Friday, September 9, 2011

Women, Education, Ensuring the Future

The 35th annual dinner of the Jeannette Rankin Women’s Scholarship Fund was a delightful affair last night. To begin with, I had the best seat in the house, between keynote speaker Elizabeth Kiss, President of Agnes Scott College, and Barbara Dixon, JRF’s first scholarship awardee.

Barbara, a widow with two daughters, decided to go back to school and become a nurse after caring for her husband in the hospital and at home, prior to his death. The Jeannette Rankin Women’s Scholarship Fund (then still known as the Jeannette Rankin Foundation) made it possible. Now retired, Barbara had a long, rewarding career as a nurse, was able to send her children to college (they are now nurses themselves!) and is actively supporting her family’s third generation of college students.

Elizabeth focused, needless to say, on the importance of education for women – education not only makes their lives better, but also the lives of their family members (see Barbara Dixon’s story!) and their communities. Her “homework” for the audience: call your representative in Congress and tell him/her not to let the Pell grant for low-income students disappear.

Dear to my heart, she also mentioned equality for women, which seems still so far, far away. And, of course, she mentioned the intrepid Jeannette Rankin in her speech, without whose $16,000 estate gift in 1976 thousands of women across the United States would not have had their chance at an education and a meaningful career.

One of these scholars sat at our table also, last night, and gave the dinner’s customary scholar’s speech. Patricia Garcia is now a hydrogeologist, has worked in Mexico, Nepal and West Africa, and teaches earth science at Utah Valley University. The chain continues . . ., from Barbara Dixon to Patricia Garcia, to many beyond the room we were in last night and the years across which the organization has done its commendable work, to the future. On to the next 35 years!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Green Jobs: Greener Pay

It used to be that a Georgia high school graduate could find a decent job – in retail, construction, or even banking. Those days are long gone (although just last year a well-known businessman in South Georgia was heard saying that he had done well enough for himself, thank you very much, with a high school diploma and he saw no need for his son to go to college – really!) – and even that college degree we now know everyone needs is no longer enough. Specialization is required, expertise, a niche, an area of deep knowledge, coupled with interest, curiosity, dedication and commitment.

This is particularly true in technical and scientific fields. No one becomes a robotics expert without it, NASA still needs aerospace engineers, and the renewable energy fields thirst for it. Whether it’s building and running Georgia’s next biomass plant, constructing and operating a wind farm in the North Sea, or installing India’s largest photovoltaic field, the jobs are there, talent is in demand and salaries are getting greener by the year.

According to Simply Hired, the average renewable energy job in August 2011 paid $61,000. That compares with averages of $49,000 for a loan specialist and $42,000 for a retail store manager. Salaries for environmental engineers are typically above $75,000, and way back in 2008 supply chain / logistics jobs paid $109,000 and more to professionals with a master’s degree.

According to Bernard Vanderlande, Managing Partner of Tula International, a local retained executive search and talent acquisition firm that specializes in renewable energy industries, a scarcity of experienced leaders is driving competition in the sectors, resulting in higher compensation and greater benefits.

The son of the man in South Georgia who believes a college education is not that important will no longer be able to find a job pumping gas; he may find one harvesting trees for a biomass plant at $8 to $12 an hour. His classmate who is heading for MIT, meanwhile, has his sights set on that six-figure paycheck. Greener pay for green jobs -- education makes the difference.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Vive la diffėrence? Not in this case!

Let me say up front that I believe Nafissatou Diallo. That, despite the fact that I also believe she probably embellished her immigration story. When you are fleeing for your life, I don’t think it’s so unusual to tell a tale you think your potential rescuers want to hear before they will help you.

But did she lie about being sexually assaulted by Dominique Strauss-Kahn in that NY hotel room last May? Hell, no!

Something happened. That is clear. She called it rape and he called it “consensual”. The prosecutors had to acknowledge that “something sexual had occurred”, because a DNA test concluded that it was his semen on her clothes. But they cannot take the case to trial, they now say, because Nafissatou Diallo had been caught in earlier lies, e.g. her petition for U.S. asylum. Ha!

Once a liar, always a liar? Hardly!

Let’s have a reverie for a minute and assume he is right. They had sex, because they both wanted to have sex. Dominique Strauss-Kahn and Nafissatou Diallo. Now that’s an odd couple (-ling), isn’t it? One of the most powerful men in the world takes a besotted, not-to-be-denied fantasy to a lowly hotel maid? When instead he could have . . .? Well, you get my drift. And she, at that same serendipitous moment, develops a twinkle-in-the-eye animal instinct for him?

My aunt Johanna, who was afraid that my perpetual reading would lead to no good, often admonished me with: “Real life is not like that!”


If she, Nafissatou, is the kind of person the district attorney now says she is, after earlier talking about her “compelling story with powerful details” and concurring with the investigators finding her “credible”, I bet you money that money would have exchanged hands. You don’t think that this powerful, rich man, who had paid, what, $3,000 a night for the hotel room he was about to vacate, would not have slipped her a few hundreds after the “consensual” deed had been done? And she, with that eye twinkle still present, would have taken the bus home with bills in her pocket and kept silent – or maybe secretively told a girl friend later that night? That one can image as “real life”. But that’s not, I believe, what happened.

