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11 posts from February 2013

February 28, 2013

Is Balance BS? Three Loud Women say yes

If you don't know the Three Loud Women, you should. They are thought provoking, candid and hysterical. These three South Florida ladies take on a variety of subjects in their You Tube videos. This particular segment caught my attention because it tackles my favorite topic -- work life balance. Teana McDonald, Allyson Tomchin and Stephanie Goldberg Glaser brought in a guest to debate the topic of balance. Her name is Luly B, consultant to momtrepreneurs. She's a character, too.

I enjoyed the video and I hope you do as well. And, by the way, do you think balance is BS?

 

 

 

February 27, 2013

Using Linked In right can help your work life balance and get you new business?

Many of us made New Year's resolutions to network more. So, as we close in on March, how's that going for you?

If you can't seem to fit more networking into your work life balance, consider Linked In as an option. If you use it correctly, you can build relationships while at the office. I asked a few Linked In experts for their advice on how to use Linked In most efficiently and avoid the big etiquette mistakes. I wrote abut it in the Miami Herald today. In response to my article, reader Frank Taylor shared this link with some great tips. 

 

Here's my column today in the Miami Herald:

 

Don’t get too personal on LinkedIn

 
Unlike other social media sites, LinkedIn is about business. Be cordial, advise experts, but mind your manners.

By CINDY KRISCHER GOODMAN

balancegal@gmail.com

Have you ever received a request to connect on LinkedIn from someone you didn’t know or couldn’t remember?

A few weeks ago, Josh Turner encountered this situation. The online request to connect came from a businessman on the opposite coast of the United States. It came with a short introduction that ended with “Let’s go Blues!” a reference to Turner’s favorite hockey team in St. Louis that he had mentioned in his profile. “It was a personal connection … that’s building rapport.”

LinkedIn is known for being the professional social network where members expect you to keep buttoned-down behavior and network online like you would at a business event. With more than 200 million registered users, the site facilitates interaction as a way to boost your stature, gain a potential customer or rub elbows with a future boss.

But unlike most other social networking sites, LinkedIn is all about business — and you need to take special care that you act accordingly. As in any workplace, the right amount of personal information sharing could be the foot in the door, say experts. The wrong amount could slam it closed.

“Anyone in business needs a professional online presence,’’ says Vanessa McGovern, the VP of Business Development for the Global Institute for Travel Entrepreneurs and a consultant to business owners on how to use LinkedIn. But they should also heed LinkedIn etiquette or risk sending the wrong messages.

One of the biggest mistakes, McGovern says is getting too personal — or not personal enough.

Sending a request to connect blindly equates to cold calling and likely will lead nowhere. Instead, it should come with a personal note, an explanation of who you are, where you met, or how the connection can benefit both parties, McGovern explains.

Your profile should get a little personal, too, she says. “Talk about yourself in the first person and add a personal flair — your goals, your passion … make yourself seem human.”

Beyond that, keep your LinkedIn posts, invitations, comments and photos professional, McGovern says.

If you had a hard day at the office or your child just won an award, you may want to share it with your personal network elsewhere — but not on LinkedIn.

“This is not Facebook. Only share what you would share at a professional networking event,” she says.

Another etiquette pitfall on LinkedIn is the hit and run — making a connection and not following up.

At least once a week, Ari Rollnick, a principal in kabookaboo, an integrated marketing agency in Coral Gables, gets a request to connect with someone on LinkedIn that he has never met or heard of before. The person will have no connections in common and share no information about why they want to build a rapport.

“I won’t accept. That’s a lost opportunity for them,” Rollnick says.

He approaches it differently. When Rollnick graduated from Emory with an MBA in 2001, he had a good idea that his classmates would excel in the business world. Now, Rollnick wanted to find out just where they went and reestablish a connection.

With a few clicks, he tracked down dozens of them on LinkedIn, requested a connection, and was back on their radar. Then came the follow-up — letting them know through emails, phone calls and posts that he was creating a two-way street for business exchange. “Rather than make that connection and disappearing , I let them know I wanted to open the door to conversation.”

McGovern suggests following up all new connections with a thank-you note and an expressed interest in getting to know that person. “Striking up a conversation should be easier because you can go to their profile and find a common dominator.”

