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Thursday, June 29, 2006

Dadpreneurs


Many women I meet run successful business from their homes with ideas that grew out of their experience as a parent -- they are called Momtrepreneurs. Yet, I know of few men who have gone this route. However, there appears to be a new trend -- dadpreneurs. According to 2005, Census Bureau data there are over 150,000 dads staying home today, many are caring for the kids as well as launching their own home-based businesses. Just like with moms, it gives dads the flexibility to be with their families when they want to be and still earn income.
One example is Jorden Kerner who founded Waddajuice. Kerner, created a healthy juice that comes in a spill proof bottle. A parent can stick it in their on-the-go bag, let their child take a sip, and throw it back in. Kerner's idea came from his firsthand experience with his two boys (two and five years old). Kerner, a single dad, runs the business from his home in Westport, Conn. He has two full time employees and a sales team. One of his board members is one of the founders of Snapple. Check out his website at Waddajuice.com.
Tarmara Monosoff has one of the best books out there for mom inventors (The Mom Inventor's Handbook). If you're a dadpreneur, there is a lot in it for you too.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

More on time management

Here are a few more tips that didn't fit into my article today on time-management. I have collected these from various sources.
* Jot down three things you love to do and post them somewhere visible in your home. If it's been over a week and that list is still there, walk away from the dirty dishes and complete one thing. (Parenting Magazine)
* From client meetings to dentist appointments, it's impossible to avoid waiting for someone or something. Always take something to do with you, such as a report you need to read, a checkbook that needs to be balanced, or just a blank pad of paper that you can use to plan your next marketing campaign. (From sbinfocanada.about.com)
* Put Post It notes with any "do today'' reminders such as "pick up dry cleaning'' on your door, grab them as you run out the door and put them on your dashborad as a reminder. (Stephanie Winston)
* Keep a kit consisting of notecards, envelopes, stamps and pens in a box near your TV chair at home. When you are watching TV, take care of a few thank-you notes for a lunch, or any courtesy (Stephanie Winston)

Here are some great examples of tasks you can get done quickly, before being interrupted.
What you can do in five minutes:
* Scan your e-mail
*Set up your monthly appointment calendar
*Start the guest list for an upcoming client reception or kids birthday party
*Write a note to your child's teacher
*Pick up the phone and confirm a meeting.

What you can do in 10 minutes
* Think of ways to solve a problem at work
*Compose an e-mail or memo.
* Return a phone call
* Scan a newsletter or newspaper website
-- Source: Organized for Success

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Accomplish more with time management skills

Who doesn't feel overwhelmed by all the stuff coming at us each day -- the e-mails, the phone calls, the gotta moment requests throughout the day. I gleamed some time mangement skills from a course I took a year ago that have helped. Carry a capture tool at all time to "capture" any to-dos that pop into your mind or arise from a conversation or meeting. Getting stuff off your mind and into a pad, notebook or PDA is a big theme in the time-management work. Then, you're supposed to schedule your to-dos on your calendar. What I need to master now is Microsoft Outlook so I can get better at scheduling and using reminders.
Productivity expert Peggy Duncan says there are all kinds of ways to simplify and organize your life using Outlook. She even teaches online courses. Peggy recommends becoming an expert in whatever technology you touch during the day -- your cell phone, your PDA, your computer. But even with all the technology available, Peggy admits she has a pad in her purse to keep track of errands. I was glad to hear that because I keep my lists on paper too. Wendy Bellissimo, nursery designer to the stars, says she keeps a pad and pen by her bed to write down things to be done that pop into her head while she's sleeping. Even with all the technology to help us organize and accomplish more, Post It Notes and paper still rule!

Monday, June 26, 2006

Are you stressed out on this Monday morning?