The differences here are powerful, wealthy, white men (the accused and the district attorney) on one side, and a poor, black, female menial worker on the other. If anyone ever needed an example of a stacked deck . . ., here it is! How awful, in 21st century America. Are we still that primitive, this ruthless and so class distinctive?

I hope the jury that will hear the civil case will draw the right conclusion (semen: his, on clothes: hers – what more is there to say?).

Memo to Anne Sinclair: divorce him. He not only did “something sexual” with Nafissatou Diallo, he also made you look like an idiot. It’s over. You’ve done your “job” – stood by your man. Get on with your life.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

When Women Build Community

It’s not even 5 months since Atlanta Social Media Women came into being (its Facebook group has 65 members as of today – “by invitation only”) and already it has the characteristics of a community. We share, empathize, brainstorm, support and encourage.

Women, it has often been said, are good at building networks but then they don’t know what to do with them. ASMW is the group that proves that notion wrong.

Why does this group work where others have not? It may well be its diversity – in ages, in business niches, in global experiences, in interests and areas of expertise. And it’s the Social Media phenomenon that provides the glue. If we formed a company . . ., imagine what we could accomplish!

Over the past few months, I have written a few paragraphs now and then about one or more members of the group. Let me not change that habit today. I’d like to shine a bit of a spotlight on Judi Knight, who owns New Tricks, a Design, Blogs & Social Network Marketing enterprise she runs from her home on Krog Street. Since we only just met yesterday and do not yet know each other (I learned that she builds houses and started a software company she sold some time ago, plus owns a loft B&B – definitely an entrepreneur with many interests and capabilities!), I can only give you an impression (sincere person, who knows her stuff) and further refer you to her web site, which I imagine you will like.

Now we look forward to building a tribe in Triberr (thanks, Desiree Colonna Scales!), and to meeting up in Kennesaw next month for the Social Media Integration conference.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Hiring a Consultant – Yes? No?

Volumes have been written about the pros and cons of hiring a consultant. Among the pros: get an extra brain. Among the cons: it’s expensive.

Perhaps the most overlooked very good reason for hiring a consultant is that nobody – really, nobody! – inside the enterprise today has time to take on yet another task.

Whether it is the launch of a new product, the revamp of a web site, the analysis of a recently acquired business unit, the replacement of a C-Suite leader, the exploration of a new market . . ., do you have time? Does one of your VPs? Maybe your secretary can do something with that web site. Or your HR benefits generalist has contacts that can help you find a new COO or CFO. Yeah, right!

Productivity is on the rise. That means that we all work harder, for longer hours, to deliver more results. It also means that we are so thinly stretched that taking on yet another task is out of the question. Unless we want to stumble along for a while and finally settle for a less than optimal result.

Today’s savvy Chairmen, CEOs and Presidents know that getting a hired gun on board – with expertise, experience and recommendations, of course – is the way to go. It saves time. It saves money. It delivers results. It burnishes the bottom line.

We have some recommendations for you . . .

* Sales
* Image & Etiquette
* Executive HR
* Marketing & PR (you saw that one coming, didn't you . . .? :-))

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

U.S. Investments and Jobs in Renewable Energy

Both private and public investments in renewable energy continue to increase in the United States, but the question has been raised if it is enough.

In order for the U.S. to claim a world leadership position in renewable energy, CEDA is one of the “must” items on our national To Do List.

The entire piece, with pertinent links, will appear in Atlanta Daybook later this week.

Friday, August 5, 2011

I Can Do Boring!

It always amazes me that so many people want to look like, sound like, and otherwise come across like everybody else.

A recent client did not want to have it mentioned in his bio that he was passionate about his industry because, he said, his was an industry without passion. Really? Maybe he ought to shake things up a bit.

Even more recently, another client who was given a bit of “edge” in her profile told me she was too conservative, pragmatic and collaborative in nature for this. But she was interested in what she referred to “catchy phrases” . . . team player, results oriented, respected professional, highly motivated.


But, in the spirit of the customer being king, if a client insists . . ., I can do “boring”!

Still, if you want to make an impact in a job search or a vendor application, or if you want to be a conference’s next keynote speaker or get the attention of a talk show’s booker . . ., “boring” is probably not going to do it for you.

Find your uniqueness and dare to stand out!

Friday, July 29, 2011

How important is your blog?

I continue to have some difficulties with clients who do not understand that their blog is more important than their web site and that said blog should be the hub of all their social media activity.

The San Francisco blogger who landed on the front page of the Financial Times would probably not have received that distinction, no matter how badly her house had been vandalized, if it had not been for the fact that she named the private home rental company in a post about her horrible experience. It so happened that the company is in the middle of attracting millions in new investment and search engines being what they are . . ., the blogger’s post popped up!

That’s where you need to be, dear client! No, not with a vandalized home and not even necessarily in the Financial Times (although one could do worse!), but on the first page of a Google search. Your blog is far more likely to get you there than your web site.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Saturdays Are For Art

At least that’s what it’s beginning to look like.

Much of last Saturday was spent at Lakemont Village (Lakemont Gallery and the Libby Matthews Gallery), followed by a brief stop at Mark of the Potter.

Today – and I’m still a bit dizzy of the experience – I was at Galleree Shirlee, where Lisa Frank not only showed a friend and me much of her late mother’s collection, but also gave us a tour of her garden. It’s hard to say which is more impressive. I have never before seen such a collection of plants (for the most part deep-shade) in a private garden. The art’s advantage over the garden is that it is for sale.

The web address is being given with some hesitation, as I have already picked out my “favorites” and would regret to find out they are all sold before I have a chance to go back and make my own purchase.

I hope Shirlee Frank had a happy, fulfilling life. She certainly has left a legacy that will give pleasure to many she never met.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


I’ve been invited to a luncheon discussion of “Does LinkedIn Have Any Value?” and I’m not going. The answer is a resounding “yes”, and I have proof! Of the people whose LinkedIn profiles I have written the past few months, two recent graduates immediately got their dream jobs in high-profile multi-national companies (the clients are multi-lingual and had international internship experiences), a third got a fabulous opportunity abroad (she and her family are moving this summer), and a fourth got the promotion he had hoped for (and is also moving overseas).

Bottom line: An optimal LinkedIn profile may not get you the job you want, but having an inadequate profile can be an obstacle. And, “international” is an important component of a career path, from entry-level to the C-Suite.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Of Debts and Budgets

Bob Schieffer, an old journalist from the days when journalists were still objective, had an excellent comment today on Face the Nation. Since members of Congress need to raise millions of dollars to enter and stay in office, consuming nearly all their time, it’s logical that those who seek to become our representatives are good at raising money (and making promises to those who give them that money). Are they also good at negotiating, compromising, governing, being true public servants? Not so much, it seems. All that requires a different skill set.

The Congress of the United States needs to de-couple two issues the Republicans seem to be coming close to persuading the public belong together.

One issue is raising the debt ceiling. It must be done. And soon. Very, very soon! The idea that this country could become the next Greece two weeks from now is shocking beyond belief.

The other is adjusting the budget. There is no doubt that this country is spending too much money. Two wars (Afghanistan and Iraq) and another military undertaking (Libya)? Subsidies to farmers who grow corn or raise pigs? Wealthy industries that drill for oil or shave tops off mountains? American companies that do not pay taxes on extra-border earnings? It’s all too revolting to contemplate. But it must be dealt with and the sooner the better – after the debt ceiling has been raised and we can – at least for a little while again – stop living on the sharp point of the needle.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Infomercials and Advertorials – a Purist’s Nightmare.

I remember the days when Publishing and Editorial had a firewall between them. A publication had a “publisher”, the guy (not often a woman, right?), who looked after the revenue and made sure the income was greater than the outgo, and an “editor” (more frequently a woman), whose job it was to hire great writers who delivered great content (often for very little money). And the twain were never supposed to meet.

Those were “the olden days” of the publishing world and I miss them.

Today, I am reading the August 2011 issue of Vanity Fair – good writing, interesting topics, and beautiful ads. Somewhere in the first half of the 150 pages starts an article about Groupon. Right in the middle of it is “a supplement from Vanity Fair and W I R E D”, a splendid piece about Facebook by Henry Alford. That is introduced, flanked and followed (all within 6 pages) by a gadget ad.

So, what is a purist to make of this? An ad accompanying an opinion piece that forms the heart of a – what? Maybe it’s all best described by Groupon CEO Andrew Mason: “We want to become weirder.” I think the future has already arrived; it does not need to be poked.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Ideal Clients

Do you have an image of your ideal client? And do you, in fact, have such a client in your portfolio now?

I’ve got to confess that I have two ideal clients at the moment (one for over a decade and the other for several years) + a plethora of occasional clients, all very dear, especially those who ask me to help them write their biographies and optimize their LinkedIn profiles. You do have a LinkedIn profile, don’t you? If “professional” is a description of you, you not only need that LI profile, but you also have to use it. LinkedIn did not create this platform just for fun and games. Happy to help, if assistance is needed!

But let me get back to that ideal client. There is one such client missing in my portfolio at this point in time and I am thus reaching out to you to help me find him (it is almost certainly going to be a “him”, although a “her” would be welcomed with equal enthusiasm).

My additional ideal client is . . . .

A landscaper.
A landscape architect or designer.
Someone who owns a horticulture business.
A plantsman/woman – grower, wholesaler, nursery owner.
Someone who cares about the environment.
A person who honors the land.
An environmentalist.
Someone who writes garden books, gives talks about gardening or the environment, or wants to.
A community garden advocate.
The guy who cuts your grass every week.

Well, you’ve got the idea! If it’s got to do with plants, the environment and sustainable land use, I’m in! Will I hear back from you?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The “Best of the Blogs” – Really?