Turner, the Blues hockey fan, calls himself a B2B marketing expert specializing in LinkedIn. He operates LinkedSelling.com and says there are a handful of ways to use the professional social network to turn yourself into a valuable top-of-mind contact rather than the guy at a networking event with crumbs on his face.

“It’s about follow-up. You should be posting status updates, bits of information about projects you are working on, [that can create] ways for your contacts to see your name and content on regular basis,” Turner says.

Of course, staying on the radar differs from getting in someone’s face with a sales pitch — another LinkedIn no-no. You don’t want to be that person shoving a business card at someone without saying hello.

“Use LinkedIn to build rapport. Build a relationship and then move that towards business,” Turner says. “On LinkedIn, too many [contacts] go straight for jugular.”

Nicole Williams, a career expert with LinkedIn, agrees. She recommends at least one online conversation before asking for anything and when doing so, positioning it as a win-win.

Allyson Lipnack of Creative Business Promotions of South Florida says she made the potentially offensive mistake of putting out a sales pitch for her promotional products. Realizing the mistake, she began posting examples of trendy promotional products she had supplied to targeted individuals who might be planning similar events. “I’m appearing as more of a consultant to help them with their needs.”

Endorsements have become an easy way to contribute to your LinkedIn contacts, but you need to heed etiquette around this as well. Go to someone’s profile, click a few boxes, maybe click a few plus signs — done. You not only give them a virtual pat on the back, you may also help them show up in search results.

Of course, it may lead to some awkwardness. “If someone chooses to endorse you, there’s no pressure to reciprocate,” Williams says. “People shouldn’t endorse someone they haven’t worked with.’’

After all, it’s not just their reputation, it’s yours that can be affected. Says Williams, “you are going to be brushed with the same feather so be careful with whom you are associated.”

February 25, 2013

Marissa Mayer brings Yahoo's remote workers back to the office

Mayer

Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo, has made a bold move and it's caused quite a stir.

On Friday, Yahoo's HR boss Jackie Reses sent out a memo telling all remote employees that, by June, they needed to be working in Yahoo offices. Anybody who couldn't, or wouldn't, should quit, the memo said.  "Being a Yahoo isn’t just about your day-to-day job, it is about the interactions and experiences that are only possible in our offices."

Apparently, Yahoo has many employees who work remotely and never come into the office. The scuttlebutt is that some of them weren't all that productive. Now, they aren't too happy about this new mandate. Some are calling it a stealth layoff.

The reaction from the community at large has been interesting. Some are calling Marissa a poor proponent for women and families. Others are calling her a great leader. I call Marissa practical.

Mayer's job is to make Yahoo more competitive and profitable. That requires making tough decisions that aren't going to popular. 

Here is Marissa's reasoning for her decision on remote working:  "To become the absolute best place to work, communication and collaboration will be important, so we need to be working side-by-side. That is why it is critical that we are all present in our offices. Some of the best decisions and insights come from hallway and cafeteria discussions, meeting new people, and impromptu team meetings. Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home. We need to be one Yahoo! and that starts with physically being together."

I think Marissa is right -- and that's coming from someone who has had flexibility in her career and has had the benefit of working from home. Dedicated workers who work from home full time are more productive. But it's true that you lose that vital face-to-face interaction with teammates and team managers. 

For Yahoo, a company that needs to regroup and reignite creativity, bringing employees back to home base to interact with each other is an important first step. Marissa is part of a growing trend -- CEOs who realize the importance of collaboration. 

But to me, it's the next step Marissa makes that's more important.

Now that she will have all her employees working from home base, how will she engage and motivate them? Is there flexibility in her new mandate? Marissa hasn't said that people who work in the office can't work from home some of the time -- as needed. Will she make that allowance down the road?

Lisa Belkin of The Huffington Post believes Marissa made the wrong call: "Rather than championing a blending of life and work , she is calling for an enforced and antiquated division. She is telling workers -- many of whom were hired with the assurance that they could work remotely -- that they'd best get their bottoms into their office chairs, or else." Lisa believes Marissa should have taken a case by case approach, identifying not only which positions CAN be flexible, but also having managers work with employees on a clear plan of what's expected from those positions.

