Thursday, September 30, 2010

Following in my Footsteps?

My eight year old loves to visit my office. On any given day, if presented with the choice to roam around the mall or sit for hours secreted away in the muted tones and dull electrical hum of my firm's headquarters, she would choose the latter. She moves methodically from office to office, greeting the familiar faces that she's pretty much grown up with, updating them on her progress in school or the adventures of summer camp. She knows who has the candy stash and who keeps kids meal toys in their desk drawer expressly for her visits. She knows that the VP will reach to hug her and then toss her into the air. Once she's made her rounds, she sidles to my desk in search of a free computer so that she can check the health level of her Webkinz pets. She's told me more than once, "When I grow up, I'm going to work at your job." I laugh at this and assure her, "When you grow up, this company probably won't exist anymore!" While that may sound a little harsh, I don't secretly wish for the demise of the company. I mean it in a generic sense. To me, change is striking like lightening, who knows what state the world will be in by the time she reaches working age. I like to think that we might transcend capitalism and find some new way of existing on this planet but, of course, I can't say this to an eight year old who hasn't even seen Back to the Future.

Regardless, if I could sit down and write out a script to her little life, I could honestly see her excelling in the art of assisting simply because she is so like me, so meticulous, so calculating and intuitive, necessary traits in this industry. But, despite her obvious prowess, I wouldn't attempt to steer her toward this kind of work. As a mother, my hope above hopes for my child is that she make her way through the the world in hot pursuit of her passions, whatever time reveals them to be utilizing the character traits that I work feverishly to instill in her. The dream sequence that this thought triggers includes backpacking across Europe, scaling the Great Wall, rafting the Amazon and feeding hungry children in Anytown, USA. Getting coffee and making travel plans for a high level executive doesn't occupy even a millisecond worth of footage.

This article presents findings from an Adecco survey that reveals just one in four working parents want their kids to pursue the same profession or career path as they did, 28% for dads and 21% for moms. I agree with Heather Boushey who is quoted as saying, "Everybody wants their children to do better than they do . . .If mom is a home health aide or has an office job she has a dream her kids will rise above her situation in life." I do want my daughter to do better than me but the motive is not entirely economic. I want to have more choices, more freedom, more full on happiness than I've had which I believe will require her being slightly more original than just following in mommy's footsteps.

Meeting Notes

Meeting Notes is a weekly feature. Here we will dish on tidbits, news, and important things we thinking Working Girls should know. So scroll down to hear what we think you should glean from this work week.
  • If colored paper clips and desk sets are your crack, use this 30% off Daily Candy deal from the awesome work accessories store See Jane Work. Enter code DAILY30 at checkout. [Daily Candy Deals]
  • A 25-year study from the Journal of Family Issues reveals that career women who are the breadwinners in their families are nearly 40% more likely to get a divorce than those who are more strapped for cash. [NY Post]
  • Grace Coddington, creative director at Vogue, is said to be working on a memoir. After watching her in The September Issue, I am very excited about this project from a high-flying career woman who can stand up to Anna Wintour! [NY Mag]

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Meeting Notes

Meeting Notes is a weekly feature. Here we will dish on tidbits, news, and important things we thinking Working Girls should know. So scroll down to hear what we think you should glean from this work week.
  • A former Vogue intern swiped a rare issue of the magazine and is now trying to sell it on Ebay. Why so rare? It boasts a masthead with famous author Lauren Weisberger's name listed as "assistant" to Anna Wintour. Yes, she wrote The Devil Wears Prada. It seems that interns at Vogue are pretty ballsy - stealing and writing tell-all memoirs wowza! [Fashionista]
  • A recent survey from revealed that 8 out of 10 women are waiting to have children when they are older because they lack the money. 9 out of 10 women polled said they would struggle financially if they had children and two thirds feared their careers wouldn't be the same if they had a child. [Daily Mail]
  • A female employee announced she will be filing a discrimination complaint against her employer Disneyland because she was sent home by her boss for wearing her hijab to work during Ramadan. [Jezebel]

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Mom's Influence

I've been thinking a lot lately about motherhood and being a Working Girl ... especially because it's all hitting home for me right now. Yes, ladies, I'm expecting my first baby, a girl, in February!

So this whole idea, well, I guess reality now, of being a mom has made me wonder about my expectations for myself as a Working Girl and for my new little one. I guess let's start with my own mom.

My mom was not much of a Working Girl. I don't think she liked the idea much. She graduated from college with a degree in Zoology. What the heck are you supposed to do with that?? Then she decided to go into Nursing and dropped out within a year. Next she got a Teaching license and taught elementary school for a couple years. Then she just quit working altogether and decided to be a homemaker. She hasn't stepped into the working world since, let's see, it's been about 20 years??

So growing up, I didn't really have big dreams of becoming a career girl. It just didn't occur to me. I thought I'd just go to college because it was what good kids did and then who knows what after that. Luckily, I took that Intro to Advertising class and found my passion in the Communication field and now I am very, very happy with my career as a PR Working Girl. I think it really surprises my mom that I work. When I told her we were expecting a baby, I think I saw her breathe a huge sigh of relief because she thought I'd never have kids and work forever. Of course I wanted children, but I wanted to establish a career first!

