August 26, 2015

How to Survive a Mommy Tsunami

Your babysitter quits because her class schedule has changed. Your boss tells you he needs to move up the due date on an project he wants finished. Your child calls you to tell you his bus didn't show up at the stop and he needs someone to pick him up. Of course all of these things happen simultaneously and it hits you like a giant mommy tsunami. Ugh!

Mommy tsunamis are common this time of year when school and business gear up at the same time, triggering new routines and bigger workloads.


Joanna_Schwartz__Forbes_089I wish I could say I came up with the phrase mommy tsunami myself, but I can't really take credit. I heard it used when Karen Rundle interviewed Joanna Schwartz, CEO of EarlyShares, for a WLRN Segment on Women in Business in the Sunshine Economy. EarlyShares is a major player in the “real estate crowdfunding” industry. This is how Joanna, mother of two daughters, described a mommy tsunami to Karen:

"A mommy tsunami usually comes a few times a year --  usually at beginning or end of the school year when there is some transition in the troop movement of our household. When it happens you just want to say, 'This is insane, what the heck am I doing?'  But it has happened enough times and you get through it. It doesn't last that long. You recognize it and say 'Okay I am in a mommy tsunami and it will last two or three weeks and I will power through it.' I talk to a lot moms who have similar positions and we all relate to that very much."

Today, Karen, who conducted the radio interview, told me she has just been hit with a mommy tsunami. As the mother of a young daughter, she  is dealing with a series of unfortunate events that has challenged her work life balance and that she is trying to power through. Having lived through many mommy tsunami's my advice to Karen was "hang in there!"

To me, mommy tsunami's make us realize that the romanticized version of what motherhood should be existed only in some alternate universe. The reality of modern motherhood can be stressful and exhausting.

When you are hit by a mommy tsunami, little things make a big difference. For example, flexibility is one of them. As Joanna explained to Karen, the real challenge for working mothers have is when they are trying to balance the not being (able to be ) in two places at once...when kids need time at school or need to go to the doctor and they are stuck chained to their desk. She believes companies need to understand that work and family are interconnected and "to extent that you support someone's  family life you are supporting someone being a terrific employee."

Along with flexibility (or an understanding boss)  you also need is a mommy network. When the mommy tsunami engulfs you, you need to tap your network to find someone to vent to, someone to pass along resources or someone who will take your turn picking up the carpool.

Lastly, you need to turn to your spouse and scream, HELP! As I wrote in my Miami Herald column today, when both parents work together to divvy up childcare responsibilities it makes balancing work and family much easier. The new school year and adjusting to a new routine can be stressful for parents and children. Today, more than 60 percent of two-parent households with children under age 18 have two working parents, according to Pew Research Center's 2013 Modern Parenthood Study. When dads exert the flexibility in their work schedules and pitch in with monitoring homework, driving to the pediatrician's office or attending a teacher conference it can make a huge difference in family harmony. 

As I noted in my article, many couples underestimate the sheer amount of coordination involved in modern parenthood — until their child is unprepared for a test or gets to football practice without his cleats. A little collaboration between parents can go a long way.

If you feel a mommy tsunami about to hit, brace yourself. You will get through it. Like Joanna says, mommy tsunamis are inevitable. You will never be fully prepared. Balancing work and family can be overwhelming, but it also has payoffs that are well worth finding the endurance you will need to survive.

May 18, 2015

How being a working mother benefits your children

One day my daughter came home from school and told me she looks forward to the day she has a job she loves and can come through her front door telling her family about her great day at work. She said she knows she is going to be doing something that will benefit children and that she is sure it will be rewarding.

That was one of the best single moments of my life.

As a working mother, I have worried (like most moms do) about how my job might take away from my kids. This was particularly true when I worked long hours from the newsroom. In that moment when my daughter said that to me, I realized she had learned passion and drive from seeing me work.

