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9 posts from June 2012

June 28, 2012

Miami's top chef, Michelle Bernstein, balances work and a new baby

MichelleBernsteinZachary-thumb(photo by Taimy Alvarez/Staff photographer Sun-Sentinel)

Michelle Bernstein, owner of three of Miami's most-popular restaurants admits she is trepidly navigating motherhood, learning both about work life balance and humility.

Michelle and her husband David Martinez welcomed the arrival of Zachary Gray Martinez last September. Her little bundle of loved suffered from colic and acid reflux.

"Cooking always came naturally to me," Bernstein told Sun-sentinel staff writer John Tanasychuk. "I can always jump in the kitchen and make everything OK. I thought I could just cook for him and he would be appreciative."

Michelle poured over cook books looking for baby food recipes. But little Zachary didn't seem to appreciate anything his celebrity chef mom was cooking up. Her biggest challenge became finding meals Zachary would eat. "My mother would come over and laugh at me. What would people say if they knew your baby doesn't like your cooking?"

Like many new moms, Michelle finally resorted to following her instincts. She told herself: "I'm going to use my Jewish power of my chicken soup and my Latin power of flavor and starchy vegetables." It worked. "The acid reflux stopped in a couple of weeks. No more colicky baby."

Now, just like her ever ever-evolving restaurant menus, she's tells the Sun-Sentinel she's cooking up new foods for her growing baby boy -- frozen popsicles to help ease the pain of teething. And she's introducing him to every vegetable she can find. "My goal is to make him fall in love with everything."

Click here to read Michelle's recipes for baby food.

Click here to read her baby-feeding tips.



June 27, 2012

Summer means relaxing. So why are we so busy planning?


I feel the heat on my skin when I go outside and know I should be at beach, taking long walks or figuring out some other way to kick back this summer. But so far, I'm in full gear. And, all around me, people are making plans and asking about my plans.

Where are you going on vacation? What summer projects are you tackling? What are your plans for July 4th?

When all of us get so wrapped up in making plans?

I had plans. In May, I made a list of projects I want to complete this summer. Yes, I had plans. Today, I re-wrote the list. I may re-write it again. While it's helpful to have lists and plans, I'm starting to think we're a society that's forgeting how to live in the moment.  

Today, I read  a piece about summer being the ideal time for business owners to plan for a busy fall and winter. While that strategy sounds great, what about planning for some time off, to bring some work life balance to your life.

Apparently workers who made vacation plans, already are changing them. The Wall Street Journal reports a full 87% of respondents in their survey said they have changed their vacation plans for work. Meanwhile, 98% of respondents said they checked their wireless devices while away and 51% admitted to checking in continually while they were supposed to be basking in the sun.

Why can't we relax?

Are we becoming obsessed with productivity and being busy all the time? Does it make you anxious to think about waking up and having no plans for the day, none at all?

I've heard managers drone on about how planning for success makes success more likely to happen. But I love one blogger's take on making plans, setting goals:  "

"It’s probably not going work out the way you envision it will.  They rarely tell you that you have to be willing to stray from the plan and ride the wave in the direction it's taking you. They didn’t tell you that with your mind set on a certain future, you’ve just written limitation into your life."

I challenge you. Allow yourself one day this summer to wake up with no plans at all. Take away the limitations, the expectations and see where the day takes you. For one day, anything is possible. Can you do it? I'm going to try.  

June 20, 2012

When motherhood hits a turning point


Here I am, sitting at my computer, relaxed. The daily chaos of juggling kids school schedules, their activities, and writing deadlines has come to a temporary lull. My kids are at summer camp ALL DAY, they have no evening activities, and I have plenty of writing time.

I am breathing a huge sigh of relief. Can you hear it?

Not only does this week mark the beginning of summer, for me, it also marks a transition. All my kids have finished elementary school, my teenager is driving and my kids school hours going forward will allow me to have an uninterrupted work schedule for almost eight straight hours.

Getting here, to this place of work life balance, wasn't easy.

