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13 posts from April 2012

April 27, 2012

Making Healthy Lifestyle Choices When Struggling with Work-Life Balance

Last night, I hit a work life balance low.

I realized this low point when my family was eating store-brand lasagna and it was still partially frozen. I yelled at them to eat it anyway. The desire is there on my part to serve healthy meals and encourage exercise. I buy produce from an organic buying club. I try to buy organic meats and poultry. I make lots of veggies with dinner. But then, a night like last night comes along when I'm shuttling kids in different directions and I enter desperation mode. When that happens, I'm always mad at myself for not being better organized. We can all be more health and environmental conscious if we plan for it.

That's why I'm particularly excited to introduce my guest blogger today. Carrie Wells, huppiemama@gmail.com,  is a wife, mother of two, and educational consultant. She founded her website Huppie Mama  in 2010 to share information regarding natural living and child development. Below is her take on a welcome topic:



Making Natural, Healthy Lifestyle Choices When Struggling with Work-Life Balance

 Prior to having children, I was the type of woman who worked full-time, went to school full-time, and had a part-time job. Somehow I still managed to get a healthy dinner on the table for my husband and me each night.

When I was pregnant with my daughter, I made the decision to leave my full-time position and be a work-at-home mom, eventually balancing two part-time jobs while parenting two children, a toddler and an infant. As an educator and daughter of a stay-at-home mom, it was so important for me to be there for my children. I wanted to help them reach each early milestone and be there to celebrate all of those special moments.

I also desired to teach them to be environmentally-conscious, healthy individuals. Because I do work from home, our funds are limited, which contributes to my desire to choose reusable and sustainable products. Some of the decisions we made for our family required little-to-no additional effort or planning, like recycling, shopping with reusable bags, and buying eco-friendly household cleaners. Some of them involved a true commitment to natural living, like breastfeeding both of our children, using cloth diapers, and cooking wholesome, balanced meals daily.

Now, I don’t expect everyone to ditch their comfy homes in suburbia and opt for a more rural setting where they can grow their own local produce and milk their own cows. That’s certainly not a choice I have made for my family, but I do admire those who have. I present to you some simple things to keep in mind so that you can live a more natural lifestyle, with an emphasis on health and environmental-consciousness:

  • Shop locally for food as often as possible. The recent surge of farmer’s markets and smaller grocery stores in South Florida makes it so much easier to shop for locally-harvested produce and meats, locally-caught fish, and specialty products like honey and oils. Plan your meals for the week on Sunday so that you don’t have to struggle daily to pull something together. Incorporate seasonal ingredients to maximize flavors and freshness.


  • When buying toys for your children, try to get the most ‘bang for your buck.’ Consider purchasing toys made of sustainable materials, like wood, metal, and cotton. Also, think about how long a child will be able to use the toy from a developmental standpoint, thus reducing the waste when the toy is no longer useful to your family. Remember, too, that toys made of durable materials make great donations to local charities.


  • Check your community’s recycling program. My community collects cardboard, paper, metals, plastics, and glass. Large grocery stores often have recycling bins at the front of the store to collect plastic bags and foam packages. You have to throw your trash away somewhere, so making the choice to recycle is such an easy one.


  • Opt for reusable versions of products. This could include cloth diapers instead of disposables, cloth kitchen towels instead of paper towels, reusable shopping bags instead of plastic or paper bags, and reusable water bottles instead of disposable water bottles. While some of these may require additional up-front costs and effort to clean them, you also don’t have to worry about running out and having to purchase them last minute.


  • Set aside meaningful time to get outdoors with your family. We are so fortunate in South Florida to have beautiful parks, amazing beaches, and warm weather year-round. Take advantage of this by planning outdoor play dates with friends, picnics with your children, and maybe even some time for gardening in your own backyard. Your family will treasure these special times together!


Between raising a family, working to earn an income, and running a household, life can be challenging! However, each day, we are asked to make choices. When there is a healthier, more natural option that requires little to no additional effort, that choice should be an easy one. Remember, if we model positive natural practices for our children, they will learn to do the same when they are independent.



April 26, 2012

Do We Need A Take Your Child To Work Day?

