Book Review: Women and Career Decisions

There are a lot of books focused on women in the workplace. Most are written by women who are CEOs, successful entrepreneurs or otherwise well know for their professional achievements. Wander Woman: How High-Achieving Women Find Contentment and Direction by Marcia Reynolds is not that book.

Wander Woman is filled with facts:

What most surprised the managers was that the top-performing women did not stay and fight. These days, strong women take their expertise and knowledge to greener pastures.

Their workplace wish lists rarely state “being promoted” as a prime motivator. Instead, my survey respondents told me they look for (1) frequent new challenges that stretch and grow their ability to achieve; (2) the opportunity to be flexible with their schedule; (3) the chance to collaborate with other high achievers; (4) recognition from their company; and (5) the freedom to be themselves.

And with highly quotable and inspirational statements:

If you want to change how you relate to others and run your life, you have to first transform your concept of self. If you try to change your behavior without first transforming who you think you are, the changes will last a few days until you quit thinking about them.

But the real strength of this book comes from her personal experience. She describes being an overachieving teen who gets into trouble that very nearly destroys (or ends) her life:

I learned one of my greatest life lessons—if you don’t know who you are, you will never be content with what you can do—in one of the darkest places on earth, a jail cell. A year after high school graduation, I ended up spending six months in jail for possession of narcotics, an experience I swore would never happen to me. In truth, the sentence saved my life.

And delves into her struggles as the daughter of a man who was so tied up in his self-imposed identity as a man-who-works that he was unable to handle retirement:

The day the doctors told my father he could no longer work was the day he accepted his death sentence…In my anger for his leaving me, I somehow missed the lesson in my father’s passing. My father could not be a retiree. He could not free himself from the identity of being a successful businessman. When he could no longer hold on to that identity, he quit…When he had to give up his formula for prestige, he gave up his will to survive. I desperately tried to help him see what else he could accomplish if he redefined his goals. I didn’t see that his addiction to achievement was killing him.

There are pages upon pages of down-to-earth realistic advice pulled from the life of a highly-relatable professional woman. Reading it feels like sitting down for coffee or tea with a friend and hashing out the day-to-day frustrations every one of us has to face. I came away with advice that I regularly use:

I choose my work based on what I have defined as my purpose and say “no” to everything else. When I am buried under a to-do list, I prioritize and let some things go with no guilt. My exercise and fun time can’t be compromised. These are the good days.

This isn’t grandiose advice handed down to the masses by a woman who has achieved dizzying heights. It’s perspectives, thoughts and ideas that actually apply to the challenges of daily life, provided by someone who has been through it herself.

A Terrible Mistake – Part 3

A few weeks ago, I posted about making a logo mistake. It’s one of those big mistakes that got out into the virtual world and stayed there. No changing it. No hiding it. It was front in center and available to the everyone. As I mentioned in my first posting, there’s only one way to handle such a thing – 1) admit to it, 2) fix it and 3) move on.

The logo is now fixed, so it’s time for step three – moving on.

In business, simply correcting an error and continuing with life-as-usual is not enough. It’s important to evaluate the situation and, hopefully, learn something from the experience. In my case, the process of correcting the logo and replacing it online led to many learning-moments, here are a few examples:

  1. Time is short but quality cannot be sacrificed: Like most people, I have a full-time job, private hobbies/ambitions and side-work that generates a small secondary income. The objective is to increase this secondary income. The challenge is fitting it into my already very busy life. The spelling error in the logo was a direct result of my tendency to multitask at home. However, no one can make dinner, answer email, throw in a load of laundry and appropriately evaluate a logo all at the same time. There can be no excuses and no cutting corners. Time for working the second job must be set aside and appropriately used. Time for make dinner and participating in ‘regular life’ must be managed in the same manner. A time for work and a time for life. The result? Better quality in both work and home living experiences.
  2. Time managed marketing: While updating WildRaccoonPress.com, I noticed many other little things that I’d never gotten around to doing. This was the perfect opportunity to revise the website and address some basic marketing issues. For example, I started posting all T-Shirts/Gifts and Resale items to Pinterest on the advice of several books and webinars (many months ago); and, while revising my website, I discovered that Pinterest provides a code-generation tool that allows a member to post a collection to a website. This allowed me to create an auto-updated image-based selection of recently-created t-shirts and postcards. Clicking on the Pinterest widget take the user to Pinterest, and all items featured on Pinterest are hot-linked to the websites where the items can be purchased (e.g.: CafePress and Zazzle). As it turns out, Etsy provides the same service, with images from my store and hotlinks directly to the items available for sale. No manual updates to my website and easy navigation for potential customers!
  3. Selective and targeted work: Working smarter, not harder, is a phrase that has become both worn out and (frankly) annoying. My frustration with the phrase stems primarily from the number of people who use ‘working smarter’ as an excuse for tricking and/or coercing other people into doing their job for them. Personally, I consider this unacceptable because I do not condone laziness or lack of respect for coworkers and colleagues. That said, my own work habits needed some modification. In my case, working smarter consisted of choosing where my time would be spent. Some of my projects are for-fun hobbies and some are for money. The trick was identifying where the income was being generated and carving out an appropriate amount of time for my primary goals, which (in turn) required some clarification. This is a process and it’s still being developed, but I am already seeing an improvement, so it’s worth the time and energy.

There are many other little things that were learned along the way, but these were the big changes. If you are a multi-job-holding not-enough-hours-in-the-day multitasking employee and/or entrepreneur, these challenges and lessons may ring true for you too.

A Terrible Mistake – Steps One and Two

I made a terrible mistake. It’s embarrassing, but it happened. Worse, it happened online. What do you do after making a stupid and public mistake? Take three steps: 1) own it, 2) fix it and 3) move on.

Step 1: Owning It

The word Raccoon is misspelled in the Wild Raccoon Press and Wild Raccoon Market logos.

I’ve spent the majority of my professional life working as a writer and editor in some capacity or another. I spend the bulk of my days creating and editing documents. I have spent (literally) thousands upon thousands of hours dealing with words, words, WORDS! Yet, somehow, I did not see the missing C – until now.

This simple, stupid and embarrassingly obvious mistake has been out there for many months. The logos have been posted to my website for ages, and I’ve proudly placed them on social media and professional accounts (read: everywhere), so there’s no hiding the fact.

These logos were the result of a 48hourslogo.com contest, and (now that I see it) all of the other logos are spelled correctly. Palm slap to the forehead, banging head against wall, hand sign for ‘loser’ held in front of face…I did not see it.

So, there it is, the mistake was made and it’s public. It’s big. Much bigger than a misspelled word in a blog posting because it’s so key, central and visible. There’s no escaping the fact, no hiding it under the rug and no changing it. What’s done it done.

Step 2: Fixing it

If you know a designer who would like to help fix this mistake, please direct them toward this UpWork posting. Sadly, 48 Hours Logo does not provide an option for contacting and working with the original designer (without posting a brand-new contest), so UpWork it is.

Step 3: Moving On

I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it. For now, I’m so embarrassed….

MOOC Completed: Developing Innovative Ideas for New Companies

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Developing Innovative Ideas for New Companies: The First Step in Entrepreneurship on Coursera.org 2/2014 (MOOC)

I’ve finished the MOOC and received the certificate!