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When it comes to your job, it takes more than just meeting a quota to move up in the company. It takes panache, assertiveness, and even a bit of couth. Often times our “Miss Thang” attitude can turn us into “Miss Unemployed” well before the stroke of midnight. Just as you try to have some class in your personal life, it is equally important to have some class in your career. So to all you self-proclaimed *bad word here*, leave your two snaps and a twist at the door and check out these workplace no-no’s.

Here are 10 things you do NOT want to do at work:

So that hunk down the row has caught your eye, or there is some fresh meat filling out an application. As hard it might seem, ease up on the hunt. Dating someone you work with comes with a lot of hardships. If you work in a large company where you rarely see the object of your affection, or if you work in two separate departments, it can sometimes work. However, if you are desk buddies or work in departments very close to one another, you might want to avoid it. Office romance can blossom into one of those beautiful, rare flowers that bud once every 10 years, or it can blow up in your face—and often those who work around you. You can end up so heartbroken you quit a job you really like, or ruin the other person’s career in the process.

This one is sometimes hard to follow through with. I think it’s fair to say about 99.9 percent of us have been guilty of using our work e-mail for personal use. Not only are you wasting company time and resources, but you are putting yourself at serious risk of violating company policies. It’s easy to laugh when you hear an embarrassing story of how some wife sent a racy e-mail to her husband, only to have sent it to her boss. It’s not so easy to laugh when it’s you that sent it.

Being realistic here, we aren’t going to completely stop forwarding on those funny messages, or e-mailing our friends about weekend plans. However, the steamy letters or the 2007 calendar of half-naked studs should be nixed. Businesses have elaborate systems that can flag anything with inappropriate language, keywords like "resume," to addresses that aren’t recognized as secure users. It’s better to save your butt than get fired for forwarding the picture of one.

Sometimes 30 minutes is just not enough to get lunch, and that sandwich joint is just around the corner. It seems so easy to slip out the back and return unnoticed in 5 minutes, right? Think again, 007. You might get by once, maybe twice, but making a habit of it is sure to land you in hot water. The thing to remember here is you are on company time and off company grounds. What might turn into a 5-minute drive can turn into an air-care trip to the ER. You’ll also have a lot of explaining to do too if your boss is looking for you, or if there is a family emergency and someone is trying to locate your whereabouts.

“Do you kiss your mother with that mouth?” Cursing, vulgar or discriminating langue might be accepted amongst your peers, but the gal in the next row doesn’t think it’s so funny. Odds are, the co-workers you see every day and hang out with are used to your mouth and share the same views and philosophies that you do. However, that person who overheard you can report you in a second, faster than you can finish your rant as colorful as the rainbow. Bite your tongue and take the conversation elsewhere. And remember; don’t use that company e-mail to express your thoughts to your friend down the hall!

It’s a wonderful fact that we live in a country where we are free to vote. Whether you are left wing, right wing or somewhere in the middle, it’s best just to keep your views to yourself while at work. It’s great to be patriotic, and free speech is one of rights, but the passion you share for your political party or issue can start an all out office war.

Human Resources can keep a lid on disclosing individual pay rates, but can’t keep employees from talking amongst themselves. I’m telling you, nothing good comes from sharing your hourly or salary rate with your co-workers. Having your diploma mounted on the wall proves you have put in some long hours at college, but who’s to say the guy that’s been there for 10 years hasn’t worked just as hard to move up the ranks? Even if your company has a flat starting rate that every Joe Schmoe makes who walks through door, don’t discuss it. When we talk about how much we bring home a week, factors like insurances, child support, taxes and other benefits aren’t usually brought up in that comparison. After all, not many people brag about paying backed support or having their wages garnished.

The rumor mill never seems to close. What we hoped would stop after high school graduation actually doesn’t. It is pretty sad how much grown adults relish in a good gossip session, especially us women. The thing with gossip in the workplace is that something false puts someone’s entire livelihood at stake. I have seen it first hand—someone thinks that girl is sleeping with a married supervisor; it starts as a rumor, someone else contacts the man’s wife and the next thing you know girl’s reputation is ruined and the man is losing his family. All from one very wrong suspicion. Moral of the story, leave the trash talk to Jerry Springer.

Raise your hand if you have ever said, “I don’t care, they can kiss my butt!” (or another choice word). If you really believe that, and honestly don’t care, it shows. Your “whatever” attitude might also be portrayed as aggressive behavior. Often times those negative thoughts are portrayed in your appearance and your work. Changes in attitude and work are noted by supervisors, and can even become an issue during your performance review. If you are having some personal issues that affect your attitude at work, don’t be afraid to discuss it with your supervisor or human resources — they can assist you in finding help.