Even organized workers find Monday morning stressful. But consider this from Physchology Today Magazine: Half of Americans worry that stress is wrecking their mental and physical health, but few are taking steps to tackle the problem. One in four Americans say they overeat to comfort themselves or relieve stress. Another 25 percent "very concerned" about stress turn to cigarettes for stress relief.
The same magazine issue offers this advice for reining in stress: Eat lunch out of the office without answering your cell phone. No laptops in bed or at the table. No e-mail on weekends.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

The upside of a commute

In a group discussion this morning at a public relations firm, the subject of commuting and carpooling came up. While I enjoy a short 10-minute commute most days, I do miss the chance to catch up with friends on my cell phone, a benefit of the longer commute I had a few years ago.
A women my meeting this morning said her car is her oasis, the only place she has time to herself each day. I thought about how true that is for most working people. Between bustling offices and chaotic households, our time in our car is our time to ourselves. But we fail to look at it that way most days when we're frustrated in how long it takes to get around on South Florida roads. Maybe we should stop complaining about traffic jams or the rude drivers and enjoy our time alone to choose what radio station we want to listen to (without a spouse grabbing the remote) or catch up with a friend on our cell phones (without a child screaming in the background). After my meeting, the one-hour commute back to my office today was one of the most enjoyable in a long time. I soaked in the quiet before arriving at the loud newsroom and actually felt relaxed.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Small business can afford work/life benefits

A banner outside McDonald's on Bird Road and Ludlum advertises its current plight: Now Hiring $6.75 and up days, $7.40 and up nights, health benefits and flexible schedules available. In our labor-competitive South Florida market, even McDonald's offers above minimum wage and dangles perks to lure workers.
But as I mentioned in today's Miami Herald article, most of the benefits employees care about are low-cost. Some examples, allowing a worker to bring their child to work with them in an emergency; recognizing a worker who helped solve a problem by giving them the afternoon off. The best piece of advice consultants had on the subject: ask your employees if they are happy and what kind of benefits they want.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

On-the-fly guide to balancing work/life


I received a book in the mail today that appears a quick, worthwhile read. It's called On-The-Fly Guide to Balancing Work and Life. The author Bill Butterworth is a motivational speaker who has corporate clients like Disney and American Express as well as professional football and baseball teams.
Butterworth outlines three issues to consider in balancing work and life -- the hazies, the lazies and the crazies. He includes a checklist for all three categories and suggestions for how to beat each of them. The hazies are not being able to see what's in front of you. The lazies are lacking the self-discipline to bring your life in balance. The crazies are allowing your life to run out control.
Writes Butterworth: "I have struggled with balance my entire life, and still it needs my constant attention. But the work is worth it."

Monday, June 19, 2006

Along with boosting sales of cards and barbeque grills, Sunday's holiday prompted the media to run articles on fathering in this era.
Some worth checking out:

Life Magazine profiles actor Chris O'Donnell, onetime Boy Wonder and new Grey's Anatomy costar, who talks about the rewards of fatherhood and his return to fame after taking time off to be a dad.

USA Weekend's Home Run Dads uses the stories of three baseball dads who not only excel at their sport, but are all-stars off the field too, meeting the needs of their families. Melvin Mora raises quintuplets- plus one. Eric Young says baseball is the game that has helped hold he and his son together. Although he never married, he made sure his son was a big part of his life. Eric Jr. now plays for the Colorado Rockies. And Albert Pujols has adopted daugther Isabella who has Down syndrome.

A well written timely piece by The Miami Herald's Steve Rothaus gave us a glimpse into the lives of gay fathers and their efforts to raise children, either as single parents or as couples.

An intelligent article by Leonard Pitts in The Miami Herald assures us that black men are keeping the faith even with all the water that has gone under the bridge.
Writes Pitts: "You consider all the strong brothers who don't show up in newspapers or statistics, out there walking kids to school, checking homework, coaching softball teams, buying flowers for baby girls, fixing meals, drawing the line, still in there pitching, ain't dead yet.
As we African-American men search for identity amid contradiction and paradox, it would be good if more of us turned to men like that, understood as they do how crucial we are to the well-being of our families and communities. Not simply for the income we bring, but for the security and stability we bring, for our ability to stand like a bulwark between our children and harm." Well put, Leonard.


I'm thrilled to see Father's Day inspire articles on work and parenting and highlight some of the sacrifices men are making to advocate for their children. This is just a starting point for coverage of this subject.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Dad-friendly workplaces


Response to my article on divorced dads has opened my eyes further to how many fathers struggle to get flexibility from their employers. As I noted in the column, a sharp rise in equitable-divorce parenting setups has more fathers doing a juggling act.
An e-mail from a divorced dad is insightful. He writes:
"It is very difficult at work when my daughter is sick and I stay at home with her. Now that school is out, It's tough finding an affordable summer camp program in addition to coordinating pick-up times, etc.
"Will you be doing a story on what career paths and Florida companies that are more "Daddy friendly" as a follow up to this one? Or a legitimate home business that you can recommend, I would seriously consider such a business so that I can be home when my daughter is sick, holidays, and during the summer and not stress-out as much."
I have read multiple articles on best companies for working mothers but I can't recall one for single dads. I believe most workplaces are less accommodating to men who need flexibility. My male readers seem to agree.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Negotiating at home

