#39 Is My Career Less Important Than My Spouse’s? The Part-Time Worker’s Bill of Rights.

If you’re like me, back from summer vacation, the grim reality is approaching like estimated taxes: It’s time to be a productive member of society again. Debbie Downer Soundbyte

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But just HOW productive? That is the question I’m grappling with today…and, kind of like everyday. I remember getting a survey for Harvard Business School Alumnae years ago. It asked if I worked part time, or full time. This study became the basis for the media flurry of “opting out” articles and TV segments. I thought, “You’re missing the point. I work part-time, and make more than I used to make working full-time.” Yet, the decision to be home more seems to relegate me into this land of the “professional coma.” I find my own flexibility confusing sometimes. One day is go go go professionally. The next day is subsumed by kid stuff, and the little voice says:

Oh, remember all those hopes and dreams and cool goals? Yeah, just stick those in the ’70s style trash compactor and be happy about it, little lady.” (Dot-dot-smiley-face).

    More people have to deal with part and flex-time:

  • In this Women’s Business Fact Sheet, we learn an interesting fact: More women prefer to work part-time versus men. This one sentence, alone, could fuel some excellent cocktail chatter.
  • Newsweek reports that one in five Americans works non-standard hours.

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What is this, where I am, who are you? If this is your first time here, this is the insider’s blog for The Hot Mommas Project. We are a women’s leadership project housed at the George Washington University School of Business (where I teach) and have an audacious goal of becoming a million dollar venture…while being led by a mom working part time. Since I started this blog, we have become the world’s largest women’s case study library. We showcase the stories of the women in your life in a TEACHABLE format, and they are published in major textbooks and used by educators. Click here to nominate someone.  Click here for about page. Click here to check out our classes which are producing stunning increases in self-confidence for women and girls.

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So, how do these factoids apply to our real lives? Here’s a quasi-interesting tale. On vacation at the beach, my husband and I took a walk and talked about plans for the fall. Okay, that’s a lie. We sat at our computers and opened Outlook and were scheduling like total nerds and sending each other appointments. He (Josh)  has a lot of commitments because he is chapter president of EO (Entrepreneur’s Organization – formerly YEO).  I shared an observation with him: That, recently, he has been on the “EO Crack” big time.  He has a killer board, is all revved up, and can’t seem to “put it down” if you know what I mean.

I empathize. This was me at a certain point in time.  Now, I work part-time which I started doing when I had my second kid.  I am deciding if I feel evolved, or lame. Am I on a weird kind of “professional-drive-prozac”…in some metaphorical institution for part-time workers, wandering around with bed-head and a weird gender-neutral gown that ties in back? A tech-guy at x4243 and a fancy lunch would be the professional equivalent of a mani-pedi right now.

Do I want the professional-crack back? To be continued…. Former professional “career crack addicts” – where is this going?


Related links:

Here is someone running for Senate with a platform of a policy-oriented Part Time Workers Bill of Rights

Read REAL Bill of Rights here.

From BPW Foundation: Women: Like Men, Only Cheaper

Momentum Resources: Part-time work for skilled professionals. Momentum DC CEO’s Hot Mommas Case here.

#38 Confessions and Reflections – Building a Million Dollar Business Part Time

This is the first time since I started this blog that I actually BELIEVE I will be able to build a million dollar business while working part-time.  The below summary of posts serves as a table of contents over the past year. It will help explain how I got to this point.

The next year will be key to see if I can really pull this off.

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What is this, where I am, who are you? If this is your first time here, this is the insider’s blog for The Hot Mommas Project. We are a women’s leadership project housed at the George Washington University School of Business (where I teach) and have an audacious goal of becoming a million dollar venture…while being led by a mom working part time. Since I started this blog, we have become the world’s largest women’s case study library. We showcase the stories of the women in your life in a TEACHABLE format, and they are published in major textbooks and used by educators. Click here to nominate someone.  Click here for about page. Click here to check out our classes which are producing stunning increases in self-confidence for women and girls.

