January 13, 2017

Why working mothers need to pay attention to what's going on in D.C.

                                                Mom

 

As a mother, I'm concerned. As a women, I'm concerned. As someone who writes about work and family issues, I'm concerned.

There's a lot at stake in the next four years. I need to pay attention. So do you.

In recent years, we have seen progress in benefits offered to working mothers: More companies began offering paid maternity (and paternity) leave or extended the time off. More cities and states passed paid leave and paid sick days laws.  More women and families gained access to healthcare. The issue of equal pay became front of mind. Lastly, minimum wage increased in 21 states, a crucial boost for families living paycheck to paycheck.

Yes, we've seen progress. But don't get too excited yet. Changes are afoot that threaten some of the advances that make a difference in the lives of working mothers. We need to ensure all working mothers receive crucial workplace protections and medical benefits.

Here's what we need to watch and weigh in on:

1. Repeal of Obamacare and its replacement. Republicans in Congress want to take away healthcare from tens of millions of people without offering a comprehensive, transparent or vetted replacement plan.

Debra Ness, president, National Partnership for Women & Families, made this statement: Senate Republicans demonstrated blatant disregard for women’s health and economic security by voting against amendments designed to prevent insurance companies from charging women higher premiums than men and denying coverage to women simply because of their gender; ensure access to affordable birth control; and preserve Medicaid expansion and the Medicare program as we know it.  As the budget moves on to the U.S. House of Representatives, on behalf of the millions who stand to lose health care, we demand that House leadership stop playing politics with our health care, especially women’s health, including reproductive health, and instead make it a priority." 

It's tempting to think our voices don't matter on this issue that affects millions of people. Working mothers can't afford to ignore access to medical coverage that saves lives and prevents bankruptcies. 

2. Paid sick leave.  People are more likely to go to work sick or send a sick child to school if they don’t have access to paid sick days. Ivanka Trump appears to be a proponent of some type of legislation around this issue.  The Healthy Families Act, floating around Capitol Hill,  is an important piece of legislation that could make a difference for many families by putting a national paid sick days standard in place; The National Partnership for Women & Families wants us to show our support with a message: "Pass a bill that gives every worker in America the opportunity to earn seven days of paid sick leave. It's the right thing to do." Here's the link to get your voice heard. 

3. Equal pay. There won’t be a female commander-in-chief this year, but women made big gains in other areas of government and business. Eleven of the top nation’s courts will have a majority of justices who are women in 2017. As Working Mother notes: Women still make 79 cents for every dollar a man earns, but several executive actions signed by President Barack Obama will help increase transparency in pay—a crucial step toward eliminating the wage gap. Now, all of Obama's executive actions are at risk. We need to keep a close eye on this important step in the right direction for working women and working moms, and fight in our own workplaces for more transparency, too. Here's the link to encourage members of Congress to support fair pay.

4. Workplace Fairness. You should not get fired or lose a promotion because you’re pregnant. And you should never have to experience sexual harassment at work. It’s not right, but discrimination is common in the 21st century workplace. There are efforts going on to quash the nomination of Trump appointees who have a disregard for equality. I urge you to support those efforts.

5. Women's March on Washington. On January 21, millions of women plan to march on Washington to protect our rights, our safety, our families, and our democracy, and to say NO to hate. You can keep up with developments @womensmarch or #womensmarch. Also, MomsRising does a great job of keeping the public up on key issues of importance to moms.

 

March

What else we need to watch:

  • Millennials today earn 20 percent less than their boomer parents at the same age. With student loan debt and high childcare costs, young families are moving in with parents. Great article in USA today about this trend. 

 

This is an important year to keep up with the news and let your voice be heard! We can all play a part in keeping the momentum going in a positive direction! 

January 04, 2017

The surprising question that will lead you to work life balance in the new year

                                         Mcfamily

                       (Billionaire Mark Cuban wants to spend more time with his family in 2017)

 

 

While hitting the post-holiday sales with a friend, she told me all about her resolution for 2017: “This year, I’m going to have a better work life balance.” Her declaration didn’t surprise me. This is the time of year my friends tell me that they work too much or they want to find a new job. Just this morning, I watched Live with Kelly, guest hosted by Mark Cuban. Mark told Kelly his resolution for 2017 is to spend more time with his family. I guess even billionaires have trouble balancing their lives!

