Sunday, April 28, 2013

Still Leaning In

Still Leaning In – Chapter 6



The highlight of Chapter 6 for me, seek and speak the truth, is when the topic of crying at work is brought up. I work on the trade floor and as a trader fully understand that you must have a thick skin. We all work in extreme proximity to each other where I can reach my arm out and touch my co-workers shoulder.  Every move, conversation, sigh is shared and the culture is the most unique type of culture I’ve ever experienced. I love it and wouldn't want it any other way.
But I get it that it’s not for everyone. Needless to say when working on a big deal or trade that involves a group of people and we are standing at our desks and on the phone figuring things out in the heat of the moment, you have to keep your wits about yourself. There is something to be said about grace under fire. Nothing is more counter-productive than having some guy in who is involved in the deal, blowing a gasket and freaking out externally in the midst of one of these intense moments. But sometimes it happens. Miscommunication or somebody changing their mind at the last minute is usually the fuse that gets them started. They get all heated up and emotional and revert back to their primal behaviour. Raising their voice, pounding their chest like a Jane Goodall movie. Sometimes from their desk and sometimes over the speaker phone. It’s human nature. Everyone on the trade floor is type A and driven and wants to be number 1 so a display of human emotion is natural. 

But the way a man expresses emotion is very different from the way a woman expresses emotion. If I get really upset with someone’s behaviour or feel betrayed by someone my eyes well up and my voice starts to quiver. It’s happened a couple of times with me. But I know better than to cry on the trade floor. I put a lid on it. I wait till the deal is done, get off the floor and go for a walk and let myself go privately. Just like there’s no crying in baseball. There’s no crying on the trade floor. I didn’t need anybody to tell me that. I, like all the other women up there who thrive in that environment know better than to show that side of us so publicly.
With that being said, off the floor one-on-one conversations with people I trust does allow me to let my guard down and I have on some occasions allowed myself to cry. I believe these moments are necessary. We spend more waking hours with our colleagues than we do with our families in any given week, so it doesn’t make sense to not be yourself. It’s too much pressure and you can’t stay happy that way. So if you’re hurt or you’re going through something personal you need to share that. Otherwise, it will burden you and make you a less productive, disenfranchised and unhappy. And no one wants to live like that. Not even type A  girls.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Lean In - Chapter 5

Lean In – Chapter 5



This chapter discusses mentorship and sponsorship. These are two of the buzzwords floating around the corporate women’s world. Mentorship is great but it isn’t enough as you definitely need sponsors to help push you into more senior positions. The problem with most is how do you go about finding a mentor or a sponsor? Her suggestion is to work super hard and produce results so others will want to groom you and encourage you and push you along the way.

I think if we all look around we will find that we are surrounded with mentors. Different people who have helped us and advised us on different things. I think people for the most part like to help and if you ask for help or are discussing something in common and an obstacle is brought to light it’s very natural for the person who has been there and done that to step in and at least offer some advice or at least ask you the right questions to help you in resolving the issue on your own. Then you have to have the sense to recognize this person’s willingness to help and continue to maintain an honest relationship with them.

See, the thing with me is, I like being social, going for a drink or two but I hate ‘networking’ or ‘networking events’ as firms like to call them. As a result, I suck at these events and am even anti-social because I find it way too unnatural for me to build a solid friendship at a networking event. My problem I know. Do I have to fake it to make it here as well?

But if I think about it, I definitely have mentors and I’m sure even a sponsor or two but not in the formal sense. Is that ok? Or do we need both formal and informal relationships to maximize our potential?

Friday, April 26, 2013

Lean In: Chapter 4

Lean In: Chapter 4


Chapter 4 is titled: It’s a jungle gym, not a ladder.  A lot of what is in here I have seen and experienced with the one caveat that women think about a lot more things (some realistic and some not) before making a big career decision. This chapter discusses that the work place is not a corporate ladder where there is a linear progression in the same line of work but that the view can be great from a bunch of different places all of varying heights, so if you love the monkey bars you’re on now but there are too many kids on with you but the slide is empty, practically begging to be used, jump off the monkey bars and go enjoy the slide! It’s a great analogy.

I think by the time a woman feels she’s ready for a new job she is already over-qualified for it.  I’ve read in other articles as well as in this book that studies have shown that while men are hired based on potential, women are hired based on historical performance so I suppose a woman wants to ensure that each performance is stellar so as not to muck up future inroads. Also, men apply for jobs when they feel they can fulfill 60% of the role whereas a woman won’t apply until she feels she can fulfill 100% of the role. Another example pointing to the same insecurity or lack of confidence in women relative to men.

