United State of Women

WebI had the privilege of attending the White House Summit on the United State of Women. It was a gathering in Washington DC of all the movers and shakers focused on women’s issues (and me!!!)

It was an exhilarating and exhausting event that left me excited and hopeful that women might actually be treated equal one day. This large and very accomplished gathering was the first public demonstration that women matter in this country. I know that might sound bitter or tough or defensive, but let’s face it, everyday women are abused, battered and seriously compromised in their ability to be treated as an equal in all definitions of the word equal.

I was telling a very smart, savvy, successful woman and a good friend of mine about the event and she listened attentively, and then asked, “Now what? What will change? What are the next steps? What can I do?” As usual, she asked the right questions.

I have given her questions a great deal of thought and I have reflected on all that I heard and saw and soaked in. There is money to be raised and programs to be developed and the list is VERY long, but the next steps  for all women moved to action can do for themselves go like this:

  1. Speak up and tell the world:
    1. If you need help
    2. If you don’t understand
    3. If you have been harmed or violated
    4. If you have an idea or a solution
    5. If you have done something extraordinary
    6. If you ….
  1. Speak up and call them on it:
    1. If someone degrades or diminishes you
    2. If your spouse/partner does not equally share the load
    3. When a colleague asks you if you are “upset” or tells you to “smile”
  1. Know who you are, know your value, like who you are – take the time to get comfortable in your own skin. It’s not easy but it’s doable. You might have to ask for help, so ask.
  1. Failing is one of the two outcomes of really living. Both success and failure are our best teachers. Go for it, encourage other women to do the same, and let them know you have their back.
  1. Bullies can be cruel and thoughtless and rude. Remember they can only hurt you if you promote them to a level of someone who matters. What they say does not matter, what you do is all that matters.
  1. Stop pleasing all the time. It is okay to have conflict.
  1. Your time as a woman, as a daughter, a sister, a wife, as a mother is very precious. Protect your time and prioritize yourself so that you can do what makes you thrive.


As Maya Angelou says, let’s all be proud to spell our names

W O M A N!!!!












Short Vocal Chords


How many times have you gone into a restaurant and found yourself seated near a large table of happy women and wished you could move FAR away. You came to talk and not scream to be heard but the boisterous, shrill voices of women make that very difficult. Why is this a problem? Why can’t women speak quietly and use their “inside” voices? Why do women gather in large groups to celebrate birthdays, new babies, weddings and the like, just to ruin your dining experience?

How many times have you heard comments about women in the public eye (who are not journalists) be chastised for their shrill voice, their shouting, their appearance of anger, or their intensity? Why do I exclude female journalists? Because they are trained and coached to keep their voices at a certain pitch, decibel level, and tone – they are trained to use their “deeper” voice!

Women’s voices are indeed different from men… my research tells me that it is based on the length of our vocal chords. Women’s vocal chords are much shorter. Men have short vocal chords until their voice breaks during puberty and then they have growth in their vocal chords. So it is indeed physical.

Our tolerance for this difference is based somewhat on our age. The older we are (50+), the more accustomed we are to hearing predominantly male voices from those in power. We also just recently began gathering with our female friends, colleagues and family in places outside the home. Women have gathered together for centuries in each other’s homes where noise levels and bothering other people was not an issue AND it was a place of familiarity for all to hear women’s voices. Today women are more independent, successful, and gather in public places for coffee, lunch, dinner, drinks – just like men – BUT they bring their female voices with them.

I have often wondered if women had designed most of the interiors of restaurants and other public places where people gather if the acoustics might be different. I asked my architect daughter this question and she said, “Maybe, mainly because female architects tend to include more “intimate” areas in their design and these areas scatter noise.”

So what’s the answer? Time is one, as the world adjusts to these female voices in public places hopefully designers will accommodate those voices with better acoustical design. Tolerance is another, women do not sound like men because their vocal chords are different – so stop judging us.

The current female voice subjected to the most judgment is Hillary Clinton. She is often characterized as shrill, strident, angry, and loud. Her opponents from both parties are men who are much louder and much angrier, but yet they are not criticized for the sound or tone for their voice.

It appears that in the political world at least, younger women are drawn to strong white men with a male voice shouting at them, and seem to reject a woman who perhaps sounds more like their mother? We have raised these young women to believe they can be anything they want to be but we forgot to tell them they sound different too.