At the start of a new year, it is typical to contemplate our work and home lives and rekindle our desire to find the work life balance. After many years of setting resolutions in which I fell short, I now realize that there is a simple question to ask when we want to take charge of our lives or set new goals:

How can I be happier?

Answering that question requires introspection. When we ask ourselves, “How can I be happier?” we aren't considering what goals we should achieve. We aren’t comparing ourselves with friends or co-workers.

Here is my suggestion: Before making your resolution for 2017, picture yourself with a smile on your face. What are you doing? What do you look like? Where are you living and working? Who is by your side? Now, think about what you need to do to be that person with a smile on your face.

Get out a pencil and paper and write down your plan. When I took out my pencil to make my plan, the results surprised me. Last year, I enrolled in graduate school. I took one class and loved it. I had planned to make my resolution for 2017 about getting through my grad school program as quickly as possible and loading up on classes this year.

When I sat down and thought about how I could be happier, I realized that enjoying family time with my son in high school before he leaves for college is what I want. So, instead of loading up on classes I am going to take one or two at a time and spend some quality time with my son on the weekends.

I asked my husband what would make him happier in 2017. At first, he spoke about promotions at work and financial goals. But when I pressed him harder, he admitted he would be happier figuring out a plan to ensure a comfortable retirement. His plan is more about rethinking our current spending and savings than putting in more hours at work to make more money.

So before you resolve to exercise more or get organized or make more money, think about how - and if – your goal will make you happier. Then, create a path to gain more enjoyment from your life. Keep a picture of a smiling you on your computer or cell phone screen and replace it with new ones throughout the year.

Wishing you a fantastic 2017!

December 20, 2016

How busy people keep up their holiday stamina

Last night I picked my daughter up from the airport and found myself yawning the entire ride home. I wanted to hear about her semester at college, but I was just too darn tired to really pay attention. For the last few weeks, I have tried extra hard to keep a work life balance as I juggle work deadlines with holiday/charity events and shopping. 

I love this time of year, but it takes stamina to stay happy, healthy and energized during the holiday season.

Sleep. For me, that requires a good night sleep. I have been trying to power down an hour earlier than usual at night. I also make my to do lists for the next day before I leave my desk each evening. It has helped me have a clear head so I can go to bed without worrying about everything I need to do the next day.

Exercise. There are other ways too keep your stamina up. Recently, I spoke with Randall Vitale, regional Unknown-1
vice president for Hoffman's Chocolates. It's a super busy time at Hoffman's, which has a factory in Palm Beach County and 10 stores in the Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach area. Vitale has stepped up communication with his 10 store managers during its busiest month of the year, huddling daily and encouraging managers to make customer interactions impactful and correct order mistakes quickly. “We want customers to come back next year and the year after.”

To stay productive and enjoy the holidays, Vitale, finds pockets of time for stamina-building. He uses odd hours when his seven-month-old wakes up to lift weights, do yoga stretches or stroll the baby around the neighborhood. “Ramping up exercise not only helps with stamina, it also counteracts the extra eating at holiday parties,” he says.

Focus. Some people keep their stamina high by focusing on a reward. Jessi Berrin, a Baptist Health South Florida director of government and community relations, has been to a slew of holiday events and is still going strong. "Even though this is the end of crazy busy year, I continue to push myself knowing I am taking time off next week. It helps knowing the reward is just down the road."

Listen. I have noticed when I listen to my favorite music, whether it's Jingle Bell Rock or the latest from Fifth Harmony it puts a pep in my step.  Research from the University of Maryland shows that hearing music you love can relax blood vessels and increase blood flow. That not only calms you down but can put you in a great mood to get more done.

 

Plan. Another way to keep your stamina up is to energize yourself for new year. Julia Aquino-Serrano, Unknown president of the National Association of Business Owners Broward chapter and CEO of business consultancy All Systems Grow of Coral Springs, has set aside four hours  to write a work and life plan for 2017. (Writing it down is the key, she says)  Earlier in December, Aquino-Serrano launched a second company, Tees for Humanity. With two businesses, her 2017 plan will include how she will grow her companies and deal with work life balance. “I will consciously make choices and not carry around guilt.”

