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9 posts from June 2013

June 27, 2013

Why you need to be a rubberband

Want to know the secret to work life balance and career success?

Be a rubber band.

RubberbandBy that, I mean learn to bend, stretch and pop back into shape. Summer is a great time to practice that skill In business, we can no longer be rigid. Just the other day, my friend was telling me that she offered to manage the summer interns at her company. It was a bit of a stretch for her, something that completely took her out of her comfort zone. But she had figured out that it would give her management experience and some clout, enough clout to get some flexibility in her schedule and still look like a star.

It would have been easy for my friend to steer clear of managing the interns because she has no management training. These days, few employees do. But prized employees, successful managers and smart business owners do whatever new is asked of them -- without drama -- and figure out ways to take initiative to stretch in new directions. The key is adopt a mindset that allows you to look at situations and try new approaches. Performance evaluations almost always give high marks for taking initiative and being adaptible.

Diane Stafford of the Kansas City Star writes:

Sometimes, I hear comments from mid- and late-career job hunters that make me cringe about their re-employment odds. They talk about the way things used to be or about out-dated projects they did in the past. Sometimes their tone of voice is plainly negative or suspicious about change.

They’re not selling themselves as rubber bands. They’re selling themselves as rigid metal O-rings with no stretch toward what they could be.

Look at the business leaders you admire. Would Steve Jobs consider himself a rubber band? Yes. Yes. Yes.

You can put the rubber band idea into practice in your personal life, too. For example, if you've been using the same approach to getting out the door in the morning and you're always late, bend in a different and try a different routine.  Becoming a rubber band could make you more productive, less exhausted and more balanced.
Think about it. Are you a rubber band? If not, what would it take for you to become one?

 

June 26, 2013

Is working harder the answer, or the problem? Ask a workaholic.

Should some of us forget about work life balance and go for financial success?

(My answer to that question as it appeared in today's Miami Herald!)

Just last month, Ivan Glasenberg, the 57-year-old billionaire CEO of Glencore Xstrata, outspokenly told the media that he is not interested in helping his employees find work/life balance. He touts a tough, old-school 24/7 work ethic as a reason to buy shares in his commodity trading and mining company.

“We work,” he said. “You don’t come here to take life easy. And we all got rich from it, so, you know, there’s a benefit from it.”

Glasenberg, who boasts about his grueling travel schedule, said his company operates a hyper-competitive environment where if someone lets up, they get ousted by the guys below. “Some guy suddenly decides: I want to take it easier, I want to spend more time with the family’… an attack will come. I tell investors, come meet [my employees], and tell me who you think is going to lie at the beach.”

Even in an era of fun workplaces and flexible schedules, Glasenberg has the attitude that working your butt off is a great thing. It’s a formula that has worked for some companies for decades. But is it still what works today? Is working harder the answer to business success, or the problem?

We have seen the business reality: if you have shareholders to answer to, sell time as your product, or run a fast-paced business and want financial success, you give it 100 percent and demand employees do the same. But it’s an approach that comes with a cost, both both personally — in relationships and health — and corporately, when managers burn out.

A new study from Harvard Business Review says putting in more than 70 hours per week reduces work performance to roughly the same level as being inebriated. And a new FSU study on workaholics found that when employees habits fall far on either the low or high end of the “workaholism’’ scale, both the company and the employee are likely to suffer.

In other words, too much focus on work can fry enthusiasm and health. “At some point you are going to burn out, particularly when it’s not a choice,” says Wayne Hochwarter, the Jim Moran Professor of Business Administration in Florida State’s College of Business, who authored the survey.

“When in excessively low or high ranges, both the company and the employee are likely to suffer.”

Still, some leaders believe overwork is only possible if you are not having fun at work.

Advertising executive Jordan Zimmerman, much like Glasenberg, is a self-proclaimed workaholic who has kept up momentum over nearly three decades even when others insisted he would burn out. He believes cranking 24/7 is an absolute necessity in a service business and authors a blog called YouSleepWhenYouDie.com. “We live in a world of immediacy. When a client needs you, you have to be available.”