Call me the grinch.

I'm questioning the need for Take Your Child to Work Day. I begged my youngest child to go to school. I even considered a bribe. My older kids have too much school work to even consider asking me.

So, here I am, trying to be productive with my son asking me a million questions for every small assignment I give him. Bah Humbug!

Poll most parents and they will tell you that even though we proudly strut our kids around our offices, we know this will be one of the most unproductive workdays for us.

As Lisa Belkin points out: When Ms. Magazine created "Take Our Daughters To Work Day" 20 years ago, it was a statement of how far girls had still to go. We wanted them to see the possibilities in the workplace.

When the name was changed to "Take Our Sons And Daughter To Work Day" in 1993, it was a measure of how far girls had come. Our girls were going places and we wanted to make sure our boys went too.

And today, as 37 million kids visit 3.5 million workplaces across the country, it is a chance to reflect on where all our children are going next. I'm not sure we know where that will be.

Today, boys and girls understand the expectations on them. They understand they are expected to do more than "hang out" after they finish high school. As we bring our kids with us to work, what are we trying to show them? Our professions?

Many of us don't want our kids to choose the profession we have selected.  I am one of them. I brought my younger kids to the newsroom. What did they see? An industry that's struggling to figure out where it's going and disgruntled journalists who fear future rounds of layoffs.  Experts say its more unlikely than ever that children will go into whatever line of work their parents did.

I'd like my children to learn work ethic and passion for their jobs. At many companies, Take Your Child to Work Day activities have been cut back or eliminated. So it will be up to parents to occupy our kids. Most likely, at some point, we will resort to allowing them to play on an electronic device. Will that teach them work ethic?

How about passion for their jobs? Can they learn that in a day?

At best, I hope they will learn where mom or dad is and what he or she is doing when they're at school. The rest of the lesson --that most of us work hard to balance our jobs and our families, treat others with respect, and be the best we can be at what we do -- comes from the everyday conversation we have with our children. It's those conversations that can help point our kids to what they want to become in the future.

I don't think Take Your Child to Work Day has become what it's founders intended. But for those who work grueling schedules, if nothing else, at least it's one more day we can spend with our kids.


April 25, 2012

Are You Ready for Generation Z in the workplace?

You think your work life juggle is tough? Try being a teen who works, goes to school, participates in sports and community service and gets good grades. I talked to some who are doing that quite successfully. They're proving that the iGeneration may be the most impressive generation.

Instead of writing the traditional Take Your Child to Work Day story, I wanted to talk to teens for my Miami Herald column who actually had jobs. When I did, every teen I spoke with told me having a job has matured them. Whether they need the money or like the money they earn - or both- these teens are getting much more than a paycheck. I always have wanted my kids to think of school and good grades as a priority. What I discovered is work experience can be just as valuable.

These teens are teaching their employers a thing or two about what the next generation of workers expect. If want want happy employees, workplaces are going to have to accommodate the iGeneration -- and that could mean some drastic changes in how we do business.

The Miami Herald

A new generation in the workplace

By Cindy Krischer Goodman

   Tiffany Fernandez is a teen who works for clothing designer Alexis Barbara in her Miami design shop.
Patrick Farrell/ The Miami Herald
Tiffany Fernandez is a teen who works for clothing designer Alexis Barbara in her Miami design shop.
Overwhelmed with school exams, Tiffany Fernandez picked up her cellphone and did what any teen might do to let her boss know she can’t make it to work — she sent a text message.

Tiffany, 17, has held her job for two years as an assistant in Miami clothing designer Alexis Barbara’s office and brings her generation’s mind-set to the workplace. Tiffany considers the tiny touch screen in her hand, her cellphone, crucial to business communication. She will use it to discuss scheduling with her supervisor, receive receipts from vendors and negotiate a pickup time with her mom.

“In business, you have to be on top of everything,” she says.

This week, as the nation celebrates Take Your Child to Work Day, some teens are going beyond a daylong glimpse into the working world. Members of the iGeneration, born after 1990, are landing their first jobs, and bringing their obsession with online connectivity and multitasking into the workplace.

