Women in the Boardroom: Handshake or Hug?

You just finished a meeting with a key business partner and chairs push back around the table as members of both companies begin to file out of the room. Goodbyes are being said and hands are being shook as small talk fills the air.

Did you see the game last night? What’s the weather supposed to be like this weekend? How’s your kids doing?

Sound like a typical meeting? That may not be the ending for everyone in the room.

shaking hands

Photo: Larimer County Workforce Center

As a twenty-something and now thirty-something woman, I’ve spent a lot of time in boardrooms with middle-aged white men. It’s a fact of life. I’ve ended many meetings with an extended hand and instead received a surprise hug or arm around my shoulders. On occasion, I’ve even had business associates briefly rub my back or shoulders. Strangely enough, they don’t offer this level of closeness to their male counterparts.

I’ll admit it: I didn’t grow up in a hugging family. We’re just not that kind of people. But is that level of contact really appropriate in a business setting?

Sometimes you become close friends with clients or business associates so a hug when you see them makes sense. But a new rep at a company that you don’t even know? A potential client that you’re meeting for the first time?

Sound Off

Have you encountered these situations?

Is a different level of contact between men and women expected in our society? Is it appropriate in business settings?

As a businesswoman, does this type of contact make you feel uncomfortable or undermined?

As a businessman, do you feel compelled to hug a female businesswoman instead of shake her hand?

Please share your thoughts!

I’d love to shake your hand-

Jaime

p.s. I was inspired to blog on this subject and wrote most of the post at 2:30 am. Any fellow night owls out there?

Join the conversation: 
Facebook logo  Google+ branding  Twitter bird icon Instagram_Icon30x30   Pinterest logo  YouTube  LinkedIn_Logo60px

Should Brands Get Political?

Brands are encouraged today to be living, breathing entities with values and to form relationships with customers. Is it any surprise then that some have jumped into politics?

An Obama campaign decal next to the Apple logo on a user's laptop.

In 2012, Apple Inc. spent $1.97 million on lobbying and contributed $620,929 in campaign donations to both political parties.* Should brands get political?

I realized recently that this topic has entered the mainstream conversation when an iconic brand wanted to explain to the public why it did NOT want to jump into the political fray. Starbucks ceo Howard Schultz wrote an open letter explaining why the company did not want its cafes to be battlegrounds in the hotly contested gun control debate. Honestly? Starbucks would just love for you to meet friends or a client at one of its cafes and have some coffee — not picket or protest.

“I am proud of our country and heritage of civil discourse and debate. It is in this spirit that we make today’s request. Whatever your view, I encourage you to be responsible and respectful of each other as citizens and neighbors.” –Howard Schultz, Starbucks ceo

On the other hand, some brands have decided to jump in and announce their views to the world. Last year, Chick-fil-A made headlines with its views on gay marriage rights, which led to passionate responses on both sides of the aisle. Those opposing gay marriage scheduled ‘Chick-fil-A Appreciation Days” to support the company while gay rights advocates called for a boycott. Eager to remove itself from the controversy, the company issued a statement saying it would “leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena” going forward.

Join the Discussion

Should brands get involved with politics? Or take stands on hotly debated issues?

What’s your take?

Photo courtesy of swiperbootz via a Creative Commons License
*Apple statistics courtesy of Ethical Consumer
Starbucks ceo Howard Schultz’s open letter available at starbucks.com
Chick-fil-A quote via Wikipedia  

Cheers,
Jaime

Join the conversation: 
Facebook logo  Google+ branding  Twitter bird icon Instagram_Icon30x30   Pinterest logo  YouTube  LinkedIn_Logo60px

Invisible (Wo)Man: Where Would You Go?

Invisible (Wo)Man: Where Would You Go?

Quick — what pops into your head when you see this graphic? I stumbled across it in Real Simple (illustration by Shout) and loved it.

If you were invisible, where would you go? Any place in the world, any time. Go.

Going incognito today,
Jaime

Join the conversation: 
Facebook logo  Google+ branding  Twitter bird icon Instagram_Icon30x30   Pinterest logo  YouTube  LinkedIn_Logo60px

Please stop telling me you’re busy.