Yes, the holiday can be stressful, But they can be fun, too. Stop obsessing over doing it all. The world is not going to end if your kitchen is cluttered or your inbox is overflowing  Focus your energy on enjoying the people in your life and you are sure to finish out 2016 strong!

 

 

December 19, 2016

Pursuing Work Life Balance by Turning Your Have-to into Want-to

It's 7 p.m. and the boss needs someone to stay late to handle an emergency that just cropped up. Who does he ask to stay -- the parent who needs to pick a child up from daycare, or the single person whose evening routine tends to be a trip to the gym?

 As a working parent, I can easily forget that people without children are just as challenged achieving work life balance as those of us with children -- sometimes more so because employers assume they are available all the time. For this reason, I truly appreciate the perspective of guest blogger, Michelle K. Suarez,  a business lawyer with the full-service law firm Kelley Kronenberg in Fort Lauderdale and a former personal trainer and fitness competitor.   

 

Suarez_Michelle_4x5

As 2016 comes to an end, the importance of living a balanced life has worked its way to the top of my list. You see, I am a passionate person. Almost to a fault. I am passionate about my career, my family, my community, my fitness and my friends. But, I am often asked: ‘How do you do it? How do you find the time to practice as an attorney, publish articles, be active in the community, workout, prepare meals for the week in advance, and still have time for your loved ones?’ The truth is, it takes a lot of planning. If you want balance in your life, you have to figure out what you are passionate about, and make time for it, no matter what. To accomplish this, I consciously allocate my time by trying to turn the things I have to do into the things I want to do.  

 

One way that I incorporate these tips into my own life is by making sure to discuss the week ahead with my boyfriend (who is also my workout partner), so that we can schedule our workouts together. Even though I’m not one to talk much during a workout, we have started to use our time driving to the gym and back as a way to stay connected and fill each other in on our day. And, even if we can only fit in a twenty minute weight session when our schedule is extremely tight, we make sure to commit to the gym date and we do it together. It makes our gym dates fun and something I look forward to.

 

Life has a way of challenging us, until we eventually figure out what it is we really want. If what we really want is more time with our family, to work in a profession we love, or to be healthy and in great physical shape, life will keep redirecting us until we figure out how to get closer to that goal. This is where it becomes important to make the distinction between having to and wanting to do it.

 

For example, my paralegal recently complained about needing to lose weight after her son was born but claimed that she just could not find the time to exercise. I showed her the various ways she could do exercises at home, using her two year old son as a weight. This way, exercise would not mean sacrificing time with her son and she could find a fun way to lose weight. The new plan worked and she and her son both love mommy exercise time. By turning her ‘have to exercise’ into her ‘want to exercise,’ she is much happier. She is even preparing healthier meals and has decided to pursue other passions she set aside long ago. And it all started by turning a ‘have to’ into a ‘want to.’  

 

I believe that when people say they want to ‘live a balanced life,’ what they really mean is that they would like to spend more time doing the things they love to do versus the things they have to do. And that starts by pursuing your passions.

 

                                 Ms1





December 12, 2016

What to give your boss for the holidays? Do you even need to give a gift?

 

                                           Gift

 

 

Many people struggle with whether to get their boss  a holiday gift. I have been one of those people who has contemplated this dilemma many times. I don't want to look like a kiss up, but I also want to show a good boss that he or she makes my work life enjoyable.

I try to go with gifts that are a little personal, but not too personal. For many years, I had a manager I considered a friend. He and I spoke regularly about our kids, our jobs and our goals. He helped me to do the best work I was capable of by being supportive of work life balance. When it came time for the holidays, I knew he liked to cook and eat gourmet dishes so I gave him food-related gifts – unique cookbooks, homemade desserts, fun cooking tools. The gifts were always accompanied by a note.

When gift giving to a boss, I think the note is the important part. Some managers feel pressure from above -- all the time -- and appreciate someone on their staff acknowledging that they are good at their job. I've given small gifts like a fun mug with a handwritten short note like: "Happy Holidays! Thanks for being a great boss!" If you aren’t thrilled with your boss, you can tone it down and try to find one thing about him or her that you appreciate and acknowledge it in your holiday note.