There probably isn’t a company in America that isn’t wrestling with managing different generations. Baby boomers, Gen X, millennials: they all seem to want something different. Now, here comes the iGeneration, also known as Generation Z, with its own distinct way of walking, talking and working. Generational expert Cam Marston predicts a need to manage expectations on both sides.

“They will have to get used to email and, God forbid, picking up the phone and calling,” says Marston of Generational Insights. “But at the same time, employers will have to get used to the fact that they may choose to text message even if they’re standing next to you.”

Most of the teens I spoke with who have jobs know they are fortunate. Many of their peers want part-time or hourly work but are being turned away. The increase in minimum wage and higher unemployment among adults has caused experienced workers to claim entry-level positions, leaving fewer jobs open for teens. Indeed, about 4.2 million 16- to 19-year-olds hold jobs today, compared with 5.8 million five years ago. The majority of those jobs remain part-time positions.

It is that realization that has affected how teens approach work. Even so, they want the workplace to accommodate them — their schedules, opinions and style of interaction — just as their technology does. Yet most are open to the lessons the business world may offer.

“I learned that when they give me something to do I have to make sure it’s completely right or someone will attack you for it,” Tiffany said. “I hate being reprimanded. When I do something, I’ve learned to double-check it, that a mistake is not a joke. It has matured me a lot.”

Lee Orlinsky, 17, took a part-time job at Einstein’s in Plantation about a year ago, and says he, too, has learned from real-world business experience. “It’s very different to go from being the customer to helping the customer.” Lee said. He has also discovered that having hundreds of Facebook friends doesn’t teach you interpersonal skills and sometimes you have to interact with co-workers and customers “whether you like them or not.”

Yet, Lee realizes he brings something to the workplace even the millennial generation doesn’t always offer: “I can relate to the teens that come in.”

Even more, Lee has helped move supervisors toward the style of communication the iGeneration expects. Much like Tiffany, he will text message his supervisor to learn his work schedule for the week or express a conflict or interest in extra hours.

“It’s easier for her, she doesn’t have to stop what she’s doing to talk to me,” he said. “She can text me back on her own time.”

Like the generations before them, teens are grappling with balancing work and their personal lives. Kalif Fletcher, 17, plays basketball for Piper High in Sunrise, maintains a full-time class schedule, has a girlfriend and works as a sales specialist at Levi’s outlet in Sawgrass Mills mall. Kalif said school is his priority, but he feels more independent and more mature since he started earning a paycheck a year ago.

“I learned that if you work hard, you stand out,” he said. With dreams of being a chemist, Kalif also learned he wants fulfillment from work, which was not necessarily a priority for prior generations like the boomers. “Whatever job I have, I’ve got to be happy.”




Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/04/24/v-print/2766056/new-generation-in-workplace.html#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/04/24/v-print/2766056/new-generation-in-workplace.html#storylink=cpy

April 23, 2012

When the office walls come down: Can you handle lack of privacy?

Open workspace

One day, I was typing away on my keyboard when I got the call that makes a working mother cringe. My kids were having a fight and one of them wanted me to referee -- from my office cubicle. An open newsroom isn't the most private place to do that and everyone could hear exactly how I was handling the situation.

"You let your brother use your computer for the next half hour," I screamed at my daughter. I remember a single reporter sitting nearby who gave me that I'm-never-having-kids look. I hated the lack of privacy.

Yet, I enjoyed the upside of the office layout. It benefitted me when a co-worker overheard my efforts to find a source for a story I had been working on, and chimed in with the perfect person.

Now the open workspace concept is spreading beyond newsrooms making the semi-privacy of the office cubical a nostalgic dream. Companies like Burger King and U.S. Foods are tearing down the walls in favor of communal workspace. About 70 percent of workers now work in open-plan offices and more companies are considering it, according to a recent news article.

The goal is to increase collaboration among workers and managers. 

Last week Jill Granat, general counsel of Burger King, said when new owners took over her company, one of the first changes was to knock down the walls. "At first your workers will hate it. Then they'll love it," Granat said. She said the arrangement has made her much more productive. She holds fewer meetings, sends fewer emails and can make quicker decision. If you want to ask someone a question, you can tell right away if they're at their desk and just ask them, she said. 

