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Monday, August 04, 2008
"Lipstick Leadership Week" May Be Over But...
...all of the fantastic entries I received will live on here at my blog!
If you missed out on last week's event, feel free to scroll down or click on the "lipstick leadership stories" tag at the bottom of this post to enjoy all of the anedotes and insights that made "Lipstick Leadership Week" a smashing success!
I'd like to extend my heartfelt thanks to everyone who sent in stories - they were all truly amazing and inspiring. I only wish I could get to know each of these incredible role models personally!
And it's a great feeling to know that this network of "mother's wisdom" you all helped me create is only the beginning! I can't wait to get started on the next book in the "From the Kitchen to the Corner Office" series - you've proven that there's limitless inspiration out there and plenty of moms and mom figures to draw experiences from!
In the meantime, I've got a lot of other pots full of ideas bubbling on my mental stovetop, and you'll be the first to hear about them here on my blog and through my free eZine "Lipstick Leadership" (Haven't signed up yet? You're missing out on a lot of great info! Sign up here or at LipstickLeadership.com).
Lipstick Leadership: Independent Woman - Christina Lemmey's Story!
"My mother is very independent and led by example that women could do anything we wanted to do. She was a stay-at-home mom and was not a business person, but she took art classes at the community college, and she would travel at least once a year by herself to visit her brothers across the country or her best friend. We didn't have sit-down conversations about all the things I could accomplish, but sometimes seeing a living example is just as powerful as hearing the words. I've heard from many friends how they are surprised I would drive 3 hours with my kids to visit an out-of-state friend by myself. I also decided on my own to start my business and figured out myself what steps I needed to take to learn more from coaches to increase my business.
While I do not consider myself a risk-taker, the independence that I learned from my mother has definitely helped lead me on the right business path."
Lipstick Leadership: "All I Am I Owe to My Mother": Denise Reed's Story!
"Everything I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel mother." - Abraham Lincoln
"As Abraham Lincoln said, everything I am I owe to my mother. She taught me how to tie my shoes, how to match my clothes, and how to make decorative flowers out of Kleenex. She taught me manners, respect for myself and others, the value of a dollar, and the importance of an education. She gave me driving lessons without yelling, excitedly took me shopping for two prom dresses, and as a child, she even let me roller skate repeatedly in the air conditioned house when it was too hot to go outside. She taught me countless and invaluable lessons in life that have shaped me into the strong, confident woman I am today.
Throughout my life I have heard her recount bits and pieces of her childhood on the small island off of Japan called Okinawa. She ran through dirt-covered streets without shoes (not by choice but by lack of money) and went hungry more often than not. She had difficulty learning English when she arrived in the United States at the young age of 12, and she had an even more difficult time trying to fit in at school. After graduating from high school, she attended beauty school while working in the kitchen of a local hospital. She saved every penny to buy her own car and secured a position at a nearby beauty salon. She later met and married my dad, and they happily celebrated their 40th anniversary in April of this year. Their life together was built on a partnership, both in marriage and business.
Soon after my parents were married, they purchased a catering business and worked the business without employees for over 30 years. This required my mom to cook, clean, run a household and be the best mom a child could ever have. She managed all of these things like an Olympic skater on ice - gracefully.
My mom has worked harder than any woman I know and probably ever will. Her childhood was less than desirable, and she could have easily used that as a crutch to walk through life with an entirely different attitude. Instead, she worked all that much harder to provide me with a life than every child is entitled to. She showered me with love and affection, provided me with opportunities that allowed me to learn and grow, and she taught me that roller skating in the house is wonderful fun.
Thank you, Mom, for being the mother that I am striving to be to my son. I love you!"
Lipstick Leadership: Setting an Example of Success - Carrie Lauth's Story!
"For many years during my childhood, my mother, in addition to being a full-time stay-at-home mom, was also a leader in Direct Sales. For several years, my family drove a Tupperware van that my mother earned because of her sales and recruiting achievements. Seeing her do something and succeed at something she obviously enjoyed had a real impact on me. I've always had an entrepreneurial streak for as long as I could remember. Now I earn a full-time living on the Internet and am able to raise my 4 children.
The struggle between having a career and raising kids is a battle for the ages. Speaking from experience, I know that when I decided to re-join the workforce when my kids were little, I was in a constant state of guilt. When I was at work, I felt like I was missing vital time with my children. When I was at home, I felt like I wasn't giving it my all at my job - and that's just not my style! There just didn't seem to be an optimal way to fit both pieces into my life back then.
But thankfully today the working world is FINALLY starting to catch on that there are plenty of mommies out there who want to put their skills to work AND have the flexibility to raise their children!
I came across this article on CNN.com, "Moms Find Balance as High-Skilled Temps" by A. Pawlowski, and I said, "Amen!" According to the article, staffing agencies like Mom Corps., On-Ramps, Flexible Executives, Flexible Resources and FlexWork Connection have cued into the fact that the "Mommie Talent Pool" is an amazing untapped resource, and the companies' mission is to "connect career-women-turned-stay-at-home moms with employers."
