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OBSERVATION: WOMEN GRADUATE, MEN DROP OUT – AND SUCCEED BIG

Observation: Women outnumber men in college and earning graduate degrees. It’s men who drop out and seem to be the ones who start mega-successful companies. It’s not just the obvious (like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs – later-half Baby Boomers). Gen Xers and Gen Y/Millennials too.

Is this a gender thing? Do we just hear less about the young female entrepreneurs? Do they, more than the men, think they need MBAs, etc. to succeed? To give them confidence to take risks?  Or is it purely individualistic? Is this changing? Will more Boomer women be successful entrepreneurs in encore careers?

Phyllis Weiss Haserot     www.pdcounsel.com

IMPRESSIONS FROM MY LATEST VACATION

Before I left for my latest vacation – this time in the Baltic region – I promised members of my community and readers of my monthly newsletter on inter-generational relations to relate my observations on 3 cities in this interesting region. So here are a few highlighted general impressions from my recent trip to Helsinki, St. Petersburg and Tallinn.

Helsinki, Finland

  • People love their cakes and pastries, and ice cream is popular, but few people look overweight. Clearly they don’t have the U.S. obesity problem.
  • They drink a LOT of coffee (but no Starbucks there) – I guess they need something to go with the pastries.
  • Beautiful Music Center, and concerts are sold out.
  • Scarves are the dominant fashion statement. (Well the weather is typically cold).
  • As the 2012 World City of Design, it is obvious that Finns are very design-conscious, including how food is served.
  • It’s a very comfortable and lovely city.
  • And it’s VERY expensive.
  • Finns speak 3 languages: Finnish, Swedish and English.

Tallinn, Estonia

  • A sense of a young, optimistic, friendly population, positive about the economy (which is pretty good) and jobs.
  • Young people never experienced life under the Soviet regime.
  • Proud of Estonia being the home of Skype and a tech industry.
  • Food in restaurants is very good. And Tallinn is striving for culinary recognition.
  • Tallinn has a long and fascinating history and was dominated by Denmark, Finland and Russia but has retained it’s own identity.
  • The language is quite unusual and is related somewhat to Finnish,

St. Petersburg, Russia

  • People are very fashion conscious. Women favor pantyhose and tights, including textured ones, even in warm weather. (I was the only woman I saw with bare legs.)
  • There is a strong effort to keep Russian dominant as a language and culture, unlike the other 2 cities where many people spoke English or another language and information was printed in other languages. But the Internet precludes walling off the rest of the world anymore, and it has led to the changed mindset of the young, unlike many of their parents who got comfortable with the Soviet ways.
  • Young men especially seemed very involved with their children: carrying, playing, and enjoying being with them in the parks, streets and cafes.
  • No dominant auto manufacturer was apparent. There were many brands from many countries.
  • Other than the hospitality industry and related (maintenance, construction, the arts, etc.) ones, there seemed to be limited career opportunities. St. Petersburg is full of history, arts and great beauty in architecture, parks and the waterways, but I wondered what “real life” was like.
  • It was a very expensive city, though not on the Euro (and not as expensive as Helsinki).

A note about the music in all 3 cities:

We had wonderful experiences at the ballet and opera in St. Petersburg and concerts in Helsinki. Those were classical music. Otherwise, we heard almost exclusively American music everywhere – music from the 1920s through today. Since most tourists were not from the U.S., it just indicates how pervasive the American songbook and jazz is. One “Finnish” restaurant in Helsinki had a jazz station from the U.S. playing from over the Internet.

I’d love you to share your impressions if you have visited these places, and I’m happy to answer your questions. Please share on the blog.

Phyllis Weiss Haserot    www.pdcounsel.com 

 

 

PERSONAL FREEDOM'S KEYWORDS

As we celebrate our nation’s founding and freedom and our own personal freedom, I have been reflecting on some of the keywords of our personal and intellectual freedom and what they can mean. Here are a few that can affect our sense of purpose regarding our work and our lives.

  • Too many choices
  • Shifting priorities
  • Blooming creativity
  • Resisting the mundane
  • Losing track of the abundance
  • Too much clutter
  • Too many things started and still unfinished
  • Keeping in touch with others

Freedom requires discipline and accountability – to one’s self as well as to others. Usually accountability to oneself is the hardest.

Do you relate?  What are your personal freedom keywords?

Looking forward to your comments.

Phyllis Weiss Haserot

CROSS-GENERATIONAL CONVERSATION WITH THE ELEPHANTS IN THE ROOM

A few days ago I was thinking about stories to tell at a conference where our panel is discussing the issues and solutions at the intersection of generations and gender. Most of the attendees are women partners in law firms or senior in-house counsel.. My perspective is not as a player in the midst of management and internal politics of the issues, but as a problem-solver seeing the bigger issues 

Immediately coming to mind was another conference months off at which I was asked to moderate a panel on relationship skills relating to the value equation of inside/outside counsel collaborations. Interestingly, surprising to me, the panel selected by the organizers is all women as are almost all the speakers besides the male conference co-chair.

Next racing through my mind my mind was a fundraising message I had received again this morning from a not-for-profit organization with a mission to enhance the lives, personally and professionally, of women over age 50, which restricts membership to that demographic.

What these three events have in common as I see it is that the focus, intentionally or not, will turn out to be Boomer and older half of Gen X cohort women talking primarily to themselves, preaching to the choir.

