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Who’s making what decision in which room?

Part of the fun for me in putting ideas and questions out to this #ladybadass community are the conversations following. It’s rare for me not to get pulled into a discussion around a question I posed or a theory I’m developing. Once in a while, I ask people to share their ideas back with you. Share, because I want you to hear different thoughts and ideas. Share because I want you to meet the phenomenal people behind the conversations.

A couple of weeks back I posed the question, “Do you stay in a role longer than you should for the sake of the team?” This particular article garnered several conversations. One, in particular, caught my attention. A conversation I had with a dear friend and co-worker from a part of my life we’ll just call “Adventures in Chicago,” and I asked her to share.

So today, I introduce you to a total #ladybadass Cindy Barry and her thoughts about staying for the team…………..



Through the years I have encountered numerous managers who were nightmares. Having someone in your direct line of management, or a peer inside or outside your division can cause angst, negatively impact morale, and demotivate everyone around them. In the end, they are adversely impacting productivity, which means they are impacting revenue.

They are often the worst kept secret in the company, well known to Human Resources (HR). We can have an entire series of articles on theories as to how and why they are allowed to stay in place. Sadly, they are a reality with which we need to contend. Continue reading “Who’s making what decision in which room?”

Maybe the question is “what should you do?” not “what could you do?”

Recent news touts Mark Zuckerberg’s announcement that they’re changing the newsfeed algorithm to “.. focusing on helping you find relevant content to helping you have more meaningful social interactions,” a focus, they say, on the community. The New York Times in an interview last Thursday dug a little deeper. Zuckerberg was quoted, “It’s important to me that when Max and August grow up that they feel like what their father built was good for the world,”

You know what else I noticed? Facebook’s stock plummeted 5% overnight.

Imagine with me that you’re a new entrepreneur; an entrepreneur who’s raised capital for a company to grow and “change the world.” Investors expect a return. Imagine for a second you, like Zuckerberg, have decided that your product might be putting profit over people. Imagine for a second your product was a benefit to today’s consumer but could jeopardize their safety, security in the future. (Just watch any episode of Black Mirror , and you’ll understand what I’m talking about.) Because we are bumping up to a technical future where almost anything we want to build we probably can.

All this imagining raises the question: Is our adherence revenue and profit over mission and values point us towards a future we don’t intend?

Seriously, what society do we envision? A Blade Runner future, a Mad Max future, or a Star Trek future? It might just be the result of my age, but most of the people I ask suggest the dystopian civilization similar to Blade Runner. Doesn’t that worry you? Even just a little?

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not advocating going back to the “old ways” and halting innovation and change. Hang out with me at all, and you’ll know that I’m very excited about machine learning, blockchain, self-driving technology and all the magical personalized technology in development today. I want it all.

But in that all, I also want someone in your companies and organizations to be responsible and empowered to think about the future us. Someone not beholden to the bottom line, someone not accountable to the investors. Companies need a head of ethics to partner with the head of innovation. Imagine the question wasn’t “what could we build” but “what should we build.” The winner being people, not pennies.

This ethicist can bring reason and thought to potential societal effects without concern for the bottom line. She can bring insight to the effects on all generations and the possibility of unintended consequences before products launch. An ethical voice infuses innovation with humanity.

I know, it’s not a small ask for my all. But I worry. I worry that if the next Facebook founder waits this long to realize that their first “baby” might harm their real babies that it will be too late, too late because everything is moving faster.

Which future do you want?

PS. If you’re a CEO, who wants to be one of the first to include an ethics lead on your team I have several suggestions.

Bespoke Bubbles

Lessons in Language and Individuality

Imagine for a moment that you’re invited to discuss with a small group of thought leaders the idea of narrative in the 21st Century. In the invitation informs you that you will give up an entire weekend, there is no agenda, and no other participants are known. The only thing you do know is that the host is this intriguing gentleman whom you’ve had some very thought-provoking conversations with before.

Would you say yes?

Of course, I said yes. Boy, I’m glad I did! Whom I met, what I learned, and my curiosity about what will manifest is still making me ponder almost a week later.

As the other 11 thinkers introduced themselves, I must admit that my IBSC (itty bitty shitty committee) screamed at the top of its lungs. These were people doing tremendous things on a massive scale. I can’t share the invite list, but let’s just say we had social activism, technology, military, politics, global economics, and environmentalism covered. And there I was with my platform of why people need to be able to articulate why they’re awesome.

I won’t go into a long diatribe about the ridiculousness of negative self-talk. We all know that conversation.

Once I got past myself, I listened, I absorbed, I learned. Continue reading “Bespoke Bubbles”

Just call me your fairy godmother

I want a wand.

