Tag Archives: business networking

National Offline Day – August 3, 2014

27 May

I traveled back from London, UK to Toronto last Friday, May 16 after a week of working, and I was dismayed to read the headline article in the Daily Mail about a recent study linking heavy internet to negative outcomes for our youth (click on the image that follows or the link beneath it to read the article.)

Not that I hadn’t been hearing rumors about the negative effects of online and the lack of good, solid communication skills prevailing in North America and Europe (and not just in our young people) … I just didn’t expect the widespread results found in this latest research.

So, I’d like to declare Sunday August 3, 2014 as National Offline Day!  (Here’s the link to the Facebook event page I created: https://www.facebook.com/events/1492244714326734/?source=1#)

The intention is to unplug for 12 hours from social media and be a day for families, friends, and especially children to reconnect with each other and meet people the old-fashioned way – in person!

Here’s what I propose:  Sunday August 3, 2014 from 9am to 9pm (in whatever time zone you are) commit to go offline and unplug for 12 hours!  (After 9 pm, post photos of your experience and add comments to the Facebook event.)

You can use your cell phone to MAKE CALLS only – no texting, no Facebook posts, no tweeting, no email – for 12 hours.  Spend time through direct one-on-one contact with your kids, your friends, meet new people, get in contact with your fellow human beings (or connect with the good in yourself!)

Have a picnic, a beach day, a craft brew bottle share, a bbq – anything you normally would do – but without any online exchange.  Will you support this – what do you think?

Share the idea around, and let’s just do it!  Can we make National Offline Day August 3, 2014 happen?

Background

Here’s the article in the Daily Mail May 15, 2014 you can read for yourself, the Headline speaks volumes!

daily mail web usehttp://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2629866/Heavy-web-use-harms-childs-mental-health-Every-hour-raises-risk-warns-watchdog.html

While I don’t agree that the Internet CAUSES mental illness (in the same way that the internet cannot cause weak ankles, poor vision or the like) – I do agree that we have nurtured unconscious alienation from each other through “the advancements in communication” technology.

Kids are the first to suffer from a lack of physical love and words of affection – exacerbated with technology. Kids need connection, hugs, kind words of affirmation – in other words direct human contact!

That’s the reason behind National Offline Day August 3, 2014.

(Sidenote, I do agree that the internet has many positive results such as creating community among those who feel alienated in offline life, but bear with me for a moment.)

Online technology has become an excuse for poor one-on-one communication – regardless of age!

Communication experts note that messages received rely on body language and tone, with only 7% of the message getting through based on the chosen words.  With today’s instant messaging and other online forms, 100% of the message relies on words (or stupid acronyms like Laugh Out Loud – LOL.)

Let’s make a point of getting in touch with each other this one day a year (to start) and maybe create it more often too!

Have a great week (as you read this post online!  And probably were alerted to it by Facebook or Twitter… LOL!)

– Carol

Are Women the Worst (Workplace) Bullies?

3 May

Last week, Forbes published an interesting article titled: Why Women are the Worst Kind of Bullies:

What do YOU think?  My first reaction was:

Charlie Brown’s Lucy (or worse)… in the workplace

If you grew up in North America, you are probably familiar with the cartoon character “Lucy” from the Charlie Brown series.  Lucy would run roughshod over her “frenemies” and friends,  coddle up to her crush Shroeder, and generally disregard the feelings of anyone in her path (especially Charlie Brown, who she would ridicule and torment with endless promises to hold the football!)  Lucy was so ignorant of her own hostility that she even appoints herself the go-to problem solver with her “The Doctor is In” lemonade stand. (No matter, Lucy was still a bully.)

The topic of bullies is front and center these days thanks to the philanthropic efforts of Lady Gaga and Oprah at Harvard, the recent release of the documentary “Bully“, and a rise of suicides linked to cyber-bullying.  But bullying is not confined to schools – in fact, workplace bullying traditionally has been categorized and addressed as sexual harassment, if at all.  Adult bullying can take many forms such as narcissistic bosses (see my post: Walking on Eggshells – Source of Back Pain?), harassment, group think (pressure to conform to the wishes of the group), and biases against minorities/gender/age, etc.  The article in Forbes cites a much more insidious, everyday situation of workplace bullying where women don’t just usurp other women, but can even create hazards and obstacles for others.

