Networking And The Stay-At-Home Parent – Guest Baby Tip
Feb 21 2008

I babble about business, babies, and parenthood on this blog, so those of you who come here to read my posts on entrepreneurship but do not have babies, please forward this post to your friends and family who do have babies. For those who have babies and dabble in business, these tips might be right up your alley.  If you have babies and no interest in business, then send it on to the folks you know who are knee-deep in business and encourage them to have a baby!  🙂  To read other great baby tips, check out the baby tips category.

Thom Singer, our very own Austin-based networking guru, bravely accepted my invitation to write a guest baby tip.   Thom Singer is the director of business development for vcfo in Austin, Texas. He is also a professional speaker and the author of two books on the power of business relationships and networking: “Some Assembly Required: How to Make, Grow and Keep Your Business Relationships” and “The ABC’s of Networking.”  He is currently working on “Some Assembly Required for Women” with co-author Marny Lifshen. He also blogs at Some Assembly Required.  And now here is his fabulous baby tip:

Networking And The Stay-At-Home Parent

thom-and-family-crop.jpgHaving children changes everything. It doesn’t matter what kind of life you lived before or how your family handles the arrival of your bundle of joy(s), introducing kids into the equation shakes up all of your priorities.

When my first daughter, Jackie, was born I was thirty years old. I was working in a sales position, making decent money, and building my professional reputation and network of contacts. I was ambitious, and did not think that being a parent would make my life all that different. My wife had planned to quit her job and stay home with our children, and I figured I would continue along my career path un-affected by fatherhood.

While on maternity leave my wife received the word that she was being promoted to the job she had desired for seven years with her employer. While she did not make as much money as I did at the time, the opportunity was too good to pass up, and after much discussion and soul searching, I found myself quitting my job to become a stay-at-home dad for two years.

Being a full-time parent is hard work. Don’t kid yourself unless you have taken on this responsibility for more than a few days. There are no days off, no coffee breaks, no business trips, expense accounts or anything else that is an accepted corporate perk. I had never thought growing up that I would be a stay-at-home dad, as there was no such job description or role models who did such a thing. In the late 1990’s the concept was still even more rare than it is today.

I found this time to be very challenging, but also extremely rewarding. Eleven years later Jackie and I have a very close relationship and we share a wonderful bond from those early days of always being together. However, I also knew that this was a temporary role, as my wife would have preferred to have been at home, and I longed to have a blossoming career. Thus I spent much of the time continuing to network and cultivate relationships that would allow me to one day return to the work world. Although there were some naysayers who warned me that my professional career would never recover from the two years away, the reality was because of the active networking I was able to bounce right back into my career when the time was right.

Whether you are a man or a woman, if you decide to take on the role of stay-at-home parenting while your children are young, you need to keep your professional relationships alive. This will not happen by accident, and it takes time and effort (things in short supply when babies are teething, learning to walk, getting sick, and just being cute as all get out!), but neglecting your network can make it much more difficult to transition back to the workforce when that time arrives.

I was very proactive and made sure I had one breakfast and one lunch meeting each week. I was lucky, as Jackie was a very agreeable baby who was happy to sit quietly on my lap or in her stroller while I talked business with friends and former co-workers. While some people are self-conscious about bringing their kids along to business meetings, I never looked at this as a negative. Caring for Jackie was my job, and it was just as important (or more important!) as being a lawyer, accountant or financial planner. As she got older and was more mobile, I would often need to be more creative on setting up these meetings, working around my wife’s schedule or trading babysitting with a neighbor in order to have such appointments. However, there is always a way when you realize that something is a priority.

When it came time to return to work it was easy to put the word out that I was looking for a job as I was still a visible part of the business community. This was as much a state-of-mind as it was a result of my actions.

Choosing to leave the work world to be home with your kids can be both difficult and rewarding. The isolation of not having other grown-ups around can leave one feeling very disconnected. If you can relate to these feelings, then you need to take charge of your networking efforts and get back out into the world. Your future opportunities will all come from people, so you need to make, grow and keep your business relationships.

Have A Great Day.


If you like this tip, you might be interested in these great ones too:

15 Tips for Traveling with Baby by Maryam Scoble at Maryamie

Throw A Baby Kegger For Your Buddy by Clay Nichols at DadLabs

Keeping a Baby Food Journal by Neena at A Mom’s Life at

Increasing Milk Supply by Carole Hayes at Alias Tex

Note to new readers: these tips are based on our experiences, as well as those of our friends and readers. Please always consult with your doctor before implementing any tip that might impact the health of your baby. If you have a tip you’d like to submit please send an email to blogger at babblesoft dot com.  Please check the ‘baby tips’ category to make sure your tip (in some form or fashion) hasn’t already been posted. If it has been, feel free to comment on that post and support the tip. We also welcome respectful challenges to the tips because as is noted in our inaugural baby tip ‘everything is relative!’ We will, of course, give anyone who submits a tip we publish credit and lotsa link love!