I had the delightful experience of getting to speak to three different audiences recently. While we weren’t always talking about the human value proposition, the consistent message was about the need to be bold in our thinking to push us to new places. What I’ve found when I’m leading both groups and individuals, along with the “what could be” path, many are often stymied by one of the following:

  1. Fear – someone in the room might judge me.
  2. Fear – what if I fail.

I make it a point in each session to try and take the fear out of the room. I frequently use the statement: “Ok, I want you to pretend I’m your fairy godmother. Poof! I can now make ALL your dreams and wishes come true. There are no boundaries in the world you want to build. What do you see?”

I really want a wand when I do that. I think it might help the effect. Back to you and your wishes.  Continue reading “Just call me your fairy godmother”

A dream is a wish your heart makes

I’ve spent the last couple of weeks thinking that I should write a 2017 End of Year article. I thought about giving sage advice like “10 things you can do to make 2018 amazing” or “My New Year’s resolutions” or something along those lines. All these ideas seem a bit done and dull. When I have writer’s block, I go out to talk to the people for inspiration. “The people” being my awesome #ladybadass friends who are a veritable buffet of brilliant ideas.

We have the ever fabulous Maria Sipka who picks an intention word for each year and tries to live it each and every day. Her 2017 word was Unleashed. I’m super excited to hear what her 2018 word is going to be.

I also had lunch with the very thoughtful and inspiring Laura Froelich who, when I posed the question, cooly reminded me that she didn’t ever do “New Years” things. She just makes a decision and starts. I am in constant awe of this woman’s decisiveness.

Honestly, I think they’re both brilliant plans, and you can stop reading now. Do one of those items, and I assure you 2018 will be a banner year. Seriously.

But of course, I have another thought, another strategy to make 2018 the best year ever. It’s based on my most significant learning experience from 2017. Let me explain. Continue reading “A dream is a wish your heart makes”

Staying to Protect the Team

I have a question for all the people managers out there. Have you stayed in a job because of the people? A job you know you need to leave, but you just can’t quit the amazing people.

“My boss is a tool but my people are fabulous. I can’t leave them.” I’ve heard this sentence or something like it more times than I can count.

Have you endured a lousy boss because you want to protect or can’t leave the people on your team?

I know I have.

This topic came up while talking with my ladybadass friends recently. Several of them recounted the same scenario:

Atrocious boss + extraordinary people → Difficulty leaving

It got me wondering. Is this a pattern with women leaders or is just a sign of someone who’s a cool person? Continue reading “Staying to Protect the Team”

Meet a ladybadass: Theresa Kushner – data junkie, privacy advocate, and change maker

Over on our #ladybadass sister-site, we highlight many of the fearless, courageous, and inspiring ladies in business and in life around the world. We’re taking this idea a step further and finding out what it is that motivates and inspires these phenomenal women.

From journalist to data junkie to privacy champion advocate, Theresa Kushner epitomizes what it is to be a ladybadass.

#BeBrave #BeCurious #BeKind

Theresa Kushner, a self-described Type A personality, began her frenetic career by holding down three jobs while pursuing her bachelor’s degree in journalism. After a long stint in the technology industry leading the way at VMware, Cisco and IBM, she is now Senior Vice President for the Performance Analytics Group at Dell EMC. Theresa is also a published author and leading collaborative writer. Her two books (Managing Your Business Data: From Chaos to Confidence and B2B Data-Driven Marketing: Sources, Uses, Results) combine her journalism background and authority in the field of data analytics.

Data Junkie

So, what does she do? In a nutshell, Kushner would describe her job as, “Like running a mining company. I take raw material (data) and mine it for where all the gold nuggets are, and then we fashion it into jewelry to add value to the business.” Jumping in headfirst to Dell EMC in June 2017, Theresa headed to India, home to 400 people under her supervision. Before arriving, she asked each: “Tell me what we’re doing right, what we need to improve, and what you would do if you were me.” This simple ask is a telling indicator of her ethos and leadership style.

Privacy Advocate

Kushner sees data privacy as one of the most pressing and alarming issues in the industry in what she terms, Non-Anonymous Anonymity.  Like other leaders in her field, Kushner sounds the alarm bells regarding the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) with big data and data gathering.

“Data about us is everywhere,” she cautions. “Experian let go of a lot of information, but they’re not the only one. There’s a data breach that happens every day in this country. You do not know where your information is. With the incorporation of AI, our data will be available to machines whose algorithms may lack an ethical background or conscience. People have got to take control of something that they’ve never really thought about beforehand; that is their own information about themselves. No longer is it just your name and your social security number, but now it’s your DNA too.”

