"Follow your interests, get the best available education and training, set your sights high, be persistent, be flexible, keep your options open, accept help when offered, and be prepared to help others." -Mildred Spiewak Dresselhauf
Talking to reporters is nothing new to me...it's a regular part of my job. But an interview a couple of weeks ago wasn't work-related. At least not directly. Rather, it was about the resurrected "Mommy Wars" conversation that was sparked by recent negative comments directed at Ann Romney's career choice. (See my blog post here about that controversy.)
Interestingly enough, the Standard Examiner newspaper reporter didn't find me via my blog about life as a working mom. Nor did she get my contact info from my day job (I'm listed as the media contact for my company). It was a good friend who is well-known in the community as a home economics super professional, not to mention working mom extraordinaire, who gave the reporter my name and number. I was more than happy to spend 45 minutes on the phone speaking about a topic I'm passionate about.
For the record, I don't consider myself a soldier in the Mommy Wars (as the article headline suggests), because I don't see myself in battle with anyone. I take the "I'm a lover, not a figher" stance when it comes to issues surrounding working moms and stay-at-home moms. I think the reporter did a good job of expressing my views on the subject.
Here's a link to the article with my interview, along with the interviews of three other women.
Most days are crazy busy. That's normal around here. And then things get insanely busy. That's been my life the last three months.
We took a little breather with a four-day weekend to St George. Some birthday-eve golf, hikes thru Zion National Park and Snow Canyon, and quality time at the pool were just what the doctor ordered.
I also had time to do some reading...a rare luxury of late.
My current reader is Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion and Purpose by Tony Hsieh...the CEO of Zappos.com, Inc.
Two things I love.
So when my boss recommended I read it, I was on board. Of course, my boss could care less about shoe shopping. He liked the book because it discusses the elements of a highly productive corporate culture.
One of Zappos.com Inc's ten core values is "Build Open and Honest Relationships With Communication".
I'll share with you a couple of paragraphs from page 176 discussing this value I found particularly profound.
"A key ingredient in strong relationships is to develop emotional connections. It's important to always act with integrity in your relationships, to be compassionate, friendly, loyal, and make sure that you do the right thing and treat your relationships well. The hardest thing to do is to build trust, but if the trust exists, you can accomplish so much more.
In any relationship, it's important to be a good listener as well as a good communicator. Open, honest communication is the best foundation for any relationship, but remember that at the end of the day it's not what you say or what you do, but how you make people feel that matters most. In order for someone to feel good about a relationship, they must know that the other person truly cares about them, both personally and professionally."
Great advice from a guy who sells more than a billion dollars in shoes on the internet. Awesome!
Have you ever stayed up way past your bedtime to finish a good "page-turner" and then be so disatisfied by the ending you couldn't sleep? That was me last week with The Inner Circle by Brad Meltzer.
I'm hoping this book is the first of a series, and there will be another book or two to tie-up the loose ends. Of course, with a book so heavily entrenched in conspiracy theories perhaps that's how the author intended the book to conclude...with more questions than answers.
If government cover-ups and secret combinations (to borrow a phrase) get you going, this is your book. It wasn't quite the thriller of Dan Brown's books (Da Vinci Code, Angels and Demons, The Lost Symbol), but still good. At times while reading the book I was reminded of the movie National Treasure with Nicholas Cage...but a little more dark.
It's a book full of twists and turns that involve murder and blackmail in Washington DC...involving everyone from a lowly archivist up to the President of the United States. One thing that it doesn't do is make you feel better about the U.S. government. Of course, the author hosts a show on the History Channel about conspiracy theories...so that's probably to be expected.
If you don't mind hanging on a cliff at the end, it's a good read.
I subscribe to an online newsletter from author and motivational speaker Jon Gordon. He offers good advice for both professional and personal life. I received this post today, and thought it was worth sharing.
