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14 posts from November 2012

November 30, 2012

How to brand yourself as a remarkable employee

At some point or another, we all need a career boost. Whether you’re going into the dreaded performance review or need to find a new job, expanding and grooming your professional brand will always be a priority if you want to advance yourself.

But, how can you forgo the same tried solutions and become a remarkable employee? More importantly, how can you boost your career in the process, particularly in the eyes of a supervisor?

Today my guest blogger is Morgan Norman, CEO of WorkSimple, the social performance application that fundamentally changes the way employees and companies view performance and each other. You can connect with Mr. Norman and WorkSimple on Facebook and @getsimple on Twitter. As we close out the year, it may be the ideal time to put his tips to good use.



1. Set a focus: Believe it or not, your manager may not know what you do on an everyday basis.
In fact, they may assume that you’re working on a certain objective when it’s been passed on to someone else or no longer relevant. You typically have four to five focuses, depending on your role. Setting concrete focuses and then assigning goals under that focus can give your manager the feedback they need, while at the same time cluing them in on why you deserve the promotion, salary bonus, or job. Setting a focus also lets your manager know what your strengths are — which, again, they may not be aware of.

2. Go visual: We live in a visual world, so why shouldn’t your work portfolio follow suit? A great way to showcase your work is to have a visual storyboard that tells your personal WorkStory. Plus, you no longer need to be a designer to build a biography of your accomplishments. Many platforms out there make it easy to showcase your work in minutes, helping you manage your own work portfolio. Additionally, visual storyboards can help you be that remarkable employee. First, your manager can see exactly what you accomplished, what you’re working on, and how you got there. Next, a visual element is much easier to relay than words on paper. After all, if there are visual elements in your portfolio, it makes your work exciting, which puts you on a higher plateau than your competition.

3. Tailor your content: When you’re in a room with a manager, do you think they want to hear about the work you did last year or the work you did last week? Probably the latter. By tailoring your content to what matters now or in the recent past, you give your manager insight on your current achievements and objectives. Think about setting a few focuses (as I stated above), and tailoring your content towards it. That way, your manager can see what you’re working on in real-time.

4. Share your accomplishments: Take control of your career by transforming
how you share work and capture your accomplishments. For example, you can create a work portfolio that allows your best work to shine. Further, you can also highlight your top five accomplishments and relay to your manager why hitting these goals made an impact on your company. When it comes down to it, you can’t transform team or company culture without sharing; it takes action. So take it.

5. Get feedback: Endorsements and recommendations of others can have a huge impact in your career. By getting that little check mark, your great work can shine across the organization. Anything from a LinkedIn recommendation to written praise by coworkers, managers, or partners can be that little push you need to be remarkable in the eyes of your supervisor.

What are some approaches you have used to position yourself as a remarkable employee?


November 29, 2012

Would you play on Nick Saban's team?

Nick saban

Nick Saban, football coach of University of Alabama, has a history of winning in college football. Now, he's poised once again to show his dominance, only one win away from another national title.

In the last six years, Saban has been on almost every sports covers of note, including Forbes business magazine under the headline, "The Most Powerful Coach In Sports."

Yet, as a head coach, Saban can be downright cruel. Once  in the locker room, Jeno James, a massive guard, was passed out, vomiting, suffering from heat stroke and being attended by panicked teammates. Saban stepped right over James on the way to his office.

Saban is regularly described as intense and demanding. They say he's as approachable as a porcupine. He also been know to lie publicly when it's to his advantage.

This is how Dave Hyde of the Sun Sentinel describes Saban:

1. As a man, he's a lout.

2. As a coach, he's the best in sports today.

Lately, I've been thinking about Nick Saban' football success and wondering, would I want to be on his team?

I can tell you there are few talented football players who would pass up playing for Saban. The same applies in business. There are few talented managers who would pass up working for a winning CEO who, like Saban, was at the top of his or her game.

American like winners. We jockey to work for companies like Apple, Google and IBM who are known to be the best in their business. But great leaders of great companies aren't always nice guys. In fact, they're usually a lot like Nick, filled with personal flaws despite their great talents. Yet, when they are winning, leading a company to the heights of success, their personality becomes irrelevant as do your needs as an employee.

If you play for Saban, you go in knowing you must buy into the winning mentality, no matter what it takes. Saban told CBSSports.com: "I find that players and people in our organization really feel good about the fact that they know what the expectation is."