But Granat also admitted her privacy is gone. That can be huge for working parents.

When the walls are low  and the team clustered together, everyone can see what you eat for lunch, when you get up to go to the restroom. They can hear what you say to your spouse and what tone you use. It can seriously affect your work life balance if you feel uncomfortable speaking to your child care provider with your boss overhearing your conversation.

Is workplace privacy a thing of the past? We already have seen our employers monitoring our emails and use of social media. Now, with this trend, should we just get used to having less privacy at work? We we resort to stealth measures...I bet there are a lot of workers sneaking outside to make personal phone calls. Doesn't that cause lost productivity?

Readers, what do you think about the walls coming down? Does this type of workspace make you more productive? Does it weed out the slackers, especially those who cause you to work later? Is the trade off, lack of privacy, worth the benefits?

April 19, 2012

Are men better networkers?

Men network

I was at the Greenberg Traurig Women's Business Forum today listening to a panel discussion on strategies to advance women in the global workplace when someone said something that took me aback.

Greenberg Traurig Executive Director Cesar Alvarez said men are better networkers. He said this after being asked about the small percentage of women at his powerhouse law firm that are equity partners. Only about 12 percent of the law firm partners and top billers are women. 

Alvarez really didn't elaborate on why he believes men are better networkers, he just said it matter of fact. But some women in the audience started to speculate that men are better because women don't have time to network. (They're busy with family responsibilities and work life balance concerns!) Other said women network for "friendships"  or "relationships" rather than to ask for business.

Alvarez said women make a mistake. They think they need to target their networking efforts to other women, which he believes cuts them off the majority of decisions makers. He even said women need to think like men when it comes to networking and making sales pitches. 

Personally, I think Alvarez is right. Men are better networkers because they're not afraid to ask for things in business. It's not that they're better at schmoozing. It's that they're better at schmoozing and turning it into business. Men ask. They ask for client work. They ask for raises, promotions, plumb assignments and if they get turned down, it's no big deal. They know how to deal with rejection because it's a byproduct of the competitive nature of men. They don't take it personally. Women are way behind in this area. But we're working on it. 

Readers, what do you think, are men better networkers? If so, why?

April 18, 2012

Cyber-snooping: How online spying has permeated the workplace

The other day, a friend of my was ecstatic. Her cyber-snooping paid off. She had been watching the activity of a prospective client on Foursquare and noticed check into a particular restaurant often at lunchtime. So, she cold called the client and invited her out to lunch at the restaurant. The prospect agreed to the lunch. 

It got me thinking about all the ways we are using online information to give us a leg up in the workplace. It's almost like the line between our work lives and our personal lives is gone. Everything we do online is out there for the world to see -- and that includes your boss or your competitor.

Coincidentally, I discovered today is National Stalking Awareness Day.  It's one of the top trending topicson Twitter. Clearly, there's a huge difference in cyber-stalking and cyber-snooping. Stalking is done out of obsession or as harassment.  Spying or snooping is done more for financial or career gain.

Today, in my Miami Herald column, I wrore about  workplace cyber-spying on the rise. I've received lots of email so far, both for and against online snooping. Are you a cyber-snooper? Do you think we all need to be?


The Miami Herald

Cyber-spying on the rise

By Cindy Krischer Goodman

When Linda Trottman’s husband landed a promotion at his company, a co-worker congratulated her on it a few days later. Trottman says she hadn’t even realized her colleague monitored her husband’s profile on LinkedIn, a professional-networking site, where he had posted his new title. “It hit me that he was targeting my husband’s previous position,” she said.

We keep tabs on our favorite celebrities on Twitter. We check what are friends are up to on Facebook. We scope out potential dates on Match.com. And now our new habit of cyber-spying has permeated the workplace.

As social media explodes and information comes to us in the palm of our hand, we can’t resist using what we glean from the Web to gain a leg up in business. We now have the ability to go online to see who got the job we wanted, whether a co-worker spent the weekend golfing with the boss or what new marketing gimmick our competitor might be offering.