Programs such as the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), Worker’s Compensation, or short/long term disability were created to help those who really need it. However, there are always those that abuse it. The thing to remember is that abuse of these programs are usually violations of a business’s Code of Ethics, and can also result in trouble with the law. All it takes is one anonymous tip to a hotline from a fed up co-worker who caught you red-handed and you can face some serious allegations. Avoid abuse of company benefits and government programs. Sick days, bereavement, tardiness — those fit this package as well. Keep in mind, nothing in life is free — you will pay for it somehow.

Be thankful you are working. Outsourcing is a real thing and many states are considered "at will." Just because a business fires you, it does not mean you are entitled to unemployment. A business can argue that you weren’t a good worker and you can end up with no financial aid from the state. So hold your tongue when you get the urge to say, "Well, fire me then!"

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Can that work wait until tomorrow? More than likely the answer is "yes." Between Blackberrys, cell phones and laptops, we've conditioned ourselves to remain connected, even when we don't have to be.

Remaining plugged in at home can strain your personal relationships and rob you of the essential down time needed to rejuvenate yourself for the next workday.

Check out the problems you may have on the job resulting from R&R deprivation, courtesy of

  • Difficulty focusing
  • Harsh mood swings and rising workplace conflicts
  • Lack of fresh ideas
  • Loss of enthusiasm for your job

Never fear, you can be saved from becoming the office grump by following these helpful tips:

Leave the corporate gear at work. The best way to ensure you won't work at home is to ditch the trusty laptop and office gadgets. Odds are, the closer the Blackberry is to the sofa, the harder it is to avoid looking at it.

Out of sight out of mind. Just as you physically prepare yourself to leave the office, take a mental break, too. Put all deadlines, e-mails and meetings on the back burner. Concentrate your thoughts on family, fun and friends.

Create routines to help you unwind before you get home. Play your favorite CDs on the car ride home. Reward yourself for a hard day's work and stop for ice cream. Meet a friend at a park for a quick walk before heading home.

Lose the uniform. Remaining in your corporate armor may make you feel as if you're still in work mode. Scrap the starched shirt and stilettos for a favorite pair of jeans and flip-flops.

Set boundaries with your private life. Avoid making yourself accessible after work hours. Establish clear guidelines with co-workers on when you can be reached regarding business matters.

We've all heard the saying "life is too short" and it really is. The average employee will spend 269 days and over 2,100 hours per year at work. So, believe it or not, the company can survive without you skipping Rover's walk to send that e-mail. Take a break from the corporate throne and enjoy your personal life!


Use these resources to in your quest for happy and healthy work-life balance:



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Uniform, casual, business casual or professional — any way you put it, most of us have to follow them. To some, a dress code is a conspiracy theory to bring down the fashionably challenged, while others see it as no big deal. While it's just another day at the office for most, it can be absolute torture for others. None the less, you follow it, but why are those clothing policies necessary?

There are obvious circumstances where dress codes are absolutely essential, particularly for safety purposes. It is understood why you can't wear your sling-backs and cocktail dress to a construction site, but many women question policies when it comes to working in an office or other professional setting. The mere existence of a dress code can get any women's pantyhose in a bunch, at least when wearing skirts no more than one inch above the knee.

According to a study reported by Image Talks, LLC, a woman's appearance affects whether she is:

  • hired or passed over
  • taken seriously on the job
  • asked to represent her company in outside meetings
  • considered for raises and promotions

With those facts, it just might be worth putting up that deep plunge v-neck and follow the dress code!

Safety and Hygiene

Steel-toed boots are not exactly considered sexy, but are a must when working in any sort of construction or shop-type job. But wait, you work in an office, far away from cranes and concrete. Why can't you wear those cute open-toed shoes? To this I ask, does anyone remember the McDonald's coffee lawsuit? While it seems reasonable to believe that you aren't going to drop that file cabinet on your toes, it doesn't mean that a drawer might slip off track, or those boxes of copy paper won't tumble over. Accidents happen, even ones that seem common sense, and a business is going to take every measure possible to prevent them and protect their employees.

Not only are open-toed shoes a safety concern, they are a health and hygiene problem as well. It's hard not to slip those suckers off while at your desk, but do you know whose feet or filthy shoes were there before yours? Bacteria and fungus (such as athlete's foot) can breed on all sorts of surfaces, and pieces of small debris can pop up anywhere. It's also fair to say that no one in the office wants to see your half-painted hoofs poking out of your strappy heels, and potential clients and customers can feel just as disgusted.