Another option is to pool with your colleagues to get a group gift. The group present should be inexpensive but thoughtful. The easiest gifts are consumable or usable --  a food basket or tickets to a show or sporting event. If you have a particularly bad boss,  you still might consider contributing to the group gift to avoid things getting awkward and appear a team player.

Gifts to a boss or co-worker are not mandatory. I think the key is looking closely at the culture of your workplace and reading your boss. A reasonable manager would never penalize someone, even subtly, for not giving him or her a gift at the holidays. On the other hand, you might not have a reasonable manager. Contemplate your own situation, and proceed accordingly. (But know that etiquette is on your side if you choose not to give a gift.)

Also, be careful about getting creative. One year, a manager I know received  giant Buddha statue from his assistant. I guess she was trying to help him feel more zen.  She insisted her boss display it. “Now I’m stuck with it seeing it every day and it irritates me,” the manager told me. “My advice is don’t give your boss anything he has to display. If you miss the mark, a nice thing turns into resentment.”

 When he told me this, I asked him whether he thought his assistant even needed to get him a gift at all. His answer was "it's always nice to feel appreciated." However, I have asked other managers the same question and they have told me they don't want a gift and they don't plan to give their staff gifts.

What are your thoughts on giving a boss a gift? Has it ever made you uncomfortable to give or receive a gift at work? Is it more uncomfortable not to give a gift?

December 07, 2016

Getting through rough patches in business

We all go through rough patches at work, whether we are the employee, the manager or the business owner. Some are more easy to navigate than others. I always appreciate when someone successful talks about a rough  patch and how he or she steered through it.

BethRecently big time corporate executive Beth Kaplan came to South Florida to address a women's organization. Instead of giving the typical "I made it to the top" speech, Kaplan spoke about the rough patches she has hit in her career and how she handled them. To me, that's valuable insight!

Kaplan has hit more than one rough patch. First she worked at Rite Aid, where there was a massive accounting scandal. She managed to leave with her reputation in tact.Next she worked at Bath & Body Works as executive Vice President of merchandising where she spent a ton of time ina different city, away from her family. She left when she could no longer handle the work life balancing act.  Next, she worked as president and COO of Rent the Runway in 2013, a New York-based online company, that loans  designer dresses and accessories to women for special occasions. She left that position in October 2015 and today she is a strategic advisor and board member at Rent the Runway.

In an interview with Wharton's Knowledge@Work , Kaplan explained that a key part of steering through rough patches is knowing how to exit a job with grace.

 “It’s amazing to me that people don’t talk about how to leave an organization. They all talk about how to join one, but they don’t talk about having to leave.”  she told  Wharton. She noted that Bath & Body Works had an extensively documented six-month onboarding process, provided in a large binder to new hires, which made no mention of how people should behave when leaving the company.

She talked with her boss, and together they designed a program with which, Kaplan said, she compiled all her insights and learning, and then “left with grace.” 

Kaplan outlined “certain ground rules” about leaving with grace. Be transparent with your manager, she said. “You go to your boss and say, ‘Look, I found this other opportunity, but I really care about this organization and I’m very thankful for everything you have given me.’ By the way, say that even if you don’t mean it.” Ask your manager how you can help make the situation a win-win, and discuss how much time it will take to wrap things up, she added.

Ruiz.Lisa_.thumbnail-150x150

Kaplan recently shared a few stories and lessons learned from her career with 220 of South Florida’s leading women at The Commonwealth Institute’s Leadership Luncheon at Jungle Island she and had lots of wisdoms to impart. Fortunately, Lisa Cawley Ruiz, (pictured to the left)  a content marketing manager at Kaufman Rossin, one of the top 100 CPA and advisory firms in the U.S., captured  those insights. She originally posted them on her firm blog but allowed me to share them with my readers as well.

 


Here are Kaplan’s top four tips for success:
1. Your reputation is your most valuable asset. It is your personal brand, and  follows you wherever you go.
2. Don't underestimate the impact you have on other people. Our behaviors (positively or negatively) affect those around us more than we realize, which is why it’s important to solicit quality feedback frequently.
3. Make a graceful exit.
How you leave a company is just as important as how you enter.
4. Pick the right partner. “We don’t always agree, but he always has my back,” Kaplan says of her husband. “He reminds me of the things that are most important in my life.”


