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Monday, July 30, 2007

How to get a mom's attention

Grabbing a mom's attention can't be easy, not when today's moms can be anywhere from 20 to 45 years old and work 60-hour work weeks or not at all. So what does it to get a mom's attention? (Don't forget mom's make the buying decisions in most families) Here are some fabulous tips from Lisa Druxman Entrepreneur.com's "Mompreneur" columnist and the founder and CEO of fitness franchise, Stroller Strides.

*Focus on networks. When marketing to moms, you need to take advantage of the networks they build. Moms love to talk about what they're buying.

*Embrace technology. Never before have so many moms researched a product or service online. Moms don't have time to go to stores to shop around, nor do they want to bring their kids to the store if they don't have to. A good website and high search rankings are essential.

*Offer education. Moms use the Internet to educate themselves. Offer valuable content that moms can reference as a way to bring them to your site.

*Save them time. Moms will all agree they need more time. Focus on the time savings benefits of your product or service, and it'll score points with moms.

*Get to the point. Moms want marketing that gets to the point. Offer free shipping or a quick deal, but don't ask moms to spend time reading about your product or service. If you're offering a discount, show the price they'll pay. Don't ask moms to figure out what 10 percent off will be. If you have a product, show a picture; don't give a lengthy description.

*Market to the individual. Yes, we're all moms, but we're also different. Some moms stay at home, some work at home, and some work away from home. Be careful that your marketing message doesn't make a blanket statement that would leave someone out. To read more, click here.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Is your second income worth it?

This summer, my childcare expenses (3 kids in summer camp) are greater than my earnings. I'm working to keep my job rather than to bring home the bacon. But during the school year, when my child care costs are lower, it does pay for me to work.
Does it pay for you to work? If you are part of a couple, deciding whether a second income pays is a calculation you will make numerous times as kids arrive, children age, a spouse goes back to school or the economy changes. Most people work because they think they can't afford not to. Lately, more of us fall into that category. How did we get into this second-income trap?
From huge insurance premiums to higher gas prices, a greater portion of our earnings is being swallowed by the shocking rise in the cost of basic needs. Start doing the math and figure out how much of your household's second paycheck gets absorbed by expenses incurred if both parents work. Don't just assume you can't make it on one income. The Reese family, profiled in my Miami Herald article, have seven kids and live off Sidney Reese's earnings of $5,000 a month (after deductions). They are proof it can be done -- if you don't already have huge debt.
Remember though, give up one paycheck and you give up the family's financial safety net. There's much more to consider than straight math.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Are working parents creating fat kids?


As a working mom, I have been desperate to get food in my kids mouths before they head to their evening soccer practice. That might mean giving them chicken nuggets on the run. But there's something about this balancing act and our meal habits that's taking a toll on our kids.

There’s an interesting poll released today by BSM Media, including a some telling statistics about who makes the buying decisions.

How much does TV influence what you feed your kids?
Have you ever given them dinner in your SUV?
And can somebody please tell me whether working parents are creating fat kids?

BSM Media's poll of over 2000 mothers found 67% of moms said that although ads have some influence on their children, they ultimately make the buying decisions for the family.

Although our kids watch the commercial for Sugar Pops cereal, we buy it for them. Yet, we know we shouldn't. Almost all the moms surveyed (95%) believe there is an obesity epidemic and nearly just as many (86%) feel teaching good eating habits to their children is one of the top lessons they can teach. But then there's that disconnect between knowing and doing -- 62% of moms admit that they don't always have time to feed their families healthy foods. And sometimes, we just are too bloody tired from a hard day at work to fight with a child who won't eat vegetables.

"Marketers need to recognize that although they target children, it's moms who control the household purse," says Maria Bailey, CEO of BSM Media."It's time to shift that billions spent on marketing foods to children and focus on the gatekeeper."