Speaking of nails, keep the ones on your hands clean and well kept. The policy on no nail polish or artificial nails is rightfully just, particularly in the food industry. Chipped nail polish isn't only tacky, but poses the question, "what happened to those polish chips?" While that dark red polish was seductive last night, or those press-on nails did the trick for the last minute dinner date, it's not as hot when serving food missing that red press-on thumbnail, or shaking a hand with dirty nails.

With summer right around the corner, let's not forget about sleeveless shirts. Most policies allow those "close to shoulder" tops, but many forbid tank tops or anything less than around a two inch strap. It's a nice thought to think that everyone showers daily and applies antiperspirant/deodorant, but let's be realistic here. You might not notice it because it is your own scent, but we all know what B.O. and sweat smells like, and who the likely culprit is. Sleeveless tops also leave the possibility of nasty deodorant clumps, and are severely unsanitary if items are carried under the arm.

For the Business

All right, so you get the health and safety concerns, but you feel like your inner self is being suppressed. You can't have all of your piercings in, jeans are prohibited and you can't wear the clothes that's "your style." Try to understand that businesses don't enforce dress codes to keep you from being who you are, but to have normality and structure. Having a dress code established provides everyone with a clear and understandable policy that applies to everyone across the board, or is department specific.

In a world where image is everything, a company cannot afford to lose customers or potential clients over your desire to wear that tight, nipple-bearing shirt to work. If what you have to wear becomes such a problem where you can't "express who you really are", then it might be time to re-evaluate your career goals, or even move on to a different place of employment that is more fitting for your sense of comfort. Any way you spin it, a business is going to put their best foot forward. It's really no different than how you present yourself and your home when having company over for dinner.

For the Customers

With the cliché "old granny talking about how the young'uns dress now-a-days" put aside, customers do judge a business on its employee's appearance. What might seem harmful to you can very well offend others, and even send them running to the competition. Think about a time when you judged a place of business, or thought twice about a sale based on its employee's appearance. Were their clothes clean? How did they fit? Did the worker look professional and put-together or like they just rolled out of bed after a night at the bar? Odds are, you won't do business with someone who offends you, and neither will your customers.

Five Easy Ways to Make it Work

Now that you are ready to make a change, take these tips from guru image consultant, Ellen York, author of Dressing the Petite Woman (Ellen York Image Institute, 2006), on how to look your best on the job and stick to your company's policy:

  1. Keep your hairstyle updated. Try something that flatters your features and creates "a more professional look" rather than what you think works the best on the go.
  2. Many businesses have policies on perfumes. York says that deodorant should be enough, but if you opt to add a little scent, use sparingly — a small dab on your neck and wrists.
  3. York advises to add new items to your wardrobe, or take away clothing that is no longer appropriate to your job. If you are serious about your career, then you have to break down and buy items that coincide with the code, or box up ones that don't.
  4. "If the neck line is too low, count it out for work." Camisoles or body shaper tanks are great for wearing under certain fabrics—and just because it's under something, you still need to wear a good bra.
  5. If you are allowed to wear jeans on any day or on Casual Fridays, be sure they are clean and unwrinkled. Ripped, torn or severely frayed jeans are not acceptable.

All in all, your company has a business to run – not a runway show – and I'm sorry to tell you, there is no federal law that governs dress codes. Chances are, you dressed to impress when you applied for the job, so why should your standards change once you are employed? Don't be afraid to ask your supervisor or HR department for a copy of the dress code to keep at home, or if you have any questions at all. Ask for examples of particular items that are allowed when seasons change. If anything, following the rules gives you an excuse to go shopping!

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Physical exercise, while incredibly important to our health, can be one of the hardest things for a busy woman to work into her schedule. That’s why you need a workout buddy. Your buddy is someone who keeps you on the straight and narrow, who holds you accountable if you don’t meet your exercise goals. Studies show that people who plan their workouts around someone else – whether it’s walking together, a regular tennis date or meeting at the gym – are more likely to stick to their fitness regimen.

I learned the value of workout buddies after the birth of my son, two years ago. I’ve always been an athlete and assumed I’d continue my dedication to fitness after he arrived. Oh, the naivete of a first-time mom! I was exhausted, he hated the childcare at my gym, we could only get outside when the weather was nice. You name it, I had an excuse for why I couldn’t work out. Then, I found StrollerFit Exercise with Your Baby. This 50-minute workout includes cardio, strength training (built around a mom’s needs) and core work – and my baby. It was perfect for me. So much so, that I left my job as a physical therapist and started my own StrollerFit class.