I’ve pointed out in each case the need to have all the stakeholders in the room, all with a voice, and all talking freely with each other. Where are the male leaders with the clout to lead change? Where are the younger people who need to be engaged, not only for their career development, but also to sustain the success of organizations? Are the more senior women, many of whom consider themselves a minority demographic – as they are in leadership roles – making assumptions without inviting the voice of others whose support they are only likely to have when the conversation feels comfortable for all genders and generations and other aspects of diversity, including diversity of thought?

I truly believe we need cross-generational conversation and cross-gender, cross-race and other diverse elements as the beginning of the solutions to many problems and to sustainable success for our businesses and our institutions.

Phyllis Weiss Haserot      www.pdcounsel.com

 

 

 

POLITICAL REINVENTION, AND THEN SUCCESSION PLANNING

I am thrilled to see the success of the young people of Egypt and elsewhere in the Middle East and northern Africa striving for democracy with so far so little violence. If – and it’s a big if – they can bring about positive change in a peaceful way, they will have shown that this Gen Y/Millennials generation has strong convictions and the will to fight for them with less of the lasting harm the protests of the Baby Boomers in the 1960s brought.

Since it takes two sides to come together, perhaps the older generations will learn something too about achieving change. It’s too early to tell, but you know I’m an optimist.

Now the harder part, succession planning and peaceful succession 

Phyllis Weiss Haserot

THE SHARING HABIT

A post-Thanksgiving post.

We've just celebrated a holiday that is very much about sharing. And our workplaces would benefit from the sharing habit exemplified in the meal and sharing what we are grateful for.

Gen Y/Millennials practice the sharing habit regularly with their approach to sharing information. They benefit from professional collaboration, new personal connections and learning from others’ experiences. Older generations tend to keep their work in progress to themselves until it is done rather than putting it out to their colleagues as almost a reflex to get feedback and keep them in the loop on what they are doing.

Unless there is a specific need for confidentiality and privacy, sharing work in progress, questions, helpful resources and experiences will produce a better product and get early input to new ideas. It also is helpful to others in their work.

So the Gen Y sharing habit, when done right, is likely to save time, boost productivity and build bonds of inclusivity among colleagues. It’s something all generations should incorporate into their work styles whenever practical.

What do you think? What are the pitfalls from too much sharing?

 Phyllis Weiss Haserot   www.pdcounsel.com

A SNOW DAY PERSPECTIVE

Most of the U.S. has been experiencing some kind of bad weather this dreary winter. Despite ominous forecasts, New York hasn't had much snow until today. Right now it's still beautifully white, fresh, a soft blanket that brings to mind sleeping in, sledding in the park, or in my husband's case, watching Team USA clobber Finland in the Winter Olympics. (That's a change from the new hot sport, curling.)

Against my first inclination, I didn't sleep in. Instead  I spent time rescheduling meetings, working on next week's events and blog posts (more substantive than this one) and requested speaking topics on generational issues. I am no doubt grateful that there was less e-mail than on a normal weekday, a slight relief, but still a time-sucker.

For people who had to be traveling, the disruption is frustrating or worse. But for others, the forced slowing down should be enjoyed. Since most knowledge workers these days have enough electronics at home to be able to work when they need to if not fully stocked offices, it may be a welcomed mind-shift for a day. Gen Y/Millennials never knew a time when it was otherwise.

Take time to be in the moment. Maybe it's nice to know there are things we can't control and go with the flow.

Phyllis Weiss Haserot    www.pdcounsel.com

HOW HAVE YOUR PRIORITIES CHANGED?

Whatever generational cohort you fall into, there has been virtually no escaping the current worldwide economic crisis. Those lucky enough not to have lost their jobs or lucky enough to have gotten jobs to start their careers still are likely to face increased tension and greater pressure to produce in the workplace. People who might have been planning to retire in the next five years are re-thinking that decision. Younger people who thought they had limitless options and could jump from place to place if things were not to their liking are learning what older generations have seen before in economic downturns - but in spades!

As  a congenital optimist (but one who doesn't like being disappointed), I am staying upbeat and believing that there are opportunities, albeit probably different ones. I've even started the Optimists' Tribe which has attracted an overwhelming response.

But, not being delusionary, I am re-thinking my priorities. What about you? Given the current economic crisis:

*   How have your priorities changed? Or have they not changed?

*   How has your life changed? Or not?

*   What positive changes do you see (e.g., in people's values, opportunity for workplace restructuring, more authenticity, transparency, whatever....)?

Please comment and share your thoughts. Thanks!!

Phyllis Weiss Haserot      www.pdcounsel.com

THANKSGIVING CARRIED FORWARD

As I get ready to host Thanksgiving dinner, I am thinking again of what I am thankful for. When my son was younger, he and I used to write our lists of things we are thankful for and share that at the table. Now everyone (family and friends) just comes and eats.

So I'll write a few things here that are on my list this year. I am thankful and grateful for family and friends, of course; that I have the opportunity to interact with extraordinary, original and open-minded people; that I can use my creativity and intellect for new solutions to the challenges I see developing; that I and my fellow Boomers have the energy and desire to keep contributing and achieving; and that though each succeeding generation seems to be more of a "me" generation than the last one, the young people are serious about trying to make the world and the workplace a better place - for all of us.

As an optimist who doesn't like being disappointed (though it happens frequently enough), this bodes  well for constructive succession planning and transitioning.

Phyllis Weiss Haserot   www.pdcounsel.com

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