May 31, 2010

Trash Talk Recycling

Would you tell Barb what Jill said about her if you were certain that Barb was going to confront Jill using you as her source of information? Confused? Let's make it a story problem.

You and Barb have been close friends for years, you support each other through thick and thin, working on community projects together, helping with each others garage sales, you are known for being best friends. Jill, an acquaintance of both of yours tells you that she thinks Barb's decision to keep chairing the Festival of Bird Baths is ridiculously but predictably selfish and that it's time Barb passed the torch to another member of the Babes for Bird Baths Association. She has plenty more to say about your friend Barb, but realizes she's getting a chilly reception and clams up.

All too often, we pass this sort of trash talk along to the "trashed", but forbid them from telling the "Jills" of the world who spilled the beans.  This leaves Barb insulted and powerless (probably the worst one-two combo in the world). Here's my view of this: If you aren't completely comfortable being quoted on your reporting of trash talk, keep it to yourself. Or better yet, tell the Jill to take a hike. "You are talking about my friend and I don't like it".

It seems to me, when we pass along an insult in the spirit of "I thought you should know....", but haven't...
  1. had the guts to confront the trash talker yourself and defended your friend; and
  2. given your friend your permission to cite you the source leave her in the position to doubt YOUR friendship. I sure would.

This happened to a good friend of mine recently and as she told me the details, my very first question was: Why in the world did she tell you this? And she swore you to secrecy, that you could never mention it? Huh? Who is the queen of mean here?

If this sounds like high school junk, I agree. As we get older and wiser(?), the stakes get higher with careers and families in the balance. Let's all stand up for each other when we hear this junk, and to the betrayed: the favor of not retelling the story.

May 25, 2010

Lady Campers!

Is it always such a good idea to get out of your comfort zone? When you get that "uncomfortable" feeling, isn't that a message to re-evaluate your circumstances and plan the exit strategy? Or does it mean that you are growing? Growing is supposed to be good for you I hear.

Here's the story: My family wants to go camping. Yes, camping. Outside. In the woods. I've gotten this far in life with "Just Say No".  Camping just isn't my thing, and yes I say that for all the girlie reasons that you would expect. I'm not proud.

I recently made the mistake of adding a caveat to the whole camping issue: OK, I will go, IF: We go with another family of veteran-campers who have kids and all the equipment to make it something I ATTEND not CREATE. I don't know how to camp. I'm certain that other women like myself have been initiated into camping and have figured out all the tricks to make it fun for kids and grown-up sorts.

Just like when you negotiate with God and tell him you'll never eat chocolate again if he could just make that police officer pass you on the highway and pull over the the car ahead of you, my wish has been granted and just such a family has invited us to go into the woods with them. In fact, two families have come forward. They have the equipment. My family looks at me with  raised eyebrows and they smirk at me. I am cornered. I want my chocolate back.

So lady campers... send me your secret tricks to make camping a magical family experience...please!

May 17, 2010

Is there anything new to say about Family/Work Balance?

The very worst guest on Mary in the Morning is the "expert" that points out a very serious issue and then spends the next 15 minutes of valuable airtime saying exactly that, over and over and over. This issue is SOO important. No innovative solution, no 3 step plan to make things better. Just a reiteration of why the topic is so important and even more annoyingly, how important it is that you resolve this issue... or else here's the bad news: (fill in the blank). BUT NO ANSWERS WE CAN USE.

Whenever I hear from a publicist about an author who has tackled the Work vs. Family Balance issue, I ask to see the book before agreeing to the booking. I have yet to read anything new on the topic. There are some guiding principles that we are all familiar with:
  1. Learn to say no
  2. Delegate at home and work
  3. Demand support for your career from family members
  4. Work for a company that supports family-friendly policies
  5. Approach your career phases as seasons, relating to the demands of your family over a period of time
Beyond these basics, I have yet to hear anything ground-breaking or even interesting on the topic. I just crave my Calgon Take Me Away moment when I consider the issue. I just read an e-mail from a listener who would like more conversation on the Mary in the Morning show about family/work balance. She is hopeful that other listeners will have great ideas that they could share with each other. Have I become cynical and skeptical? I predict a morning of dead air.

This is a challenge for every woman I know and I have come to believe that there exists a unique approach for every woman. No one-size-fits-all answer. Some of us get it and some of us spend way too much of our time feeling inadequate and a disappointment to others.

Our mothers blazed the trail for us, gaining entry to many career fields that were closed to us. They told us we could be anything we wanted and we did it! But we haven't figured out how our families are going function if we aren't there. Carol the Corporate Wonder thinks that her 11 year-old daughter will be so proud of Mom for being the first woman in her company to be promoted to Regional Manager, but in reality, she'd prefer you be home after school to help make banners for swim team. Women go around and around in their minds, trying to remember what is really important and what is not. How much are they willing to sacrifice for their families, how much for their careers? Would your husband's give up your $45,000 salary in exchange for a more relaxed life partner?

Do you have ideas to share? Let's start the conversation here and see where it goes...

May 7, 2010

Rest and Win!

Ten years ago (post 9/11) the trend was Nesting. In February, I was remarking to my geeky marketing friends that I believed that an upcoming marketing trend would be Resting. My geeky friends scowled at me, thinking I had lost my trend-spotting touch. After all, our culture prizes the go-go-go lifestyle accessorized with speedy technology pushing us to heights of frenzied productivity and madness. 

I held firm. More and more research is showing that without REST, we diminish the returns from our efforts, both cerebral and physical.. Think about your weekends and vacations, restful? I'm not asking are they fun. Are they Restful? Do your body and mind ever, ever, ever get a chance to catch up. Just relax. Do you find yourself creating to-do lists while getting a massage, having sex, trying to fall asleep. Perhaps, you have forgotten how to... rest.

I had put my Rest Marketing Trend  on the upper shelf, out of my reach with a wait and see attitude, until this conversation took place:

Mary: Thank you doctor for taking my call. I'm wondering what I can do to speed up my recovery from surgery?

Doctor: Rest.

Mary: Yes, I understand, but what else? Supplements? Pharmaceuticals? CDs or tapes I can download to my iPod?  Special exercises? A class? Yeah, an expensive Get Better Faster class? I'd like to sign up for that right away!!!

Doctor: Rest and time are the only two things you need. And maybe more sleep.

Mary: Tell me, please, that you are kidding.

Doctor: Mary, all you need is rest.
Now not every one needs to recover from surgery, but I think we are all going to start getting the message from health and mental wellness folks that what we need, in order to be more of whatever we are trying to be, is, in fact, rest.

I predict that:
  • You will see products launching to help us get better rest, like Zeo, your personal sleep coach. 
  • You will learn strategies from the sports world about resting for winning.
  • You will begin to hear more about the impact of fatigue on your body and mind.
So my message is twofold: 1) get more rest; and, 2) if you are a marketer, begin to think of how you can bring a promise of rest to your customers and clients.