So women everywhere of all ages, understand that your voice is different than the predominant power voice of men. Share this truth with your children, grandchildren, friends, and neighbors, so that perhaps we can at least slow down this judgment of women appearing shrill or strident when indeed they are just happy, passionate, or excited.







Suffragettes 2016


I am on a flight over the Pacific and I am angry, confused, motivated and sick to my stomach after watching the movie Suffragettes (2015). I know I am late in seeing this movie but I must say no matter when you watch it, it will touch you deeply. To watch all those women severely beaten, imprisoned, their children removed from their care, their husbands condemning them as no longer “their” property and out on their own, the list of atrocities are endless.

It is 2016 and while women have the right to vote, they are still or once again (I am not sure which), often subjected to similar atrocities just like the suffragettes.

  • A female sports broadcaster was stalked by a man, photos taken of her undressing in her hotel room and then posted on the Internet for all to see. Her humiliation was compounded with her employer requiring that she do a television interview BEFORE she could come back to work. She did not ask for the humiliation, she did not encourage anyone to harm her; she was only guilty of being a beautiful, fit woman working in a predominately male world of sports. And then the legal defense team suggested that she shouldn’t file a complaint because her career benefited from this “exposure”!!!!!!
  • A female tennis player has come under fire because a drug she has been taking for 10+ years is now on the doping list. She admits that she did not look at the communications sent to all players that this drug was now banned. She accepts the responsibility that she made a mistake. She stood up and faced her peers, the press, and the rest of the world and said, “Yes, I have been taking them for over 10 years and it was my mistake to not have been better informed.” She did not hide, she did not say she did not inhale or she thought it was candy and not drugs or whatever million excuses we hear from other athletes.   She “womaned” up – and for this, she was suspended by her sponsors.
  • In contrast, the University Law School dean who sexually harassed his executive assistant. He claims he “was just thanking her for all her hard work” Seriously? The assistant filed a lawsuit and the first “punishment” doled out to this gentlemen was a 10% reduction in salary and a mandatory sexual harassment course. Overtime, others came forward complaining of similar treatment from the dean. The University administration had intentionally not seriously punished the dean because “ they did not want to hurt his career.” Now they have finally suspended him, BUT with full pay.

Women continue to be held to a different standard, continue to be marginalized but yet we are over 50% of the population, 70-80% of the buying power. The suffragettes turned to violence to make their point and to get the attention they were seeking. They said, “Men only understand war.” It took one of them being killed to provide the movement what it needed to be taken seriously and, soon after, effective.

I am not suggesting we should incite violence, as that in my mind is sinking to the lowest common denominator. There is more than enough violence in this country today so asking for more does not seem right. However, I do think it’s time women stood up for themselves and their sisters, knowing that we have their back. The double standards in the workplace, in social circles, in government need to stop. The suffragettes said, “We need action, not words,” but I think we need both. We need to spread the word about these inequalities, but we must also take action to stop them whenever and wherever we see them, or hear of them. Until we are moving together everyday, this crap will continue. We need to educate our male friends, colleagues, and family and bring them on board our train. We need to not let what the suffragettes endured for the right to vote, which led to Roe V Wade, be taken away. It appears to me that overall women’s rights are slipping away and we need to boost each other up. See below:





When I entered the working world I ignored the “hype” of feminism and women not being equal. I just went blindly into the work world with head held high, shoulders back and a deep pit in my stomach. If I got discriminated against, I just moved on. I did not own the problem. I did not embrace the problem. I was just selfish and looked the other way. I was so busy building my own career that I really did not think much about what was happening to other women, I did not pay attention to the pay gap until it was slapped in my face. I still did nothing and kept on moving. I was usually the only woman at the table and I got very accustomed to that role (no I did not fetch coffee but I was certainly asked many times) and when other women began to join me it was uncomfortable. I know we felt competitive rather than supportive.

I never considered myself a feminist because it was in the days of the bra-burning era and I was not keen on the image of the movement nor was I old enough to understand the real battle that was being waged.

Eventually I stopped long enough to understand we had a huge problem with women rights and I needed to take some of my selfish energy and direct it towards women’s rights. I did justify my blinders as I felt like I was contributing to breaking through the glass ceiling – for myself (and for all other women –not). It was the late 80’s early 90’s, the beginning of the information age, the introduction of the World Wide Web (www),when I realized how egotistical and narcissistic I was to not embrace and support other women. I needed to embrace the word feminist because I was one as defined by Wikipedia.