“People should be aware of what’s happening in their companies and their industries,” said Vanessa McGovern, an independent LinkedIn Strategist/Business Consultant. “It makes good business sense

Today, more people share information about their lives through status updates, location check-ins and résumé changes. Overall, more than 66 percent of Internet users participate on social networking sites as of February 2012, up from 46 percent in 2009.

Vigilant monitoring of online activity led one Miami advertising agency owner to discover her largest client was unfaithful. “I saw a new skill in a competitor’s LinkedIn profile mentioning her work for my client. It turned out she had gotten some project work, but I wouldn’t have known that if I wasn’t monitoring the Web closely,” she says. Another small business owner told me she noticed a client whose business she wanted regularly checked into a particular restaurant on Foursquare. She invited the client out to lunch at the restaurant, casually mentioning it was her own favorite dining spot.

Many companies see social networks as mere distractions for their employees, but there are those who recognize the tremendous opportunity they represent as a research tool. Heiko Dobrikow, general manager at the historic Riverside Hotel in Fort Lauderdale, closely watches the online activity of his competitors, his critics and his employees. He uses the information to gauge his hotel’s reputation, check out what his employees are saying and background anyone he plans to partner with in business.

“There is no more privacy out there; everything is out in the open,” he says. “You have to have your finger on the digital pulse.” By keeping tabs on competitors, Dobrikow says he got the idea to make his hotel pet-friendly and gained insight into how to promote the feature. “I spend a lot of time online gathering intelligence to make better, faster business decisions.”

Andrew K. Levi, head of the Miami office of Nardello & Co., often gets hired to dig up a person’s or business’ online trail either before they enter into a partnership or afterward, particularly if a company suspects foul play. “We’re almost at the point where business owners won’t do business with anyone they can’t find a background for online.”

With employers, bosses and competitors spying on each other, how do workers and employers adapt and keep private what they don’t want public? Is it even possible anymore? Just a few months ago, Hewlett-Packard’s Vice President Scott McClellan inadvertently tipped off competitors when he mentioned the computer maker’s new Web-storage initiative in his profile on LinkedIn. The information was later removed, though not before rivals got a look at the plans.

McGovern says business owners, executives andemployees should assume they’re being watched, and use caution when they share information. If you start a side business and want to market it online, assume your boss will find out and address it. For example, “You might say my background is in X and I work as a full time X, but on top of that I’m passionate about jewelry. On the weekends and evenings I love to share my time with women who also love jewelry. If you’re interested, contact me between these hours.”

With most recruiters and hiring managers admittedly using social media to screen job candidates, McGovern teaches workers how to use LinkedIn to their advantage, too. “If you were up for a position and see on LinkedIn that someone else got it, go to that person’s profile and see what his background is,” McGovern suggests. “That gives you a benchmark to be more desirable. That’s a power five years ago you didn’t have and it can be a huge advantage.”


Read more.....


Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/04/17/v-print/2754397/cyber-spying-on-the-rise.html#storylink=cpy


April 17, 2012

What the Urban Meyer controversy teaches us about business


To be a great leader, you need charisma. But most of all, you need integrity.

I used to think Urban Meyer, University of Florida's former football coach, was a great leader, a great coach.  Now, I question whether he is or ever was what he appeared to be. And, whether he has the integrity to be a leader.

Would you play for Meyer?

After he won two national championships in six years at Florida, Meyer resigned -- claiming burn out. Publicly, he said he wanted to spend more time with family and concentrate on health issues. That lasted less than a year when he announced he was taking the job of head coach at Ohio State.  (Clearly his desire for better work life balance and a concern for his health was a bunch of hogwash!)

Anyway, just last week Sporting Good News picked apart Meyer's tenure as Florida coach in a story titled: Did Urban Meyer Break Gator's Football? One of the biggest allegations in the article is that Meyer left behind a broken team. (click here to see video)

The article says as Florida coach, Meyer had created a culture of resentment. It says he enabled and pandered to his elite players, his “Circle of Trust” Once you were in the inner circle, you were treated more favorably, your infractions downplayed. After a while, the concept of an inner circle began to contribute negatively toward team chemistry.

Isn't that the same problem we see in many businesses?

