Friday, September 25, 2009

Northeast Georgia Business Women

Last night, about 20 Northeast Georgia businesswomen got together for drinks and networking in Athens. These are the "early birds", arriving in time to get a picture taken. Top row, from left to right: Debra Helwig, Lori Randall, LuAnn Brown, Carol Whiteley, me; bottom row - Sue Lawrence on the left and Sharna Fulton on the right.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Do you prefer to communicate by phone or e-mail?

What you prefer is not so important. It’s what your customers/clients prefer that matters. But they have a responsibility also, not just a preference.

I have a client who clearly prefers telephone contact, but it’s not working very well. She will call and leave a message – not about the reason for her call, but simply: “This is Louise; please call me back.” I call her back. She does not answer the phone, so I leave a message: “Hi, Louise, this is Lya Sorano, returning your call. Do call me again!”

She does not call. I call her again the next day: “Louise, hi – this is Lya Sorano, still trying to return your call from yesterday. Do call again, or if e-mail works for you, please send me your question or information and I will respond to it.” She still does not call back and she does not send an e-mail. I do not return the call a third time. I may lose the client; she may fire me, because I am often unable to answer the phone when she calls, or I may fire her, because she never leaves a meaningful message, calls again or sends an e-mail.

How is this phone vs. e-mail practice working for you?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Smarter Planet

I am going to IBM's "Smarter Planet" event in November. One of the topic sections that caught my eye immediately was "Education in the 21st Century". It has long been a soapbox issue for me, especially when it comes to women in the workplace, that education and employment go hand-in-hand and that the minute we stop learning is the minute we become less employable.

So, IBM's attention to this will be of interest to me and I will share with you in due course what I learn about this topic at this event.

IBM = technology, of course, and the company has long been on the cutting edge. Perhaps no surprise, thus, that on October 7, President Barack Obama will award IBM the National Medal of Technology and Innovation for its work on the Blue Gene family of supercomputers. The award is the most prestigious of its kind in the United States, and IBM is the only company recognized this year.

Congratulations to IBM and all my friends and relatives who work there!

Saturday, September 19, 2009


If the President of the United States, in an off-the-record comment, wants to call a jackass a jackass, as he did the other day in a comment about Kanye West’s insult to Taylor Swift at the MTV Video Music Awards, he should be perfectly free to do that without some media jockey jumping all over him.

It used to be that Presidents could do all sorts of unacceptable things, such as carrying on extra-marital affairs (Kennedy), without the press uttering a peep. These days . . .? Even an insignificant, flip, off-the-record comment seems to be fair game - shamefully.

Reminder to the news media: even the President of the United States deserves to have a life and “off-the-record” is exactly that. Go find some real news to report.

Monday, September 7, 2009


Here, at home in the United Sates, friends often comment on my “European attitudes, while my European relatives and friends scold me for having become “so Americanized”. One can’t win for losing . . . .!

There have been times of impatience and embarrassment in the past several decades. I’ve been impatient with the European resistance to new marketing or management ideas, and demonstrated little tolerance for the business and career obstacles women in “The Old World” face. On the other side, however, I’ve suffered some moments of embarrassment. Such as when I tried to explain to a cousin how it was possible for my new home state to have a segregationist (Lester Maddox) as governor, years after the passage of the Civil Rights Act. Or when I traveled in Italy, Switzerland and France in 1998 and was confronted everywhere with questions about the impeachment of President Bill Clinton, each of them ending with: “Have you Americans all gone mad?”

I’m in another embarrassing moment now.

President Obama will deliver a speech about education tomorrow, directed to American K-12 students. Many parents have objected and told their school administration systems they do not wish their children to hear or see it; some are threatening to keep their children home. Why? Because they are afraid it will be a political speech, inconsistent with their “values”, they say. There is already talk in the blogosphere of an “opposition speech”, from the other side of the political divide. Who is opposed to education, studying more, working hard, turning the TV off and leaving the video games on the shelf?

Well, that’s not really the point here, is it? Those parents opposed to their children listening to President Obama’s speech tomorrow do not really quibble with the message. They just don’t like the messenger. Too bad; he is the perfect example of someone who did not have such a terrific start in life and made it to the top. That’s the American way.