Author: | Filed under: baby, baby tips, networking, parenting, stay at home dad | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

2007 Sweet Blogging Candy Connections
Dec 27 2007

Picture by my friend Sandy Blanchard

Liz Strauss did a post asking us how we thank our blog friends and it got me thinking as Liz’s posts often do.  As 2007 comes to a close, I’d like to take the opportunity to thank and recognize all the amazing connections with amazing people I’ve made as a result of starting this blog this year.  Your posts and comments have made me laugh, shed tears, smile, raise my eyebrows, share, grow as a person, and most importantly LEARN.  Thank you!  In no particular order (except for the first one), they are:

Connie Reece of Every Dot Connects – She is the one who got me started with blogging!

Wendy Piersall of eMoms at Home.  She gave me the honor of guest posting on her blog with a post called Entrepreneurship: A Blessing or a Curse?

Liz Strauss of Successful Blog – she called me an SOB (Successful and Oustanding Blogger)

Naomi Dunford of IttyBiz – check out her mini case study on Babble Soft

Pearl at Interesting Observations

Neena of A Mom’s Life at Neenmachine – check out her guest baby tip on keeping a baby food journal

Carole Hayes of Alias Tex – check out her guest baby tip post on increasing your milk supply

Bryan Mennell of Austin Startup – check out my guest post called Parenting a Startup and Kids.

Carleen Hawn of Found|Read – check out her post about one of my posts called Sometimes, You Gotta Ignore the Experts

Nataly Kagan of Work It, Mom – she mentioned me in one of her posts on her personal blog Learning Optimism that she later posted on Huffington Post.

Thom Singer of Some Assembly Required – He recently did a post on passion and mentioned me.

Lee Aase from Lines from Lee – he helped me with setting up the Babble Soft facebook page.

Robb at the Robblog – long time friend.  I think I forced him into blogging or something like that.

Clay Nichols of DadLabs – fellow Austin entrepreneur in the parenting area.  If you haven’t seen it (and aren’t easily offended) check out their Manly Breastfeeding Video.

Eric Doggett of DogBlog – a fellow Austin entreprenuer/photographer

Shane & Peter of Shane & Peter – because of Shane’s post requesting us to interview ourselves I wrote a post called An Entrepreneurial Self Portrait.

Maryam Scoble of Maryamie – don’t be surprised if you see me on the Scobleshow in 2008!

Char at Casual Keystrokes

Randa Clay of Randa Clay Design

Jennifer Laycock of The Lactivist– nursing out loud

Karen Rani and Vicki Maxel of Swank Webstyle – they did my entrepreMusings blog design and implementation as well as our current corporate site.

We have exchanged meaningful (at least to me!) emails/blog comments, spoken on the phone, or met in person this past year.  They have helped me in my journey and I hope that I’ve been able to help them too!  I apologize if I’ve forgotten someone as I’m typing this up before we head out for the holidays.  If I have, let me know and I’ll add you to the list. 

Thank you all for enriching my life in 2007!

Author: | Filed under: blogging, networking | Tags: , , , , , , , | 14 Comments »

Social Media Mania – What’s A Gal To Do?
Dec 13 2007

Wendy at eMoms at Home did a post recently where she asked her readers “How do you Use Social Media to Promote Your Business?”  I didn’t have time to answer then and I’m sure I missed out on the free books, which is OK because I never seem to have time to read any books these days.  I’ve had a few days off from software testing, so I figured I’d do a post about it.

There are so many aspects to social media that it’s tough for an entrepreneur to keep up.  I mean we still have to sleep!  Fortunately, I’m fairly social.  I mentioned on a post that Liz Strauss did recently called Business and Life: Are You Making the Most of the Conversation? that “I am a Participant, rarely a Lurker, and often a Listener.”

It is fun making friends all over the world and it’s easy to be social from behind your computer when it fits with your schedule.  In the past I resisted joining sites like facebook because of the time commitment

To do a social network right, I figure it means committing significant time to it.  When you are launching a start-up, planning to raise funds, taking care of kids, maintaining a house, etc., it’s not easy to be as active as one should be in these networks over time.  But so far it’s been fascinating to see how other people interact with the networks.  I mean can you believe that facebook has over 55 million users all over the world?  That is amazing!  So here’s what I’ve done and what I’ve observed:

I started this blog (it had a different name before) with the help of Connie Reece. She gave me the kick start I needed! I think I did my first post back in May 2007. The blog has been fun and I know it has driven some additional traffic to my company site, Babble Soft, but to date I haven’t seen that it’s resulted in more than just a few additional sales. As a result of having a blog, I joined MyBlogLog, FeedBurner, Technorati, StumbleUpon, Digg, and BlogHer. Wendy was also kind enough to invite me to join the Home Business & Entrepreneur FeedBurner Ad Network. I haven’t made much money from these particular ad networks (maybe in total $100) but it has given me exposure to other bloggers and made me aware of other businesses.

