Book Recommendations for Handmade Entrepreneurs

Book Recommendations for Handmade Entrepreneurs

2017 has been the year of mindset training for me. I've noticed myself falling down the path that I really don't want to be going in, so my book recommendations are rather personal. I know there are so many things that I want to achieve in the coming days, months, and years, so it was imperative that I put myself back into the correct mindset for my goals. 

Blogworld - Day 1

It is Friday in Las Vegas, the city that really doesn't sleep. And I thought NYC had the hold on that statement. It seemed like most people were going to be when we were getting up at 7 am.

The best part of the conference for me so far, has been the expo hall. There are a lot of products and services I have been wanting to learn more about. The best place for me to do that is here. I am kinda excited to try out a few new toys when I get back to DC.

Networked Nonprofit

Session! Have been slow coming for me. I did catch a the end of an awesome session that Beth Kanter was a part of with Clare (@hope140) from Twitter. It wasn't anything too new for me personally, but they did provide some nice tips for organizations.

"We make many mistakes; social media is forgiving if you are real"

It is simple for nonprofits to excel in twitter; just follow Clare's 5 steps: T.W.E.E.T.

Target - you can't get anywhere if you don't know what your goal is and you need to customize your account accordingly. I am so tired of the standard twitter background that is everywhere. At least pick another option that they have. Even better, would be a background with your logo and contact information on it. Then, serve as an information source and personal face to the organization. It is social for a reason, so get out there! But, no matter your goal, customize, customize, customize

Write - Tweet! Get your worlds and thoughts out there. See what works! If it doesn't work, change your strategy.

Engage - Get people interested in what you are saying. Jump in in conversations. Favorite tweets and retweet. Engage with your followers. My biggest pet peeve when organizations don't do this!!

Explore - Search! Search for when people are talking about you and the issues that you are connected to. That is how people notice you. Good way to do this? Influencers. Develop relationships with key influencers, media, etc to eventually help promote your cause/issue.

Track - If it is working, then you need to learn how to simplicity. Depending upon your job, so it takes 30 minutes to 1 hour to manage your tweeting.

The Biggest Test

I cannot believe I am about to post this, but we test drove a Ford today. Thanks to the TWiT, Joel hears about Leo's car with Sync all the time. Since Ford is a major sponsor here, we decided to learn more about sync and to see if it does what we are looking for.

Ford Flex Test Drive

The main thing is that we want to be able to control our iPhone's through the car and have an integrated navigation system. Both of which we saw could be accomplished through their demo of sync on the show floor. So I signed us up for a test drive. Yup, I am a sucker. If it is well made and does what I want it to do, then I am sold.

Tomorrow we are going to test drive the Edge which is another car they have. The Flex, although rather nice, is just way too much car for us. Joel wants the Focus, I am pushing for something bigger. The Edge may just be the compromise we need. Plus, it has the new sync features in it that I want to demo.

The Future of Blogging Platforms

This panel was interesting to me because, well, I am trying to decide if I want to stick with Squarespace. Do I pay for a designer or do I totally switch? The facilitator is the head honcho at Woopra, which I love.

Future proofing your blog. The constant battle of staying up to-date. It is something that I am currently struggling with day in and day out. What should I be doing, especially when I feel my current platform isn't giving me the support it feel it should.

The best and worst part is the session never covered that. It did lead to a very interesting conversation with John Foster afterwards. We met John way back in '08 when visiting San Francisco and loved bumping into him during the session. Our conversation revolved around who actually owns the content on a blog if it isn't self-hosted. That really made me reconsider using WordPress and our server. Then, a Squarespace rep came over to talk to use because he recognized us from our many twitter "conversations". What he said about V6, which will be (fingers crossed) rolling out shortly, is making me rethink everything. I don't have the best answer yet, but I have a feeling I should wait it out and see. I am very intrigued by what he had to say (which I can't share here, sorry!).

With that, I will leave you with the quote of the session: "We'd do file management as well as SharePoint does the blogs" Sachin Agarwal

Leadership Matters

For those of you who don't know, I love HBR. The blog, management tip of the day (links to the email sign-up), and the magazine are great. When we get issue in the office I am usually the one hoarding it. I actually have a deal with another coworker. If she gets the new issue first, she has to share it with me when she is done. 

It should comes as no surprise that this article on nonprofit leadership hit an accord with me. Leadership is a must. As the article shows, you organization will not achieve all that it can without a strong leader and a shared vision. Look at how much leaders aid the organization, how much of a difference they make and how passionate are they about the mission. Those are the promoters you want as the public face of your mission. If they are a skilled leader, they are not only who you need, but the ones you should want. You should cultivate them and encourage their development. 

Developing the future generations is even more vital. Yes, vital. What is going to happen when you are gone? What is going to happen when your senior and executive staff are gone? Who is going to replace them? What is your succession plan? Even at the manager level, you should be preparing your spot for the next person. At the senior and executive level, you should be training your direct reports. They need to be learning leadership and management skills that will take this, and their next, organization to the next level. 

Additionally, any good leader will tell you that there is an expiration date on their leadership. At some point, for the good of the organization, they will need to move on. It will be difficult, but it happens. The life-cycle will continue. I am tired of the argument that great leaders and talent will leave if you invest in them. It is necessary. Investment is necessary for them and for you. What good is a stagnant nonprofit or staff member? You need new blood to keep the momentum going and for change to continue. It is a natural life-cycle and we should embrace it. 

OK, enough of my preaching on leadership. The HBR post, Does Leadership Really Matter in Non-Profits:

Does leadership really matter? The executive director of a new foundation asked me that question earlier this year. At first I thought he was joking — after all, helping nonprofits attract and develop passionate and highly skilled leaders is part of what we do at Bridgespan. The back of my business card even says "leadership matters."

It seems clear to me that leadership is the most important of the three legs nonprofit organizations stand on (the other two being strategy and capital). Nonprofits can develop sound strategies and attract sufficient capital, but without strong leaders at the helm, they're unlikely to deliver outstanding results.

But maybe I shouldn't have been taken aback by the ED's question. Leadership often doesn't get its due in the nonprofit sector. A common sentiment is that good leaders and their teams are expensive to acquire and keep. Wouldn't that money be better spent on programs that aid those in need rather than on salaries? That fiscal response is often conflated with the belief by some in nonprofit circles that passion can overcome nearly any obstacle.

I replied to the question from the foundation head by telling him stories about nonprofit leaders who had achieved wonderful outcomes for their organizations, instances where pre- and post-trend lines of impact and performance clearly showed that something had changed for the better because of these executives' actions.

In some instances, such as that of Geoffrey Canada at Harlem Children's Zone (HCZ), the leader's impact has been publicly acknowledged. President Obama selected the HCZ model as a template other cities can use to tackle the tough issues of their inner cities. The President had become aware of HCZ while still a senator, and had long endorsed Canada's work. He saw in Canada what others had — a hands-on, passionate manager with a solid track record of successful fund-raising and of developing effective community-based programs aimed at helping kids from disadvantaged backgrounds grow into productive adults.

Other leaders are less well known — people such as David Nelson, a former IBM executive who became the executive director at the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NTE) and helped the organization increase the number of youth it served from 6,800 in 2001 to more than 50,000 in 2009. Nelson came to the role with a strong operations background and well-honed project management skills, both of which perfectly complemented the sitting CEO's deep fund-raising and marketing skills. Together they were able to develop and implement a business plan that increased NTE's impact sevenfold.

These and a few other stories I shared helped to convince the foundation director (and eventually his board) that he needed to expand the leadership-development efforts in his organization.

What about you? Would you have been similarly convinced?

Do you think leadership really matters? If someone asked you, how could you persuasively answer that question? If you serve on a nonprofit board, do you live out your beliefs? How do you ensure that your organization values leadership?


Delusions of Progress

This morning I was pursuing the actual paper copy of Harvard Business Review and came across the article that is below: Women in Management: Delusions of Progress which HBR has thoughtfully put online. I wrote about the full report the authors had published through another outlet in early March. The fact that HBR is continuing to cover this issue makes me extremely happy. The more awareness there is about the lack of women in leadership positions the greater the chances are that we will make it through these glass doors. 

About two weeks ago I was asked what I was doing to fix the fact that only 3% of Fortune500 CEO's are women. The answer I gave really surprised the individual. My position allows me the opportunity to influence the lives of many women and men. Though these programs we teach equality and that anyone can be a CEO. These young professionals are striving to gain ground in the nonprofit sector, but still, we are helping them reach their potential. I can't wait to see where they go in their careers. 

The accepted message on gender disparity in the workplace has for the past 10 to 15 years been one of acknowledgment and reassurance: Yes, women represent just 3% of Fortune500 CEOs and less than 15% of corporate executives at top companies worldwide, but give it time. It’ll change. After all, women also make up 40% of the global workforce, with double-digit growth in certain countries. They’re earning advanced professional degrees in record numbers and in some areas surpassing men. Companies have implemented programs to fix structural biases against women and support their full participation in leadership. Women are finally poised to make it to the top, the argument goes. Not yet, but soon.

If only that were true. New research by our firm, Catalyst, shows that among graduates of elite MBA programs around the world—the high potentials on whom companies are counting to navigate the turbulent global economy over the next decade—women continue to lag men at every single career stage, right from their first professional jobs. Reports of progress in advancement, compensation, and career satisfaction are at best overstated, at worst just plain wrong.

“Frankly, the fact that the pipeline is not as healthy as we’d thought is both surprising and disappointing,” says Jim Turley, the chairman and CEO of Ernst & Young, a sponsor of the research, which tracked more than 4,100 MBA students who graduated between 1996 and 2007. “Companies have been working on this, and I thought we’d seen progress. The last decade was supposed to be the ‘promised one,’ and it turns out that it wasn’t. This is a wake-up call for corporations.”

It’s especially disconcerting that, after a decade of aggressive efforts to create opportunities for women, inequity remains entrenched. Companies must acknowledge their failure on this front, learn why they haven’t succeeded, and come up with better programs to help talented women advance.

Even after adjusting for years of work experience, industry, and region, Catalyst found that men started their careers at higher levels than women. And that isn’t because women don’t aspire to the top—the finding holds when you include only women and men who say they’re aiming for senior executive positions. It’s not a matter of parenthood slowing women’s careers, either. Among women and men without children living at home, men still started at higher levels.

“Most companies’ systems are designed to be all about equity among a like group of jobs and roles,” observed Xerox chair Anne M. Mulcahy when we shared the results with her. “They’re not looking for inequity in terms of initial position.” Though well intentioned, “companies have gotten very good at managing grade levels and salary dispersions. If you come in the door in the wrong placement, those systems aren’t going to adjust the imbalance.”*

Firms must consider how their talent management processes contribute to the problem. This is especially critical regarding first jobs, since they set the stage for all the inequities that follow. Assumptions about demographics and life choices—women leave to start families; women don’t aspire to upper management; regional differences skew the results—have become handy excuses for gender inequity in the management ranks, even putting the onus on female employees for the discrepancies. But our results suggest they’re red herrings that don’t account for why women continue to lag.

Mulcahy proposed a simple test for companies to see if they have systemic bias. “Take the résumés of the last 100 people hired, remove the names, do an assessment of where the hires should be positioned, and compare that with where they were placed.”

Current Jobs

After starting out behind, women don’t catch up. Men move further up the career ladder—and they move faster. In our study, the only women who advanced at an equal pace were those who began their post-MBA careers at middle management or above—and not many did. Only about 10% started at those levels, compared with 19% of men.

“Does this reflect the presumption that men are qualified and ready but women have to prove themselves first?” asks Bloomberg chief marketing officer Maureen A. McGuire. (More research will be needed to truly answer her question.) She adds: “Companies need to make sure they’re placing managers based on qualifications, not presumptions.”

Can we attribute men’s disproportionate advancement to early managerial assignments? No. Although it’s true that people who have managed others reached higher levels, the women and men in our study were equally likely at every career stage to have had direct reports.

We think that gender difference in advancement may reflect another problem altogether: bad first bosses.

Why they Change Jobs

And so we circle back to those fate-sealing first jobs. A quarter of the women in our study left their first job because of a difficult manager—nearly as many as those who moved on for more money (26%) or for a career change (27%). Only 16% of the men left because of a difficult manager. Of course, these results suggest that women and men may be treated differently by their first managers.

Once again, early-career success is proving to be crucial. “It’s very important who your first or second supervisor is,” says Rick Waugh, president and CEO of Scotiabank, another research sponsor. “Many times, that determines whether you’re going to stay with that organization and how far you’re going to advance. That first landing spot—whether you get coached, developed, and mentored or you get a bad manager—casts the die. Companies need to put more emphasis on manager–direct report relationships in that first job.”

Research shows that diverse talent supports innovation and business success, yet organizations underutilize and undervalue their highest-potential female talent. Given the commonly held misperception that the talent pipeline is robust, companies are at risk of allowing complacency to inhibit their competitive advantage. While progress has been made in many firms, more work clearly needs to be done. Even among the best and brightest managers, gender equality has yet to be attained. Despite genuine efforts to ensure fairness, some businesses may be inadvertently overlooking bias that creeps in at initial job placement. Others may underestimate early managers’ impact on employees’ career trajectories. And others may have neglected the topic of gender equality in recent years, considering it an issue of the past. Our research should indeed be a wake-up call, and organizations need to answer it with renewed efforts to combat systemic gender inequity. Not soon, but now.


*I underlined and italicized the quote.

Change Quotes

I am sitting in a conference about leadership and being a future leader. I am actually here to run the conference and make sure my Academy students are networking and having a great experience. Instead of checking email and catching up on work today, I am sitting in the back of the room paying attention to the new content since the last time I attended the conference. The presenters just put up quotes about changing and this quote stuck out to me and I wanted to share it. The person who said these words, founded Visa, the credit card company:

The problem is never how to get new, innovative thoughts into your mind, but how to get old ones out. Every mind is a building filled with archaic furniture. Clean out a corner of your mind and creativity will instantly fill it. - Dee Hock

Feminism or Bust

This morning on twitter one of the female pilots I follow posted a link to the story below. It is written by someone who grew up in similar conditions to myself, which is part of the reason I identify with it so well.

It is only recently that I decided that I am a feminist. Women still have a glass doors in front of us and it drives me nuts. According to a  brochure that I got at SXSW (get yours here) 57% of 2008 undergraduate degree recipients are women and 56% of advanced placement test-takers are women. BUT only 25% of professional IT-relates occupations in the 2008 workforce are held by women (which is down from 36% in 1991) and 11% of corporate officer positions at Fortune 500 technology companies are held by women. How dismal. 

What is going on? For me, I was taught I could be anything, just like the author of the post below. I still have my Barbie Astronaut. It was shocking when I got to the workforce. There are so many women at my level and above, but, there is a shift that happens around the vice-president level and suddenly, there are hardly any women. 

Click Image for SourceIt drives me nuts when people accept this as just a fact and decide that it won't get any better. Why aren't they pushing barriers? Why aren't WE pushing barriers and not only opening those glass doors but shattering them. As a newly wed, I find it even more degrading that people think that having a child is what I should be doing right now. I have a career a head of me with specific goals and a plan. I refuse to let the status quo slow down my journey of removing the glass door. 

We need to change the way we educate women in our society. We need to keep telling them they can do anything but also remind them that the path hasn't been completely paved for them. Hopefully, one day it will be. Until then, we have a lot of work that needs to be done. I hope you join me in busting a few glass doors.

Here is  Jessica Bennett's post Feminism or Bust

Who needs feminism when we've already won the war? Oh wait—we haven't. 