The Miami Heat playoffs are exhausting me. My husband has discovered it is a great way to avoid helping out with the kids' bedtime routine. By the time I get all three into bed by myself, I'm so tired that I can't enjoy the game.
This morning, I stumbled across a bit of advice that makes sense: "Rather than focusing blame on our partners for not helping out, we need to learn how to negotiate with them and turn the situation around in our favor."
So what's the secret to negotiation?
Author Maria Marin says, "Those who ask for more always get more."
Her example, If you want your partner to do the dishes don't just ask for that. Say something like, "Listen. Tomorrow you need to get up at 6:30 a.m. to organize the garage, mow the lawn, vacuum, and wash the cars. Then, in the afternoon, go to my mother's house to take her shopping and out to dinner."
When your partner responds "Are you crazy?"
Your comeback, "Well, if you don't want to do all of that tomorrow, then tonight, please, do the dishes."
In life, as in business, people will always give you less than what you ask for -- so ask for more, Marin advises. I'm going to try it. Go Miami Heat!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

The life of a divorced dad

Growing up in a divorced family, I never remember my dad worrying about balancing his job and his children. My dad would take us on visitations every other weekend. My mom, the primary caregiver, constantly struggled with holding a job and dealing with the daily emergencies that arise with three kids. As a grew older, my siblings and I never felt felt like our father was integrated in our lives.
This week, in honor of Father's Day, I am writing about divorced men who have joint custody. Viewing the balance issue from their perspective has been enlightening. It appears much more difficult for men to ask for flexibility from employers and the risks are higher. Men, it seems, have to build support teams to make these joint custody arrangements work. But, they say, the payoff is worth it. I love this quote from a father I interviewed this morning who has joint custody and has worked hard with his ex-wife and employer to have his kids live with him half the time: "I feel like major player in bringing up my kids versus an observer. I wouldn't be as involved in my kids lives if I was seeing it from a distance.''

Monday, June 12, 2006

Advice for a step parent

I just read one of the best articles on step parenting. It is a first hand account of step parenting, without the preachy advice. I have had two step mothers and I know first hand how difficult the relationship can be. I think this article written by a step mother gives great guidance on the role the step parent should play. By walking into this relationship, a step parent finds themselves in the same balancing act a parent faces but without the title. I just recommended my co-worker about to marry a man with a 12-year-old son read this article. If you find yourself in a step parenting situation, ">I recommend you read it as well.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Top Women-led companies in Florida

Wow, what an impressive group of women business owners and leaders in Florida! Yesterday, I attended a luncheon sponsored by The Commonwealth Institute South Florida, a women's networking group. TCI and Florida International just completed a first-time survey of women who run businesses larger than $3 million in revenue. Top of the list: Pat Moran, chair of JM Family Enterprises in Deerfield Beach with $9.4 billion in revenue.
I sat next to Mercedes LaPorta, owner of Mercedes Electrical Supply. She's a true inspiration. She has built her Miami electrical equipment company into a $20 million business. Her daughter joined us at our table. Clearly, Mercedes has been a great role model. Her daughter is graduating from design school and has set her sights on moving to New York to start her career and probably her own business too, some day.
The survey shows women at the top of Florida companies are balancing work and family and feel they are doing it well. Most of these women are married, with an average of two children. Who says women can't do it all? The list of the top 50 women-led business and the study and analysis can be accessed here.

