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8 posts from April 2013

April 23, 2013

Small changes lead to work life balance


I loved this e-mail from a reader so much that I had to share it with all of you. It's a lesson in how to make small changes that lead to better work life balance.



Good Morning Cindy,

I'm writing to you in regards to your articles, which I read from the Miami Herald. You had the article regarding the Corp run & running with the boss. I'm not a runner but instead I took up biking. Now when I say biking I'm not talking rode biking which you see in packs normally early in the morning. Since my office is close to work I started riding to the office just to actually give me some "me time" because my husband and I own two businesses together and are together 24/7.


Over the Christmas holidays a friend was at my home for dinner and told me she had signed up for the Multiple Sclerosis ride from Miami (FIU Campus) to Key Largo (Holiday Inn) a 200 mile trip. Well me being just a simple sidewalk rider I said "Wow!" As the night progressed she had convinced me to sign up for this event. On Jan 9th I signed up & received my training packet. I started off with simple 5 mile rides each day to last Saturday making it to now 40 mile days.

Fitting this into work has been a large chore,even more during tax time as my average speed is (Now) around 12 MPH, so of course doing the math,  you see takes up a lot of time. So cutting 4 hours out of my work day at times has been extremely difficult. We all know how easy it is to say,  "No I need to stay at the office" instead of exercising sometimes.

With all this training that I have built up, I'm now pretty confident I will at least finish this challenge but have not said how long it may take me. The ride is April 20 & 21st, so I have 16 days left to fit in even more training  along with work.

The riding, I think, has actually made my days better in the long run because I have had so much time to think about work without any of the office interruptions. As we all know how hard it is to escape clients phone calls or emails, but it's not safe to ride a bike and talk. I can tell you everyone driving in a car is fixated with their phones. I can also say Im in much better shape now, down 12 pounds so far. So its truly been a win win....

Jackie Velazquez, Smarttarget Marketing, South Miami.




Readers, would you consider riding your bike to work? If not, is there a small change you can make in your life to give you a better sense of balance?

April 22, 2013

Older men will make workplace flexibility and work life balance a reality


Thank you Sheryl Sandberg. Thank you Anne Marie Slaughter. You have brought the conversation of work life balance back into public discussion. But let's face it women, for all our years of talking about work life balance, flexibility and having it all, we really haven't made any huge progress.

I think that soon will change.

I think it will change because older men will make it happen. 

Just the other day, I was talking to Miami law partner in his late 60s who excitedly was telling me all about the summer home he was building in the mountains. I asked him whether he was going to take the summer off work. "Oh no," he said, "I'll just bring my laptop, my cell phone and I'll work from my cabin." This came just days after another senior partner told me he wasn't retiring but instead scaling back his schedule to work from home in the mornings.

Historically, men have been excluded overtly and subtly from the work life conversation. Tanvi Gautam,  managing partner at Global People Tree wrote this for Forbes.com: "The assumption remains that “real” men (single or married) don’t need/want work-life integration. They work long, hard hours and miss meals with family, skip social events, so they can rise to the top of the corporate ladder, if need be at the expense of all else."

For the last decade, women and Millennials have struggled to get organizations to realize that flexibility is needed. Yet, male boomers -- the ones who have resisted giving flexibility to others -- are going to be the ones who make it happen. For them, it's about to get personal.

They are law firm founders, senior executives and chairmen of the boards. But as they age, they still will want their name on the masthead and to share their expertise. They just won't want the 10 to 12 hour days anymore. They will seek the ability to work from home a few days a week or from a vacation home. They will want to pull back from the extreme schedules they worked in the past, and make a gradual transition into retirement, even managing to get organizations to lift or delay mandatory retirement age.

Currently, just 13 percent of Americans are ages 65 and older. By 2030, 18 percent of the nation will be at least that age, according to Pew Research Center projections. The typical Boomer believes that old age doesn’t begin until 72, and the majority of Boomers report feeling more spry than their age would imply.

These senior male leaders will push for flexibility for their own personal use and they will get it because they have the clout and connections that women and younger workers lacked. And when the policies change to accommodate them, the women and Millennials will benefit, too. And that's how and when the workplace and policies will evolve.

For now, the rest of us just need to do our best to make our work and life fit together, and then "lean in" and wait for change to happen. It will happen. I see it on the horizon.

April 19, 2013

An end to alimony, a beginning for work life balance

Big changes to alimony are in the works in Florida. I call it a HUGE wake up call for all spouses.

