Friday, June 29, 2012

Collection of Quotes of Women Leaders, January to June 2012

“You don't luck into integrity. You work at it.”  Betty White

"One life is all we have and we live it as we believe in living it. But to sacrifice what you are and to live without belief, that is a fate more terrible than dying."  Joan of Arc

"I didn't believe in briefcases.  A briefcase was a badge of professionalism that separated you from your client, so I would go into court with a shopping bag.  I wore miniskirts.  I was going to be me, no matter what."  Nancy Gertner

“Sadly, I think what I have learned is how willing some members of our government are to play political football with women’s health.”  Sandra Fluke

"If you haven't forgiven yourself something, how can you forgive others?"  Dolores Huerta

"I was very conscious of kind of carrying the banner for women professionals.  I was [conscious of] doing a good job always so that those who came along in the future would have an easier time.  I felt responsibility."  Molly Munger

"There is always something left to love. And if you ain’t learned that, you ain’t learned nothing."  Lorraine Hansberry

"The only thing we don't do better than them is trap rats and kill spiders."  Gabourey Sidibe

"It is nice to have a big umbrella." Christine Lagarde

"I am continually fascinated at the difficulty intelligent people have in distinguishing what is controversial from what is merely offensive."  Nora Ephron

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

We CAN do it

So this week I attended yet another professional women's networking event and had a sense of blah blah blah, same old same old panel discussion:  work-life balance, discrimination, shoes.... Okay I am being a little harsh but still, it does occur to me that when men get together to network they are focusing on other things, like, who in this crowd is likely to hire me or refer a client to me?  rather than why is everyone so mean to me and what should I do about the fact that my spouse is not a stay at home wife.

Anywhoo, what WAS really great about the event was the focus on Rosie the Riveter and the huge contributions of women in the 1940's to American industry during World War II.  So that inspired me to do a little research.  I had a general recollection of the cultural icon, but did you know that there is a national historic park that is devoted to women's contributions to the War effort?  The Rosie the Riveter WWII Home Front National HIstoric Park is in Richmond, California:

View Larger Map

Well now you know.  It's fascinating to be reminded how these women were recruited, and then somewhat cavalierly told to go back to domestic work after the War.  These women were real pioneers for all of us who have followed in breaking down the barriers to women in the workplace.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Good People and Bad Deeds

There's been a curious change in my behavior in this new age of information access and social media.  Of course like much of the world, I'm addicted to my smart phone.  It doesn't (yet) interfere with the important relationships in my life and I'm not missing work, so I don't think you all need to schedule an intervention just yet.  With that addiction, though, I've noticed that I generally only read headlines and tweets from the news media; I rarely read an entire story like I used to do in the olden days when I had a print copy of The New York Times to accompany me on my commute.  Nowadays, I skim through dozens of tweets in the morning and the headlines on Google News, and read usually not more than one article each morning.  

Every once in a while, though, a story grabs my attention and I read every article on the topic that I come across.  A few weeks ago I was following the story of a notorious trial, and most significantly the testimony of a key witness who was involved in the serious legal and ethical lapses of the defendant.  I was and remain fascinated by stories of otherwise good people who apparently suddenly make terribly unethical decisions in their professional lives.  
I found some answers to my puzzle in WHY GOOD PEOPLE DO BAD THINGS.  The article, in Notre Dame Business Magazine, describes new research by Ann Tenbrunsel and Max Bazerman that examines why we don't see our own ethical failings. Tenbrunsel, who is the Rex and Alice A. Martin Professor of Business Ethics and co-director of the Institute for Ethical Business Worldwide at Notre Dame, and Bazerman, the Jesse Isidor Straus Professor of Business Administration at Harvard, wrote about their research in Blind Spots: Why We Fail to Do What’s Right and What to Do About It.  I commend the entire article to you, it's worth reading more than just the headline.

Tenbrunsel and Baserman neatly illustrated typical examples of ethical lapses in the organizational setting:

And they also offer cogent advice on the causes of typical lapses.  

"Even the best-intentioned ethics programs will fail if they don’t take into account the biases that can blind us to unethical behavior, whether ours or that of others. What can you do to head off rather than exacerbate unethical behavior in your organization? Avoid “forcing” ethics through surveillance and sanctioning systems. Instead ensure that managers and employees are aware of the biases that can lead to unethical behavior. (This simple step might have headed off the disastrous decisions Ford managers made—and employees obeyed—in the Pinto case.) And encourage your staff to ask this important question when considering various options: “What ethical implications might arise from this decision?”

