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13 posts from September 2012

September 07, 2012

How Fantasy Football Helps with Work Life Balance

FantasyfootballI get it. I get it. I understand why fantasy football is so popular!

My son and I were invited to become a team owner and join a fantasy football league. I figured why not?

It's a way to learn something new, bond with my son and maybe even win some bragging rights. Of course, I had no idea exactly what it involved.

Being late to the party, I've since learned that more than 27 million players play fantasy football. In fantasy football, players (usually called owners) draft NFL players into their fictional teams and compete against each other throughout the NFL season. They spend an average of nine hours a week (during football season) playing fantasy football. Ugh...that's a lot of time!

Last weekend was the draft. My son and I studied up, picked our players and had a lot of fun talking strategy.  It allowed me to spend one-on-one time with my son in a way I otherwise might never had done with all the demands on my time.

The great part is that suddenly, I have some common ground to spark conversation with sports lovers, most of them men. Over the years, I've been told that talking sports is key to a woman's advancement in the workplace. I've have to admit, there may be some truth to that!

I've asked some of the busy men I know how and why they make time to participate in fantasy football. They've explained it's an outlet to release stress, and build comraderie. I get that...for women it's like being in a book club or joining up regularly for girls night out. Some of the dads actually do it as a father-son or father-daughter bonding exercise. I'd love to see more girls get involved.

I'm not sure yet how time consuming fantasy football is going to be. But because it's just for fun, I'm only planning to spend a hour or two each week with my son monitoring our team. My friend, in two leagues, said he only spends a couple hours a week on his teams.

Some believe that fantasy football was originally created by people that loved the game and were extremely bored at their job, needing an outlet to waste time at work. There may be some truth to that.... Chicago outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas recently released a study calculating exactly how much money employers lose every year due to their employees procrastination and managing their fantasy football rosters. Their number? $6.5 billion.

Still, I see an advantage to employers: To be a better worker, we need to be well rounded and able to talk about something other than work all the time. One fantasy football participant admits to I did using some office time to research backup quarterbacks and figure out starting lineups. However, he argues: it's refreshing to take a break from my daily grind and then get back to work with a clearer perspective.

Even more, managing our roster gives us a chance to feel like a team owner. It may even help some workers to better understand how and why decisions are made by their managers.

Though it's still early in the season and I'm a newbie, I see a good case for making fantasy football part of your work life balance.

What do you think? Is fantasy football a huge waste of time or worth fitting it into your life as a guilty pleasure? If you were an employer, would you encourage or discourage participation in fantasy football in your workplace?





September 06, 2012

Female CEOs on how to get to the C-suite

It's not as hard to get ahead in a corporate setting as you may think. There are a few key moves that can put you on that path.

What are they?

I was fortunate enough to gleam them from some amazing women who shared their insight as panelists at a program of Women Executive Leadership on Creating The Path to the C-Suite. The women: Maria Fregosi, a senior investment banker at Catalyst Financial; Fanny Hanono, Tresurer of Perry Ellis International and Lauren Smith,  Managing Director in the Miami office of Diversified Search.

How to make yourself important

MariaMaria: (pictured) Go into something new so people have to learn from you.

Fanny: Don't walk into a meeting of all men like you have a chip on your shoulder. Men like it when you look good and can walk into a room and have something to say.

How to handle work life balance

Fanny: I walk around with a lot of guilt. I'm attached to my BlackBerry 24/7. But at my home, no one is allowed to use their phones during dinner. I have to put mine in a separate room and force myself not to think about it.


How to make time for networking

Maria: You have to make time for networking but it can't just be internal. It has to be external as well. I use LinkedIn to keep track of my network. I recommend scheduling time to network and if you get push-back tell your boss that it's an important part of your job.


Fanny: All of us only have so many hours so we have to prioritize. If you're giving up time, make sure its with someone you care about. I have lunch every day with my dad. That's a priority and I won't give it up.


How to get ahead


* Get into a profit and loss role at your company. That makes it easier to measure your value and how much you need to get paid.

* Understand numbers. You have to prove you can either make a company money or save them money.