The moms in my StrollerFit class did more than just hold me accountable. They inspired me. Early on, we agreed on a fitness goal that we would reach together: we would conquer the Heart Mini Marathon, just seven months away, and we would do it while pushing our kids in their strollers. Thirty pounds of stroller plus 20 pounds of baby – now that’s a workout! In addition to our StrollerFit classes, we began running together to get ready for the race. We decided043007CAREER_intext.jpg that while we would all run at our own pace, those who finished early would circle back to encourage anyone still running to keep at it. We would not let anyone give up. Throughout our training, we encouraged each other. We didn’t allow excuses or slacking – the “buddy” system worked perfectly.

Every single one of us finished the Heart Mini Marathon. Next, we set our sights on the Flying Pig Half Marathon, running with our matching "Team StrollerFit" shirts on, empowered by the knowledge that we wouldn’t let each other give up. You have to love that buddy system! This year we will be doing the Flying Pig again, but I’ll be on the sidelines – as an expectant mom for the second time, a half marathon at six months isn’t on my list of approved activities, but you can bet I’ll be there, cheering on my buddies as they sprint for the finish line. And I won’t stop till every last one of them crosses.

Want to find a workout buddy of your own? Here are a few things to consider:

  • Find someone with similar interests. You want to have something to talk about when you are running/walking/working out.
  • Find someone who has a similar work schedule. You want to be able to set times and dates and be 043007CAREER_intext2.jpgable to stick with them.
  • Find someone who will motivate you and will not intimidate you. It is important that each of you feel accountable to the other so you don’t let them down.
  • Don’t be afraid to meet new people when forming a running group. I have met some of my best friends through StrollerFit.

Places to find workout buddies:

  • If you don’t belong to a gym, try the forums and post that you are looking for a workout buddy.
  • Post a sign at your gym, or ask the staff if they have a sign up for those looking for workout partners.
  • Check out classes where there are people with similar interests.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask if you can join a group run or walk, most of the time the groups are more than willing to have you participate.
  • Check out Fleet Feet, Bob Roncker’s Running Spot or many of the various group running programs that run for a cause such as: Team in Training, Train to end Stroke, Team Seven for Kevin (ALS research) and many others.


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The W4, also known as your Federal Tax Form, it usually is followed with, “Do I put 1 or 0?” Sound familiar now? This is just one of the several tasks you need to take care of with your employer when getting married. So often women get wrapped up in the fun and frills of planning a wedding, the only legal document they think about is the marriage license. In your race to the alter, remember to add these important items to your “to-do” list for the office:

Dan Veit, director of human resources with the Habegger Corporation, says that this, along with health insurance, should be the first two things you change when getting married. Like many single people, parents, siblings or other extended family are assigned beneficiaries, so it is important to make necessary changes before getting married. Veit says that beneficiary documents can be internal, or outside your company, so make sure to check all possible roads. Examples of documents that typically have assigned beneficiaries are:

  • Life Insurance
  • Accidental Death
  • 401K
  • Outside Individual Retirement Accounts (IRA’s)


  • WHO – When deciding on if the bride or groom should carry the insurance, Veit states that “each person should asses their company’s medical plan to determine which has the best coverage and is the most economical for you.” In most cases, it is cheaper for the two of you to go on one plan rather than carry two single plans, especially if there are children involved.
  • WHAT – Be sure to check dental and vision, as well as other plans that are best for family coverage. Many companies are beginning to offer a variety of plans to choose from that best suite your personal needs, as well as coverage for all sorts of family types. Veit says to keep in mind that just because one of you carries the health insurance, doesn’t mean that the same person has to carry dental or vision. Once again, assess which coverage is best for your new family.
  • WHERE – Check with your HR department on where resources and tools are for policy research. Many companies are making their health insurance plans available online. Policy details and guidelines are often available right at your finger tips, so plan a night to sit down together and go over everything.
  • WHEN – Veit reminds us that marriage is considered a “qualifying event” to add or drop your medical coverage. This means you can you make the needed changes at any given time, not just when open enrollment comes around. If you don’t get to make the necessary changes before the wedding, you still have time. According to Veit, the window of opportunity is typically within 30 days of the date of your marriage.
  • WHY – Veit stresses that health insurance and beneficiaries should be taken care of first. Depending on when your company or carrier allows you to change, you should try to get this done before the wedding. The real life stories of honeymoon horrors are out there — falling off cruise liners, murders in foreign countries, accidents on the way to the reception hall. One episode of Oprah should cover it. Emergencies can arise at any given time, so it is important to make sure you and your new loved one is taken care of.

