jessica launched an online community that now has more than 800 members, complied a video library of free advice and facilitated about 10 workshops to empower women. Jessica showed her when delivering two consecutive keynote speeches for the Empowered Women's Success Summit hosted by Michelle Villalobos last year. (FYI: There's another summit coming up May 19-20 and a Badass cocktail party kicking off the event the night of the 19th.)

Jessica shared with me (and now you) some tips for turning your dream into a business.  

1. Spend time and intellecutal effort making a plan of attack. Unless you make a big plan nothing will ever happen.

2. Surround yourself with other people who will help you bring your vision to life.

3. Have to have the discipline it takes to be in action every week when things don't look the way you want them to look.

4. If you are sitting there now and don't know which direction you want to go in, that's an excuse for not being in action. If you really want to be successful, you will sit down today for an hour and plan out how that success is going to unfold over the next three years. 

To join the Badass Businesswomen Community, you can register on Jesscia's website: click here. To see an exclusive sneak peek of the new BadassBusinesswomen music video, click here.

I can't wait to see where Jessica's dream takes her in the next year!

Below: Jessica in action at the Empowered Women's Summit, (photo credit: Anais Ganouna Photography)



February 15, 2011

Men who work for their wives

What would it be like to work for your wife? Awkward? Fun? You would be surprised how many men have gone to work at a business their wives run.

I wrote a column about it in 2006 and love this quote from Nan Langowitz, who was director of the Center for Women's Leadership at Babson College:"There is no reason not to take advantage of good skill sets in the form of a husband."

Yesterday, in honor of Valentine's Day, the Wall Street Journal published a piece on husbands and wives that work together --- for better or worse. The article says that while some sweethearts can handle the dual pressure of building a relationship and a company, many others warn it's a difficult path. In one of the examples, the business/marriage combo turned out disastrously.

Coincidentally, I happened to be on the phone yesterday with Tom Shea CEO and Managing Principal, Right Management Florida/Caribbean Region. He works with his wife, Maureen.I asked Tom what he thinks it takes to work together, live together and stay balanced and sane. 

What works for us? Defining our roles in the company, maintaining separate areas of responsibility, and clearly communicating those roles to our associates, he said. For example, his wife, CFO of Right Management Florida/Caribbean, handles all internal office issues. Tom handles all matters on the client side and attends community events. The both love their jobs.

Tom says there are times when he or his wife don't want to talk business at home or discuss personal stuff at work. "One of us will say,  'I don’t want to go there now,' and the other person will respect that."

In the Sheas' case, the couple work together. Here is the column I wrote in Nov. 2006 that featured husband that worked for their wives:

  Juan Ortiz wasn't really thrilled about customers knocking on his door at all hours looking for his wife or phone calls that interrupted his dinner. In fact, he outright discouraged his wife from working for Avon, even though the couple desperately needed money.

But with Cecilia's determination, a six-figure income started streaming in as she built a base of more than 800 representatives beneath her. Three years ago, Juan quit his job in construction and joined his wife.
"It's been a little hard for him that I'm the boss, but he realizes the money has changed our lives, " Cecilia says.
More women appear to be hiring their spouses as employees. Some 33 percent of U.S. businesses are owned by women, a number that increased 14 percent in the last five years, according to the Center for Women's Business Research. More women are taking over family businesses or building independent sales networks, too.
For some of these women, the obvious solution to staffing issues is at home: their husbands. With businesses now that support it, "There is no reason not to take advantage of good skill sets in the form of a husband, " says Nan Langowitz, director of the Center for Women's Leadership at Babson College.
Handbag designer Kate Spade has done it. So has Airborne creator Victoria Knight-McDowell and Baby Einstein Co. founder Julie Aigner-Clark.
Sharing both a bed and a workplace with someone is never easy. Couples say the key to harmony is role definition. Unlike the behind-the-scenes jobs that women traditionally have held in their husband's businesses, men who join their wives' firms typically carve out managerial positions with clout and separate areas of responsibility.
Cecilia Ortiz is the face of her Avon empire, recruiting sales agents in the neighborhood supermarket or offering cafecito to customers visiting her Miami Lakes home cluttered with boxes full of hand creams and wrinkle reducers. Juan handles customer service, checking computer records and enrolling new sales agents on their team.
Cecilia says her marriage benefits with her husband in the business. It allows the couple, married 35 years, to spend time together and take off on vacations whenever they choose.
Cecilia believes Latin women in particular reach their goals at Avon faster when they have their husband's support. So in courting and mentoring new sales agents, she pitches the husbands, too.
But balance can get tricky when both partners are living and breathing the business. Tamara Monosoff, founder of Mom Inventors, said she and her husband, Brad Kofoed, set ground rules when he left a sales career to join as president of her successful company.
"We can't talk about business in the bedroom, " Monosoff says. That means, if one partner is lying awake at midnight thinking about a work issue, he or she can't turn and ask the other, "Did you see that e-mail?" says Monosoff. "The other person has to remind them and say, 'We'll talk about it in the office in the morning.' "
Maintaining professional decorum can be a challenge, too.
In the 10 years since Rich Brown joined his wife's $10 million destination management company, Welcome Florida, he has played down their relationship. His wife, Lynn Griffith, who had operated the business 14 years when he joined, says they do this because "it doesn't look as mom and pop." Also, it makes it easier for her to become an intermediary with a client, if necessary.
Of course, employing a spouse also creates the potential for bruised egos or conflicts over who has final say on which decisions.
Brown says he and his wife have different strengths, and he can live with his wife having the upper hand at work. "I'm not the face of business with most clients, and that can be a challenge to the ego." But more of a challenge, he says, is constantly redefining separation. Griffith agrees: " When you're the boss all day, it's hard sometimes to be feminine at night when you get home."
Clearly, the stakes are high financially and emotionally. But when it works, there's unique power in couples combining their strengths. Recently, Avon worldwide recognized Cecilia Ortiz for being a role model in empowering other women to succeed. It acknowledge her husband's role, too.
"They make a great team, " says Rosa Moya-Suarez, an Avon manager. "He knows just as much about Avon as she does."