If I were young, single, driven and eager to show off my talents, I'd play for Saban. I sign right up to be on his team and give it my all. But as a middle aged player with experience and scars, I need to play for a different kind of coach, one whose passion to win is offset by a desire to support his team on all levels.

What about you? Knowing Saban's leadership style, would you play on his team?


November 28, 2012

Why do workers leave unused vacation days on the table?

Are you going to forfeit vacation days this year?

If you're answer is yes, you have lots of company. It's easy to lose track of where you stand with your vacation days --  so ask about days earned and days used and days you can carry over -- and do it now while you still have a chance to schedule time off.

Today, I wrote a Miami Herald column about the increasing number of people who aren't using their paid vacation time -- that's a form of compensation that goes right back to your employer instead of to you. Even if you're not planning a get away, a day off at home helps a lot with work life balance. And, you might even consider spending the day making doctor's visit as the year comes to a close. By now, most people have reached their deductible so it's a great time for any lingering ailments you might want examined.



Work/Life Balancing Act

Many are feeling the vacation day squeeze

American workers are leaving a growing number of vacation days on the table as work demands increase.

Get Adobe Flash player
Dwight O'Neal, a sales support representative for Josie Maran Cosmetics, is shown with Josie Maran. He loves his job and doesn't like to take vacation days at this time of the year.
        Dwight O'Neal, a sales support representative for Josie Maran Cosmetics, is shown with Josie Maran. He loves his job and doesn't like to take vacation days at this time of the year.    



            Inside Sephora, where nail polishes and perfumes abound, Dwight O’Neal holds out a makeup brush to dab his brand’s illuminizer on a young woman. Over the next few weeks, O’Neal will travel to Sephora stores throughout the Southeast prettying potential customers to pump up sales of Josie Maran products. With his intense schedule during the holidays, taking a vacation day is out of the question.

For O’Neal, an educator and sales support representative with Josie Maran Cosmetics, that means thinking strategically and using his vacation time in February, rather than forfeiting days off at year end.

As 2012 draws to a close, the question looms: Are you going to accidentally forfeit vacation days?     

      For an increasing number of American workers, the answer is yes.

“Now is the time of year that everyone should take note of his or her company’s vacation policy,” says employee benefits expert Joanne Apice. You should know if you can carry over vacation days and if so, how many.

A survey by Harris Interactive found that by the end of 2012, Americans will leave an average of 9.2 days of vacation unused, up from 6.2 days last year. It also found profits per employee are at a 10-year high, mostly because workers are cramming in more hours.

O’Neal says in December he crams in hours at Sephora by choice. He loves his job showing customers how to use Josie Maran’s organic cosmetics and wouldn’t want to take a day off during busy season even if he could. “In retail, December is a blackout period but that’s OK with me. I love being on the floor, interacting with customers.”

Others say they, too, try to be strategic about vacations, well aware of policies on “use them or lose them” and end-of-the-year blackout periods in industries such as hospitality, retail and healthcare. But inevitably, there are those who lose track of where they stand with vacation days.

“There are workers who are scrambling to get days off scheduled,” Apice says. “When you have multiple employees in that situation and you still have work that needs to be done, it is a challenge to balance scheduling and management of the department.”

Yet, for some workers, particularly at high levels, there’s a reluctance to take time off. An increasing number of people say they can’t afford to take all the vacation allotted to them because work piles up. Others conclude that they are just too busy to take time off or don’t want to send the signal that they are not committed.

Peter Mendez, a finance services executive, says he will be among those who leave vacation time unused in 2012, mostly because he fears the mountain of work that awaits upon return. “It is too painful coming back to 2,000 emails.”

Forfeiting vacation time happens even as American bosses encourage employees to take their earned time off. According to an Expedia survey, the majority of Americans workers said their bosses support taking their allotted time off, with only 5 percent who said their bosses weren’t supportive. “Employers give vacation time to recharge so that when you come back you are refreshed and can perform better,” Apice said.

John Morrey, general manager of Expedia.com, said in a statement, “Your vacation days are not a gift, not a luxury. They’re yours to use. Studies consistently show that an ideal work-life balance leads to happier and more productive employees.”


Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/11/27/3116029/many-are-feeling-the-vacation.html#storylink=cpy



November 26, 2012

Cyber Monday: More companies give approval for shopping at work



I woke up early this morning to shop online for an Apple Ipad Mini for my hubby. It took a while to make my purchase because there were no great deals and most stores had no product left. My point is that online shopping often isn't a two minute task and if I waited to do it during my work day, I could easily lose an hour or more of work time.