Surprisingly, tax forms aren’t as time sensitive as beneficiaries and health insurance, and can usually be filled out after the honeymoon. Don’t wait too long or you might forget, and you can possibly miss out on paying less!

W4: Federal Tax Form
W4 forms can be obtained, and modified at any time, from your payroll or HR department. The simple part is changing your status from “single” to “married." The tricky part is the "dependents" issue. Veit says it varies depending on your individual tax basis, and to look at both of your incomes combined. He suggests getting the help of a tax preparer. They can help determine the number of exemptions and dependents that are best for the two of you. Typically, both husband and wife change to “married” withholding status, and in most cases, utilize the number of exemptions when children are involved.

State Tax Withholding
When changing your W4 status, remember to change your state withholding as well. Most people use the same information that they used for the W4. As with the Federal Tax Form, the State Tax Withholding can be obtained from your payroll or HR department.

When getting married, Veit says, people should consider all beneficiaries and policies. Be sure to look at not only life insurance and accidental death, but also short and long term disability. Also, check out benefits, policies and investments outside of your company. As stated before, find something that works for both of you and any children that might be involved.

As women, giving up our last name or hyphenating adds a little extra work to the already mounding pile. Don’t forget about the small things around the office such as:

  • Company e-mail address – If your email contains your last name, change it accordingly. Contact technical support or the appropriate department to make the changes. Check to make sure that e-mails sent to your old address can be forwarded to your new one, and it might be a good idea to e-mail your contacts so they are aware of the change.
  • Signature Change – Your signature on things such as e-mail closures, stamps, payroll, automatic sign-offs, etc. should be changed to reflect your new name.
  • Contact information – Without wasting paper, replace business cards, letterhead or any other pre-printed document with the correct contact name. Even if you aren’t ready to order anything, still change your template or contact the distributor to make sure changes are in effect. Don’t forget about the company directory and voicemail.

Check with your company’s HR department for their individual policies. They might have a different timeline on when things need to be filed. Then, when the wedding is over, start enjoying the other benefits of being married.


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041607CAREER.jpgUniversity of Illinois researchers found in a study of 256 office workers that listening to music of their own choice soothed frayed nerves, drowned out distracting office chatter, boosted mood and significantly enhanced office performance.

That's great, right? All you have to do it pick something – or that thing, or this thing, or maybe that other thing – to listen to at work.

For those of you with a wide variance of what qualifies as your "own choice" of music, here are some suggestions to get exactly what you need throughout the day from different types of music:

Staying Awake, Increased Energy
If you're feeling like you need a little more blood in your caffeine stream, maybe you just need some up-tempo, fun music. Pull out the jazz, country, reggae, pop or classical allegro movements. Turn up the volume a bit, but be considerate of those around you; they may not need the sonic hit you are looking for.

Studies show that being exposed to amicable music with a medium pace causes positive effects, such as boosting mood and decreasing blood pressure. So, consider some of these titles as background office music: Susie Suh, Israel Kamakawiwo'ole, Vika & Linda or "Ladies of the Canyon" by Joni Mitchell.

Increasing Concentration
Researchers at the University of California at Irvine found that college students who listened to Mozart’s Piano Sonata K. 448 for 10 minutes prior to taking a spatial IQ test scored eight points higher than those who did not. The concept is that listening to music might somehow enhance the brain’s ability to perform abstract operations immediately thereafter. This phenomenon is known as the "Mozart effect."

Some experts believe that classical music – including Mozart, Brahms and Bach – induces a relaxed-mind alert state, where concentration, memory and imagination is heightened. Technically speaking, beta brain waves – those between 14 and 20 hertz – are most common. Relaxed concentration or lucid awareness is when alpha waves between 8 and 13 hertz are present. Music with about 60 heats per minutes shifts the brain's activity from beta to the higher-awareness alpha waves. So, "Bach On" with your bad self if you need to concentrate!

Getting Technical
There are many iPod accessories you can pick up for your office, such as the JBL OnStage 2 speaker system. This little unit has a nice sound and won't take up much space on your already cluttered desk. With this fancy dancy device, you can listen to your music without the need for headphones. It has touch-sensitive volume buttons on the front of the unit, a little remote for skipping, volume and pause/play as well as an auxiliary jack for hooking in other devices – such as a portable XM reciever for days when your favorite radio station is offering a giveaway that you just can't miss out on.

Watch the Volume
Contrary to the beneficial effects of amicable music, being exposed to music you dislike causes negative effects, including higher blood pressure and stress. Go ahead and assume that not everyone enjoys the Purple Rain you pour all over the office every time you need a pick-me-up.