So, I knew, when I saw this title, that I had an “industry focus” (commercial real estate) newspaper section in my hands and I was thus not expecting blogs about teacups, South African safaris, kale farming, Norwegian fjords or peanut butter sandwiches.

But, come on now – this is what the top commercial real estate professionals in Atlanta blog about?

First of all, there is only one woman among the top 10. And her post is a promo for Publix supermarkets. No problem with Publix – I shop there all the time – but couldn’t it have been more topical (curbside shopping) and less commercial?

The bottom of the “top ten” – that very last number ten – had had the most page views (2,084, after its April 4, 2011 posting) and was the only one that interested me: “How Atlanta looks to the world”. But I immediately disagreed with a major premise: “Visionary leadership that has planned and prepared the area for growth” . . . Really? Any day now, when I look in the dictionary for a definition of “sprawl”, I expect to see “Atlanta” and little else.

Seriously, when I was more interested and involved in “international” than I am today, my global interlocutors who were weighing Atlanta as a site for their U.S. headquarters and ended up on the negative side uniformly cited two problems they saw: traffic and education. Traffic (read: “sprawl”), in the past two decades, has not improved. And education? Well, we now have that debacle in black and white also.

Anyone remember Atlanta’s plans for the Secretariat of the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA)? Traffic and education killed that dream.

Getting back to blogs – if they don’t inform, entertain and engage, who needs them? Industry focus or not.

When you blog . . . (three cardinal rules):

Your readers will have to become convinced that you know what you’re talking about (or they won’t come back for more).

Your readers will have to become convinced that your motives are pure, that you want to inform (a new tomato sauce recipe, review of a new tech gadget you have tried and like), entertain (make them laugh, or at least smile and nod their heads), and engage (your readers become aware that you truly care about them and want to hear back from them); if your motivation is to sell . . ., you’re losing readers!

Write clearly and with conviction, with proper grammar, spelling, punctuation and syntax and without hype, jargon, self-promotion, clichés or verbosity.

That’s all! See how easy it is?

Thursday, June 30, 2011

That was coffee?

Now that I am writing about food, I am reminded of yesterday’s breakfast meeting at IHOP.

No food surprises – pancakes with warm syrup, eggs, bacon: all as expected at a fast-food restaurant that specializes in breakfast and has “pancakes” in its name. And, at $6, the price was right.

But the coffee? Was it really coffee? And it cost $2? Oh, my! If, like me, you find it difficult to pass a Starbucks without stopping – and where you can get a wonderful coffee for $1.50 -- my advice to you is to skip the IHOP “coffee”. Next time I go, it will be water for me!

Lunch / Review

Park Café, Duluth, Georgia

Plusses: Quaint house in quaint downtown setting, friendly waitress, food.
Minuses: Traffic/parking, host, food, prices.

I am going to give Park Café three stars after having lunched there today with a guest.

The host was unfriendly, intimating it would have been better if we had had reservations – not a bad point, considering that the place rapidly filled up – and we were then given the worst table in the place, until we asked for a different one, which the waitress cheerfully made available.

My food choice was fried green tomatoes. Having enjoyed them elsewhere with goat cheese and remoulade, I was intrigued by the description (“warm brie, candied pecans, bacon balsamic emulsion”) and it took me a few bites before I began to enjoy the meal. The tomatoes were perfectly fried (topped by a few spinach leaves – what was that all about?), the pecans were nice and the emulsion “sold” the dish. The bits in it may have been bacon, or carrot, or pepper or (red) tomato: impossible to tell. The brie was missing, so I’ll never know what it might have contributed to the taste.

My guest had the fried shrimp po-boy, with a side of fresh fruit (melon, I think), which she said she enjoyed. To my eye, it looked a little, well, “po”.

All in all, this, a first visit for both my guest and myself, was not a bad experience, but $30+ for two (including one iced tea, one water, and no coffee or dessert) is too expensive for a middle of the week casual business lunch. Also, each item was $1 more than published on the establishment’s web site. Also “po”!

I tried to post this on Yelp!, but the effort failed.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Where Are You At?

A local acquaintance, a Northerner married to a Southerner, once told me that during the first few years of residence in Atlanta, she often got lost on area roads and by-ways, necessitating a phone call to her husband, who would invariably ask her to tell him where she was “at”. “Where are you at?”, he would ask – or, more precisely, “Wear-yat?”

“What’s that all about,” she asked me, “that ‘at’?” I told her it was part of that renowned Southern charm, but don’t think she bought it.

I was reminded of that conversation this morning, when I opened the newspaper. The paper that arrives in my driveway six mornings a week is a publication I subscribe to in major part for its language. It is very well written, with the British syntaxes I learned to appreciate when I lived in England.

One story I enjoyed reading this morning is about a brighter employment outlook for new MBAs. Then my eyes were drawn to a graphic at the bottom of the page, that documented research among 2007 MBA graduates. One graph stated that the research had been conducted in “85 different countries survey respondents were based in”, while another explained it had involved “153 different business schools worldwide where alumni studied at”. “In”? “At”? I’m not used to seeing dangling prepositions in my newspaper! What’s that all about?