On its website, Zimmerman Advertising declares that employees work at the speed, velocity and intensity of retail itself. A graphic tracks the weekly performance of its 1,900 employees’ performance from the weekly number of boarding passes issued to staff (307) to the number of antacids chewed (492): “Some call it relentless. We call it a good week,” it boasts.

Zimmerman says his employees must have high energy and be extremely responsive — qualities that are tested during the interview process. “We are looking for people who want the opportunity to grow into a higher position at a faster rate and are willing to sacrifice personal time. They must be available 24/7 and their clients’ business has to become their business.”

As CEO, Zimmerman sets the example. He regularly talks to clients after midnight and before 6 a.m. and lives with a cellphone to his ear, even on the ski slopes. By doing so, he has built a $3 billion empire that has produced some of the catchiest campaigns in the business for clients such as Party City and Papa John’s. “Work invigorates me. I’m passionate about what I do, about making a difference in brands we represent,” he said. After 28 years of working at madman pace, he is still going strong.

Some experts argue that being a workaholic in a competitive industry isn’t a choice. Such is the case in luxury real estate, says Mark Pordes, CEO of Pordes Residential Sales, Marketing and Acquisitions in Aventura. Pordes put in 10-hour days to turn around flagging sales at Canyon Ranch Miami Beach, creating a campaign that led to 300 sales in 18 months. Now, he is applying his expertise and tenacity to the high-end Veer Towers in City Center in Las Vegas.

Pordes says selling high-priced condos and landing customers around the globe means working harder, longer and being available at all hours. If you’re busy having too much of a life outside of work, you could lose a sale, he explains.

“If you don’t respond quickly and accurately, the client is off to the next person. There is low loyalty in luxury sales.”

Like Glasenberg, Pordes believes the job of a company isn’t to help its employees find a work-life balance, but rather to make money. Employees must learn time management and work-life balance skills on their own, he says.

Although he still considers himself a workaholic, he has started to see the toll. A recent hip problem has led him to rethink time management and take an hour a day to exercise. “I’ve learned if you’re feeling better, you will perform better at work.”

In some scenarios, being a workaholic seems to be more palatable. For example, it comes with the territory for small-business owners or managers motivated by a huge monetary incentives. But for those who will never get rich — even working 24/7 — it seem just a question of time until they balk at their work-life imbalance.

Most of us have had weeks, months, even years when our scale tipped far more toward work than life. But when it’s demanded of us relentlessly, there is a point when stamina and payoff erode, research shows.

Wayne Hochwarter, a Jim Moran Professor of Business Administration in Florida State’s College of Business, studied workaholism and found the breaking point differs for each person. However, a signal of a problem is an all-consuming guilt for taking time off.

“A passion for work is great, but when it’s no longer a choice, when work is overwhelming you, that’s different,” Hochwarter says.

Like many former workaholics, Paul Lipton, 68, has realized a work-centric life comes with a pricetag. The former trial attorney with Greenberg Traurig in Miami says he loved his job but now regrets the price for spending long hours in his office and the courthouse.

Newly retired, Lipton says he didn’t realize how much he missed out on personal and family milestones, both big and small. He wants to change his situation going forward and has documented his awakening in his new book Hour of the Wolf, in which he tells others to live life to its fullest.

Lipton understands that success is measured in different ways. For some, it’s money and the elite status that comes with surviving in a Glencore-like work environment. For Lipton, success is now defined in personal fulfillment.

I have to wonder, a decade from now, will Glasenberg feel the same way?


June 20, 2013

Here's how to stop hating your job

Cropped photo
(Nicki Anders, Debra Lage and Heather Geronemus )


How do you feel about your job? A study, by Gallup, found most people are not exactly loving them.

Only 30% of American workers are engaged or enthusiastic about their job, the lowest score since Gallup began tracking the U.S. workers in 2000.  A whopping 70 percent of American workers are giving less than their best effort at work. 

Are you one of them?

Nicki Anders is not and she has advise for you haters.

Anders loves her job as VP of Customer Collaboration at Ultimate SoftwareIt helps that she works for a company that ranked #9 on the Fortune List of Best Companies to Work For 2013, a company that lives by the motto: "employees take care of employees." I heard Anders speak this morning at a meeting of Women Executive Leadership.