An article yesterday in the New York Times gave new comfort to working mothers. The article notes new evidence is mounting that having a working mother has some economic, educational and social benefits for children of both sexes. "That is not to say that children do not also benefit when their parents spend more time with them — they do. But we make trade-offs in how we spend our time, and research shows that children of working parents also accrue benefits," .

As working mothers, the ways our kids benefit are huge.

This new study of 50,000 adults in 25 countries found daughters of working mothers completed more years of education, were more likely to be employed and in supervisory roles and earned higher incomes. Having a working mother didn’t influence the careers of sons, which researchers said was unsurprising because men were generally expected to work — but sons of working mothers did spend more time on childcare and housework.

Here are some mighty interesting statistics: daughters of working mothers earned 23 percent more than daughters of stay-at-home mothers, after controlling for demographic factors, and sons spent seven and a half more hours a week on child care and 25 more minutes on housework.

 

So, we can lose the mommy guilt because kids will be just fine if their mothers work -- and they will even benefit from it.

I found this research especially interesting because it comes on the heels of an article I read last week that found mothers have become our daughters mentors. "A growing number of women managers and professionals today are mentoring their own daughters—sometimes in the same fields—as the young women build careers," wrote Sue Shellenbarger of the Wall Street Journal. Few of today’s senior managers had their own mothers as professional role models.

I'm excited about the next generation and I feel great that my kids see mom and dad as role models who contribute to the household and the family income. Instead of feeling guilty for missing school events or feeding our kids fast food some nights and instead of feeling overwhelmed by the challenges of work life balance, let's focus on the advantages to our kids.

Julie Talenfeld, president of BoardroomPR in Plantation, Florida, invests a lot of time in building her public relations/marketing firm and pleasing clients. This often means attending evening events. Talenfeld says she often feels guilty but she also feels like she is a good role model for her daughter, currently a college student. 

For all those successful working mothers like Julie, it's time to pat ourselves on the back. We're inspiring the next generation -- whether or not we realize it.

J&J

(Publicist Julie Talenfeld and her daughter, Jacqueline)

 

May 08, 2015

Mother's Day: What today's working mother is all about

                                 Mother


On Mother's Day, I will be rushing around from celebrating with my family to celebrating with my husband's family. The rushing around to make everyone happy is pretty typical of what most working mothers do on a daily basis. We can't help it...most moms feel we can and will juggle all kinds of responsibilities.

As Mother's Day approaches, my Inbox has been flooded with email about research on mothers. I find the research fascinating and insightful 

Here are 10 findings from various sources that paint a good picture of today's working mother. Do you see yourself in any of these stats. (I do!)

Finding 1: We've decided not to give up on having kids

Where highly educated women used to put their careers first and forego motherhood, that's not happening anymore. The share of highly educated women who are remaining childless into their mid-40s has fallen significantly over the past two decades ( Pew Research Center analysis of Census Bureau data)

Finding 2: We're having more kids 

Pew found not only are highly educated women more likely to have children these days, they are also having bigger families than in the past. Among women with at least a master’s degree, six-in-ten have had two or more children, up from 51% in 1994.( Pew Research Center analysis of Census Bureau data)

Finding 3 - We're successful (sort of)

While the vast majority of working moms feel they can have it all, only half (52 percent) said they are equally successful in their jobs and as parents. (CareerBuilder's Annual Mother Day Survey)

 

Finding 4 - We want to be providers

Four out of five working moms say the top factor defining success for them is the ability to provide for their families. (CareerBuilder's Annual Mother's Day Survey)

 

Finding 5 - We work and take care of our kids

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 70 percent of all mothers with children under age 18 worked or were looking for work in 2014. Even though they work, moms are primarily responsible for most chores related to taking care of the kids such a shopping, helping with homework and preparing breakfast. (Working Mother Research Institute survey, Chore Wars: The Working Mother Report)

Finding 6 -- We show our kids we're there for them

More than half of the working moms (56%) and dads (57%) say they share the responsibility for attending school events and athletic competitions with their partners(Working Mother Research Institute survey, Chore Wars: The Working Mother Report)

