Sarah Babbitt loved design since she was small. "Growing up, I was constantly rearranging my room and from a very early age loved design," said Sarah, "but I never really thought of it as a career. I went to grad school after college to get a masters in Sociology, but after awhile I longed for something with more tangible applications where I would meet new people and new challenges. So the day I finished my first year in my grad school program, I enrolled in interior design school. I fell in love with design and realized I could make a career of it." Sarah now designs kitchens and bathrooms at Chicago-based Community Home Supply. "A good design can change people’s lives," says Sarah, "especially because I specialize in bathrooms and kitchens. If you have a kitchen that is functional and beautiful, it can impact people and their day to day lives exponentially." And it impacts her own life as well! "I am constantly checking out people’s bathrooms and kitchens when I am invited over to their places," laughs Sarah. "Working in design daily has made me a hyper aware person when it comes to noticing details. I love to take something personal that my clients like and incorporate that into the design of their rooms. Maybe if they have traveled a lot, for example, then in the kitchen we’ll do a cabinet with a glass front so they can display some of these souvenirs. I especially love to play with shapes, but not be so matchy matchy. For example, a lot of customers love the really square shapes but I find it more interesting when you mix square shapes with some curves/roundness. It’s a little unexpected that way and softens up the harsh squares, but still stays clean and simple."
In my recent article on flexjobs, I wrote about the benefits of virtual mentors. While a real life mentor is always best, sometimes that's not possible. So we go virtual and get what advice we can from videos of women executives talking about what's important to us. These "Popup Mentors", which can appear on your screen at your beck and call, may add just the right knowledge at the time you need it. If you're overcome and looking for advice on worklife balance, it’s great to know that everyone with family responsibilities faces this same problem, even CEO‘s. Watch Irene Rosenfeld, CEO of Kraft Foods, explain her approach to working and having kids. Michele Buck, President of Hershey North America, admits that there are times when the job has to suffer, but that didn’t sideline her. Nora Denzel, a former IBM executive, talks in her video about why diversity counts - her examples - airbags designed by men (a disaster that might have been avoided if there had been a woman on the development team), and solutions for clean water in third world countries, discovered by teams that included women. Knowing her examples could help you explain why you should be hired for a job since women bring their own perspective which is essential for almost any product in today's market! Nora also gives 5 important tips to help your career so watch her video to find them.
Using videos like these allows mentors to "Pop Up" whenever you need them! A "PopUp Mentor" is a concept whose time has come! Mentoring.org says there is a huge mentoring gap, with millions of young people who want mentors unable to get them. "Popup Mentors" could help to fill this gap. Videos aren't a perfect solution, but they are a way to help those who need it now. See more great examples in my article on flexjobs.
Written by Amy Abbott:
Women are tiring of the struggle to have it all. We face under-employment and unemployment, strive for balance in work and life and seek equity in salary and benefits—but there's an internal battle that presents just as fierce a fight.
TheBump.com and ForbesWoman interviewed nearly 1,000 women, 67 percent of whom worked outside the home and 33 percent who stayed home with children, for its State of Parenthood and the Economy 2012 Survey. The survey found that women feel financial pressure to support their families. Nearly 70 percent of working moms surveyed said they feel pressure to work to bring in added income, and more than half (52 percent) of those surveyed feel pressure regarding how much time they devote to their child/children. And 44 percent of stay-at-home moms said their partner sometimes makes them feel they’re not pulling their own financial weight.
Whether we work in or outside the home, the pressure that we're neglecting or sacrificing some area of our lives seems to be mounting. With all these pressures on women, it's a wonder there is ever time to devote to career development, business backup and other practices necessary for the modern workplace. Maybe it's time we abandoned notion of "having it all" and devoted ourselves to pursuing that which provides us with personal and professional fulfillment.
We spoke with three women about the lessons they've learned from their time in the business trenches. These entrepreneurs are improving their lives, professions and communities, and they have much to teach us.
Attorney and journalist Joanne Bamberger (pictured left), who works in the Washington, D.C., area, encourages women to channel their internal business acumen to take control of their own destiny. Bamberger discussed the changes she's seen in the business world since she started working.
“On one hand, things are better because more options are available to young women. When I was a broadcast journalist, it was highly unusual for women to be more than the weather girl. When I graduated from law school, there were plenty of women attorneys, but few partners.”
Bamberger, editor-in-chief of The Broad Side, continued, “While there are more opportunities open for so-called career reinvention, as we get older even reinvention is more difficult unless we are willing to strike out on our own and embrace our inner entrepreneur.” What works for Bamberger is an amalgam of writing, consulting and broadcasting. She often appears on television about women’s issues, including Melissa Harris Perry’s popular show on MSNBC. Bamberger was recognized in March with the Campaigns and Elections 2013 Award, for her work highlighting political power and her influence on women online in non-political spaces.
Like Bamberger, business developer Jean Howell (pictured right) enjoyed several different careers and then developed her entrepreneurial spirit. In her job selling corrugated shipping containers and boxes, Howell worked with few women. She learned a valuable lesson there about attitude.
“There were only a handful of women in sales in our company, and two were in my office. The other woman was an aggressive and pushy person, who was probably that way for understandable reasons. She was about a decade older than me, so she had put up with all the abuse and negative behavior from men in the office for 10 more years than I had. The men in our plant were courteous to us as long as we were “womanly.” This saleswoman scared them, I’m sure, as much as she scared me. "She coped, I believe, by being somewhat of a bully. Nevertheless, she sold a lot of boxes.”
Both Howell and Bamberger stressed mentors, but noted that the movie-version mentor isn’t always there. Large corporations may include formal mentoring programs, but many women pick up their mentoring in whatever situations they can get it. You don't have to wait for a mentor to come along; there are many resources for women to help each other.
