#40b – On dealing with business crisis.

 

Can you handle the HEAT? I'm throwin' it. Kenny Powers, Flama Blanca

 

You voted in the last post, and you’re getting what you want: THE HEAT. Below – finally- is the scoop on the behind-the-scenes crisis at #sisUdc.  I am sharing the real deal for the purposes of :

#1 Being authentic. I find it silly when people pretend everything is perfect.

#2 Learning. Crisis management is a legitimate skill. Keep it together under heat, and you just might be able to keep it together in general.

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Scenario: On October 9, 2010 I am scheduled to deliver a “groundbreaking pilot seminar” called Sisterhood University (#sisUdc) to between 50 and 80 women at the George Washington University School of Business.  This is an important part of  “my plan.”    WUSA (news station in DC) is going to be covering it. I have promised a lot to attendees.

The trouble begins at 8.21 am

8.21 am Networking is from 8.30 to 9.00. My team has been there since 7.45 am.  I run upstairs to my office to grab materials which are supposed to be waiting for me on my chair.  This is a common routine I’ve repeated with the office staff over my nine years as an adjunct at GW. I’ll send materials for class via email, the office prints them, they leave the papers on my chair. All good, right?

8.22 am I unlock the door to my office. The materials are sitting on my chair. Whew. I fan through the piles just two be sure. There are only two piles. There should be THREE piles.  The most important thing is missing: The participant workbook.  The workbooks are THE central part of the entire workshop. The are NOT THERE. A “freak out” starts to rise within me, I suppress it so I can think straight. In case this is not crystal clear, the entire anchor of Sis U – the workbook – is MISSING.

The entire anchor of Sis U – the workbook – is MISSING.

P.s. For those of you who think “Oh, just get them to write on their own paper.” This is a techy crowd. I’ve learned through experience: Laptop, yes. Paper, no.

8.23  am In a “pretending-I’m-not-frothing-at-the-mouth” frenzy, I call the senior secretary for the Department of Management. It’s the WEEKEND, but,  I am desperate. She never got the workbooks. She printed everything she got.  My document must have bounced. My first thought is “I’m an ID-iot!” How could I not have noticed this?Many reasons, as we’ll discuss.

Triage

8.24 am I shift into some strange kind of business triage mode where I start quickly prioritizing and assessing what needs to be done (all the while with a horrible nervous feeling). FIRST, I run downstairs and announce to the team:

“You are going to have to hold down the fort, there is a major problem I have to deal with upstairs. Keep your phones on.”

Lesson: A team to “hold down the fort” is key.

8.25.00 am Attendees look at me expectantly as I zoom past, grab my phone, head over to the elevator bank of Funger Hall and press the “up” button. I can’t waste any minutes saying “hi.” Attendees probably think I have some kind of social anxiety disorder or something as I run around like a weird animal afraid to make eye contact.

I run around like a weird animal afraid to make eye contact.

8.25.30 am Over at the elevator banks, one attendee who has strayed from the crowd asks, “Can I do anything to help you?”  She must have seen my “inner freak-out” bubbling to the surface, and not been fooled by my “scurring rodent” routine.  I put on my best Stepford voice: “Thaaaakkknks hon, just have to run upstairs and deal with something real quick,” I say. HA! Understatement of the year.

8.26.00 am After much toe tapping and pacing, the elevator arrives. I hop on. I step in and press “3.” Nothing happens. “Is THIS how it’s gonna be?” I ask and look up at the florescent light grid. Sometimes, I seriously think WE are the rats in the maze for someone who is experimenting with us.

8.26.30 am I step out of the broken elevator, and press “up” again. I fear ALL the elevators are broken. A bum elevator is a known occurence from time to time in Funger Hall. I feel lame when I realize, even in my 9th year teaching here as an adjunct…I have no idea where the stairs are.  Finally, a new elevator arrives. I press “3.” The doors close. With my luck, I’m going to get stuck in the elevator. Then – at least – I’d have the perfect excuse.  Ding….ding….third floor, doors open.  NEXT, time for a serious Workbook Plan B.

Time for a serious Workbook Plan B.

Copy Room in Funger 315 “No One Gets into See the Wizard.”

8.27 am I quickly walk from the elevators over to the Funger 315 (copy room is in Funger 315). I try to open the door. LOCKED. I try another entrance. LOCKED.  I mysteriously start channeling a sailor; a sailor with very bad language.