– A feminist advocates or supports the rights and equality of women. Pretty simple.

Everyday there are multiple articles and videos demonstrating how far back we have moved in our “war” on equality. War might seem like too strong a word but at this point it feels like a war that we are losing. Here are just a few examples of women being marginalized:

  1. A sharp-witted retired lawyer with a Ph.D. in educational psychology, who escaped the Nazis in Europe as a child…” who is 81 and a few weeks ago was asked to move from her business class aisle seat on a flight from Newark to Tel Aviv because an ultra-Orthodox male passenger did not want to sit next to a woman for religious reasons. The flight attendants asked this impeccably groomed 81-year-old grandmother to move to another seat. They claimed it was to give her a better seat closer to first class (not first class) but that was just the technique they used to accommodate their complaining male passenger. They did not suggest that HE move or just take the seat HE was assigned. He was described as a “rather distinguished-looking man” who seemed to qualify for special treatment due to his religious beliefs and apparently his gender. If the tables were turned and a woman asked to have a man moved due to religious or moral beliefs, would the outcome been the same? I think not. This may seem trivial but this is just one situation on one day at one hour where a woman was not perceived to have the same rights and values as her male counterpart.
  1. New legislation filed in Springfield, Illinois being sponsored by two white Republican men could make it extremely tough to be a single mother. The bill requires that if a father is not disclosed on a birth certificate for a newborn child, a birth certificate would not be issued for that child. A snippet from the legislation: “Provides that if the unmarried mother cannot or refuses to name the child’s father, either a father must be conclusively established by DNA evidence or, within 30 days after birth, another family member who will financially provide for the child must be named, in court, on the birth certificate. Provides that absent DNA evidence or a family member’s name, a birth certificate will not be issued and the mother will be ineligible for financial aid from the State for support of the child.I understand that states are broke and are looking for ways to save money but to look to a woman and her child who may have been conceived by rape or incest to bear the sole burden of these financial issues is insane and sexist.
  1. Lands’ End had included an interview of Gloria Steinem as part of a “Legend Series” that features people who have made a difference the world. The interview was removed from the Lands’ End website after customers overwhelmed the company’s Facebook page with complaints about interviewing an abortion rights supporter. The catalog also offered the option to have the Equal Rights Amendment Coalition logo monogrammed on various Lands’ End items, which would trigger a $3 donation from Lands’ End to the ERA Coalition’s Fund for Women’s Equality. Lands End removed the interview from their online catalog and discontinued the ERA logo drive before it really got started. It’s outrageous when women’s rights and equality  are considered offensive. Plus, companies like Lands’ End rely on the female buying power.
  1. Actress Susan Sarandon’s SAG Awards outfit was defined as inappropriate and she was shamed for showing off her breasts or as some referred to it as “old cleavage.” Women are still imprisoned by beauty standards that define them. Women get measured differently than men, particular women like Sarandon who is 69 and has had an illustrious career. Shaming her for exposing a bit of cleavage is blatant sexism and ageism. It needs to stop today.
  1. Voiceovers in television commercials are still over 80% male. This small fact is important because we are a world shaped by the media. Female voice-overs are often paired with an attractive woman. It appears that women have to be beautiful to be worth listening to. Media has a huge influence on us and particularly our children. The impact of stereotypes belittling and undermining women is a big problem. Women in commercials are usually cleaners, cooks, and models. This significantly contributes to our teeter-totter gender roles.

In the political word these days there is a great debate about whether women should vote for Hillary Clinton for her politics, or because she is a woman, or both, or none. I think it is wrong to choose someone solely because of their gender or race, but here we are in 2016 and it seems that if we don’t begin to promote women for their gender, as men have been promoted for their gender, we will never achieve equality. There is lots of data on this subject but from my reading, men are better at promoting themselves than women. There is also an “old boys” network/club that is well established, and outwardly talks about only promoting those within the good old boys ranks.

In 1992 the women of Congress, formed a girls club of their own, what they now call a “sisterhood.” The private gatherings of this sisterhood are a source of both power and perspective. The dinners were started because they felt there was a need for civility. Bipartisan issues are verboten. They are also very strict on their women-only rules but they made an exception and dined with President Obama at the White House in 2013. The group remarked that 100 years ago the women would have been meeting outside the White House demanding the right to vote and Obama added, “100 years ago I would be serving you.”

