self-confidence

Unleashing the Animal Within You!

Life Lessons on Leadership from the Animal Kingdom
By Dr. Janet Rose Wojtalik

Dr. Janet Rose Wojtalik


I have worked with women and for women. I have joined a multitude of women’s groups. I have done extensive research. I have many women friends. I am a woman.  I have spent time researching, interviewing, and observing women trying to understand the female psyche and what makes some productive, happy, and satisfied and others not-so-much. After many years of trying to understand what makes women flourish I have come to the conclusion that there is no magic formula. There is no prototype that dictates success. What I have found, however, is that women can develop certain habits that contribute greatly to their well-being and to their prosperity at work and in life.
These habits can be learned and can greatly impact how a woman navigates the jungle of leadership and life. In my studies I have learned a great deal about how my counterparts function. Here is what I know about women:

  1. Women are strong.
  2. Women are sensitive.
  3. Women rock multitasking.
  4. Women take care of everything: children, home, work, men, aging parents, plants, pets, etc.
  5. Women hold grudges.
  6. Women don’t speak up.
  7. Women are afraid.
  8. Women don’t realize their own strengths.
  9. Women use the wrong measuring stick to judge their own value.
  10. Women lack confidence.

I have also learned what women do or can do to ignite their drive and passion and to unleash their inner strengths and improve their over-all life satisfaction. I have found many life lessons by studying the animal kingdom. The symbolism I have found is (at best) startling and (at least) interesting. What follows is a brief synopsis of the life lessons we can learn by looking at the wild things.
The Elephant
I have always loved elephants. They are huge and stately. They have a quiet type of power that has always intrigued me. Of course, I have always cringed at the thought of any animal living in captivity and I believe all should be living free without cages or tethers. BUT, the elephant has taught us something about tethers. When a baby elephant is captive, it is tethered with a rope to a stake in the ground. The baby elephant is kept in its place with this length of rope which allows the elephant a limited amount of space to roam. As the elephant grows it remains tethered by a length of rope to a stake in the ground. It does not try to break free although it obviously could if it tried. The fact is, the elephant learned from an early age that it could not free itself and it has held on to that belief even after it has grown and is highly capable. After all, an elephant never forgets.
In my own life and in the lives of women I now know, I have found that we are often tethered. We are tethered to negative feelings about ourselves, our self-worth and our capabilities that were delivered to us as children. These messages may have been sent by our parents, our teachers, the media, or even fairy tales. Maybe they were delivered in young adulthood through toxic relationships or experiences that challenged us. These messages of helplessness and inability grab on and hold tight. As adults this tether continues to restrain us, to hold us back, as these messages play over and over in our heads and in our hearts. Successful women have identified their tethers and have used their strength to break free from them and to move forward away from that which is holding them back and ‘keeping them in their place’.
 The Giraffe
The giraffe with its long legs and long neck teaches us about the importance of vision. The giraffe’s ability to reach high, to see the layout of the land, and to nourish itself from sustenance that few others can attain is an important lesson. As women   move into the world of entrepreneurism and leadership, they need to see beyond their immediate surroundings. Successful, productive women look at the big picture, see the potential struggles and ready themselves with foresight and knowledge to manage what lies ahead. They reach. They stretch. They stick their neck out!
Another worthy observation about the giraffe is the fact that its strength is also its weakness. The giraffe’s long-leggedness and long neck make drinking water a challenge for the giraffe. She, like us, must learn to accommodate for challenges in life. She doesn’t give up drinking water or she will die. She learns to bend and to find ways to meet this difficult challenge, all the while maintaining her balance and grace.
The giraffe also teaches us about strength. When the mother giraffe gives birth, her baby drops to the ground and immediately struggles to stand. Once standing, it tries to nurse. Instead of feeding her newborn, the giraffe kicks her baby and knocks her down. The baby gets up and gets kicked again. Although this sounds cruel, mom knows better. She is teaching her baby to be strong, to get up, to fight, and to succeed. If she doesn’t do this, she knows her baby will not be strong enough to survive the challenges ahead. What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, right? Successful women use their struggles as opportunities to be brave and to grow!
The Owl
When we think of the owl, we immediately think of wisdom. The wise old owl reminds us to think. Along with the habit of thinking things through is another habit that successful women possess. That is trusting intuition. Women have a unique gift called intuition. I have found that women who ‘trust their gut’ and can ‘read between the lines’ have a leg-up over others. If it doesn’t feel right, it most likely is not right. Do your homework but trust your intuition.
The owl also brings to mind the meaning of OWL in our texting world…Obsessed With Learning! Every successful, productive woman must be obsessed with learning. Always be in the know if you want to be on the cutting edge. Read. Read. And read some more. Network. Learn from others. Do your research. Know what is coming. Know your competition.
The Canary
Do your recall why miners took canaries into the mines? The other day I was about to turn on the cleaning cycle in my oven and noticed the manual told me to remove any birds from the environment because the toxic fumes from the stove might kill them! Besides being obviously alarmed at what these fumes might do to me, it brought to light the effects of toxicity in our lives. The canary teaches us the importance of ridding our environments of toxicity. Successful women know the value of surrounding themselves with positive, uplifting, supportive people.  Toxic relationships only hamper our success and our happiness. Strong, successful women do not continue to maintain toxic relationships. They quickly deliver the message to step up or step out! They join networking groups that are supportive and energizing. They socialize with others who are like-minded and respect and encourage them.
The Zebra
Zebras are amazing animals. Along with their obvious beauty is their uniqueness. Did you know that every zebra sports a striped pattern unlike every other? Just like our fingerprints, their stripes set them apart from each other. Although each one is uniquely different, zebras have developed a habit that serves them very well! They huddle together in times of danger to protect themselves from looming harm. They stand close together, leaning on each other to create a pattern of stripes that serve to camouflage them from potential predators. As women, we do best when we bond together. We are most successful when we use our strengths to support one another. We do not alienate each other because it serves only to weaken us. We need each other to increase our strength and our impact and our chance for survival!
The Camel
The camel teaches us about conservation. Her characteristic hump allows her to store fat and water and energy to maintain stamina to take that long trek across the desert. Successful, productive, happy women learn from this spirit animal the importance of caring for our inner selves. As women we often find ourselves running on empty. We multitask as we take care of a throng of things at one time.  The camel teaches us that we need to ready ourselves for the journey of life by taking care of our mind, our body and our spirit. We do this by taking the time to stop, to breathe, to eat right, to exercise, to meditate, to run, to walk, to read, to just be. Our success needs to start from within. Nurturing our inner selves should be our number one priority.
 The Tiger
The tigress is the spirit animal of sensuality and sanctuary. The tigress is a symbol of boldness and fierceness. The tiger tells us to be the master of our domain, to go for what we want. The tiger is in tune with the rhythms and motions of the jungle. When the tiger has something to say it roars! Like the tiger, successful women tread carefully and stealthily to pursue and attain what they want in life. They are deliberate. They think. They plan. They also have a vision. They speak up and they speak out! The tiger is also a creature that enjoys solitude. This solitude allows for time to plan, to review, to regroup, to set new goals, and to tend to the heart.  Be like the tiger.
It IS a jungle out there! As women we face challenges and struggles every day tying to manage multiple things at once. Dealing with family, work, personal issues and a need for maintaining a healthy mind, body and spirit can be a daunting task. A successful woman achieves happiness in what she does by developing habits that allow her to flourish and thrive. First and foremost is learning how to take care of her inner self. We can learn a great deal by looking at the habits of the animal kingdom. These life lessons from the wild can help you unleash your inner strengths and give you the ferocity you need to bring you the happiness and the personal success you deserve.