If you'd have asked me two years ago, I'm not sure I would have described myself as a feminist. It's not that I didn't believe in women's rights—what modern woman doesn't?—but it was just that, well, I didn't really see the point. When I think about it now, it sounds ridiculous—I know. But it's telling of a generation like mine, who shrugged our shoulders at the thought of feminism; we were already convinced that we had won the war.

I was born in 1981, sixteen years after Barbie became an astronaut and just around the time that Sally Ride joined NASA. I might as well have come out of the womb with POSTFEMINIST etched into my forehead: by the time I reached age 1, women had surpassed men in earning college degrees; I turned 11 during the "Year of the Woman," and I remember annual trips to my dad's law office, long before Take Your Daughter to Work Day became Take Your Child [boys, included] to Work Day. All my life, I was told that men and women were equal—so equal, in fact, that it wasn't even worthy of discussion. Like most of my friends, I outpaced my brothers and many of my male peers by a landslide in school, and took on extracurricular activities by the handful. I'd had it ingrained in me that I could accomplish anything I put my mind to. And I did, without ever embracing the fabled F word, or even learning about it in school.

So for all the talk about feminism as passe, mine wasn't a generation that rejected it for its militant, man-hating connotation—but because of its success. Women were equal—duh—so why did we need feminism?

It's only recently that I, and women my age, have come to eat those words. (In the words of Clueless's Cher, our own postfeminist idol, "As if.") High on our success in academia, entering the workforce was something of a shock: we felt like outsiders in a male-dominated club. I'll spare you the depressing statistics—if you want them, there are more than enough in this week’s issue of NEWSWEEK to get you started—but the point is this: equality is still a myth. We need feminism now more than ever. "I've heard people say, 'Why are you a feminist? You can work, you can vote, you can do everything you want,'" says Jessica Valenti, the author of Full Frontal Feminism. "And just because there aren't all these laws against us—your husband can't [legally] beat you—it doesn't mean that sexism has gone away."

It hasn't gone away, but it may be harder to pinpoint. Which makes the support of other women, whether they call themselves feminists or not, all the more important. "I think the biggest issue young women face today is that there's no real movement behind them," says Susan Brownmiller, the feminist scholar. Case in point: a 2001 Gallup poll found that only one in four women consider themselves feminists. I'd bet most of those feminists are my mother's age.


Part of the problem with feminism, of course, is the word itself. Though it was meant to be inclusive (men could engage in feminism in a way they couldn't engage in the "women's" movement) it has alienated from the start. When feminism first hit the American lexicon in the early part of the 20th century, suffragists were divided over its use; as early as 1919, women were calling themselves "postfeminists," says Harvard historian Nancy Cott. "There was only about two seconds in the history of the world in which women really welcomed [feminism]," says Gail Collins, The New York Timescolumnist. "There's something about the word that just drives people nuts."

Many would argue that it was the media which would pervert feminism's modern use: as NEWSWEEK put it in a 1970 cover story, "A new specter is haunting America: the specter of militant feminism." Even today, describe the the bloggers at The F Word, "No woman I know would unapologetically describe herself as a feminist." Feminism is something dirty, denigrated—to be looked upon with scorn. If, in the modern culture, gender equality does come up, the response is simply: "I'm not a feminist, but—" (Translation: Please don't think I'm a man-hater/ugly/being difficult!)

Feminists have long labored over how to change feminism's image, and the notion is perplexing. But perhaps the more important question should be not how we repair the word, but how we show young women that the meaning behind it—the simple belief in gender equality—is still relevant, even in 2010. "I don't think that not wanting to identify yourself as a feminist is particular to this generation," says Collins. "But the assumption that everything is fine is very strong with this [group]."

As Gloria Steinem once put it, you're either a feminist or a masochist. At 28, I now proudly choose the former. I hope the women that come after me won't have to wait that long.

For more on feminism, check out NEWSWEEK's article on young women and sexism and the authors' new blog, The Equality Myth.