 

Finding 7 -- We finally have more help from our spouses

Moms are getting more help at home. We have seen a historic reduction in unevenly shared housework among heterosexual couples. As of 2012, married mothers were doing almost three and a half times as much "core housework" -- cooking, cleaning, and laundry - as married fathers. Still, back in 1965 they did 22 times as much!(The Council on Contemporary Families )

Finding 8 -- We still look to our moms for advice

Even though we may have kids of our own, 3 out of 4 women seek their mother’s advice: 18-24 year olds seeking relationship and health advice, while age 25-39 is seeking parenting advice  and 40-54 and 55+ seek home project insights. (Mother's Day survey by 1-800-FLOWERS.COM)

Finding 9 -- We need to be around other working moms

Working mothers who are surrounded by other working mothers have a happier work-life balance and less negative spillover from work than those who are surrounded by stay-at-home mothers. (research from The Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology to be presented at the SIOP Conference)

Finding 10 -- We need resources 

The best states for working mothers have quality day care, reasonable child care costs, abundant pediatric services, a high median women's salary and a low female unemployment rate. (Wallethub 2015’s Best & Worst States for Working Moms. Click see if your state is one of them) 

 

 

March 18, 2015

Pat Pineda: How She Got to the Top at Toyota

IMG_2247

 

 

 

 

At 63, Patricia Salas Pineda is a bundle of energy as she runs around Miami this week representing Toyota at one of the nation's largest Hispanic events, Hispanicize. This mother of three has spent 30 years at Toyota and holds a key spot as one of the highest ranking women and THE highest ranked Hispanic at the company. She is in Miami because she leads the Hispanic Business Strategy Group, which focuses on strengthening Toyota's already existing ties to the Latin community.

Pat talked with me about how she got to the top of her company and offered advice to other women.

Most important, she says, plotting a successful career path involves being open to opportunities within different areas of a company. In her case, during her 30 years at Toyota, she has held positions in the legal department, with the Toyota Foundation and now she is group vice president of Hispanic business strategy for Toyota Motor North America  “I feel fortunate to have spent my career with a company that supported my career and offered me different opportunities.”

Pineda says she became a Latina executive in an industry where there were very few women holding senior positions. Some acquaintances called her a “trailblazer.” Her family and friends used another word to describe my career choice: “crazy.”

I prodded Pat to find out just how she managed the climb at Toyota while raising three children.

This trailblazer was with Toyota a decade before having children, which she says allowed her to prove herself and become confident in her role. “I was one of the first female managers and proud to be among a group of women throughout Toyota’s companies who were moving up through the ranks.”

Having help at home and a supportive husband who worked from home helped with the work life juggle. “It made my situation much easier. But that’s not to say it was without challenges.” Her children now are 28, 27 and 22 and she’s optimistic about other women at her company successfully balancing work and family. “It is possible to enjoy a family life and have a successful career.” 

Pat sees positive changes ahead for working parents, particularly because of the mindset of young managers in her workplace. “The younger men want to be more engaged fathers. They are less reluctant about taking time to go to their son or daughter’s event. I think that’s helpful because they are more sensitive to others with demands at home.”

In her rise to leadership, Pat was guided by male mentors inside and outside of her company. She came in contact with those outside her company through board positions. “Serving on external boards gave them an opportunity to observe me in action. They were able to help me obtain other key board positions.”

Today, Pat serves on the Board of Directors for Levi Strauss & Co. and is a Corporate Advisory Board Member for National Council of La Raza and an Alumni Trustee for The Rand Corporation.

With the benefit of hindsight, Pat says she would tell young mothers not to worry about what others might think about their choices. She remembers worrying about who might see her leaving for a medical appoint or whether to work from home because it was the nanny’s day off. “I wish I had worried less because it was really unnecessary.”