Anyway, I trust my readers know their grammar better than this, no matter where they’re “at”. :-)

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Women Supporting Women - Not!

It was a revelation to me, a few decades ago, when it began to dawn on me that women do not support other women in the business world. The past almost-20-years at the helm of Atlanta Women in Business have provided ample proof (they have also provided some wonderful contradictions of the phenomenon).

So, now I am reading Leslie Grossman's blog post about a conversation between Gloria Steinem and Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo and find out that women do not support each other in religious institutions either! Women who have money to give to religious institutions would rather give it to those led by men than those led by women?

Most of my clients, as those who are familiar with my business know, are men. On a daily basis, I observe men recommending other men for jobs, connecting them with experts whose services they need, giving them networking tips, following up with them - even years later - when a relevant issue emerges. Women? Not so much. What's wrong with us?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Oh, those Congressmen!

And Senators, Governors and other public servants.

Some of them seem to be confused about the meaning of “service”. And not too tech savvy.

Here’s the latest one with a scandal – the guy from New York, who e-mailed pictures of himself in his underwear to women around the country. Did he not have anything better to do? Didn’t his constituents expect “service” from him, when they elected him? And then he lied about it – computer was hacked, it was not he who had sent the pictures and he was not sure if the images were his. Who did he think would believe this? And how loyal or tight-lipped did he think these women were?

Here in Georgia we had a Congressman a decade or two ago, who served his wife divorce papers in the hospital, where she was recovering from cancer treatment. He then married the woman with whom he had been having an affair, only to cheat on her, divorce her and marry wife number three. Now he wants to be President. Yes, of the United States.

John Edwards disappointed me. I truly thought he was Presidential material, and, boy, did he blow it! What was he thinking?

The craziest, somewhat hilarious example of public-servant-gone-astray is the South Carolina governor whose staff said he was out of communication because he was walking the Appalachian Trail. In truth, he was in Argentina with his lover. Not funny for his wife or children, or for the people of the State of South Carolina for that matter, but his post-discovery press conference was a doozy.

Would the people of California have elected “The Governator”, I wonder, if they had known about his “love child”? This is an odd term, anyway; very old-fashioned. But I guess “lust child” is an impolite term. Never understood what his wife saw in him to begin with, but some women have a knack for falling for totally unsuitable guys.

Will Weiner, who took “full responsibility” yesterday and said he would not resign, last out the week? My money is on “no” – but I could be wrong.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Some Women . . . .

 . . .  can come across as women’s worst enemies when it comes to support for each other.

I watched a few minutes of The View this morning and could not believe Barbara Walters talking about Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s arrest for sexual assault as a matter of “sexual addiction”. Come on now! How can rape be excused as a symptom of an addition? Does she want to put us back into the stone ages, when men taking advantage of women was common and tolerated?

Joy Behar and Elisabeth Hasselbeck were more astute in their observations, with the former applauding the victim for coming forward (not an insignificant step for a hotel maid to take against one of the most powerful men in the world!) and the latter trying to get a word in edge-wise and correctly identifying “power abuse with impunity” as the issue to focus on.

Barbara Walters may well have interviewed this man more than once, may have a social relationship with him, but let me tell you this, “Baba Wawa”, a rape is a rape and any woman who tries to smooth it over is no friend of other women.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

New 'Trends' in the Bathroom?

I received an invitation to tour a “consumer goods” factory and was curious enough to look the company up on LinkedIn. This is what I found:

>>>>> Since 1901, (company), based in (City, Country), has brought forward innovations that time and again have set new trends in the bathroom and created new standards in the international bathroom industry. <<<<<

I could not help but laugh! This is what happens when languages are not adapted to markets and translations are done by employees who know the words but lack the localization skills.

Too funny! But I do not believe for a moment that the company meant to be funny.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Civility in the Workplace

I can't wait for May 26! That's when Peggy Parks will give a luncheon presentation about Civility in the Workplace.

This is not something she just thought about one day while driving around town, having a conversation with her husband, or scheduling a meeting with a client; it has been a life-long passion of hers. And society is finally catching on!

Last year, she received the "Civility Star" award from the Association of Image Consultants International, and just the other day, she accepted the City of Atlanta's proclamation that announced May as "Civility Awareness Month".

Influencer Communications

AOL and Bovitz split us who are female Internet users up into these categories:

  • Social Expressionista 
  • Alpha Trendsetter
  • Shopsessive 
  • Momcentric
  • Businesswired
  • Intelligentle
  • Spiritual Provider
Which describes you best?


Sunday, May 1, 2011

Tornado Aftermath

It’s the small parts . . .

Had to call AT&T on Friday for an account change, which took more than 30 minutes and was accompanied by many apologies. Long delays caused by numerous calls from tornado-stricken cities and towns – when you no longer have a house, you no longer need your home phone account. One of those things you don’t think about – how can you, when you see all that devastation? But, surely, it’s those small details that grab you and make your heart pour out its empathy to those much less fortunate than you.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

How To Fix Congress: Pass the 28th Amendment!

