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6 posts from May 2017

May 24, 2017

Will Billy Bush teach us how to recover from a career setback?

 

This morning, I watched Good Morning America as former Today Show co-host Billy Bush spoke with Robin Roberts about his vulgar exchange with Donald Trump from years ago that was caught on video and released during the Presidential election. While Trump went on to become President, the viral video of the incident cost Bush his job.

Bush is the latest public personality to be embarrassed by previous behavior and an illustration how easily one incident can harm a career. While most of us strive to live our work and home lives ethically, we can appreciate Bush’s attempt to bounce back from a huge career setback.

Clearly, in my career I have made mistakes. I have found the more that lands on my plate, the easier it becomes to make mistakes – big and small. 

So, what happens when your mistake is big, maybe even a career setback like Bush experienced in this visual and digital age...How do you recover? The steps are clearer than you might think. Here’s what we can all learn from Billy Bush.

  • Admit your mistake and apologize. In my workplace, and I’m sure in yours, you have had people who make mistakes and try to cover them up. Almost always that makes the situation worse. Bush will continue to have critics but coming out on camera and explaining his actions and stating there is no excuse for his actions was a start.
  • Lean on experts. Billy Bush admitted to Robin Roberts that he has spent the last seven months doing a lot of soul searching. He now meditates, practices mindfulness and yoga. "He knows it's a process which led him to be ready and able to do the interview, Robin Roberts told the audience after the interview.  DUring the seven months, Bush went to Tony Robbins workshops to better himself. He said Tony pointed at him and said: "One bad moment does not define who you are."
  • Redefine yourself. How will the mistake make you better at your job going forward? Bush said at the time of the video, he was "insecure and a pleaser." He says he is ready to get back to work because there is purpose, clarity and acceptance of his mistake. "I feel like a better man." Bush says he has redefined himself and wants to do purposeful reporting going forward.
  • Share your lessons. Everybody has made a mistake, but what have you learned from yours? Sharing what you have learned is a path toward moving forward. Bush said his advice for young men entering his profession is "believe in yourself. Be confident. Stay true to who you are. I think I sacrificed my own dignity in that moment," he said of the Trump incident.

Whether or not you are a Billy Bush fan, or believe in the sincerity of his apology, recovering from a career setback isn't easy and watching how Bush fares offers lessons for all.

May 23, 2017

Career Advice from Women Leaders

A few days ago, I sat in a room with 500 other women, and some men, waiting to hear the wisdom that women at the top of their professions would share. Nothing compares to the energy in the room when women are eager to learn career secrets from other women.

This year, The Commonwealth Institute South Florida, not only announced its Top Women-Led Companies in Florida at its annual event, it also revealed some interesting trends in its new report

These are some of the trends:

*At least 20 percent started companies because they had a passion for something that no one else was doing.

*The majority of women who lead companies have only 1-5 employees

* The number one issue women leaders are focused on this year is winning new business

However, it was the advice from the women panelist that I found most fascinating. 

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Moderator Janet Altman, marketing principal for Kaufman Rossin, with enthusiasm and elegance posed the questions in bold below. This is an edited version of the panel presentation:

What was your first leadership experience and what did it teach you?

Kirsten Dolan, president and COO of One Parking-- My first leadership experience was as a Resident Assistant (RA) in college. I was in charge of overseeing 150 coed college students. That experience taught me how to lead as a peer. 

Carmen Perez-Carlton, former president of FPL Fibernet -- My first leadership experience was when I worked for an accounting firm. It taught me regardless of what level you are in an organization, everyone has a valuable role to play.

How did you prove yourself early on in your career?

Tina Brown, Executive director of Overtown Youth Center - My early career was as an accountant. I had to prove to myself and to others that my work could be trusted. I had to show them that I could be accurate and meticulous.  As an African American women I have always felt I had to prove myself. From the beginning I took it as a challenge, gracefully and with a positive attitude. I did it and excelled and gained friends and mentors.

Kirsten - As a woman in a male dominated business, the men didn't know what to do with me. I wasn't want they envisioned. But I worked hard and learned from the good skill sets men have. 

The TCI survey asked women leaders if they feel there is a difference between men and women leaders and if women leaders are better or just different? Most women said female leaders are not better, just different. Do you agree?