Here are some ways to be more courteous with your workday's soundtrack:

  • There are bluetooth adaptors to some music devices, so you can listen to your chords without the cords.
  • Wear the headphones that came standard to your MP3 player or iPod. To make sure you don't tune yourself completely out of the workplace happenings, just put in one headphone bud.
  • Take a walk with your iPod. If you really need your music to whisk you away, step out of the office for a few moments with your iPod in hand. Turn up the volume, and enjoy this little worry-free window. For those of you working in Kentucky, remember to take advantage of those state-mandated breaks! You get a paid 10-minute break for each four-hour work period.

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Sure, we would all like to have the corner office with the great view, not to mention a door. But make the most with what you’ve got for now.

First, get organized. There are a variety of items that can help you keep your 4×4 organized and save on space. Go shopping at an office supply store, online or discount store.

There’s an array of shelves that can be hang from your cube walls to store paper, folders or binders. Another option is a swank desktop file organizer. To free up desktop space, consider a storage box for under your desk. Finding storage outside of your cube for items that you don’t use on a daily basis can also free up space.

And oh, what you can do with a binder. Store related information in a binder with lots of tabs and a snazzy label. Line 'em up in a row, so you can quickly access everything you need.

By the way, do you really need those sticky notes posted up all around your cube? You know the notes like the faded one from Bob in IT on how to reset your printer. Collect all your post it notes, type them on one tip sheet and keep it close at hand.

Your cube should be functional, but fun too. Personalize it. Remember, there’s about 300 cube clones just like yours. What’s your life all about? Sports fanatic, hound dog for Elvis or world traveler? Express yourself! Decorate your cube and hang a Bengal’s banner, Elvis poster or your lei from Hawaii. Just don’t junk it up! Remember, we just got organized.

Personalizing your cube shows your individuality, and can be a great conversation starter. So, bring in your pictures, paraphernalia and punch up your cube.

But it’s not all about you. Help out your cube mate. Pass on these tips to help them spruce up their cube.

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For generations, women have taken on outside work from their homes to supplement family income. My mother took in ironing, as well as children from a fledgling group of the 60's working moms. The extra money paid for “luxuries” like straightened teeth.

While in-home daycare is still an option, others turn to home-based businesses like Mary Kay, Longaberger and Pampered Chef to pad the budget, but discover that it enriches their lives, as well.

I started my Mary Kay business as a retirement hobby. Though seriously skeptical of sales, I realized that I spent my entire teaching career selling my love of literature and writing to reluctant adolescents. Four years later, my client list tops 200. My life is richer. I’m more confident , I have a circle of wonderful friends and I’m never bored. My neighbor, Jamie Cella, a multiple sclerosis victim, found new direction and purpose through her Mary Kay business, and says since the onset of her illness, “It’s the best thing that’s happened to me.”

Many home-based consultants are motivated by love of the product and discounted price. Melissa McCabe of Cleves supports her Longaberger “habit” from her 25 percent profit, end-of-year product bonuses and recruitment incentives. Amy Arnold’s 20 percent Pampered Chef commission and bonuses provide kitchen tools for her new Lawrenceburg home. Both love the freedom and flexibility. I enjoy a 50 percent discount, commission, bonus program, free products, superior support and and, of course, great skin.

However, success in any home-based business requires planning, self-discipline and time-management Bonnie, administrative partner in her Hamilton family business, says the biggest drawback for her is the “uncontrollable urge to do laundry.” Proximity to the daily housekeeping grind can skew one’s focus. Controlling distractions and procrastination is a struggle, but manageable with family involved. Children acquire a work ethic through exposure to a home-based business, while spouses become valued partners who share the vision. My husband manages my expense reports and offers solid marketing ideas. As partner in my business, he’s more amenable to my absences, delivery side trips and unfamiliar people in our home.

In addition to family support, my professional background made the transition to self-employment easier. As a relatively autonomous classroom teacher, I planned lessons and evaluated progress, so setting business goals and priorities was a natural transition. Though I loved teaching, I don't miss it, as my business is my creative outlet. Likewise, most consultants find their days so full, once they work their business and can be home with their children, they don’t miss the grind of their previous employment

However, like many other consultants, the biggest roadblock to my success was “working the phone.” I realized the phone didn’t have hair and fangs when I finally started hearing, “I’m glad you called.” If I’d had a boss pressuring me, I’d have probably quit before I discovered that.

An additional roadblock for some is “spending money to make money.” Whether for promotions, supplies, transportation or phone/Internet, independent consultants earmark 10 percent of profit toward these tax deductible items. But I could earn a car, 85 percent insurance and free trips. The rewards are great. Numerous consultants have become millionaires. Though that’s not my goal, my life truly has been enriched through my in-home business.