By staying with Toyota, Pat has brought the company tremendous value. She was chosen as one of the 25 most powerful Latinas by People en Español in 2014: “Across the roles I have had, I've been good at developing external relationships that have been helpful to the company.” Her relationships span from the Hispanic community, to the non-profit world, to elected officials to the media. “I have shared with them the wonderful things Toyota is doing. I think that’s why the company has been so supportive.”

Often, Pat finds herself counseling young mothers who are thinking of leaving the workplace. “I tell them, 'don’t make that decision now.' ” Most women have thanked her for encouraging them to “hang in there” and have gone on to success in their jobs. “That’s not to say staying doesn’t have consequences but I think a lot of women make that decision sooner than is prudent.”

 

Pat Pineda’s Career Climb From present to past:

* Group vice president of Hispanic business strategy for Toyota Motor North America, Inc. She leads the Hispanic Business Strategy Group (HBSG), which focuses on strengthening Toyota's already existing ties to the Latin community

* Head of the Toyota U.S.A. Foundation, overseeing national philanthropy efforts

* Toyota Motor North America group vice president of corporate communications and general counsel.

* Vice president of human resources, government and legal affairs and corporate secretary for New United Motor Manufacturing, Inc. (NUMMI), the corporate joint venture between Toyota Motor Corporation and General Motors Corporation,

 

March 02, 2015

Where are all the women law partners?

To say I'm disgusted is an understatement.

My fellow journalist, Julie Kay at the Daily Business Review, reported today that between lateral hires and promotions, Greenberg Traurig, a national law firm headquartered in Miami, named 18 new South Florida partners in the past year.

Seventeen were men.

Julie notes that by comparison, of the 24 new South Florida partners named by Akerman Senterfitt in the same period, seven are women, both laterals and promotions. That's a small number too, but at least it's better than the ratio at Greenberg.

So, what the heck is going on? Will the male partners have the nerve to say that women opt out of the partnership track because of work life issues? That's an excuse I've been hearing for decades from male leaders at law firms.  

Nationally, the percent of women law partners is slim. In a 2014 Catalyst Women in Law Survey of the 50 best law firms for women, only 19 % of the equity partners were women. The survey also shows women lawyers made 78.9% of men lawyers’ salaries in 2013.

In a statement, here is what Greenberg Traurig CEO Richard Rosenbaum told Julie: "Our annual election of new partners is based on a system of meritocracy. While we always strive to provide opportunities for a diverse group of attorneys, each year that number may fluctuate based on the pool of candidates under consideration."

Boy, that's some fluctuation because at most firms nearly 50 percent of their associates are women. I believe some women don't want to become partner, opting out for work life reasons, but let's be real...those Greenberg numbers for new female partners should be MUCH higher. 


Deborah Baker, president of the Miami chapter of the Florida Association for Women Lawyers, expressed disappointment at Greenberg Traurig's lopsided partner gender split in South Florida.

She told Julie: "Often there are subtle exclusions of women that prevent them from rising in the ranks, and I hope that Greenberg Traurig will engage in a meaningful examination of its own firm culture and the steps it is taking to ensure that women are able to achieve the levels of professional success that their male counterparts do."

I called Deborah Baker to get some ideas for what firms can do differently. 

One of the big challenges, she says, is societal: men need to take a bigger role in parenting. "It can't always be mom making sure the sick kid gets to the pediatrician.  Society needs to recognize there are two parents and both need to give each other's career equal priority."

I agree with Deborah. Yet, I wonder what kind of reaction a male lawyer gets when he says he needs to stay home with a sick child. (Can't your wife do it?)

In addition, Deborah believes law firm culture needs to change.  She said firms need to put their senior male partners in charge of diversity. "They need to stop looking to women to handle HR and diversity issues. They are giving the women things that take time and they don't get credit for...if diversity is important, the message needs to come from the top."

