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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

We've come a long way

Working Mother Magazine released its list today of the Top 100 Best Companies. I learned this before my magazine even arrived in the mail. The press releases started filling my inbox, companies letting the media know they made the list because they have the perks that make them alluring to working moms. We've come a long way, baby!

Who would have imagined that landing on this list would be something companies would covet? With 72 percent of mothers in the workforce, smart employers now understand the significance of bragging rights. The winner's circle this year includes companies large and small that specialize in everything from health care to financial services. More than half of the companies on the list increased spending for work/life programs in the past year. To read the full list, click here.

Sunday, September 23, 2007


I have had some great feedback from my last week's column on overcommitting. There was one sentence in that column that has become my new mantra. Maybe it will help you as well.
"Keep in mind that every time you commit to doing something you don't want to do, you are giving up time and energy to do what is important to you. Don't say yes when you want to say no."
On the surface, that sounds simple. I am wrestling with it -- figuring out which additional assignments at work I want to take on and which volunteer commitments I want to take on.
For those of us in the habit of saying yes, we need to retrain our brain. Life coach Rachelle Disbennet-Lee suggests this approach: Try ''thank you for asking. It's a great opportunity, but I'm too booked to do it.'' And then, lose the guilt! Let me know if it works for you.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Make the right choice

Joel Zeff’s book Make the Right Choice, has some great tips on making positive choices for your work life that also make your personal life more manageable. Here are some thoughts from his book:

On Multitasking
- Folding clothes and watching American Idol is a great multi-task. Checking email and talking to a client is not. When you try to do too much at once, nothing gets done right, leading to more time spent on projects fixing mistakes.

On Work-Life Balance
- If you’re running from meeting to meeting, to home, to craft store for child’s diorama, and then back to the office again, stop. Put a note on your monitor reminding you to take 5 minutes to think and prioritize tasks. Leave the cell phone at your desk and sit in a different environment, the lobby if necessary, so you can think without distractions.

On Negative Co-Workers
- Negativity can be contagious, so contain it. Try to engage a negative co-worker, and then leave them behind. Regroup with agreeable people in the office so projects can get done effectively.
- Sometimes a difficult co-worker is just a co-worker who communicates differently than you. Ever seen a chit chat person work with a down to business person? Find common ground and you’ll find peace around the office.

On Reducing Stress
- Take a few minutes and think about your last week at work. Make a list of everything that made you frustrated, impatient and stressed, and try to read it with a straight face. I will wager most of it is insignificant. Don’t waste creative energy on things that are completely out of your control.

On Opportunity
Ask for it, demand it, then take it. People can’t give you what they don’t know you want. If you’re a manager, ask your employees if they’re getting the opportunities they’re looking for. Watch their productivity go up when they see you appreciate them.

Zeff is a working dad and national workplace expert. To read more about his book:

Monday, September 17, 2007

Should women bring their babies to work?

One of my high school friends called me today in a snit. She's going through a break up with her business partner and she wanted my thoughts.

Here's what is going on:
My friend and her partner run a maternity store. But for the last year, her partner has brought her infant to work with her. Now that the baby turned one and began walking, the woman spends most of her day chasing the baby around the store rather than selling merchandise. My friend says the bulk of the ordering, bookkeeping and marketing has fallen on her shoulders. She's leaving her own child at preschool later to pick up the slack.

"She's just too preoccupied to be productive,'' my friend said. My friend sees only one solution -- to buy out her partner and hire a salesperson. Her partner disagrees and uses the time sheet to show she's put in her hours. She wants the business arrangement to remain the same.

Now, I'm all for accommodating mothers in the workplace. But I see my friend's point of view. On the very infrequent days when I have brought my kids to work with me, I have been less productive -- and my kids are older requiring much less of my attention than an infant. I think the woman needs to leave her child at home. What do you think?

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Indra Nooyi, superwoman?

In today's article in The Miami Herald, I share with readers a glimpse into the life of a modern day superwoman, Indra Nooyi.

There are many things that fascinate me about Nooyi, CEO and chair of PepsiCo (besides the fact that she's the first at the company to hold these positions) First, although she moves in the world of million-dollar deals and global business, she still considers herself her household's primary caregiver. Nooyi has two daughters, 14 and 23 and in her words, "a supportive husband.''