I entered some competitions to hopefully win prizes and get additional exposure. I can’t remember all of them but I know I did one at Alpha Moms and I just entered Intuit’s Just Start challenge where I have the potential to win $50K for my business! The ‘vote for me’ widget will be on the right hand side of my blog until shortly after their voting deadline of December 16. After I sent an email to some friends asking if they would vote for me, I found out that people had to log in to do so. Knowing how much I hate to create unnecessary logins, my guess is that I won’t win on votes, but I might win in the unique idea category and because we have jokingly referred to our Baby Insights application as “Quicken for Baby.” 🙂

I have participated in some blog memes: 8 Random Things About Me and Blogging Tip Meme. Neena just tagged me again for a My Favorite Words theme. Memes give you exposure but they are time consuming so I think after doing this last meme, I will have to put a notice somewhere to let people know not to tag me unless they let me know first because I would hate to leave a meme go unanswered. I’m answering the Favorite Word meme by bolding my favorite words in this post (in case you were wondering why some of the words are in bold text). Isabella at Change Therapy I hope that’s OK with you! What do these words say about me? I guess that I’m a driven, committed, somewhat zany, looking to learn, searching for connection/peace, sleep deprived, mom-ified, and sometimes creative.

I joined LinkedIn. I’ve found LinkedIn to be useful for business related networking…for answers to specific questions. I haven’t yet established a deal or attempted to look for employees there which I hear is what it’s meant for. I’ve been able to answer a few questions on LinkedIn but I don’t think I’ve contributed to the increase of anyone’s business yet.

I joined facebook. Mostly to learn from the king of social networking sites. I may do some targeted ads there some day when time and money permit.  I also set up a company page on facebook for Babble Soft.

I engaged a full service SEO/SEM firm.

I just joined twitter. I even added the little widget to my sidebar, and I integrated it with facebook. I really resisted joining twitter. I had no idea why anyone would be interested in my day to day activities. More importantly I didn’t think I would be interested in anyone else’s day to day activities! I already have about 20 followers. You may be wondering what pushed me over the edge and made me join twitter…well it was the Duran Duran concert I attended earlier this week. I was there and I suddenly thought ‘wouldn’t it be great if I could tell my friends and random strangers about the fact I’m at this cool concert?’ and then all of a sudden I “got” twitter! Will it result in additional business? I’m not sure. Time will tell.

I have not yet joined MySpace or YouTube (but I’ve been to the site many times).  If I had to guess, I will probably join YouTube before MySpace, but first I need to create some videos!

Overall, I think I’m still at the tip of the iceberg when it comes to building a powerful online network and I’m a little bit afraid of getting in too deep and getting stuck in a networking hole somewhere.  I’m not sure if that makes sense to anyone, but it’s a fear I face nonetheless.  Maybe I’ll find peace there instead.

Author: | Filed under: babble soft, blogging, competition, entrepreneur, entrepreneurship, networking, social networks | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments »

Babble Soft on facebook – Please ‘Fan’ Us (Pretty Please?)
Dec 1 2007

As I mentioned in a previous post (that Robert Scoble himself commented on!) I finally set up my own personal facebook account.  After reading a post by Fred Wilson (the big-wig NY venture capitalist) about people setting up fake company facebook pages, I figured I should act quickly and add a Babble Soft page…before some ‘bad guys’ (as my 5 year old would say) decided to co-opt a parent/baby related site that hardly anyone knows about and make it their own on facebook [insert sarcastic chuckle here].  If you’d like to become a fan of Babble Soft it would make me ever so happy if you would click here.

I wouldn’t have been able to set up the Babble Soft page as quickly as I did without some links and support from Lee Aase.  He showed me how to add Simply RSS and how to import Notes (blog posts) into both pages.  Thanks Lee!

Now for a screenshot of the Babble Soft facebook page that is so new that it’s screaming please become a fan of my site… 🙂


Author: | Filed under: babble soft, FYI, networking, social networks | Tags: , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Why I Finally Joined Facebook
Nov 20 2007

So I’ve been putting off joining Facebook mostly because I haven’t had time to set it up (lame I know) but partly because I wanted to be one of the last people on the planet (just kidding) to join.  I sometimes refer to myself as the late adopter high-tech CEO.  Kind of strange to think about really.  I broke down and joined Facebook today.

So why did I join now?  Here are some reasons:

  • I had some friends invite me to join
  • I saw Robert Scoble post about Facebook ad noseum.  I think he has to get a commission or something from Facebook or maybe he got a finder’s fee for Microsoft’s recent investment, which probably made him very happy.  I tried to add him as a friend but I got a notice saying he has too many friends
  • I started to feel like I was missing out on something (peer pressure, curiosity)
  • I wanted to learn more about the advertising options on Facebook (Facebook Ads) that Fred Wilson has been mentioning in some of his recent posts.
  • I’m hoping someone at Facebook will discover me and my company and give me lots of moola. 🙂

There are quite a few parenting and baby groups on Facebook so I’ll sit back and observe and see if that might be a good avenue to advertise Babble Soft

If anyone has long term experience with Facebook (or has any news on what they are planning to do with the Microsoft money) I’d love to hear about your experiences.  Do you click on the ads and if you do, do you purchase anything?