I am not a fan of term limits (much prefer an educated electorate, who will "send the bums home" regularly), but there is enough good stuff in an e-mail I received from a friend this morning that it's worth my readers' attention. So, here goes:

The 26th amendment (granting the right to vote for 18 year-olds) took only 3 months & 8 days to be ratified! Why? Simple! The people demanded it. That was in 1971...before computers, before e-mail, before cell phones, etc.

Of the 27 amendments to the Constitution, seven (7) took 1 year or less to become the law of the land...all because of public pressure.

I'm asking each addressee to forward this email to a minimum of twenty people on their address list; in turn ask each of those to do likewise.

In three days, most people in The United States of America will have the message. This is one idea that really should be passed around.

Congressional Reform Act of 2011 --

1. Term Limits. 12 years only, one of the possible options below..

A. Two Six-year Senate terms
B. Six Two-year House terms
C. One Six-year Senate term and three Two-Year House terms

2. No Tenure / No Pension. A Congressman collects a salary while in office and receives no pay when they are out of office.

3. Congress (past, present & future) participates in Social Security.

All funds in the Congressional retirement fund move to the Social Security system immediately. All future funds flow into the Social Security system, and Congress participates with the American people.

4. Congress can purchase their own retirement plan, just as all Americans do.

5. Congress will no longer vote themselves a pay raise. Congressional pay will rise by the lower of CPI or 3%.

6. Congress loses their current health care system and participates in the same health care system as the American people.

7. Congress must equally abide by all laws they impose on the American people.

8. All contracts with past and present Congressmen are void effective 10-1-11

The American people did not make this contract with Congressmen. Congressmen made all these contracts for themselves.

Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career. The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, so ours should serve their term(s), then go home and back to work.

If each person contacts a minimum of twenty people then it will only take three days for most people (in the U.S. ) to receive the message. Maybe it is time..

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Who writes for you?

If you don't write for yourself, let's talk about how I can do this for you.

Business people, whether they are corporate executives or international entrepreneurs, like to make a good impression. Who doesn't? They are well-dressed and impeccably groomed, drive nice cars and live in lovely houses with manicured lawns.

Then they've got to write a letter or a proposal, or update their bio, and they don't know where to begin. So, an admin or intern is recruited to do the job. Does that make sense? Not, if you want to maintain that carefully created image!

As a writer, I enjoy working with professionals who are interested in addressing their audiences in clear and concise messages executed in pristine language – without verbosity, clichés, industry jargon or hype AND WITH proper grammar, spelling and punctuation, with syntax that dances across the page and a story that catches the imagination and propels the reader to action. 

Does this appeal to you? If it does, we should talk!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Women & Media

If we don't tell our stories, if we don't support other women - in business, the arts, governance, everywhere - who will?

Business Women without Business Cards

Are business cards a thing of the past? Are people so concerned about saving the rain forests that they no longer carry anything printed with them?

I was in a meeting with 12 to 15 other business women the other day and fully 2/3 of them did not have business cards. It seemed odd to me, but maybe I am just a product of my generation and not far-sighted enough?

It would be interesting to know what others think about this.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Women & Business

Among professional women, it’s a dirty little secret that in the business world (and probably elsewhere as well), women do not support each other.

It seems there is a sense of scarcity among us – “if she gets promoted, it’s a missed opportunity for me”, or “if I recommend her to my client XYZ, her communications and her work reflect on me, and if it’s poor, I may lose my client”. Heard something like that before? Maybe thought it yourself?

Well, I’ve decided to do something about it!

When Star Jones and Dionne Warwick, on the March 13 episode of Celebrity Apprentice threw Project Manager Lisa Rinna under the bus, I posted about this on Facebook the next day. Comments started coming in, including this one: “So sad to see women sabotaging other women. Whatever happened to women supporting other women?” To which I responded: “That's exactly what I have been asking since at least 1992 (the year I started Atlanta Women in Business). Not only must we support one another - we must also do whatever we can to promote one another. Here's an offer: free 'promo' to my mailing list for the first person (make that "woman") to respond to this.”

And who was that first woman? Barbara Giamanco!

Funny, in a sense, since Barb is already very well known nationally, with her first book published last year, and owns a burgeoning consulting, coaching and speaking business. So, does she need a free promo? Probably not, but Barb’s success in the business world has not come from being last in line, or even being second. She keeps up with her community, interacts constantly with friends and associates, and when she spotted my offer, she jumped for it. Smart, very smart!

Expect to hear more about Barb from me in the coming weeks. For now, check out her “Get LinkedIn, not Locked Out” April 14 workshop.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

It all started with Lisa Rinna

And Star Jones and Dionne Warwick – the March 13, 2011 segment of Donald Trump’s “Celebrity Apprentice” – and was about as ugly an example of women sabotaging each other as I have seen in the nearly twenty years since I started Atlanta Women in Business.