“Your strength gives you the ability to stand alone.

Your uniqueness allows you to stand apart.

Your wisdom inspires you to stand together.”

–Dr. Janet Rose Wojtalik

Dr. Janet Rose Wojtalik promotes female strength as an author, inspirational speaker, and leadership mentor for parents, employers, and women of all ages. Her award winning research focusing on  the ecology of female leadership has supported her quest to promote strong women and girls worldwide.  She is a co-author of Leading Women: 20 Influential Women Share Their Secrets to Leadership, Business and Life. Her resources can be found at www.drjanetrose.com. Email: janet@drjanetrose.com.

Who You ARE Makes a Difference

Founder of Blue Ribbons Worldwide

Helise “Sparky” Bridges


Helice “Sparky” Bridges had it all – a big house on the Pacific Ocean, fancy cars, beautiful sons and an emotionally abusive husband – when she hit the wall. She fell to her knees and cried, “Stop the world I want to get off!” and a voice answered,” You can’t end your life because you are going to sing and dance and write.”Later on she also understood that she must also make a difference in the world. The fact that she couldn’t sing, had never danced a step or written much beyond a real estate contract didn’t stop her. She left home with a potted plant and some clothes and did those very things in spite of apparent shortcomings because of what she IS–outrageous.
Sparky realized that everyone just tries to be the best mom or dad or teacher, but what everyone really needs is to be recognized and loved, just like she did.  She created a symbolic hug in the Blue Ribbon ceremony in 1980, now called “Blue Ribbons Worldwide” with a goal of uniting humanity through the power of love and within three months 35,000 people were honored with it. Sparky’s goal is to reach one billion people by 2020. That’s one in seven people in the world, the mathematical tipping point for social change.

“Bing!” is the sound of making dreams come true.