Author: | Filed under: advertising, babble soft, entrepreneurship, networking, social networks | Tags: , , , , | 8 Comments »

The Work/Life Balance of Networking
Nov 13 2007

I have been meaning to write this post about networking for quite some time now but I’ve been distracted by, held hostage by, paying attention to my network.  🙂

Networking is one of those interesting words that I see primarily referenced in the business world when describing connections with people who can help each other with their respective endeavors (e.g., job search, business building, introductions, etc.).  I’m not on Facebook yet, nor do I have a MySpace page but from what I read about those sites people do not seem to think what they are doing is ‘networking’ when they use those sites.  According to Facebook’s home page, “Facebook is a social utility that connects you with the people around you.”  I never would have thought the term “social utility” would resonate with so many people, but it apparently does.

When people use sites like LinkedIn they do seem to think they are engaging in a form of networking.  I am on LinkedIn and you can see my profile here

My philosophy on who I link to and who I send LinkedIn invitations to is best illustrated in Thom Singer’s post at Some Assembly Required called LinkedIn Rant and Challenge to Bloggers which he later expanded on in his More On My LinkedIn Rant post.  In summary, I link to people I know, have worked with, and/or had a meaningful email/phone exchange with.  I generally don’t link to people who send me blind invites whose motivations for linking are iffy at best.

So why do I call this post Work/Life Balance of Networking?  Well it’s because of Gail Evans, former VP of CNN and author of Play Like A Man, Win Like A Woman and She Wins, You Win.   Back on September 20, 2007 she came to give a talk at the Association for Women in Technology – Austin (AWTA).  I have been on the board of AWTA for several years and just stepped down this past summer.

Gail said many profound and informative things about being a woman in the corporate world in her speech, but the comments I found most interesting were on work/life balance and networking for women.  Here they are:

  • Why do people (i.e., women) constantly talk about work/life balance?  It’s ALL one life!  We work in that life, we play with our kids in that life, we play spend time with our spouses in that life, we hang out with our friends/family in that life, and we spend time on ourselves in that life.  So if we talk to our kids while we are at the office or we check our Email while at home it’s one life.  She said it doesn’t really make sense why people suggest that work and life are warring and opposing elements because LIFE is the clear winner and it includes work!
  • Women don’t need to be taught how to network.  She suggested that women are born networkers because they can find out anything (e.g., best schools, where to get XYZ, best doctors, etc.) from another parent, a teacher, a shop owner, or whomever when they are discussing their kids and family.  Somehow, they have brainwashed themselves into thinking they need to hire someone or read a ton of books on how to network to make the same kind of connections in the business world.  [I laughed when she said this because it is so true that many women are scared of the ‘networking’ word at work!]  She illustrated with a story about how she overheard a conversation between two women who had met on a airport train on their way home.  One was pregnant.  The other had kids.  By the end of the train ride, Gail said she knew practically everything about them and who each of them recommended the other connect with except for where they worked!   Gail brought this up because she found it interesting that AWT brought in networking expert Steve Harper, author of The Ripple Effect to coordinate the ice breaker activities before her speech.  I’m not sure Steve stayed for the meeting and heard her make that observation.  I think Steve had commented that this was the first time he had facilitated an ice breaker for a roomful of women.  Way to go Steve!

Check out the books written by the people I mention above by clicking on the Amazon links below (for those reading this in a feed, you’ll have to click on the link post to see the book images below) and partake of their sage advice! 


Author: | Filed under: networking, parenting | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Working Mother Multicultural Conference Summary
Sep 18 2007

carol-evans.jpgI have finally finished my posts on my experience attending the Working Mother Multicultural Conference (POWER: OWN IT. — USE IT. SHARE IT.)  Since the posts have been stretched out over the last couple of months, I thought it might be helpful to do a summary post for new readers.

I was given the great opportunity to receive a scholarship to attend the conference that was sponsored by JP Morgan Chase.  Thank you!  Thank You!  THANK YOU! JP Morgan.  Since we are bootstrapping Babble Soft, any money we can use to help our company grow is truly appreciated.  It was one of the best (dare I say best!) conferences I have ever attended in my life, and I’ve been to many of them. 

The picture (taken by Rohanna Mertens of Doug Goodman Photography) shows Carol Evans (in the fabulous pink suit), founder/CEO of Working Mother Media shaking hands with conference attendees and speakers.  Thanks to Carol for envisioning and implementing such a great conference and helping create such a fabulous experience for all of us! 

I recently got notice that Working Mother’s Media 3rd Annual Multicultural Women’s Town Hall meeting will be in Houston, Texas on October 18, 2007.  Unfortunately, I can’t make it because that is the same week my husband, Erin, who is chair of the Austin Wireless Alliance, is coordinating the Texas Wireless Summit here in Austin and boy has he helped to get some amazing speakers for that event!  The Who’s Who of Wireless is scheduled to be there.