But that insecurity in women and confidence in men stems from childhood. When a guy goes for gold and fails, he is pretty good about getting back up on his feet, dusting the dirt off his knees and driving on. That’s because growing up it was natural for him to get a scraped knee or cut or bruise from playing and even rough housing with other boys. The terminology ‘boys will be boys’ is an acceptance of this somewhat reckless male behaviour that has limited consequences because it’s innate in them to be this way. But girls are more delicate so if she falls we promptly pick her up, nurse her wound and remind her to be more careful so as not to do it again.

I can attest to the fact that parents nowadays are more aware of this and proactively try to level the playing field by letting girls pick themselves off the floor and even running to the attention of their son and kissing his boo-boo.  But it’s a bit of a catch-22 because women are different from men and require to be raised a little differently.
No matter how you slice it if your 15 year old daughter goes to a party that an older student is throwing on a Friday night and the party starts at 10pm versus your son going to the same party, most parents will have higher stress levels with the former scenario than the latter. The basis of this worry is real. The stress is natural and playing fair takes a backseat when you’re talking about the wellbeing of your kid.

So do women have a reason to be more cautious and careful their entire lives? They sure do. So instead of trying to deny this feeling, let’s accept it for what it is, embrace it (because I think it’s this natural ability to experience a stimulus and respond swiftly knowing we’ve thought of so many more scenarios in a millisecond, aka women’s intuition) and leverage it to create our own path and drive on. Our journey will be different because we are different but the destination could be the same.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Spring Reading - Lean In Ch 1,2 & 3

Spring Reading - Lean In



Everyone is talking about this new book, “Lean In” by Sheryl Sandberg. It’s supposed to be a modern day manifesto for women.  I’ve only started reading it and was hesitant at first because anything that sounds like ‘manifesto’ I try to steer clear of especially when I want some light reading, but as is the case with most of my reads, I never pick my books. They pick me. This was no different.

I have found that when the world really wants you to learn something it will find a way to teach it to you. Using a book as a medium is one of the easy ways to do this. Sometimes it’s a self-help book (for obvious reasons), sometimes it’s a motivational read and other times it’s just for fun, because even the powers that be want us all to have a little fun now and then.

This book is just as much for men as it is for women. I have already read stuff in there that I have felt and do feel time and time again. There are 11 chapters plus an introduction. I am on chapter 4. So if anyone wants to pick up the book and read with me, it would be great to discuss this book with any of you!

The book is chalk full of research to back up everything that is said so it isn’t just one person’s opinion but one person’s deduction of things (backed up by many more people) from solid research material. And it has tons of personal stories by numerous different people especially the author (obviously) which puts a lot of the general ideas into context.

Her first lesson, Sit at the Table is just that. Participate and get involved in spite of the self-doubt running through your veins.  It’s common. It’s felt by some very successful women including the CEO of IBM and Sheryl Sandberg herself. Over time your confidence will build but until then you have to fake it to make it, effectively.

The second lesson, Success and Likeability. This chapter starts with the telling of the Heidi/Howard case study conducted by a couple of professors who basically proved that Success and Likeability are positively correlated for men but negatively correlated for women. It’s one of those studies where you’re not surprised by the result because you always had a hunch that was true but didn’t have any evidence to back it up. Well for better or for worse, now you do. The thing I like about this chapter however is not just that it tells us that but that it discusses how to deal with this type of perception. Thing globally, act locally. Stay insistent and smile. Simple suggestions actually.   

The third lesson I’m still reading so will chat about tomorrow.  I’d love to discuss lesson one and two however if anybody is up for it.


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Blast from the Past: an old post. New segment starting tonight!

An old post I found...more than a year now but still the same struggle..hrmph...

Friday, January 13, 2012

Third entry: Trying to keep up with my resolutions….

The toughest of all resolutions for me to keep is the going to the gym and eating healthy bit. It’s been a long long week. I’ve significantly pared down what I take in. Some days are better than others. Today I’m hungry. But I’m not hungry in my stomach. I’m hungry in my head. Does that make any sense? What I’m trying to say is my stomach is not going to eat itself because I have deprived myself of food, but I am truly missing the happy taste of food. The way a piece of chocolate melts between your tongue and the roof of you mouth. The crispy crunch of a potato chip when your teeth bite into it and the broken savoury pieces linger in your mouth while the flavours of the chips dance around awakening your taste buds. As I write this, someone behind me yells “hey, where’s the food?” Ha. You can’t escape it. The mere anticipation of food makes everyone happy.

My husband is making chicken cordon bleu for dinner. He says it’s a healthier version of the real thing. I have no clue what that means but am eager to go home and eat it all up! Because I know this, I’ve been starving myself all day. Half my oatmeal for breakfast, blueberries for a snack. Soup for lunch and a ryvita with peanut butter just now. How do skinny girls stay skinny? Sigh. I suppose they don’t have love affairs with their refrigerator or pantries….