One day, many years ago when my daughter was a toddler, I was in the middle of reporting a story when I got the dreaded call from her pre-school. "Come get your daughter NOW. Her nose is running and it's green." I was horrified about having to tell my boss I had to leave and turning my notes over to another reporter. This was pre-laptop days so finishing from home wasn't an option. A co-worker, whose kids were in college, whispered in my ear: "It get's easier."

When? When will it get easier? I wondered.

Three kids and 16 years later, it has finally gotten easier.

Make no mistake, raising tweens and teens is challenging in its own way. But my kids no longer need that intense supervision that younger children need on a daily basis. Even more, having a teen that drives takes some of the shuttling responsibilities off my plate.

I'm a different mother today than I was when I started the work and family balancing act. I’m calmer. I’m humbler. I'm wiser. I have stopped assuming there is a "right" way to parent and started trusting my own instincts and laughing at my mistakes. When chaos erupts at home, mid-deadline, I know that eventually calm will resume. I know now, too, that if I feel overwhelmed by my workload or  home responsibilities, it’s illogical to assume that I will always feel as awful as I do in the  moment.

All of this insight was gained by slowly and painfully, by doing the juggling act over a period of years and staying strong throughout the melt-downs. I was spurred on by a desire to find joy in the balance of a day instead of defeat in what I haven't accomplished. Now, I'm the co-worker whispering into the ears of sleep-deprived new mothers and fretful young fathers.

"It will get easier," I tell them. But it will never get easy.


June 18, 2012

Father's Day lessons: Do working fathers get enough respect?

(Above: Jameson Mercier and his two daughters)

Do dads get short shrift at work? When it comes to scooting out early to pick a kid up from summer camp or day care, are moms more likely to get accommodated? And, what about at-home dads...are they given the respect they deserve.

Over the weekend, I watched Kramer vs. Kramer. It has been a long time since I've seen the movie in which a just divorced man must learn to care for his son on his own, and then must fight in court to keep custody of him. Mr. Kramer loses his high paying job when child care issues pop up over and over. His boss doesn't think he's committed to his job. The movie, starring Dustin Hoffman and made in 1979, made me think about whether much has changed for dads.

Do dedicated dads balancing work and family get treated fairly in 2012?

That depends on who you work for but I would say we've seen improvement. For the most part, I think bosses understand work life conflict, and they're understanding -- to a point.

I read some fascinating articles this weekend on dads pegged to Father's Day. Some of my favorites were about single dads, including one in the Augusta Chronicle which applauded those who are trying their best to be the best. I especially admire Miami Heat basketball star Dwyane Wade, who was profiled in a front page piece in The Miami Herald. Wade has a book coming out in September on his experiences with fatherhood after winning custody of his two boys from his ex-wife.

Even 30 years after Kramer vs. Kramer, I think its fair to say men are struggling as much as women to balance work and family. Technology has helped. Some employers are a tad more understanding than Mr. Kramer's boss when a dad may need to leave the office at 5 p.m. to take his kid to soccer practice but is willing to put in a few more hours after his kid goes to bed.

What I found fascinating was a piece in Working Mother, which devoted its June edition to dads. It says dads believe taking time off with the kids is a given. "Dads just matter of factly take the time they need and make sure they get their work done," said Brad Harrington, executive director of the Boston College Center for Work & Family who spearheaded The New Dad, a study of 900 working fathers. Career coach Caroline Ceniza Levine agrees "If dads need to be out of the office for a school event, they don't feel guilty or defend their choice: they're just out for an appointment."

Many Father's Day articles centered around the new trend toward at-home dads. A study from Harrington's center, called The New Dad: Right at Home,  shows married couples are making pragmatic decisions about who should stay home with the kids and sometimes, it's mom who commands the higher salary and greater earning potential so dad becomes the at-home parent.

I found examples of this in South Florida and wrote about it in The Miami Herald over the weekend. Fox News also reported on the trend with a headline that read: Mr. Mom Era: Stay-at-home dads doubled over last decade.  

I was extremely touched by a piece in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on fathers who struggle with their child's autism diagnosis but found ways to embrace special needs parenting.

Clearly, the conversation about work life balance and family friendly employers has focused more on the working mother than the working father.  I think that's changing but we still have lots of room for improvement. Watch the clip below on Mr. Mom and you tell me if you think times have changed.