So moms, we're the gatekeepers. Busy schedules aside, let's step up to the plate.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Using Time Wisely

Apparently I'm not the only one addicted to Grey's Anatomy and Boston Legal. If I logged how I spend my time, watching television would be high on my list. Yet, I feel I'm working so much I never have enough time to get things done. What would you find if you tracked your own time use?
A new study on time use shows we are working more but we are playing more, too. New government stats show:
-- Employed persons worked 7.6 hours on average on the days that they
worked.
-- On the days that they worked, employed men worked about an hour more
than employed women--8.0 versus 7.1 hours.
-- Self-employed persons were more likely to work on the weekend days than wage and salary workers.
-- On an average day, nearly everyone (96 percent) watched some TV
-- Men average 5.7 hours on leisure activities (like TV watching) and women averaged 4.9 hours.

View the entire release at http://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/atus.pdf

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Secrets of an organized supermom


Today, Teri Kaye will be my guest blogger. Teri balances being a mom to three, helping her husband run a business and advancing at her CPA firm. How does she do it? Read on.


Nine years ago I was hired by the accounting firm of Friedman Cohen Taubman & Company (FCT) in Plantation as the first “manager”. Before me, there were staff and partners.

At first the partners gave me responsibility in “baby steps”. I could write a letter but not mail it without partner review. Review a tax return but not sign it without partner review. As the partners got more comfortable with my technical knowledge, personality and skill level, I earned more responsibility.

While “proving myself” I became pregnant with my third child. What was supposed to be four months off turned into six months and when I returned it was only for two days a week because my husband’s business was taking off and he needed me.

My husband is an inventor with his own product design and development company, Gizmo Enterprises. At the same time that I was pregnant, he was awarded a very large contract for the development and integration of flight simulators and data collection systems into moving trucks.
Many of the skills I honed in my accounting career were now put to use in two jobs at the same time. I learned quite a bit about production, project management, logistics and how business works in the real world.

While I was helping my husband, I still also was handling the tax and accounting needs of my clients. Everyone had my cell phone and I made sure to reply timely. At the accounting firm we have a web-based system where I can be anywhere in the world and log in, just as if I am at my desk. We also have converted from a traditional paper-based firm to a paper-less one, so everything is scanned and available in the computer.

I also had the support of the entire accounting firm team. When I called them to handle a matter for a client, the matter was handled quickly and correctly.

When my husband increased his inventing time and I increased my days at the firm. I took all the skills and information learned with my husband and applied it to my clients. I now knew so much more about actually running a business – from insurance to human resources to what records actually exist to internal controls and production – than most CPAs will ever know from sitting on only one side of a desk.

I have learned to be flexible. I split my time and professional energy between Gizmo and FCT. When it is tax season, I scale back at Gizmo. When a big project is happening at Gizmo, I scale back at FCT.

I have learned first-hand about successfully bringing a product to market – all the way from the idea to patents and trademarks to production to distributors to store shelves and to winning national awards. I know about expanding a product line, negotiating leases and distributor agreements and much more.

I know that my husband’s company has benefited from my accounting skills and knowledge. I also know that my clients have benefited from what I have learned and lived as a business owner. I have risen in my accounting career working only part-time because I am constantly learning, growing, and expanding my capabilities and I share all of that with my clients.

What have I learned from balancing two different and demanding careers with a marriage and three kids –
*It is not easy, but it is definitely worth all the effort.
*Respond timely to phone calls and emails (even if it is only to say – “I’ll get to that later”).
*Be realistic about how much time each project will take so you don’t over-promise.
*Say no when you need to and stick to it.
*Delegate as much as you can and then follow up to make sure all was done.
*Communicate with your partners, staff and clients so they know what to expect and when.
*Give each task your full effort and then move on to the next one.
*Use technology to your advantage.
*Don’t waste time trying to make a situation work, move on.
*Believe in yourself and your abilities.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Birds or moms? I'm fuming.

Friday morning I read the front page of my newspaper, the very newspaper I work for, and I began fuming. An article I wrote for the front page had been bumped by another story. To me, it became immediately apparent why employers -- even my The Miami Herald -- aren't in touch with working families.
An article on fewer birds in Florida took priority for the front page over my article on the trend toward more mothers finding part time work ideal. This shift over the last decade from working moms thinking full time is ideal to dreaming of part time comes with one hitch -- most women can't afford the arrangement. One father asked me, "When did it become necessary for two parents to work just to be middle class?"
I'm not sure why but employers still haven't caught on that most families are struggling with the pressure that having both parents work puts on the entire family. Smart employers are rethinking the need to offer some flexibility. The others? Maybe they're too busy watching for birds!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Are we good parents?

So you think you're a good parent. How would you rank yourself -- on a scale of 1 to 10?
As part of a Pew Research study released Thursday researchers asked parents to rate how good a job they are doing. The outcome: We've decided we're pretty good at raising our kids.
The women who are hardest on themselves are full-time working moms. (Would you expect any different?) Just 10 percent of mothers working full -time give themselves the highest rating(10) and 18 percent give themselves the next highest mark(9).
BUT....
At-home moms give themselves much higher scores: nearly three-in-ten(28 percent) give themselves the highest mark(10) and another 15 percent put themselves at 9.
I found it slightly surprising though that mothers see themselves in a better light than fathers. Just 26 percent of dads give themselves one of the two highest marks -- most put themselves at a 7 or 8. Why is this? Dads let me hear from you.

Open the door to the executive suite

Are we tired of fighting our way to the top? Why aren't more women making it to the executive suite? The number of women in the executive suite at large public companies in Florida declined in the last year. Theories abound about why.
Ironically, Roger Krause of Spherion Corp. has something to say on the subject. Krause took the top job of CEO at Spherion when Cinda Hallman became ill. Hallman was one of a handful of women in Florida heading a Fortune 500 company. Spherion currently has no women in its executive suite.
But Krause says he's committed to bringing them in -- over time. Krause has told me his company has strengthened the pipeline to the executive suite by developing more women into executive vice president and managerial positions. To its credit, Spherion went from having no women directors in 2004 to adding two in 2006. Krause is going to speak on the topic next week in Fort Lauderdale at the July meeting of Women Executive Leadership. REGISTER NOW: www.womenexecutiveleadership.com

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Firms struggle to keep women

More women are taking on a new attitude -- if you can't beat them or join them, leave them. Mae O'Malley left her San Francisco law firm, but not before she lined up work and built her own company, Paragon Legal Group.
She has 20 lawyers working for her on a full-time or part time basis, 90 percent are women. They make as much as $175 an hour and work for big corporate clients. These women still can practice law but they are able to do it on a flexible basis.
It is businesses like Paragon that pose a challenge to the traditional professional service firms. "In a large firm, if you go part-time even if there are part-time policies, it sidetracks you, says Stephanie Scharf, a past president of the National Association of Women Lawyers told the National Law Journal.
Women are looking for alternatives to the firm track -- some choosing to go inhouse at clients or non-profits, others getting creative and starting their own firms. All big firms need to do is loosen up, allow more women to work from home, allow job-sharing and smooth the way for returning attorneys who may need flexible schedules. What firms fail to understand is that it is not only mothers that want these arrangements. Its also is women and men in the later decades of their career.
One 62-year old attorney left a big firm for a legal assistance foundation. She found she likes to be home for dinner and have time for gardening. Of a staff of 90 attorneys at the foundation, two-thirds are women. This attorney says firms aren't adapting to women's longer-term career needs. Do firms really understand what they are up against? And the bigger question is do they care?

Monday, July 09, 2007

Daughters Expecting to Work Longer than Their Mothers

Women, here is why you need to love ( or at least like) what you do for a living. We're working longer than our moms.
A MetLife poll comparing retirement planning and concerns between mothers and daughters found that while 74% of mothers indicated that they had retired before age 65, only 37% of daughters expect to do so. Daughters were more than twice as likely to indicate that they plan to work to age 65 or beyond (51%) as their mothers were to indicate that they actually retired at such an age (21%). Food for thought for any woman thinking about changing professions or opting out.
To see the full report, It's Not Your Mother's Retirement: A MetLife Study of Women and Generational Differences, visit http://www.maturemarketinstitute.com/

Friday, July 06, 2007

Working Mothers Top 100

Ready to jump ship? If you're struggling to balance work and home life, consider one of the Top 100 Companies for Working Moms, according to Working Mother Magazine. The good news is that these employers see a benefit in landing on the list.

