Friday, March 26, 2010

Can't We Just All Get Along?

Just because you work in the same building or in the same department with others and have to interact on a daily or weekly basis with one another does not mean it's a given that everyone will all get along and live happily ever after. It would be so "Polyanna...ish" to believe that is the case.

Even if up to this point you have always liked everyone you've dealt with in all the companies you've worked for and everyone's liked you (extreme Polyanna) - trust me there will come a day when you are tasked to work with someone on a project or on a team that may be a challenge to deal with. So, how do you handle a situation like that? Tempers are short, frustration is high and yet it is necessary to work with each other in some capacity. To begin with - when feeling frustrated stop and take a deep breath and relax your body and mind before saying or doing anything (I know easier said than done) and then decide how to best handle the situation to be most productive and professional for the company.

Teams are far more productive when everyone respects and enjoys working with one another, but when that isn't the case - try to use the experience as an opportunity to improve yourself and your attitude instead. If by doing so, it improves the overall working environment, then it's icing on the cake. In every situation we are faced with , we have a choice to make on how to act or what attitude to have but we cannot control or change that in anyone else. So even if your efforts do not change the other person's outlook or working relationship with you, at least you have had a better attitude and that's always a good thing.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Lead By Example

Derek Jeter, Captain and Shortstop for the New York Yankees is loved by so many fans whether they like or dislike the Yankees baseball team. He grew up playing baseball and had his sights set on someday becoming a Yankees player, specifically the shortstop position. That was his goal and desire and he worked hard to get there. After being drafted, he has never been traded to any other team and remains the shortstop but also the captain of the team.

Being the captain of the team is another level of responsibility outside of just playing the game. Players look up to the captain for advice, for strength and for leadership. Jeter commented on his role as the captain in saying, "I think what makes a good captain is leading by example. It's not about telling your teammates how to act, it's about setting a good example and a standard in the clubhouse and the field."

Jeter does just that. He is a classy, professional individual, respected by many. As leaders in a company - we must remember that people are watching how we lead and handle various issues and responsibilities so it's important to stop and think before reacting or speaking. It's something we must all continue to improve on daily and throughout our careers to 'lead by example' not just words.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Arrivederci!

I'm sure you've experienced it before or at the very least heard others make the comment after returning from a vacation how much work has piled up on their desk while they were out of town and was it really worthwhile going on vacation when they had to come back to such a huge workload and stress?

I am getting ready this week to go on vacation and have been preparing to get things done prior to leaving that would normally take place in those weeks. There are reports to write, data to analyze, updating employees on issues to cover in your absence, packing, cleaning, making sure all the flight and hotel reservations are in place, passports and books and apps to download for the trip and....

Then off I go for a little rest and relaxation having the time of my life. That's exactly what I intend to do and yes, it will all be worth it to me. To organize and complete tasks that need to be done prior to leaving and to come back to a stack of mail, hundreds of emails, voice mails and projects is all worth it. I enjoy taking time off to refresh my body and soul, to focus on something for a short period that takes me out of my normal routine and experience a part of the world and people I have yet to know.

The only work I will be doing while on vacation is writing a blog (hopefully daily provided I have no connection issues) and sharing with my readers a little about my trip and any experiences I think you may be interested in. So next Monday, I'll be writing from Rome.  Arrivederci!

Monday, March 22, 2010

First Woman CEO of a Fortune 500 Company

Katharine Meyer Graham was born in New York City on June 16, 1917, the fourth of five children. In 1933 her dad bought the Washington Post for $875,000 after he had retired. The reason he bought it was he wanted to have a voice in our country’s affairs. This paper became the capitol’s most influential paper. Katharine always had an interest in publishing as a student and worked on the student newspaper at Madeira and in the summers she worked for her dad at the Washington Post. A year after graduating she joined the editorial staff at the Post.

In 1940 she married Philip Graham, a Harvard Law graduate who later served in the Army during World War II. It was then she gave up her career of reporting and spent her time moving from base to base with Philip until he was sent overseas at which time she returned to the Post. In 1945 her husband began working at the post as an associate publisher and in 1948 Meyer entrusted the business to his son-in-law. Philip and Meyer built the business to success and acquired the Washington Times Herald in 1954 and Newsweek in 1961 for approximately $8-$15 million.

Then unfortunately in 1963 Philip shot himself and it was then that Katharine took over as president of the company. During her marriage to Philip she had devoted a lot of time to raising her daughter and 3 sons but always kept an interest in what was going on with the Post. But now she was taking over this incredible company ready or not. As she stated in her book, Personal History, "What I essentially did was to put one foot in front of the other, shut my eyes, and step off the edge".