Now for the good stuff.  Here’s a summary of all the posts I wrote about my trip to New York and the conference experience:

Musings of a Texas Gal in NYC

Planes, Trains, and Subways

Working Mother Conference Opening – POWER

Dr. Bertice Berry, author of When Love Calls, You Better Answer and I’m On My Way, But Your Foot is On My Head

Instant Polling, sponsored by Ford Motor Company a downright fascinating summary of how the 700 attendees identified themselves and their thoughts about Power.

Exploring Power Dynamics in the Executive Suite, VP and C-level executives discuss their personal experiences on rising to the top

The Art of War for Women, written by Chin-Ning Chu

From the Mouths of Men, VP and C-level men discuss what it takes to put women in the corner office.

The Time Has Come for the Woman’s Century, a book review on The Art of War for Women

The Asians Shine, summarizes how the Asian attendees use or don’t use their Power in the workplace

The Hub Factor: Charisma, sharing Julia Hubbel’s thoughts on networking

Phew!  I want to thank all of the people I wrote about who helped me make these posts as accurate and informational as possible.  Your insights will help other people with decisions they may be making right now in their lives! 🙂

Author: | Filed under: books, conferences, networking, new york city | Comments Off on Working Mother Multicultural Conference Summary

The Hub Factor: Charisma – Musings of a Texas Gal in NYC
Sep 17 2007

Now for the final workshop post on the Working Mother Multicultural Conference (POWER: OWN IT. — USE IT. SHARE IT.) I attended back in July.  It has taken me quite a while to get to it.  It’s a good thing I don’t have deadlines on blog posts because my other deadlines would get in the way.  🙂  


The last workshop I attended was called The Hub Factor: Capture Your Charisma and Make Your Connections Count!  It was led by none other than Julia Hubbel, President of The Hubbel Group, Inc. and creator of The Hub Factor.  I met some amazing people at this workshop including the two thought leaders who helped her lead the workshop:

  • June Archer, VP Global Business Development and Licensing for GODIVA Chocolatier (Mmmm.  Chocolate. They provided the chocolate covered strawberries at one of the breaks)

  • Patricia David, Managing Director and Global Head of Diversity and Talent for Citi Markets & Banking.  

Julia was a wonderful and engaging speaker.  She opened the workshop by asking those of us who enjoyed networking, meeting new people, mingling, etc. to raise our hands.  In a room of say 50+ people about 7-10 of us raised our hands (I was one of them).  She then said: “You are the crazy ones.  You are the weirdoes.  Most people are scared stiff of meeting new people and speaking in public!  So for the rest of us normal folks, here’s what we’re going to do…” 

She then had us do an exercise where we wrote down three things that people would never guess about us and instructed us to meet other people in the room and ask them questions about themselves.  It was a very interesting exercise and I learned a lot of neat things about people in the room. 

She emphasized the importance of creating a space where the people we are talking to feel valued and powerful.  People don’t want to hear your 30 second sales/elevator pitch…you first have to earn the right to give them the 30 second pitch by creating the right space.  Some people can do this easier than others but she felt anyone could do it if they are genuinely interested in getting to know the other person.   

I have seen this work first hand.  I know that if I’m in a rush and want to get results right away, I won’t get the results I need, but if I give it a reasonable amount of time and really listen to the person I’m communicating with, the chance for doing business together increases even though it might take longer for something to happen.  If nothing happens, at least we both made a postive connection in the world.  Sometimes I get impatient and don’t stop to think what might be going on in their lives and forget that “an emergency on my part doesn’t constitute an emergency on their part.” Live and learn.  Live and learn.  🙂

Julia had run out of business cards and had to rush out to catch a plane, but she asked for my card and promised to get in touch.  I knew I was going to do a post on her workshop so I figured I would find her contact information from her website, but before I could do that a beautifully handwritten note showed up in my mailbox with her business card inside.  I was pleasantly surprised and emailed her right away.  She must meet tons of people so I was flattered that she would take the time to write a personal note to me. 

I have also since communicated with both Pat and June.  When I met June and told her what I was doing she said she knew people and had worked in the baby marketing world in a prior life and that she would connect me to some people who might be able to help.  When  we make it big (thinking positively), I’ll definitely order some of their chocolate covered strawberries for one of our events…primarily because I met her!

Pat told everyone in the workshop that she regularly schedules time to talk to anyone who wanted to talk with her and get her advice.  She gave me her card and I left her a voice message soon after I returned to Austin half thinking I’d probably never hear from her again.  Shortly thereafter her assistant emailed me to set up a 30 minute phone meeting.  Amazing!  She has already passed information on Babble Soft to a few people in her company.  I’m not sure how I can help Pat, but if not her hopefully I can help someone else who will pass it on…

Needless to say I was impressed with this level of follow through by Julia, Pat, and June.  I try hard to keep my commitments and am often surprised when people say they will do one thing and then don’t do it or don’t let you know why they weren’t able to do it.  I’ve seen that happen so often that when people do follow through, I instantly know how they got to where they are today.   