11 Benefits of Being Positive "Over the years I've done a lot of research on the positive effects of being positive and the negative effects of being negative. The research is clear. It really does pay to be positive and the benefits include enhanced health and longevity, happiness, career advancement, athletic performance, team building and financial success. Being positive is not just a nice way to live. It’s the way to live. In this spirit here are 11 benefits of being positive." --Jon Gordon
1. Positive People Live Longer - In a study of nuns, those that regularly expressed positive emotions lived on average 10 years longer. (The Nun Study)
2. Positive work environments outperform negative work environments. (Daniel Goleman)
3. Positive, optimistic sales people sell more than pessimistic sales people. (Martin Seligman)
4. Positive leaders are able to make better decisions under pressure. (Heartmath.org)
5. Marriages are much more likely to succeed when the couple experiences a 5 to 1 ratio of positive to negative interactions whereas when the ratio approaches 1 to 1, marriages are more likely to end in divorce. (John Gottman)
6. Positive people who regularly express positive emotions are more resilient when facing stress, challenges and adversity. (Several Studies)
7. Positive people are able to maintain a broader perspective and see the big picture which helps them identify solutions where as negative people maintain a narrower perspective and tend to focus on problems. (Barbara Fredrickson)
8. Positive thoughts and emotions counter the negative effects of stress. For example, you can't be thankful and stressed at the same time. (Several Studies)
9. Positive emotions such as gratitude and appreciation help athletes perform at a higher level. (Heartmath.org)
10. Positive people have more friends which is a key factor of happiness and longevity. (Robert D. Putnam)
11. Positive and popular leaders are more likely to garner the support of others and receive pay raises and promotions and achieve greater success in the workplace. (Tim Sanders)
I really didn’t need another reason to love Chick-Fil-A, but I found one. It came from learning about the family behind the company.
Last July I was invited to attend an event in which Chick-Fil-A president Dan Cathy was the guest speaker. His father, S. Truett Cathy, opened the first Chick-Fil-A restaurant in 1967. I was so inspired by the presentation, I purchased the book Eat Mor Chikin, Inspire More People by Truett Cathy. I started reading the book shortly before my dad became ill last August. I took the book with me to the hospital one day, and then misplaced it. I searched the hospital room and the lost-and-found with no luck. I was bummed, but then soon forgot about the book with the physical and emotional fatigue that came along with my father’s illness and passing.
Then last month, as I was headed for Scottsdale on a business trip, I was going thru the laptop bag at the airport and I discovered the book safely tucked away in one of the zipped pockets…right where I left it eight months ago. I was so excited! The book was marked where I was last reading, and I delved back into the pages to learn more about my favorite fast food restaurant.
One might classify Truett Cathy as a self-made man, but he would never take the credit for Chick-Fil-A’s success…he gives the credit to God. His values are reflected in their Corporate Purpose “to be faithful stewards of all that God has entrusted to us.” And it didn’t hurt that Truett Cathy was/is a hard-working, smart businessman.
Here are a few of the inspirational quotes from this book:
Page 10: "To receive a blessing, we often have to take action first."
Page 35: "I’d like to be remembered as one who kept my priorities in the right order. We live in a changing world, but we need to be reminded that the important things have not changed, and the important things will not change if we keep our priorities in proper order."
Page 40: "Our decision to close on Sunday was our way of honoring God and directing our attention to things more important than our business."
Page 92: "My policy has always been to share my business problems with my family. It’s uplifting for me to know that our children are praying for me about the business decision I must make. I also hoped that if I shared my problems with them as children, they would share their problems with me and let me help them when they grew older."
Page 102: "One of the most important principles we live by: The family comes first. What does a man gain if he gains the whole world and loses his family?"
Page 123: "I hope that people see something in the way I live that leads them to seek the One who leads me."
Truett Cathy’s success is certainly admirable. But for me, it was the “why” is inspired to achieve rather than the “how” he achieved that was truly remarkable.
If I’m going to invest my time in a book, I want to be entertained or inspired. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot did neither very well. But the New York Times bestseller did educate me. (Funny how non-fiction can do that to a person.)
I’m sure somewhere along the lines of my formal education I learned about HeLa cells. It sounded vaguely familiar when I started the book. Now, I know more than I ever needed/wanted to know about HeLa cells, and from whence they originated…an African American woman named Henrietta Lacks.
More interesting than the HeLa cells (which is the focus of most of the book), is the life of Henrietta Lacks. She was a spirited young girl living on a former slave plantation who had the cards stacked against her. She became pregnant as a teenager by her first cousin, whom she married. They lived in poverty, continued to have children, and eventually moved north for better job opportunities. As a young mother of five children, she was diagnosed with cervical cancer that spread rapidly through her body. She died in October 1951, and was buried in plain pine box in an unmarked grave near her childhood home.
While there was not much the doctors at Johns Hopkins Hospital could do for her, they did take several biopsies of her cancer before and after her death. The biopsies were taken for use in research that eventually led to great discoveries in modern medicine.