Could you work with your spouse? I admit, I don't think my marriage would survive it.

February 09, 2011

Marriage in a 24/7 world

Last week my hubby was furious with me. Every time he wanted my attention, I was glued to my cell phone, texting or deleting email. I'm not really a workaholic but these smart phones are so addictive. Yet, marriage therapist say they see an increase in spouses who feel lonely, ignored by a spouse who is physically there but mentally in cyperspace.

As I point out in my Miami Herald column today, in the 24/7 working world, our spouses have to compete with a computer screen for our attention. The good news is that couples are figuring out how to deal with this infringement on romance...mostly by setting boundaries.

For advice on marriage in the digital age, I turned to one of my favorite relationship experts, Joel Block.

Block had two especially great tips:

1. Become more efficient at being intimate: "If you are putting on your socks in the morning, say something about the day ahead, but speak from the heart about your worries or hopes."

2. Treat your partner like your boss, turn away from your screen and make eye contact. To communicate your needs as the spouse who wants attention, don't nag. "Make a plan to spend time together. That's much better than the blame message," Block says.

3. Meet your spouse where your spouse is. For example, if your spouse is addicted to his BlackBerry, communicate with him throughout the day by email. If your spouse loves to text, send romantic text messages.

4. If you want one on one attention, ask for it. Sometimes all your spouse needs is a reminder. Of course, that may mean sending a text -- from the next room!

5. About.com says find things your spouse enjoys to do to tempt your partner to put away his iPhone and enjoy time together.






February 07, 2011

Arianna Huffington on sleep deprivation and breakfast meetings

Arianna Huffington says she recently tried to arrange a breakfast meeting with an executive. She suggested 8 a.m. He agreed calling it "late" but saying at least it would give him a chance to play a few rounds of tennis and make a call to London.

Arianna says busy professionals today are engaging in sleep deprivation one-upmanship. I have to agree. I talked to two men last week who told me they regularly get by on 4 hours of sleep. It's almost as if sleep deprivation is a badge of honor. What these professionals might not realize is "getting by" is different from thriving and making great decisions.

In the quest for work life balance, sleep has become expendable. Arianna says she was at dinner with a man who bragged that he had just jetted into town and only slept a few hours. After a jam packed day, he was planning to jet off again. "He told me he only had 4 hours sleep. What I wanted to tell him was that our dinner would have been more interesting if he had gotten five."

Below is Arianna speaking out on sleep deprivation from a video clip on AOL.com. Next time you think about setting an early morning meeting, remember that sleep deprivation one-upmanship isn't a game everyone wants to play.

February 02, 2011

The Best Part-Time Jobs for retirees

As people live longer, the quest for work life balance is following us into our golden years. I came across an article on SmartMoney.com and just had to share it with you. It highlights the best part-time jobs for retirees. The 13 jobs listed  have relatively good pay, offer flexibility, make use of professional-level skills, and aren't too hard to get.

The jobs pay from $10 an hour to $100 an hour and range from project consultant to patient advocate to adjunct professor.

Regardless of age, work life balance is about finding fulfillment. To see the full list, click here.