Can you imagine being in her shoes? One day focusing primarily on your family having some knowledge of the business your husband ran and then the next taking over as president of the company in charge of everything? Certainly could be exciting and scary all at the same time. But having that courage to step into that role led her to becoming the first female CEO of a Fortune 500 company. When asked later about her success she said, "To love what you do and feel that it matters — how could anything be more fun?" She later died in 2001 from head injuries sustained from a fall on a sidewalk while attending a conference in Idaho.

Friday, March 19, 2010

A Good Laugh to Start Your Day

A friend of mine was telling me about her interviewing experience yesterday and I was laughing so hard. I think you'll enjoy her story as well. It will be a good way to start your day.

She had been to this organization a couple of times already interviewing with who could potentially be her new boss and the head of human resources along with others. They were very impressed with her (as they should be) and wanted her to come back and interview with the CEO and some other head honchos. When the day came, she decided to meet her husband for lunch before heading over to her mid-afternoon appointment. Even with lunch, she was running early so they both stopped in an antique store and she found some beautiful earrings and decided to purchase them. Then hugs and kisses for the husband and she was off to the interview.

She arrived in the parking lot but it was still too early to head inside so she decided to put on her new earrings and remove the old. She quickly looked into the rear view mirror to see how lovely they looked and called it a day. She proceeded to the building and was greeted once again by the receptionist, spent some time with the VP, met with a few others along the way and then interviewed with the CEO. After completing her interviews she left the building and headed home.

It wasn't until after spending over three hours talking to several people, that she was able to look into the mirror and noticed something was dangling from one of the earrings. Much to her surprise or horror, she realized the paper tag with the price for the earrings was prominently displayed next to the beautiful earring for all to see. And you may be asking, "What's the big deal if her hair covers most of the earring anyway?" Well, she has short hair with none available to cover. So, here she was with earrings and a price tag displayed for hours and not one person said anything - not even a "You have a string hanging next to your earring." Despite it all - I'm happy to say she was offered the job in the end and after mentioning it the VP and receptionist later - it made for a good laugh.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Bessie Coleman "Queen Bess"

Bessie Coleman earned her pilot's degree in 1921 in France. She was the world's first African American woman pilot. She grew up in Texas and was the 10th child of 13 in her family. She became interested in aviation through reading about it as a child. After graduating from high school she went to Chicago where two philanthropists both of African American descent mentored her.

She was denied admission to the American aviation schools because of her gender and race but she didn't give up and quit. She found another way to realize her dream of becoming a pilot. She learned French and then moved to France where she earned her international pilot's license in 1921 from a well respected organization called the Federation Aeronautique International.

She decided to come back to the U.S. and spent the next five years touring the states, giving exhibition flights and parachuting at airports. She refused to participate in any segregated events and hoped to someday open an aviation school for African Americans and teach them to fly. Unfortunately, she was not able to see that dream come to fruition. On April 30, 1926 during an exhibition flight she fell from the plane and died immediately. Today Queen Bess is honored annually by other African American pilots as they drop wreaths from the skies over her gravesite.

It's wonderful to read and learn about women who have accomplished goals and dreams and the challenges they faced in their era. Although many of the same challenges are no longer a roadblock for women today, we do continue to face numerous challenges in other areas with the hope that someday women will truly be 'equal' to men in opportunity and pay and to be seen as equals by their peers and managers.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Ellen Swallow Richards

Researching women as the 'first's' for Women's History Month has been fascinating. There are so many wonderful women that have contributed to our world in some many areas and have led the way for women worldwide. Ellen Swallow Richards is one of these women. She was the 'first' in so many areas.
She was born in 1842 and died in 1911.
  • Pioneered the field of Home  Economics
  • First woman admitted to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
  • First female instructor at the Institute
  • First woman in American accepted to any school of science and technology
  • First woman to earn a degree in chemistry
Her highest degree achieved was a Master of Arts from Vassar for a thesis on the chemical analysis of iron ore. From there she continued her studies for a doctoral degree at MIT, but the institution would not give this degree to a woman.

Ellen and Marion Talbot became the first initial "founding mothers" of the American Association of University Women (AAUW). Their idea was to have an organization in which women college graduates could come together for a common cause - opening doors for higher education and training to other women. Today there are over 100,000 members. This association has become an advocate for education and equity for all women and girls.

