Thursday, August 26, 2010


Years ago, and I mean years ago, I used to have a parenting column in the local newspaper. Once a month I would tackle some issue related to raising children, often using my own experiences as fodder for the articles.

One such column addressed the challenges and competitiveness of Halloween. As someone who didn’t sew, I was complaining about how far we had come from the original concept of the kids just dressing up in what ever was around the house.

No, instead parents were creating costumes that were worthy of the local dramatic group, or spending a small fortune to buy one that represented the latest hot character – be it Superman or a creature from Star Wars.

Well, as a result of that column, a neighbour, an older woman whose kids were long gone from home, came over with several costumes. She’d read my article, and taking pity on my lack of sewing skills, gave me the costumes, so that my girls could look the part and hold their heads high that Halloween.

While I hadn’t expected my neighbour’s generosity, this story does show the power of putting it out there – of stating what you need – even back then the universe provided. What do you need? Have you asked for help?

In a recent LinkedIn discussion in the Company of Women group, one member asked about recommendations for email marketing. There has since been a flurry of emails, with other members being all-supportive, suggesting different resources. A modern-day example of how when you ask for help, people will rally round. Why not try it, you might be surprised.

Now after the success of the Halloween column, my husband, always quick on the uptake, suggested that in my next column I write that I couldn’t cook, hoping that the reaction would be similar and people would drop off meals!

And no, I didn’t. You also need to learn when to stop while you are ahead.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


For years now emotional intelligence (EI) has been touted as an important skill set to have, and one that women in particular, have mastered.

It was Daniel Goleman who popularized this concept. He found that the most effective leaders were alike in one crucial way – they had emotional intelligence. They had empathy for other people.

However, recently German researchers have found that being nice doesn’t pay and in fact women who are agreeable, earned $80,000 less in their lifetime that those who were more ruthless and demonstrated more male behaviours.

It is now believed that to survive and succeed in business, you need toughness. So often, observes Suzy Welch, former editor of the Harvard Business Review, women take on the good mother role. She believes that “empathy paralyzes you when you need to make tough people decisions or give tough feedback.”

And certainly when you talk to successful entrepreneurs, they admit that they’ve kept someone on the payroll longer than they should and that in hindsight, they would have done better to fire the employee early on when the signs were there that it wasn’t going to work.

Another component of emotional intelligence is self-knowledge and this too, researchers believe, turns out to be a dangerous weapon for women at work. Research suggests that men tend to over-estimate their abilities, while women tend to underestimate theirs. Women doubt themselves and self-doubt is not an asset in business.

However, in a recent study, How Remarkable Women Lead, the two female consultants argue that a woman’s emotional depth helps her be not just a better person, but a better leader who can deliver results.

Personally I like the way women lead and their collaborative approach to business. Being sensitive to people’s needs can take you a long way. But success lies in knowing when to use your emotional intelligence, and when to make the tough decisions that have to be made if your business is to survive and grow.

What do you think?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

A cautionary tale

I recently attended a free workshop, which while mildly informative, seemed aimed at promoting a bigger, better and expensive event down the road. Throughout the workshop there were hints of what was to come if we signed up, almost a tease if you will, and the last fifteen minutes were totally spent up-selling us on this other program. I know... nothing in life is free, and what did I expect.

Well I left at that point, thinking thanks, but no thanks. However, later I received a phone call to see if I was interested, and I advised no. Then I received around six emails in that many days, encouraging me to sign up and not miss out on this special offer, which frankly at over $1,200+ did not seem that special an offer to me. Ultimately, weary of all the solicitation, I unsubscribed.

End of story, or so I thought. So you can imagine my annoyance when I received an email from someone who had taken the training, was raving about it and introducing me to the presenter, who gave a further pitch for the next program to be offered.

I‘m not normally someone who reacts strongly or so immediately, but in this instance I zapped off an email saying I didn’t appreciate this overture and that it seemed like someone trying to sneak in the back door, when I had already locked it.

Now I personally like and respect the people involved, but they are misguided. They need to know that this form of aggressive selling, truly doesn’t work with people like me. In fact, it does the opposite, it is a total turn-off.

So if you are someone who believes that aggressive sales tactics are perfectly fine and part of doing business, fine, but just don’t bother me, because I am not home, I am not interested and I am not buying. Period.

Friday, August 06, 2010


We’re always told to be careful about the small print. I remember hearing a story of how one company got people to sign up, and by just clicking on their site that you agreed to the terms and conditions, you’d actually agreed to sell your soul.

Clearly this company was making a point. We’re often all too quick to check that little box, without really reading it through.

Last week, I almost… almost, made a grave error. I’d agreed dates with the venue we’ve used for the past year for our breakfast meetings and they’d sent me the contracts to sign. I’d actually signed one when I suddenly looked at the figures. They didn’t make sense and when I got out my calculator and did the math, I found that they’d doubled the price!

They didn’t point this out. Maybe they thought I would just sign – and I nearly did or that I would be fine paying more than I am charging. Right. And there was also no negotiation once I confronted them on it, so guess what … we’re dining elsewhere.

But the moral of this story, is check the bottom line. Don’t always assume that people will alert you to changes. Read the small print, because we’d hate you to lose your soul.