June 13, 2012

Father son businesses: Two different views of work life balance

Do you have the same work ethic as your parents? What would they say if you asked them that question?

As the founder of A.D.A. Engineering in Miami, Alberto Argudin has always put in long hours. Tweleve years ago, his son joined the firm and now oversees construction management. Alberto doesn't how and why his son delegates, supervises, and works a reasonable work day.

Son says: "The older generation had to struggle more than we had to. That doesn’t mean we don’t struggle as well. Our work ethic is there, but due to technology we can do the same amount more efficiently and quicker than in the past." 

Fathers and sons seem like the ultimate pairing for business success -- unless they butt heads and create workplace tension. Today, it's more challenging than ever for father and sons with the generational differences that exist. So, for Father's Day, I decided to look at few father son business teams who make it work.


The Miami Herald

Two generations learn to work together

By Cindy Krischer Goodman

   Patrick Range, right, and his son, Patrick Range Jr, at their family Range Funeral Home, located at 5727 NW 17th Ave.
Peter Andrew Bosch / Miami Herald Staff
  Patrick Range, right, and his son, Patrick Range Jr, at their family Range Funeral Home, located at 5727 NW 17th Ave.
When David Grossman decided the family surgical practice needed a website, his father resisted. “He just thinks differently and couldn’t see the benefits.” But David pressed on. He showed his dad how the website could help patients access forms, learn about possible complications and share experiences. “Now, he sees that it’s an important component of our medical practice.”

Such generational differences are happening in workplaces across the country, but in father-son businesses, the stakes are high. Despite a turbulent few years, family businesses remain a substantial force in the national and global economies. But keeping the business in the family takes the ability to work through assumptions, expectations and differences. The fact is, only one-third of family-owned businesses survive to the second generation.

For fathers and sons, the dynamics are complex. “The level of emotion that exists in a father and son business can be profound,” says Drew Mendoza, managing principal of The Family Business Consulting Group in Chicago.

Today’s Gen X sons think differently than their boomer dads. They bring technology skills and innovation to most workplaces, along with a desire for work-life balance. While dads still bring experience and passion, many struggle to understand a mindset where productivity doesn’t necessarily mean facetime. Even more, the relationship between fathers and sons who work together today tends to differ from the past: many consider themselves partners rather than mentor-mentee.

As the country gets ready to celebrate Father’s Day, many fathers and sons still dream of working side by side. Those who do it successfully offer insight and inspiration.

Patrick Range Jr. has been working alongside his father for the past five years. He gave up a prestigious position as a lawyer at Greenberg Traurig after his grandmother passed away in 2006 — “too much for my dad to run the business alone. I felt a responsibility to take an active role.” The company, started by his grandfather, runs three funeral homes serving the black communities of Miami-Dade County.

Patrick Jr., 35, says he has a different perspective than his 72-year-old dad: “I understand the younger generation and what their needs are.” Just last week, he helped a young woman plan a memorial service for her father. “She was not interested in having a traditional service with the deceased present.”

Initially, Patrick says his dad pushed back when he brought a different perspective to the decades old funeral business. “It’s taken some adjustment on both of our parts but we’ve learned when to back off and when to push. I think it’s benefitted the business.”

Patrick says a huge challenge has been the struggle for work-life balance. This is an area where he has pushed hard to change his father’s mindset: “I’ve encourage him to realize you do not have to be at your desk to function in an efficient manner. I’ve even forced him to take off one day a week.”

Read more.



Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/06/12/v-print/2846370/two-generations-learn-to-work.html#storylink=cpy


June 11, 2012

Robin Roberts' setback shows work life balance is a matter of attitude


(Robin Roberts (C) gives a thumbs up as she discusses her medical condition with Diane Sawyer (L) and Sally Ann Roberts on ABC's ''Good Morning America'' program in this handout photo released June 11, 2012.)Credit: Reuters/Ida Mae Astute/ABC/Handout


What would you do if you were just about to score a big career coup and learned your health was in jeopardy? Would you forget all about work and just concentrate on your health?

The very day she was about to score a big career coup, an interview with President Obama, Good Morning America host Robin Roberts learned she has a rare blood and bone-marrow disorder called MDS.

