Thank You For Being a Friend

I’m steering away from my timeline goals and editorial calendar a bit these last couple of weeks. The last two weeks have been a bit challenging. I’m working on a freelancing project, my husband is very busy and working long hours, the kids are battling colds, I’m battling a cold, our car broke down, and the list continues.

Through the challenges, I try to remain positive and gain perspective. After a minute feeling sorry for myself, I attempt to quickly remember that it could be worse. These small “bumps in the road” for me are nothing compared with what some others are dealing. I’m also reminded of how blessed I am to have such an amazing support system.

A big part of that support system includes my girlfriends. The last couple of weeks have been a little dim, but my girlfriends reminded me of the bright spots in my life – them.

“Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down.”

~ Oprah Winfrey

One friend offered great freelancing advice, as well as a much-needed, long conversation of catching up and encouragement.

When our car broke down, another friend – who was hosting an Easter Egg Decorating Party for our play-date group – offered to drive the kids and me to and from her house so that we could join in the fun.

At the Easter Egg Decorating Party, it was great sharing parenting struggles, gaining advice, solving the world’s problems, and laughing with other admirable women.

Even before I started writing Untidy Bliss, I consulted girlfriends for suggestions and thoughts and received great recommendations and amazing support from all of them.

I’ve heard women say, “I’m more of a guys gal because women are so catty, gossipy and cruel.” Maybe some women are, but so are some men. Right? The women I know well and call my friends support each other, encourage each other, are smart, witty, funny, loving, kind, and all-around good.

I’ve had my fair share of experiences with women who are jealous, catty, unkind, and maybe even a little crazy. From those experiences I became a little more guarded. That’s life. I’ve had a few similar experiences with men as well. I’ve learned lessons from these bad relationships that I carry with me. Good and bad. Maybe we need to be just as picky choosing our girlfriends as we are selecting our boyfriends/husbands/significant others.

In college, I joined a sorority and the rugby team. I know this seems like a strange mix, but the more you get to know me, the less surprising that combination will seem. I have three younger brothers. For me, both of these groups served as sisterhoods – amazing sisterhoods.

Rugby allows you to show your true colors. You spend so much time practicing, playing in games, traveling to and from games, and more, that there’s nowhere to hide. You see each other covered in mud, full of bruises, running, sweating, bleeding, angry, crying, vulnerable, aggressive, losing (though not often), and in pain. You also are together laughing, having fun, winning, talking, supporting each other’s accomplishments, and always lending a helping hand.

Your teammates see you at your best and worst and they still love you. When I look back at our college team, we accomplished a lot. Not only did we work hard to succeed on the field, we excelled in the classroom and even became the first women’s rugby team in the nation to be recognized by a university as a varsity sport.

A sorority provides an almost immediate bond and you see first-hand how much powerful women working together can achieve. Running a sorority is like running a small business. You have to raise money to donate to charities, you have to plan events, you have to market those events, you have to recruit new members, and you’re required to participate in intramurals and other activities.

Beyond that, you form life-long friendships, you laugh and have fun and you all pull together for charities and for each other.

Many of my friends from these groups remain my good friends to this day. I continue to see how amazing these women are in life, in relationships, as mothers, as coaches, as businesswomen, as friends, and as sisters supporting, caring for, loving, and being there for one another.

I’ve been lucky enough to experience the power, kindness, love, and support of other women through these mediums, as well as from friends I grew up with, friends from high school, college roommates, friends from different places I’ve lived, and now the mommy sisterhood. They not only are a source of strength, love and support for me, but for many others.

One of the most recent and powerful examples of this “girl power,” is that of a sorority sister who discovered that she has a rare, aggressive form of cancer. She’s a few years younger than me, so I don’t personally know her, but she’s a sister nonetheless, and a few of my friends know her well. One sister sent a plea to as many others as she could, sharing the news and asking everyone to come together to help. Within one week, she received nearly $3,000 to donate to the ailing sister for household needs or medical bills.

This story, as well as my own experiences, reminds me that those who say, “women are catty, gossipy and cruel,” are absolutely wrong. That may be how reality t.v. and other media portray us, but we are so much more.

We are strong, smart, resourceful, reliable, responsible, loving, kind, caring, supportive, beautiful, empathetic, sympathetic, patient, and determined. I’m blessed to have such an amazing group of women in my life. I’m equally grateful that this same group of women serves as a role model to my daughter.

Good girlfriends are important. They encourage you to grow, they provide emotional support, they are honest, they provide comfort, they are loyal, and they offer unconditional love. We all need women with those qualities in our lives to feel content, to feel confident, to feel positive. Likewise, we must always try to pay it forward and be a good friend as well.

If you haven’t found a good group of women who offer these traits and more, I highly recommend you start looking. Join a MOPS group, join a church, join a Meet Up group, or join a gym – wherever you think there are women with whom you can easily connect. It will change your perspective and your life.