So, I'm kind of surprised to hear that more companies are OK with their employees participating in Cyber Monday, the biggest online shopping day of the year.

I'm the first to admit that sales are hard to resist. (The Black Friday numbers prove this true!) In prior years, we've seen the numbers to prove that Cyber Monday is a huge draw...people are going to shop from their cubicles today. But the weird thing is that increasingly, businesses are starting to see online shopping as a boon to productivity, rather than a drain and they're becoming more lenient.

Last year, 60 percent of companies blocked employee access to online shopping sites, according to a blind survey of 1,400 chief information officers from a wide range of US firms. This year, only 33 percent of them blocked access.

John Reed, of Robert Half Technology, a technology firm based in Menlo Park, Calif., which conducted the survey says,  "Many businesses acknowledge the need for flexibility during the hectic holiday season and allow some online shopping at work, within reason."

Reed says "Employers are looking at it from a realistic perspective," The reality is that allowing employees to tackle personal to-do lists at work can help maintain productivity because workers are spared the traffic delays and long lines that accompany holiday crowds.

Reed says. "Even if we have a policy saying we don't want you to do this, employees will find a way. Let's at least acknowledge it and put some parameters in place."   

The Christian Science Monitor talked to some bosses who seemed perfectly OK with letting their employees take a 10 minute break to shop online. I not so sure I would be in that category! (I think they may be WAY underestimating how much time they're really spending) But workers don't want to miss out on deals...According to a survey of 600 consumers by online deal website FatWallet, 62 percent of consumers expect to find the best holiday season deals on Cyber Monday.

So readers, what do you think about employee participation in Cyber Monday? If you were the boss, would you allow it? If an employer bans online shopping at work, is that Grinch-like behavior?


November 21, 2012

What career advice would you give your kid?

Recently, at Media Day, a young Asian enterntainment reporter told high school students how disappointed her parents were in her career choice. She said they wanted her to be an engineer or scientist, a path more Asians take. She explained that her parents finally came around when they saw that she actually got a job in her field, and they realized she was happy.

Her story got me thinking....It's so hard to advise our kids on career paths today because industries are changing so rapidly. I am in the thick of guiding my daughter on what colleges she should apply to and how her career choice plays into that decision. It led to today's Miami Herald column.



Work/Life Balancing Act

Dear daughter, let me give you some career advice ...

Preparing for the New Economy requires a focus on developing skill sets rather than navigating rigid career paths.



            My daughter, a high school junior, wants to be a teacher. That doesn’t sit well with my husband, who worries about the state of education and the job outlook. He and I regularly debate whether we should encourage her to pursue this interest, or strongly steer her in another direction.

Today, coaching our kids about career paths is complicated. Many of my reporter and editor friends who witnessed an overhaul of the media world are highly opposed to their kids becoming journalists. Where parents of the past pushed their kids to follow in their footsteps, we want the generation of college-bound kids we raise to go where the jobs will be.

American workers’ experiences during the recession and the uncertainty of the global economy have made many of us more opinionated about what careers our kids pursue. We have witnessed job loss and burnout. We have seen highly educated professionals such as lawyers and bankers lose their jobs. And worse, we have seen college graduating classes face an overwhelmingly tough employment arena. While it’s true that a college degree usually guarantees better wages, the mantra of parents clearly has become: Can you land a decent-paying job with that degree?      

      As parents, we’re just beginning to understand that the next generation will have to navigate the workplace differently. Experts forecast that workers starting out now will switch careers — that’s careers, not jobs — an average of more than three times during their lives. Should parents, then, worry less about guiding our kids into careers and focus more on helping our kids identify skills to succeed in the new economy?

Whether my daughter becomes a teacher or an engineer, her success likely will come from a mastery of technology, languages and communications skills. Most importantly, she will need the mindset to be a problem solver, innovator, risk taker and self marketer. She will need to be prepared to continuously acquire new skills, a lesson my generation has learned the hard way.

“We are fooling ourselves to think young people will get a degree and spend the next 20 years at a single company or in a single industry,” says John Swartz, regional director of career services at Everest College, which has campuses in 30 cities including Miami. “They will have to be more focused on dealing with change. In this new world order, they have to follow the jobs in demand, acquire the right skills or at least transferable skills, and know that the skill set needed might change.”


November 19, 2012

How a new mother finds sanity

I remember getting home with my newborn daughter and wondering why she cried so much. I even called the hospital and asked the nurse who had helped deliver her what I should do to stop the crying. I had been used to handling all kinds of workplace dilemmas, but this little baby had me in a state of hysteria.