Above all, be aware as a leader of your own blind spots, which may permit, or even encourage, the unethical behaviors you are trying to extinguish."

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Thanks, Dad

Here's a post from June 21, 2009.  

Happy Father's Day, Dad!

Today I thought I'd write about the things Dad taught me. The youngest of ten children of a south Texas dairyman, my Dad was raised by six doting sisters, three brothers and two very hard working parents. He's proud of the fact that he was in the first graduating class of the Air Force Academy, and his service as a career pilot in the Air Force. My siblings and I grew up as what many described as military brats in the communities we moved to every three or four years, although that's not true. Not a one of us were allowed to be brats.

This time last year Dad was sick and hospitalized for the very first time in his life. He's always been a picture of health, so it was a terrific shock to our family when he had emergency surgery in the middle of Montana while on vacation last summer. He's fine now, for which we're all grateful. His parents lived into their 90's, so we fully expect another 20 years with Dad. I look forward to updating this post each year on Father's Day.

Dad tried to teach me many things, some of which I've learned and some of which I've stubbornly resisted:

1. Eat dessert first. This one I learned easily and early. I know my sweet tooth came directly from Dad's side of the gene pool.

2. Read. Long before it was fashionable for parents to sign "reading logs," and count the minutes kids spent reading each day, my Dad encouraged his kids to read simply by setting the example. I think it stems from his innate curiosity as much as from a desire to teach his kids to be lifelong readers. In any event, I know that he'd rather get a book for Father's Day than anything else, except chocolate.

3. Play. Dad loves to play card games and board games. Never one to follow professional sports or outside athletics, he loved to play games with us when we were little, and he continues to be an avid card player. One might say that was because living in North Dakota during our formative years meant there weren't many options, but I think he knew the value of family time spent together.

4. Be nice. Dad never gossips. I don't recall him ever saying an unkind word about anyone. Still working on this discipline, myself.

5. Respect authority. Whether this is a trait learned from twenty-some years in the military, or it was already in his character and made the military life suitable for him, I don't know. I do know that Dad has always respected his President as his Commander in Chief. Even when it was a, well, challenge. I do remember some rather heated dinnertime discussions in the 70's over President Nixon…

6. Live a life of Integrity. Regarding item 5, one may make exceptions for ethical principles. Dad has a profound sense of personal ethics. One must never compromise one's integrity, and he warned us that standing up for one's principles might lead to personal hardship and political backlash from those in power.

7. Don't sweat the small stuff. Unlike his obsessive oldest daughter, Dad doesn't worry much about the details.

8. Be generous. My Dad takes extraordinary pride in the generosity of his parents during the Great Depression. His parent's dairy herd continued to produce milk through the lean years, and they generously continued to supply their customers regardless of ability to pay. Dad gives generously of his time, talent, and treasure, and always has.

9. Never buy a teenager a car that will run reliably for more than a few weeks. In the five year time span when my older brother (one year older than me), my younger sister (three years younger than me, at that time (now she's older than me)) and I learned to drive, I think we had about ten cars. I recall the average price was $50. None of them were fast, each was at least twenty years old, and I don't even remember all of them. My favorites were the blue Fiat convertible and the huge tan 1950's Ford truck, both of which were sexy in their own way. Were it not for Dad's philosophy on household transportation, I wouldn't have met my husband, but that's a story for another day.

10. Love your kids unconditionally. Dad has been my biggest cheerleader, and when I was growing up in the 70's he never said there was anything I couldn't do. He's not right about that, there are lots of things I'm not good at. But I am enormously grateful that the first man in my life believed in me from day one.

Thanks Dad.


Sunday, June 10, 2012

Congrats to all the Newly Minted Lawyers Out There

Here's a post from the 30,000 foot level (literally).  I'm returning home from my son's graduation from University of Chicago Law School.  It's a pretty amazing experience to attend a second law school graduation with your first child--the first time I was the graduate and he was in preschool; this second time 'round he is the one wearing the hood and I am just the mom--wow.  Words just don't do it justice.

The keynote speaker yesterday for the U Chi law grads was Daniel Doctoroff, he had some fine words for these grads.  They are equally compelling for the parents; indeed for anyone seeking to make a difference.  I suppose I am paraphrasing a bit, but his message is worth repeating:  Don't be afraid to fail.  Take some chances.  With the blessing of a legal education, go out there and find the talent that makes you great.

Best of luck to you all.