Women-only or Girl’s clubs are popping up all over the country and while they are often mocked as unrealistic or not representative of the real world, they provide a “safe” place for women to bond and grow together. The goal of these clubs is not to gang up on men but to find our voice and have it heard.

I am a Democrat and I have been a strong Hillary supporter for many years. This year I began to waver, as it seemed time for new blood in our very dysfunctional governing world. I also thought one Clinton was enough, but in reality Hillary is not a Clinton but a Rodham. She took her husbands name when she got married which is also an interesting topic. (See my blog: What’s in a Name?) So if she had kept her given name would she have more support? Would the achievements and transgressions of her husband matter as much? The fact that he is a former president makes her name a non-issue. What does matter, is that she is a woman and the most experienced person running for President.

It is a very troubled time in our country and a time that calls for strong leadership from the White House and from Congress. I think women make great leaders. They are more collaborative. They understand the importance of civility, not political correctness. Women are also tough, because to climb the ladder in this still male dominated world, you have to be strong and have Teflon skin. Are these the reasons for me or for anyone to vote for Hillary? Perhaps, because women in power have an incredible reach and are highly motivated to stop the misogyny, and the pay inequity, and make positive change in the world for their sisters.

You don’t have to vote for Hillary, but it’s time to embrace the fact that we need to stop the misogyny and reignite the Feminist movement from the 60’s. Some might not like the label, but its very definition of supporting the rights and equality of women is what matters. Women’s Lives matter!

Join me in declaring yourself a feminist, and that you will work everyday to move the needle for the rights of women. There are big things and little things and the little things add up to bigger things. It takes a village to improve the rights of women and we need to start standing together as sisters!!!!!

Equal Rights Amendment ???????


Women go into space, run for Congress, are appointed to the Supreme Court, anchor the news, break Olympic records, be ‘bionic’ women, lead billion dollar companies, become successful lawyers, doctors, writers, journalists, artists and rock the world with their music and dance…yet these same women do not have equal rights with men under the law of our Constitution. This is the United States of America; the strongest democracy in the world and bottom line is that women are not equal here in 2015!!!!

The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) was written in 1921 and first introduced to Congress in 1923 to guarantee equal rights for women by amending the Constitution. The amendment was introduced to every Congress until 1972 when it was passed and then sent to each state for ratification. Today we are 3 states short of the 38 required to put it into the Constitution.

FYI: The 15 states whose legislatures have not ratified the Equal Rights Amendment are Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah, and Virginia.

Would passing this amendment to the Constitution really make any difference? If we look at the Declaration of Independence Language from 1776:

“…We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed …

Members of congress who were hypocrites and slave-owners (like Thomas Jefferson) wrote these words. It does not seem like laws mattered to the founding fathers and the law certainly does not seem to matter to current elected officials who suggest that we do not provide citizenship to those who are born here. That we deny marriage licenses to same sex couples regardless of the highest courts in the country. Seriously?

Today the female CEO of Yahoo, a $30Billion company, announced that she and her husband were expecting twins and that she would not take typical maternity leave as the company is in a critical transition period. Obviously a male CEO would not have to announce he and his wife were having twins because he would not be pregnant. But here we have a female CEO in child bearing years and so this announcement is necessary. What is not required is everyone weighing in on her personal choices. If she should even have children, given her level of responsibility. If she should take off at least 6-8 weeks. If it is fair (or not) that she has the infrastructure and ability to set up a nursery in her office. It’s amazing to me that so many people feel it is their right to weigh in on this decision that belongs to her, her husband and her board and to no one else.

So how do we get all men and ALL women to be created and treated as equal? How do we stop the woman bashing, the continued battle for women to control their own bodies, and the inability to not follow the crowd. There was nothing funny for any women in the audience when women were being referred to as pigs or dogs . Yet they laughed rather than be silent or even better express a different verbal sound that rhymes with moo!!!

I firmly believe it is up to each of us with those XX chromosomes to stand up against all this bullying and discrimination. We can no longer be silent. We have to be ready to call out misogyny in every form. When those who do the deeds say the words that they “were only kidding” or “they did not mean it that way” their trespass cannot be excused away. This ingrained prejudice of women needs to be stopped at the moment it happens. It’s not easy, but it’s up to each of us , one by one by one, step by step, situation by situation, to change the dialogue and treatment of women in this country.