Have you worked for a CEO who has a circle of trust, a management team that seems way too clubby? I have and I know that once someone makes it into a CEO's inner circle, they are going to get preferential treatment. And, once they do, they will never question the boss's integrity and they will get away with things that other workers won't. If the favoritism is blatent, it's going to be resented by the rest of the employees and it will destroy any attempts at team work.

Meyer described his star players as the team's hard workers. A CEO might do the same.

Here's what Meyer said in response to the Sporting News article:  "When you start saying preferential treatment to players, that's probably a correct statement. We did do that. We do that here. We did it at Bowling Green and Utah," said Meyer, mentioning his previous coaching stops while speaking Wednesday on the Big Ten coaches spring teleconference. "If you go to class, you're a warrior, you do things the right way off and on the field, and you're completely committed to helping us win, you're going to get treated really good."

So, how do you survive in a culture where the CEO-anointed stars get preferential treatment or get away with behavior that should not be tolerated?  How do you thrive rather than letting the culture destroy your outlook on your work and home life?

One word: integrity. Stick to your guns, do your best, keep your feelers out for a better job, and know that eventually this type of culture will implode. It did at Florida. It did at a long list of companies I could rattle off.

For a business to thrive, you need true team work, and that only happens when the culture is created around it. Eventually, in workplace cultures like the one fostered by Meyer-- either the CEO resigns or is forced out, or the company performs so poorly that it needs to restructure.

Now the question is, did Meyer learn from the past? Do any CEOs learn from their mistakes?

One fan recently posted, "Meyer is a hell of a coach, but not a great person." I say, to be truly successful, you have to be both.


April 11, 2012

Building a business through social media: Tech-savvy moms figuring it out

About a year ago, I started a blog with a friend called RaisingTeensBlog.com. I am trying to build readership and the brand. But I don't have to try to hard to find examples of other women who have figured it out how to create online success stories.

Last week, I went to SheStreams where I was surrounded by women who were on panels talking about how they're using LinkedIn, holding Twitter parties, using video and podcasts to take their websites  and blogs to the next level. I felt like a tech amateur. But I plan to learn from them.

Today, I wrote about the success of tech-savvy moms and their home businesses. I'd love to hear your suggestions on what you think I should be doing on my RaisingTeens blog to be as successful as the women in my article.

The Miami Herald

Moms are building mini-empires online

By Cindy Krischer Goodman

   Teana McDonald of Margate, shown with her daughter Elise, was inspired to start her company ater making hair accessories for her daughter.
(Teana McDonald of Margate, shown with her daughter Elise, was inspired to start her company ater making hair accessories for her daughter.)
Last week, I sat in awe in a room full of women — most of them moms — who are powerful influencers reaching giant audiences. They are doing that through a variety of social media platforms and creating small media empires — from their homes.

Through Internet postings, vocal opinions and business acumen, these tech-savvy women have amassed millions of online followers and captured the attention of the big brands. They are doing it on their own schedules — in between scout meetings and soccer games — and redefining what it means to be working moms.

“These moms have actually made it acceptable to run businesses out of the home,” said Maria Bailey, CEO of BSM Media and founder of the SheStreams conference I attended in Fort Lauderdale.

As I listened to the women talk about their successes, I realized an evolution has occurred. A decade ago, the first phase of mom businesses began rolling out. Moms were starting Internet sites and blogs to stay connected to civilization as they dealt with diapers, temper tantrums, potty training and teething.

“The assumption was they were running little businesses from their bedrooms,” Bailey says. But these pioneers found an audience among other mothers, a powerful demographic coveted by big consumer companies. Now these moms are running half-million dollar businesses out of their home and that’s acceptable, even professional, Bailey says.

Today’s home-based business owners are podcasting, vlogging, marketing through Facebook, holding Twitter parties, pinning on Pinterest, creating YouTube channels, publishing newsletters and reaching across the digital sphere. They have used social media and their relationship-building skills to catapult their careers to the next level. Brands like Disney, Hewlett Packard and Ford have taken notice.

“These moms are cyber celebrities selling their identities and endorsements,” says Bailey, who personally connects with more than 8 million parents a month through her podcasts, radio show and websites. “They give advertisers the ability to reach moms through multiple channels.”