8.28 am I call 994-1000, the main GW number, and ask for security.

  • GWU Security: “George Washington University Security.”
  • Me: “Hi, this is Professor Frey in the School of Business. I need to get into Funger 315. It’s an emergency. I ‘m supposed to speak to a group at 9. Can someone please let me in?”
  • GWU Security: “Okay, we’ll put in the request.”
  • Me: “Does that mean they’re coming now? What does that mean time-wise?”

Please Note: I am  trying to act like a normal person when – in fact – I am getting ready to pull a full-fledged Shirley MacLaine.

  • GWU Security: “It’ll be about five, ten minutes.”

At this point, the difference between five and ten minutes feels like the hugest time swing in the world.

 

Shirley MacLaine Freaks Out in "Terms of Endearment"

 

8.29 to 8.35 am I wait. It’s painful. Like root canal painful. Security still doesn’t show up. I wind up channeling the sailor with very naughty language. Again.

I wait. It’s painful. Like root canal painful.

8.35.00 am I called security again. “Oh, it’ll be about five minutes.” I totally don’t believe them, just like I don’t believe Diamond Cab when they say they’ll have a driver at my house in “about 10 minutes.” I am going to have to enact a Plan B. A very, very lame and desperate Plan B.

8.35.30 am I grab a ream of copy paper and a stapler from my office and crouch in the hall outside of Funger 315 (where the copy room is). “One, two, three, four, five, six, seven”…I am counting out – by hand – seven pieces of plain paper and stapling them together.  “This is just pathetic,” I say to myself. I watch the door to Funger 315 , crouching with paper and stapler, looking like some weird corporate cavewoman.

I am…crouching with paper and stapler, looking like some weird corporate cavewoman.

8.40.00 am Security shows up. Hallelujah!

8.40.15 am Not so hallelujah is when the guard says, “Do you have your GW ID?” Eeek! I dont’ carry anything with me on event days. Nightmare! I start fumbling with my phone, getting ready to call someone from the department to vouch for me. This person could be “my other brother Daryl” and even as I raise my phone I am highly skeptical about security buying this.

8.40.30 am In a stroke of crisis-brilliance, perhaps the ONLY brilliance of the day, I notice a photo of me on the wall…”Oh oh! This is me!” I waive him over to a display case that has all the faculty and their pictures, I point to my picture. He nods and lets me in the office. I love you Stephanie Gresham! (Who did this display board.).

8.42 am By this time, I have 18 minutes, a lobby full of attendees, no workbooks for the attendees, and no guarantee that I can even work the copy room stuff to make this happen. I seriously feel like my reputation is on the line here. This is a social media crowd and, if I mess up, it’s going viral. I turn on the computer outside the copy room, find the password. I look at my email to see if I can print out the workbook from the bounced email file. No such luck.  Nada.

8.43 am I open PowerPoint, and realize I am going to have to make an entirely new workbook…in 10 minutes.  I try to focus on the screen in the dark office, because it’s CLOSED for the weekend, and work fast.

8.44 am I quickly type “Section 1”  on Page 1 of the workbook. I try to add a new page.  This is PowerPoint 2007.  All the computers have been upgraded. I can’t figure out how to add a new slide.  Click, click click. Pointless. Zero idea what I’m doing. And I’m pretty techy. This is very anxiety-provoking.  It seemed like everything was working against me. I thought:

“This is TOO close.  There is a VERY good chance I am going to fall flat on my face here.”

8.47 am I try to keep my brain under control and keep forging ahead. But, apparently my mouth was still moving….

  • Me: “Oh no, oh no, oh no.”
  • Security Guard: “Is everything okay?”
  • Me: “This is PowerPoint 2007. All the terminals have been upgraded. I can’t figure out how to add a new slide.”
  • Security Guard: “Oh, I can help you. I’ve done tons of PowerPoint presentations.” (Hallelujah plays in background).
  • Me: “Seriously, I you are the best. I cannot thank you enough.”
  • Security Guard: “This is much better than a typical call of dealing with a homeless person who has wandered onto campus.”

Lesson: Hire security guards who know PowerPoint.

8.53 am I finish the seven page workbook.

8.54 am I figure out how to send the document to the printer, left staple, 80 copies.

8.55 am “The printer is warming up.”

8.55.30 am I use the “spare time” to pull up the presentation that I am giving downstairs. Since they just upgraded all the computers to PowerPoint 2007, I better just make sure.