So let us all do our part, every minute of everyday, to show our children and grandchildren that once and for all both men and women are equal!

“If I could choose an amendment to add to the Constitution, it would be the Equal Rights Amendment… So I would like my granddaughters, when they pick up the Constitution, to see that notion – that women and men are persons of equal stature – I’d like them to see that is a basic principle of our society.”

Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Source: Why Women’s Equality Isn’t Protected by the Constitution

Women as Leaders

images-26Last week our former Secretary of State, and Presidential candidate, provided an image that can only be used in a case study of what NOT to do. My comments here have nothing to do with politics or if I agree with her email choices. My focus here is the image of a very powerful female leader throwing up her hands in a red/orange pantsuit walking away from reporters and cameras shouting over her shoulder, “Nobody talks to me about it but you guys.” (referring to the press) Seriously?

I want every young woman in the world to know (and young man for that matter), that this is NOT how you handle a problem or a crisis or a question or a nightmare. It’s like being a teenager talking to your parents. When they tell you as you walk out the door that your curfew is 11pm and you say, “WHATEVER.”

My concern is that young women/girls might think that she is a role model and decide to emulate her behavior when they are having issues at work or at school or wherever. Instead of standing tall and speaking directly to the people before her, she walks off and then shouts over her shoulder some inane comment. This is not how leaders behave.

I spent some time researching the definition of leadership from various scholars and consultants, and these seem to be the most consistent attributes of a solid leader:

  • Awareness – They are open to learning and new ideas. They are self-aware.
  • Commitment to developing people – leaders helps others become good leaders. They set exacting standards for themselves and others.
  • Empathy –They think carefully about the impact they have on others.
  • Foresight – Has vision, courage and integrity – They communicate their vision and expectations clearly.
  • Listening – They listen first.

They lead by example. They are honest, sincere and practice what they preach.

I think real leaders are compelled to try to solve every problem they encounter. Maybe not solving it themselves but directing and delegating the solving process. Leading.

So am I just being petty about Hillary’s actions? Or is it a real problem to see a woman who wants to be the leader of the free world, throw up her hands and act like this is not her problem to solve?

I am very sensitive to powerful women and how they behave because I see little girls and young women searching for role models in all walks of life. So when a woman who is center stage in every living room and Internet browser does not demonstrate the characteristics that contribute to success, it makes me angry and frustrated.

It is way past time for Hillary to “man up” and own this stupid email debacle and lead the conversation intelligently and thoughtfully. It’s way past time to stop displaying the “attitude” that this is not worthy of her time or energy.

I know she cannot control the media or the crazy discontents who want to bury her, but she can remember that she has lots of young, eager eyes watching her every move, who need to see a real woman LEADER.

Good Ol’ Girls Club


I read an article today by a feminist who talked about women being siloed into women’s only groups and being counted separately from men. She closed her article by encouraging all women to say “no” to the assumption that women can be “separate” and “equal.”


I had those very same thoughts for many years, that singling women out of the pack and into gender specific groups was not realistic. In the work place and in life, women need to be able to work with both men and women and segregation is a big mistake. When I jumped head on into trying to help women succeed, I realized that we were creating the good old girls club to match the good old boys club. Why would we emulate that model? Because it works!


If you look at how men became successful, it was spending time with other men, just like them. Dinners, cigars, saunas, spas, strip clubs, nightclubs, golf clubs… the list is long. And for many years it was a boys only club and women were not even allowed to attend. This segregation allowed the boys to be “themselves,” to mimic each other for the good and the bad. Did they do things women might disapprove of? Certainly, but I think women might do plenty of things men do not approve of either. Lets face it, we are very different. Men don’t like to shoe shop or do book clubs and some women love to do those things.


We certainly want to get to the point in time where we don’t have to count CEO’s by their gender, but just by the title. We have XX Technology CEO’s; we have YY manufacturing CEO’s. That day is along way off and so in order to increase the women in those buckets some siloing is required.


Many of the tricks of the trade that worked for Jack might not work for Jill and vice versa. While Jack has a built-in club that was established over a hundred years ago, women do not have that luxury yet. We have to build our “clubs” and they are different and they are growing in number but they are not yet the norm.


Men have been going on boy’s trips for centuries, hunting, carousing, bonding, while women kept the home fires burning. Now women go on girl’s trips, weekends away at the beach, to the bar, shoe shopping. It is still very new.