I posted an observation on Facebook. It drew attention. People (women!) began commenting. And then I posted “Not only must we support one another - we must also do whatever we can to promote one another. Here's an offer: free 'promo' to my mailing list for the first person (make that "woman") to respond to this.”

Out of 322 people in my community and four participating in the discussion, Barb Giamanco was that first person. Stick with me as I make good on my promise. Not contrived. Rather, fully sincere. I’ll be back as soon as I’ve spoken with her.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Women & Equality

How long have we been talking about this? Too long!

It’s been nearly 20 years since I started Atlanta Women in Business to help women in the workplace find equality. With a mission of providing networking and educational opportunities, we have made some progress, but not nearly enough.

Last year, I had an op-ed in the paper on the minimum wage and was interviewed on TV about the Lilly Ledbetter Act and received some attention for my network and its efforts, but equality as a normal, everyday thing we don’t even have to think about remains elusive.

I experienced that gap last week, when a business weekly published an article about Social Media, for which the writer had interviewed at least five practitioners (five were quoted in the article) – all men! To add insult to injury, the writer was a woman.

Well, that was last week. This week, award winning social media marketing strategist Toby Bloomberg deserves our attention. She has started Atlanta Social Media Women, with an immediate membership of 29 (yes, I’m among them!) and a determination to make some noise and get some attention.

Way to go, Toby!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

International Women's Day 2011

Atlanta Women in Business recognized the day early: last night already.

The fifteen women who met in Sandy Springs for an evening of “stories from around the world” personified one of the organization’s three values, authenticity (the other two are diversity and inclusiveness). With authentic voices, stories were told that made us think, hit us on the pit of our stomachs and reminded us that while we have come far, women’s equality is still not within our grasp.

“Personal identity”, and its accompanying financial security, was one story-teller’s theme. Even today, American women, especially in the South, are not infrequently referred to as “Mrs. Richard Smith”, “Mrs. William Jones”, etc.

Other story-tellers mentioned 26-year old Mohamed Bouazizi of Tunisia, who self-immolated last December and started a revolution, and 61-year old Maria Aguinda of Ecuador, who took on the oil industry that continues to massively pollute the environment - and won. One person can make a difference, one small gesture can cause a shift that reverberates over great distances.

We followed one family, expelled from Spain in the 15th century, on its journey from country to country, steps ahead of religious persecutors. Small wonder that last night’s story-telling descendant owns a travel business!

And, speaking of travel, there is the worldwide organization that used to be the exclusive domain of captains of industry and rulers of chiefdoms, where women, including our story-teller, now make a difference, benefiting all.

The fifteen of us decided to continue the conversation, in person and through Social Media, and bring others along. Atlanta Women in Business’s Facebook page and LinkedIn group are tools that will help facilitate this.

Last night also gave us a poignant reminder of life as its ebbs and flows affect us: one member has just buried her mother, after a long and painful illness, and another is experiencing her first pregnancy, with a feisty little girl making her presence known already months before birth.

It was a wonderful evening.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Opportunity Meets Motivation

In a book whose concept I created in 2008 and for which I wrote a foreword two years later, four members of Atlanta Women in Business told the stories of their lives and careers. They called it “Opportunity Meets Motivation” and I had a web site created for it – and for them – as the publication date neared.

It was probably the most underused and undervisited site in the history of the web. So, when domain renewable time rolled around, I considered abandoning the site. Colleagues, though, and the site’s developer, convinced me that was too good a name to give up, so renewing it I did.

There is now a different goal for the site: it will promote events – events of Atlanta Women in Business and its members – and books – ditto!

It can still do great things. Visitors are welcome:

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Money, money, money . . .

Spring is on the way and businesses all around me are showing new determination for growth, expansion and optimism. A lot of them are looking for money; many are not sure where to start.

My advice, for new start-ups in the Atlanta area, is to first of all go to the March 16 “Stepping Up To Business” event at Cobb Galleria. I am certain there will be important information disseminated, and the networking will be excellent as well. Who knows – one might even find a partner, affiliate or new client there!

A few years ago, I attended an event about investing and entrepreneurship at which Eugene O’Malley, Managing Partner of Cobblestone Advisers, was the keynote speaker. Wisely, to help people remember, he has come up with an approach he calls BE SMART, an acronym in which each letter represents a specific task or process the business owner must carry out when in pursuit of capital. The other day, looking at his hand-out again, I focused on the “S” – Spoke & Wheel: get to know the top 50 influences in your community. Makes sense, doesn’t it?

I also like O’Malley’s “M” – Management Team, and will write about that some other time.

Atlanta Women in Business – Loans, Inc., meanwhile, continues to move ever closer to opening its doors for loan applications. Be patient a little longer, please.

Monday, January 31, 2011

“Marry an American”. Is this serious career advice?

A LinkedIn group of which I was a member (until today), had a discussion post from a young man in Europe: a serious inquiry. What advice did other group members have for the pursuit of a career in the United States.

The first response came from someone who advised him to “marry an American”. I responded to this by writing “Tacky, tacky, tacky” and then went on to give the inquirer a serious answer.