Kaplan acknowledged that women often feel pressure to conform to expectations, and sometimes have to make decisions that may not be popular. If you’ve given a decision careful thought, you should stick by your choices, she said. “Never apologize for something you’ve thoughtfully considered.”

When the decision in question is whether or not to take a job, thoughtful consideration includes conducting due diligence on a company’s culture. As Kaplan learned the hard way through her experience of seeing Rite Aid nearly collapse in a high-profile financial scandal, culture can make or break a company. (The right culture makes steering through rough patches more doable!)


Recent reports have blamed a mean girl culture for numerous departures at Rent the Runway. However, while in South Florida, Kaplan said culture has been one of the top priorities for the leadership team at Rent the Runway.  The online clothing rental startup recently changed its compensation structure, eliminating bonuses and raising salaries in order to underscore its trust in employees, shift employee focus to long-term strategic thinking that can help scale the business, and create a culture of learning that encourages feedback, she said. Giving your team members “unvarnished, truthful and constructive feedback,” is important. And if an employee is no longer a good fit, address it sooner rather than later.

Kaplan's final piece of advice for busy women: Find a way to unplug and recharge. For some, it may be taking a vacation, working on a hobby or spending time with friends. For Kaplan, it’s ballroom dancing.


December 02, 2016

What you need to do at the office holiday party

 

                               Holiday party

 

This weekend I am attending my husband's holiday office party. By now, I have been to enough holiday parties to know there are unwritten rules. So, I know to tread carefully. I also know that office holiday parties are important -- maybe more so than most people realize. If you are thinking of skipping your holiday party, don't do it. The boss knows exactly who was there and who wasn't.

Now, let's say you do go and you decide to make the most of your company's generosity. Do so cautiously. One year, my husband's co-worker made a big pig of himself by ordering two meals -- a giant steak and a full size lobster. I guess he figured it was the company's dime, but he came across as someone who would run an expense account up just for the heck of it. Not a good impression to leave on the boss.

Holiday office parties can be landmines for embarrassing behavior,  or they can be huge opportunities to impress the boss and strengthen relationships with co-workers. Here are a few tips from many years of navigating the office holiday party.

1. Eat something before you go. Take a nibble on something small but sufficient to soak up any alcohol you ingest quickly. (It's a good idea to pace yourself on the alcohol, too) I have been on the wrong side of this one so I speak from experience.

2. Dress appropriately. We all know what that means --  no sleazy outfits, no ratty shoes, no stained clothing. Ask ahead what people are wearing so you don't show up too overdressed or too casual. 

3. Mingle. It's easy to hang out with the people you already know well but this is great chance to get to know co-workers from other departments or managers who might be helpful in the future. Introduce yourself so you don't spend the whole night talking to someone who has no idea of your name.

4. Make conversation with your boss' significant other. You may not realize it, but significant others have a huge influence on your manager's perception of you. Making the extra effort to converse with his or her other half can help your career. When my husband considers raises, I can't tell you how many times I have pleaded someone's case, so again, I speak from experience.

5. Arrive timely. We joke around in South Florida that people are on "Miami time" but at a holiday party arriving late deprives you of the chance to hang out early in the night when people are most talkative and drinks are just beginning to flow. Even if you don't really want to attend, showing up on time and scooting out shortly after should be enough for people to remember you were there.

6. Be receptive. If someone kisses you on the check, don't stand there like a cold fish. If someone shakes your hand, look him or her in the eye and welcome the introduction. If someone pinches your tush or hugs you too long, that's another story. Let them know right away that you find it offensive. Using humor is a good way to do that.

7. Show appreciation. Before I leave, I always say thank you to the person who planned the event, and the person who paid for it.  Someone put in a great deal of effort hoping you would have a good time and someone spent money to make it happen. Even if you didn't have the best night of your life, not only is saying thank you the nice thing to do, but it also makes you stand out because most employees don't.  

Monster.com has some tips as well, including some advice for the party planner. 

My favorite part of the holiday party is seeing my colleagues dressed up and in a good mood. How about you -- do you love office holiday parties, or dread them?

 

 

November 21, 2016

How to stay relevant at any age

Are you too busy trying to achieve work life balance to keep up with changes in your industry? Are you intimidated by emerging technology and overwhelmed by continuously changing trends?