It’s not a “Catfight”…

As a female, mechanical engineer by training, and an IT consultant and international speaker by experience, my career has not been traditional.  While it is common knowledge that men are intimidated by strong, confident women when it comes to relationships (I am seldom asked out by professional, single men), it is less frequent in the workplace.  When it is, I have found that in a male-dominated, professional workplace there is a direct and honest response – either the team embraces professional women or they do not.  Seldom when men are involved do I have to “guess” whether I can fit in and be productive.  At this point in my career, I have a name and a solid reputation in my industry, so I find that men will typically accept (and sometimes even celebrate) me on a team and see the positive contribution (there are exceptions of course!)

Stereotypically, it has not been the same situation with women who are on par or above my level – and that has been a source of confusion and at times, “shock and awe”.  In some professional (and more often in personal) situations, same aged women, on the surface, have welcomed me with open arms offering their friendship and help, then reached behind to stab me in the back, and in the process they never stopped smiling.  Sometimes it’s no wonder that men do not understand – I do not understand and I’m a woman!

It is a strange thing… granted, men and women everywhere will step on and use others to get ahead (is it human nature or nurture?) – but the behavior is different.  Men will more often attack head on, directly and consistently; there is no question about their intentions or offensive behavior.  Predictable, consistent, stab you in the chest.  I can accept that and take action to avoid the pain.

What is more difficult to deal with is the in-your-face-nice girl accompanied by the reach-behind-your-back to stab you behavior that women (again stereotypically) use on other women.  While we women are confounded to make sense of female-on-female treatment by our own gender, men often trivialize the behavior as a “Catfight” (thereby marginalizing it as hormones raging out of control.)  There is far more to the behavior than meets the eye, and it is an area undergoing frequent research (with few answers!)

When I look ahead to my daughter in the workplace, I realize that technology advances have not changed the human interactions (in fact they create less face to face communication).  Our workplace and human relations are really not much different today than 30 years ago.  Given my experiences, I posted several articles which may be of interest:

And I found several other interesting posts from others:

And of course, the recent maelstrom of frenzied activity stemming from the UK Mail post:

The question: “Why are females mean to other females?” is today either avoided or hotly debated, but the fact remains that the situation won’t simply go away by marginalizing it as “Catty behavior” or ignoring it all together.

As women, we have enough to deal with in life being parents, co-workers, survivors of the economy, caregivers, neighbors, significant others, and just plain noble citizens without having to watch out for other women gunning to get us!

In the words of Rodney King (the focus of the LA Riots 20 years ago) – Can’t we just get along?

Finding a good team of like-minded people!

I am fortunate to now be a part of a wonderful team at QSM, Inc. with confident, powerful, assertive women who are not intimidated or jealous of other professional women.  Our multi-disciplinary, gender balanced team is forward thinking and definitely supportive of each other.  I am blessed to say I’m on the same team with several high-powered, direct, accomplished, and supportive women – it is a dream come true!

The Way Forward…

I believe that women need to learn to start supporting other women, and we need to stop stereotyping men as the culprits to the bullying phenomenon.

It reminds me of the situation regarding minority cultures who point to other cultures and races as the source of their problems (that they cannot solve), when the answers realistically lie with working within their own community to create solutions.

This brings to mind the saying popularized by the Pogo cartoon:   “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

As popular self-help gurus point out, when you point a finger at another, there are four fingers pointing straight back at you!  As women and mothers, I believe that we need to start a movement (even a movement of one!) that nurtures, boosts, and supports other women – at home, work, and everywhere.   Such a movement of women (and supportive men) would take our country and our workplaces into a brighter future!

Today, take the first step to say a kind word to another – you just never know what that might lead to (especially if that person met a bully only moments before!)