Take Abbie Schiller, CEO and founder of The Mother Company, for example. Four years ago, she left her high-paying job in media relations at ABC News in Los Angeles to start her online parenting company. She actually funded the company with a mission — “helping parents raise good people” — by reaching out to 22 parents who she convinced to make an investment. Today, The Mother Company (www.themotherco.com) operates a parenting website and sells a line of children’s products that includes books, shows (on DVD and download), dolls and apps. It reaches hundreds of thousands of mothers a month and has products in Whole Foods.

“Our investors saw the opportunity in creating media opportunities for parents and children. That’s not something a corporation can do well. It’s something a mom can do well,” Schiller says. “Now we have companies clamoring to see how they can be involved in what we’re doing.” In only two years, The Mother Company has attracted Fortune 500 sponsors and advertisers including The Gap and Johnson & Johnson. Schiller plans to expand further by offering an interactive digital platform for children.

As social media explodes, these early adopters with legions of fans see the wave as an opportunity to not just hop on and ride, but to lead.

When Teana McDonald of Margate became a mom, she began making adorable hair accessories for her young daughter. Soon after, she decided to start My Little Diva Accessories from her home, and later expanding into showrooms. To attract more customers, she created a Facebook page and became active on Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest. Within a few months, she had engaged thousands of other mothers online, and her audience still continues to grow. She’s about to launch an online TV show, 3 Loud Women, too.

“People buy from people they like, moms especially,” McDonald says. However, she says building an online brand has become competitive as more mothers have discovered the opportunities. “They’re realizing it’s a big bubble that’s not going to burst.”

Recently, McDonald began talking about her online success with other women business owners and that led to her new business, Get It Done Divas, as a social media marketing specialist. Her most common advice: “You have to figure out what platforms are good for your business.”

Cristy Clavijo-Kish says the same phenomenon is sweeping through the Hispanic community of online moms. Not only does Clavijo-Kish run her own bilingual blog and resource site for multicultural parents of tweens, called Los Tweens, she also co-founded Latina Mom Bloggers. Latina Mom Bloggers is the go-to place for Hispanic online moms to learn new ways to leverage social media presence and partner with top brands for social media campaigns, product reviews, ambassador programs and advertising. Even more, Clavijo-Kish sits on the management team of Hispanicize.com, which offers services to social media marketers and bloggers including a conference in Miami this week.

“Latina moms are learning, from mainstream moms,” Clavijo-Kish says. They are choosing niches for which they have a passion, using conferences for learning opportunities and figuring out how to find sponsorships and advertisers. “They are starting to make money.”

Linda Carmona-Sanchez says she finally realized what these savvy online moms have figured out — anyone who wants the business of young parents must embrace the web. Last week, Carmona-Sanchez attended a Google sponsored workshop in Miami to create a website for her alliance of child-care providers (childcareflorida.org). She plans to take what she learned at the workshop and help day care operators build their websites. “The belief has been the best advertising is word of mouth,” Carmona-Sanchez said. “Not anymore. Parents will talk to each other, but they are more tech savvy and will also look you up online.”

As moms begin to see financial payoffs for online efforts, they’re starting to understand the tradeoffs. While they have flexibility and time with their kids, most say they work late into the night and through weekends. Bailey says 80 percent of mom moguls work online regularly from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. The sacrifice, typically, is time to sleep and time spent with their spouse.

“Having ongoing, good content takes work,” says Clavijo-Kish. “Sometimes though, I just have to learn to walk away.”



April 10, 2012

Making time to make a website

Do you feel overwhelmed by the thought of creating a website?

ScottHeadshot (2)Scott Levitan,director of Small Business Engagement at Google, says having a website is as important as having a business card. Yet, most small business owners --58 percent -- STILL don't have websites. Levitan is out to change that.

Over recent weeks, he has been traveling the country, putting on workshops to teach small business owners how to create an online presence. He's insists creating a website is less time consuming than most people think. Levitan just left Miami where he put on a two-day workshop that drew more than 1,000 small business owners.  I caught up with Levitan and asked him a few questions that I thought would be helpful to all of you.