A friend of mine, a business owner, had a completely different newborn experience. She hired a baby nurse – an amazing benefit for those who can afford it. It made her transition into motherhood much easier and allow her to get back on her feet and enjoy motherhood while keeping her business afloat.

Jacque Scherfer headshot_final


Today, my guest blogger is Jacque Scherfer, Vice President of Best Care, a South Florida home-healthcare provider.

Jacque is a Registered Nurse with a Baccalaureate in Nursing and has worked in various aspects of nursing and management. She shares some insight into what to look for in a baby nurse and how to make the most out of the experience.




Hiring a baby nurse is an option for parents who need that extra little bit of help and guidance when they bring their new bundle of joy (or joys) home for the first time.  While for many, the “mama bear” instinct immediately kicks in, other parents may just need some extra help from a professional to launch them into their parental routine.


An experienced baby nurse is not just a nanny for hire. The baby nurse usually helps out during the first few weeks of the baby’s life. Her primarily goal is to help care for the newborn and to teach new parents how to feed, bathe, wrap and attend to all of their newborn’s needs.  The nurse can assist in prepping the baby for breastfeeding and then also bottle feed the baby during the late-night and wee hours, so the parents can get their rest and sleep through the night. 

A baby nurse also is especially helpful for parents who have other children to care for, for households where both parents work and even where one parent travels or works during the night.  We also must not forget the unique challenge of caring for newborn twins, triplets, or other multiple-births, where an extra set of hands is always a welcome pleasure.

One of the biggest benefits is having the nurse help with the day-to-day routine of caring for a newborn also allows the mom to get the rest she needs to speed up her recovery time so she can take care of the child much sooner on her own.

If possible, the process of finding a baby nurse should begin before the baby is born.  It is important for parents to meet and interview candidates prior to hiring them, so they are confident and comfortable with the person who is living in their home and caring for their newborn child. 

But a baby nurse can help mom, too, especially one who is recovering from a c-section or other tough delivery.  The nurse or aide can assist by helping the mom walk, changing her bandages and providing any additional care that she needs during her recovery.

A common question: What is the average length of time people hire a baby nurse ?

The average amount of time varies from  1 to 2 weeks, a few weeks to a couple of months, then at that point they are done and baby and parents have a schedule formed or parents are looking for long term child care in the form of a nanny. 

New mothers also want to know what they should expect to pay for a baby nurse and whether the rates are daily or weekly.

It depends on what the new parent is looking for. A few hours a day can be a few hundred dollars, but then again they may ask for someone to live in weekly which could be over a thousand dollars a week. For specifics they should call the home care provider for more details. Services can be hourly or daily.

Another common question: Are agencies the best way to find a baby nurse?

Yes, a home health care company is the best place to look for a caregiver because of the level of requirements and background checks that are required.  A licensed home care provider like a Nurse registry or home health company are the best way. At Best Care, we provide parents with credentialed, licensed and insured nurses and nurse’s aides who are highly trained and CPR certified.  They typically provide 24-hour care and assist parents in every aspect of newborn care.  All of our nurses have medical backgrounds, level 2 background checks, drug screenings and are prepared to step in wherever needed.  

There are independent baby nurses but when hiring someone independent, you run the risk of who are you getting.  Are they properly licensed and trained? Do they have a criminal background? Only licensed providers can give you independent verified answers to these questions.


November 16, 2012

Be careful what you outsource

In the interest of work life balance, I'm all for outsourcing. If you're a small business owner, why spend hours struggling to keep your company's finances in order when you can outsource the bookkeeping to someone who is an expert at it? If you pay a bookkeeper $50 an hour and your time is worth $100 an hour, you're ahead of the game.

It's a classic, common sense approach to growing a business. But there's some danger in outsourcing and it needs to be pursued with discrimination.

Earlier this week, I attended the Women's Success Summit in Miami where a panel of successful women business owners told the audience they grew their business by hiring experts, delegating and mentoring their staff to free their time up for business development. But speakers throughout the day explained that certain functions can't and shouldn't be outsourced. 

Branding genius Bruce Turkel's advice was to never outsource marketing yourself. "People don't buy what you do, they buy who you are." He's so right! I bought football player Tim Tebow's book. I know it's not going to be a fabulously written piece of literature and I'm really not a sports nut, but I bought the book because I love Tim Tebow (a football player and former quarterback for the Florida Gators). 

