Tag Archives: success

Go that way, really fast. If something gets in your way, turn.

That quote is from the cult classic, “Better Off Dead” and has long been stuck in my head as my life’s roadmap.

It’s been a long time since I last wrote.

If I were to be honest, I’d admit there’s no reason other than my lack of discipline but in the time I’ve been literarily mute, I have started a new job, a new year, and had a birthday.

My last birthday, I wrote about how little the numbers of your birthday matter – how so many of the professional women I admire were 20+ years my senior when they accomplished what it is that I admire them for.

On this year’s birthday, a friend gave me some great advice – that I should use a bit of time from my “work from home day” for writing.  She isn’t as close a friend as I would like but she honored me by knowing how important writing is to my spiritual wholeness and by asking me about it.

So here I sit, at 11:16pm on my WFH day, scratching out a few thoughts.

And it is this friend of mine – who took time out on HER rare night out to celebrate with me on mine – who reminded me of a post I’ve been dying to write.  It is a post about who and what we admire and how we guide and are guided.

In moments of self-loathing and melancholic nostalgia, I will bemoan my assertion that I’ve suffered from a lack of mentors.  I use this term like I know what it is.  Like someone who could easily answer “Who is your hero?” or “Who is your role model?”

Am I the only person who doesn’t feel like I had one?

Am I so critical that no one measured up for my aspirational admiration?  Am I so sheltered that I lacked esposure to stand-outs?  I have to assume that neither are true but I stall when trying to recall help/guidance/direction in my professional life.

Now I’m knocking on the door of 40.  I’ve had one marriage, two kids, and more jobs than I care to admit to.  As I evaluate my value – fiscally, empirically or otherwise, I revisit the concept of mentor with equal parts sense and wonder.

In my adult years, I’ve counted a number of incredible women as my friends.  And perhaps I should view them in some capacity as mentors.  They’ve weighed in and stood by as I explored and failed and rebounded.  But I think it is my insufferable ambition that makes me want to identify someone just beyond ‘peer’ status as an advisor, a confidant, a professional coach.

I have had a few female bosses in my career.  My Aussie boss who got me started in this crazy world of internet advertising went on to launch her own site and become a bit of a maven.  A couple of peers turned bosses have traded sales roles for management ones and made significant marks on their companies.  A former CEO remains a sentimental mystery whom I wished I had known better.

But then there are friends too – or phriends, perhaps – but let’s not let cynicism ruin this, eh?  I have perhaps, half a dozen friends who are wildly accomplished in their fields.  For example, one recent friend who is executive status, politically connected, and philanthropic; another is a self-made social correspondent and contributor, published author, and well-recognized speaker/blogger; A former colleague created her own network of bloggers, sold it successfully and remains a consistent presence in the social and digital publishing reviews.  These three in particular, I think would take my call and work with me on a project.

I have asked them about their path to success exactly… let me count…. ZERO times.

I have asked them for advice on my own zigzag, mishmosh career precisely the same number of times.

I’ve another friend who has finished a book and is in the process of publishing it who asked me to collaborate on her next one.  COLLABORATE ON A BOOK!?!?!?  The honor!  The thrill!  I rewarded her by doing and writing almost nothing.  And then I had a baby and she let me slither away in humiliation.

And then there are the stable, serious, no-frills sugarmamas who just get the job done day in and day out.  One of my oldest friends is a single mom who owns multiple properties and has worked at the same company for a dozen years.  Another has been married for eight? I think?  and manages a family life and a sales team with grace.  HOW DO THEY DO THIS?  I’ve no idea.  I am exactly the kind of self-absorbed, pity-party-of-one fool who never asked.

Seriously.

I’ve done this to myself.

The truth is – I suck at asking for help.  I always have.

I don’t know how or where to begin.  I wouldn’t know the first thing about opening up honestly to someone about my professional goals.  And I dare say that I’ve managed to land on my feet more than once despite that handicap.

But I do have goals.  And perhaps they’re to be fulfilled when I’m in my Ariana-Hilary-Nancy years.  But shouldn’t I be mapping a plan for them now?  And writing about it in the process?