Yesterday, the Florida Legislature sent Gov. Rick Scott a sweeping measure that would alter the state’s alimony laws, including eliminating permanent alimony.  Instead of permanent alimony, the measure places guidelines based on the length of marriages.

Several female legislators blasted the measure, saying taking away permanent alimony would punish women who chose to remain in the home and help raise children. Other female legislators were angry, too.

“Why would a woman agree to stay home, have children, be limited in her employment opportunities and then face financial disaster?” asked Rep. Elaine Schwartz, D-Hollywood.Rep. Cynthia Stafford, D-Miami, called the bill “anti-woman,” “anti-marriage” and “mean spirited.” Rep. Barbara Watson, D-Miami Gardens, said it would allow husbands to drop their wives after they decided they “needed a Barbie doll rather than a wife.”

My thoughts are that times have changed.  Going forward, neither men or women should rely on each other completely for financial support for the rest of their lives -- whether they are married or divorced!

Alimony should not be a crutch.

There's nothing wrong with the decision to stay home and raise a family, whether you're a man or woman. But if there's anything we've learned from a high divorce rate and a high unemployment rate it's this: no one can afford to drop out of the workforce completely or let their skills lapse for years while raising kids. It's just too risky.

Taking away permanent alimony might be a bid deal for some women (and men). But it shouldn't be.

If you choose to stay home and raise children, it's imperative today that you keep your skills fresh. There are all kinds of opportunities to do this that won't infringe on your work life balance. You can volunteer at your child's school or at a family-friendly non profit. You can take online classes or work part time while your children nap. You turn a passion or an idea into a business from your home.

But what you no longer can do, is rely completely for the rest of your life on your spouse's income. 

At some point in life while you're raising kids or after they are on their own, it's likely you will need or want to go back to work to earn an income, restore balance or pay for your golden years. At a time when divorced parents are sharing custody, for a judge requiring a husband or wife to add "work" back into their work life balance equation, that's not anti-women or anti-men, it's just the reality of the 21st Century. I'm amazed it's taken this long for the laws to catch up.



April 17, 2013

How to tell the boss you're overwhelmed

I'm not going to lie, even balance gal feels overwhelmed sometimes. But I've learned that there are tactics that can help and restore your work life balance. 

One of those tactics is having a conversation with your boss about your workload and priorities. How you go about that conversation is key. Today, in my Miami Herald column, I talked with career experts and bosses for their advice on how to tell the boss you're overwhelmed. Today's the day to have that conversation!



Overwhelmed at work? Be smart when you share it with the boss



Have you ever stormed into your boss’ office and blared out: “I’m overwhelmed?”

It’s a declaration more employees are considering after being stretched to the limits. With business picking up but employers still reluctant to hire, many workers find themselves with too many things that need to be done at once; others are responsible for tasks they’re not skilled to do well.

A Harris Interactive study released this month reports that more than 80 percent of those surveyed are feeling workplace stress. The top cause: an unreasonable workload caused by recession staff cuts.

John Swartz, regional director of career services at Everest College, which commissioned the survey, said although the economy has improved, choices employers made three and four years ago are taking a toll on employees. “If 83 percent of workers are stressed, someone will reach a breaking point,” he said.

Rather than wait for a disaster, you need to talk to your boss – and take the right approach.

Career experts say whether or not the boss will react favorably depends on how you present your situation, how much effort you’re putting into your job and whether you come in with a solution. “The cause of overwhelm has to be something specific that can be addressed,” Miami executive coach Margarita Plasencia explained. “Otherwise it comes off as whiney.”

Introspection can help you set the right tone, she says. Before you approach the boss, identify why you’re overwhelmed, what’s going on in your life, the systems you have in place for managing commitments and how you use your energy. Once you’ve taken stock of the situation, you’re ready to address the problem with your boss.

“You want to speak to the boss in a manner that exudes confidence,” Plasencia said. Most importantly, she advised, let the boss know what you need from him or her. “You want to bring a solution, not a problem. Most often, the boss is overwhelmed, too.”

Still, awkward moments can ensue. “If it’s handled poorly, a boss can look at [the complaints] as someone who is not putting in enough effort, or not being a team player,” said Scott Moss, president of Moss Construction Management in Fort Lauderdale, which has 240 employees and projects spanning the Southeast. And even the most positive approach won’t be effective if you routinely leave earlier than the boss or spend chunks of time making personal calls at work, say career experts.