Anders pointed to us that sometimes, people aren't suited for the job they go after. For example, they try to advance to manager and discover they aren't passionate about managing. "That's a painful lesson," she says. 

To advance to the top, and be happy when you get there, you have to know what your definition of "the top" is and when to change your definition. "Getting to the top is a journey and people can get stuck doing the same thing too long," she says.

The best way to learn to love your job is to know what you are good at, know what you are passionate about and understand the economic model of combining those two things, she said. 

Consultant Shari Roth spoke up and said most of the time, when you ask people what they want from their careers, they are silent. They don't know and that's why they aren't happy.

"I didn't know what I wanted," Anders admitted. "But I was driven to figure it out."

Anders says people often enjoy their jobs more when they actually listen to others in their workplaces. "Listen voraciously," she advises. Rather than getting worked up over a co-worker's email, read it out loud and take the emotion out of it.

Another suggestion for making work more enjoyable: Seek growth opportunities. "Are you growing if you are never uncomfortable? No. Get comfortable being uncomfortable."

Some people spend hours at work, unnecessarily. Don't burn yourself out and hate your job because you're putting in long hours. Concentrate on results not effort, she says. And, know what's not as important. "Life and work are hard. We have 100 balls to juggle. We're likely going to drop 20. The struggle is figuring out which 20 to drop."

A key component of work life balance is feeling fulfilled at home AND at work.

Sure there are employers who can work harder to engage employees. But you can take control of your work life balance and figure out ways to enjoy your work life -- or start seeking other opportunities. 

Readers, if you're completely disengaged at work, is it too late for your employer to help you feel differently?

Check out where your state ranks: Gallup: Best and Worst States for Employee Engagement


June 19, 2013

The new reality: Male caregivers for aging parents

As the nation celebrated Father's Day, I wanted to write a twist on the articles we read all the time about more men taking bigger roles in the lives of their children. Yes, men are struggling with work life balance and work and family conflict. However, I saw a trend in men taking care of their aging parents. Although I focused my column today on men taking their dads, plenty of men are caregivers for their mom, too. Expect to see more men needing accommodations at work to pull off this balancing act. 

 

 

Flexible work schedules help men who care for parents

John Shoendorf, a CPA, takes a walk with his dad, Harold, along the dock behind Harold's apartment in Coral Gables on June 10, 2013. PATRICK FARRELL / MIAMI HERALD STAFF

By Cindy Krischer Goodman

Juan Erman Gonzalez was showing his clothing patterns to a customer when his cellphone buzzed. It was his mother telling him that his father had another fender bender. Gonzalez excused himself to his agitated client and zipped off to persuade dad to give up driving.

That was three years ago.

Today, Gonzalez ‘s dad, 85, resides in an assisted-living facility. The younger Gonzalez and his brother, Guillermo, deliver him special meals, spends a few hours by his side and mows the lawn of the home Dad refuses to sell. Just when he thinks the care arrangements are working smoothly, something will change and require his attention.

Gonzalez says he’s lucky; as a freelance clothing pattern designer, he’s usually able to fit work around his caregiving schedule. “Sometimes I am able to work a complete week, sometimes not.”

Gonzalez is among an increasing number of men caring for aging parents — especially fathers — and experiencing the work/life conflicts this new dynamic brings. While men are less likely to help Dad in the shower or to get dressed, they are stepping in to hire and fire doctors, drive Pop to the grocery store and manage finances. “They are doing things they never expected to do for their dads,” says Gary Barg, CEO and editor in chief of Caregiver Media Group.

Because more male caregivers work full time, many report that overseeing Dad’s care has required they modify their work schedules, leave early, take time off or turn down overtime. According to a study published in 2009 by the National Alliance for Caregiving in collaboration with the AARP, one out of three caregivers — about 14.5 million — are men. “I think it’s clear that the demands on men as well as women are going to increase in terms of family care,” Barg said.

John Schoendorf, a Miami forensic accountant and only child whose mother died at 40, has been transitioning into the caregiver role for the past two years, and has become closer with his dad. “My father has comfortably brought me into the loop of his financial and medical world.”