Kushner explains that data is gathered from every aspect of your daily life: where you sit; where you move; who you move with. What sites on the internet you visit. And now with GPS, what physical sites you visit. We’ve all seen those ads online. You’ve done a quick search for “toddler socks,” and suddenly, every site you visit includes a plethora of colorful socks and adorable kiddie outfits. The quick, simple, and innocent search produced valuable data for countless advertisers and companies to inundate you with personalized ads.

Your data points are then bundled with others with similar data points.  Kushner refers to James Surowiecki’s The Wisdom of Crowds that surmises that when you get enough people together, they come to the same conclusions. Using data analytics and AI, a store now has enough information on an individual (combined with those of millions of others) to predict not only what you will buy, but how long you will stay in the store, and even where in the store you will go.

Your anonymity is lost. Unknowingly or naively, we give away valuable data every day.

Continue reading “Meet a ladybadass: Theresa Kushner – data junkie, privacy advocate, and change maker”

Do you see a new diversity gap widening in front of you?

I sent the following email to a couple of respected male advisors this past week. I asked these gentlemen, leaders in our industry, specifically as I was curious as to their response.

“So of course I’m up to shenanigans as always and would love your feedback/thoughts on the below. As always it’s surrounding my desire to help elevate women. I’m trying to figure out if I’m not seeing reality because I’m in a bit of a bubble, or if others are seeing the same thing I’m seeing.

So what am I seeing?

There’s a whole new set of technology exploding: Blockchain, Cryptocurrencies, Machine Learning, AI, VR, 3D printing, and the list goes on. These innovations are creating the same wild and out-there conversations I heard back in the mid-90’s when the internet was first being used in the mainstream marketplaces.

What I experienced in the 90’s, when it came to women and their opportunity to be part of the “building” discussion, is happening again today. There aren’t many women in the room. And because (most) women are not learning about, and discussing, and playing with, these new technologies they’re not part of the conversation.

As they’re not part of the conversation, they’re not part of the initial building phases. I’m worried that this will mean another round of technologies built without the diverse perspective of women. And from this, industry’s goal to have more women be part of the leadership team will be kneecapped again. There’s a new gap.

Is it me? Or are you seeing this too?

Curious as always, Jo.” Continue reading “Do you see a new diversity gap widening in front of you?”

Do women empty the bank on their relationship capital?

I’ve been floating an idea recently about the concept of “relationship capital.” I honestly want to know if you think I’m nuts or if the idea resonates.

Let me start by explaining what I mean by “relationship capital” and what you do with it.

Someone, usually in a significantly more powerful/senior position to you, decides to put his reputation on the line for you.

For instance:

  • Hiring you when you don’t have the experience and/or someone else isn’t a fan.
  • Giving you opportunities to work on projects that are outside of your usual scope of responsibility.
  • Speaking on your behalf in a room that you’re not in.
  • Pushing someone forward rather than just opening the door.

This is beyond mentoring. This is someone making a bet; a bet on you and your future capabilities. Continue reading “Do women empty the bank on their relationship capital?”

Are you one in 12.5 billion?

Photo by davide ragusa on Unsplash

I’m on a rant about resumes again. If my little ode to a musical didn’t convince you, I thought I’d share the math to convince you.

My lesson starts with a shocking number: 12.5 billion.

There are 12.5 billion resumes submitted every year in the US.

While it is a significant number, 12.5 billion doesn’t seem that enormous when you look at some of the other numbers I dug up for you over the weekend. According to my trusty friend Google and sources like the US government, currently, there are 154 million jobs available in the US.

Let me do some math here. If we assume even distribution of jobs and resumes (which we know is just not true), then there are a little over 80 resumes submitted for every position. Yes, I understand the math isn’t reality, and there are a ton of other data points you should know, but it makes a bit of a point and is a startling number.

You know another startling number? 7

That’s the number of minutes, if you’re lucky, someone is spending reading your resume. And that only happens if your resume or LinkedIn profile is dotted with the keywords that match the recruiter’s search.

What annoys me more are the endless new companies popping up each day to crawl through the “data of you” and match you to a job.

You are not a data set.

I’ve had the delight of hiring hundreds of people over my career. I can emphatically state that I never made a single offer due to his data set.

So this is my plea to the hiring companies; It’s my plea to LinkedIn, my plea to all the tech companies creating AI-driven algorithms: You’re reinventing the wrong thing.

Don’t reinvent the way to find the resume in the 12.5 billion. Reinvent the resume.

We are not robots.