This morning, Roberts made her diagnosis public and told GMA viewers that she will undergo a bone marrow transplant. Roberts said the disease was once called preleukemia, and is a complication from the treatment she received to beat breast cancer in 2007.

Roberts has no intention of taking it easy. She has decided to continue on at work, receive treatment, share her diagnosis with the world and believe completely that she will beat this health concern.

She told viewers: "The combination of landing the biggest interview of my career and having a drill in my back reminds me that God only gives us what we can handle and that it helps to have a good sense of humor when we run smack into the absurdity of life.

Bottom line she said: "I’ve been living with this diagnosis for awhile and will continue to anchor GMA.  I love what I do and the people with whom I do it.  Along with my faith, family and friends, all of you at ABC News give me the motivation and energy to face this challenge."

Lots of viewers took the news hard and some wrote in telling Robin to give up her job and focus completely on her health. Clearly, this is the kind of work life balance decision that takes lots of mulling over. It can have a huge impact on one's welfare. 

I'm a lot like Robin. I love what I do for a living and part of getting better, for me, would mean continuing to work. So, I completely understand Robin's decision, her attitude, her public announcement. Robin told viewers "I crave normalcy."

What would you do if you received this kind of diagnosis? Would you continue to go to work? Would you make it public in your workplace? Would everything you did at work seem insignificant? 

Click here to see the video of Robin making her announcement


June 08, 2012

Summer is here and working parents are panicked

I survived another school year!! Wahoo!

The last few weeks of the school year seemed like an endurance test. Between awards ceremonies, graduation parties and buying teacher gifts, it took all my balancing skills to juggle my workload and home responsibilities.

Now, I'm beat and the next work life balance challenge awaits.

Inevitably this time of year, the conversation among working parents is "What are your kids doing this summer?"

For moms like me, who only have it partially figured out, the question can incite a mild panic attack.

Summer typically is the most challenging and expensive time of year for parents who need child care Summercamp
coverage to match their work hours. One smart Miami mom whose tapped into parental panic is Karen Meister. She runs Camp Experts & Teen Summers. I've used Karen to help me cut through the summer camp clutter and figure out which one best suits my kid. Karen doesn't charge parents. She gets paid by the camps.

If you're in panic mode, there are other places to turn to as well.

*Your city's parks and recreation department is a place to start for free camps.

* MomsMiami has a great summer survival guide and most big cities have similar mom sites that offer guides as well. There are national camp search guides at go camp and

* Check out museums. Not only do they have great summer camp programs, they offer volunteer opportunities for teens.

* Consider online courses. High school students in Florida must take an online course to graduate. I'm having my son take a course on Florida Virtual School over the summer. There are courses for kids in K-12.

* Bringing your child to work may be an option if they are old enough to be helpful. Don't be afraid to ask. All your boss can do is say no.

* If your company has a flex policy, now may be the time to use it. According to Office Team, Seventy-five percent of human resources managers said their company offers flexible schedules during the summer.

* If you have a teen, some employers are hiring. A new jobs report says summer jobs for teens has soared to its highest level in six years. Encourage your child to get out there and job hunt.

Good luck working parents!




June 06, 2012

Married to the job, and lovin it

I was listening to a radio interview with Bravo's Andy Cohen when the host asked him if he was seeing anyone right now. Cohen laughed and said he just didn't have time to date. "I'm happily married to my job," he replied. 

That made me think about work life balance and singles. Some singles are so dedicated to their jobs that they are unable to invest the time a relationship often needs to stay strong. I really don't see anything wrong with that as long as the person feels fulfilled. 

But I wanted to explore the topic and find out how fulfilled those who are married to their jobs are and whether romantic relationships are totally out of the question. I tackled the topic in my Miami Herald Work Life Balancing Act column.

Do you feel that being completely devoted to your job is enough to feel fulfilled?