With over 40 million people and counting, Blue Ribbons Worldwide is working hard on its goal to unite the world through the power of love. Sparky calls it the glue that’s missing from our lives. The blue ribbon she created says, “Who I Am Makes a Difference” and the ceremony requires seven steps, beginning with looking the person in the eye and honoring them for the qualities that make them special, asking permission to place the ribbon over their heart and for them to receive the honor, and finally “Bing!” to signify making their dreams come true. Each blue ribbon presented is followed by two more with a request for that person to pay it forward to two others.

Sparky tells her own story and the inspiring stories of how the Blue Ribbon Ceremony made a difference in people’s lives in her book, Who I am Makes a Difference: The Power of Acknowledgement, Stories that Connect People Heart-to-Heart and Ignite the Human Spirit. One story on how the blue ribbon prevented a teen suicide is also featured in Chicken Soup for the Soul. That is at the heart of Blue Ribbons Worldwide, to end teen suicide, heal the world by helping one person at a time understand how much she/he matters. Today more than 40 million people have been honored with blue ribbons, but 2020 is only a couple of years away.

#BLUERIBBONCHALLENGE

Sparky says that people need to have personal connections and not be in such a “doing” world, but in a “being” world, where we can see each other’s hearts and the beauty in people. She is inviting others  to join her in becoming sponsors of a new initiative to train 40,000 middle and high school students to discover who they are, why they were born and the difference they make. The students will be honoring each other, honoring their parents and writing stories about it to unite the community in supporting everyone else’s dreams. Besides reducing teen suicides, bullying and the other epidemics that are infecting our teens, Sparky says that it will elevate education in America by developing social and emotional literacy. Instead of concentrating our efforts on conflict resolution, the Blue Ribbon Ceremony will focus on elevating our relationships to a higher bond of respect and love. To learn more about Blue Ribbons Worldwide, contact Sparky directly at her e-mail: sparky@blueribbons.org.
Listen to this conversation for more inspiring stories and to hear the 7-step Blue Ribbon Acknowledgement Ceremony from Sparky to Dr. Nancy. Check out Sparky’s website and ways Blue Ribbons Worldwide is uniting the world through sharing love with 40 million people and counting.Find out how you can help make it One Billion by 2020 at Blue Ribbons Worldwide.

Gifts to Heal and Transform Your Life

Kim Coles


Actress and Comedian Kim Coles has reached beyond the TV screen and the stage to share how she turned  her life around when she discovered that life doesn’t happen to you, but for you. When her five-year successful TV show, “Living Single,” came to an end, she not only lost her TV family, she lost her way. Now, she says that of course her life was more than a TV show, but the loss was so great, it was difficult to see that at the time. In the process of emerging from a deep depression, she found her gifts and reached out to help others through speaking, writing and sharing empowering stories.
 

Stories Inform, Engage, Educate and Can Heal the World

Her book, Open Your GIFTS: 22 Lessons on Finding and Embracing Your Personal Power, became an Amazon best seller and charts the way to empowerment with stories to show how others have turned their lives around by welcoming their gifts.

GIFTS is an acronym:
G = Gratitude – Kim says she wrote a gratitude journal before GIFTS . The  most difficult thing is to be grateful for the “yucky stuff” life dishes out. But those can be the most rewarding gifts because they offer the best opportunity for learning.
I = Intention – Kim advises being intentional with your spiritual to-do list and whatever you want to be in the world.
F = Forgiveness – Forgiveness opens up your heart for so much more. When you can forgive and release past hurts from events, other people or yourself, you can use those lessons to transform your life.
T = Triumph – Kim says it’s very important to celebrate your success. Take time to be triumphant about the gains you’ve made. It builds self-confidence and helps you face future obstacles with the courage of past victories.
S = Self Love – This final letter is the essence of the book. You must love yourself and take care of yourself no matter what. Kim shares this book to help women arrive at that final step so they can live their passion and purpose.

More of Kim’s Story and Free Gift

Listen to this interview for more of Kim’s personal story  and more about her free gift—a seven-day workbook for your gratitude list, intentions, triumphs and expressions of self love. She’s offering an audio book too, absolutely free. The code is near the end of the interview.   Also check out her website and realkimcoles on Facebook to keep up to date on her events and appearances.