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032607CAREER.JPGTaking part in an employee resource group will not only equip you with the answers to the questions you seek, but it will also help you to form important relationships, become comfortable speaking with executives and arm you with the resources you'll need to further your career.

Among the nation's companies that have these programs, is Duke Energy. In 1993, when they were still CG&E, a program was launched in attempt to provide women performing traditional jobs, such as clerical work and accounting, with the information they needed to advance their careers. In 1996, a second chapter began. This was created for a completely different group of women: those with nontraditional jobs. In 2002, Duke meshed all of the groups together and formed the Business Women's Network (BWN).

Today, BWN is a Washington, D.C.-based organization providing resources, publications and benchmarking services for business and organizations related to diversity and women.

This group, and groups like it, are growing in popularity and helping women of all career paths, backgrounds and job titles to reach their goals. The first chapter of the BWN had 30 people and today that number has grown to 275. This program's mission is to “motivate and support all women.”

“Women can go to our Web site [ ] and fill out a membership registration form,” explains the Midwest BWN chair, Dovetta Dangerfield. “This is how you contact the officers to let them know you are interested. Throughout the year, there are many ways for women to become aware of this program. We have fliers and posters and we send out emails and invitations with the information about the program.” They also send out questionnaires and surveys to help them understand what information will be beneficial for the women involved.

BWN members meet during and after work. If there is training to complete or a topic to discuss, the members will meet during their lunch break. They attend a conference each year, participate in volunteer activities, have “lunch and learn” sessions, as well as their monthly meetings.

“The main focus is to get information that is beneficial for moving up, to the women who are interested,” says Dangerfield. “We provide training and communication about professional development, health and wellness, work life, home life and even spiritual life.”

Groups with similar missions have been popping up all over the nation. Deloitte, an organization of member firms devoted to providing professional services and advice, has a program similar to the BWN. Since its inception in 1993, the Women's Initiative (WIN) has helped thousands of women to succeed through a number of leadership and professional education programs.

“WIN is driven at all levels and through all avenues within our organization,” explains Jennifer Gardner, director in Deloitte's HR division and regional advisor to WIN. “Our approach is to leverage multiple avenues and multiple programs to address a variety of needs. At the end of the day, everyone is responsible for the success of WIN. Each team utilizes multiple approaches to support our vision.”

According to Elaine Allison, international speaker and author of The Velvet Hammer: PowHERful Leadership Lessons for Women Who Don't Golf (Positive Presentations Plus, 2005), programs such as the BWN and WIN have the power to affect the future of companies and the future of society as a whole. “If organizations tap into this source within their companies,” says Allison, “they will be more profitable as they reach out to demographics they may not have considered. When we garner the perspectives of both genders in our corporations, politics, religion and even sport, I feel it will be magic.”

Women within Duke are already seeing positive change in their careers as well as the success of the company. “Programs like the BWN are already beneficial,” states Dangerfield. “I started in a job that was traditionally held by a man. I was the first female gas plan operator and without the BWN I would have been lost. The ratio of women to men in upper management has already increased.”

Deloitte's Gardner feels the same about WIN. “I have personally benefited as a result of Deloitte's Women's Initiative and my involvement in it,” says Gardner. “I have had the opportunity to work with some exceptional women. Through them, I have forged professional relationships, found mentors and role models and developed a network of professionals that support me in my own professional and personal development.”

Women like Dangerfield and Gardner pull from their own personal experiences to know what information will best help the women of the BWN and WIN. They've traveled the path to upper management and they will do anything in their power to help others do the same because they were assisted in reaching their goals.

“I have an 11-year-old daughter, and for most of her life I was a single mother,” explains Gardner. “Deloitte's commitment to providing flexibility is directly responsible for my success here. I frequently telecommute to accommodate her school schedule or even just to attend a school event in the middle of the day. Deloitte creates an environment where I can be a valuable, successful professional, and a good mom. I don't have to choose between the two, and that means the world to me!”

Duke Energy and the Buisness Women's Network is devoted to the betterment of the lives of the women working there. As the BWN's mission statement says, “It provides employees an opportunity to engage in conversations with senior leaders concerning the leadership skills specific to women's shared experiences and professional development needs. It enables employees to acquire and develop those skills. BWN also provides heightened awareness of women's issues in order to remove barriers to personal growth and development. As such, it is recognized as a valued resource within Duke Energy.”