If the answer is yes, you need to get over it. Tommy Hilfiger got over it -- and so did I.

Staying relevant allows you to remain employable, relate to younger customers, influence the next generation and protect their careers. And it helps business leaders make better decisions.

Fail to stay relevant, and you become stale — as a person, leader, employee or organization.

Yesterday, I went to hear designer Tommy Hilfiger speak at the Miami Book Fair. (He has a new book out called American Dreamer) Tommy talked about how important it is in the fashion world to stay relevant and how difficult it can be. He said he realized he needed to bring in someone young to help him keep up with what's hot today. So, he brought it supermodel Gigi Hadid to collaborate on a new collection. It would have been easy for Tommy to say, "I'm the designer. I know what people want." Instead, Tommy said he knew he had to be open to collaboration to keep his brand relevant. Tommy told his audience yesterday that he gave Gigi free reign to explain to the team exactly what she prefers in what she wears -- high waist, tight legs.

Just 48 hours after the September Tommy x Gigi show at New York Fashion Week, the brand reported a 900% increase in traffic to tommy.com.  Tommy said the collection sold out and the partnership with the beautiful Gigi proved to be a smart move.

FullSizeRender (1)

(Above: Me with Tommy Hilfiger at the Miami Book Fair)

 

So what can you do to stay relevant? Here are a few ideas:

Assess whether you have the tech skills you’ll need. Look at what colleagues and competitors are doing: What emerging technology are they adopting? Learn these tools, and become comfortable with them. There are efficiencies to be gained in the workplace by adopting new apps, software, platforms and devices. They can keep businesses and professional lives running more smoothly. Look at what companies and leaders that you admire are doing. How can you learn from them?”

Embrace learning. People are embracing the process of ongoing learning by experimenting, watching online tutorials, subscribing to newsletters, participating in webinars and certification programs, going back to school and asking younger employees for help.

Improve your ability to listen. In general, listening skills suffer as people get older, according to Ralph G. Nichols, a retired University of Minnesota professor and author of “Are You Listening?” But, of course, language and social trends change all the time. Today, it’s not enough to simply rely on what you already know. Ask the young people in your life open-ended questions — and listen carefully to the answers.
 
Rethink your communication style.  Just as grandparents are learning their grandchildren respond best to text messages, for instance, business owners are finding that their customers communicate on social media channels. As a grad student, I recently completed a four-week project with a 22-year-old classmate. When she failed to answer my phone calls, I did it her way — through email, text messages and online collaboration tools.

Keep your network active. Staying relevant and can be done by joining alumni groups on LinkedIn, attending professional conferences and participating in online discussions. David Armstrong, president of Broward College notes: “The more you spend time with a diverse group of people, the more you are continually learning. And the more you force yourself outside your bubble, the more relevant you become.”


 

 

November 16, 2016

How to Tap the Working Mothers Network

Moms network


One Saturday my editor called while I was shopping with my young children in the dollar store. He had questions in an article that was going to run on the front page and needed answers immediately. To be able to pay attention and give him the answers he wanted, I had to keep my children occupied and in my eyesight. So, I let them pull all the toys off a rack. Off the fell onto the ground in a big pile while my children were delighted.

It was an awful parenting moment that was punctuated by dirty looks from other customers. However, after a short while, a woman saw the distress on my face and began to engage my children in conversation while getting them to put the toys back on the rack.  When I eventually hung up the call and thanked the woman, she dismissed my attempts at gratitude and said, “I understand. I’m a mom, too.”

I have thought about that woman a lot over the years when I hear or see moms judging other moms. It’s easy to say, “I would never let my kid do that” or “What kind of mother is she?” but it’s much kinder to be empathetic and help another mother out. . At some point, almost all working mothers for working too much, or for not knowing about something that was going on with our children that we should have known. Those are the times when we need someone to tell us “I understand, I’m a mom, too." 

For me, balancing work and family is about doing my best on any given day, whether or not my best is what someone else thinks it should be. But I have learned that other mothers can play a huge role in helping me to do my best. 

A few weeks ago I interviewed a mother with a special needs son who recently went back to work. As I was talking to her it, she received a text with photo of her son at field day. A mother who was at the school for the event sent it to her. "This is awesome. This is what a moms network is all about," she told me.