This topic has been on my mind for quite some time, but I continued to bite my tongue. Then a fellow business owner shared an article on LinkedIn that hit home and encouraged me (OK, pushed me) to throw in my two cents on the subject.

Stop the glorification of busy.

Do you always need to be busy?

Please stop telling me you’re busy. Over the phone, on Facebook messenger, via text. Via sky writing, a telegram and even ‘snail mail.’ Seriously, stop.

We’re all busy, someway or somehow. Yes, you’re probably handling more at work than ever with slow hiring levels and a sluggishly growing economy. Maybe you own your own business, so you’re never really ‘off the clock.’ Perhaps you have children with a myriad of activities or aging parents that you proudly take care of. We get it. You have a lot on your plate.

So does everyone else. When did it become so cool to be busy? To run from one commitment to the next only to ‘make an appearance’ at a function in between? We’re still trying to keep up with the Joneses, only this time it’s with commitments and over-scheduling instead of houses and cars.

“To assume that being ‘busy’ (at this point it has totally lost its meaning) is cool, or brag-worthy, or tweetable, is ridiculous.”                                  –Meredith Fineman

Maybe you’re a workaholic in your current situation due to necessity. Your boss requires you to be on call or feels the need to contact you at all hours with “emergencies” that are not emergencies in anyone else’s world (i.e. a routine assignment or her second grader’s extra credit project). That’s definitely a problem in corporate America, as Jennifer J. Deal has so eloquently touched on in Welcome to the 72-Hour Work Week (an excellent read) in the Harvard Business Review. If you’re in one of these situations, I hope you can eventually move on or have a serious heart-to-heart with your boss. I believe in work ethic as much as anyone, but no one really wants workaholic duly noted at his eulogy.

“What does bother [executives, managers and professionals] is when companies use 24-7 connectedness to compensate for organizational inefficiencies and when it significantly undermines their personal lives, productivity, creativity, and ability to think strategically.”                                                         –Jennifer J. Deal

Skydiving

Stop and smell the roses — or jump out of an airplane.

Why should you stop being so busy? Filling in every single second of your ridiculously, overfilled schedule?

  • It’s killing your mojo. Human beings thrive on relationships, even introverts like me. When you’re so busy that you don’t have time for anyone, your relationships — business and personal — suffer.
  • It makes you look bad. Seriously, other people’s perception of you is that you’re really bad at time management or you just don’t care (about your work, a friend, etc.). Do you want to work or socialize with someone who has this image?
  • You’re pissing people off. When you go on and on telling people how busy you are, you’re inferring that your time is more valuable than theirs. Or that they’re just sitting around watching soap operas and drinking wine. Neither tend to go over well.

Please understand that I am NOT trying to say that your workload isn’t enormous, or you don’t have hundreds of responsibilities. I’m just asking you to take a step back, take a deep breath and look at the big picture. It’s said that your life flashes before your eyes right before you die. What will you remember?

What do you think?

Do we glorify busy? Is it ‘cool’ today to be a workaholic? Do we try to outdo each other with how busy we are?

Is this attitude different in different cultures?

I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts! Thank you in advance for taking the time.

Stop the glorification of busy photo courtesy of Campari & Sofa
Meredith Fineman quoted from her article, Please Stop Complaining How Busy You Are
Jennifer J. Deal quoted from her article, Welcome to the 72-Hour Work Week
Skydiving photo from personal collection (Yes, that’s me!)

Cheers,
Jaime

Join the conversation: 
Facebook logo  Google+ branding  Twitter bird icon Instagram_Icon30x30   Pinterest logo  YouTube  LinkedIn_Logo60px

Gray Area: Do Ethics Still Have a Place in Business?

I’m a racing fan (OK, a sports fan in general) so I was following the race last Saturday night at Richmond International Speedway, which was the final race of the ‘regular season’ in NASCAR. As usual, there were a few drivers and teams who were on the bubble of making it into The Chase, NASCAR’s playoffs. If you haven’t heard, Michael Waltrip Racing (MWR) was levied penalties and a record fine by NASCAR’s governing body for manipulating the end of the race so its driver could make The Chase.