Since I started my own business (PR and editorial) in March and work from home, I think this gives me the ideal environment for still continuing to keep my foot in the working world while also caring for my new family. At least that's the plan. While I wish my mom gave me more of an example of ambition as far as career and working goes, I do admire her for staying home and always being there when my three younger sisters or I needed her. We had a home cooked family dinner around the kitchen table every night, lovingly packed lunches, lots of baked goods on the counter to snack on, a clean house, etc.

But what about for my little girl? (omg, I'm going to be a MOM! It's still sinking in.) Will I push her to be a Working Girl, or not? What will she take from my example? Do I want her to be a Working Girl?

I question that last one because I recently read an interesting article on Forbes Blogs, "Twenty-Something Men Want Housewives to Cheat On." I know, strong title. The gist is that young men these days apparently don't want to marry a Working Girl. They want to marry women like my mom who want to stay home and be housewives and homemakers. But why? The article suggests that it's possibly because they were raised by the generation of moms who felt like they needed to be superwomen, balancing demanding careers and a family and that these young men maybe feel like they didn't have good moms because they were so stressed all the time or just weren't there for them, or maybe they saw the relationship between their mom and dad and felt the relationship was always strained? That perhaps "having it all" had a negative effect on the kids. And then, the cheating part comes in because these young men also don't like the idea of monogamy too much, either. Great.

I don't really know yet if I'm staying a Working Girl because of me, because it's what I love to do and it's such a big part of me, or staying a Working Girl for my daughter to set a good example. And by good example, I hope that means she sees I am happy doing what I love, not necessarily trying to achieve superwoman status. Hm. So much to think about. Sorry this post is kind of a jumble of thoughts. Would love to hear yours.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Never Forget

Looks like I'm holding down the Working Girl fort this week! Ah, summer. Love you. Why can't I be traveling right now?

So I'll make this short and sweet.

Today is a special day. Not only is it the anniversary of the fall of NY's Twin Towers, which we should always remember along with those brave friends, family members and heroes involved, but I think it's also important to remember that moving on and living with a purpose and resolution to live fuller and as better citizens can be our new focus.

Today, one of my best friends gave birth to her third beautiful baby (9 lb+ even!). Today is another dear friend's 31's birthday. And today I am having the best day so far this week. Let's never forget the tragedy, but let's also learn from it and honor those who died by being happy, less stressed, treat someone nicely, do a good deed, be the best we can be.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Say Yes to Saying No

I've always described myself as a "people pleaser," just generally, you know? I like it when people around me are happy. Not just happy, but happy with me. And if someone were to ask me how I'd describe my work ethic, I would also say, "Well, I'm a people pleaser of course!" I can't help it. Well, supposedly, this is a negative thing.

According to a post on Ms. Career Girl, "A Remedy for the 'Pleasing Disease'," there's a lot of us working girls who have this problem, er, "disease." We say yes to too many things. We commit to too many things. We think we can accomplish too many things in too little time. We think we can please everyone with our superhuman girl powers. We think the phrase, "Don't worry, it'll aaalllll work out in the end" applies to everything. But what happens when it doesn't all work out in the end? It's a hard slap in the face. Embarrassment. Guilt. Disaster.

My people pleasing disease got the better of me recently. It was a long time coming, though. For about four years, I helped a friend with her start-up business. I said yes to everything she asked me to do, even offering up my time to take on even more work. All pro bono. I kept telling myself it was for a good cause. That I was learning a lot and that all the hard work was really good experience and great for my resume.

Except, after a while my stress was getting out of control. I felt like I was always running low on time. And when I'd try and sit down to evaluate things, what stood out was this pro bono stuff was sure taking a lot out of me, and for what? What was I gaining professionally? After a certain amount of time, not much. There's the slap.

I think one of the hardest things for us working girls is to cut things out of our lives that are doing more taking than giving. Whether it's that professional club you volunteer too many hours to or that pet project at work you continue to lead vs. delegate that has dragged on and on and on ... or whether it's just saying no, or at least, as Ms. Career Girl suggests, saying, "Let me get back to you," so we can really think about what we're getting ourselves into when opportunites to work and keep (a little too) busy come our way.

Giving my friend an official "no" to more work and literally severing our prior arrangement was one of the hardest things I've ever done. It was worse than quitting a job. Of course I felt it was very personal, and of course I felt bad and reconsidered several times before actually taking the plunge, and of course I wanted to say, "haha, just kidding!" But after it was all said and done, MAN! It felt so good. It was like a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders. In a way, I felt free again.

I really like what Ms. Career Girl says here (emphasis added):

"I could’ve shifted away from over-committal or doing things I didn’t truly want to do. It’s so easy to get sucked in to the excitement of the moment or the positive energy of the person in front of you."

I can't tell you how many times I've felt this same exact way. Now that I know better, I think I'll be able to better recognize when I'm approached by something potentially time-sucking. It's all about balance and there's a time and place for everything. In my case, there was a time for the pro bono work, and I'll always be glad for that experience, but I shouldn't have let it get out of hand and let it control me, I need to be the one in control of my time.