Millennial Carolyn Capern (pictured left), owner of a social media agency in Florida, admits to never having a formal mentor. Capern said she sought out mentorship in every area she felt she needed direction. Capern cited role model Regina Holliday, an unlikely teacher who was married to one of Capern’s American University professors. “My professor passed away from kidney cancer after a series of terrible medical events. Holliday turned his death into a mission of advocating for patients to have a voice in their own care."
Capern continued, “Mentors and role models both matter to me—be aware there are things you don’t know, seek out guidance when you need it, and build a trusting relationship that allows you to rely on their word.” Capern, who started her own company in 2011, hopes to mentor others.
All three women said relationships and connections were integral to their continued success. Capern recounted a chance encounter where she gained a new account by being at the right place at the right time. Capern and her partner stopped by a friend’s workplace to pick up concert tickets, and the friend asked if they knew about Wordpress. Capern said they did, and her friend brought the team in immediately to talk with co-workers. Her company secured a project on the spot. “To me, this demonstrates how those random connections are great in business.”
Capern’s strongest message goes to the new grad or the career changer. “Learn to code. This message is one I wish someone had told me before I started college. Coding is an incredibly useful skill right now." She added, “I don’t think I can express enough the importance of technology in today’s workplace." Master any technology fears you may have now through education.
All three women agreed that women need to engage their future. Bamberger said, “Really think about what energizes you. What are your particular talents? How can you use them to your best advantage? How can you make you and your family happy?
Amy Abbott is a writer, trained with "old school" journalism, wired into the digital world, familiar with best practices online and print, expertise in B2B and consumer health writing as well as travel, arts, and business. Newspaper columnist and book author, master’s degree in journalism. Amy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
What have I learned from other women? As a Credit Executive at Chase, I met many women over the years and learned a lot from them. Now posting video news, I have “met” more amazing women by watching them talk about topics on what we all need to know. So what have I learned from them? From 23andMe Co-Founder Anne Wojcicki, I learned how consumers can change the healthcare system and work to help cure disease, from Pepsi CEO Indra Nooyi I learned about the core values a leader needs; from Kenandy CEO Sandra Kurtzig I learned what it was like starting out at 23, and how she developed her “flinch’ method for pricing new products (now taught at business schools!); from Xerox CEO Ursula Burns I learned that customers are king and how to treat them, and from Eventbrite Co-Founder Julia Hartz I learned how keeping employees happy leads to a better work environment and better products. These are serious and important lessons for anyone interested in getting ahead in business. And I found all that out in five minute video clips which can be watched on pc’s, ipads or on mobile. But it doesn’t stop there. In the videos on NewsonWomen.com you can also hear IBM CEO Ginni Rometty talk about competitive advantage for companies in the future, and Coursera Co-Founder Daphne Koller talk about providing access to the best educators for anyone who wants to learn which will change the education world for good. And to whoever said women can’t do math, just watch LightSail Energy Co-Founder Danielle Fong talk about renewable energy and her ideas on compressed air. Amazing! You can also see OUYA CEO Julie Uhrman explain how she is changing the landscape for video games with her new product.
Sheryl Sandberg says don’t wait for a mentor. I agree. You will be surprised how much good advice you can find in these videos which can be a source of mentoring for you. Women starting out, women looking for a change, or those who just want to keep up their knowledge base can all benefit. Intel’s Genevieve Bell is right when she says in her video “we can do so much more“. Watch the news video clips on NewsonWomen.com. Help each other by showing them to your friends, your daughters, and your local schools. They will inspire, enlighten, and encourage you. Just like a Mentor would do!
Nicole Petallides, a FOX Business Network Anchor, reports live each day from the New York Stock Exchange. Nicole is celebrating her 25,000th NYSE segment since FOX Business launched! "25,000 hits with Fox Business! This is really exciting," says Nicole. "It’s a wonderful recognition not only for me, but also for the Fox Business Network. I get the buzz on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) all day long. I take that news and rush to the camera telling viewers the market action 4 times an hour and sometimes more. Since 2007 these hits have addressed the fall and rise of the Dow in recent years, now realizing a new all-time high. There’s been a ton of breaking news and of course lots of really great, interesting and influential guests. It’s never dull on Wall Street and after working here for more than a decade it’s still exciting each day. I try my best to bring that excitement to every single hit - all 25,000 of them!"
Nicole has watched a lot of change. "Wall Street, much like financial firms and businesses around the country, have experienced turmoil and change over the last several years," says Nicole. "Technology plays a greater role more than ever before and the result is a lot fewer people on the NYSE floor. As for being an anchor, another big change is social media and communicating with viewers through Facebook and twitter. Our viewers are smart and have great in depth comments. Technology also helps journalists more than ever, giving us the ability to quickly find information we need."
Women in the business is still an issue. "At the NYSE there’s always been a very small percentage of women and I don‘t see that changing soon," says Nicole. "However, as far as corporate boards and American businesses, they continue to add women to many high ranking positions. We certainly see change in Washington D.C. with a record number of women recently elected to Congress. As for television anchors, you see plenty of women, sometimes even more than men." In terms of career success, Nicole says "a viewer recently wrote in on Facebook to FOX saying 'As much as you want to breathe, that’s how much you have to want success.' I think that is 100% correct. You have to be well informed, work incredibly hard, make yourself invaluable to your team so that they love you and they need you. Make your boss say I’m so glad we have 'Jen, Kate, Sarah, Mary whomever' on this team! Do more than you ever think you could and with this type of great, hardworking attitude you will get ahead!"