I think it's too late for a case-by-case approach. Clearly, what Yahoo has done in the past hasn't worked and Marissa needs to turn around a ship that's headed out to sea in the wrong direction. I get that. Marissa wants to move Yahoo more quickly and that means she needs her captains on deck. But even the captain may need to step off the ship from time to time when personal emergencies arise.

Can she strike the right blend of collaboration and accommodation at Yahoo? We will soon find out. Keep going Marissa, show me what's next -- and please impress me!

 

 

February 21, 2013

Turning remote workers into team players

When I was toiling away at my computer in the newsroom, working from home sounded sooo glamorous. It sounded like the answer to all my work life balance needs. No commute. No office politics. But what I didn't realize is that when you're part of a team or staff, being miles away from co-workers can be a HUGE challenge. Of course, a good manager can make your challenge easier and help remote workers feel like team members. 

I think the remote workforce is about to explode in numbers. Two savvy women -- Layne Mayer and Mari Anne Snow --  feel the same way and they are creating a website/social networking community for remote workers and the companies that employ them. It's in early stages now but it's called Sophaya.com. I checked it out and I think it has promise.

Here's my article from The Miami Herald that tackles the topic of managing a remote workforce.

 

 

Remote employees require care to feel like part of the team

By CINDY KRISCHER GOODMAN
 
Ken Condren, VP of technology at C3/CustomerContactChannels, video conferences from his office with a co-worker to show how virtual employees keep in touch.
(Ken Condren, VP of technology at C3/CustomerContactChannels, video conferences from his office with a co-worker to show how virtual employees keep in touch.
Joe Rimkus Jr. / Miami Herald Staff)

By CINDY KRISCHER GOODMAN

balancegal@gmail.com

Working from home, hundreds of miles away from your boss, may sound like a perk, but that’s not always the case.

Ken Condren remembers the moment when he experienced the frustration his remote employees face. He was working from home, participating in a conference call and heard a side conversation going on, but had no idea what was being said. “I felt so out of the loop,” Condren recalls.

Today, businesses want the talent they want – and are more willing to hire or retain someone to fill a job even if they live or move thousands of miles away. Yet even with a great number of employees working remotely, nobody wants to be that guy who doesn’t get the inside joke during a conference call.

When the success of a team depends on the people, and all the people are scattered, it’s the manager who must make sure relationships stay vital and productivity high. Getting the most out of remote workers takes a manager who knows how to motivate and communicate from a distance. “Virtual workers still need a personal connection,” says strategic business futurist Joyce Goia, president of The Herman Group. “They want camaraderie and to feel like they are part of a team.”

More managers are using technologies such as videoconferencing, instant messenger and other collaborative software to help make remote workers feel like they are “there” in the office. Not being able to speak face-to-face can quickly be solved with Skype, Face Time or simple VoIP systems.

Condren, vice president of technology at C3/CustomerContactChannels in Plantation, uses Microsoft Lync to connect virtually with a team spread across geographies and time zones. Employees see a green light on their screen when a colleague is available, signaling it’s a good time to video chat or instant message. Instead of meeting in physical conference rooms, team members get together in a virtual work room where they can hold side conversations during conference calls or meet in advance to prepare for the call. “You lose the visibility of waving hands during an in person meeting, but we can build that with virtual workspaces.”

Beyond that, Condren says he holds weekly video conference calls with his staff to help his remote workers become better team players. He also sets aside 45 minutes to an hour each week to check in with his remote workers. “It’s a little extra effort to make sure they are giving me the updates that happen casually in the office.”

Condren says adapting to a virtual workforce has allowed him to hire talent in any geographic market with the skill set he wants. And he has been able to hire them at competitive salaries.

In the current economy, such flexibility can be critical for a company looking to attract top talent. CareerBuilder’s Jennifer Grasz says the recession has created a less transient workforce, making it difficult for workers to sell their homes and relocate. “Employers are turning to remote work opportunities to navigate the skills deficit.”