Thanks to the beautiful, amazing, wonderful women in my life! I’m truly blessed and forever changed.

Making Waves: Marissa Mayer, CEO, Yahoo!

I thought journalists were supposed to be objective, but I feel like every day the media becomes more and more one sided. Maybe there’s a difference between media and journalists, but the line is pretty blurry. One news agency reports a story – however skewed the information – and all the other news outlets jump on the bandwagon.

This is something that already bothers me, but a couple of weeks ago when the reports came out that Marissa Mayer, CEO, Yahoo!, Sunnyvale, CA, ended most telecommuting for employees, the media frenzy that ensued was ridiculous.

Surprisingly, much of the media’s view of Mayer’s decision was negative. Most every story I read and saw on t.v. focused on the studies suggesting that telecommuting increases productivity and boosts employee morale. Some reporters even suggested that Mayer is not supporting working parents.

Also, surprisingly, many of Mayer’s biggest critics have been other women.

I am not the CEO of a large corporation or an expert at managing large groups of people, and most journalists aren’t either. So why is the media jumping to conclusions here?

Let’s give Mayer a chance before we so profusely judge her and her plans for Yahoo!. Mayer said her decision to end most telecommuting was to bring more internal cohesiveness and collaboration. If you look back to when she was first hired as CEO of Yahoo!, this is in line with what she communicated to employees.

ImageAccording to a Business Insider article by Nicholas Carlson on September 25, 2012, Mayer outlined her strategy for the company’s success. Listed below are some of the objectives that she outlined.

* Yahoo! will become something users touch every day.

* Yahoo! will focus more. To paraphrase, “do more of what we’re good at and less of what we’re not.”

* Yahoo! will be partner friendly. 

* Yahoo! will be strong in mobile by 2015.

* Projects will only be green-lit if they can scale to 100 million users or $100 million in revenue.

* Yahoo! will move faster, giving employees more deadlines, ownership, resources, and tools.

Mayer also said that Yahoo! will support its staff through “the Four Cs,” Culture, Company Goals, Calibration, and Compensation.

(Read the full article here)

Honestly, I think eliminating telecommuting is in line with the goals Mayer communicated in September. I’ve been on the other side – the one in the office adjusting my schedule based on when a teleworker could make it into the office. It was frustrating and often felt unfair. I ended up resenting my coworker and manager.

Some people do well working from home, while others do not. Some telecommuters are flexible and make every effort to be available to their managers and coworkers, while others do not. Where some employees are more productive working from home, others are more distracted and accomplish less. CEOs and the companies that they lead have to make good business decisions based on their needs, goals and employees, which is exactly what Mayer did.

Let’s also take a look at other benefits Yahoo! offers its employees. According to its website, Yahoo! provides employees with the “basics,” such as medical, dental and vision insurance, a 401k where they match 25% of the employee’s contributions as well as long- and short-term disability. In addition, employees receive back-up dependent care, onsite fitness centers at many of its locations, access to an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), adoption assistance, tuition reimbursement, dependent day care Flexible Spending Account (FSA), community service day off, service awards, and savings on dining, shopping and even travel. Let’s be honest – in today’s economy some people would appreciate a job in general let alone a job that provides employees with these types of benefits.

Change is tough, so I understand why employees initially might be upset – especially those who the modification directly effects. It may be challenging for those who have been working from home to be in the office and accordingly adjust their schedules. It also will be an adjustment for office employees to have more coworkers. On both sides, they will need to learn new work styles and try getting along with everyone.

I’m not a Yahoo! employee, nor do I know Mayer and her management approach. I was simply listening and reading all of the backlash from this decision and was confused at the reaction and information provided by the media. From my perspective, based on my experience, I think reeling in the telecommuters at Yahoo! is a good idea. It’s an updated policy that Mayer felt was necessary at this point.

Policy’s are meant to be reviewed and revised. In time, she most certainly can add telecommuting back to the company’s long list of benefits when she feels that Yahoo! and its employees are ready. Maybe the telecommuting policies will be stricter, setting more stringent guidelines and requirements, but that’s not a bad thing. Companies should be making their work-from-home expectations clear to employees.

I also find it interesting that, as I was looking further into this, one week after Yahoo! announced that it was ending telecommuting, Best Buy, headquartered in Minneapolis, MN, announced the same. Where was the media frenzy then? Did it have anything to do with the fact that Best Buy’s CEO is a gentleman by the name of Hubert Joly?

I’m sure that this was a well-thought, hard decision by Mayer that was made after careful consideration and hours of discussion. Mayer proved her abilities at Google, which is why Yahoo! hired her. Let’s give her a chance and not be so quick to judge. It takes time to turn around big companies – and it takes big, tough decisions. I, for one, am looking forward to seeing what Mayer, and Yahoo!, will be doing this time next year.