What does this have to do with business, you ask? If you’re not a fan, you may not know that NASCAR is big business. Companies spend millions of dollars sponsoring drivers, teams and races trying to garner the celebrated loyalty of NASCAR fans. Those fans purchase over $2 billion dollars in licensed merchandise annually and are three times as likely to try to purchase products and services from their favorite drivers’ sponsors.^ They’re a loyal bunch, and loyalty pays.

NASCAR

NASCAR is big business — which can push ethics to the back burner.

Besides, it’s not just the big business of sports where ethics seem to have disappeared. I recently came across a great read, Confessions of a Sociopath: A Life Spent Hiding in Plain Sight, in which M.E. Thomas (a pseudonym) states that sociopaths often excel in business due to some of their common traits: excessive self-esteem, lack of empathy, superficial charm and intelligence, excessive risk-taking, pathological lying and lack of remorse.

We climb the corporate ladder faster than the rest, and appear to have limitless self-confidence. Who are we? We are highly successful, non-criminal sociopaths and we comprise 4% of the American population (that’s 1 in 25 people).  –M.E. Thomas

Wow. Think about that for a moment. Sociopaths, who are often characterized as lacking the ability to feel or sympathize with others, often win in the boardroom due to their character traits.

Obviously not all successful business people are sociopaths; some are genuinely good-hearted, ethical people. But are they a dying breed?

Does today’s 24/7 instant gratification culture that we live in cater itself to those with a ‘do-it-at-all-costs’ mentality? With a demand for instant results and real-time information, does the end always justify the means? Is there a long term view any more in the business world? Or has the need for short term success obliterated it?

Please chime in –> Do ethics still have a place in business? Would love to hear your thoughts!

^NASCAR fan statistics courtesy of HLG Licensing
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons via a Creative Commons license
Quote from Confessions of a Sociopath: A Life Spent Hiding in Plain Sight, by M.E. Thomas

Cheers,
Jaime

Join the conversation: 
Facebook logo  Google+ branding  Twitter bird icon Instagram_Icon30x30   Pinterest logo  YouTube  LinkedIn_Logo60px

Pay It Forward: A Movement For You & Me

Pay It Forward.

You’ve probably heard this mantra before. Maybe you saw the movie or read the book or even came across a bracelet. Maybe you dismissed it as another empty phrase that someone felt the need to put on a silicone wristband to be cool.

It’s not. It’s not an empty mantra or hollow words or a trendy phrase. It’s a mindset that’s gained momentum to become a movement. A movement that’s about everyday people performing random acts of kindness for their peers. It’s not about money or prestige or power. You don’t have to buy a book or DVD or online access to someone’s ‘secrets’ to success.

“What we need is a movement that doesn’t have a guru to follow.”         –Charley Johnson

CCC Pays It Forward

Paying It Forward… a vital part of CCC’s mission.

At CCC, we’re big believers in the Pay It Forward moment and mindset. In fact, it’s one of the main reasons why this company was started. To be more active in the community. To have more freedom to volunteer our time to worthy causes. To positively affect more people. To be a tiny, tiny part of a movement that’s changing the world.

The best part? It’s so easy to join. No forms or membership fees or background checks. Anyone can perform an act of kindness for someone else. Hold the door for the person coming out of the restaurant behind you. Leave your waitress a little larger than normal tip. Write a thoughtful letter to a relative you haven’t seen lately or pick up the phone. Pick up a few pieces of trash while you’re out for a walk.

Join the Movement -- donate blood or platelets!

There’s so many ways to Pay It Forward.

Sometimes it’s depressing to hear so much negativity around us: an uneven economy, ongoing wars, senseless killings, job losses, foreclosures. You feel like there’s nothing you can do to make the world a better place. There is. And you can start today. With one small step. Start Paying It Forward so you can help change the world.

Need more inspiration? Listen to this talk by Charley Johnson at TEDxSMU. It’ll be 14 minutes well spent.

How do you Pay It Forward?

Has someone ever paid it forward to you?

Chime in… let’s talk about something positive! (If you’re ever having a bad day and need to smile, check out the #PayItForward hashtag on Twitter. Plenty of feel good moments!)

Simplicity in a Complex World video courtesy of TEDxTalks

Paying It Forward,
Jaime

Join the conversation: 
Facebook logo  Google+ branding  Twitter bird icon Instagram_Icon30x30   Pinterest logo  YouTube  LinkedIn_Logo60px