Thursday, December 31, 2009

Karen Handel for Governor

Do not mistake me for a Republican!

But I am, as Founder and Principal of Atlanta Women in Business, walking the walk, by expressing my support of Karen Handel’s candidacy for Governor of Georgia. It’s time, in this state, that we take another crack at breaking up the Good Old Boys Network under the Capitol dome.

I know first-hand, because she spoke about this at the 2006 conference of Atlanta Women in Business, that Karen supports business and the role of women in the business world; I know she is smart and committed, I regret that she is a “politician”, frankly, and I don’t care that she is a Republican (as long as no one thinks I am one!). Most of all, I am confident that she is the right person for the job!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

"Are You Ready For Christmas?"

If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a dozen times this week. “Are you ready for Christmas?” I don’t even know what that means. Does it mean that I’ve done all my gift-shopping, baked all my Christmas cookies, prepared my contribution to Christmas dinner – or at least bought the ingredients for it – decorated my home . . .? I don’t know.

Monday, at the supermarket, when I answered “no” in response to the young man who was at the cash register, he retorted with a: “Great; I’m not either and I don’t know if I will be before it’s come and gone.” That’s about the way I felt.

What I do know is this: tomorrow is Christmas -- the day Christians around the globe observe as the anniversary of the birth of Jesus of Nazareth (even though ample evidence exists that December 25 is NOT his birthday). It’s a religious holiday. Somewhere along the way, it became a gift-giving day. Not in the culture in which I grew up. We did not have a “Santa Claus”; we had a Saint Nicholas, and he came on the night on December 5, bearing gifts and oranges (because he came from Spain, the ‘country of oranges’, much as my native country, The Netherlands, is ‘the country of tulips’). Those were terrifying evenings, because Saint Nicholas was accompanied by an “admin”, named Zwarte Piet (“Black Peter”), a Moor (remember, Spain . . .!) who carried a bunch of twigs (to punish ‘bad’ boys and girls) and a satchel of coal (a ‘bad’ child’s dread of a substitute for a longed-for doll or train set or book or jigsaw puzzle).

Christmas’s meaning to me today is midnight mass, real candles on real Christmas trees, mulled wine, stollen or panettone, hot chocolate, family, no commercial gifts, friends like Sally, who just brought me a jar of red pepper jelly, and the young man at the grocery store who wasn’t any more “ready for Christmas” a few days ago than I was. I hope there is peace in his heart, and reflection on a historic event, as much as there is in mine. And yours.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 21, 2009

“Nice” is the Winner!

Natalie won and Russell did not, on Survivor Samoa. Good for her, and good for women everywhere who are often underestimated in their capabilities and overshadowed by overconfident men.

Russell’s strategy was to “do whatever it takes” to become the winner: betrayal, disloyalty, deceit, conniving. That’s how he figured he could not fail to win. Natalie, on the other hand, stuck to values of honesty and integrity, was thought of as a nice person, and beat the bully.

Russell’s strategy failed because he had apparently not taken into account that the people he had betrayed were going to be the ones casting the final votes. Oh, oh – if you are not nice to others, what incentive do you give them to support you when you are in a contest?

Sure, it was only a TV reality show, but here’s a lesson for us in the business world: treat others well, apply The Golden Rule.

You go, girl, Natalie!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Atlanta Politics

Lisa Borders, outgoing City Council Chair, endorsed Kasim Reed in the recent run-off to elect a new mayor, over Mary Norwood; she campaigned for him and stated in an interview that she thought her efforts had helped him get to victory. Fine. No problem.

But . . ., Ms. Borders sits on the Board of Directors of The White House Project, an organization that "aims to advance women’s leadership in all communities and sectors—up to the U.S. presidency—by filling the leadership pipeline with a richly diverse, critical mass of women."

If women do not want to support other women for leadership roles, I guess that's their business.

But if you don't want to walk the walk, I think you should refrain from talking the talk. Off that board, Ms. Borders!

Monday, December 14, 2009

American Women at the End of 2009

What a year it has been, and not just for women in general or in the business world in particular. If we look for THE story of the year, the inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States must be among the most prominent ones to choose from.

But this is a woman’s blog, and, in the spirit of the season, when everyone is proclaiming “The Man (or Person) of the Year”, I have chosen four women to highlight here. All dwell in or near the house of politics; two are admirable, the other two belong in the category I would call “The Ditherers, the Self-Servers and the Beholden”.

The woman at the top of my list of Admirable Women of 2009 is Michelle Obama. Without her, I have no doubt, we would not today have the president we do have. And, much as I would have liked seeing a woman in the White House in the number one spot, I think the current president is the best for our time. More though, Mrs. Obama’s life, far more than her husband’s, tells the American story at the beginning of the 21st century. Descendent from African slaves in the American south, her family tree includes a white slave owner; migration to the north brought the family opportunities not available in the south and a slave’s great-granddaughter is now the First Lady of the United States. That’s got to impress everyone who pays attention to American social history.