* Marry well. I'm not saying marry for money but rather marry someone who supports you being as successful as you want to be.



* Be a pioneer in the field

*Do community service. If you make it, you need to give back.

*Realize it's better to be a peace than to be right.


How to balance being a strong woman with being too aggressive

Lauren: Some women see others as competition. Women are not always good about reaching down and pulling others up. Step back and try to find common ground.

Maria: Have a sense of humor.

September 04, 2012

Talking to girls about equal pay

As my daughter heads into her junior year of high school, she's starting to think about what career might interest her. I ask her questions, listen to her answers and try to give her hope that whatever profession she chooses, she will be happy. But will she be paid fairly?

It sickens me to think that one day my daughter may land the same job as one of her brothers, and get paid less to do it. How do you explain that to a young woman?

Today, an article caught my eye that reminded me that the next generation of women will inherit the need to fight for equal pay. What do they need to know to take on that battle?

They need to know who Lilly Ledbetter is and what she accomplished and why her name is associated with equal pay.

LillyLilly Ledbetter became a rare female manager in a man's industry in the 1980s, as a supervisor at the Goodyear Tire and Rubber plant in Alabama. She sued the company for paying her less than her male counterparts and took her lawsuit all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. She lost because the court ruled that she should have filed suit within 180 days of her first unequal paycheck--despite the fact that she said she had no way of knowing that she was being paid unfairly all those years.

Her name has become well known because of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, which loosened the time frame in which people could file pay discrimination charges.

Today, I read a Workforce.com interview with Lilly Ledbetter, who now is 74 years old. I wanted to share some of the highlights:



Workforce: How have things changed in the workplace from the '80s and '90s to today regarding pay equality?

Ledbetter: Not enough. We still don't have enough women at the top. They're still being held back—and they've got great education. And we don't have enough women in politics, in Congress, either the House or the Senate in Washington. And the corporate boards don't have enough women or minorities on them to make a difference.

Things are changing. One of the things that makes me the happiest is to get invited to go speak to a group of new hires or a corporation about integrating women into their operations, and to encourage young high school and young college women and minorities to go into engineering, the sciences, mathematics—get those degrees. Companies are learning that the makeup of the workforce is so much stronger when they have both men and women.

The young men get it. I go to a lot of college campuses to talk. I'm almost as popular with the young men, because they talk about their mothers and their sisters—how they've been held back. I've heard so many examples. They understand when they get out of college, if they get married, they need a wife working, and they need her to be paid fairly too.

Workforce: What should employers know about equal pay?

Ledbetter: It's very simple. If you treat people fairly and equitably, you've got nothing to worry about. And it's also a win-win situation, because when employers make it pretty well-known that everybody's being treated equitably and fairly for their work, they have a better team. They have people who are more enthused about coming to work. They don't stay out of work. They can't wait to get there. If it's a service business, when you walk in it's hard to tell who the owner or the manager is because of the other team people working so hard. And if it's a manufacturing environment, they put out a better product—more productive, less scrap. And they don't stay out of work. The absentee and the safety records are almost perfect. It's just a 'win' situation for the families of this nation as well as the corporations and employers.


Over the next few months, we're going to hear political candidates debate on various topics. We will hear talk about women's issues, family issues and unemployment. We will hear candidates try to garner support with stories about how they were raised by single mothers and understand the plight of working mothers. I'd love to hear one of the explain to young women -- our nation's future mothers -- why they will graduate college, work hard, and still get paid less than a man.

My daughter recently asked me if women business owners and female executives pay their female employees the same as they do their male workers. I told her the truth: I don't know the answer. I'd like to confidently answer yes. But I can't.

Should I tell my daughter women are making progress in gaining equal pay? Just this June, the Senate failed get enough votes to advance the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would have required employers to demonstrate that any salary differences between men and women doing the same work are not gender-related. It also would have prohibited an employer from  retaliating against employees who share salary information with their co-workers.

To be sure, equal pay is gaining traction as a hot button issue. Clearly, Lilly knows we're not there yet and unfortunately my daughter now knows that too. But I told her what I hope other parents are telling their teenage daughters -- pursue on.