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MAC DADDY SUMMARY:

The major learnings for me have been:

  • Persistence: Keep pressing, pushing, and smushing on the idea until it “clicks.”
  • Mentors: Share with mentors, it will amplify your idea and impact.
  • Operationalize: The idea is part one, part two is creating the “machine” behind it.
  • Delegation –  The Org Chart in Your Head: The machine includes people, who you meet by actually talking…at events, via coffees, over the phone. That is when the TRUE connection happens. They will fall into place in the “org chart in your head.”
  • Get Your Affairs in Order: Have the talk with your spouse/partner. Tell them about your dream.  Tell them what it will mean for your life you’re successful.  See if they are up for it. GO THERE mentally. If those closest to you are not on board, and your idea takes off, you will still be a failure. Home ALWAYS wins. If you won’t think big, and dream, and make it real by discussing it with people….you’ve lost before you’ve even started.

Read more below….

POST SUMMARIES #28 – #37

(Summary of Posts 1 / Summary of Posts 2 / Summary of Posts 3)

#28 – Free Black Friday Gifts: The Gift of Mentorship

Topics: Promotional/launch strategies, effective use of deadlines

Post summary: In this post,  I use the excuse of “Black Friday” to launch the 2010 Hot Mommas Project case study competition.  It kind of didn’t work. Major lessons:

  • Lesson in Failure: SEO – While, in theory, the concept of leveraging searches for “Black Friday” sounds good, it resulted in ZIPPO nominations of women to tell their stories on HotMommasProject.org.
  • Win/Failure? – A lot of the promotion we do, especially in traditional media, leads people to say “I’ve heard of you” but does not produce actual nominations of women – directly. How far is the jump between what you’re asking someone to do (e.g. take an action, nominate a woman in their life) and the medium where they’re being approached (e.g., sitting on their butts watching TV). Twitter and other internet mediums = best for nominations. TV, radio, newspaper = good for awareness / credibility.
  • Win: Deadlines – I used the excuse to develop some great content tools that tell our story (listed in blog).

#29 Free Online Business Tools for Which I am Thankful

Topics:  Organization, time management, sanity for the entrepreneur.

Post Summary: Being organized, and having methods for detoxing are CRITICAL for successful entrepreneurs.  There are tips in here on those topics. Lesson:

  • Win: Great tools to find/re-claim time and sanity for a busy entrepreneur, mom, person.

#30 Would You Read This? My Book Outline for Women and The New Sisterhood of Success

Topics: New Sisterhood of Success, Book Outline, the “CLICK

Post Summary: This was major. It’s my first stab at a book outline.  I had been talking about it for years, drafting proposals for months, and finally – in a blip – it came pouring out.   Lesson:

  • Win: Let your freak flag fly. I keep a lot of what goes on in my head to myself so as not to overwhelm others .  On this occasion, I let some big/deep thoughts fly. After a heart-to-heart with my hubby on meaning-of-life type stuff, my brain was clear and the book outline was inserted.

  • CLICK: Every now and then, I feel/hear/sense what I can only describe as a “CLICK.” It’s like pieces of a universal seat belt coming together. This was one of those moments. Always be on the lookout for these times. This one instance led to important stuff later, like meeting with a famous book agent.

#31 Are Entrepreneurs Really Crazy? Escaping: The Vortex.

Topics: Entrepreneurial obsession

Post Summary: The Hot Mommas Project 2010 Case Study Competition is over. We are officially the world’s largest women’s case study library. I start to think I am officially insane as I  send the team emails about fixes and tweaks for next year, instead of taking some downtime. Lesson:

  • Win/Failure? – you decide: Entrepreneurs are obsessed freaks.