These siloed activities are bonding experiences. Bonding is empowering. Both men and women need to feel empowered and now women are realizing just how important those girls-only event are to their life and to their career.


Another difference is that men tend to brag about their boys only clubs and their trips, where women are not yet comfortable flaunting this obvious discrimination.


Is it really true that celebrating women is not always good for women? I think this is a Yes and a No.


I think where this celebration of women is harmful is when corporations or large organizations tout all that they have done for women, but when you peel back the onion., they have NOT put them into power – but have systematically patronized them with accolades but no action. They have convinced themselves they are helping women by advertising women’s deodorants or sponsoring a women’s running event. This is completely meaningless and does not move the needle at all.


When women see this type of “celebration” of women, they need to call it as they see it and not let these organizations get away with this crap. Its time to be vocal and to be loud but to also be clear on what we want and how we want it to happen.


We need to beat our chests and stand tall on the mountaintops and shout, “Look at all I have done! Look at all I am doing!” The key to this celebration stuff is the DOING.


This video from 2012 really makes the point about corporate pandering to women.





Whats does it feel like to be a successful woman?


I was asked this question when I sold my first software company in 1995 and I honestly did not know how to answer it without being rude or insulting.

I had always been a woman and I felt I had always been successful. My levels of success were often small, but success nonetheless. Yet here I was with a very visible, presumably big, success and the fact that I was a woman seemed very important. It was 1995.

Success is not a gender issue. Would anyone ever ask a man how it feels to be a successful man? I think not. I know not.

So why does the question arise for women? I guess because large numbers usually define traditional success. He ran a billion dollar company. He sold 50,000 pairs of shoes. Women’s success was traditionally defined by how many children she had, how good her cooking was, or how many dinner parties she threw. If she grew a company and sold it for millions of dollars, then that was not “normal” – thus the question. But if you have never been a successful (or unsuccessful) man or a monkey or a lion or a tiger, how can you articulate how different it feels to be a successful woman?

Is the question insulting or just honest?

I wasn’t sure, but I decided to take it as honest since, perhaps, the message was really, “Wow, you have achieved what few women have yet to achieve, how does it feel? Atta girl!” Yet that still that did not help me with my answer.

My answer was, “I don’t know I have always been a woman” – which stopped the conversation flat. Perhaps because my tone was more like – you are an idiot, what a stupid question.

I thought perhaps it is because I was the CEO of a technology business, which was, and still is, predominantly male, that my being a successful was such a curiosity? Imagining that did not make the answer any easier, but it made the question seem less insulting.

I have thought about this innocuous question a lot over the past 20 years. I have asked other women in predominantly male roles or businesses how they answered similar questions or how they felt about the question. Their answers varied but the theme was the same. “I did not really know how to answer it because I have always been a woman who thought of myself as successful.”

I will say 95% of the time this question came from men. So what does that mean? I think it means that they were trying to be nice in the only way that they knew, which was to draw attention to my gender more than my success. Perhaps, they thought it was important to me, the person reaching this goal to be recognized as a woman. How would they know that it was irrelevant to be singled out as a woman since they have never been a woman or a monkey or a tiger or a lion?

Another angle might be that men view success like they view sports. They want to recognize the logo, or the color, or the team name. They use this to keep track of who is ahead and who is behind … who is winning and who is losing. Keeping score is important in sports.

I have not met many women where keeping score is important. Rejoicing in their own success and celebrating the success of their colleagues and friends is more the norm for women.

So I guess the answer to this 20 year old question is:

Success feels great, failure feels like a hard lesson and

being a woman is a privilege.


Shadow of the Leader



We have all heard the phrase “shadow of the leader” and many famous people have quotes on that subject on plaques being sold around the world: David Novak the CEO of YUM brands with 1.4 Million employees in 117 countries has one of his own:

Every leader casts a shadow, so be aware of the fact people will do what you do

I never really understood how much of a shadow a leader can cast for the good and for the bad until I was working for a consulting company in the mid 80s and I had a boss that was just a bully. He was intellectually brilliant but had no people skills and was completely blind and deaf to those he managed….but he did not mange. He did not lead. He just bullied everyone into doing what he wanted done regardless of the consequences to the company or to the client. He was always right and he just spoke louder, demanded more, than anyone else. It was so completely ridiculous that it became laughable for those of us who reported to him. Having a sense of humor is key to dealing with bullies. I think everyone he “bossed” became a great leader, and when they cast a shadow, it was for the good. One of the many things you learn from working for a bully is what not to do to.