The group’s moderator just came back to me with:

I was just looking over our Linked In group page to see how it was going, and I noticed a comment you had written on Mr. XYZ’s post. Thank you for giving lending him your advice, but I am worried about the comment you then directed toward Mr. “first commenter”. I’m sure you meant the “Tacky, tacky, tacky” in a playful manner, but that is not how it comes off and I must ask you to refrain from such type of comments. From the outside looking in, it would look as though we allow our group members to treat each other with disrespect and I cannot tolerate that. Please be mindful of how your messages can be interpreted moving forward. Thank you for all of your positive engagement otherwise in the group. We appreciate your input.


Goodbye, group!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Chain Letters

Do you remember the chain letters from bygone decades? You’d receive a letter in the mail, were asked to make six copies and send those on to six friends, etc., etc., etc. Often the letters included money (I think this became a criminal offense – and a good thing, too!), or a poem or ‘blessing’ -- all fairly harmless and perhaps even somewhat amusing.

Ah, the days of innocence!

How quaint that now seems in comparison with the electronic chain letters we receive these days and which are sharper, more offensive, threatening even.

I received one of these missiles this week. From someone I know well, with a headline that was sure to lead to me opening it, which I did. There was no connection between the headline and the e-mail’s content. It did not threaten me directly, but it did give gruesome examples of death and disaster that had befallen others who had received this chain letter also and had failed to forward it to twenty people in their address books.

Are some of our friends now becoming terrorists?

I’ve advised the sender that she was out of line in sending me this e-mail, and I hope that is the end of that. No one should engage in this practice; certainly not serious, responsible business people. I had for many years regarded her as such – an image she destroyed with one keystroke.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Distant Wars in Distant Lands

One of my daughters and her husband went to a viewing last night and will be at a memorial service and burial today. My son-in-law’s half-sister’s other half-brother (it’s complicated, as American family ties often are), 23 years old, killed in Afghanistan. He stepped on something that exploded, lost both legs, one arm, and his life.

Do you know anyone who has died in Afghanistan? Or in Iraq? Or even someone who fought there or is still fighting there? “Served/serving” are, I guess, the preferred words. But war is about fighting. It’s brutal, it’s violent – it kills.

The Iraq war has so far cost more than 4,000 American soldiers their lives (and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis). It’s not the only unnecessary war the United States has engaged in, in recent decades (Vietnam was another), and there will no doubt be others in the future. This has indeed been, as Bob Woodward and others have named it, “Bush’s War”, a war of vengeance against a dictatorial ruler who had years earlier wanted to assassinate the other President Bush. The idea of going to war against a country whose ruler we do not like is not new, but it is idiotic. And the cost is immeasurable.

The Afghan war resulted from the September 11, 2001 terror attacks with hijacked airplanes. Going after “the masterminds” was understandable (the planner was caught and awaits adjudication of his crime; the puppet master remains at large), but did we have to invade an entire country? Was it up to us to rout an even more miserable government than the one we later toppled in Iraq? I guess that collectively we like Afghanistan’s current corrupt government better than the zealous Taliban who were in charge before and who, ironically, shared ideologies with the mujahideen we supported in the Soviet Union’s invasion and oppression of Afghanistan. Friend-Enemy role reversal is easy when loyalties shift.

So far, 1,457 American soldiers have died in Afghanistan in the ten years since the U.S. and its coalition partners invaded the country; the young man being buried today is one of them, and the country, like Iraq, lies in ruins.

And for what? And who are they, these young Americans, so full of pride and honor, so patriotic, so dedicated to preserving our freedoms, our way of life, and so eager to take democracy and opportunity to other lands? Distant lands, where distant wars are being fought. Who knows someone who has died in Iraq or Afghanistan? I don’t, but I feel an enormous sorrow for the young man in that coffin today, and his family, and the dreams that will never be.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

What Do Entrepreneurs Need?

Yesterday, I got invited to yet another event with a motivational speaker and could not help but think that entrepreneurs do not need motivation and inspiration (they are born with it!), although a little coaching is often a good thing. What we need is practical stuff! What’s the best SEO strategy, how can we make our web sites more visitor-friendly, what’s the best way to find our perfect markets, is self-publishing a viable option, who is an expert on video production, does it make more sense to add an employee, engage the services of a VA or outsource certain tasks, should I use QuickBooks or hire a CPA . .?

As an entrepreneur, what is your most pressing issue?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Facebook Friends

I’ve made it to 200 – hurrah!

Facebook was not much of a focus for me until I went to the Social Media Integration conference last October (when I had 77 “friends”).

My 200th is Steve Nygren. Hi, Steve!

A year ago last November I was at an event at Serenbe and loved it. It’s too far to visit often, but I may just have to put it on my list for this year and perhaps write about it for my travel blog.

The entire community is splendid. What I liked best was the kitchen garden.

Being able to stop at Wilkerson Mill the same day would be an added incentive. Last time, I bought a Fanny’s Aster there and its presence in my garden was majestic last fall.

But, back to Facebook. I’ve now got 201 “friends” – one more added since I started writing this.