#32a How to Not Look Like a Tool in Your Business Communications

#32b How to Not Look Like a Tool in Business Communications Part Deux

Topics: Communication in business, social media vs “traditional” communications

Post Summary: As the popularity and visibility of the Hot Mommas Project grows, I start to get more and more emails/requests.  I also give more talks. I notice a trend: There are a shocking amount of questions about how to relate/connect socially with others. Example:

Me: “You need mentors.”

Audience members: “How do I talk to these people?”

I start to hypothesize that certain social skills are degenerating.  This post provides helpful tips I then took back and used with my students at the George Washington University School of Business. Lesson:

  • Win: Winners of the future will master both social media AND traditional communication (talking to actual people on the phone/in person.)
  • Mini-CLICK: The mounting confusion around social skills really stood out to me.  It is, I believe, going to be a significant teaching point in the Hot Mommas Project /New Sisterhood of Success future book.

#33 Giving Myself a Wife for Mother’s Day

Topics: Delegation for women/business people

Post Summary: As the amount of communications, and appointments, and other dreck mounts…I know it is time for reinforcements. Thus began the real and serious thinking about additional staff at work, and home. Lesson:

  • Win: Many women say, “I want help, but struggle with delegating.” There will be a point at which it’s so painful, it’s more of a struggle if you DON’T delegate. All women who want to be successful must practice and employ delegation. MUST.
  • Win: Home culture. The focus. The safe place. Treat it that way.
  • Win/Failure: I was also, with this post, testing a partnership with HelaSpa wherein they acknowledged our 2010 winning case authors via a Mother’s Day marketing campaign.  The win was treatments for our deserving case authors. The failure was no additional spike in nominations. Maybe awareness increased? It’s hard to know. We don’t have any great measures in place which is why we now have Amber Wason heading up our marketing.

#34 How Entrepreneurs Deal With Failure

Topics: Failure, learning from failure

Post Summary: This post expresses my disappointment, and resolution strategies, around trying to get a teleclass off the ground. I changed the title, and the price, resulting in a more successful result.  Lessons:

  • Win: Capitalizing on failure is a MAJOR skill, but, it takes a really strong person to say “Wow, I screwed this up.” I seriously think 99% of the population can’t do this. So, if you can, consider it a strength.
  • mini-Click: Accepting the failure, instead of beating my head against the wall (a fav of Type-As) resulted in a teleseminar 2.0 which taught me something CRITICAL about word usage and messaging around the Hot Mommas Project concept. This knowledge paid off BIG TIME in my later meetings with an angel investor/mentor and literary agent.

#35 Letter to a mentor: I’m kind of freaking out right now

Topics: Success, learning from success

Post Summary: This was the big “CLICK.”  I was able to focus on the ONE THING I think is MOST IMPORTANT for women and girls to do to reach their potential.  It’s my “it.”

  • Win: Figure out the pattern that produces top notch results for you. In this case, it was – just as in post #30 – having a heart-to-heart with a mentor, then waiting for the “epiphany” or outpouring of good stuff/ideas/content. This is my pattern. I think everyone has one.
  • Failure: I realized I was onto something, and then kind of freaked out and didn’t know what to do about it. What about “do nothing?” what about, “Sit back and enjoy?” Somehow, neither of these options occurred to me.
  • Win: I met with the mentor/angel investor discussed in this post, then did a plan, assembled a team,  did a book proposal, and met with a book agent – all within one and one-half months of writing this post! Like the picture up top says, it CAN be done…but, it will just need to be your way…a different way…that you create.
  • CLICK: This presentation worked. It represented my long-time-accumulating thoughts on what I considered to be THE most important thing for women. The underlying message was:  “The New Sisterhood of Success” is what will propel us to our potential. And I have the research to prove it, and the how-to manual to do it.

“The New Sisterhood of Success” is what will propel us to our potential. And I have the research to prove it, and the how-to manual to do it.

#36 Meeting with Book Agents

Topics: Literary agent meetings, spreading self thin

Post Summary: I set a meeting with a book agent, then scramble.  The person with whom I met is a major book agent at a large agency who is constantly rejecting people. Had I known this going in, I might have been nervous.  This is one of those ignorance-is-bliss cases.