Even from a distance, managers say there are ways to hone in on remote workers who are having problems. Billie Williamson managed virtual teams as a partner for Ernst & Young and would focus on the tone of someone’s voice during a group conference call. She would even listen for silences. “Silence can mean consent, or it can mean the person you’re not hearing disagrees or is disengaged.” If she sensed a team member was lacking engagement, she would follow up immediately.

 

 

February 19, 2013

Men are from Mars, Women from Venus: How does this affect us at work?


Last week, I had the pleasure of speaking with John Gray, author of Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus. 

His new book is called WORK WITH ME:  The Blind Spots between Men and Women in Business, and it applies his expertise to male/female relationships and interactions in the workplace.  His co-author is Barbara Annis, Chair of the Women’s Leadership Board at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, and a world-renowned expert on workplace gender issues.  So as you can see, they’re the perfect pair to take on this topic!

I was excited to talk to John about his new book that will be released in May. 

John-gray-118-headshotJohn and Barbara have been studying the way men and women behave in the workplace and they discovered that there are big differences that cause us to miscommunicate and send the wrong signals to each other.  A little gender intelligence can help you in your career.

One thing they discuss in particular is how men and women deal with workplace stress differently.  And of course, how this bleeds over in to our personal lives.  John explained to me there are biological reasons why women respond to stress by releasing their feelings and bonding with loved ones, while men either have tunnel vision until they solve their problem, or just ignore it if it’s beyond their control.

Here are a few findings in his book that John shared with me: 

* Solving problems and achieving goals in the workplace takes a greater toll on women. Women lack testerone that naturally lowers cortisol levels. When women are stressed, they tend to take on more responsiblities. What they need to do instead, is find ways to de-stress. John suggests women up their romance quotient by planning an evening out. If they don’t’ have partner, he recommends creating an opportunity to feel they are being treated in special way, such as getting a massage.

John explained to me that gender blind spots are ways of unknowingly putting off the opposite sex in the workplace. Here is how to be more attuned to them: 

* Questions. Men think women ask too many questions. Men are annoyed by this. Women don't realize men think this way. Sometimes a woman may be making a point with her questions and have no idea she is agitated a male co-worker.

* Appreciation. Women don't feel appreciated in the workplace. Men think they are making a woman feel appreciated, but the women doesn't feel that way. Men need to more effectively communicate a female worker is valued and appreciated. Men need to understand little gestures of consideration make a huge difference to women.

* Exclusion. Women often feel excluded in the workplace when they aren't invited to attend a lunch or join in a conversation. Men don't feel excluded. They don't need an invitation. The concept of being left out does not exist from a man’s perspective. In a conversation, instead of a woman asking, "Can I say something?" just join in.

* Attention. If a man is focused on a computer screen or a project and can't shift attention, women feel offended if he ignores them. Don't. Men don't. Just ask again. A woman might even ask, "Can I have one minute of your time?" Any man will give one minute. . 

* Emotion. John and Barbara asked men whether women are too emotional in the workplace. About 90 percent said yes. They asked women if they thought women were too emotional and 80 percent said no. They found when they pointed this difference out, people said it made sense but there are lots of people in academia trying to disprove the obvious truth. Men try to avoid an emotional response but must realize that validating a woman’s perspective is more important than simply agreeing with her or avoiding her

* Internalizing. Many times men will say something and women take it personally. They may feel a man is picking on them. Men don't take anything personally. For example, 80 percent of the people who go online for porn are men. Men are turned on by the impersonal. Women want personal. A man's fear of offending female colleagues can jeopardize fruitful working relationships.

John is convinced that with a little gender insight, men and women can find ways to get what they need from each other in the workplace. 

John's website is Marsvenus.com. He says he is available online on weekday mornings from 9 to 10:30 a.m. to answer questions on gender differences. Visit the community board on his website to submit questions. 

 

Work with me

 

February 14, 2013

Want romance? How to snag a last minute babysitter


OfficialBabysitting

A few years ago, I slipped on a brand new red dress, put on my makeup, curled my hair and doused myself in perfume for my big night out with my husband on Valentine's Day.

And then my phone rang. It was the babysitter, calling to say she couldn't make it. Ugh!

Tonight, my husband and I plan to slip out for a romantic Valentine's dinner. Fortunately, my kids are finally old enough that I have built in babysitters. But for years, going out on a holiday  meant scrambling to find a babysitter, (maybe paying a bonus) or staying home. 