But for hard-working employees focused on company goals, keeping your mouth shut and missing deadlines or making mistakes is worse, Moss said.

As a boss, he has had workers, even high level executives, come to tell him they have too many new jobs starting at the same time. Moss said he listens when the employee shows how the situation could adversely affect the company and suggests a solution. “I’d rather they speak up than the company suffer.”


Conveying the attitude that you are in this together to resolve an important workplace concern is a positive approach.

The majority of bosses are willing to help with setting priorities, managing competing deadlines or reallocating responsibilities.

Case in point: Lawyer Jeff Schneider, managing partner of Levine Kellogg Lehman Schneider & Grossman in Miami, was clacking away on the keyboard one day when an associate walked in. “I’m dying,” the young lawyer declared. “Deadlines are piling up on me.”

“Take a deep breath,” Schneider replied, “Tell me what the issue is.”

The associate explained that two cases had exploded at the same time and work was piling up. Schneider suggested bringing in another lawyer for support.

It’s a familiar scenario, Schneider said.

Most bosses prefer that conversation, he said to the alternatives — missed deadlines, mistakes or health issues. In the past, he has worked in environments where people fear speaking up or asking for help. “Usually, they lose it and quit.”

And, as the Pew study showed, many employers aren’t even aware how stressed employees have become.

Miami financial administrator Karen McCarthy was already stewing over an increasing workload that was leading to longer hours. As her boss handed the single mother yet another assignment, her heart began racing and anxiety took over.

When she snapped at her boss, he looked stunned. “That’s when I realized he wasn’t even aware of the weight of the workload he had dumped on me.”


But addressing the situation isn’t only the job of the company. Cali Yost, author of Tweak It and an expert on work-life dialogue, says while a boss can help set assignment priorities, it’s up to each of us to set our life priorities. Once we’re clear on them, we can make small adjustments to get the sense of overwhelm under control rather that reacting drastically, she says.

“The real reason people disengage or quit their jobs is an accumulation of small frustrations,” she said. She advises people to speak up before the situation becomes a powder keg. Ask for small changes that can lessen the load, like a more efficient computer program, a shift in work hours or a scheduled weekly priority meeting.

“People have to partner with their employers.” And that, she says, helps everyone prosper.

April 09, 2013

How are you celebrating Equal Pay Day 2013?


Equal pay day


Today, I'd love to be at a local town hall meeting bringing attention to Equal Pay Day. But I'm slammed with deadlines. (I hate when work gets in the way of fun!) So, instead, I'm celebrating Equal Pay Day by brainstorming strategic coverage I can give the topic throughout the year.

White women are paid 77 cents, black women 69 cents and Hispanic women 60 cents for every dollar paid to a white male. If women were paid equal to men, we'd be able to afford some of the conveniences that make a difference in our work life balance -- better child care, healthier take out meals, dog walkers, etc. These conveniences not only make our lives easier, they make our entire family lives better. We can't go another generation with women earning less than men for doing the same job.

Now, I ask you, what are you doing to celebrate Equal Pay Day?

It could be something as simple as talking to your children about the wage gap and encouraging them to make changes when they enter the workplace. 

It could be something as simple as writing a quick email to your state representative to let him or her know this is an issue you care about.

It could be something as simple as asking for a raise, and telling your boss why you deserve one. Or asking for a raise for your female assistant.

It could be something as simple as re-tweeting a tweet or reposting a Facebook post in support of Equal Pay Day.

It could be something as simple as wearing red today, and telling people why you are wearing red.

I'm sure you can think of lots of other things to do. Just do something and share your thoughts!


April 05, 2013

When your workplace replacement is younger, what's that like? Let's ask Leno.



By the time you hit 40, you think every gray hair or new wrinkle is a BIG deal.  But nothing would make me feel older that losing my job to a younger person.

In the case of NBC’s Tonight show, the decision to have Jimmy Fallon take over the job of veteran host Jay Leno has been in the works for months.  Though making headlines, the two hosts and the network maintain the decision was amicable, and that it will further the success of all parties involved.

It must stink to be Jay.

Management will expect a seemless transition. If I were Jay Leno, I would be bitter, wouldn't you?

Like any ousted leader, Jay is supposed to act like he's okay with situation. He is not the first talented guy be replaced by a younger person and he won't be the last. But he does need to leave gracefully, because in TV, like in most industries, you don't want to burn bridges with anyone who might help you down the road.