The cancer cells taken in the biopsies, named HeLa (the first two letters of her first and last names), grew unlike any other specimens in the lab. Doctors and researchers were thrilled. They didn’t really care where the cells came from. The HeLa cells were used worldwide, including experiments that led to vaccines for polio, viruses, in vitro fertilization, cloning and, of course, cancer research. The HeLa cells continue to be used today. (And I might add…many people and organizations have made a boatload of money with the research that has originated from using the HeLa cells.)
Tragically, and unethically, these cells were taken from Henrietta Lacks without her consent or knowledge. Her family was unaware the HeLa cells existed until 20 years after her death...and that was only when reporters started asking questions about the origination of the cells. Ironically, her husband and children could not even afford modern healthcare that was developed using the HeLa cells. A significant portion of the book addresses Henrietta’s descendants’ dysfunctional lives, and the negative feelings and confusion they have in regards to the HeLa cells.
The book just kind of ends without resolution. Henrietta’s family did eventually receive some recognition for the HeLa cells’ contribution to science…but there was no monetary compensation. Not even free healthcare, except for the government’s standard programs for the poor and disabled.
Respectfully, the author has set up a scholarship fund for the descendants of Henrietta Lacks at the henriettalacksfoundation.org.
The Seed, by Jon Gordon, is a good book...not a great book...but good (and short) enough that it's worth your time.
The full title is The Seed: Finding Purpose and Happiness in Life and Work. I was intrigued enough to order it from Amazon.com.
The story was a little long, but the parable of the seed is timeless: 1) Preparation 2) Planting 3) Growth 4) Harvest
The author explains the metaphor simply in the final chapter of the book:
"When you reach the harvest state, you are able to look back and see how all the stages are connected. Your past prepares you to be planted. You plant yourself so you can grow. You grow so you can produce a harvest that will produce fruit. And your fruit produces seeds in others that change lives."
Gordon, a Christian man, writes about living for a bigger purpose and greater cause in the book.
I truly appreciated these words...
Life is about more than you. It's about knowing you were made for relationships: To love To mentor To learn To serve To create To work together To change for the better
Here is the Jefferson Smith weekly tip on everyday practices on good leadership. It's worth sharing:
Get out of the office. A friend remembers a day thirty years ago when the CEO stopped by his desk and asked how he was. The CEO. Thirty years ago. You cannot lead from the corner office.
Get to know your people. Where are they from? How are their families? What do they like about the company? What would they change? (And when you adopt their suggestions, give them credit: “This was Shirley’s idea.”)
Keep your word. Never, ever lie. It’s that simple. If you’re asked a question you can’t answer, say, “I’m sorry, but I can’t answer that question.”
Keep your promises. If circumstances change, explain what’s happened: “I promised to get you that book on process improvement. It’s on back order. I didn’t want you to think I’d forgotten about you.”
Watch out for your people before you watch out for yourself. Eat last at the company picnic. (Better yet, serve at the company picnic.) Treat your people fairly.
Your leadership and your credibility rest on your daily behavior.
My brother-in-law posted this quote on his Facebook wall. It's a good one...definitely worth sharing:
"Everything is a choice. Health is a choice. Happiness is a choice. Prosperity is a choice. Integrity, honesty, honor, work ethic . . . all choices. Put enough good choices together and you end up with a pretty good life. String enough bad choices together and you’re screwed. Success is also a choice. Just like being fit, happy and financially secure are all choices. But none of these things are one single choice. Instead they are made up of millions of tiny choices." -Larry Winget
I came across some good advice the other day...thought it was worth sharing:
Stephen M. R. Covey, in The Speed of Trust, identifies four principles for gaining trust as a leader:
Integrity. Are we who we say we are? Do we keep our word? “’Integrity’ comes from the same Latin root as the words ‘integrated’ and ‘integer.’ A person has integrity when there is no gap between intent and behavior, when he or she is whole, seamless, the same—inside and out.”
Intent. What’s our agenda? Our motive? Do we care about those we serve or do we see them only as tools for advancement?
Capability. This is often referred to as competence. Do we have the skills to accomplish what we need to do? And, if we don’t have the skills, do we know how to learn them?
Results. What have we done to demonstrate our capability? Our competence? In short, can we show we've walked the talk?
Crossing Stones, by Helen Frost, is a historical fiction novel that follows the lives of two families for nine months during World War I. The Jorgensens and the Normans live in a rural community named Crabapple Creek. Between the two families, they have five children all under the age of 18.
