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.

The Myth of Overnight Success

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Amazon.com

“Overnight success is a myth. Dig into almost every overnight success story and you’ll find about a decade’s worth of hard work and perseverance. Building a substantial body of work takes a long time—a lifetime, really—but thankfully, you don’t need that time all in one big chunk. So forget about decades, forget about years, and forget about months. Focus on days.”

Show Your Work!: 10 Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered by Austin Kleon

Getting Started

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Amazon.com

“The best way to get started on the path to sharing your work is to think about what you want to learn, and make a commitment to learning it in front of others.”

Show Your Work!: 10 Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered by Austin Kleon

Business Law: Intellectual Property Theft

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Amazon.com

 

“Put as much in writing as possible and save that documentation. By creating a paper trail, you’ll have proof of your concept if it does go to court. Keep a log of every discussion you have where details of your business are disclosed. This log could come in handy if you find one of those conversations go somewhere.”

7 Simple Ways You Can Protect Your Idea From Theft, Forbes.com, by Drew Hendricks

Amazon.com

“To make sure your next million dollar idea isn’t stolen or copied, we enlisted the help of specialists in “idea security” to find out how you can avoid becoming a hard luck story…Rather than trying to avoid attention, flag ideas as your own even at an early stage. “Use the right symbols in your media and marketing material alerts,” recommends David Bloom, head of Safeguard iP, a specialist Intellectual Property (IP) insurance broker. Patent and design numbers can be added later…”

5 ways to stop your ideas being stolen, CNN.Com, by Kieron Monks

Amazon.com

“Turn to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for help. Fortunately, patents aren’t the only tools available to protect our ideas. First, file a provisional patent application. You can do this yourself online or use a template such as Invent + Patent System or Patent Wizard to help you. The USPTO also has call centers available with staff members on hand to answer questions and offer guidance.”

How to Protect Your Business Idea Without a Patent, Entrepreneur.com, by Stephen Key

“Tortious interference with business occurs when another person directly interferes with a business’s ability to operate. This offense usually involves other offenses, such as defamation. However, if a person steals your idea and then actively works to prevent you from bringing your idea to fruition, this could constitute tortious interference.”

What Is the Legal Term for Stealing a Business Idea?, AZCentral.com, by Van Thompson

“I say do what you can. Do the legal end when it’s practical, but don’t trust it. Don’t think it solves the problem.

You’ll never get a legitimate investor to sign one of those documents before you pitch. If an investor signs off on a non-disclosure, she’s just ruled out a whole class of business she can never invest in without risking legal action. They just don’t do it.

And, I think lots of people who you might want as team members would be put off with the idea of signing a legal document before talking about it. I would.”

How to Really Protect Your Business Idea, BPlans.com, by Tim Berry

Business Law: Libel, Slander and Defamation

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“Libel and slander are types of defamatory statements. Libel is a written defamatory statement, and slander is a spoken or oral defamatory statement…slander is an oral defamatory statement, so those statements can be made anywhere and to anyone — as long as it’s to a third party, meaning someone other than the person who is allegedly being defamed. If you tell your best friend something defamatory about person X, person X could sue you for defamation if he/she could prove that he/she was damaged as a result of your statement.”

Libel vs. Slander: Different Types of Defamation, NOLO.com, by David Berg

“”Defamation” is a catch-all term for any statement that hurts someone’s reputation. Written defamation is called “libel,” and spoken defamation is called “slander.” Defamation is not a crime, but it is a “tort” (a civil wrong, rather than a criminal wrong). A person who has been defamed can sue the person who did the defaming.”

Defamation Law Made Simple: Learn the basics of slander and libel — the rules about who can say what without getting into legal hot water, NOLO.com, by Emily Doskow

“Collectively known as defamation, libel and slander are civil wrongs that harm a reputation; decrease respect, regard, or confidence; or induce disparaging, hostile, or disagreeable opinions or feelings against an individual or entity. The injury to one’s good name or reputation is affected through written or spoken words or visual images. The laws governing these torts are identical…To prove that the material was defamatory, the plaintiff must show that at least one other person who saw or heard it understood it as having defamatory meaning. It is necessary to show not that all who heard or read the statement understood it to be defamatory, but only that one person other than the plaintiff did so. Therefore, even if the defendant contends that the communication was a joke, if one person other than the plaintiff took it seriously, the communication is considered defamatory.”

Libel and Slander, The Free Dictionary

“The general harm caused by defamation is identified as being ridiculed, shamed, hated, scorned, belittled or held in contempt by others, and lowers him/her in esteem of a reasonably prudent person, due to the communication of the false statement. This tort can result in a lawsuit for damages.”

“Malice – if intentional malice can be shown/proven, than the act usually qualifies as defamation for damage to one’s reputation. However, even without this, if it is obvious that the statement would do harm and that it is untrue, one can still pursue this tort if he/she can demonstrate actual/tangible harm, such as loss of business (called special damages).”

Defamation Law – Guide to Libel and Slander Law, HG.Org

“Defamation law, for as long as it has been in existence in the United States, has had to walk a fine line between the right to freedom of speech and the right of a person to avoid defamation. On one hand, people should be free to talk about their experiences in a truthful manner without fear of a lawsuit if they say something mean, but true, about someone else. On the other hand, people have a right to not have false statements made that will damage their reputation. Discourse is essential to a free society, and the more open and honest the discourse, the better for society.”

Defamation, Libel and Slander, Defamation Law: The Basics, FindLaw.com

“defamation: n. the act of making untrue statements about another which damages his/her reputation. If the defamatory statement is printed or broadcast over the media it is libel and, if only oral, it is slander…Some statements such as an accusation of having committed a crime, having a feared disease or being unable to perform one’s occupation are called libel per se or slander per se and can more easily lead to large money awards in court and even punitive damage recovery by the person harmed.”

Defamation on Law.com

“Defamation—also calumny, vilification, and traducement—is the communication of a false statement that harms the reputation of an individual person, business, product, group, government, religion, or nation.”

Defamation on Wikipedia

Economy Demands Art

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Amazon.com

“We don’t need to be taught to make art, but sometimes we need permission to do so. Following instructions is overrated…Why Make Art? Because you must. The new connected economy demands it and will reward you for nothing else. Because you can. Art is what it is to be human.”

The Icarus Deception: How High Will You Fly? by Seth Godin

Use Your Voice

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Amazon.com

“We’re always being told find your voice. When I was younger, I never really knew what this meant. I used to worry a lot about voice, wondering if I had my own. But now I realize that the only way to find your voice is to use it. It’s hardwired, built into you. Talk about the things you love. Your voice will follow.”

Show Your Work!: 10 Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered by Austin Kleon

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.

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!