Monday, June 05, 2006

My take on the Marriage Crunch

I read every word of Newsweek's cover story "Rethinking the Marriage Crunch" and I have a few comments to add. The magazine basically says it was wrong when it wrote 20 years ago that a single 40-year-old woman had a better chance of being killed by a terrorist than getting married. While I married in my 20s, I waited nearly 10 years to have children. Meanwhile, most of my friends married later, in their 30s and 40s, after they were firmly grounded in their careers. Here we all are, in the same position, balancing work and kids and marriage. It's encouraging that women and men can wait, build their careers, and still find love.
Take a deep breath and relax if you are working 24/7 and haven't met Mr. or Ms. Right. I agree with Newsweek: The alarmist mentality is gone. If you are single, I really believe you have a good chance of meeting someone at any age, if you are open to it. I think it helps that so many women are in the workforce with opportunities to network and form relationships. I have friends who are single and in their 40s and I'm still hopeful, as are they, they they will marry, if it's what they want.
Newsweek says at least 14 percent of women born between 1955 and 1964 married after the age of 30. But the magazine also takes note of a trend I come across all the time during interviews of women executives -- not everyone wants to marry. Men's attitudes about marriage have changed too. Many men are waiting longer to marry and are more open to older women. Newsweek says men and women today have unpredented freedom about whether, when and whom to marry.
But as book author Stephanie Coontz points out., "Marriage is more work today than it was when gender roles were non-negotiable, when women had to stick it out because they couldn't afford to leave." Yet maybe, just maybe, with people marrying later, they have better skills to construct good marriages. The divorce rate has gone down for college educated men and women and maybe that trend will continue. Now married 19 years, I'm doing my part to help.

My take on the Marriage Crunch

I read every word of Newsweek's cover story "Rethinking the Marriage Crunch" and I have a few comments to add. The magazine basically says it was wrong when it wrote 20 years ago that a single 40-year-old woman had a better chance of being killed by a terrorist than getting married. While I married in my 20s, I waited nearly 10 years to have children. Meanwhile, most of my friends married later, in their 30s and 40s, after they were firmly grounded in their careers. Here we all are, in the same position, balancing work and kids and marriage. It's encouraging that women and men can wait, build their careers, and still find love.
Take a deep breath and relax if you are working 24/7 and haven't met Mr. or Ms. Right. I agree with Newsweek: The alarmist mentality is gone. If you are single, I really believe you have a good chance of meeting someone at any age, if you are open to it. I think it helps that so many women are in the workforce with opportunities to network and form relationships. I have friends who are single and in their 40s and I'm still hopeful, as are they, they they will marry, if it's what they want.
Newsweek says at least 14 percent of women born between 1955 and 1964 married after the age of 30. But the magazine also takes note of a trend I come across all the time during interviews of women executives -- not everyone wants to marry. Men's attitudes about marriage have changed too. Many men are waiting longer to marry and are more open to older women. Newsweek says men and women today have unpredented freedom about whether, when and whom to marry.
But as book author Stephanie Coontz points out., "Marriage is more work today than it was when gender roles were non-negotiable, when women had to stick it out because they couldn't afford to leave." Yet maybe, just maybe, with people marrying later, they have better skills to construct good marriages. The divorce rate has gone down for college educated men and women and maybe that trend will continue. Now married 19 years, I'm doing my part to help.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

This is How We Do It


I had the pleasure of interviewing Carol Evans, CEO and President of Working Mother Magazine. Evans has just authored a book, This is How We Do It, The Working Mothers Manifesto. Here's is our conversation in a question and answer format:

Q. Your book says that 71 percent of mothers work outside the home. With more moms working than staying at home, how has that changed the workplace?

A. The biggest change is that companies are paying attention to family needs. That affects everyone -- moms, dads, young people. Companies finally are sensitized to our needs as human beings that have another life outside of work.

Q. What surprises you about what hasn't changed in the workplace?

A. There's still a big stigma attached with using work/life programs in place for 20 years. Even when companies are trying to do the right thing, there's still a stigma attached to using them. People are worried about what their manager thinks and how it will affect their career.

Q. What do you suggest companies do about that stigma?

A. The number one thing companies can do is provide mangaement training. Your immediate boss is key to your balance. If he thinks you are terrific, you will go far. If not, you are stuck where you are. Working mothers are ambitious so it makes sense that they are worried about the stigma. About 63 percent of working mothers told us they are ambitious and getting ahead matters a lot.

Q. Why do you think the number of working mothers is so high?

A. Money. They are working to pay the mortgage in good neighborhoods with good schools. We have high expectations of our lifestyle. Over the last decade, it takes two incomes to have that lifestyle.

Q. What is the most disturbing trend you see today that affect working mothers?

A. The culture of overwork. As the economy is constricting workers are being asked to do more at all levels. People are expected to be on the job 24/7 . This is not over with this battle between overwork and the needs of families. It is very painful for mothers. They are giving so much, they can't keep giving more and keep their sanity.