These agencies are giving moms the opportunity to be successful both in their careers and in their personal lives by providing them with the flexibility they need and deserve. At the same time, they're giving companies a double whammy: highly skilled employees AND women who are enriching the workplace with their unique perspective as mothers. My book "From the Kitchen to the Corner Office: Mom's Wisdom on Leadership" is all about that! All of the stories I tell in that book are drilled down to a "simple truth from Mom"; the case studies (real-life business examples) show how that wisdom can be applied. And with staffing agencies like the ones mentioned in this article, even more women will be able to benefit organizations with the gifts of their knowledge.
This is what "Lipstick Leadership Week" is all about: sharing the knowledge. By sharing stories about the incredible women in your life and how they've influenced you (and judging by many of the submissions so far, they've influenced your professional success just as much as your personal success!) we're creating a wisdom network that can help everyone advance their careers - and again I say, "AMEN!"
Wow! I'm amazed at all the submissions I've received for "Lipstick Leadership Week" (July 14th through the 18th)! So many women have incredible stories to tell about what they learned from their mothers, aunts, grandmothers, sisters and even their daughters. I can't wait to share all of them with you!!
In fact, since I've always been one to give gifts early because I'm so excited for people to open and enjoy them right away, here's a little sneak peek at one of those fantastic stories:
"My mother is Wonder Woman minus the invisible plane and the indestructible bracelets (though I still believe to this day that she had some sort of Lasso of Truth since she always knew if I was fibbing!). She has the strongest work ethic I've ever known, getting up every day and going to a job that pays the bills but doesn't offer her much by way of satisfaction. Even after long days spent on her feet, she always managed to have dinner on the table and time to spend with my brother and I. She's taught me valuable skills, like how to cook, and silly hobbies like how to crochet (although I never got past the scarf-making stage!). Thanks, Mom, for teaching me the best lesson of all: how to be a wonderful person, friend and mother."
- Cierra LaPlante
Thanks, Cierra, for this wonderful story!
So, readers, have you thanked your mother (or mother figure) today? If not, there's still time to submit a story of your own right here. What a great way to say "thanks" to the women in your life who've helped make you the phenom that you are today!
The week of July 14th through July 18th, 2008 is Lipstick Leadership Week at KitchentotheCornerOffice.com! That means we want to hear YOUR stories about how your mother changed your life and made you into a successful career woman.
What lessons did your mother teach you that turned you into a leader? Did a Sunday afternoon of baking turn into an opportunity for responsibility? Did a Thanksgiving meal become a metaphor for organizational structure? Tell your story in writing or request to send an audio or video. To contribute, just submit your story to me here. You can read your submission and others' right here on my blog during Lipstick Leadership Week!
My new book, From the Kitchen to the Corner Office: Mom's Wisdom on Leadership, chronicles the lessons I've learned from my own amazing mother and other female role models. I'll be sharing those stories - and the stories of women I've interviewed for this book - during Lipstick Leadership Week - and I invite you to join me in this celebration of maternal wonders!
I hope everyone enjoyed the long holiday weekend and had a chance for a little rest and relaxation! There's nothing like the first cookout of the season, the smell of the grill, a warm breeze and plenty of outdoor fun to get us in the mood for summer.
But today it's back to work despite the beautiful sunshine beckoning to us outside the window. Over my morning tea, I was purusing the headlines on Yahoo! and came across an article that made me shake my head in disappointment. "Great Jobs that Profit Women: Five Flexible Careers with Man-Sized Paychecks" by Kate McIntyre. The "great jobs" and "profit women" and "flexible careers" parts were are positive...but "man-sized paychecks?" Don't tell me that in this, the 21st century, there is STILL a discrepancy between what men and women are paid for the same jobs and same qualifications?!
It's true, and no, it really wasn't a big secret to me, though every time I read about it, I still find it wholly unbelievable. When are we going to wake up, people, and realize that there is absolutely NO reason for women to be earning "approximately 25% less than men in the same occupational group with simliar qualifications" (according to the National Committe on Pay Equity and their 2006 statistics)? The Yahoo article cites two reasons for the disparity: "gender discrimination and women's choices to work less than full-time or to stay at home to care for children."
Gender discrimination? Really? You mean we as women haven't proved ourselves capable of attaing the same results and the same success as men YET? I refuse to believe that because I have personally met hundreds of women who are amazing at what they do; they run successful companies, they're at the top of their fields, and they have limitless talent and skills. I even featured many of them in my new book "From the Kitchen to the Corner Office: Mom's Wisdom on Leadership."
It's time to snap out of the Dark Ages, banish these outdated business norms, and pay women in the workforce what they're worth. And if we can't do that, let's at least pay them what we pay their male counterparts!