Still, Shoendorf has had to change his late-night working habits and rearrange his work hours to go with his 86-year-old father, Harold, on doctors’ appointments. “I have had to remember family is more important than work. That’s harder to do sometimes than others.”

While male caregivers like Schoendorf deal with the same issues as their female counterparts, they also face distinctive challenges. They are more likely to use paid assistance for their loved ones’ personal care. They tend to travel farther or spend more time organizing care from a distance, and they are more hesitant to let a boss or co-worker know about their role as a caregiver, according to the AARP. In fact, men feel challenged by the perception that their need for time off or flexibility to care for Dad will be seen as a lack of commitment to their job.

“We try to get male caregivers to understand they have taken on a new job role,” Barg says. “They have become CEO of Caring for my Loved One Inc. and that takes a time commitment.”

Sons often find their new role is an emotional and logistical roller coaster. Carlos Ramirez, a Miami healthcare consultant, has been caring for his 80-year-old father since his sister recently died from breast cancer. His father, who suffers from diabetes, now relies on Ramirez to make medical decisions that recently included the amputation of a toe. “On a typical week, I’ll make him appointments, go with him on appointments and follow up with doctors.”

Ramirez often needs to exercise the flexibility his career as a consultant provides. “Some specialists only see patients certain days of the week or do procedures certain days.” He finds himself in an ongoing tussle over how much of his father’s care he can personally take on.

Experts say getting ahead of an aging father’s needs makes the balancing act easier — but often doesn’t happen. Men are more likely to ignore the mental or physical decline and believe a father who says he’s fine — until it reaches a crisis, says Amy Seigel, director of Advocare Care Management in South Florida. “When a father says he’s fine, a son goes back to his childhood and he is still that guy’s son.”

Seigel, who runs a geriatric care management company, often gets the call from a concerned son miles away from Dad when a situation spirals out of control. “They are panicked because they are at work and having trouble managing the medical and emotion needs of a parent who lives in another city or state.”

Recently, she heard from a New York surgeon who called in between operations. He had called to check on his dad in a hospital in South Florida but was disconnected several times. “I can’t keep leaving my job and getting on a plane because Dad fell in Florida,” he exasperatedly told Seigel.

Such struggles are what led Seigel to launch her South Florida business. “We become the eyes and ears for these adult children who need help with overseeing the medical, physical and mental health needs of a parent.”

Whether from a distance or nearby, Seigel says managing the care of an aging parent is an emotional period for adult children when roles change. “It’s a chance to mend any differences and build a bond. It can be a nice, rewarding experience.”

Gonzalez and his father have had a strained relationship for many years. But now, as he spends time with Dad and shares caretaking with his brother, he sees himself as a role model for his children, 26 and 19. “It’s important for me to show my children there’s respect for the elderly. Even though I have worked out a system of professional care, it doesn’t mean I drop my father off and abandon him. I’m showing my kids that you be there for family.”

Even with busy work schedules, caregivers can be there for a parent by calling at the same time every day, says Steven Huberman, dean of the Touro College Graduate School of Social Work. Huberman also advises reluctant male caregivers to use personal days, ask for flexibility and inquire about elder care benefits, particular if they become aware of their father’s deteriorating condition. “It may seem like a burden, but I recommend they savor the moment.”



 

June 13, 2013

Working fathers deserve some attention

I love this time of year. My inbox is flooded with emails about surveys, research and gift ideas for fathers. I think my favorite part of the inundation is knowing that at least once a year, working fathers issues are getting attention.

For example, one email I received addressed offered me the opportunity to interview Paternity Leave pioneer, Dr. Jerry Cammarata, Dean of Student Affairs at Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine in Harlem, who filed and won the first-ever Paternity Leave lawsuit against the NYC Board of Education in 1983.  Cammarata believes the Family Medical Leave Act must immediately be amended to allow every father in all 50 states to be  encouraged to take advantage of paternity leave. 

Another email wants to make me aware of new research on fathers. A University of Missouri researcher has found that fathers and mothers are happier when they share household and child-rearing responsibilities. Along those lines, there's an article link that made its way into my inbox. The article by the Associated Press is titled: The new dads: Diaper duty's just the start It says more men are doing more around the house, from packing school lunches and doing laundry to getting up in the middle of the night with a screaming infant.