These are the questions I would be asking anyone who would listen at Blissdom right now, were I there with wine in hand.  Since some of the aforementioned heroines are there, I’d best simmer a bit and ask them upon their return.

In the meantime, who do you turn to for the really big career advice?  Where did your best counseling come from and how did you ask for it?  What happened when you took or didn’t take it?

I’m asking…

Hit Me Baby, One More Time

I’m starting this post, not knowing exactly what I want to say.

Usually when that happens I end up writing forever and never ‘landing the plane,’ so to speak.  Somehow, if I don’t map out my train of thought, and organize in my head the bullets I need to cover, I can meander down an interminable road of language without ever stumbling over a point.

But then, maybe this topic doesn’t need a point.

No, I’m not writing about Britney Spears.  I’m actually writing about babies.  And more specifically OTHER people’s babies.  It seems like a whole crop of 2nd babies have hit my industry in a hurry.  Most of those having them had their first less than 2 years ago. 

While I was “ooooohing” and “aaawwwwwwwing” over their announcements, something struck me.

Every one of my friends who has announced their second child have been men. 

Having a baby won’t even be a hiccup in their progress up the corporate ladder or toward the sweet life where money grows on trees and retirement is an eventuality.

The story for most women (emphasize MOST) isn’t as sunny.

How many women do you know who’ve left their company immediately after their leave ends?  I’m not talking about the lucky few who can afford to stay home with their children.  That luxury just isn’t a reality for most people.

No, I’m talking about the volume of women leaving one job for another and the timing of their departure aligning too closely to their maternity leave end to be coincidence..  Happy employees don’t leave jobs.  There is nothing more distasteful than a corporation mistreating or even antagonizing a pregnant employee.  (I could write a book about this topic alone but that’s for another time.)

And then, yesterday, I realized how I would finish this post.  My twitter stream blew up with commentary on the newly released Forbes Top 100 Powerful Women list.

The controversy?  Included on each woman’s profile are her marital status and number of children.

Perhaps it is a testament to the kind of thought-leaders I follow (progressive) and the women I find inspiring (feminists), but without exception the comments were negative, ranging from Rachel Simmon’s (twitter.com/@RachelJSimmons) *Heavy SIGH* to outright outrage. 

Mary Elizabeth Williams wrote in her Salon.com article, “if you’re female, you’ll still be ranked, assessed and quantified by your ability to mate and reproduce.”  Amy Jussel (a.k.a. twitter.com/@ShapingYouth) replied to me with ” seems off-topic=best & sexist=worst. How many kids does Steve Jobs have? How would they list Jack Welch?”

On this topic, I break the line of solidarity.

It reminds me of the Oscar Wilde quote I have hanging in my hallway, “The Irish have an abiding sense of tragedy, which sustains them through temporary periods of joy.”

Some people just need something to fight against.

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely see the disparity between the report on People and the report on Women.  But instead of insulting me, it inspires me.  I have no more respect for a powerful woman with 5 kids than for a powerful woman with no kids.  I do, however, feel totally empowered to know that my ambition to raise genius, charismatic, world leader children AND be a rain-maker for my family’s finances is not an anomoly.  Oh and I won’t be alone in doing so.

Have you read Kahlil Gibran?  Yeah, yeah – I’m a wannabe hippie sometimes.  I discovered The Prophet when I first read this quote: 

“And when one of you falls down,
He falls for those behind him — a caution against the stumbling stone.
Aye, and he falls for those ahead of him — who though faster and surer of foot,
Removed not the stumbling stone…”

I think the brouhaha over the inclusion of marital status and children is missing the forest for the trees. 

Why don’t they include marital status and number of children for men?  Maybe because it is assumed that any successful man has a family behind him.  Maybe because men who don’t marry are viewed as high-risk to companies and untrustworthy as politicians.  How do you think gay men feel about the dues to the inner circle of the boy’s club?  Is it fair?  No.

But at the risk of stating the obvious – life isn’t fair.