I asked Deborah what she thinks of the usual rationalization by law firm leaders that women take themselves off the partnership track. "Some women do take themselves out. Some men don't want to be partners either. But if law firms and corporations value women in leadership roles, we all need to change the expectation that mom is the only parent capable of caring for a sick child. If there's equal parenting, firms will provide flexibility for men and women and help them get through the years when their kids are young. "

Still, Deborah insists the biggest obstacle for females to making shareholder is firm culture. "Law firms are pretending they are banging their heads against the wall and honestly it's not that complicated. When the head of litigation takes male associates out and women aren't invited, when it comes time to dole out the great work assignments, he is going to give it to the people he is friendly with, the people he socializes with - the men. That culture needs to end, and it's not ending. It still goes on."

Readers, what are your thoughts on Greenberg's lopsided new group of South Florida shareholders? What do you think needs to change for women who want to advance to actually reach partnership level? Is it law firm management's responsibility to advance more women, or is there something women need to do differently?

(The Good Wife's Alicia Flores has had her battles) 

  Goodwife

February 24, 2015

How to land a new job when you're pregnant

Recently, I watched a random episode of the House of Lies. It was my first time watching the show and Kristen Bell's character, Jeannie Van Der Hooven,  was pregnant. In the show, she plays a high powered management consultant whose firm is being investigated by the Feds. So, Van Der Hooven decides to explore her career options. That's when a recruiter pal tells her no one is going to hire her when she's pregnant. In fact, the recruiter quite bluntly advises her to stay put.

I found it realistic and disturbing.


Mary-Ellen-Slayter0008.vu_Today, my guest blogger Mary Ellen Slayter,CEO/Founder of Reputation Capital Media Services and Monster.com's HR and Careers Expert. She shares her advice for finding a job while pregnant and believes the key is to know your rights and have a plan in place before you head out to an interview. 

She offers this advice:

Looking for a job when you’re pregnant can feel like a huge challenge. If you’re not showing yet, you may feel like you need to hide the fact that you’re pregnant and will soon need some time off. If you are showing, you may feel like going through job interviews aren’t even worth it. But it’s not impossible to get a job while you’re pregnant. Here’s what you need to know.

Laws protect you

 

It’s important to remember the law is on your side when you’re interviewing while pregnant. “Laws protect pregnant applicants from discrimination and employers cannot require you to disclose your pregnancy,” says Cynthia Thomas Calvert, an employment lawyer and president of Workforce 21C.

 

Of course, your situation may be obvious. “Applicants may not be able to hide a pregnancy, or they may feel that it is better to disclose so that if they are hired they do not start their employment under a cloud of suspicion and distrust.”

Make a plan

 

Calvert says pregnancy discrimination is often based on assumptions about how pregnant women will or should act as employees, such as being too tired or too sick to work, taking off too much time, having "pregnancy brain" and not being committed to their job. “These biases may be open and blatant, or hidden and unconscious. Regardless, they affect the hiring process.”

 

She suggests saying things along the lines of, “I enjoy being a sales manager, and I want you to know that if you hire me, I will work very hard to be the best manager I can be. I am very committed to my career and to helping people who work with me to do their best. I know that we will have to work out some logistics based on my pregnancy, and I have some ideas for how we can do that.”

Believe in yourself

 

You are interviewing for new jobs because you believe you can do them. Let that shine through, says Janine Truitt, chief innovations officer at Talent Think Innovations LLC. “I was six months pregnant with my oldest child when I got a new job,” she says. “My advice is to have the same confidence in your abilities during pregnancy that you would if you weren't pregnant. Don't let pregnancy create unnecessary insecurities that make an employer start to second guess you.”

 

Finding a woman-friendly environment can help. “I have hired two women while they were pregnant. Three other women announced they were pregnant shortly after I hired them,” says Kassy Perry, president and CEO of Perry Communications Group.  She says men have asked her why she would hire a pregnant woman. “As a mother of two adult daughters, I typically chuckle and tell them that I didn’t realize pregnancy was a terminal illness and I guess I’m lucky to be back at work and successful after having two children.”