What I also found interesting was her answer to my question: What keeps you up at night? PepsiCo has 160,000 employees in 190 countries. It is in the midst of a transformation to become more than a soft drink company by offering healthier products. And yet here's what keeps her up at night: "My kids. I worry about my kids," she told me.

Nooyi has assistants, makeup artists, security guards, publicists -- a team of helpers most of us don't have access to on a daily basis. But she's smart enough to know she has to work harder than a man and earn her stripes every day. Perhaps she learned from the fate of former HP CEO Carly Fiorina. When asked what lessons she wants to teach her daughters, her answer was "be humble.'' ‘‘This position can be gone tomorrow, but if the person in you is always the same, you can survive good and bad," she said.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Should more of us be like Shaunie?

I read The Miami Herald column on Shaq filing for divorce and thought, "Wow, was Shuunie smart enough to be minding the finances while Shaq was minding the game?"

If so, I thought to myself, good for her. How many women who bring home the bacon know intimately about their family finances? I'd make an educated guess that the majority don't. Whether your are male or female, the worst thing you can do is to ignore money matters while you're married.

Here's what Shaq alleges in the court documents: Shaunie, he says, has been ''secretive about her assets . . . particularly with respect to certain properties owned or titled in either [her] name alone or in other entities.'' He wants the court to order Shaunie to give a ''correct accounting of all money, funds, stocks, bonds, and other securities (including bearer securities)'' that she came into during the marriage.

It looks like Shaq is learning the No. 1 financial mistake most women make: Nothing makes you more vulnerable than ignoring money matters while you're married.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

I did my daughter's homework

I'm feeling conflicted today. Last night, I did my daughter's homework. I'm not bragging. I'm confessing. Mostly, because I would do it again.
After a long day at work and Open House at my son's school, I arrived home around 8 p.m. to find my daughter doing homework. Two hours later, after putting my younger two kids to bed, she was still up doing homework. At 10 p.m., I wanted us both in bed -- pronto!
But then came the tears, "Mom, I can't go to bed. I still have more homework." And so, I caved.
In a trance-like state, I begin printing photos off the Internet and pasting them on her index cards. Printing and pasting. It seemed harmless. It didn't affect the learning process. She wrote the Spanish vocabulary words on the cards. We were both in bed a half hour later. But still, I do feel a little guilty. I'm heading home extra early today to better supervise her afterschool homework routine. Not all working moms have that luxury. With that in mind, I would guess I'm not the only homework helper who has something to feel guilty about. Your thoughts?

Bad boss doesn't get it, does yours?

This bad boss tale told by blogger Norma cracked me up. Norma has recently been reminiscing about the worst boss she ever had – an editor-in-chief of an interior design magazine. In one revealing anecdote she tells of the time she asked for raise and was instead offered the use of her boss’ Saks card. He didn’t understand that she needed the money to make rent and not to expand her closet. Click here to read more of Norma’s blog

Dealing with your own bad boss? Monster offers these resources to help:
· “Neutralize Your Toxic Boss
· “Stop Toxic Managers Before They Stop You
· “When the New Boss Is Hell on Wheels

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

A Labor Day story

It's amazing that despite lousy salaries , workers who love their jobs stay loyal to employers. On Labor Day, The Miami Herald ran a wonderful piece on one of those workers, Maria Rosa Mauriz , a legend in the hospitality industry. When asked what they most want from work, most people will tell you they want to make a difference -- Maria has found what we all want. More power to her!

Here's an excerpt: "Behind the ballroom, in the back hallway near the kitchen and service elevator, Radisson Miami worker Maria Rosa Mauriz wedges her foot between a set of double doors and grins. She brings enormous pride to her work, insisting that being a banquet worker isn't just ``putting a plate down in front of people.''''I try to make people happy,'' said Mauriz, who has a quick smile and loves to joke around with people.

The 73-year-old has twice been Employee of the Year. The second time, former Miami-Dade Mayor Alex Penelas named a day in her honor. In her third decade at the hotel -- in all, more than 40 years in the hospitality industry -- Mauriz still loves her job and isn't even close to thinking about retiring."

Check out Maria's story and share what you think. Would you stay in a low-wage job if you loved what you did?