8.55 am Gobbeldygook!  All of the letters looked like symbols. The presentation is unreadable.

8.55 am So, at this stage, I have no workbook as I’m not sure the copier will really work., my presentation is Gobbledygook, and I am supposed to start talking in five minutes downstairs to a group of women participating in the pilot – some of whom have traveled from out of state!

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Fun enough for you yet?  Stay tuned for Part II of this post to see how we successfully excavated ourselves from this mess, and pulled off this successful event. Subscribe to this blog at the right via email or Facebook. Lessons learned thus far include:

So far, here is what I’ve learned based on the above:

  • Crisis Management: Practice suppressing your inner “freak out” – it will help you some day.
  • Font-astrophe: THIS is why people say “Don’t use weird fonts.” My guess is Times New Roman serves up just fine no matter what your Microsoft office version.
  • Time management: Bad time management during the week of created this pressure cooker environment. Having all materials ready WAY ahead of time is how I normally roll. But…..there was a White House Council on Women and Girls event. I launched two classes. My husband was out of town (we have two kids that cannot be raised by wolves and require human care and feeding). Was it worth it?


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#40a – Entrepreneur TMI? On dealing with business crisis.

Click for post soundtrack

In my days as an analyst in the merger and acquisition/competitive analysis industry, I would listen with utter shock as heads of major corporations would pour their “business hearts” out to my team.  Product x was lagging in sales, and consumers hated it. They asked us for help.  They were getting killed by a foreign competitor. Could we help them? We were the business therapists for corporate America. I always wondered if they spoke this way to everyone, or just a select few. Whatever the methodology, they seemed clear on one thing:  Our clients had the wisdom to realize they must confront reality, to change reality.

Confront reality, to change reality.

A lot of entrepreneurs “spin it.” You have to, for funders, clients, etc.  “How is everything?” “Oh, greeeaaat! Greeaaaat!” But, when DO we share the truth? So, when I detailed the crisis which almost de-railed #sisUdc – Sisterhood University – last weekend, my husband:

  • #1. Couldn’t believe I survived without having a nervous breakdown and
  • #2. Discouraged me from writing about it.

Now mind you, everything turned out great (see news coverage), but it was quite the juggling act getting there.

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Me, on walk this a.m. with hubby:  “I wrote a post describing the fire-fighting I did behind the scenes before #sisUdc.”

Husband:  “Uuuuuhhhh, I wouldn’t write about that. I think you can use other examples of crisis.  So many people think you do great work. Why jeopardize that?”

Me:  “Because I go through the tough times like everyone, and have to balance a ton of stuff just like the women in the audience. It seems silly to pretend I don’t or that everything is perfect.”

Husband: “Veeeeerrryyy interesting.”

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So, I am still not sure I should “out” the series of crises that almost prevented #sisUdc from happening. Do I share what REALLY went on behind the scenes?  Please vote below.



Subscribe via email or follow us on Facebook (right column) to see if I wind up writing about this.


#39 Pt 2-Is My Career Less Important Than My Spouse’s? The Part-Time Worker’s Bill of Rights.

Click pic for music

In the last post I shared struggles with the following:

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  • In an effort to stave off the vampirism of my professional drive, I’ve entered a professional coma.
  • Or….am I simply entering a new, more mature phase of my life?

All of this was brought about when two angel investors jumped all over the Hot Mommas Project business model during the month of August.  We have the credibility. We produce great results in our classes with women. I am affiliated with a university and am an entrepreneur. And some other stuff. All of these things make the investors excited.  The real challenge is at home and how all of “this” will work. My husband is pushing me to kick it up a notch.  Should I? He even says he’ll help me. We’re a good team, see, just look at these T-shirts he got us…

Doesn’t this just spell “I support you honey?”


Pro argument: Don’t invite the vampire in. Having toned down the maniacal drive is a good thing. This is the “new phase” of my life where I learn that, in fact, the CEO of a major nonprofit being a snit is NOT that big a deal, but my daughter double-downing on Tylenol IS a big deal.  There’s maturity, perspective, and fewer highs and lows. DON’T LET THE VAMPIRE BACK IN!!

Con argument: Invite the vampire in. I’m in a professional coma. The old “get-obsessed-and-do-whatever-it-takes-to-get-it-done” part of me is possibly gone, or on hiatus. Only, no one has cured me of my coma or – conversely – ordered a DNR. I’m probably the only one who can do either. It’s time to welcome back our old friend…maybe there can be some cross-breeding with a Fairy like in True Blood so I can walk in the light with my kids and not be a professional troll/vampire holed away somewhere.