 Rachel CharlupskiMy guest today is Rachel Charlupski. Her really cool business, The Babysitting Company, matches reliable and energetic babysitters to parents’ needs. It prides itself on being available 24/7 and being able to accommodate last minute and special requests. In the U.S., her company offers babysitting services in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Palm Beach, Orlando, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Atlantic City, New York City, D.C., Detroit, Chicago, Phoenix, LA, San Francisco 

Rachel says business grew from her passion for babysitting, which began during her early teens. She says she began to understand the benefits of her services: the peace of mind a good babysitter provides to parents.

After her schedule became inundated by babysitting jobs, Rachel, 18 years old at the time, founded The Babysitting Company. "I wanted to accommodate my network of clients with babysitters who are educated (for homework help), fun (so that kids can't wait to have them back), responsible (so Mom and Dad feel comfortable), energetic and available for travel (so that even on vacation or a business trip, Mom and Dad can have peace of mind)."

Tens years later, Rachel is still running her successful business and has great advice to share with parents:

Me: Should working parents feel guilty about going out without kids for Valentine's Day? 

Rachel: For parents, celebrating their love is important and kids look up to that. Kids thrive when parents show love to each other. However, you should do something for your kids before you leave...maybe leave a note on mirror for when they brush their teeth or candy on their bed. Valentine's Day is about being romantic but also about love and your kids kids should feel that love, too.

Me: Is it too late to get a babysitter on the day of a holiday?

Rachel: I can arrange babysitters on up to an hour notice. I know that sounds crazy but it is possible. New Year's Eve is more difficult, but not impossible. I did send a babysitter out this year on New Year's Eve on just a few hours notice. My sitters are amazing.

Me: How should babysitters gain trust of family?

Rachel: My sitters go through 10 hours of training before going to an assignment. Seeing how much someone puts into their profession should make parents more comfortable. When a babysitter enters the house, look at how that person greets you, how comfortable they make you feel and how they interact with your kids. Your intuition is the best thing. Kids have the best intuition besides mothers. 

Me: Is a referral from a friend enough of a reference?

Rachel: No one should come in without two professional references and you have to call the references.

Me: What should you expect to pay on a holiday such as Valentine's Day?

Rachel: Definitely expect to pay more. Tonight start at $25 an hour, and my babysitters at hotels get up to $50 an hour. We only take credit cards so that makes it easy when you come home. Our sitter have a receipt for parents to sign and we follow with a credit card receipt.

Me: What's the ideal amount of time needed to secure a babysitter?

Rachel: 24 hours notice is best. If a child is sick or something comes up, we usually can find someone last minute.

February 13, 2013

Do successful businesswomen struggle with romance?

Is it more difficult for high achieving women to find success in love? I set out to find that out.

In a conversation with Osmara Vindel, a Miami business professional, she told me that she is divorced and has been dating for three years. She says she came to discover her struggles in relationships were about her, not he men in ther life. She says marriage and her dating life were challenging until she led her guard down, made romance a priority, and allowed herself to get out of business mode and feel comfortable with a man. Now, one month into a new relationship, she says all is going well. With Valentine's Day approaching, maybe its time for all of us to think about our work life balance and whether we give romance the priority it deserves.

Here's my column from today's Miami Herald. I'd love to hear your thoughts....

Whether they’re dating or married, high-earning women need to leave work mode at the office.

 
Maya Ezratti, left, is a relationship coach and is coaching Suzette Diaz, right, a client.
Maya Ezratti, left, is a relationship coach and is coaching Suzette Diaz, right, a client.
MARICE COHN BAND / MIAMI HERALD STAFF
By CINDY KRISCHER GOODMAN

While on a blind date, Alexandra Arguelles found herself behaving as if she were interviewing a candidate for a job.

“I caught myself asking him question after question and trying to control everything.” Afterward, she says she felt as if she had been at a business dinner.

“It’s not easy for me to be laid back,” says Arguelles, a 42-year-old sales executive at a travel IT company in Miami. “But on my next date, I’m going to try.”