Me: Why do you think some business still aren't online?

Scott: It boils down to perception. The perception it that it's hard to make a site or that it's expensive or time consuming. We want people to know that it's not that hard and it can be done quickly, in about an hour.

Me: Why do you think it's important to be on the web?

Scott: We know that business that are on the web are growing twice as fast as those that are not.

Me: What is the make up of the businesses that already have a website?

Scott:  A disproportionate driver is related to age. The younger business owners are more comfortable with technology.

Me: Does gender factor into who has a website?

Scott: We have no data on men or women. What stood out in South Florida is how entrepreneurial people there are. They have a drive to learn how to make a website that I had not seen anywhere else. I had an 82 year old with a vacation rental business who was not going to leave the workshop until she got a website.

Me: Who are the types of business owners that show up at your workshops?

Scott:  We're seeing a mix of businesses. The new and the experienced. We've seen people who are unemployed for long time, too long, and they decide they are going to start something and need a website. We also see a big group of businesses that have been around for more than five years who realize if they are going to stay successful they need to figure this out. A significant number of those who show up run home-based business. One of the things the web has afforded is the ability to run a business from home. That has not been as possible in previous generations.

Me: What else do the business owners want to know from you besides making a website?

Scott: They ask, "How do I show up? How do I get found." Anything I tell them that helps to answer that question is tremendous.

Me: So, what do they need to know about that?

Scott:  They need to know five basic things.

    1. Every business needs a domain. (your address on the web)
    2. You need a website with that domain (your house on the web)
    3. You need to know how to get found. If someone has a plumbing disaster, they will look online for a plumber. You need to be that plumber that gets found. It takes 15 minutes to learn about discoverability.
    4. Your email address is your modern day business card.  Using a personal email for business is not professional. Instead of scott@gmail.com you want to be  scott@scottplumbing.com
    5. All of the above can be free

Me: Creating websites and learning how to do business online can be so overwhelming. As an owner, how do you fit this in with everything else you need to do to run a business?

Scott: There are not many things that take you less time than doing laundry that can have as great an impact on your business as having a website. Initially focus on fundamentals and continue to get those right.  You just want a basic web presence then, you can put more time into it and experiment.

Me: Do businesses need to create a seperate website to be viewed on a smartphone?

Scott: We have a program called gomo.com that makes it easy for businesses with websites to make their website mobile friendly. Remembe, the perception is that this is hard but all of this can be done in one afternoon.

To find out about Google workshops in your state, free domains and hosting, go to floridagetonline.com. or www.gybo.com


April 09, 2012

Stigma of leaving work before 8 pm

It's Monday. You've come off a great weekend. Maybe you gathered with your family for a seder or had a fabulous Easter brunch and egg hunt. Now, you walk into work jazzed confronting the week with enthusiasm. But your good mood quickly erodes as the day drags, the work piles up, and the reality hits that you may miss dinner with the kids. Again.

What do you do? Are you comfortable leaving your office at a reasonable hour and resigning to get the unfinished work done tomorrow? Do you worry about what others will think if you leave at 6 p.m.?

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg is familiar with the funny, uncertain feeling that comes with checking out soon after 5:00 to be with family. Although she used to worry about what others thought of her departure time, she has finally reached a point where she can take off at 5:30 p.m. without the lingering concern of how others are perceiving her, according to  The Jane Dough, aMashable publishing partner.

“I walk out of this office every day at 5:30 so I’m home for dinner with my kids at 6:00, and interestingly, I’ve been doing that since I had kids,” Sandberg said in a new video for Makers.com. ”I did that when I was at Google, I did that here, and I would say it’s not until the last year, two years that I’m brave enough to talk about it publicly. Now, I certainly wouldn’t lie, but I wasn’t running around giving speeches on it.”

To make up for ducking out at 5:30 p.m., Sandberg said, she would send emails to colleagues late at night and early in the morning as proof that she was still giving her all to work.

I admit, I've done this -- sent emails after hours to come off as committed and hard working. Have you? What other things have you done to appear hard working while trying to maintain work life balance?

Do you think bosses still care about how much you work or are they looking more at what you do while you're at work?