My second woman on this list is Senator Olympia Snow (R. Maine).

It is shameful that the United States does not have universal health care for its citizens. It is shameful that the Republicans in Congress are en bloc opposed to providing universal health care; Senator Snow is to be applauded for at least trying. Whatever bill comes out of Congress in the coming weeks, it will fall woefully short and is likely not to please anyone (except “the special interests”) and there is plenty of shame to spread around. But at least Senator Snow, as the sole Republican, tried.

And that brings me to my two least admired women of 2009: Senators Mary Landrieu (D. Louisiana) and Blanche Lincoln (D. Arkansas), both of whom have spoken out against the bill currently being considered in Congress. Why do they hold this position? Louisiana and Arkansas are among the poorest states in the country. I don’t think I am going too far out on a limb when I say that every day someone dies in these states as a result of inadequate health care accessibility.

Ms. Landrieu, according to Open Secrets, has sponsored or co-sponsored 190 earmarks, totaling $395,199,063 in fiscal year 2009, ranking 6th out of 100 senators.

Ms. Lincoln, it seems, has been less greedy (she has also been in the Senate shorter than Ms. Landrieu has)’ she had sponsored or co-sponsored 115 earmarks totaling $221,902,125 in fiscal year 2009, ranking 26th out of 100 senators.

To whom are they beholden? From whom are they expecting the cash that will fund their re-election campaigns? According to a report from The Heritage Foundation, Congress has approved 11,914 earmarks for 2009, totaling $28.9 billion. What are earmarks anyway, if not a “prime the pump” kitty for re-election campaigns?

Maybe I should add a third woman to this list of least admired women of 2009: Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the House of Representatives. Isn’t she the one who promised “the cleanest, most transparent Congress ever”? Whatever happened to that idea?
As usual, there is plenty of shame to go around in Washington; I find it painful to see it personified by women who ought to know better.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Tiger & The Tabloids

On November 30, it was just a minor blip on the PR radar screen: Tiger Woods had had a car crash – on his own or a neighbor’s property yet! – and instead of ‘fessing up to a row with his wife, he called it “a private matter”, thinking it would fool us all. Well, now we KNOW why he wanted to keep it “private”. Apart from feeling awful for his wife and their tiny children, I frankly don’t care how many affairs the man has had, but here we have yet another hero with feet of clay, thinking he is exempt from the laws of social behavior.

In today’s world, we all live in glass houses. Nothing is private anymore; any secrets you wish to keep will be revealed in cyberspace by someone else, at warp speed.

So, is Tiger naïve, arrogant, stupid, delusional? Yes.

Rarely before has the foundation of PR been more evident: if you don’t control the message, someone else will, and you may not like the result.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Bombs in Baghdad

Yesterday’s report of more horrendous violence in Baghdad gave me a greater sense of dread than at any time before since a friend of mine returned home there more than a year and a half ago.

She and her family are physically O.K., but this one did come close. This is what she wrote:

"Simultaneously, five huge car bombings exploded at five different zones in Baghdad. One of these occurred in our neighborhood, just two hundred meters (650 feet) away from my house. I was cleaning the kitchen and all of the sudden I felt like the house collapsed on my head. The window's glasses were broken, etc.

There is a school very close to my house. At the moment the explosion occurred, many students were entering and others are leaving the main gate and you can imagine what happened to them.

Legs, arms, other parts of human bodies were thrown here and there. Hundreds of innocents faced their destiny yesterday and others are on the waiting list since the wheels of killing and death are moving very fast in Iraq.

I feel very bad, hopeless, and scared; not from the death itself because this is the normal end for everyone but from the way the Iraqis are loosing their lives.

How many students and kids killed or extremely injured? Why? Till this moment the total number of yesterday’s bloody events is around one thousand persons, still many lying beneath the collapsed buildings and others inside the burned cars……….. Wow, wow, it is unbelievable.

I wish if I can find a job faraway and get out of this hell. I am so sorry for this unpleasant news but I have nothing promising, this is the scenario of the daily life in Iraq since 2003."

Friday, December 4, 2009


Utah is, according to LiveScience, the happiest state in the country. Why? A dominant religion? A sparse population? Wonderful ski slopes? Breathtaking panoramas? Who is to say what is causing all this happiness?

Georgia comes in at 23 out of 50, not too bad, considering that only two Southern states (marginally "Southern"), Maryland and Virginia, do better at happiness than we do. Who would have thought that North and South Carolinians, Tennesseans and Floridians are less happy than we are? Alabamians - not a surprise!

If you had ever thought of leaving the peach state and moving to Oregon, check out Colorado instead. They, respectively, come in at 18 and 4 on this happiness scale. It must be those ski slopes! :-)

Check the list out for yourself: