Women In Charge

Could we please stop pretending women are beyond the glass ceiling and acknowledge we’re allowed to play in a man’s world?

Women of Achievement are at the top and stay there because of male mentors. Whether it’s a promotion from Switchboard operator to Library Clerk or Administrative Assistant to Congressional Aide, promotions for women at all levels are mostly due to male mentors. They identify women they respect, see opportunities for their advancement and suggest to the higher powers they be promoted. When they get a favorable response they then suggest to the woman she apply for the job. Let’s face it, men are better networkers and do it all the time. They share what they are doing, when, where, etc. with their friends and get suggestions for their own advancements as well.

So the highest ranking woman editor in newspaper land in America got laid off. Where was her mentor? Did she go against his wishes or were there too many enemies to overcome? From the interviews on Charlie Rose’s show it sounded like she got sideways with the true decision makers. They usually get what they want . If Hillary Clinton goes for President it’ll be because Bill has it all lined up. It’s too early to tell on that one. Personally, other than the hallmark of being the first woman President of the United States, I have no idea why she would wish herself that much grief at this stage in her life. But that’s another story.

When trouble begins, the woman in charge is the last to know. Either her network has failed to support her or she knows but doesn’t believe it. I’ve seen both and both were fatal. Men are better about bringing their support group with them when they go from job to job. Whether it’s a secretary, administrative assistant, or press secretary (either gender for any of those jobs) the decision maker is sure their gate-keeper is loyal. Much like the characters on the TV show “Blue Bloods”, they respect the man who signs their check and makes sure he’s protected at all times.
Unfortunately, women are mostly too emotional when it comes to business decisions. There are some that have “ice in their blood”, but for the most part we’re just hard-wired differently. Men at the lower levels will pass along tidbits they hear in order to be loyal to their mentors. Women tend to be too afraid of losing their jobs if they get involved and may gossip about the subject with other workers, but rarely take it to their mentor. Those that do share their information understand that most decisions are usually made on the golf course, at the gym, or in the mens locker room. For their loyalty to their mentor they are protected in turn.

If you really look at the careers of some of the most successful women in America today, you’ll find at least one male mentor. Members of Congress, corporate CEO’s, and small business owners all share one common thread – male mentors. I’ve had several in my life, and I appreciate every one of them. They opened doors for me that I would have never even knocked on. And yes, I’ve gotten crosswise of one or two over the years and suffered the consequences, but it was a learning experience I wouldn’t replace. As for the previous highest ranking woman in the newspaper industry, I’m sorry your network failed you. I have no doubt there is some other male who is interested in making you a Woman in Charge.

Until next time –

Another Year Comes To An End

I love the end of the year.  It’s the time we get to sit back and review what we’ve done, both professionally and personally.  That assessment is so vital to our mental health, even the news media partakes.

They’ll spend the next few weeks going back and collecting info on what they covered; facts, statistics, people stories – all the major stories of the year.  We’ll get to see those recaps and remember with them.  But have we done the same for our own lives?

Every year end, the shortest day of the year, I put together a list of accomplishments.  I then compare that to the list of goals I wrote down last December and compare the two.  How did I do this year?  I don’t know yet, because the year isn’t quite over.  But I’ll tell you more about it December 21st.  In the meantime, I’ll start writing down thoughts on what is important to accomplish in 2014.  I’ll also revisit my goals for 2013 and see what didn’t happen and should it continue to be on the list or have I moved on without it?

I try and access where I want my life to go, how should I spend my money, what should I focus on for jewelry designs, what changes do Tracy and I want to make at the store, what can I do to improve my health?  All questions I’ll think about and ultimately put down on paper.  I learned many years ago to write it down – I won’t remember a year from now and when I check back in the middle of the year to see how I’m doing I won’t have anything to compare it to.  Lots of questions without answers – yet!

Stay tuned – until next time.

Budget Your Time?

Redbookmag.com has a nice short article by Christina Breda Antoniades on making a “time budget”.  During my years as a Congressional Aide, time was my most valuable asset.  There was never enough of it and it’s misuse was very expense – late night work catch-up and work all weekend.

Now, at 64, I find time is still my most valued asset (besides my husband).  I want to write every morning while my brain is fresh.  I need to open our Gallery/Gift Shop at 9AM.  There’s Jewelry to create, sales to record, merchandise to stock, cleaning, government reports to finish and the list goes on.  And at 64, I don’t multi-task near as well.  Sigh!

Christina’s brief but succinct “daytimer” reminded me of the value of “budgeting time”.  I used to do it very well, what happened?  Last year I felt behind the 8 ball all the time .  Why do I have to plan every part of my day?  At my age I should be retired and do what I want.  Instead I’m just tired and not doing anything I want.  I fought using my old habits all the way.  I did it all those years and I don’t want to.  Yet, I want to write; I want to read; I need to run the store; I need to make more jewelry because I enjoy it; I like knitting hats and giving them away; I need to clean the house; I need to do the laundry;  I need to budget my time.  Ick!

But, if I want to do all those things and get the things done I have to do I need to budget my time  It wasn’t hard to fall back into the habit, especially when I want “me time”.

So here’s my days –

  • 7-830 AM write
  • 8:30 – 9  get ready for work and plan dinner – including getting the slow cooker on
  • 9-Noon –  Beadweave and make jewelry – husband takes care of customers and makes lunch
  • Noon – 4PM  Do whatever needs doing in the store (consult list from night before to be sure I get it all done – dust, stock, reports, internet orders, etc and wait on customers
  • 4-6 PM  run errands, make dinner and clean up
  • 6-bedtime – Husband time, talk, read – In the season the store is open until 8PM so I’ll go back in and help him or do laundry because we’re open 7 days a week.

Just before bedtime I’ll write out 6 projects – both work and home – that need attention the next day.

When the store gets really busy during our April through October season, it’ll get harder to “budget” but at least there will be some “me” time.  Thanks Christina for a perfect reminder.  You can read it yourself  at www.redbookmag.com.

Oops – time to go!  Even though it’s Sunday and I get 3 hours to sit in my PJ’s and write –  the laundry awaits!



Negotiate For Your Benchmark Salary!

If the economy does, indeed, get better (but won’t return to the glory years) people will start moving around.  This will create job openings and you need to be ready with your resume.  Many years ago I read a management book that said Men update their resumes as soon as they land a new job – Women wait until they are angry and ready to move on.  Make sure it’s up-to-date and meets current hiring criteria.  Resume formats change every 8-10 years so check with the employment division in your community.
While you’re at the State Employment Department research salaries for the positions you think you might like to have.  Get a sense of what most companies are paying and the type of benefits they offer.  See if that matches your “Enough” list.  I’ll write about making an “Enough” list next week.
But know that negotiating for that first salary is the most important.  If the job was listed at a set amount an hour it doesn’t hurt to make a case for more.  Be sure you’re ready to tell them why you’re worth more.  Victoria Pinchon specializes in helping high-powered women who work in male-dominated fields.  Claire Suddath interviewed her for an article in Bloomburg Businessweek on this very subject.  Victoria told her “it’s critical to know what men make to refrain from unknowingly accepting a lowball offer”.
Claire also interviewed Ofer Sharone, assistant professor of work and employment research at MIT’s Sloan School of Management.  Ofer cautions folks that your “agreement is the benchmark for all future raises, and if you switch jobs your employer will ask what you made at the last company.”  You want to be able to talk about it without embarrassment.  You must learn to be your own cheerleader.