The Miami Herald

It’s OK to be happily married to your job, these workers say

By Cindy Krischer Goodman

   Sheryl Cattell, director of online marketing for Cross Country Home Services in Sunrise, says she is happily married to her job.
Sheryl Cattell, director of online marketing for Cross Country Home Services in Sunrise, says she is happily married to her job.
Sheryl Cattell, an online marketing director, says her passion for her work is so intense she is often still at her desk at midnight. “I just go into a zone and literally have no idea of space and time.” With such single-minded focus, Cattell says personal relationships have been challenging. “Most partners are jealous when you love your job that much.”

As the country moves into summer wedding season, an increasing number of singles say they are happily married to their jobs. On television, American Idol host Ryan Seacrest and Bravo’s Andy Cohen are high-profile examples, two single entertainment/media mavens who devote most of their waking hours to their careers.

As of 2011, there are 101 million people in the United States over the age of 18 who are single, up from 83 million a decade ago, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s America’s Families and Living Arrangements survey. Of the singletons, 62 percent of them have never been married and about 2 million of them earn more than $75,000 a year.

Research often cites the ideal worker as someone who is perpetually available, has no outside responsibilities or interests, rarely gets sick, and prioritizes work above all else. Barbara Teszler, 26 and single, says that describes her 100 percent and she’s OK with it. “I’m totally a workaholic. I’d much rather be doing something I’m insanely passionate about for 80 hours a week than getting off at 5 like Fred Flintstone and doing something I didn’t enjoy.”

Teszler started a Los Angeles public relations firm six months ago. She wants a social life and relationships, but work gets top priority. “The last couple of guys I’ve seen have accused me of being cold. They thought I didn’t show as much interest in them as I did my job. I’m not going to apologize for that. My business is my baby, and that has to come first.”

Entrepreneurs are among the most likely to report being married to their jobs. “They feel the 24/7 pull to get it right,” says Todd Dewett, a professor of management at Wright State University, who wrote The Little Black Book of Leadership. “For many of them, being successful at work is fulfilling but it’s never stress free.”

To maintain a romantic relationship, Dewett says, overachieving professionals must have an understanding spouse or partner. “One of the top reasons relationships have trouble is one person puts their job first. For it to work, you’ve got to have a partner who is absolutely supportive.”

Miami relationship expert Bari Lyman says making a relationship work when you’re married to your job often requires a new mindset. “If finding true love is a priority, you have to make the time and space to meet someone.” Then, to sustain a relationship you need communication, maybe even an agreement that emphasizes quality time together rather than quantity, says Lyman, founder of MeettoMarry.com. “What’s important is to find someone who shares your vision of work-life balance.”

Read more....




June 01, 2012

Is workplace boredom the new stress?

Yawning at workIt used to drive me crazy to watch a co-worker playing solitaire every day on her computer.

I wondered how she possibly had time to do it. Of course, she eventually got fired. But I'm not really sure she cared. She was a good editor, but she obviously was bored with her job. When she did edit, she seemed pretty talented. It frustrated me that someone in an authority position didn't pick up on her boredom and try to channel her into a more challenging position that made use of her talent.

Forbes reports that boredom has become the unseen productivity killer rippling through workplaces. Sure, most of us are busier than we've ever been. But being busy doesn't mean you're not bored. Right?

From what I've seen, boredom usually leads to a lot of wasted time on the web. Look around your workplace, I bet someone is surfing the web right now.

Productivity expert Andre Angel says Gen Y'ers are more easily bored than any generation in history. Studies show that 53% of them go on the Internet for no reason at all, which leads to some serious time wasting. "They may appear busy, but between checking the latest sports scores, their email, Facebook, Twitter and texting, hours can go by without any real work being done,"  Angel says.

You may be thinking, "My employee can't possibly be bored. I give him tons to do."


Boredom may be commonly understood as not having enough to do, but it's really about not being challenged enough, says Richard Chaifetz, a neuropsychologist and the CEO of ComPsych, a provider of employee assistance programs.

The recession has had something to do with workplace boredom. More of us are stuck doing mundane, repetitive tasks we were forced to take over after our co-workers were laid off. Or maybe we're bored because we have no control over decisions.


 “The costs can be extreme—lack of productivity, significant errors and catastrophic accidents,” Chaifetz says.


If you're bored, speak up and asked to be challenged more, experts say. If you are a manager, ask your employee what would help them feel more engaged.



Confess, do you feel bored at work?