Hilarie Bass, Co-president Greenberg Traurig - Women are consensus builders. Men want to come in and be the smartest in the room. Women want to be liked, to convince others it's in their best interest to do what they want them to do. That approach creates more loyalty among employees. It's a different approach to run a company on consensus rather than directive. 

Carmen - Women more intuitive. They take notice of things that might impact strategy. Men are more prone to take risk but women are more thoughtful.  Sometimes that's looked at as not enough of risk taking. When there is a position open and men have five of the necessary qualifications, they will apply for the job. If a woman has eight, she will wait to apply. The men believe they can learn as they go. I have noticed that women are less likely to wing it. They want to feel competent going in.

Kirsten - I noticed that men exaggerate their successes. Women are reluctant to boast but playing up your successes is a good skill to hone.

We all need networks to thrive. Who is part of your support system, your network?

Tina - My TCI (The Commonwealth Institute South Florida) network has become my family. They are people I can lean on for advice. I have learned that networks are extremely valuable. 

What are your strengths as a leader?

Carmen - Transparency and openness. I was always open and specific about goals. I would say this year is about 'x' and they could trust that it would be about that.

Tina - My ability to weigh and measure and think analytically about decisions and how decision affect everyone. You have to foresee implications when you make decisions.

Hilarie: My strength is as a consensus builder If you get consensus about goals, you can ask people to make decisions that may not be what they want to do. For example, if you are able to say "we're trying to get our firm to look like this in five years" and you get buy in, it's easier to get people to make the tough decision along the way to get where you need to go.

What are obstacles or challenges you faced on your way to the top?

Kirsten-  Perception. Prior to starting One Parking more than 12 years ago, I worked for another company and was responsible for the profitability and operations of more than 200 locations on the West Coast. I commuted from the East Coast to the West Coast for eight years and worked really hard. One day they told me I wasn't committed because I didn't live in L.A. I knew I proved myself extremely committed but I was battling perception. I left after that to start my own company.

Tina - For me a challenge has been developing my staff as leaders who can work for profit or non-profit and be successful. I feel like I have done that.

Carmen - A big challenge for me was when my company realized it was time to sell the company I was running. It was like selling my baby. It was an extremely exhausting year in 2016, going through deal making process. Now after 35 years working for companies, I am going to take time off to dedicate time to my personal life, I am going to pick up a hobby, spend time with my family and figure it out  

What advice do you give to ambitious young woman?

Kirsten-  A lot of young women worry about whether they are where they are supposed to be in their career path. I tell them no matter where you are, you are where you are supposed to be. Now, go forward from here.

Tina -  Allow integrity and passion to drive your success. Do what you want to do, take risks, work hard and be a life long learner. Take something from everyone you come in contact with good and bad. 

Carmen - Never underestimate your potential. Dream big.

Hilarie - Think about what you want to accomplish in the next 12 months. If you don't know you can't make decision about how you spend your day. Oh, and also, don't personalize rejection. Don't make it about you...simply set a new goal and move forward.



 

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Laurie Kaye Davis, Executive Director of TCI South Florida
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Carmen Perez-Carlton, Panelist
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The Miami Herald Table
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Bonnie Ross, marketing director for Fiske & Co and me


 

May 12, 2017

The perfect Mother's Day gift for working mothers

 

 

 

Flex
One night I walked into my home after work and my two young children were asleep for the night. I had left when they were sleeping and returned when they were sleeping. Although I loved my job, I considered quitting. Instead, I asked my manager for a reduced schedule. I got what I wanted but from that point on, I was shoved into a different category at work, someone who had received an accommodation.

Twenty years ago, that was the definition of flexibility, an accommodation for a working mom. Today, flexibility is much more than an accommodation. It is THE one thing that can make the difference in a working mother’s life and smart employers make it a critical component of their corporate culture.

Mothers who don’t have flexibility struggle every day with holding jobs and raising their children, and often quit when they are unable to sort out the conflicts. There is no substitute for being able to come in later or leave earlier to handle a childcare responsibility.

Recently, I asked the CEO of a real estate company how she balances her job, her community involvement on two non-profit boards, and her two children. She scoffed and told me not to ask her that question. “I have flexibility. I have help at home. It’s people who don’t have flexibility like my assistant who really deserves to be asked that question.”

These days, flexibility could be coming into work a little earlier and leaving a little earlier to make it to the daycare on time. It could be working from home in the morning to avoid rush hour, or working from home once a week. It could be taking a longer lunch to go to a parent/teacher conference. Or leaving the office on time to have dinner with the family and finishing up work later in the evening.