Let's not forget to give divorced dads some attention. Huffington Post blogger Vicki Larson writes her viewpoint in this post:  Why Is No One Paying Attention To Divorced Dads?

An then there's, Break Media's  New Face of Fatherhood. An info-graphic that breaks down the results of a survey on dads. Key insights:  33 percent of Dads want to spend more time with their kids this Father’s Day.

And, if you're shopping for Father's Day, this link is sure to be a winner: 10 Worst Father's Day Gifts and What to Do Instead 

 

To all the hard working dads out there, Happy Father's Day!

 

 

June 12, 2013

Is outsourcing the key to work life balance?

A few weeks ago, I wrote about how a spouse can make or break your efforts to achieve work life balance. Marlo Struve emailed me to let me know what I wrote had hit home for her. She and her boyfriend have begun to find more ways to support each other. They also have found another key component to making their balancing act work.

Today, Marlo Struve is my guest blogger and she shares her secret for making that happen. 

 

Screen Shot 2013-04-04 at 4.15.28 PMMy boyfriend and I recently moved in together and although I thought it would bring us closer together, we became passing ships in the night.  We both lead incredibly busy lives working at high profile startups. He’s a co-founder of a start up while I manage multiple projects at a different start up. So, how do we make time for each other while hundreds of emails are hitting our inbox?  

We’ve started outsourcing our lives.

A lot of women cite ‘outsourcing’ as a way to keep balance with a job, children, and their spouse. I believe this thinking can be applied to anyone who needs to make room for things that really matter. For example, my boyfriend and I order all of our groceries from an online delivery service, Instacart. We have all of our household goods and toiletries shipped home through Amazon.  I’m even looking for a company who will send me clothing on a monthly basis so I don’t have to shop.  All of this is in an effort to make my life easier so I can LIVE it as opposed to keep up with it.

Six months ago, my boyfriend also decided to try Homejoy to clean our apartment. Homejoy allows clients to book a professional cleaner online in seconds for $20 an hour. My boyfriend booked online and sent me the reminder email with the picture of our cleaner so I knew who to expect.  I absolutely loved the service and decided to book regular appointments.  The exciting thing was Homejoy was hiring and a month later I joined the team. The founders, the brother and sister team of Aaron and Adora Cheung, were searching for a cheap and reliable cleaning service and couldn’t find one without spending several hours on the phone. Their response was to create Homejoy.

Now, I work there and I continue to use the service. The best part is that because my boyfriend and I spend less time cleaning, we have more time for date night. Outsourcing has given me the freedom to use my time the way I want to spend it -- instead of scrubbing the kitchen sink!

 

Homejoy Founders_Aaron and Adora
 Homejoy founders Aaron and Adora Cheung

 

June 06, 2013

The Secret to a More Productive Summer

 

  Prosummer 

These last few weeks, work life balance has been elusive. I've been crazed with the wind down of the school year and the multitude of awards ceremonies, graduation parties and performances.

 

Now here comes summer, a chance to break from routine and put a little more fun into my life. I'm looking forward to it!

 

I'm also looking forward to using the slow season to my advantage and making my summer productive. I bet you are too. If all of us are strategic, we can emerge from summer more relaxed, fulfilled, and well positioned for career success.

 

Here are a few ways to go about it:

 

1. Scope out the competition. Summer presents an ideal opportunity to study your competitors and find out what they're doing right. Research what marketing materials they are using and how they are embracing social networks. Seek opinions from customers and figure out what you might want to replicate. or improve upon. 

 

2. BrainstormIt can be challenging to think big picture when you're shuttling kids to school, helping with homework or working on a giant office project. As clients and co-workers take their vacations, use the slow time to come up with new ideas, campaigns, or approaches to doing business or solving problems. Make it fun. Take a walk at lunch or eat on a bench and come up with new ways to be better at what you do.

 

3. Get out of the office. Take advantage of somewhat lighter summer schedules and extend an invitation to a someone in your industry you've wanted to get to know. Busy people are more likely to say yes during summer. It's also a good time to go to networking events, conferences or host an office barbecue.