Clearly, there's a lesson in Jay Leno's situation for all of us.

Today, more than ever, there's value in being young and thinking young. So if we aren't young, we need to appear young. We need to look our best in the workplace, surround ourselves with young people who can guide us how to appeal to a younger customer or audience, and be open to continually doing things differently and better. 

The New York Times said: At 62 years old, Leno represents a more traditional form of hosting, as he's known for his "Las Vegas-style comedy. Fallon, 38, regularly incorporates the Web and social media into his act, offering "a more contemporary and varied brand of entertainment." 

What Jay may not have realized is you're never too old to keep your finger on the pulse of change and go with it. If you don't, someone else will. It's a mistake many business owners and leaders make, too.

It will be interesting to see what Jay does next. At 62, he still has time to make an intriguing career move. I'll be watching and, hopefully, learning a lesson in reinvention.


April 03, 2013

"Don't leave college without a husband": Mom's advice causes a stir

What the heck is going on? The women's movement is in turmoil.

The newest controversial figure to get women's panties in a tightwad is Susan Patton who wrote an open letter published in the school newspaper to the Ivy League school's female students.In the letter, Patton tells female students that they should take the opportunity to find a husband while on campus before they graduate, because they will never again have a deep pool of qualified potential mates once they leave.

"Smart women can't (shouldn't) marry men who aren't at least their intellectual equal. As Princeton women, we have almost priced ourselves out of the market. Simply put, there is a very limited population of men who are as smart or smarter than we are,” she wrote.

“And I say again — you will never again be surrounded by this concentration of men who are worthy of you. Of course, once you graduate, you will meet men who are your intellectual equal — just not that many of them."

Patton, a 1977 graduate, is the mother two boys -- a Princeton alum and a current undergraduate  -- and says if she had daughters, that's the advice she would be giving them.

What craziness!

I did exactly what Patton is telling the female students to do. I met my husband my senior year of college and got engaged shortly after graduation. I'm married 26 years. You won't find me writing a letter like Patton's. As blogger Vivia Chen writes: "Fact is, it's not always easy to make the transition from a college relationship into adulthood. People grow up and grow apart." So true, Vivia, so true....

While my husband and I have grown up together, it hasn't always been easy to work through the what it takes to accommodate two career interests at the same time.

Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, has said, "The most important career choice you'll make is who you marry. I have an awesome husband, and we're 50/50." 

She spoke passionately about how there's a "stalled revolution for women" right now, and how having a supportive spouse — a real partner — will play a huge part in your success.

Don't get me wrong, I can see where Patton is coming from. As a student you're in contact with people your own age, or close to your age most of the time, which makes meeting potential partners much easier. But does that really need to be a graduation goal for young women? Those Princeton guys might be smart, but we've all learned that it is what you do with that knowledge that counts.

My advice to my daughter is make your education and career a priority while you are young and you will find the right guy at the right time who supports your choices.That right time might be in college or it might be a decade later.

What do you think about Patton's advice to young women? What would your advice be?


Susan patton
(Princeton grad Susan Patton unintentionally launched a media storm with her open letter to young women.)



Network, exercise and have work life balance? Start Running.

A few years ago, a friend at work asked me if I wanted to join her on our newspaper's team for the local Corporate Run. At the time, it had been a decade since I ran. But she asked me enough in advance that I figured I could train -- so I agreed to do it. I loved the comraderie of running alongside my co-workers and mingled with people in departments I wouldn't have met.

Running, I have learned, is exercise that can fit into anyone's work life balance. If there's a desire, it's possible to fit 30 minutes somewhere in your day or night to head out the front door and run. After the Corporate Run was over, I was in good running shape and didn't want to lose the momentum. I invited my children to run with me. My daughter often jogs with me and she's found it a great stress reliever from the mountains of homework she confronts after school. For me, running now serves multiple purposes. 

Recently, I began to notice running has taken off. Wherever I go, I hear people talking about the 5Ks they are entering or the half marathons just finished. I also noticed it's become a great way to network.

Today, I wrote about running in my Miami Herald column. If you haven't explored running as a stress reliever or way to network, I recommend it. If you sit on the sidelines watching your child practice a sport, get up and start running. There are apps to get you started as well as local running clubs. Start small and build up. You might even consider an initial run/walk method. I think you'll be amazed at all the advantages.