As I was reading about Ellen and all the studying she did and the thesis she wrote to be able to obtain her doctoral degree and then not be awarded the satisfaction of achievement must have been very disappointing to say the least. Could you imagine juggling all the responsibilities of today's working woman in hopes to receive a doctoral degree only to find out in the end you will not because of your gender? Thank goodness this would not take place today in 2010 but it's because of women like Ellen Swallow Richards that  made sure progress was made for women's equality.

Monday, March 15, 2010

"You're Fired"

Whether you watch the 'Apprentice' or not, you've probably heard Donald Trump speak the words, "You're Fired" to the contestants on his show. Last night was the first episode of the new season which included some very interesting people to say the least.

After the task was completed (men v. women) - they were all called into the boardroom to see which team brought in the most money and a member of the losing team would hear the words "You're Fired!". Unfortunately the women lost so one of them would be fired. Donald Trump proceeded to ask each of them who on their team should be fired and the women could/would not say. Each of them stated what a great job the team did in their task and could not pinpoint one person that would deserve to be fired.

Although Trump is a very outspoken person, he seemed to really be on one last night as he poked and prodded for an answer. You could tell he was getting a little irritated that no one would dare say there was a weak link in the group. The women repeatedly said everyone was trying hard to do a good job and therefore it was difficult to make that call. He responded that in life and business there are times when it just doesn't seem fair but a decision must be made.

I can certainly relate as many of you probably can when a tough decision must be made about letting someone go on your team. It's easier, not easy, when someone doesn't carry their own weight and doesn't try to do their best, but when someone tries their hardest and it still isn't enough, that's when it's most difficult to say goodbye. It's times like this as a manager when you feel life isn't fair because you like the individual as a person and you know they're probably doing their best, but unfortunately their best is still bringing the team down and not meeting the needs of the customer. Those times are tough times as a manager and last night the women were faced with that challenge and decision.

Friday, March 12, 2010

23 More Days...

Just 23 more days until opening season for baseball! I can't wait. A few years ago I had the opportunity to go to a spring training game in Orlando, Florida and watched the Yankees beat the Braves. It was very hot outside and the stadium was packed. People were sitting on towels and chairs on the grassy hill and lined up along the walkway behind the seats. Even though it was the Braves spring training field, the majority of fans were there to see the New York Yankees, just as I was. One of my favorite players is Derek Jeter as seen in the picture I snapped while at the game.

The crowd was cheering and fans everywhere were wearing their team's jersey. It was a packed house and the excitement of the fans for their team and for baseball to begin was exhilarating. This year I will not be attending any spring training games, but I hope to plan a trip with my best friend to see a game in the new Yankees stadium. For several years we were visiting a different ball park every year but we haven't for the last two so we are determined to start up our tradition again this year.

It's important to take time out for yourself, to relax and have some fun without thinking about work and family responsibilities. It allows your mind to refresh and your body to relax. I've always encouraged my employees over the years to take a vacation because I believe that everyone needs a break from the routine of work and our busy lives; it does wonders for the mind and soul. Whatever you enjoy whether baseball, beach or hiking - plan a trip this year to do something that you truly love. You'll be glad you did.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

"Where There's a Will, There's a Way"

I'm sure you've heard the saying, "Where there's a will, there's a way". I remember growing up hearing it as a young girl from my parents and I too have told my own children the same and still do today. When they tell me something cannot be done or they don't have time to do X or they don't have money to do Y - I remind them where there's a will, there's a way.

Such a simple saying but yet so powerful. It's easy to give up getting or doing something in life you want by saying it can't be done or coming up with a million excuses or reasons that would make it difficult to accomplish. Really what is being said is it's too hard to do it and I don't want it bad enough to figure out a way to make it happen. Vince Lombardi, the greatest football coach of all time said, "The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack of will."

He's exactly right. The successful person has the will to make things happen regardless of the obstacles ahead of them. Unfortunately so many give up before they get started because 'the will' takes work and self discipline and they are not willing to go through all that trouble. But don't be that person, be the person that reminds them self, "Where there is a will, there's a way."

Monday, March 8, 2010

Founder of Girl Scouts of America

Today I am highlighting the founder of Girl Scouts of America in honor of Women's History Month. Juliette Gordon Low officially started the organization in 1915 and held the title of president.

She was born in 1860 in Savannah, Georgia and was called "Daisy" by her friends and family. She was one of six children and during her teen years she attended boarding school in Virginia. After graduating she spent a great deal of her time traveling throughout the US and Europe.