One Mother’s Day, I wrote a front page article about single mothers in Miami Dade who were living on the poverty line. One of the mothers I featured barely spoke English, had no car, and worked two jobs. She would wake up at 5 a.m. walk her son to school, work in a restaurant, walk a mile to pick her son up from school, walk home and then walk to a second job in a laundromat where she would work until midnight.  One day, her son was receiving an award at school. She felt such pride and desperately wanted to be there to see him get it, but she couldn’t afford to have her pay docked if she took time off.  Her plight tugged at my heartstrings when I realized how fortunate I was as a working mother to be able to take an hour off work to see my son receive an award at school.

Through that Mother’s Day story and dozens of others, I have seen firsthand that there are many women who want better lives and work tirelessly to get them. All they need is a little flexibility from their employer to make their work life balance fall into place.

There has been a long list of studies trumpeting the virtues of flexible working – benefits for the employee and employer. Fortunately, some employers “get it.”  When possible, they are embedding flexibility into their culture and encouraging managers to allow it at all levels within the company.  What they get in return is a loyal employee who does her job well. My wishes for Mother’s Day are that women who need flexibility get it so they can be the best employees and the best mothers they can be. 

Happy Mother's Day!

 

May 11, 2017

Do you believe "boys club" environments still exist?

Good old

 

 

Women are making their way onto corporate boards. They are working in top jobs in Silicon Valley. They are heading up major departments in hospitals and becoming deans of universities. They are networking in ways they have never done so in the past, giving each other business, making introductions and investing in each other's companies.

So with all women are accomplishing, are we to believe "boys club" business environments still exist?

I would like to be in denial. I think most women, and many men, would like to be in denial as well. But the headlines force us to think otherwise.

Today's headline is the latest example. South Florida tech firm, Magic Leap, has settled a lawsuit with Tannen Campbell, who says she was brought in by the CEO to make the  company less of a "boys club." Yet, her mission didn't go well. In a lawsuit, she claimed that Magic Leap's top management did not include females and the company ignored efforts to hire more women were met with resistance. Even worse, she claimed that the corporate culture is one of "macho bullying" where women's work and ideas are ridiculed openly and their opinions ignored in favor of those of their male counterparts.

Campbell reached a confidential settlement in her gender bias lawsuit this week. Still, the details of the suit gave the public a glimpse into the inner workings of a cutting-edge technology company and a corporate culture that frankly, turns my stomach, and frankly prohibits this company from reaching greatness.

I'm not just tossing out some "I am woman, hear me roar" rhetoric.  The facts speak louder than I do. 

The study on gender diversity by Marcus Noland, Tyler Moran, and Barbara Kotschwar for the Peterson Institute for International Economics released in 2016 says there is a positive correlation between the presence of women in corporate leadership and performance "in a magnitude that is not small."  The study found that having a woman in an executive position leads to better performance, with the more women the better.

Yet, even as research shows companies perform better when they include women in leadership, we continually learn of workplaces where men don't want to include them -- at least not at the higher levels.

The Magic Leap lawsuit is merely the latest. A year ago (May 2016), a senior female fixed-income banker at Bank of America Corp. filed a lawsuit accusing the bank of underpaying her and other women, and retaliating when she complained about illegal or unethical practices by her colleagues. She also accused the bank of condoning bias by her boss that made her feel unwelcome in his “subordinate ‘bro’s club’ of all-male sycophants.” Then in November, a former employee of Citigroup accused that bank of being a “boys’ club” that paid women like her less, denied her equal opportunities for promotion, and then penalized her for speaking up about potential gender discrimination.

I don't know the validity of these lawsuits, I just know they exist. I also know that Glassdoor.com, a website that encourages employee reviews, is littered with employee claims that all types of businesses have leadership teams and corporate cultures that reflect "boys clubs."

So even while I want to be in denial, I can't. The boys club thinking that existed decades ago remains intact in some workplaces. But it doesn't have to continue.

We change it by challenging it in court, by taking our business elsewhere, by telling the men in our lives that it wrong to be a part of it, by encouraging women to speak up when they see it happening, by making the business case for promoting women into leadership and by pointing out the consequences and the effect on morale when women are excluded. 

It's unlikely we will eliminate these "boys clubs" completely. But by acknowledging they exist and vowing to work toward change, we are on our way to making a difference.