Women have made huge strides in business. We have climbed to the top of companies, built million-dollar businesses and forged into traditional male professions. We’ve positioned ourselves as some of the most powerful voices in politics and on the Internet. Yet, when it comes to romantic relationships, we still struggle to make it happen in love.

IT’S US

Ask the growing army of high-earning women and they will say men are intimidated by their professional and financial success, making it difficult to date and marry. But relationship experts say we have it wrong. It’s not them; it’s us.

“Today’s women just don’t seem to understand you have to leave the office at the office,” says Maya Ezratti, a relationship coach and owner of Rewarding Relationships. “You can’t treat your husband, boyfriend or date like an employee.”

Fewer Americans are married today than at any point in at last 50 years, according to a 2011 Pew Research study. The causes and consequences are the subject of much debate. But what is clear is that as more women have gained economic control over their lives, they need to switch modes when it comes to relationship dynamics.

John Gray, author of Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, says keeping romance alive in the age of female empowerment takes getting in touch with your feminine attributes: “In the workplace, to be successful, women have to be independent, self reliant, focused on solving problems and managing people. Outside the office, those attributes are romance killers.”

In dating, Gray says a woman comes across as more attractive when she puts out a vibe she is happy and that a man can make her even happier. “Men want a job. They need to be needed,” he says. But a successful women’s natural instinct may be that she can do it all herself. “Be in touch with the part of yourself that is looking to have someone in your life that would lighten your load, and be open to receiving what he has to offer.”

In Miami, Ezratti coaches businesswomen to change their approach: “A lot of women are pursing romance like business.”

First, she advises they lose their pant suit and show up in more trendy, flirty attire. Next, she suggests they let go of being competitive. “Some women have no problem ripping men to shreds to prove their intelligence. No guy wants to go out on a date and feel like a schmuck. You don’t’ have to prove anything; the quiet one wins.”

David Berry, a 28-year-old Miami writer and author of a dating blog, affirms that most of his single male friends are scared to approach women who are rich, successful, brilliant and beautiful. They assume the women won’t be interested. “We have fears approaching women anyway. Now add in that they out earn us or drive a nicer car, and we start to doubt our ability to impress them.”

Berry says a few gestures by women can make a world of difference: Smile. Show passion for what you do. Indicate a willingness to break off chunks of time for a man. Most important, he says, men want a woman to show her soft side. “I think a lot of women fight for equality in their professional lives and assume that it’s a negative to allow yourself to be vulnerable when it comes to an emotional relationship. It’s not.”

Successful women say the challenge comes in finding a man they consider a truly equal partner, someone who contributes financially and emotionally. “In this recession, I’ve seen many men who see me just as a meal ticket,” a female senior level executive explains. “I hide my career and income from men on my dating profiles. It just makes me a target.”

Arguelles, the IT sales executive, admits she feels the same way and has become pickier. “I need someone on equal footing, someone with a steady income who is ambitious and strives for goals. Because I’m self sufficient, I don’t feel the need to settle.” This could be an increasing challenge because men disproportionately have suffered an income drop during the recession.

But it is not just dating that represents a challenge for high-achieving women. Married women say they struggle with romance too.

“I have clients who are powerful and successful women. Everything they touch turns to gold except their relationship,” says Gladys Diaz, owner of Heart’s Desire International. “Their businesses are booming and their marriages are falling apart.”

Crowd4_LLRR
Relationship coach Gladys Diaz providing tips to business women!

February 07, 2013

Working Mom Takes a Risk to Improve her Work Life Balance

One day, Luly B., a working mom, looked at her life and her business and decided she needed to make a change. I admire that. It's easy to get in a rut but it takes guts to restructure your work or home life to bring more balance to your situation. I'm thrilled to have Luly as my guest blogger today to share her experience.

Here's her story:

 


LulyB_headshotFor more than 15 years, Lourdes Balepogi – or as she’s affectionately known, Luly B – has consulted, coached and connected her way to the top of her profession. She is the president of Chispa Marketing, her Miami-based boutique marketing firm. She recently launched Luly B., Inc. in an effort to empower women entrepreneurs to have it all. She’s an expert speaker, consultant and strategist with a contagious energy that will undoubtedly leave you inspired to act.