 

Readers, have you ever had to job hunt while pregnant? If so, what was that experience like? Managers, have you ever considered a candidate who was pregnant? What circumstances would lead you to hire that person? 

February 11, 2015

Choose your Valentine wisely if you want career success

There is no doubt about it. I am CEO of my home. Because I am conscientious and get things done at home, my husband can put in really long hours as CFO of his company and still spend time with the kids when he gets home. However, because he is conscientious too, I can advance in my career, and count on him when I need him to take over dinner or a meeting with the teacher so I can turn an article in on deadline.

New research shows what many CEOs already know. Who you marry is key to career success. If you are a go-getter, it's best to avoid partnering with  someone who is lazy, resentful or lacks confidence.

Male or female, you stand a better chance of career success if your spouse or romantic partner is conscientious, reliable, organized, extroverted and generally happy. Think Michelle Obama, or David Goldberg, SurveyMonkey CEO and husband of Sheryl Sandberg.

 

“Even if they are not going into your workplace at all, somehow your spouse’s personality is having an influence on your career,” says Joshua Jackson, co-author of new research published in Psychological Science on the link between a spouse’s personality and job success. “People can benefit at work not just because they are married, but in part because of who they married.”

 

 

Here are three reasons why you need to choose a conscientious partner if you are ambitious:

* First, a conscientious partner helps with household tasks, taking some pressure off you and freeing you  to concentrate on work.

* Second, a conscientious partner allows you to feel more satisfied in your marriage or relationship — happiness that spills over into greater satisfaction at work.

* Third, a conscientious partner sets an example, leading his or her mate to mimic his or her diligent habits.

You might also want to choose someone who is outgoing. Researchers also found that people with extroverted, outgoing partners are more likely to have higher levels of job satisfaction, “mostly because your spouse is happier and you take that with you into your workplace,” Jackson says. An added benefit: an outgoing spouse who comes with to work events can help you network or strike up a conversation with the boss.

Most C-suite executives, millionaire entrepreneurs and high-powered law firm shareholders will confirm that a romantic partner with the right personality can provide career advice, lift your mood while you work, encourage you to see opportunities and even refer you business or help you make connections.That's definitely something to keep in mind when you're searching for a Valentine!

These new findings linking a partner’s personality traits and career success supplement previous studies that show your happiness level rises when your mate’s does the same. Research has also found that workers put in more time in the office when their intimate relationships at home are going well, and the right romantic partner can become one's closest workplace confident and advisor.
 
In interviews, many CEOs of both genders often say they could not have succeeded without the support of their partners, wives or husbands, helping with the children and household chores, lending an listening ear when needed and agreeing to attend corporate events or relocate when necessary.
 
Women who lead the largest private companies in Florida realize they have to be in a relationship that operates as a true partnership, says Laurie Kaye Davis, executive director of The Commonwealth Institute South Florida, founded to help women-led businesses become and stay successful. In fact, Davis says that while she is super-organized, she depends on her spouse, a litigator, to be a reliable partner when her job requires more of her time: “I can’t imagine some being hugely successful in marriage and work if you don’t have someone who helps you be the best you can be.”
 
What's your take on your significant other's role in your career success? Do you think the personality of your partner has helped you get ahead at work? Has it prevented you from getting ahead?
 

January 19, 2015

Former lawyer says work life balance is not impossible

Today my guest blogger is Yuliya I. LaRoe, founder of Confident Entrepreneur Business & Leadership Coaching. LaRoe is originally from Vladivostok, Russia. She immigrated to the US in 1997 and quickly set her sights on becoming a lawyer. After graduating from the University of Southern California Law School, she spent about 8 years working as a business and international law attorney in a large law firm in Los Angeles. I found her perspective on work life balance interesting and wanted to share it with all of you.