THE TOP 100
Abbott Laboratories, Abbott Park, Ill.
Accenture Ltd., New York, N.Y.
Aflac Inc., Columbus, Ga.
Allstate Corp., Northbrook, Ill.
American Express Co., New York, N.Y.
Arnold & Porter LLP, Washington, D.C.
AstraZeneca PLC, Wilmington, Del.
Avon Products Inc., New York, N.Y.
Bank of America Corp., Charlotte, N.C.
Baptist Health South Florida, Coral Gables, Fla.
Bayer AG, Pittsburgh, Pa.
Bon Secours Richmond Health System, Richmond, Va.
Booz Allen Hamilton, McLean, Va.
Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., New York, N.Y.
Bronson Healthcare Group, Kalamazoo, Mich.
Capital One Financial Corp., McLean, Va.
Carlson Cos., Minnetonka, Minn.
Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, Atlanta, Ga.
Children's Memorial Hospital, Chicago, Ill.
Citigroup Inc., New York, N.Y.
CJW Medical Center, Richmond, Va.
Colgate-Palmolive Co., New York, N.Y.
Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y.
Covington & Burling LLP, Washington, D.C.
Credit Suisse Group, New York, N.Y.
DaimlerChrysler AG, Auburn Hills, Mich.
Deloitte & Touche USA LLP, New York, N.Y.
Deutsche Bank AG, New York, N.Y.
Discovery Communications Inc., Silver Spring, Md.
Dow Corning, Midland, Mich.
DuPont Co., Wilmington, Del.
Eli Lilly & Co., Indianapolis, Ind.
Ernst & Young LLP, New York, N.Y.
Fannie Mae, Washington, D.C.
First Horizon National Corp., Memphis, Tenn.
First National Bank of Omaha, Omaha, Neb.
Ford Motor Co., Dearborn, Mivh.
Genentech Inc., South San Francisco, Calif.
General Electric Co., Fairfield, Conn.
General Mills Inc., Minneapolis, Minn.
GlaxoSmithKline PLC, Philadelphia, PA
Goldman Sachs Group Inc., New York, N.Y.
Grant Thornton LLP, Chicago, Ill.
Gurwin Jewish Geriatric Center, Commack, N.Y.
Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.
Hewlett Packard Co., Palo Alto, Calif.
HSBC USA Inc., Prospect Heights, Ill.
IBM Corp., Armonk, N.Y.
Ikea, Plymouth Meeting, Pa.
Inova Health System, Falls Church, Va.
JFK Medical Center, Atlantis, Fla.
Johnson & Johnson, New Brunswick, N.J.
JPMorgan Chase & Co., New York, N.Y.
Kellogg Co., Battle Creek, Mich.
KPMG LLP, New York, N.Y.
Kraft Foods Inc., Northfield, Ill.
Lego Systems Inc., Enfield, Conn.
Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., New York, N.Y.
Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Mass.
Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co., Springfield, Mass.
McGraw-Hill Cos., New York, N.Y.
Merck & Co., Whitehouse Station, N.J.
Mercy Health System, Jamesville, Wis.
MetLife Inc., Long Island City, N.Y.
Microsoft Corp., Redmond, Wash.
Morgan Stanley, New York, N.Y.
Motorola Inc., Schaumburg, Ill.
Northern Trust Corp., Chicago, Ill.
Northwestern Memorial Healthcare, Chicago, Ill.
Novartis AG, East Hanover, N.J.
Patagonia Inc., Ventura, Calif.
Pearson PLC, Upper Saddle River, N.J.
Pfizer Inc., New York, N.Y.
Phoenix Cos., Hartford, Conn.
Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP, New York, N.Y.
PNC Financial Services Group Inc., Pittsburgh, Pa.
PriceWaterhouseCoopers LLP, New York, N.Y.
Principal Financial Group, Des Moines, Iowa
Procter & Gamble Co., Cincinnati, Ohio
Providence Alaska Medical Center, Anchorage, Ala.
Prudential Financial Inc., Newark, N.J.
Republic Bancorp., Owosso, Mich.
Rodale Inc., Emmaus, Pa.
RSM McGladrey Inc., Bloomington, Minn.
S.C. Johnson & Son Inc., Racine, Wis.
Schering-Plough, Kenilworth, N.J.
Scripps Health, San Diego, Calif.
Texas Instruments Inc., Dallas, Texas
The Boston Consulting Group, Boston, Mass.
Timberland Co., Stratham, N.H.
Trihealth, Cincinnati, Ohio
Turner Broadcasting System Inc., Atlanta, Ga.
UBS, New York, N.Y.
Union Pacific Railroad, Omaha, Neb.
Verizon Communications Inc., Bedminster, N.J.
Wachovia Corp., Charlotte, N.C.
Wells Fargo & Co., San Francisco, Calif.
West Virginia University Hospitals, Morgantown, W.Va.
Wyeth, Madison, N.J.
Yale-New Haven Hospital, New Haven, Conn.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Set unreasonable goals