 

 

I did it. I took the plunge. Followed my passion. No fear. No pride. Just plain and simple, I decided to make a dream come true.

My dream?

To share my expertise and experiences not only as a marketing expert of 15 years, but also my journey as a mom entrepreneur. The guilt. The excitement. The turmoil of choice and priorities. The obstacles that we can turn into opportunities.

Like millions of moms in the U.S., I left a career in “Corporate America” to find balance as a mom. Six years ago, I had a six month old, a 2 1/2 year old and a fledgling boutique marketing firm in Miami with large-scale clients including the country’s largest college and one of the world’s largest wine festivals.

Unfortunately, balance was the last thing I was getting for many years. You see, so many women have begun and continue to begin businesses (we are now opening businesses at twice the rate of men) but have trouble knowing our value, negotiating, and scaling our businesses – myself included.

I struggled with guilt, self-doubt, and fear. Eventually, I learned my lessons and continued to grow the company. Last summer, though, I made the very bold decision to restructure my business. I made my employees contractors who would work virtually, hired a few other contractors, closed my office, and kept only my large-scale clients.

Because I had another idea; a growing passion.

The reason I restructured my business was simple, but it felt profound. I realized that many mom entrepreneurs were experiencing the same things as I was. The guilt; the day-to-day struggles, and most frequently, the chase toward that elusive ideal of “balance.”

And having made the bold decision to drastically change my business, I was ready to move on to my next journey - so I launched my second company, Luly B, Inc. where I empower mom entrepreneurs to have it all!

And I’m so glad I made that decision.

Finally, I feel like I am beginning to have some sanity in my life. You see, rather than getting stuck on the word "balance" and trying to be it all, I focused on what made ME happy so I could have it all – in marriage, with my children, and in business.

We need to stop putting so much pressure on ourselves to be perfect and just focus on being happy. We are going to have to make tough decisions, compromises, and prioritize constantly. But at the end of the day, it's all worth it. Being an entrepreneur in our country is an amazing opportunity and I wouldn't change it for anything in the world. So screw the balance! Balance is BS. It’s about being genuine, bold, and centered.

It’s about what makes YOU happy.

Click here to see my infographic 

February 06, 2013

On the 20th Anniversary FMLA push forward on unfinished business

Can you imagine having a baby, wanting a few weeks off and losing your job if you take them?

Until 20 years ago, women had no right to maternity leave. Men had no right to medical leave.

Thanks to women like Ellen Bravo of Family Values @ Work and Judith Lichtman and Debra Ness of The National Partnership for Women & Families, women and men at big employers don't have to worry their jobs will be gone if they need time off for these type of family needs. Yes, I'm aware that over the two decades, some workers have abused FMLA. But when I look at all the people who have used FMLA to be better family members and better employees, I consider it beneficial to all and a critical component of work life balance.

Happy Anniversary to FMLA and may efforts succeed to expand the federal law to be even more inclusive!

(Photo below: Ellen Bravo joins in Milwaukee's Labor Day March) 

Ellen Bravo Labor Day March 2000

Twenty years after the Family Medical Leave Act became law, advocates say its time for expansion.

Wednesday, 02.06.13

By CINDY KRISCHER GOODMAN

balancegal@gmail.com

When I gave birth to my daughter, I returned home with a squirmy little bundle and immediately felt overwhelmed. Though I was exhausted from changing diapers and waking for feedings, I was thankful that my job was secure.

In our struggle to balance our family lives and our work lives, one law has made a giant difference for me and 35 million other American workers — the Family Medical Leave Act.

This week, the FMLA celebrates its 20th year in existence. It’s been a godsend for those of us who want time to bond with our newborn, care for an aging parent or deal with a health emergency without the fear of losing our jobs.

But two decades after President Bill Clinton signed the FMLA into law, advocates say they still have unfinished business.

“It was meant to be a first step toward a family-friendly American workplace. But it is 20 years and we haven’t gotten to the second step,” says Judith Lichtman, senior advisor to the National Partnership for Women & Families and an original advocate for passage of FMLA.

In many ways, the FMLA has been even more helpful to working families than expected. The law initially was conceived to allow working mothers like me to take time off for childbirth and post-maternity.