In 1886 she married William Mackay Low, a wealthy Englishman and moved to England dividing her time in both England and the United States. After her husband died in 1905 she spent several years trying to figure out what she wanted to do in life. Then in 1911 she met the founder of Boy Scouts and Girl Guides and became very intrigued and involved in the new youth movement.

A year later she made a call to a friend and told them of her wonderful idea for all girls across the US and started the Girl Scouts of America; first known as the American Girl Guides. She signed up 18 girls in March of 1912. She brought girls of all backgrounds together to learn arts, business, out door activities and homemaking.  The original 18 members has grown to 3.7 million.

Juliette died of breast cancer in her home in 1927 in Savannah, Georgia. Since her death she has had a stamp in her honor, a World War II ship named after her, two schools named after her, inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame and a federal building also  named after her. She certainly was an incredible woman and it's nice to see that she has been honored and recognized for her work over the years.

Friday, March 5, 2010

In Memory of Ed Magee

It is with great sadness that I write my blog in memory of my friend Ed Magee. Yesterday afternoon I was informed of his death on Wednesday. When I was told the news, I just couldn't believe it as it was so sudden and so unexpected. My deepest thoughts and prayers go out to his wife, his family and all the many friends he has.

Ed was such a caring, thoughtful person - very devoted to his wife and to the organization he volunteered for - Operation Never Forget. It was through this non-profit that I met Ed a couple of years ago. This organization works with local cities to raise money for a bronze bust of a fallen soldier. The bust is  presented to the family with the community support and placed in a library, city hall or school in their memory to teach and remind others now and for years to come, the sacrifices these men and women made for our country and freedom.

My stepson died in Iraq in June of 2007 and I was working with Ed and this organization to have a bronze bust made of William. It was then Ed told me of his desire to have the soldiers name engraved on an outdoor memorial for all who died in Iraq or Afghanistan near the Tennessee State Capitol along side the memorials from past wars. Me, Ed and others were on a committee meeting with representatives to discuss the feasibility and plan a fundraiser to see his and others dream of honoring these fallen Tennessee soldiers come to fruition.

Thank you Ed for all you did for so many people and all the lives you touched in such a wonderful way including mine. I will miss you as will so many. You are now with our military men and women that you so deeply cared for even though you never knew them.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

First Woman to Appear Before the Supreme Court

With March being Women's History Month, I will highlight women throughout the month that have been part of our history and who have helped pave the way for the rest of us.

Belva Lockwood was the first woman admitted to appear before the Supreme Court in 1873. She was born in Niagara County, New York. She started teaching at the age of fifteen and married at nineteen. Soon after her husband died and she was left to support herself and her daughter.

She later moved to Washington, D.C. and remarried but it wasn't until she was almost forty years old that she decided to go to law school. Once she found a school that would accept her they were still reluctant to give the deserved diploma until she demanded that action be taken.

After five years of working on getting a bill through Congress, finally in 1879 Belva became the first women to practice law before the US Supreme Court. Her first case was a divorce that she won and not only did she win but it included the first case in history where the husband had to pay alimony.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Always do more...

"Always do more than you're paid to do, it ensures your future”
Coach Carter

I noticed this quote last night on the bottom of someone's email that was sent to me. There was a movie made about Coach Carter's life several years ago. If you haven't seen it I highly recommend it.

I've always been a believer that you should do more than what's expected of you. If you do, you'll stay ahead of the game, be productive and bring value to your organization. But it's not just in your career climbing that this applies to. It applies to everything you do in life.

You can also substitute the 'paid to do' for 'expected to do'. For example if you're a teenager and go to the neighbors to babysit and you're getting paid to watch the kids and put them to bed - don't stop there. Do what's expected of you and more. If there are dishes to do, go ahead and do them, if there are toys to put away then put them away, if there is trash to take out then do it.

Having an attitude of doing more than what’s expected of you and to teach your kids the same will instill great habits and work ethic. It will follow them the rest of their lives not only throughout their career when the lesson of 'doing more than what you're paid to do' will literally pay off in more ways than money itself.

Monday, March 1, 2010

March is Women's History Month

In 1987 Congress, at the request of the National Women's History Project, expanded National Women's Week to National Women's Month. The purpose behind this is to increase awareness and educate everyone on women's history; to take a moment to remember the contributions of not just notable women but ordinary women and what they have contributed to our country.

Some of my blogs throughout the month of March will recognize these women for their achievements so you too can learn more about them and share that knowledge with those around you. After all, that is the purpose of Women's History month; to learn more about incredible women and what they faced, overcame and how it contributed to history.