  • Win: I asked around and asked around and shared my book outline with advisors and mentors. Guess who set me up with the book agent? One of my mentors. So, here – EXACTLY  – is the point of the New Sisterhood of Success: Put yourself out there, ask for help, and the power of two, or three, or four will always exceed the power of one.
  • Failure: I was so exhausted from pushing myself to get the book proposal done, the presentation at MasterCard, and the meeting with broadway producer Ken Waissman (both later that day) that I literally I barfed on a ferry out to see my former b-school professor and mentor @RosabethKanter.  Immune system = gone.  So when I’m running gunning in the future with wherever the New Sisterhood of Success and Hot Mommas Project takes me, I think I’m going to have to do the OPPOSITE of what Emeril says, and “Kick it DOWN a notch.”

#37 Is Business Un-FUNNY?

Topics: Women underselling, humor in business, writing style

Good news: She loves my writing style (the literary agent)

Bad news: There is a time and a place for funny. The place is NOT my bio. She pretty much told me this straight-up.

I decided to turn this experience into a post and discussion about the appropriate and inappropriate use of humor in business.  “Discussion” is a generous terms since no one cares about this topic, and there are no comments… Well, except for this one:

Мы поможем Вам решить квартирный вопрос – у нас Вы найдете объявления, новости рынка недвижимости, все о квартирах, о ремонте, о ЖКХ, о текущих ценах и многое другое

Lessons include:

  • Failure: Women….don’t undersell yourself! Bad bad bad. I did that in my book proposal.
  • Win: If you listen for the “CLICKS” you can get meetings with famous literary agents, angel investors, and do what it takes to move your idea forward.

With a business model, book interest, message focus, fans, and the discussion with the spouse of “Hey, this could be successful” under my belt, I’m looking forward to the next year.  And, no, I have not written about the business model yet. That is going to have to be my little secret pending further testing….stay tuned, and wish me luck.

#37 Is Business Un-FUNNY?

Most nights, I’ll embark on a several-part journey to ruin my vision by using Twitter on my Blackberry. I’m on the lookout for funny tweets. It’s a a good way to detox from the day.  Recently, The Onion has been my most reliable source for laughing out loud.  I’ll re-tweet stuff. People seem to like it.  But, where is humor appropriate and NOT appropriate in business? It got me wondering: Are PEOPLE funny, but is business UN- FUNNY?

I can’t think of ONE funny business.

A Recent Example

Good news: I met with a book agent in New York. Apparently, this is like getting in to see “The Wizard.”

Bad news: My humor/cutsey approach did not work in a specific section of my book proposal.

Laurie Liss (Uber-Agent): “Stop being so cute with your bio. You’re a Harvard MBA among other things. Just come out with it.”

Me: Uh, okay (I can almost hear the skeletons ratting in the closet, and baggage falling off the top of the wood-paneled station wagon.)

What about humility?  What about self-deprecating humor? And thus begins the complicated web of when FUNNY is okay in business, and when it’s not.

Takeaway: Publishers Want Your BOOK to be Funny, But Not Your Resume.

Funny good

Takeaway: I heart DIRECTtv right now because of this ad. It’s working!

Funny Bad

Takeaway: It’s not working.  I get the willies from this movie trailer for “The BackUp Plan” with Jennifer Lopez.

PARTING THOUGHTS:  Is it okay to be funny in business?

Where have you, and people, and companies you know used humor both appropriately and inappropriately? As I try to make a successful evolution from cheerleader…to leader, I ask you: Is it okay to be funny in business?

Related links:

Humor in Therapy – by Nancy Ronne

Microsoft Education on Humor

10 Ways to Use Humor on the Job – Tech Republic

World’s Funniest Company Names – Huff Post

ComedyCures – The ULTIMATE “Funny – Good”