If you are interested in the topic of networking, check out Julia’s site.  I’m a bit biased (he’s a friend) but you should also check out the blog of one of our local Austin networking gurus, Thom Singer, at Some Assembly Required. 🙂

Author: | Filed under: conferences, networking, new york city | Comments Off on The Hub Factor: Charisma – Musings of a Texas Gal in NYC

Entrepreneurship: A Blessing or a Curse?
Aug 21 2007

I am so excited to say that I was given the honor of guest posting on Wendy Piersall’s eMoms At Home blog.  The title of the post is Entrepreneruship: A Blessing or a Curse? Wendy has been an inspiration to me and her posts have helped me immensely with getting my blog transferred to a self-hosted WordPress platform.  Her tips on how to let the world know that our blog exists have been invaluable!

Thanks Wendy for this fabulous opportunity.  Please visit her site and leave your great and profound comments there. 🙂

Author: | Filed under: blogging, entrepreneurship, networking | 2 Comments »

Musings of a Texas Gal in NYC – From the Mouths of Men
Aug 20 2007

Picture by: Rohanna Mertens of Doug Goodman Photography

Soon after discussing The Art of War for Women at the Working Mother Multicultural Conference (POWER: OWN IT. — USE IT. SHARE IT.), we headed into another room to listen to speakers on a panel called From the Mouths of Men: What it Takes to Put Women in the Corner Office.  This was the first time they had a panel of men at the conference, and I hope they do it again next year.

The men were put on the spot on several occassions with questions ranging from Why aren’t women included in men’s social get togethers (e.g., lunches, dinners, golf outings, etc.)? to Why are women overlooked for certain promotions?

The speakers from left to right are:

They did a great job at answering the questions honestly.  Michael admitted as a young staff that he was ‘clueless’ for quite some time on the diversity issue.  He thought he was being inclusive but after time had passed, and having banged his head against a wall a few times, he realized that he just didn’t get it.  While rising up through the ranks at Ernst & Young, he and others saw women disappearing over the years so that by the time they were approaching Partner status there were very few women around.  He said about 8 years ago, Ernst & Young started helping its people focus on inclusiveness issues.  Through the many gender/ethnicity programs Ernst & Young delivered around inclusivity, Michael said he finally “GOT IT.”  He, personally, came to the conclusion that men have to understand that women use different language to convey their interest in a position.  For instance, if he asked a man if he wanted to be a Partner, most often he would get a “Hell Yes!” answer but if he asked a woman the same question she would respond with “I’m not sure.”  Now many of us women have been trained to act like men and say “Hell Yes!” when we really feel like saying “I’m not sure,” and he admitted that it’s up to the men (and everyone in the workplace) to make sure that the “I’m not sure” response is addressed.  For example, he has learned to ask “What information do you need to help you make your decision?” before jumping to the conclusion that she is not interested.

Tyronne was hilarious!  When someone asked the question regarding “How do we get more women in higher positions” he said “Tell them to go start a company!”  Of course I smiled at that one because I am an entrepreneur!  He also answered the question regarding “Why aren’t women included in men’s social get togethers?” by saying “Just show up!” Many of us felt like we couldn’t do that but he said that if his boss schedules a meeting that he was not invited to and he knows he can add value, he just shows up! 

Ron (who is holding the Power wand) admitted that women are measured by different criteria and have a different playing field.  It is still not a level playing field, but his group within IBM works constantly to change that.  He also said that part of the reason men rise faster in corporate America has to do with their portrayed confidence and their inclination to watch each other’s back.  They are more likely to spend time understanding the company’s culture and tell another guy “Hey, don’t wear that shirt.  The boss hates that color” than women are.  Women tend to feel that the other women in the office will figure it out eventually, but in the meantime she’s hurt her chances and also made others wonder why no one told her not to dress that way.   If you came to an interview dressed in a nice business suit, you should not show up on your first day wearing hardly any clothes and big hoop earrings.  The company didn’t hire that person…they hired the person they interviewed!  That makes total sense to me.  Finally, he emphasized the importance of women networking together to coach and mentor each other as well as support the development of colleagues who are earlier in their careers. 

As the moderator, Stephen was asking all of the hard questions and keeping the talkative panelists on track, so we didn’t get to hear his perspective on things, but when I met with him afterwards he gave me his card and told me he would introduce me to someone at Diversity Business.

