By Jeanne Corrigan
Last year, I started volunteering for a non-profit called GENaustin. It’s a great organization that supports girls in making good choices as they navigate through adolescence. One of the activities that GENaustin sponsors is Career Week, an open forum between professional women and middle school girls.
I’ve signed up to speak and I’ve been thinking about what I might cover in my 15 minutes. I love the work we do at On Your Mark and I will talk about that but I also want to share my thoughts on communication because I think it’s so important in career success. Three points I’ll hit on are:
1. Listening is important but so is talking.
There’s a great blog post by Whitney Johnson about how business women sometimes hesitate to speak up to share their experience or own their expertise. When women listen more than we talk, we don’t contribute as much of our own value to the discussion. I love her summary – When we listen, we acknowledge others’ experience and expertise. When we talk, we acknowledge our own. Success depends on learning to do both.
I will encourage the girls to find something they’re interested in, learn all they can about it then challenge themselves to find ways to share what they know.
2. When you talk, do it well and with confidence.
As part of my work, I present findings and recommendations all the time, often to large groups. I’m comfortable with that so my focus is on the message, not my own performance. My advice to the girls will be to think about ways they can speak with more confidence and strength. Just putting themselves in the situation where they speak in front of people – like a speech class or theater group – is good practice. It’s an investment that’s sure to pay off, whether they want to become a scientist, teacher, financial genius or even a market researcher.
3. Ask yourself first, and then seek the input of others.
Many women seem to figure out what they think about a certain subject or problem by talking it through with other people. I identify with this because when I’m faced with a question or a decision, my first impulse is to pull people in to talk about it. I’ve learned that, for me, I have a stronger voice in the conversation when I pause, take a minute to really consider what I think and what’s most important to me and then seek others’ opinions.
I’m excited to meet these girls and talk about my career. But I’m equally excited to explore their strengths today and the paths they might take tomorrow.
By Ailien Phan
With technology moving so fast and new devices being released seemingly every week, it is hard for the consumer to justify having the latest and greatest while remaining budget conscious. I personally experienced this after purchasing the iPhone 4 in August and feeling regret when the iPhone 4S was released last week. This constant release of new products can lead to buyer’s remorse for consumers, which can be a major hurdle for companies.
To ease buyer’s remorse, technology companies and retailers are now allowing customers “recommerce” their possessions, a concept that has been around for awhile but has just recently become common for products like cell phones. The classic model of this idea has been trading in cars. To help add perceived value, motor companies allow you to trade in your used vehicles for money back or discounts on a new car. Companies like AT&T and T-mobile are starting to apply this idea to cell phones by allowing customers to trade in old cell phones for newer models or discounts. AT&T, for example, exchanges trade-ins for a promotional card of value or permits the customer to donate this value to a soldier overseas. Not only does the consumer get to upgrade without the full cost, but the old cell phones are often refurbished and resold or recycled in a proper way. The implications are practical, environmentally friendly, and even philanthropic.
Trading in with the company directly also offers value in the form of convenience. Although there are other marketplaces you can use, dealing with the retailer is a one-stop shop that makes the process easier on busy consumers. Perhaps consumers will be more inclined to buy if they know that they will eventually get some sort of return when they want something better. This concept could translate well into many different industries and products and encourage more spending on the part of budget conscious consumers.
I want you to read Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn (find it on www.amazon.com). It’s an amazing book. It caught my eye in an airport bookstore because I read Kristof’s op-eds in the New York Times. (He focuses on global issues like human rights abuses and poverty and has been tireless in his efforts to keep the Darfur conflict in the public consciousness. I think if he had a thought bubble above his head, it would say “Where’s the outrage already?”)
Half the Sky uses the stories of individual women to bring to life the most pressing issues related to gender inequality. The first-hand accounts are compelling, showing both what happens when something or someone intervenes to help a woman and when no help comes. The underlying message in the book is that things can change, must change, for women today, particularly in Asia and Africa. With a tone both real and optimistic, Kristof and WuDunn make the case for tapping into the potential of the world’s girls and women through education and empowerment. At the end of the book, the authors list these four steps that can be completed in ten minutes:
- Go to www.globalgiving.org or www.kiva.org and open an account.
- Sponsor a girl or woman through Plan International, Women for Women International, World Vision or American Jewish World Service.
- Sign up for e-mail updates on www.womensenews.org and a similar service, www.worldpulse.com.
- Join the CARE Action Network at www.can.care.org
Do you have ten minutes today? Take these four steps and tell your friends to do it, too. It will make a difference.