Ways to Enhance Your Leadership by Making Your Voice Heard

To really change the status quo, women need to make their voices heard. Across the country, women are tackling that goal on a large scale (say by running for office), or by voicing their opinions in the workplace and in community organizations. Whatever the venue, speaking out is key, especially if you want to advance. Interestingly, a new study has found it isn’t just what you say that helps you get ahead, but how you say it.
Research has found that speaking up with information intended to help your group has a ton of benefits. It can improve performance, help come up with creative solutions, and address (and even avoid) issues that might hold your group back. And by speaking up, research suggests that not only will you help your group get ahead, it can help you emerge as a leader.
In efforts to better understand the power of using your voice, researchers Elizabeth McClean, Kyle Emich, Sean R. Martin, and Todd Woodruff found themselves wondering which matters more: who speaks up, or how they do it? In a search for those answers, the group recently undertook two separate studies, and their results were eye-opening.
Sean R. Martin writes in Harvard Business Review that they found those who speak up can gain the respect and esteem of their peers, and this increase in status made people more likely to emerge as leaders of their groups. However, these effects happened only for some people and only when they spoke up in certain ways.
“Specifically, speaking up with promotive voice (providing ideas for improving the group) was significantly related to gaining status among one’s peers and emerging as a leader. However, speaking up with prohibitive voice (pointing out problems or issues that may be harming the team and should be stopped) was not,” Martin writes. “We further found that the gender of the person speaking up was an important consideration: The status bump and leader emergence that resulted from speaking up with ideas only happened for men, not for women.”
Their findings echo research that shows that people respond differently when men and women engage in similar behaviors, which suggests that women who speak up and share ideas may not see the same benefits as men. Proving yet again that there is a definite strategy behind effectively making your voice heard.
“This research is not intended to suggest that people — men or women — should speak up only with [promotive] ideas and avoid bringing up problems,” Martin writes. “After all, for teams to function, innovate, and learn, it is critically important to … to spot the things that be might holding a team back from even better outcomes.”
This research highlights the need for us to understand the different ways men and women speak. Men are very direct, use and expect one-word responses, women want the story behind the answer. Relationship building and collaboration lie behind women’s communication, while men communicate to get the job done.
My Leading Women co-author Gloria Feldt cites the work of Simon Sinek, who points out the benefit of explaining why before making a suggestion. For example, by first stating, “I have an idea for improving our overall productivity as a group,” before making their proposal, both women and men found their audiences responded better to their ideas.

My co-author Claire Damken Brown, Ph.D. is a gender communication expert and urges women to make their voices heard to build their credibility as leaders. If they do it correctly, the results can be beneficial, but it can be difficult to the get credit.  Our ideas are our intellectual capital, and in Leading Women, she relates how she felt when someone “stole” her idea in a meeting. She actually thought this just happened in textbooks, so she was stunned when it happened to her. To address the issue, she recommends that you:

  • Bring attention back to yourself
  • Buddy up with someone in advance and have them bring the attention back to you
  • Seek help from the meeting facilitator.

Whether in the workplace or in the community, it’s up to all of us to recognize what makes us effective communicators, learn from our differences, and create a supportive, collaborative environment where women and men have equal floor time. As women, we can’t unlock our full potential in the workplace, in the community, or in our homes until we gain recognition for our ideas and build a world where equality isn’t the exception, but the rule.

You Can Be the Woman Who Is Helped Today

Keynote Speaker, Author, Leadership Coach

Judy Hoberman


After a successful 30-year career in sales and writing numerous books on gender differences in business, Judy Hoberman has found her true purpose and has focused on her newest goal, “to help one woman a day.” When she announced this goal to different groups of women, she was always surprised when a woman in the audience would raise her hand and ask, “Can I be the woman you help today?”
This is why Judy has expanded her reach in two ways: she wrote her new book, Walking on the Glass Floor: Seven Essential Qualities of Women Who Lead, and launched her new foundation at the same time. Judy knew that her purpose was to give women the tools they need to succeed in their careers, provide for their families, and have time to do what they truly desire. She already did this through the business she founded, Selling In A SKIRT, which is an acronym for:

  • Standing Out
  • Keys to Success
  • Inspiring Others
  • Results Oriented
  • Time Management
  • All while having Fun!!

Through coaching, consulting, sales training, speeches and a weekly radio show, Judy gives women important tools to help them succeed at their purpose.

Women Who Are Mentored Become Amazing Role Models for Other Women.

Walking on the Glass Floor is different than anything Judy has ever done. She began with the idea that if you have cracked through the glass ceiling, you are now walking on the glass floor. If you’re there, you have a responsibility to help other women get there too. Her purpose turned the corner of feminine leadership, to help women realize that we are phenomenal leaders and many of the skills that we don’t think of as being leadership skills are in fact the best tools for effective leadership.
Growing up and being told that she couldn’t do certain things because she was a girl created an obstacle for Judy that she felt she must overcome. In the process, she discovered her gifts, one being the way that she coped with being told that she couldn’t do something. It fueled her fire and she became all she wanted to become and in turn, was determined to help others do the same.

Create Relationships Before You Need Them.

Although her career was in sales, Judy doesn’t think of what she did as selling. She saw it as a form of communication and creating relationships. She helped people and worked with them to achieve what they needed. She advises her clients now to make relationships. It doesn’t matter who you are speaking to, there is always an opportunity for a wonderful relationship.

Help Another Woman Today

This conversation is full of helpful information for women leaders. Judy comments on women’s lack of self confidence. Even women who are at the top of their field have told her that the most difficult thing for them is having the courage to show their self-confidence. Dr. Nancy adds that it’s also fear of failure that holds many women back and comments on how much she likes Judy’s chapter on taking risks. Judy says she knows how important this information is for women and that is why she formed the foundation, to get the book into the hands of the women who need it and to help women in more ways than she could otherwise. The mission is to support women and women’s initiatives through writing, workshops and publications.
Underneath it all is Judy’s desire to help women know what incredible leadership skills they already possess. It only requires a shift of perspective to see how passion, a sense of purpose, a talent for creating relationships and working in collaboration can be essential tools in the hands and heart of a gifted leader.  Check out Judy’s website, Sellinginaskirt.com, for more information and listen to this conversation for more of Judy’s personal story and why she and Dr. Nancy say we desperately need more women leaders.

Your Voice Matters


Celebrated writer, speaker and women’s leadership coach, Tabby Biddle is on a mission to help women realize that they own something more precious than they ever realized living in a male-dominated culture – a Feminine voice that needs to be heard. In the process of her own journey to make her voice heard, she discovered a little-known fact. According to June Cohen, TEDx Producer, only about 20 percent of the short-listed TEDx Talks that came to her for consideration on TED.com were by women. Worse than this, only 15 percent of the recommendations that came in for the main stage TED were women. That led June to ask  an important question, “Where are the women’s voices?”
Tabby’s response was to assemble as many women for TEDx and TED Talks as she possibly can. After delivering her own TEDx Talk at St. Marks, Tabby began a coaching workshop where she not only prepares women to take the TED stage, but helps them find a TED venue where they can be accepted and successfully use their voice.
If you’ve never thought you could be a TED speaker, think again. Speaking on the TED or TEDx stage can be the highlight of your career. As a female leader or an emerging leader, delivering a TED talk is an incredible vehicle for you to spread your message, build your brand and share what matters to you most. So what’s holding you back? If you’re not convinced that your message is really important, consider that according to the latest studies, when more women are leaders, communities and organizations are more productive, profitable, innovative and successful. When more women are leaders, we also change society’s view of what leaders look like, how they operate, and how they respond to social, economic and political needs.  When more women are leaders, we raise the aspirations of women and girls around the world.
You are important. Your brand of leadership is important. By stepping on the TED stage  and using your voice, you can potentially change, not only your own path, but the path of thousands of other women and girls. More women like you need to share their stories and change the cultural conversation. It’s time to shed the fear and self-doubt and accept the responsibility to make your voice heard.
Tabby urges women to make the dream of speaking on the TED or TEDx stage a reality. She provides the practical support and guidance necessary to take your rightful place on the stage and step into your legacy as a change-making feminine leader. The next course takes place in January, 2018. Early registration is October 1. You can participate from any location in the world. Now is the time to share your idea and story. Imagine transforming your life by sharing your message with thousands of other people and making the impact you’ve always dreamed of making. October 1 is fast approaching. Share your story and become the feminine leader you are destined to be. Your voice matters more now than ever before.  Click here to find out more about how to touch the lives of the people who are waiting for you, and become the thought leader that you know you are meant to be.

When We’re Bullied We’re All Children

stressed bullying victim
Have you noticed that when we find ourselves in the crosshairs of slights, snubs or outright attacks, we suddenly feel small and vulnerable? Our typical instinct is to go hide somewhere—like under the bed.  While that may be a child’s response, full grown women and men can come under attack from a bully at a moment’s notice. Why is that behavior so common and what makes people of any gender or age turn to bullying others?
Bullies aren’t evil, according to “5 Ways to Help Children Deal with Bullies Compassionately” from Fractus Learning. Bullies are unhappy. Bullying indicates inner turmoil. The author behind the info graphic, psychologist Chiu Lau, says that there are many reasons people behave badly. One reason is that they may feel bad about themselves, so by making others feel bad, they feel better. Some people learn that being mean to someone is a way to get what they want. Others bully because they have been bullied, so they try to protect themselves by scaring others. The list continues, but the point is there isn’t one simple answer. In general, the bully lacks something and perceives he or she will gain from acting badly. So how can children (and adults) deal effectively with bullies?
There’s a lot of advice about this. One is to understand that it may not be about you, unless you’re standing in the way of the bully’s pursuit of a coveted job, love interest, or other perceived desire. Even if the bully wants power over you, it’s still not about YOU; it’s about how it makes the bully feel. Some just want to win and feeling power over another person makes them feel powerful. But fighting back only adds fuel to the bully’s fire. Anger and aggression beget more anger and aggression. Running away also is not a positive option unless you’re in physical danger. Then it’s the best option.
Although it’s an unpleasant situation, maybe you should actually thank the workplace bully for giving you a chance to grow, suggests Marlene Chism, author of Stop Workplace Drama.  She says it gives you an opportunity to examine your personal boundaries and figure out what you’re willing to accept from another person and also why you’re avoiding confrontation. Most important, Marlene recommends that you take this opportunity to reinvent and realign. If you see yourself as a weak victim, you definitely need to change your perspective and invent a new YOU who is a powerful creator. She advises changing your communication style starting with how you communicate to yourself.
However, if you feel personal danger, you should immediately seek help. Tell someone you trust, suggests Fractus Learning. In a child’s case, it could be a favorite teacher or parent. Whoever you tell, remember there is power in sharing your stories. If a bully is bearing down hard and you fear for your job, your safety or even your life, don’t try to handle it alone. Even if you don’t have a trusted person you think might help, explaining your situation to someone else will help you understand your own feelings so you can get some perspective on the situation. Leading Women co-author, Bridget Cook-Burch talks about how changing the story you tell yourself can transform your life. In the situation she describes in her chapter in the book, she feared for her loss of livelihood when a client began to harass her. Sometimes, the threat can seem so severe that we can’t see a way out and try to avoid or ignore it. But this kind of fear only compounds itself if it’s allowed to fester inside. Bridget’s powerful story tells how to overcome the fear to reinvent and realign your life, much as Marlene suggests.
Elaborate studies have been performed to determine if bullying is cultural or inherited. Bullying not only crosses cultures and time periods, it also crosses species, according to Hogan Sherro, who analyzed it for Scientific American. Therefore, he concluded that it must be a human trait––part of the human condition–– which is used to intimidate and control the balance of power in social situations. In fact, some companies develop an entire culture based on bullying, according to Bullying Statistics. This develops because management doesn’t admit to or deal with underlying problems. The same article lists the unproductive outcomes from bullying, including stress, high turnover, absenteeism, loss of motivation, etc., all of which can result in a costly impact on the bottom line. The author urges victims to document the bullying behavior and report it to management. “Companies with good anti-bullying policies usually hold meetings from time to time to remind employees what workplace bullying is, how to report it, and the consequences for bullying,” she writes.
Whatever the social situation, it’s important to name the behavior accurately. Identifying bullying, whether it’s on Facebook, in the classroom or at work, is the first step. Then, advises Fractus Learning, treat the bully with compassion. If you’re strong enough to come out from under the bed, invent your own story and become a powerful creator, this might indeed work. The bully is unhappy and feels powerless. When you’re sincerely kind to people, they feel valued. Being an example of kindness may be difficult in the face of someone telling you that you’re ugly, but that’s what Chiu Lau (and Mother Teresa) recommend.
If kindness was simple, then everyone would be kind and no one would experience meanness and bullying,” writes Susan Swearer, Co-Director of the Bullying Research Network. She challenges us to imagine a world where kindness is the norm and then create it by teaching, modeling and rewarding kindness. Punishing bullying behavior doesn’t work. Instead, she says, “it makes better sense to focus on teaching and modeling pro-social behavior, like teaching kindness.” Pro-social behaviors include being respectful, creating gratitude activities, volunteering and giving service, and fostering working together. She outlines this teaching plan with the intention of presenting it to children.
But imagine if we grownups did the same thing in our workplaces. Suppose we encourage each other to help out when one of our workmates seems stressed or overwhelmed. What if we hold employee meetings to brainstorm ways we can reward one another for good work, support each other’s ideas, and even-out the workload? Apply that same model to any social situation—committee, community event, city council, or foundation—kindness begets kindness and toxic relationships cannot thrive in its midst. It’s not easy to always be kind when you’re under pressure, and it may be impossible in a heated moment with a bully bearing down on your neck, but it feels a lot more satisfying and rewarding when you achieve it. And when you practice it on a daily basis, thrown in with a dose of gratitude every day, you diffuse the power of any potential bully by setting out the best example of the human condition. Yes, there are just as many studies that report kindness is also part of the human condition. And these random acts also span centuries and species, just as bullying does.
Kindness is actually intuitive, reports Melissa Dahl. It’s only when we think it over, that we become selfish.  She cites studies where college students’ first inclination is to share, not hoard, and heroic acts where people risk their own lives in a matter of seconds to save the life of a stranger. Overwhelming evidence of everyday heroes blazes across the front pages of every crisis. In each case, people reach out to help a neighbor they may never have met, possibly one who shook a fist at them in traffic. So kindness is a matter of choice. YOU can choose how to react to bullying behavior. You can focus on resenting the bully or YOU can try to help a powerless person to get beyond their feelings of loss. Even though it may take practice, remember that your first instinct as a human being is to be kind.