If you want to be a part of a program like the BWN, within your organization, or you are interested in having a mentor, don't be afraid to contact executives. “It is up to the individual woman whether or not she wants a mentor,” explains Duke Energy Ohio and Kentucky president, Sandra P. Meyer. “If you want to go through formal mentoring, all you have to do is apply. Call and ask. You don't have to wait.”

Meyer is an executive sponsor of the BWN. She is one of the original founders in Charlotte, N.C., and she participates in the original committee. Meyer urges all employees – men and women – to get involved in employee resource groups, as she knows from personal experience the power of a united group of people working together for the same cause: your rise to the top.

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One timeline shows that it all started in 1837 when Susan B. Anthony asked for equal pay for women teachers, another in 1848 with the first women’s rights meeting. Sometime between then 1920s, burning bras and shoulder pads, women have made their mark in the working world.031207_big_CAREER2.jpg

No pun intended, but are all these efforts really paying off in the workplace? The 19th Amendment provided women with equal rights, but are we holding ourselves back when it comes to earned income? Statistically, according to a recent Boston Globe report, women make 77 cents to a man’s dollar, but this isn’t always management’s fault. The real power to be the leader of the pack is in your own hands, you just have to know how to use it.

Once in a blue moon, we women occasionally do something wrong. Unfortunately, when it comes to bringing home the bacon, women make quite a few mistakes in comparison to their male counterparts. Dr. Nancy O’Reilly, a specialist in women’s issues, says that when it comes to not earning their worth, mistakes made by women are:

  1. Waiting for a miracle to happen instead of making it happen themselves
  2. Failure to match their skills and experience with the job best for them (or staying in a dead-end job)
  3. Refusal to find a good support system, such as mentors, coaches, or workplace team

Our mistake might also be genetic. The missing link between women and the big paycheck is a “Y” – chromosome that is. Author and management consultant Don Schmincke says testosterone drives aggression. This allows men to naturally push for what they want, where as women have to force themselves. Schmincke states research has shown “that women are held back not because of policy, but due to lack of aggression.”

It’s not always anatomic reasons why guys make more. Schmincke uses negotiating a starting salary as an example. Research shows that when discussing pay, men were more apt to push for something higher, while women tended to accept the first offer. Schmincke continues, “When women exhibited the same aggressive behavior as men, they got what men got.”

Alas, not having that Y-chromosome does have its benefits. Women are able to perceive things better than men, which can really come in handy in negotiations or sales. Schmincke says women tend to notice things such as auditory signals and color changes in skin, as well as a high olfactory sense, particularly with pheromone detection.

The first step to earning your worth is to break through the barriers. This should be fairly easy to accomplish because they are essentially self-imposed. O’Reilly shares some common barriers that keep women from earning what they should be or more:

  • “Having little or no self-value” If you want to make the big bucks, you need to know that you are worth the big bucks. Repeat after the ever-so-wise Stuart Smalley: “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough and gosh darn it people like me!”
  • “Lack of networking/working alone” Co-workers and superiors cannot see how great of a worker you are if you don’t let them. If you like to work by yourself, try something as simple as being involved in project meetings.
  • “Fear she will not be liked or ideas have no merit” This goes back to knowing you are worth your keep. This doesn’t mean walking around like a proud rooster, but take confidence in what you do. Speak up and share your ideas before some other genius does. Your idea might be groundbreaking.
  • “Worrying about ‘thinking out of the box’ and more worry if the box is secure and predictable” Many of us are resistant to change. However, new and innovative ideas are what put us ahead of the competition. Just think, if Benjamin Franklin was afraid of the unknown, he wouldn’t have flown a kite in a thunderstorm. Try this exercise to see how simple an open mind can be:

Draw a line connecting all of the dots using only four straight lines:


Resist the urge to do your best, Chef Emeril impersonation, but kick it up a notch. Get out there and start doing something. Once as you get through your own barriers, let yourself be seen and start earning that green! Here are five ways to increase your skills so you can ask for that raise (or negotiate your salary) with confidence:

USE YOUR STRENGTHS: See Schmincke’s comments in “What We Do Wrong.” O’Reilly also says that women are good communicators and have a niche for details and planning.

BE RECOGNIZED: Network and join in on collaborations.

LEAD WELL: Be competent and show others that you capable of managing yourself and whatever may come your way.

FOSTER POSITIVE WORKING RELATIONSHIPS: Be a team player and avoid office gossip and politics.

PRODUCE RESULTS: Express ideas, use innovative thinking, and execute plans. Here is how to think outside of the box:


Now get out there and make the women who came before us proud. Live out their dreams and efforts, but please, leave the bra torching in the 70s. Those things are expensive!