 

YuliyaMy pursuit for the "perfect" balance between work and life started with my first job as a lawyer. The realization of how hard it was to juggle work assignments with family obligations and still wanting to spend time with friends, on hobbies and to travel (which I love) was a bit of shock to me. School was much easier in that sense - show up to classes, do your homework, and pass the exams. But work was much more demanding. It required long hours, work on the weekends, and at times felt all consuming. I spent about 8 years working as a business and international law attorney in a large law firm in Los Angeles. 

 

And then in 2011, I came to a (quite shocking!) realization that the practice of law was no longer satisfying. I decided to shift gears completely and become a business and leadership coach. I wanted to help women business owners and professionals grow their business or career, while becoming more focused and confident about they really wanted, connecting with their purpose, and infusing more balance, and happiness into their daily lives.

 

To be frank, it took me months to make the transition happen, during which I experienced my own version of "Eat, Prey, Love" (I spent 2 months volunteering in Costa Rica, traveled to South Korea and Russia, completed a 4-month yoga teacher certification course, back-packed around India for a month, and attended a 10-day SILENT meditation retreat). 

 

Recently, I bought Sharon Lechter's book "Think and Grow Rich for Women: Using Your Power to Create Success and Significance and found one particular passage to strike a cord with me. In it the author says:

 

"For years, women have been taught that they should be able to have it all. They should be able to choose to work full-time or part-time, or work from home while still getting married, having children, and managing a household. But there were no rules or guidebooks on how to have it all and keep your sanity in the process. 

 

Think and Grow Rich for Women debunks the work/ life balance guilt trip that women struggle with. I personally believe the word “balance” was created by a group of old male psychologists who saw the rise of women in the workplace and wanted to make sure they had a steady stream of female patients— women tormented with guilt and frustration with their inability to achieve the psychologists’ definition of balance.”

 

This resonated with me because many of my clients deal with this issue on a daily basis, and my own failed search for that proverbial "perfect balance" was one of the reasons I struggled in my past career as an attorney.

 

At some point, I had resigned myself to the idea that I couldn't "have it all" and that I just had to choose one thing, my work. But as we all know, all work and no play make anyone a dull person. Slowly I began to get that feeling that my soul was being crushed. Sounds dramatic, I know, but that's how it felt.

 

Now, years later, I realize that balance itself was not impossible. The secret that no one tells you about is in how we define "balance". Most of my clients, when we first begin working together, place such high demands on themselves - to be the perfect professional, the perfect spouse or partner, the perfect parent, the perfect friend, the perfect child, etc. All of that while achieving the "perfect balance." 

 

We drive ourselves into exhaustion by trying to achieve and overachieve. Plus, add the guilt that comes when we realize that we are "failing." I recently had one of my clients apologize to me for not creating and mailing her family photo Christmas card to me because she had so much on her plate that she "was going nuts" (hardly necessary to lose one's sanity over a postcard!).

 

What I tell my clients is what I had to tell myself: carve out some time and get clear on your true priorities in life. Start by asking these questions: "How much of what I am trying to accomplish is what I truly want and how much of it is driven by societal and cultural pressures? What would my life look like if I relaxed at least some of my standards? At what point does trying to "have it all" while having "the perfect balance" begin to work against me?" 

 

The answers will set you in the right direction.

 

Join Yuliya at Any of These Upcoming Events! 

  • January 22, 2015: Thelma Gibson Awards hosted by the Women's Chamber of Commerce of Miami-Dade County
  • January 29, 2015: SCORE Miami workshop – Featured Presenter, “'You Said What?' Boost Your Business Etiquette Skills to Ensure Success of Your Business" @ 2000 Ponce Business Center
  • February 4, 2015: WIFS (Women in Insurance & Financial Services) South Florida's Annual Kickoff Meeting  – Featured Presenter, "Plan to Win & Make It Happen! 3 Key Strategies For Success"

November 20, 2014

How to Get on a Corporate Board and Why it's Worth Doing

This morning at Women Executive Leaderhip's Corporate Salute, I listened as a handful of powerful women talked about how they landed a board seat at some of the biggest companies in America (McDonald's, Cox Communications,Pennzoil-Quaker State Corporation)

Being on a board not only pays well, it can allow someone to influence corporate strategy at a company they patronize. Yes, it is a time commitment, but it comes with a great deal of prestige, a chance to exert a strong voice and an opportunity to meet influential people.