Friend-Raiser for Gender Parity

by Dr. Nancy O’Reilly

A Few of the Take the Lead Board Members: Gloria Feldt, Loretta McCarthy, Amy Litzenberger, Dr. Nancy O’Reilly! and Shelly Esque


Last week, I was pleased to join in a celebration with other empowered women and men, founders and directors, leaders, students and authors from different fields and many young women future- leaders for a Friend-Raiser at Anika Rahman’s home in New York City. We were there to celebrate Take the Lead co-founder and Leading Women co-author, Gloria Feldt’s birthday and to engage the participants in the planning and coordination of Take the Lead Day to promote “Powertopia, A World Where Gender Parity Is Achieved,” which will take place in November.
It is so inspiring when powerful women come together to do something important. Nothing is more crucial to our future success than gender parity. The statistics differ among countries, states, careers and races, but the fact remains that women are still significantly underpaid and under-represented in top leadership in both the private and public sectors. We continue to be paid less for the same work and remain undervalued in the halls of power where we can make the most positive difference in the world today. Take the Lead’s mission to reach gender parity by 2025 is central to achieving the 50/50 balance of women and men that we need to create a world that supports and sustains healthy and fulfilling human life.
Our hostess for the event, Anika Rahman, is an attorney, the founding director of the International Legal Program at the Center for Reproductive Rights and has served as President and CEO of the Ms. Foundation for Women among many other accomplishments. Amy Litzenberger, co-founder and board chair of Take the Lead and a former investment banker, who lends her expertise in funding and strategic planning to start-up companies and social profits, introduced the evening and the topic of Powertopia.  Gloria led the discussion about women’s ambivalence to power and how our culture has taught us to shun power as a force people use to make others do what you want. Instead, Gloria has embarked on educating women to embrace their power as a means to accomplish their goals, concepts first expressed in her book, No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power, and later in her chapter in Leading Women.

Photos courtesy of Alexis Buryk for City Love Photography
or @citylovephotog for Instagram or Twitter


 
Coming together as we did at Anika’s home shows how we can shift the conversation if we work together. We are uniquely designed to do that very thing. Women naturally collaborate to share the load and integrate one another’s talents for the best outcomes. But as I spoke to young women in attendance and listened to their questions, it was clear how much work we have yet to do. Their concerns were mostly how they could get along with other women at work. On a personal and professional level, their daily concerns are still centered on problems of working together. Women must reach out and support other women. We must not hold one-another back, but urge each other forward. Be a mentor to another woman and seek out a mentor for yourself. Together we can do anything. We have proved it over and over again. As the African proverb says, “If you want to go far, go together; if you want to go fast, go alone.”

Actor, Caileigh Scott and Gloria Feldt


Let this Friend-Raiser and gathering be an example of what happens when we collaborate to advance women and men everywhere. When one succeeds, we all succeed. As we change our relationship with power, we can write a new chapter in human history that truly supports the common good of all, not just a few. Stay tuned for more about the Take the Lead Day in November and trainings and events to promote Powertopia, a world where women are totally equal and gender parity is achieved.

Wonder Woman Film Inspires Kindergarteners, Entrepreneurs and Hollywood Actresses

Humans are meaning-making creatures. We love to tell stories, and these shape how we see ourselves and our world. That’s what makes our ever-present media so powerful.
“Anytime we see women in powerful roles on-screen it challenges narrowly defined and antiquated views of leadership,” said Stacy L. Smith, communications professor at the University of Southern California. Smith is quoted in the New York Times about the impact “Wonder Woman” might have on young girls. “Whether women are serving as C.E.O.s or, in the case of Wonder Woman, striding across ‘No Man’s Land’ and taking enemy fire, it broadens our notions of who a leader can be and the traits they exemplify.”

Stories from Kindergarten

Small children readily imagine themselves heros, and a woman who works at a kindergarten posted comments from five- and six-year-olds the first week after the film’s release. Their stories were filled with power and possibility. One group asked to wear superhero costumes when they sang their song about bunnies. When a girl asked if she could ditch her school uniform for Wonder Woman armor because she “wanted to be ready if she needed to save the world,” her classmates took the new look in stride. Seven girls playing together during recess decided that since they all wanted to be Wonder Woman, they should all be Amazons and not fight but instead work together to defeat evil. Another little girl said, “When I grow up I want to speak hundreds of languages like Diana.” A boy who had been obsessed with Iron Man asked his parents for a new Wonder Woman lunchbox instead.
The teacher who posted these comments closed with this comment: “Consider this your friendly reminder that if this movie completely changed the way these girls and boys thought about themselves and the world in a week, imagine what the next generation will achieve if we give them more movies like Wonder Woman.” Imagine indeed.
Adults are slower than children to suspend disbelief and after researching and writing a book on Wonder Woman’s complicated origins, author Jill Lepore says in an interview that she remained puzzled about the character’s appeal. One day, however, an eight-year-old visiting from foster care “found this box of postcards … covers of original DC Comics from the 1940s. She started picking through them, pulled out all the Wonder Womans, and she lined them up in a row and she just looked at them. Then she looked at me and she said, ‘She is so strong.’ It just knocked me out. This is why Wonder Woman touches people.”

Stories Inspire Entrepreneurs

Even two male writers told stories showing how Diana’s many strengths offer lessons for entrepreneurs. The way John Rampton tells the story, the years the Wonder Woman franchise spent pivoting and rebranding would be familiar to most business owners navigating a changing marketplace. His verison of the story highlights Diana’s truth, peace, equality, empathy, fearlessness, and the power of mentoring. Diana is no loner but instead shares the glory. When Steve Trevor says she saved the day her response is, “No, we did this.” The story told by another journalist, John Boitnott, highlights Diana’s ability to inspire others with her courage and compassion, those precious attributes women display in abundance.

Stories from Women in Hollywood’s film Industry

How did women in Hollywood working on the film tell the story? They – like other diverse groups – are still struggling for representation and equal opportunity in the movie industry. The women who played the fierce warrior gods in the opening scenes of the film said working with a female director and a majority female cast made all the difference. “Everyone just walked with more power,” said Brooke Ence. “They walked with this Amazonian vibe.” “Many of the other Amazons are also mothers,” said Doutzen Kroes. “So we were all able to have our families with us during filming … it was simply incredible.” “I have never been around that many strong women at one time,” said Ann Wolfe. “It felt like we were real, true Amazons.”
Speaking of gender equity in the Hollywood film industry, Women Connect4Good’s producer Cathy Evans observed that Gal Gadot only earned $300,000 for this role, a fraction of what established male superhero stars make. Yes, and Hollywood contracts are byzantine patchworks of bonuses, royalties and percentages, and this is, after all, a brand new franchise. Evans hopes the sequels will correct some of the perceived problems, empower more women and girls, and earn Gal closer to the 79 cents the average woman makes on a man’s dollar.
Some reviewers, not big action hero fans, asked instead for more movies like “Hidden Figures,” an inspiring story based on actual human women. Agreed! But as psychology professor Christopher Ferguson points out, “’Wonder Woman’ and ‘Hidden Figures’ are not in conflict, but both move toward greater egalitarianism in film, albeit in different ways.” He goes on to caution, “All advocacy efforts, no matter how deserving, can run the risk of developing rigid, jargon-filled, political views that make the perfect the enemy of the good.”
In todays’ Women Helping Women Movement, let’s make room for every woman’s imperfect experience, even a retro comic book super hero. This is how we will pave the way for tomorrow’s real sheroes to step into their full and rightful share of leadership.

Manterrupting Is Back in the News

Manterrupting, or men interrupting women has been making the news…again. From the Uber boardroom to the US Senate, powerful women, including Arianna Huffington and Senator Kamala Harris, have been victims, proving once again that when women break the glass ceiling, their journey is just getting started. In fact, women who step on to majority-male boards or committees often encounter barriers to their authority from men who, whether intentionally or not, monopolize the discussion or interrupt women’s speaking turns.
Last week, Tali Mendelberg and Chris Karpowitz told CNN that women need more than a seat at the table, and shared their studies revealing that women are silenced when they hold a smaller percentage of the room. Between 2007 and 2009, Mendelberg and Karpowitz looked at how women exercise authority in groups where they are a minority. Their findings showed that, “Where women make up a minority, they speak less, receive more hostile interruptions, refrain from articulating their views, and are rarely rated as influential. In other words, in meetings where women are scarce, they are actively disrespected. The group suffers, too, as its range of perspectives shrinks.”
The phenomenon hasn’t decreased with time. In 2015, Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant wrote in the New York Times about the perils of “speaking while female,” along with research proving that this happens to all women at some point. In the case of recent manterrupting involving Senator Harris, Sandberg and Grant reported that powerful male senators speak significantly more than their junior colleagues, while female senators do not.
They further cite that male executives who speak more often than their peers are deemed more competent (10% more), while female executives who speak up are considered less (14% less). Following the research, the two found that in the workplace, many women speak less, are interrupted more, and have their ideas more harshly scrutinized.
This has to change. Women have to be able to gain equal time on the floor and be shown enough respect to make their ideas heard. Gender communication expert and Leading Women co-author, Claire Damken Brown, Ph.D., urges women to speak out and get their voices heard to build their credibility as leaders, and in the case of manterrupting, she shares strategies for recapturing the idea:

  • Bring attention back to yourself
  • Buddy up with someone in advance and have them bring the attention back to you
  • Seek help from the meeting facilitator.

This final point, however, she warns might not work. The facilitator often gets caught up in the meeting and doesn’t control the flow of dialogue. It is most important to speak out for yourself. That’s why she stresses that the only way to be perceived as a leader is to express your idea clearly and make sure your voice is heard.
Bottom line, nothing squashes creativity and innovation faster than a perceived lack of respect for others’ opinions, and manterrupting, whether intentional or not is definitely disrespectful. Progress comes from mutual respect. The pendulum is swinging, and women are taking to the streets to make their voices heard, recognizing that their voices do have merit, and their opinions do matter. That means it’s time to clear the manterrupting from the conversation, and truly work together.

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