In a country where 50% of marriages end in divorce, machismo bullsh#t runs counter to successful women outearning their mates, and motherhood starts sometimes decades later than it did 50 years ago, I think having a marriage and a family is significant ESPECIALLY if you’re also curing, saving, leading, or entertaining the WORLD. 

The list’s anecdotes are not about the haves and the have-nots; they are simply what is.  Listing “single” or “0” by marital status and children, doesn’t detract from their accomplishments.  These powerful women aren’t listed in order of how many marriages or children they have.  (Isn’t the suggestion that they could be ranked by their ability to mate and reproduce counter to the feminist cause?)

Rather, I see the diversity on the list in nationality, age, industry, skin color, marital and parenthood status as a win for us regular-folk women.  Can’t we all find something to relate to? Be inspired by?

What do you think?  Did I miss the point or did they?

This One’s for the Girls

I once had an interviewer tell me that his favorite hires were single women.  Why?  Because they had to support themselves (necessity is the mother of invention) and they were hell-bent on proving themselves (ambition, competition, workaholism).  I wanted to be offended but couldn’t be.  In my case, he was absolutely, bang-on right. 

It’s hard to argue with the truth.

My career was one manifestation of “Fake it until you make it” after another.  I own this; I don’t even hide the fact anymore because I actually did ‘make it’ in some sense. I’m also reasonably sure that 92% of people are full of crap so what’s the use of impressing them?   I know that I have a particular set of qualities and experiences that might be interpreted as skills to some.  I also know that those skills are pretty damn valuable. 

So when I was recently offered a consulting role in addition to my full-time position with Technorati, I had no problem turning down the opportunity because it didn’t pay enough. 

What is ‘enough’?  That’s highly subjective but my calculation went as follows: 

What is my hourly wage for my full-time job?  Easy enough:  Salary + Commission / 50  weeks / 40 hours.  But consulting would be in addition to those 40 hours.  It would be subtracting from time spent with my daughter and  husband.  They’re worth every bit as much as I am so the answer is 3x(hourly wage) = HIRED. 

Do I need three times my hourly wage? No. 
Would I do work for less than that?  Probably. 
Do I deserve to be paid that much?  You bet your @ss.  And so do you. 

Anyone who doesn’t acknowledge your value before discussing your bargain rate doesn’t KNOW your value. 
Why work for anyone who doesn’t know your value?

But what absolutely bewilders me is that women who are wildly accomplished in their field still feel that tape-worm of doubt gnawing away at their moxie.

Last night I enjoyed a social media event here in St. Louis that was well-attended by some such women.  These women have marked achievements in marketing, journalism, social media and the like.  They are successful writers, speakers, strategists, and entrepreneurs. And every single one of them said some version of the following:

“I don’t know what I’m worth.”

WHAT. THE. BLEEP.

There’s no easy way to say this:  If you don’t know your value, don’t expect anyone else to know it.

Now that I’m back in the comfy embrace of my media world, the reciprocity switch has been firmly locked in the upright position.  Peers, colleagues, strangers, clients, and headhunters have all materialized with ideas, projects, jobs, searches, requests, and business. 
The universe has affirmed my decision with a dance in the end-zone.

When connecting some industry friends to one particular job opening, I heard it again – the hushed tone that ordinarily uninhibited women use when admitting some perceived shortcoming.  This time, that shortcoming was social media knowledge.  This branch of marketing is so nuanced with tentacles in search, design, writing, word-of-mouth, reputation management, and CRM that nearly everyone I have ever met in my entire life has some kind of knowledge to contribute. 

Yet, these women were essentially counting themselves out because they hadn’t written the book, or any book, on the topic.  This is just crazy talk.  Everyone can’t be Chris Brogan, and even the man with the plan makes mistakes.

Me thinks there be a branding opportunity here:  The Dove Self-Esteem Project  for business women? 
No?  Ok, well we’ve gotta do something because y’all are too damn talented to keep underselling yourselves. 

Next time you forget that, call me.

I’ll tell ya.