All in all, a great panel.  I stayed well after it was over to meet each of them and exchange cards.  Now is where I tell the story about the blue top I was wearing.  After the panel, I spoke at length with Tyronne and he asked me “Weren’t you the person wearing that brilliant blue top during the ‘Same-Race Discussion – How Are You Powerful’ presentation yesterday?”  I said “Why, yes that was me!”  He said when he heard me speaking he could tell I had confidence and power and that I should not have uttered the words “shameless plug” when talking about my business.  He told me that I was here at this conference to network and to make people aware of my company, and I should not be ashamed of plugging it!  I agreed and said I did that because one woman before said the same thing about her business, and I was worried that the audience might think I’m being too ‘out there’ with my business.  He said don’t apologize, “seize your power and share it with the room!”  OK, I don’t think he said those words exactly, but I felt empowered after hearing his words of encouragement and a little relieved that the 700 (yes 700) other people (of which 96% were women) in the room might not have been saying ‘Tsk. Tsk. Who does she think she is? Does she think she’s better than me?‘ under their breath while I was speaking and that I might not have been judged too harshly. 🙂

I feel fortunate to have met these great men!

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Musings of a Texas Gal in NYC – The Art of War for Women
Aug 15 2007

woc-2007-018-small.jpgAt the Working Mother Multicultural Conference (POWER: OWN IT. — USE IT. SHARE IT.), I skipped the morning of the 2nd day to play with my nephew, but I made it just in time to hear Chin-Ning Chu, author of the new book The Art of War for Women – Sun Tzu’s Ancient Strategies and Wisdom for Winning at Work.   I am glad I did!

Deutsche Bank was the sponsor for that event so we all got a free signed copy of her book!  Amazing, right?  I started reading it on my return flight home and sadly, hers was the book I left in the back seat pocket in front of me after arriving 3 hours late around midnight.  As I mentioned, I called Delta Airlines Lost and Found a few times and guess what?  They NEVER returned my phone call even just to tell me they had not found it.  I guess what they say about the airlines is true..’customer service?  what’s that?’  Sigh.

So I ended up buying it from Amazon and it just came in the mail this weekend.  I was hoping to have been able to read the book before doing this post, but this post is next in line.  I’m already optimistic that it will be a great book though!  I will update this post later for any insights I gain.  You can buy her book by clicking on the Amazon link below and if you do we’ll get a small piece of the transaction pie.  😀

Based on her presentation, Chin-ning struck me as a very intelligent, insightful, and humorous speaker who was comfortable with her inablity to speak proper English!  Thanks to her editors, she joked about how if she, who writes and speaks broken English, can be a best selling author then we could do anything we set our minds to. 🙂

Picture by: Rohanna Mertens of Doug Goodman Photography

More posts to come on the conference…

Author: | Filed under: books, entrepreneurship, networking, new york city, working mother | 3 Comments »

Musings of a Texas Gal in NYC – Exploring Power Dynamics in the “Executive Suite”
Aug 14 2007

At the Working Mother Multicultural Conference (POWER: OWN IT. — USE IT. SHARE IT.), I attended a fascinating workshop called Exploring Power Dynamics in the “Executive Suite.” Some very high level women discussed their experiences on their way up the ladder.  The workshop was coordinated by Dr. Vanessa J. Weaver of Alignment Strategies, Inc.  Dr. Weaver is wearing the wonderful royal blue suit on the very far left of the picture below.  I’m the 6th person to the right of her wearing the lighter blue/turquoise top (in a future post I’ll mention this top again).


The primary thought leaders of the group were:

JoAnn Heisen, Chief Diversity Officer and former CIO at Johnson & Johnson
Susan J. Onuma, Partner at Kelley, Drye & Warren, LLP and President of the Japanese American Association in New York
Aida Sabo, Director of Diversy at EMC
Sheryl Tucker
, Executive Managing Editor at Time, Inc.

They shared openly and honestly about their experiences in corporate America…the good, the bad, and the ugly…from personal to professional stories.  I was fortunate to shake hands with each of them and have since exchanged email with some of them.  I wish them all continued success and appreciate them sharing their POWER with us during this workshop!

We discussed:

  • Key Power Dynamics Impacting MCEW: The Good and The Not So Good
  • Power Dynamics between Diverse Women: Challenges/Successes
  • “Cultural Power Taboos”, “The Vulnerability Factor”
  • Creating an “Executive Master Power Success Grid” for Multicultural Women
    What a wonderful networking opportunity. :-)Aruni
  • Author: | Filed under: conferences, networking, new york city, working mother | 2 Comments »

    Musings of a Texas Gal in NYC – Working Mother Conference – Instant Polling
    Aug 7 2007

    Soon after the Opening Keynote with Dr. Bertice Berry at the Working Mother Multicultural Conference (POWER: OWN IT. — USE IT. SHARE IT.), they did a fascinating Instant Polling session sponsored by Ford Motor Company.  To view the pdf version of the full PowerPoint presentation courtesy of Working Mother Magazine, please click here: Instant Polling Presentation.

    Some of the slides I found most interesting are as follows: 

    demographics-slide.jpg       wherework.jpg

    most-powerful.jpg     intimate.jpg

    underplay.jpg    salary.jpg


    I was thrilled that over 55% of attendees made more than $100K!  We’ve come a long way baby!  I am in in the 7% group making under $49K because I’m starting my own business.  In the early days of a startup you are lucky if you make anything!  If luck smiles on us, then I will be in the > $100K category some day!