Turkel says you don't have to don't have to be unique. You just have to build on what someone else already has created and make everyone like you. "Be really good at what you do but be better at selling who you are."

Lisa Sparks with Constant Contact, the guru of email marketing, also gave some advice on what not to outsource. These days, everyone is eager to have a presence on Facebook, Twitter and blogs. They want to reach out to customers through newsletters, too. Lots of people are hiring others to create content for them. Lisa urged us to do this cautiously. "This is an opportunity to show your quirks, tell your story. Your content is your voice to the world."

I was talking with New York Publicist Stephanie Wolf, owner of SWPR about outsourcing and she had some great advice, too. "Client interaction is the most valuable part of what I'm offering. I would never outsource direct communication." Stephanie says she is willing to outsource administrative tasks such as writing or media outreach. But she's reluctant to outsource billing. "People have told me to do that, but I have trouble letting control around billing. It feels too risky."

Are there certain functions of your business you consider too risky to outsource? Which functions are you willing to let go of to reclaim some work life balance? 


November 15, 2012

Want to grow your business? Get your spouse on board!



(Above: Panel of female entrepreneurs share tips at the Women's Success Summit in Miami)


Ginny  Simon, mother of four boys, saw an empty nest in her future. So, she became an entrepreneur.

It didn’t exactly happen overnight. But it happened in a big way. Ginny makes organic, gluton-free baked goods. She has landed her products on the shelves of massive retailers such as Fresh Market and Whole Foods. Her volume is so large that she has had to build a 8,500-square-foot commercial kitchen. The idea for Ginny Bakes sprouted from Ginny's consulting business. She started out as a holistic nutritionist and self-professed “health nut” and came up with the idea for her company when she was unable to find baked goods for her clients.

On Tuesday, Ginny and other successful entrepreneurs shared the stage and offered advice at the Women’s Success Summit in Miami. I learned a lot from them as they shared pearls of wisdom with aspiring entrepreneurs:

  • “It takes passion and believing in your product to overcome challenges,” Ginny said. She has reinvested all profits back into the business as it grows, but she remains confident the investment will pay off. She says she’s careful to listen to the feedback and tailor her products to what people want. “Creative people are not brilliant but they listen well,” she said.


  • “Know your purpose and how your business fulfills that purpose,” said Susie Taylor, President & Head of Product Development, Bibbitec. Susie says her purpose is staying passionately ethical as she builds her business, a unique baby bib. She had an opportunity to sell her Bibbitec to a company that planned to take the manufacturing to China. She chose to keep it and have her unique bibs made locally in Hialeah. She is about to appear on ABC's "Shark Tank."



  • “Founding a company may be your passion, but if you can’t make money, it’s not a business,” said Carol Fenster, Co-Founder, Baby Abuelita, which has had major success marketing bilingual dolls. She recently licensed her toy products and is developing an assortment of new products. 


  • “You cannot be an expert in everything, which is why I surround myself with experts. As you grow, you have to visualize the business working without you. Take the time to mentor people who can take the work load off you," said Leila Chang Ripich, CEO, Florida Dental Benefits, Founder & President, Ideal Lifestyle Concierge.



  • “You have to ask yourself, ‘are you building a business or creating a job for yourself?’ ” said founder of the Women’s Success Summit, Michelle Villalobos. “If you are interested in building a business, look around for a mentor, someone who has had success with what you’re trying to do.”


All of the women said that when you are married, it’s important to get your spouse’s support – and that’s something that may take time. Ginny and Susie revealed their husbands, both lawyers, were reluctant about their ventures, particularly about reinvesting profits. But with success came approval. Both spouses now work for their wives businesses. 


November 14, 2012

How to squeeze volunteering and community service into your work life balance

Last weekend, I served mac & cheese to a homeless boy wearing pajamas at 5 p.m. He may have been wearing the pajamas all day. I've been thinking about that boy all week as I scramble around feeling stressed about meeting deadlines and driving my kids to their activities. I would like to go back to the homeless shelter and hand him a hot meal again next weekend. 

Volunteering is rewarding but it can also be a challenge to fit into our busy lives. When I read Erin McHugh's book about how she approached giving back, I had to share her idea to inspire others. You can read all about it in today's column in The Miami Herald.


How to make the time for giving back


Professionals offer strategies for making philanthropy a part of their work-life balance.



            Erin McHugh had been working as a book seller during the day and author at night. Her jammed packed work schedule left her little time for volunteering. Feeling unfulfilled, she decided to try an approach she could squeeze into her routine — one small good deed every day for a year.