 

4. Assess. You probably set goals or made resolutions in January. Review them and figure out whether you're on pace to meet them by the end of the year. If you find yourself falling short, either adjust your expectations or figure out what changes to make. You may even want to set new goals to hit by year end.

 

5. Learn a new skill. Have you wanted to learn how to use Twitter or Pinterest? Do you want to get a better understanding of business terms or learn how to make flan? How-to Webinars, tutorials and online courses abound on the Internet. Set aside a block of time each week for learning.

 

6. Refresh Websites and Social Media Profiles. Having your online information as current as possible will help you in business. People often look for you online before they call you. Update your profile information in the "about" sections of social networks and create a Wikipedia page for yourself.

 

7. Go somewhereGetting away gives you perspective. A week vacation is ideal but not everyone can take time off. Look at how you can rearrange your schedule to zip somewhere for a long weekend or overnight trip. Even if you don't travel far, a shift in scenery can make you feel far away and help you head into Fall feeling refreshed.

 

 

Have a fun and productive summer!

 

 

June 05, 2013

College grads: Using free time in your 20s to make it pay off in your 40s

These last few weeks, work life balance has been elusive. I've been crazed with the wind down of the school year and ducking from editors who might want more from me. I long for the days when I was in my early 20s and had the time to more easily invest in my career. 

So, if I was a college graduate, how would I spend my free time? I tackled that question in my Miami Herald column today.

 

Advice to graduates: Combine networking with true passions

 Andrew Lucas / MCT

By Cindy Krischer Goodman

balancegal@gmail.com

In the boardroom of large public companies, where few women sit at the table, there’s a dysfunctional dynamic going on. The female directors say they are left out of strategic decision-making because those conversations often happen on the golf course and they don’t play golf.

After learning about this in the Harvard Business Review, I brought it up with a female CEO who wishes she had mastered golf and said she would advise new college graduates to learn the sport. I wonder though, will professional networking and back-door decision-making in the future even be done on the greens? Or will it be done some other place entirely that requires a different skill?

With work/life balance an increasing concern, how should today’s college graduates optimize their free time now to build the right networks, learn the right skills and lay the foundation to become successful leaders in the future?

Advice from high-level professionals varies greatly, and there’s acknowledgement that today’s formula might not be the recipe for tomorrow.

Most of today’s board members and CEOs began their careers when email and social networks didn’t exist. This 2013 crop of college graduates, an estimated 1.8 million people, enters the workforce with highly developed digital skills, multitasking abilities and an expectation of work/life balance. And, even with the hiring outlook still bleak, many prioritize the nature of the work over compensation when considering a job, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

One South Florida professional advises college graduates to master multiple languages and leave the country rather than spend that time learning to golf.

“Your 20s is the ideal time to raise your hand to take on a project in Portugal or enroll in a business program in Spain,” says Bonnie Crabtree, senior client partner and office managing director of Korn/Ferry International’s Miami office. Contacts in other parts of the world and a different perspective can become valuable in your later career, she says.

Crabtree says her firm recently researched the backgrounds of board members at the nation’s top public companies. “International experience really shows up in statistics.”

Sometimes knowing what you want to accomplish can shape your early career strategy. J. Preston Jones, interim dean of the H. Wayne Huizenga School of Business and Entrepreneurship at Nova Southeastern University, often networks on the golf course, playing alongside university presidents, community leaders and fundraisers. He advises graduates to identify the ultimate job they want and study where and how those who now hold those positions built strategic relationships.

“If the decision makers are playing golf or fishing or climbing the Himalayas, those are activities you should consider adding to your repertoire of things you become passionate about.” Doing activities you enjoy, outside the workplace with other professionals makes business fun, he says. “You are not only bonding but welding relationships.”

Using your 20s to position yourself as a leader can also pay off. Community, charity and political organizations are the lunch clubs and golf courses of tomorrow. Getting involved in Make A Wish, the Cuban American Bar Association or the University of Florida alumni group can put a college graduate or new associate in front of judges, senior vice presidents and business owners.