Have a great week,

Carol

Shortcuts and half-baked solutions

2 May

Rarely do we find men who willingly engage in hard, solid thinking. There is an almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions. Nothing pains some people more than having to think. –Martin Luther King, Jr.

Wow!  Incredibly powerful words from decades ago – yet they have never been more true than today!  Whether in business or in personal affairs, no one seems to value hard work, persistence, or thinking these days.  Relationships are disposable, communication is impersonal (with text-message soundbites), governments look for the quick fix, corporations value capitalism over people, and shortcuts are the norm rather than the exception.

I don’t know about you, but my email inbox seems to attract an ever-increasing barrage of spam – most offering “get rich while you sleep” schemes – and it makes me wonder who is actually working while all of these salesmen are busy promoting.  At tax time (April 15), the Tampa Bay Times featured a front page article showing the latest scam where scammers submit fraudulent tax returns (using social security numbers of dead people) to “earning” an average of $9000. per return.  None of the offenders feared the IRS and they were proud of their endeavors.  Sheesh, what is our society coming to when someone’s 15 minutes of fame comes at a heavy expense to all of us?

Several months ago, the same paper profiled citizens among us vacationing on proceeds their insurance company paid out for sink hole claims for repairs never made.  Both stories highlighted the shortcuts that cost taxpayers millions.

Yet there are millions of other smaller shortcuts to fame and fortune and half-baked scams happening everyday all around us.

Why do we accept (and settle for) short cuts and half-baked solutions in life today? 

The first step to realization is to look at our behavior (before we look at others.)  Why do we take shortcuts or live with half-baked solutions to what ails us?  Probably because it is easier, less work, less stress, and comes with less risk of failure (and rework) to do the least possible.  This allows us to save our energy for things that “really matter” later.  As a result of not doing our best, we are dissatisfied with the results from ourselves or others.

Moreover, when we do do our best, people may not appreciate it, so why bother to spend extra effort?  When we look around, if everyone else takes shortcuts, why shouldn’t we?  The answer is that, in the process, we shortchange ourselves, our children (who learn by example), and our community.

We can see the results of our shortcuts and half-baked solutions everywhere: products don’t last like they used to; quality is down;  expectations are down; product failures are up; and morale goes awry. In the banking crisis, banking professionals bet against their own customers to pursue profits, got away with it, and even got a bonus bailout for their efforts.  No wonder our children seek shortcuts in everything they do.

The Buck has to stop somewhere…why not with us?

When we start to fully perform our work, invest in relationships (they take work), take time to do things right the first time (instead of half-baked), and insist on the same from others, our world (and morale) will improve. The America of yesteryear was filled with innovation, invention, progress, hope and dreams; hard work and integrity prevailed.

I envision a future where I can look back and be proud that I put the effort in to “fully bake” solutions – at least for my life.  How about you?

Wishing you a success-filled week.

Carol

Never too Late…

30 Apr

I find it amazing that we measure what we do in life in time blocks – justifying our inaction by how much time the action might take.  “I can’t go to school – it will take four years,” is a popular lament amongst high school graduates eager to make their fortune.  Parents, however, lament how a year off before entering college is folly that will keep their kid from ever returning to full time study.

The truth is that no matter what we do (or do not do) in life, time ticks on…. four years will go by no matter if the student goes to college or works.

The fact that time marches on regardless of and in spite of our plans, hesitations, and need to “get ready” for the right time to act ‘should be’ impetus enough to get us moving.  There will never be a better time (for anything) than the present because it is the only guarantee in life. We cannot change the past (it’s gone) or the future (we have no control over what WILL happen), but we do have the present!

It is never too late to do anything as long as you start whatever it is you want to do, now!  It is never too late to return to school, to renew contact with old friends, to contact a lost love, to get a new job, to make amends, to act!  While certain physical dreams (such as being an Olympic figure skater at age 50) may be physically impossible, it is never too late to scale back a dream and make headway (i.e., take up figure skating now.) More typically we invent the artificial obstacles to prevent our own success and keep ourselves from trying something new (which can be scary!)