Her deeds ranged from taking a senior out for ice cream to donating books to the local library. As she started blogging about her mission, others piped in. “I realized the small stuff is what people could relate to. Asking someone to take a whole day off and do something in the community is too hard for some people.” McHugh turned her personal mission into a book,  One Good Deed: 365 Days of Trying to Be Just a Little Bit Better, which she will speak about at the 29th Miami Book Fair International on Saturday.

Much like McHugh, American workers are finding ways to participate in volunteering, even as their work hours increase. Among men and women in professional and managerial positions, a whopping 38 percent of men and 14 percent of women worked 50 hours or more per week in 2011. At the same time, the volunteer rate rose by 0.5 percentage point to 26.8 percent for the year, with more than 64 million people volunteering at least once, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.     

      For some, a large volunteer commitment can lead to productivity loss. Not long ago, I spoke with an accounting firm partner whose term as president of a nonprofit organization had just ended. She was eager to return her full attention to her job and confessed her practice had suffered from the voluminous hours she put into her volunteer role.

There are ways to help you fit charity/volunteer work into your work-life balance.

•  Multi-task. Volunteer work poses an opportunity for multi-tasking. It can double as a way to raise your business profile, squeeze some exercise into your agenda, or meet a romantic partner.

Detra Shaw-Wilder, a litigation partner at Kozyak Tropin & Throckmorton, focuses her volunteer involvement in efforts to increase minority lawyers in the legal profession. “All my dollars, time and energy go into that,” she says. At the same time she is donating time to bar associations, she also is building a reputation and connections in the legal community. “The way to balance is to find things that have a return for you personally and professionally,” she says.

Meanwhile, Adrianna Truby, a teacher at Miami’s Palmer Trinity School, takes a different approach, participating in the growing trend toward combining exercise with volunteer work. An avid runner, Truby has become a captain for Team in Training, a program sponsored by ther Leukemia & Lymphoma Society-South Florida chapte. Truby spends her Saturdays training volunteers to run marathons and personally runs to raise money for the organization. “Lots of people aren’t motivated on their own. It’s easier for them to join a group, get healthy and raise money for charity.”

Some volunteers get involved in philanthropy to meet a like-minded romantic partner. The Lopezes volunteer to bond as husband and wife. Together, Marile and Jorge Luis have chaired three fundraising galas for organizations they have a passion for such as the Miami Children’s Hospital Foundation. Jorge Luis, who heads a law firm, and his wife, Marile, who works as chief financial officer for the firm, have five children and spend their leisure time giving back. “We focus the volunteer work we do on children’s causes,” Marile says. “We make it a collaborative effort.” 




more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/11/13/3096001/how-to-make-the-time-for-giving.html#storylink=cpy


November 09, 2012

Where does marriage fit in with work life balance?


A friend of mine, a small business owner, puts her kids to bed and rushes to get back on her computer. I hear that scenerio a lot from women I interview who are raising families and either holding demanding jobs or running their own companies. For working moms, our priorities are work, kids and then our husbands.

It makes me wonder what the future holds. Can we keep our marriages strong when we relegate our spouses to the back burner?

Today, Lisa Belkin of The Huffington Post published a beautiful summary of the lessons she learned from 25 years of marriage.

Click here to read it.

Here's one pearl of wisdom Lisa shares that I particularly liked: "Having a first child means doing a gut renovation of your relationship; having a second child means rearranging some of the furniture."

I, too, have been married 25 years and have learned a lot along the way. With work and kids, it's not always easy to give my husband the attention he deserves. I'm guilty of spending too much time at night online. But I've discovered that it's being attentive to your spouse that makes a relationship strong. It's quality time that matters over quantity. Lately, I'm trying harder to find new ways to spend time with my husband, walking at night or sitting together on the sidelines at my kids' sports games.

This year, I've watched several of my friends become empty nesters. I'm terrified by the thought of having a quiet home. Yet, I see my friends enjoying more time with their spouses, trying new activities and bonding in new ways. I'm realizing the day will come when my dinner table will be occupied by just my husband and myself. That's hard to envision right now, but I know it lies ahead.

I'm thankful to Lisa Belkin today for reminding me that work pays the bills, success gives us satisfaction, kids bring us joy and spouses provide love.

Where does marriage fit into your juggling act?

 Remember this lesson Lisa shares: "If you keep talking while the children are young, there will be lots to talk about after they've grown."