You can’t just be a member. You have to chair a committee or run events. You want others to see you as a leader,” says Jill Granat, senior vice president/general counsel of Burger King Corp. and president of the Burger King McLamore Foundation. But she cautions that you need to choose an organization you are passionate about or you will come off as superficial. “Don’t do something you don’t like.”

Granat also advises positioning yourself as a leader inside your company, too, by showing you are flexible and seizing opportunities. “You need to be willing to make your mark where the company needs you. You might want to do X, but if you are willing to do Y, you will get a foot in the door.”

Of course, today’s college graduates feel more comfortable than prior generations building connections online. Building and maintaining social networks are worth the time investment. But that is only one step of the process, says Mary Leslie Smith, a partner in the Miami office of Foley & Lardner and the newly installed president of the Dade County Bar Association. Be bold and invite people to enjoy experiences with you, she says.

“I just went with a client to a Madonna concert and now we have that experience that we enjoyed together. You can’t get that by connecting on Linked In,” Smith explains, adding that building a vibrant network in your early career includes forging relationships at all levels. “Ten years from now that associate next may be a general counsel who becomes a client. The more friendships, the more relationships you build, the better.”

Smith also believes one of the best time investments a young professional can make is financial education, particularly for those without business degrees. “Learn to read a financial statement, the key terms in the stock market, how to read a prospectus. It will pay off for you.”

It may seem overwhelming, but start now building a community invested in your success — mentors, sponsors or supporters. Jennifer Moline, senior vice president of finance and accounting at Terremark Worldwide, says it takes courage and a time investment to ask for advice and listen well, which becomes increasingly challenging later in your career. She suggests making a list of everyone you know and ask them to introduce you to successful people who have careers that you are interested in. An introduction by someone who knows you is most effective. “Don’t ask for a job, ask for advice.” Throughout your career, keep your network of supporters informed of your progress, which can be done on social networks, she says.

With this advice in mind, I wanted to dig deeper with Boris Groysberg, a Harvard Business School professor and author of the HBR article on women in the boardroom. Groysberg said while golf has proved key in board culture today, even he is not convinced it will pay off when college graduates are leaders.

“Having cutting edge skills is what’s going to be most important,” he said. To get those skills, he advises young people to scout for companies that will develop them by moving them around within the organization. In addition, he advises them to determine their strengths and then cultivate them. Though the likelihood of reaching the top is small, he says, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. “If you combine what you’re passionate about with your strengths, it can be a satisfying journey.”

 

 

 

 

June 03, 2013

More women are breadwinners. Now what?

There's been lots of hoopla over the last week about the increase of working mothers who bring home a fatter paycheck than their husband. It started when Pew Research Center released findings that mothers are now the sole or primary provider in 40% of households with children, up from just 11% in 1960.

That's a big shift in household dynamics!

What exactly does that mean? More women are out-earning their husbands but has that really changed anything at home or at work? I think it means that most of us are struggling even harder to find sanity in our lives, to balance our personal and professional commitments and stay sane.  That work life balance struggle can put a giant strain on our home lives -- if we let it.

Pew found the public is conflicted about whether this increase in female breadwinners is a good thing, applauding the economic benefits, but also voicing concerns about the impact on children and marriage. 

However, it has become more expected for married women to join the work force. The employment rate of married mothers with children has increased from 37% in 1968 to 65% in 2011. Yes, most mothers today work. 

The thing is as a nation, we're not so sure this is a good thing. About three-quarters of adults (74%) say the increasing number of women working for pay has made it harder for parents to raise children, and half say that it has made it harder for marriages to be successful. Couples in which the wife earns more report less satisfaction with their marriage and higher rates of divorce. 

At the same time, two-thirds say it has made it easier for families to earn enough money to live comfortably. 

Here's where the problem lies: If moms are making an increasing contributions to the family income, men must make increasing contributions to the family sanity -- that means pitching in at home with the kids. Most men get this. But not all men, and certainly not all bosses. The researchers found that when women earn more, they also tend to do more work around the house. How long can this continue?

What's the next step for our nation's families? Will the roles at home change? Will workplaces become more accommodating? Will we see the trend reverse? Let's hear your thoughts!