    Women feel most powerful at home because that is where they have seen/been told their role is in society.  Even top executive women generally feel the same according to this poll.  Also, unfortunately if they feel they do have power in the workplace, it presents challenges in their intimate relationships (i.e., we have a hard time finding an equal partner who is comfortable with our power.)

    It was interesting to see what super power each person would like.  I think I voted for the ability to time travel, but I remember it being a toss up between that and reading people’s minds.  I guess I figured if I could time travel I would figure out how to read people’s minds. 🙂

    Other things I found interesting:

    + 42% of attendees did not have children (despite it being a Working Mother Conference)

    + 32% were mid-level executives and 15% were senior level executives

    + 43% of Asian-Americans, 41% of Caucasions, 35% of Latinas, 40% of Multi-racial women, and 46% of Men felt “My confidence in my skills and knowledge makes me powerful.”  Whereas 38% of Black/African American, 100% of Native Americans, and 46% of Men felt “My belief in my purpose in life is my source of power.”  Keep in mind I think there were about 5 guys and 2 Native Americans.

    More posts to come on the conference…

    Author: | Filed under: conferences, networking, new york city, working mother | 3 Comments »

    Musings of a Texas Gal in NYC – Working Mother Conference – Dr. Bertice Berry
    Aug 3 2007

    Bertice BerryThe opening keynote speaker at the Working Mother Multicultural Conference (POWER: OWN IT. — USE IT. SHARE IT.) on July 23, 2007 was Dr. Bertice Berry, Educator, Lecturer, Sociologist, and Author of:

    When Love Calls, You Better Answer
    I’m On My Way, But Your Foot is On My Head
    Straight From the Ghetto
    You Might Be Ghetto If
    You STILL Ghetto

    She is downright hilarious!  She had us practically rolling on the floor laughing!  Oh and she’s also a beautiful singer.  She sang for us and the room was still.  She is famous for saying “When you walk with purpose, you collide with destiny!”

    I was only able to speak to her for a few seconds.  Sadly another woman blatantly interrupted our 45 second conversation making my conversation with her a bit disjointed.  I’m not sure why people do that.  I try to stand back and let people open and finish a dialogue with a speaker out of respect.  I also try to find times when the speaker is not so overwhelmed with people trying to talk to her to introduce myself. 

    Despite the interruption, I could just feel the POWER she exuded.  I plan on getting her recent book When Love Calls, You Better Answer.  She was selling books at the conference but the table was so crowded, I figured I’d better buy it on later.  Maybe she’ll see this post and let me buy an autographed copy directly from her! 😀


    Pictures by: Rohanna Mertens of Doug Goodman Photography

    More posts to come on the conference…

    Author: | Filed under: networking, new york city, working mother | 2 Comments »

    The Go-To Mom
    Aug 3 2007

    emaillogo.jpgKimberly recently reached out to me to tell me about her new venture TheGoToMom TV where she publishes a series of videos for parents.  She has some great stuff on her site.  We chatted on the phone for a while and we discussed each of our business goals.  I will be checking out her site from time to time to learn new things about parenting.

    I found that the most compelling reason to visit her site came from my phone experience with her.  The entire time she was on the phone I barely heard her baby in the background.  She told me that she has her baby with her all the time and most people don’t even know it because he is so quiet and keeps himself preoccupied.  Wow!  I think his great behavior might have something to do with his personality because I know that if I’m on the phone or trying to do something on the computer, my kids find every excuse to come ask me things and whine about something.  OK…do I have to admit that I might have something to do with that?!?  But just in case she has some advice on how to accomplish that feat, I’ll be sure to watch her videos.   She even has a video called Stop the Whining! 🙂

    About The Go To Mom:

    www.TheGoToMom.TV is a How to show for families with young children (newborn to 6). The ‘Go To Mom’ addresses parenting issues, discipline strategies, development activities and much more. The show also presents cutting edge research about the development of the young child’s brain. Call into the Talk Show and get your parenting questions answered live!  Various specialists will be featured periodically. Los Angeles based, former preschool teacher and licensed child development therapist, Kimberley Clayton Blaine, is the Go To Mom.gotomom.jpg Kimberley is dedicated to teaching parents how to adopt a positive child-rearing stance and to use their authentic self in deciding what type of parent they would like to be. This last decade, Kimberley’s main research efforts have been focused around the Impact of Trauma and Aggressive Child Rearing on Childhood Brain Development. Kimberley currently teaches Early Childhood Brain Development and Positive Discipline Strategies at UCLA Extension Education Department.

    Kimberley is well known for her warmth, ingenuity and willingness to reach out to families in need of state of the art child rearing resources. In her own words, “I am here for children, every time I try to branch out I end up back in the preschool classroom – that is were I’m destined to be.”

    Kimberley Clayton Blaine, MA, MFT

    Author: | Filed under: entrepreneur, networking, parenting, TV | 4 Comments »