What better time than today to consider taking a small step towards a big dream – even if the dream started decades ago?

What do you have in your dream chest that deserves to be started today?  What’s stopping you?  Remember if it is something that might take you 5 years – the time will go by regardless so why not move in the direction of your dreams?  If you do not, in five years you will be in exactly the same place as you are today – just five years behind on your dream.

It truly is never too late if you just take one small step – today. What do YOU want to start while it is never too late – today?

Carol

Unconditional

5 Apr

Unconditional…

A Dr. Suess concept concocted as a dream, half-baked, and fed to the masses eager for acceptance and love.

Whoever says life in any way is unconditional has mastered self-love (which can be unconditional), and accepts the world at face value and the terms it presents.  Relationships with others are, at their core, conditional on what each party can get out of it.  When one party’s conditions are that the other give completely (while they take completely), the relationship ends. Sometimes conditions are parasitic, sometimes symbiotic, sometimes conditions change. But there are always conditions.

Love is based on relationship(s). Life is a complex web of rules and conditions.  Always changing, morphing, ebbing and tiding.

Not bad, not good, just is. Life is a conditional reality.

Have a happy day – and love yourself for the wonderful person you are!

Carol

Baggage Fees for People…

13 Mar

Whatever life takes away from you, let it go.  When you surrender and let go of the past, you allow yourself to be fully alive in the moment. – don Miguel Ruiz

This is true whether life has taken from you your life savings, relationships (toxic or not), possessions, emotions, or people.

In our capitalist society, we grow up with the illusion that whoever amasses the most things – wins!  In addition to material things, we hold emotions and experiences, and keep them forever (even when it is not good for us!)  Sometimes I think we are like the TV showHoarders” with the amount of intellectual and emotional baggage we drag behind us.  (If you do not think you are “packing” baggage, think about how often you serenade friends with the same litany of a past hurt…)

The analogy of baggage fees for emotional baggage hit me the other day at the airport as a fashionista was unloading her luggage on to a baggage cart for an upcoming flight. She was aghast when the agent assessed her with hundreds of dollars in “extra” baggage fees, and I realized that this same situation could work well with the invisible baggage we all insist on bringing with us.

Think about it for a minute – why do we need to bring a “steamer trunk” full of childhood pain along to a family picnic?  The answer is that we DON”T!

Imagine if we could visualize the baggage that we and everyone else bring along when we go out?  Picture this hilarious scenario:  People at a picnic surrounded by masses of steamer trunks (full of crap), garment bags (with clothes that no longer fit) , sports equipment (long worn out), golf bags (with mismatched clubs), garbage bags (filled with discarded papers), and suitcases so old they need duct tape to stay together.

It would be the most bizarre scene from “Hoarders” (people who discard nothing!)

Baggage fees for people?

If we were forced to pay fees (which we do unconsciously) for each unnecessary piece of baggage we brought the world economy would restart in a minute!  The world would change for the better in two ways:

  1. People would carefully pack only the luggage they need to take on a journey and discard the rest (we would all be more emotionally healthy!);
  2. Those who wish to remain emotional “hoarders” would contribute financially for the privilege!

The emotional baggage we carry is invisible, yet we drag, push, and pull way too much of it along like some sort of badge of honor.  If it were real, some of it would smell bad, be oozing out of its containers, and some of it would be so dangerous as to alert the “HAZMAT” team (hazardous materials).

We do not realize that life could be so much easier (with great fitness benefits to our emotional health) by discarding, recycling, reframing, and forgiving the things we lost in the past and that life took from us. Things we thought we need to keep might actually be costing us unconsciously by holding on to them.  Clear out your storage locker and your mind of this clutter and make room for new emotions and wonderful experiences today. (Related post: New Math – Subtraction can add Years to your life!)

We need to take inventory and streamline our journey forward by discarding the worn out and out-of-date from our lives!

Starting today, I am going to work to discard the waste, and watch what bags I pack to go out tonight.

If it is more than I can fit into a small purse – it is tooooooo much!  If I go out and drag along a few extra steamer trunks (out of habit), I will ask my friends to collect baggage fees at the table.  What do you think?