Summer can be cruel to career goals. Getting kids to camp on time and planning a family vacation has completely distracted me from my work priorities for 2007. Fortunately, it's been brought to my attention that I shouldn't have bothered to set reasonable goals.
Eric Albertson of www.succeedinginbusiness.com says most career goals are limiting. But unreasonable ones make you stretch further. For example, Chris Dudley overcame type 1 diabetes. Playing in the NBA was unreasonable. Bruce Shilling went from sports agent to flying around the world in Phil Knight’s Gulfstream V jet. How could you reasonably ever dream of such a thing?
Now, you ask, how do you set unreasonable goals? Here are Albertson's tips:
1. IMAGINE you're on your deathbed looking back and say, "You know I've had a pretty good life, but I really wish I'd done X." What is X? That's your unreasonable goal.
2. THINK about it all the time. Obsess about it. Don't push it out of your mind.
3. Be aware of OPPORTUNITIES and coincidences that present themselves. You couldn't see them before, but now, with increased focus on your goal, you'll start seeing, reading, hearing about things that are connected to your goal.
4. When the time is right, make a COMMITMENT. Not one based on knowing how to achieve your goal, but on your desire to make it real. If you have to know how ahead of time, you'll never take the leap.
5. ACTION. Now it's time for the real work, and that consists of putting one foot in front of the other every single day. Keep things alive by creating action plans, researching, asking for assistance, and networking with like-minded people. In other words, create an environment in which the goal can be realized.

Albertson is peddling books on success in business. I've never read his books, but in my daily struggle to set goals and achieve balance, I like his idea of thinking bigger.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Networking on a limited schedule

Don't give up networking just yet! Although it may not seem like it sometimes, it is possible to squeeze networking in with all the other demands on your time. My new friend Debra Helwig discovered this fabulous blog post written by Marny Lifshen, a communications consultant. Lifshen shares some great tips for networking on a limited schedule. To read the complete post, click here.
1. Choose the one organization that is the most relevant to your career or industry and be an active member. Most organizations only have one meeting per month, so commit to attend that. Take advantage of these events to meet new people and strengthen relationships with existing contacts.
2. Hold meetings - coffee or lunch work fine - two times per month with important contacts. Review your rolodex/database regularly to make sure you're not overlooking people you haven't seen in a while. You don't have to have a specific agenda beyond building/maintaining your relationship.
3. Identify the 2-3 key events in your community or industry and commit to attend per year. It doesn't matter whether it's a black-tie awards gala or a two day software conference - figure out which events are critical for you to attend, and put them on your schedule.
4. Try combining multiple meetings into one. If there are three or four people with whom you have been meaning to meet, ask yourself if you could schedule one luncheon with them all. If they don't already know each other, perhaps they should!
5. Proactively contact at least 2 people in your network per week via email, phone calls or hand-written notes. You don't have to be face-to-face to keep relationships intact.
6. Begin networking online - online communities can be a great source of information, advice and contacts and nearly every profession and industry have one or more online communities. And, this networking can be done outside of traditional business hours, which helps free up your daytime schedule.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Balance for one

Is it hard to find balance when your young, single and new to the workforce? This is such an overlooked topic. I hear often from 20 somethings dealing with balance issues but I don't see a lot out there to help this generation cope. When I saw this blog post on the Washington Post site, it struck me as a refreshing look at life as a single. Click here for a 20 something take on finding balance. Older workers are quick to dismiss the needs of this younger generation. Let me know what you think.