With the ever-increasing demands on our time constantly pulling us in every direction, is it any surprise that our lives sometimes feel completely unbalanced and out of control? There are only so many hours in the day, and there never seem to be enough when we're juggling the needs of our families, our careers, our friends and ourselves. Tasks fall through the cracks, people are disappointed, and we're left feeling frustrated, exhausted and even guilty at the end of the day. So before our frazzled nerves send us over the deep end, how can we bring the balance back to our lives?
With Mother's Day being celebrated a few short days from now (hint, hint to those who've forgotten!) and all eyes on the primaries and election in November, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to marry the two topics and discuss how the candidates' mothers have influenced who they are and what they bring to the table.
Mom's influence has helped to shape all of us into the people we are, and to get a feel for our Presidential candidates, let's take a look at who their mothers are, starting with Hillary Clinton. Hillary's mother, Dorothy, really taught her daughter to fight back. I remember reading a story about how at the age of four, Hillary was being picked on by some of the neighborhood girls. When she went crying to her mother, Dorothy told her to stand up for herself and that there was no room in their house for cowards. Empowering advice for all of our daughters!
This experience explains a lot about Hillary and the image she often projects in public. She's come out fighting with both gloves swinging and has taken what is traditionally a masculine stance on many of the issues. With all of the adversity and attacks Hillary's faced, the influence of her mother and being taught to be a fighter is very clear in how she's been handling herself.
But is this image of her as a fighter costing her votes among the female population?
Possibly. My personal opinion is that being a fighter is a positive image to be projecting; however, it cannot be at the expense of the unique compassion and softness we as women bring to what we do, whether in the workplace or with our families. To really connect with all the voters, Hillary needs to balance being a strong fighter with being a compassionate woman and mother so that she can relate to both men and women. So far she's had a difficult time reconciling those two sides of her personality.
I find it interesting that when she broke down a bit and cried in New Hampshire, she won by so many more votes than they had predicted. It wasn't sympathy that drove people to vote for her; it was that suddenly she was much more relatable. People who were very familiar with seeing her as a fighter were given a glimpse into this whole other side of her as a person, and they connected with that. Sometimes always being on guard for a fight can alienate people; to truly reach out to people, Hillary needs to temper that with her own natural female instincts and traits.
I've been hearing a lot of people grumbling about Hillary still being in the race and how she should drop out for the good of the Democratic Party so that it can be united come election time. Well, all I have to say to that is: I'd bet good money that if Hillary was a man in the running, those same people would be commending her for sticking with it to the very end and not giving up. I've seen the same type of situation happen in the workplace, the old "double standard", and with such a huge opportunity at stake, I commend Hillary for giving it all she's got to the very end.
Having a job that you find joyful is a blessing beyond belief. Understanding how to find that joy in a challenging work environment is a different story. The ability to blend productivity with a positive environment is a skill that has a large payoff for a manager and a mom. My mother Mimi always taught me that life is a game and no matter how many responsibilities and obstacles we face, we mustn't forget to have a little fun, too! By taking this lesson and applying it in the workplace, I've found that I've been able to challenge my team to work harder but do it in a way that's joyful.
Many times as we are promoted or change jobs, we inherit teams that need some life pumped into them. As a kindergarten teacher, my mother Mimi had this same challenge each year when she welcomed a new crop of students into her classroom. She took her "have fun" approach from home - exhibited by the games she designed for me and my siblings to play - and applied it to her work in the classroom.
I know this playful purpose is as applicable in the business world as it was in my home and in Mimi's classroom. I've seen many corporate activities that have taken a page from Mimi's fun and positive approach produce amazing results in productivity for the workplace.
Why I wrote My New Book From the Kitchen to the Corner Office: Mom's Wisdom on Leadership
In a radio interview a couple years ago I was asked who my mentors were...I had to stop and think. When I started out there were only a few women in the workplace in leadership roles...but the first person that popped into my mind was my Mom! Mom was a nursery school teacher, hardly the typical role model for a young cosmopolitan business woman.
After the interview I dug a little deeper to understand why she popped into my mind...and the conclusion I came to was that she had been leading my family with faith, finesse, composure, compassion, and sometimes an iron fist. Then I looked further back in time and relations and found a wealth of "mom" figures to draw from. What perfect mentors for me to follow as I tried to become the leader I was born to be...the first flicker of my book, From the Kitchen to the corner Office, had begun.
I have over 20 years of experience as an executive coach specializing in strategic communication. My years as a radio talk-show host have given me additional tools to provide communication coaching to entrepreneurs, as well as executives from Fortune 100 comapnies.
I've been a keynote speaker for corporate events, universities and industry conferences.
I'm a the author of From the Kitchen to the Corner Office: Mom's Wisdom on Leadership!" (Morgan James Publishing).
I'm a wife, a mother, an artist and an active volunteer in my community.