Sookie, a fairy on True Blood, whose blood allows Vampires to walk in the daylight. Bonus!

Well, “crat (this is my seven year-old’s attempt at a curse word).

Both of these sound sort of compelling.

I wonder if the answer is …. BOTH. I am BOTH in a new phase of my life, but also in a professional coma (compared to my past vampire drive self). So, what to do?  The main reason I don’t kick it up a notch is:

1. I get tired and

2. People in my house get cranky

If I’m not there to make things better, then…well….and that is when I came up with the Part Time Worker’s Bill of Rights. To keep people from thinking they’re doing too much, or not enough, and get my reinforcements in gear if I do hop back on the runaway train.

Part Time Worker’s Bill of Rights (Draft)

1. There is no such thing as “part-time.” The part-time worker is working ALL of the time. It’s really “split full-time.” List typical schedule here:

  • Typical schedule of split full-timer:________________________________

2. The part-time worker is home more often because it is understood that role has value. That value should be recognized and, if necessary, quantified to ensure a home filled with mutual respect for each other’s roles and skills sets. Quantify the numerical or other value of the part-time and full-time worker below:

  • Part-time professional worker:  ____________________________________
  • Full-time professional worker:  ____________________________________

3. Grievances of the part-time worker can and should be discussed, as they should for any member of the household. List what’s working and what’s not to be raised at a Sunday family meeting at 4:00. Use “I statements” in describing grievance, and make requests, not demands.

  • What’s working: _______________________________________________
  • What’s not working: _______________________________________________

4. The part-time worker reserves the right to “kick it into high gear.” If there is an opportunity,  he/she should expect some means to establish spouse and family support. Write an example of event, and type of support needed:

  • Kick it into high gear event/project example: __________________________________
  • Family/spouse support expected: _________________________________

5. The part-time worker should have a plan. Will they go back to full-time, if so when? Will they continue to work part-time? If so, the driven part-timer has an obligation to attempt to maximize “power per hour” or the amount accomplished/amount earned due to constricted hours. Write work schedule and plan for improving power per hour here:

  • Schedule: __________________________________________________________________
  • Power per hour tips: __________________________________________________________
  • Power per hour improvement plan: __________________________________________________

That’s as far as I’ve gotten.

What am I missing?


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.

Hot Mommas Project Talk Shoe Audio Blog Episodes

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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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#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

lg-share-en

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.

#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”

#34 How Entrepreneurs Deal With Failure

Today, I admit failure. I’ve been trying and trying to get this teleclass thing right. My research project  – the Hot Mommas Project – is now the world’s largest women’s case study library. Where to go from here? “You need to capture and package the knowledge you have from the Hot Mommas Project and your class at GW,” people tell me. Amy Millman of Springboard has suggested an Omni Media model (we can all dream….and Amy dreams BIG!).

Here is the tricky part: How to reconcile THINKING BIG with FEAR OF FAILURE.  As a former inhabitant of the fear-of-failure MSA, I invite you to read the over-achiever’s rules for failure, and the surprising benefits, mixed in with my lessons from interviewing thousands of business folk over the years.

The preface to falling on one’s face.

So, people have a couple of reactions to fear of failure. One is the white-knuckle grip:

The white knucklers: “I’m not going to let this sucker go and will fix this through force of will!”

The other reaction to failure is complacency:

The complacents: “Eh..who cares? That’s boring. Yada yada.”

Which are you? I am a varsity white-knuckler.  I have to carefully choose when and where I inject this temporary psychosis.  Good use of  white-knuckling psychosis: Getting into business school. Bad use of white-knuckling psychosis: Giving everything equal weight and drowning in your convictions. In my white knuckling hey-day, when I was applying to business school…for the second time…and getting my second round of recommendation letters, after taking the GMATS for the third time, I read the following on the letter in my application:

“Has a difficult time accepting failure.”

I remember thinking, “Oh, he’s just trying to come up with one of those negative/positive comments that the admissions committee will secretly like.”  But, all these years later, I actually wonder.

Is there a benefit to experiencing and working through failure?