May 10, 2017

Why you need to work for a boss who exercises

Corp wellness

I have always been envious of people who work for companies with onsite gyms. However, I was most impressed when the facility director told me most managers at the hospital encourage their employees to exercise during their workdays. In fact, the managers are evaluated on how actively they promote wellness in their departments, she told me. How great would that be to have a boss who is cool with a little longer lunch if it means coming back with a clear focus?

My husband spends his lunch hour at the gym near his office. Because he is a manager, his example has encouraged others at his company to exercise at lunch time, too. Like most other office dynamics, even fitness starts at the top. For all of the time and money businesses spent on corporate wellness, it seems pretty straightforward that the biggest enticement is a manager who believes in fitness and leads his team by example.

Boss

Most of us know that exercise is important for our physical and mental health. The challenge is finding the time for it when we are struggle with work life balance. When I'm stressed and overwhelmed, exercise is the first thing to go. But if I had a role model at work, someone who took fitness breaks even during the most stressful times and encouraged me to do so, I think it would change my mindset.

So am I saying that it's my boss' job to motivate me to exercise? No, that's not exactly what I'm saying. Instead, I'm saying that those people in a position to lead by example or influence others to embrace fitness, should make a conscious effort to do so -- the payoff will be huge in terms of productivity. 

Look around your office around 4 p.m. Who is hitting the snack machine or grabbing another cup of coffee and who seems to have the stamina to make it through the afternoon? I bet the person who worked out at lunchtime is the one with stamina. I bet the boss who worked out is a lot more patient with his team. I bet the overweight boss who hasn't exercised in a year is not the one who employees will go the extra mile to please.

Researchers have found that people who exercised regularly were more confident they could handle tough tasks. They felt better prepared for the challenges of the interaction of their work and home life and were less likely to be stressed at work. As researchers put it, "an hour of exercise creates a feeling that lasts well beyond that hour spent at the gym." 

We definitely are seeing more of an emphasis from employers on wellness in the workplace. Now, if we can get more managers to offer some flexibility around exercise routines and be supportive of wellness efforts, I think more of us would embrace a workout when we feel stressed. In the end, everyone benefits. With that conclusion, I'm heading to the gym!

May 02, 2017

How to turn bad stress into good stress

On any given day, ask a friend, a co-worker or just about anyone the question, "how's it going?" and the response is likely to be…

Busy!

Exhausted!

Got a lot going on!

Most of us live our lives always on, rushing from home to work to our kids' soccer games, to the gym. We're stressed. We're overloaded. We're piling up tasks that need to get done in great numbers than hours in a day.

But what if the opposite were true. What if someone asked us "how's it going and we answered…

I'm so relaxed!

I'm feeling so peaceful!

Not much going on with me!

That's sounds so boring, doesn't it? In a way, we like to be stressed. We like the idea that we have full lives. My happiest days are those in which I wake up feeling a little bit stressed about what I need to accomplish, meet my work deadline, and allow myself the evening to spend with my family.

The key is to find the level of stress on a regular basis that's tolerable without harming our mental and physical health. It's kind of like figuring out our stress sweet spots -- the happy middle, where we're living in a way that makes us feel busy but also happy and fulfilled. To do that, we need to feel like we're thriving, rather than just trying to survive.

So you might be wondering how to accomplish the quest of allowing yourself to experience "good stress" without totally becoming overwhelmed by job stress or too-much-going-on stress.

One way to go about it is to choose activities in your life that make you feel good, happy, and excited about life. It's also a good idea to cut out as many activities as you can that drain you, or lead to experience chronic stress. 

Another tactic is to change your perception of some of the stressors in your life by thinking like an optimist. Get into the habit of looking at stressful situations as personal challenges and the tension you would normally feel about those stressors may lessen or even turn into excitement. Getting dinner on the table during the school/work week is a stressor for me...so I'm going to figure out how to make it seem fun instead of stressful. 

We can all agree that an unreasonable boss, unfair expectations at work, or an unhappy home life can create chronic stress that takes a toll. That's the kind of bad stress that we need to handle more aggressively. But the day to day stress that takes out of our comfort zones and keeps us feeling alive and excited about life is okay. Our kids, our friends, our activities, our parents…they give us a lot to juggle and a lot to appreciate.  Start seeing some stress as a good thing and be prepared for next time someone asks you "how's it going?" I've got my answer ready.