Have a great (baggage free) week!

Carol

Sparks of YES experiment… are you In?

23 Feb

Have you ever noticed how just one small “YES” can totally transform your day?  

When your day is filled with so many “NO’s”, even just one “YES” can make the difference and allow our spirit to soar.  Just one “YES” can make your heart skip a beat!

Imagine how transformational millions of  “YES” sparks could be!  (And that’s going to be my challenge to you at the end of this post – would you be part of a Sparks of YES experiment and spread the word?)

One YES can inspire another, and hopefully in turn inspire two others, and two more and so on and so on…until the collective inertia of the NO’s is overcome by what I call “The Sparks of YES” experiment.

Sound hokey?  Maybe… but whatever, I still think it will work.  Please read on.

The Culture of too many NO’s…

We live in interesting and perplexing times:  unemployment is at an all time high, more people have given up looking for jobs (why bother?)”, suicide rates are soaring, the divorce rate in Florida hovers at 75% (really!) and millions are easing their pain with everyday addictions (Florida leads the nation in oxycodone abuse)… Damn it, failure is (again!) the soup of the day.

What is puzzling is that we are the same species as we were before the banks plunged us into chaotic recession.  We are the same people who made this nation great, before the greed of Wall Street and the 1% took over.  It is NOT up to the 1% to take care of the 99% – they never have and never will.

What’s my name, do I belong ?

As a county (and  a state and a nation…) we have the same potential for success as ever, yet millions of our fellow citizens walk through their days feeling beat up, spit out, knocked down, and depressed.  They’ve sent out hundreds of resumes, knocked on countless doors, worn out pens filling out job applications, hit “apply” on computer screens – all without success.  We make millions of phone calls begging for mortgage relief, plead for food stamps, appeal to utility companies – and swear at more “automated”  voice response systems than we should in a lifetime.  And it all seems to come down to the same thing – no one seems to care, there’s so little forward movement, and every step we take seems to take us backwards.

UNTIL that one day-changing moment when someone says “YES”!

  • Yes, I can give you more time to pay that bill.”
  • “Yes, you can come to work for me.”
  • “Yes, your resume looks good and we will call you for an interview.”
  • “Yes, I gave you extra whipped cream on that latte for no charge.”
  • “Yes, you deserve my time.”

YES changes the world from shades of gray to Technicolor!  YES gives us hope.  A bit of YES spells potential success… (at least until the NO’s overwhelm us again.)  But I believe that we can overcome the inertia of so many NO’s, with lots of Sparks of YES!

My “YES” today came from my friend Steve…

I found a YES in my inbox today and it inspired me to write this post. (The second post in one day!)

I’d like to share my YES with you — My friend Steve took the time to send me this card (click on the link below and you can enjoy the experience yourself!). Thank you for inspiring me to create YES’s for others,  Steve! (Here’s the link: http://www.jacquielawson.com/viewcard.asp?code=3382268653748&source=jl999 )

JacquieLawson.com

Overcoming Collective Inertia

I sometimes wonder “Where have all the caring people gone?”

The answer is that they have gone “underground” because they are also beat up, kicked down, and feeling sunk.  Why bother caring when no one else does?

A fire starts with a single spark – and can grow into a magnificent fire… a locomotive starts moving with a single burst of electrical ignition… we can become a positive society again if we convert our culture of NO into a culture of YES.

The Challenge…The Sparks of YES experiment

“Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me…”

Where can you begin in your life to inject more “YES’s” ?  I challenge you to double your YES output – first, notice how many times you say or meet with a NO response, and second. respond to it by giving two YES’s to people in your day.

This is not going to be easy!  If you meet or hear “NO” twice today, that means your challenge is to give out FOUR YES’s.  They don’t need to be big or monumental YES’s, just enough to build momentum against the mountain of NO’s!  Double your YES output and watch what happens…

WILL YOU SAY “YES” TO SAYING “YES” ?

PLEASE let me know if you take up the challenge and what are your results…

Have an inspiring weekend!

Carol

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