And, is it an executive-level skill we should help the next generation to acquire? As an entrepreneur and educator who now realizes the benefit of experience -and the failure that MUST accompany that experience – I believe the answer is “yes.”  YES – failure is something we must experience, and be able to deal with. In the past, I viewed failure as a defeat. Now, I view it as an inevitable occurence from time to time. The real question is: What does one actually DO with failure once you encounter it.

1. Practice failing.

Yes, this sounds weird.  Start small. Little failures hurt less.  You may already be ahead of the game! Have you ever screwed up on a test? Made a social blunder? Gotten your TPS report in late?  Bad news: The “cringe” moment stinks. Good news: You’re trying things, which brings experience.

Action Item: In the left of three columns on a piece of paper, RECORD some of the small failures.

My example: As I complained about earlier, I put together a teleclass for women on mentoring. I thought “this will be the greatest thing since sliced bread!” I tweeted. People re-retweeted. For WEEKS. One person signed up.

2. Learn from the failure.

Every time you fail is an opportunity to learn. In addition to sounding like a really annoying thing your grandparents would tell you, this also happens to be true.

Action Item: In the middle column, write what you have learned from the failure.

My example: Momma-hood. I have never felt my learning curve and self-confidence increase so quickly as when I had kids. It DWARFS any business learnings in my life. How is that possible?  I am always messing stuff up, forgetting things, yelling when I say I won’t yell. But, I think I am a good mom. How is this possible? That one can royally screw stuff up AND be really good at their job?

Two things:

1. You just can. Literally no one is perfect…except George Clooney.

2. The more we TRY, the more we may FAIL, but the more we LEARN, which makes us BETTER. This process – with some successes and supporters mixed in – is what provides the life experience to weather the storm. If you’re driving a TANK of self-confidence and experience, a pebble will make a little ding. If you’re driving the Razor Scooter of self-confidence and experience, the pebble will pack more of a wallop.

If you’re driving a TANK of self-confidence and experience, a pebble will make a little ding. If you’re driving the Razor Scooter of self-confidence and experience, the pebble will pack more of a wallop.

My example part deux: Mommahood meets teleclass. When no one signed up for my teleclass, I first thought, “People don’t get it.” But, the truth is – it’s me who doesn’t get it. I go through this cycle of problem identification, frustration, and solution MUCH more quickly now. I have to. I’m a mom. I am JUST LIKE the momma rat described in this study at University of Richmond by Dr. Craig Kinsley:

“Upon becoming a mother, a female rat’s learning, memory, time management and efficiency improve.”

So, now, instead of dying a little death because something is wrong with the teleclass,  I think of it as a fun intellectual puzzle to figure out.

Skip this to avoid gory strategy detail (My thoughts on the problem with the telecalss):

  • I think it could be the title. My hypothesis is that the term “mentor” is too much like “will you marry me” after the first date. I need to start with a more junior varsity term.
  • The cost and time – I have a hard time believing it’s the cost, which is $99.  But, that could be a barrier. Also, two or three hours is a bit much for someone who has no idea who I am.

3. The Bounce Back.

There are parables about “fall down seven times, get up eight.”  That is LITERALLY what it’s all about in business and life. On example is students during the semester. When they fall behind, these students need to:

a. Admit it (to themselves).

b. Admit it (to me).

c. Make a plan to turn it around.

d. Execute the plan.

These steps are actually VERY HARD. Even more difficult, one might argue, than the messing up part.

Action item: In the third column, note the application of your learning. For instance, did you change the way you did TPS reports so you could get them in on time? My guess is that if there is no successful application of your learning (Step 2), you have NOT completed the process. Most need to go through Steps A through D.

“When you don’t learn your lesson, the universe brings it back to you.”

Marlene Elias

My example:

a. Admit it (to themselves). I know this teleclass is a dud, at least the marketing of it. The content is solid.

b. Admit it (to other stakeholders / involved parties). Well, there is only one other involved party at this point – the one student who needs to be refunded. However, taking this example broader – in an office setting there is nothing I love more than hearing “I screwed up, and here’s how I’m going to fix it.” It just makes me beam with pride. This person is demonstrating executive level critical thinking skills, putting the organization about themselves, and being solutions oriented! Brilliant! Achin (our Learning Community Manager) does this all of the time. It’s one of the reasons he is so excellent. You can’t be excellent if you can’t understand what success is, and how you are measuring up.