While there are official mommie networks in some cities, I find it is the informal ones that most working mother rely on... you know, the mothers of your child's friends, the room mothers, other soccer moms, parents you meet at birthday parties. Every get together or interaction with other parents is an opportunity to build your network. 

Over the weekend, I ran into WPLG Local 10 television new anchor/reporter Neki Mohan at an event. Neki has a beautiful and feisty nine year old daughter. Neki told me she survives as a working mother because of other mothers. They drive her daughter places when she needs to work, and she drives theirs when she can. 

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(Neki and daughter)

I have tapped into the mom network many times to find out who is the best children's opthamologist or what the standard holiday gift is for a teacher.  I also have given back to the moms network, picking up other children from soccer practice when their parents are running late, or giving suggestions on where to get the right supplies for a class project. To tap the moms network, you need to give as well as take. You need to be that mother in the dollar store who helps a mother whose child pulls toys off the rack, or you need to offer to have your child's friend over on the weekend if his or her parent needs to work. When you are there for other working parents, they will be there for you.

Yes, there are mothers who take advantage. Yes, there are stay-at-home mothers who prefer to shame working mothers rather than help them out.  But I would like to believe they are the exceptions.

I think we can all admit that raising children and holding a job is exhausting. That is exactly why creating and participating in the moms network can make all the difference between sanity and overwhelm.  Next time you see someone having a working mother moment, refrain from judgment, lend a hand, and offer these kind words, “I understand, I’m a mom, too.” When a working mother asks for help, give it willingly. Next week, you might be the one asking.

November 09, 2016

Post Election: What to Say To Your Daughter

I woke up this morning thinking about what I wanted to say to my daughter about the future. At first, it felt like an overwhelming task. I saw a clip on television of a woman at the Hillary Clinton reception. The woman looked up and said to the camera: "The glass ceiling is there and it's fully in tact."

Clearly, that's not the message I want my teenage daughter to take away from this election.

I also do not want her to take away the message that degrading women is okay or that walking around in shirts that say "Trump that Bitch" is acceptable behavior. I want to my daughter to believe that there is a level of respect for women in the United States and that young women today have every opportunity to achieve whatever they set out to do. I want young women to believe that their husbands, fathers, brothers and male friends are okay with women having power in the workplace and in the political arena.

My daughter watched the campaign results in her sorority house, surrounded by young women who had voted for their first time. This morning, I told my daughter I was proud of each and every young woman who voted. As a child, my mother hammered in the message that women worked hard to get the right to vote and I must never let them down by failing to exercise my right. It's the same message I have repeated to my daughter.

As a journalist, I have been writing about women in business for two decades. I have seen firsthand how difficult some of their journeys have been to achieve success in their fields. But I see progress.

This morning, I encouraged my daughter to be proud of how far women have come and to realize that having a female presidential candidate is an accomplishment. I told her that young women today need to educate themselves about politics, business and social issues. They need to know who and what they are voting for and why. They need to demand respect at work and in the world and refuse to accept anything less.

I am encouraged by the reaction of a young woman at Wesley College who said this morning: "Today, we put on our pantsuits and fight on!"

Yes, young women, we need you to fight on! 

Over the years, I have seen that the success of women is the success of families. I have seen that when women break the glass ceilings in their fields, they achieve feats that better all of mankind. 

There are two things that Hillary Clinton said in her concession speech that I wanted my daughter to hear: 

 

Hil

"To all the women, and especially the young women, who put their faith in this campaign and in me: I want you to know that nothing has made me prouder than to be your champion. Now, I know we have still not shattered that highest and hardest glass ceiling, but someday someone will — and hopefully sooner than we might think right now."

Then, Clinton went on to say something equally as encouraging to the next generation of female leaders:

"To all of the little girls who are watching this, never doubt that you are valuable and powerful and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world to pursue and achieve your own dreams."

So parents, talk to your daughters today about what the future holds for them. Give them the encouragement to dream big and to understand that achieving high goals may come with obstacles but navigating them is part of life.  Show them examples of women who are admirable and encourage them to address disrespect. Most important, let them know that there is a lot of work to be done and I'm hopeful that there are many young women who are smart, self confident and enthusiastic enough to make positive change for years to come.