Bond with your boss on the run


(Motorola's running team runs past company sign during their midday run in Plantation on April 1, 2013. Joe Rimkus Jr. / Miami Herald Staff)

By Cindy Krischer Goodman

Want to network with the CEO of public company or the president of a university?

Start running.

Adam Goldstein, CEO of Royal Caribbean International, says his running workouts and passion for the sport build rapport with staffers at all levels. “There is no doubt I have running friends in the company who I might otherwise not have formed as strong relationships.”

Running just may be the 21st Century version of golf. It’s a chance to polish office relationships, impress the boss, and “bond with colleagues outside the hierarchy,” Goldstein says.

Across the country, companies are forming running clubs, co-workers are pairing up to train for marathons and businesses are sponsoring employee teams in charity events. It’s hard to beat running as a low-cost-barrier-to-entry sport. All it takes is a pair of sneakers and comfortable clothes. And it can be done anywhere on your own schedule.

Often, the initial draw is workplace camaraderie. Corporate runs such as the Mercedes-Benz Corporate Run in Fort Lauderdale, Miami and West Palm Beach this month, introduce newbies to the sport, often with company-wide training programs to prepare for the 5-kilometer run. That’s what hooked Ed Suarez-Rivero, a software manager at Motorola in Plantation, who now jogs at lunchtime with the running group at his company.

Suarez-Rivero says exercising with co-workers builds relationships across departments and opens the door to more personal conversation than what would typically take place among desks and computers. “You get really comfortable with people you sweat with. You joke around. If you’re having a problem with your son you might vent with them. It’s different.”

Laurie Huseby, president of TeamFootWorks, producer of the Mercedes-Benz Corporate Run Series, says running used to be dominated by competitive athletes. Now it’s popular with people who want to lose weight, run for a cause, meet new people, challenge themselves to reach a goal, improve energy level or relieve stress. As the sport has taken off, running clubs are popping up in cities across the country and the number of marathons has topped 500 a year. In many parts of the country, there’s a run for charity or competition every month, year round. Running USA estimates there were 1.85 million finishers at U.S. half-marathons in 2012, which is nearly 15 percent more than the previous record of 1.6 million in 2011.

In South Florida, participation in corporate runs has jumped 30 percent from 2012 to 2013. “People have realized that even if you’re not the most fit, you can enjoy running and better your health,” Huseby says. Moreover, she says, the tent parties after a race are more fun than company holiday parties. “It’s a much less intimidating environment to hang out with the CEO.”

Yet, it seems to be the competitive aspect of running that attracts the high-level executives who once spent the day on the golf course. More than 100 CEOs will race in their own category in the Mercedes-Benz Corporate Run Series in South Florida this month, including the top brass at Sheridan Healthcare and the president of St. Thomas University. Goldstein at Royal Caribbean International takes the challenge seriously. He’s training with a coach and believes his passion for fitness and running has filtered down, galvanizing more than 300 participants on the cruise line’s team in the Miami corporate run. Goldstein also has formed company teams to compete in national running events with him. “Being able to compete as colleagues is important to me. I have bent my schedule to make races.”

At a time when stress levels are high and working hours longer, busy professionals say running fits easily into their work life balance. Heather Geronemus runs 40 miles a week. Even while traveling often for her job as events marketing director at Ultimate Software, Geronemus sticks to her running routine.

“All you need is sneakers. It’s a nice way to explore a community. I just ran the Vegas strip last week.” said Geronemus, chair of the MADD Dash Fort Lauderdale, who also travels for marathons and uses running as common ground with people she wants to meet for business. “It is the newest way to network.”

Running can also be a productivity booster. Every weekday morning, Rebecca Laracuente-Hernandez and eight other women meet at a nearby university to run for an hour as the sun rises. “It has become like a support group. We run. We talk and then we shower and head to our jobs.” By 9 a.m., when she arrives at her office at Wells Fargo Bank, Laracuente-Hernandez says she’s ready to do her best work. “I’m relaxed, and feel I can tackle anything.”

All it may take is one runner at a workplace to change the vibe. Jim Halley, a competitive runner who works at the Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport, says he’s that guy. “I’m not pushy about it. I just let my co-workers know if they are interested, I can help them out.” Halley says he always rallies a team for the local corporate run, encouraging colleagues to get past hesitation or the awkwardness of sweating alongside co-workers. “Once they make it across the finish line the first time, they’re hooked.”