Some key strategic moves:

Get connected. Hearing these women speak, it dawned on me what these board directors had in common: they knew the right person who advocated for them. While these women were qualified, they got the position after being recommended by someone with an in. Chances are you have the right connections, too. You just have to use them."I can't stress enough the importance of networking with other women in power," said Terry Savage,  a nationally known expert on personal finance, the markets, and the economy.

Put the word out. Last week, when I was out at Perry Ellis International and spoke with CEO George Feldenkreis, he told me that women are often low key about their skills or interest in being on a board. You have to make yourself visible to sitting board members, and you have to make them aware of your strengths and skills, he told me.

Gain the confidence. You also have to believe that you have what it takes to serve on board. "It's amazing to me how prepared women are without knowing it," said Lynn Martin, former U.S. Secretary of Labor who has held numerous board seats.

Make an action plan. Stephanie Sonnabend, co-founder of 2020 Women On Boards, advises creating an action plan that includes deciding what companies or industries you want to target for a board position, inventorying your skills to fill the gaps and preparing your resume, bio and elevator speech.

Get past work life concernsMy Miami Herald column goes more in depth about the status of women in the boardroom in Florida and nationwide. I found these comments by Korn Ferry's Bonnie Crabtree right on point:

To land board seats, you need to go after them and get past the real or perceived work/life balance concerns or lack of confidence that holds you back.

“Women say they would love to be on a board, but that isn’t enough. They must research what boards are looking for, their own experience, and work to close the gaps.”

Crabtree said qualified women need to believe they can do the job and step up for consideration. “Women worry more about travel or the time investment to be on a board or getting permission from their CEO, and they unconsciously take themselves out of the running.”

Do you think you have what it takes to land a board seat? Having diverse boards makes good business sense. Are you willing to help prove that point?

 

 

WEL2-1

(Cindy Goodman, Michelle Eisner, Stephanie Sonnabend and Shari Roth at Women Executive Leadership's Corporate Salute)

 

 

November 14, 2014

Admitting you don't have work life balance

Today I had a conversation that I found refreshing.

Typically, I speak with women and men and ask them how they achieve work life balance. Usually they give me an answer about something specific they do such as "make alone time" or "work out during lunch" or "make my family a priority."

But today, when I ask Cheryl Scully, chief financial officer of AutoNation, about how she achieves work
life balance, her answer was simple and honest: "I'm not good at it," she admitted to me. 

Finally, someone who openly admits to be okay with working more than playing. 

Cheryl said she regularly works seven days a week. She recently began trying to take off Friday Cheryl-Scully-3405381-220 afternoons. Cheryl did say that she has more flexibility as a company officer than she had on her climb up the corporate ladder. She can leave the office for a few hours during the day when needed. But when she does, she usually stays late at night.

Cheryl is recently engaged and planning a wedding. Because she doesn't have children, she told me she is not the best person to speak about work life balance. Yet, to me, she is ideal. It's refreshing to hear someone openly say they lack work life balance. As she settles into married life, Cheryl may want to reclaim some of her personal time. But for now, she holds a prestigious position at a robust public company and has made pockets of time to tend to her personal needs. She has chosen to put time into a career and I respect her choices.

Balance is not only about work and family. It's about spending time in ways that you find fulfilling. If Cheryl enjoys work and puts a priority on that, more power to her. Rather than pretending she is trying to find balance, I like that she admits her scale is tipped in one direction. 

Often, people believe they need better work/life balance because someone else had told them they need it. Cheryl didn't seem the least bit stressed to me. In fact, she seemed really happy.

What are your thoughts on admitting to not having balance and being okay with it? Have you found yourself struggling too hard to achieve it when you could give in and enjoy how you're spending your time?