You can’t be excellent if you can’t understand what success is, and how you are measuring up.

c. Make a plan to turn it around. I will play with the teleclass verbiage going forward and see what kind of response I get. I think , again, the term “mentor” is too much of a committment for people. I’ve can safely rule out time (3 hours) and money ($99), because I have massive groups of people investing way more time and money for several-week courses I run on Women’s Business Leadership.

d. Execute the plan. I actually do not plan to do this in the near-term. I plan to have this in “observe and learn” mode. I have some other priorities right now and feel I’ve already put this through one R&D cycle.

  • 5.26.10 – Okay, I totally lied. I spent the morning after this post re-working the tele-class. I lowered the commitment (to one hour) and the price (to “free”). The second major step was taking out the word “mentor,” and making a more interesting title. What are people REALLY going to get out of this? It’s MORE than a mentor. I made the title reflect that. I tried to – as Rosabeth Moss Kanter says – “grab them by the throat” right away (this was just a very impactful way of saying “non optional…get their attention”). People don’t have time to ferret out what the heck you’re talking about. In fact, you probably don’t have the time to read this. What are you doing? Get back to work! Click here to see the new seminar page.
  • Why do this? Don’t our business school professors teach us not to compete on price? (Unless you are employing the “cost leadership” position, which I’m not). Well, I am building a funnel. The funnel has to be wide. Making it a two- or three-hour commitment, and charging for it, creates to many barriers. So, I am seeing how this “broad and slim” approach goes.  I have no good analogy for this. Ice rink?

The results. It’s working.

  • New strategy for teleclass.  Number of Tweets = 2. Number of Registrants = 2.
  • Old strategy for teleclass. Number of Tweets (and Retweets) = 156. Number of Registrants = 1.

WORDS OF WARNING: Don’t be “too good” to fail.

Where your resume and experience can help you: A D&B report indicates that 96% of small business failure is attributable to managerial incompetence. So, your experience and education CAN help in that way.

Where your resume and experience can’t help you:You know those people who JUST CAN’T admit their plan stinks, or they are horrible at organizing? These may be the same people who have a hard time apologizing for things and – worse yet – try to make it your fault! Don’t feel bad. These people are condemned to a type of business and career purgatory. They will not advance because they cannot even get to part “a” of the bounce back plan: Admitting it.  This knuckle-dragging behavior will always come back to haunt someone in their career or personal life. Looking a challenge right in the face, even if you created that challenge, is the surest way to a true feeling of freedom and success.

Looking a challenge right in the face, even if you created that challenge, is the surest way to a true feeling of freedom and success.

PARTING THOUGHTS: At the end of the day you have to be a real person, saying what really happened, and working toward a solution, usually with other people. Otherwise you will be stunted from an emotional and a career standpoint. As I tell my students: It’s not about being right, it’s about making it better.

It’s not about being right, it’s about making it better.

What is the Hot Mommas Project?

The Hot Mommas Project is an award-winning venture housed at the George Washington University School of Business.  We make women’s stories teachable using our “case wizard” at www.HotMommasProject.org . The Hot Mommas Project library is the first of its kind, providing scalable, global access to role models and virtual mentors that can be used by educators, trainers, and parents. We’ve been featured in Prentice Hall textbooks, the Washington Post Magazine, NPR and are the winner of a national Coleman Foundation case award.

How you can get involved: Write your story, or nominate a dynamic woman 18 or older.

Our call for 2011 nominations has begun. While the contest runs through January 31, 2011 – Start now! There will be prizes this spring and fall for early bird publishers.

How it works: Nominated women come online, write their story using our “case wizard,” and click “publish” to be permanently archived in our case library.  Winners will be published in a leading Prentice Hall textbook in addition to other honors and prizes. To participate, nominate a dynamic woman 18 or older (yourself included) here or find us on Twitter. No, you do not need to be a mom. To inquire about sponsorship, email us.

#33 Giving Myself a Wife for Mother’s Day

Traumatized? Spent? Overwhelmed? Don’t feel bad. You’re not alone. In a presentation I gave to the Entrepreneur’s Organization a couple of years ago, I told them the tale of “What Women Want” based on research from the Hot Mommas Project. The goal was to better understand and support their female employees. By the time I was finished, and explained the multiple directions in which women are pulled, how they feel responsible for everything and everyone, and that no one supports them, one of the uber-successful male entrepreneurs raised his hand and said:

“That’s exactly how I feel.”

What? Multi-million dollar male entrepreneurs feeling the same as stressed-out, multitasking women? No way!