As we look at the wage issues we are facing today where “leaders” like the CEO of Dunkin Donuts, rants that he cannot afford to pay his employees $15/hour yet he earns $990,385 per year. If you add in stock options and other non-salary benefits, his total compensation is calculated at over $10.2 million per year. So his hourly wage is about $4,855 per hour, which is   about 323 times his employees’ proposed hourly rate of $15/hour. WOW.

Lets look at the shadow he is casting – “I am worth 323 times more than those of you who actually make the donuts, wash the dishes, drive the trucks, and serve the consumer.” He has probably never made even one donut. I am not suggesting that we don’t reward everyone for their jobs, skills, and experience, but we have lost all perspective on compensation in the executive suite. If all the executives were to disappear, the stores would still be open and the business could still deliver – at least for some period of time – because the influence of those in the executive suite has such a minor impact on the day to day running of these consumer-facing businesses.

Knowing that a leader casts a big shadow on their company, their employees, and their customers, how can you be sure you are a casting a positive shadow for others to follow. Our parents said, “Do as I say not as I do,” but we all know that does not work very well. We might do as we are told to avoid various negative consequences, we still see what that person is doing more than what he is saying. It’s these little sayings like, “Actions speak louder than words,” that all seem so trite but are actually very true and they are all part of being a good leader.

So when you are perpetually late (which shows no respect for those around you), do not be surprised when 5 minutes or 10 minutes late becomes the norm. When it spills over to customer meetings you can expect some fall out that is very real…money. If you are always angry or grumpy then you can expect your colleagues to show similar characteristics.


It is for all of us at every level to realize that we cast a shadow, some big, some small, and that our shadow is also our legacy and footprint we leave behind. It is the influence or model for those who work for us and around us.



It’s sometimes hard to stay focused on the job at hand. Some of us play mind games to stay focused and complete the task or job at hand. But then the question becomes WHEN does it really need to be done if there is not a hard and fast deadline? How do you manage that natural procrastination?

You need to set limits for yourself. Just as children need limits so they can bounce freely inside those boundaries, you too need boundaries. Having boundaries gives you a sense of freedom – but not too much freedom so you can stay out of harms way.

The first thing I do when I have a project that is more than an hours worth of work is to break the task into smaller pieces. It’s not always easy to do, but usually you can at least set up a milestone or twenty. With these milestones or pieces of the task, you then create a timeline of when you will get each piece done. Allow for some slack because life happens and then add even more time for review or whatever quality assurance step that is appropriate for your work.

Okay, you have a plan and a timeline. Delivering your project on time and within budget should be a cinch, right?

You landed the job and you are working at your computer. As you are doing your work some emails flash by in the upper right hand corner of your screen or a colleague sits down at your desk… now you are about to take the first step down the slippery slope of sliding out of your boundaries or your “strongbox.” By the way, there is no top or bottom to your box. Your box just has sides, and only your discipline keeps you from standing up, jumping out, or crawling under.

So there you go free at last, thinking you will climb back in and get back to work as soon as people will leave you alone. The next day you go back to the tasks that you have so carefully planned, but someone tells you about a great sale, or your child is sick and you need to pick him up or an email completely hijacks your day – or any number of interruptions are all around you that prevent your from buckling down to your work. You promise yourself you will not let anything stand between you and getting the first task done (that is now late) and the second task done (that is now late) and the task for today and you will be all caught up and back on track. Soon you are looking up from the bottom of the very large hole you’ve unintentionally dug for yourself and wonder how you are ever going to dig yourself out.

I think there are some very good lessons to be learned from writers who lock themselves away – by going to an anonymous coffee shop where they don’t know anyone and they do not leave until their tasks are done. They turn off their phones, the email notifications, and keep their head down in the their “strongbox” to just work. They make provisions for childcare or eldercare or whatever. They put themselves in a pseudo box or bubble or cocoon with the minimum of distractions or excuses so they can be successful. When you work for someone you have that pressure of losing your job if you don’t get the work done. When you are working for yourself, trying to work your regular job by day and you dream job in between until it can become your real dream job… it is so much harder.

To succeed, you need to look for places or ways that you can create your “strongbox.” This is the place where work is sacred and the walls are jealously guarded to keep life at bay – at least for snippets of time.


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