But over 20 years, it has been used 100 million times by all types of workers — about 40 percent of them men.

The FMLA has provided time off for women who needed medical care during difficult pregnancies, fathers who took time to care for children fighting cancer, adult sons and daughters caring for frail parents and workers taking time to recover from their own serious illnesses.

The federal law says we can take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave if we work at a company with more than 50 employees, with a caveat that we must be employed there for a year. The big benefit is that our jobs are protected during that leave.

During the recession, the job security and the continuation of health insurance that FMLA guarantees proved particularly important.

DebbieWinkles_2012Debbie Winkles, senior VP/director of human resources at Great Florida Bank in Miami Lakes, (pictured to the left) used FMLA three years ago when she needed to care for her husband who was battling cancer. Today, Winkles has male and female bank employees who are using FMLA to care for their newborns or to cope with illness.

Her company has created an easy spreadsheet system to track its employees’ FMLA leave. “With today’s health issues, so many people diagnosed with cancer are having chemotherapy, and employees need medical leave for themselves or a family member.”

 

In Wisconsin, Jill Delie is using FMLA to manage a chronic disease by taking a few days off each month for doctors appointments. In Maine, Vivian Mikhail used FMLA to care for her daughter, Nadia, when the little girl was diagnosed with an autoimmune condition that left her completely deaf. (photo below)

Vivian and Nadia 2

Just this week, a longtime friend of mine told me how fortunate she feels to be able to take FMLA to spend time with her mother who has incurable lung cancer. “I don’t want to lose my job, but I can’t imagine not being there for her when she needs me,” my friend sighed.

Yet for all the benefit, FMLA doesn’t guarantee wages while workers are on leave, a component advocates had planned as a second step. According to a Department of Labor study, 78 percent of workers who needed FMLA leave did not use it because they could not afford to take unpaid leave. Proposed federal legislation would expand eligibility and introduce a paid sick leave or a family-leave insurance program.

Read more....

 

February 05, 2013

A lesson from the Shark Tank: How to ask for what you want

Bibbitec

Photo by Carl Juste/Miami Herald

 

Last Friday night, I had my whole family glued to the TV. We watched Miami mom entrepreneur Susie Taylor make her debut on ABC's Shark Tank. The night didn't exactly go as expected.....

I have seen Susie, CEO of Bibbitec, pitch her fast-drying bibs at women's conferences in Miami and have been impressed. But watching Susie talk about business in front of the sharks, I saw her make a critical mistake.

It's a mistake I see repeated often and it's key in negotiating a business deal or an accommodation to improve your work life balance.

Susie asked the sharks, self made billionaires, to invest $40,000 for a 14 percent stake in the company. She became quite emotional when she explained to the sharks that she is a mom who considers her children a priority. She told them she has poured her life savings into this idea and needs their help to market the product on a grand scale because she doesn't have the time while balancing work and family. 

Her mistake: It's not about you. It's about them.

The sharks don't care about her work life dilemma. They care about themselves, what she can do for them and whether her product can make them money. They complained about the cost and sale price but I think Susie could have turned it around. She could have explained how being a mom keeps her connected to the consumer who would buy this product. She could have played up how being a mom helps her in her bib business and therefore will help them. 

One shark was particularly brutal. He said he liked the product but felt Susie was the wrong person to run her business and even suggested a college kid with internet marketing skills. 

Your boss is a shark, too. 

Whatever you ask for....flex time, reduced hours, the ability to work from home one day a week...your boss ONLY cares about how the arrangement you want will affect him or her. You want to ask for what you need in a way that they can understand what they have to gain by accommodating you or lose by not giving in to your request. 

Have you ever relied on someone in a business scenario and they rattle off all the personal reasons they haven't done what you need them to do? You might come off as if you care, but you don't. Your mind has shifted to how what they haven't done affects you. 

After her TV appearance, Susie has said she will pursue on with her company. It won't be easy and the balancing act will become increasingly difficult as she tries to market and distribute her bibs and give her kids top billing. But it can be done and I think Susie's experience holds a lesson that the rest of us can learn from -- the sharks are out there, make it about them...give them the bait they want to get them to bite. 

Shark-tank