The story is told through the eyes of the children in a poetry format that I found cumbersome to follow.
Two of the sons, one from each family, enlist in the service. One boy dies in battle, and the other loses an arm...returning home disillusioned and haunted by the experiences he had in Europe.
I don’t need any fictional sadness in my life right now. I have the real deal going on as I continue to work through the grief of my father's death.
But this book was not a total waste of time. The author included a storyline of a teenage girl traveling to Washington D.C to visit her aunt. While there, the girl becomes involved in the women’s suffrage movement.
How did I live this long and not know women were publicly harassed and harshly thrown in jail as they picketed the White House for the right to vote? It was incredibly eye opening for me.
On January 10, 1918 the House of Representatives passed the 19th Amendment. The Amendment was signed into law, granting women the right to vote, on August 26, 1920.
American women have had the right to vote for less than 100 years. It’s most definitely something we should not take for granted.
Along those same lines…
Last week my 10 year-old asked me about the Martin Luther King Jr Day holiday.
She asked, “Is Martin Luther King the man who helped the black people?”
I took a couple of minutes to explain Dr. King fought for the civil liberties of all minorities, including women. I want my girls to understand they are fortunate to live in a time and place that treats women and girls fairly.
Wednesday evening I was talking to the girls about their day at school. Lauren said her teacher talked to the students about MLK Day and how he helped black people.
Lauren raised her hand and told the entire class Dr. King also helped women have more rights.
A big smile crossed my face and I asked her, “And what did your teacher say?”
“My teacher said ‘That’s right Lauren.’”
(Proud mommy moment!)
I'm grateful to the women and men who have paved the way for the privileges and opportunties I have not only for myself, but also for my daughters.
I stumbled upon a great online article the other day in Credit Union Magazine titled “The Myth of Work/Life Balance.” Just in case you misplaced your copy of this must-read publication, here’s a link.
It was like the very corners of my world coming together in one. I’m employed in credit union management and I just so happen to write a personal blog about work/life balance. What are the chances???
Best selling author Jon Gordon compares the rhythms of work and life to the rhythms of nature…there is a time and season for everything.
(Hmmm…where have I heard that before? Oh yes, The Holy Bible Ecclesiastes 3:1 "For everything there is a season, and time to every purpose under heaven.")
Gordon gives advice for rethinking the concept of work/life balance and finding passion and purpose in both arenas. His recommendations:
1) First, let go of the work/life balance notion. Instead, think purpose and passion.
Diana’s Comments: Knowing my life’s purpose keeps me grounded and focused. And if I didn’t love what I do, both at home and the office, I wouldn’t do it. My dad used to tell me “Life is too short to spend it doing something you don’t enjoy.” 2) Look at your work/life blend over the past year as a whole, rather than day to day.
Diana’s Comments: Let’s face it. Some days we’re super mom, and other days we’re pretty sure DCFS is going to come knocking on our door. But if take a look back at the last 365 days, you’ll probably find that you’re doing a pretty darn good job with the kiddos and spouse.
3) Identify the seasons in your company’s work flow.
Diana’s Comments: Prep your family if it’s going to be a busy week at the office. And then plan something fun when it’s over. “Mom’s got a crazy week, but if you can do your part to help me get through it then we’ll go out to a celebration dinner on Friday night.”
4) Keep in mind your family’s seasons too. There are times when your family needs you more than others.
Diana’s Comments: The recent holidays were that time for me. Between the two girls, there were 8 choir performances to attend…plus rehearsals. Throw in school activities…an All-Star presentation, Christmas program and meeting with the speech teacher. Not to mention a birthday…on the same day as Christmas!
5) Build up a hard work bank account with your company.
Diana’s comments: I received tremendous support from my supervisors and colleagues during the weeks my father was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, his 5-week hospital stay, passing and funeral. My co-workers were understanding, supportive and compassionate. I believe a 7+ year track record of hard work and loyalty to my company were indeed paid back to me during that time.
6) When you’re at work, really engage.
Diana’s comments: Work can also be a great escape from personal worries and stress. Leave them at the door when you walk into the office. Give your employer 100%!
7) When you’re at home, really BE at home.
Diana’s comments: I really try to avoid coming home and re-hashing the work day with my spouse. I need a break, and we have better things to talk about.
One last quote by Gordon:
“What I’m really talking about is making the most of your time however you spend it – of making each and every moment count. By doing so, you will create a life that is more passionate, more productive, and happier in every way.”