Way.

And as “Zurg” in my kid’s Buzz Lightyear cartoon says:

Very much way.

When busy is good!

As the Hot Mommas Project has taken off and become the world’s largest women’s case study library, many many requests are now starting to flood in. See our list of 2010 winners HERE. I am very very proud of these amazing women who’ve shared their stories in a teachable format to help the next generation and each other.

When Busy is Bad. My Mother’s Day Resolution: A wife.

For Mother’s Day I’m making a resolution.

The resolution has to do with  getting in front of the chaos. Not 100% in front of the chaos, just getting in “the zone.” In some of my outside classes with female executives, I teach women that you need to be okay with work-life balance in the 40% to 70% range. I need to get back into that range. Here are a few signs that I’m not (maybe you identify with these?):

1. Mounting emails. (Spending time coordinating details of meetings when I’d prefer to get the one, single ‘here’s when the meeting is’ email.)

2. Having lists of things that never get done, but are important.

3. Feeling that the above things are starting to make me look bad.

My resolution is to get a personal assistant.

I often dream of having a wife, but, will settle for someone to help me deal with email, errands, and my calendar. I am a pretty hyper-organized person, however, with bandwith GONE we all must go to the next level. I am doing this, also, to up my game – in advance – in preparation for being even MORE busy.  So, in addition to my wonderful team at the Hot Mommas Project, and the excellent,  supportive folks at the George Washington University, I have decided to get myself a little gift. A personal assistant!

What Busy Women Want: The Research.

BUSINESS (aka BUSY-NESS), the irony of that name.

Before asking you how you find and use personal assistants, let’s look at the facts. Hot Mommas Project research shows a few things that busy women want and need to be successful in multiple facets of their life, including:

1. Support – from home (spouse/partner #1) and work (#2). It’s where you log the hours.

2. Control – over work schedule, and location.

3. Focus – what do you REALLY want to achieve. Focus on it like a laser. Sometimes, this even involves a pre-step of thinking about what you REALLY think of as “success” and what makes you happy.

Now, here is a question for the readers.

Exactly how does one use a personal assistant. Can you help me?

I am hoping you folks out there can share with me how you use personal assistants and what tasks are most helpful.  In exchange, I plan to share the top things I’ve done over the past several to help save time, take care of my family, and take care of myself all of which make me feel like I CAN DO IT. Doing something is so much better than whining!

Good Guys & Gals: Helping busy women.

Below are “businesses that get it”: They admire, respect, and support women.  We make 80% of household purchasing decisions ladies, so, here’s where to channel that power.

Alchemie Forever – This is a great skin care line run by a female entrepreneur who brought her family’s products used in their swiss medi-spa over to the states. Think “Swiss Family Polla.” See their great Mother’s Day packages at this link: http://www.alchimie-forever.com/

SEPHORA – A 2009 and 2010 Hot Mommas Project sponsor. We heart SEPHORA, doesn’t everyone?

Ted Gibson Salon & Hela Spa – This power duo is offering discounts to DC Hot Mommas between May 1 and 9. Contact them to take advantage of this special promotion offered to Hot Mommas! Love people who have our backs!

Okay, so, maybe I’m a little bit spa obsessed. We can’t forget our official “sleep away” spa GREEN VALLEY SPA in Utah. Delicious. Maybe you can take your wife there. 🙂

What is the Hot Mommas Project?

The Hot Mommas Project is an award-winning venture housed at the George Washington University School of Business.  We make women’s stories teachable using our “case wizard” at www.HotMommasProject.org . The Hot Mommas Project library is the first of its kind, providing scalable, global access to role models and virtual mentors that can be used by educators, trainers, and parents. We’ve been featured in Prentice Hall textbooks, the Washington Post Magazine, NPR and are the winner of a national Coleman Foundation case award.

How you can get involved: Write your story, or nominate a dynamic woman 18 or older.

Our call for 2011 nominations has begun. While the contest runs through January 31, 2011 – Start now! There will be prizes this spring and fall for early bird publishers.

How it works: Nominated women come online, write their story using our “case wizard,” and click “publish” to be permanently archived in our case library.  Winners will be published in a leading Prentice Hall textbook in addition to other honors and prizes. To participate, nominate a dynamic woman 18 or older (yourself included) here or find us on Twitter. No, you do not need to be a mom. To inquire about sponsorship, email us.