Please watch the video for a comment from Eileen McDargh about the horrific tragedy unfolding in Boston, Massachusetts today.
If you missed the first post about my trip to Bogata you can view it here Part One.
At the close of the conference, we retreat to Cartagena for three days of rest and relaxation and—of course. adventure. After all, isn’t this the city where Michael Douglas chased emerald thieves and won the heart of Kathleen Turner? (Surprise! While the script kept throwing out Cartagena, the movie was shot in Mexico!)
Nevertheless, the walled fortress of the old city, named by UNESCO as a world heritage site, is immediately sweltering in humidity– a contrast to cold/wet Bogota at 10,000 feet in the Andes. Thankfully, a heads-up from my well-traveled sister kept us out of Bocagrande (think South Beach with hundreds more beachgoers and vendors). Bantu Hotel, a 25-unit boutique two-story, sits on a side street, within walking distance of the plaza where Gabriel Garcia Marquez perched his characters for Love in the Time of Cholera.
My readers don’t need the blow-by-blow details. Let my pictures speak of the Caribbean colors, the bougainvillea cascading from incredibly tiny pots, the fascinating door knockers urging entrance to cool atriums, and the industrious stamina of resilient vendors who try in every way to earn pesos. Poverty abounds and yet I see only three people begging. Everyone else is trying to earn a living—including the black-painted human statues who stand in the blazing sun, hoping someone will drop money in a pot in exchange for taking a picture.
Resiliency! In my broken Spanish, I tell my painted fisherman that he has much courage to do what he does. Suddenly, a huge smile breaks across his face like a sunbeam after a thunderstorm. He reaches out so I can shake his hand. In a heartbeat, I know my words mean more than the pesos in the pot. Why do I not do this more?
Despite all the “no gracias” I utter to vendors wanting me to buy everything from sunhats to sunglasses, from beads to watches, from Botero replicas to knock-off oil paintings, I am never harassed or bothered. “No” just means “Next”. Another lesson to remember when my proposals are turned down!
Juan Valdez coffee supplants Starbucks and ceviche becomes our daily fare. We don’t need to rely on a taxi driver and my limited English to get around. Cartagena-native Angelina Calvo, a colleague in the training & development field and now director for the undergraduate language program at the Universidad Tecnológica de Bolívar, becomes our most gracious host and guide. Fluent in English and French, she offers a glimpse into other worlds outside the ancient city. We feel her passion to teach English as a second language, thus increasing employment chances in the growing hospitality field.
From a city made famous by Spanish galleons loaded with stolen gold to a city made infamous with its hundreds of years of a hateful slave trade, Cartagena still evokes mystery and yes—romance. Even if one has a heart of stone.
We sit in Business Class on American from LAX, another miracle (milagro) because that fare was actually cheaper than the flexible economy fare! Within 15 minutes of takeoff, I pull out my pen to fill out the immigration form. Yikes, ink explodes from my pen in all directions, covering the form and my right hand with permanent black ink. Polished nails now look like I have changed oil, rotated tires, and dug in the dirt for years. No manner of soap & water or hand sanitizer dims the charcoal color. The flight attendant suggests vodka.
“Why not?” We all laugh. Other people drink while I soak a rough wash cloth with Absolute and wrap it around my hand. You just have to laugh. I promise the flight attendant a cut of the profits if we create a new ink remover called Vanishing Vodka.
In Bogota, my husband and I meet up with another speaker from the U.S., Joe Robinson and his wife Marcia. Outside, the driver spots my now-gray hand waving. As the smallest one, I am wedged next to the pile of luggage that with each bump or right turns begins to bury me. You have to laugh.
América Empresarial proceeds to turn the Bogota Sheraton into a worker-intense, trade-show-heavy, production-impressive event. I meet with my interpreter, Sebastian, a thin, intense, and incredibly brilliant linguist who becomes my alter ego for almost two hours. I can’t help but wonder how the audience feels about a male voice coming out of my mouth, particularly when I mention my Bill and our 33 years of celebrating “montheraries”. You have to laugh.
I love to ask questions. A smile and a question evoke much information as well as evoke patience when events don’t go as planned. I imagine how much worse the traffic would be if there were not a law that only cars with even-numbered license plates could drive on even-numbered days and visa versa. I discover that married couples wear their wedding bands on their right hand. I discover that despite cracked and uneven sidewalks, women adore enormous high heels. Trash barrels are small so the burros with sidesaddles can be loaded to cart away refuse. And the six-inch step up and down the oldest cathedral in Columbia (Candelaria area) is required to keep out the rain water torrent that creates a river of refuse on the street.
Bogota is a city of contrast. Security in the form of military, police and private guards, are as common as stars on a clear night. Yet at the national airport, we stroll through security without disrobing, shedding shoes, showing liquids, or taking out computers. Go figure. And you just have to laugh.
The criticism flies fast and furious over Sheryl Sandberg’s new book. She has started Lean In Groups for the purpose of helping women learn from each other . It’s an amazing site with interviews, how to create groups and more.
I’d like to “tweak it”. I think there also needs to be Bring In Groups as part of the conversation. Specifically, bring in as many senior men into the conversation so that together we can look at how to craft workplaces that support meaningful career/life practices.
This is not an either/or time. This is a time for both/and. All of us have a choice to stand up, lean in, and speak out for what we want to bring to the “party”. At the same time, senior leaders in the organization have an opportunity to explore just what are the unwritten and written “rules of the road” that might be re-examined so that all employees can bloom where they are planted—without uprooting the rest of their lives.
For all my years in working with women’s leadership issues, I am astounded at the criticism directed at Sheryl Sandberg, COO Facebook, with today’s release of her new book, LEAN IN.
Yes, she’s in the rarefied air of Silicon Valley –but she has EARNED that right by her work, by brains, and by speaking out in a way she could be heard. You don’t read criticism of men who write leadership books full of advice and who also had the “same privilege”.
She raises issues that point a sharp finger at the male-bastion in senior leadership AND she also gives some pretty pointed advice about what women who want to move into those spots must ALSO do. This is not an either /or book of advice. I find it a both/and discourse.
What I’d rather hear are women supporting each other. What I’d rather hear is how women and men can give each other guidance on how to address work/life integration issues so that all sexes—with and without children—can have a full life. What I’d rather hear is advice on how women can speak up and be heard.
The latter is a point my colleague, Eunice Parisi-Carew, and I have been working on—creating a simple resource guide- a 40 Tip booklet on how to speak up, speak out and be heard.
We must start somewhere. Sandberg gives us some starting points.
A recent The New York Times article entitled, “It Takes a B.A. To Find A Job As A File Clerk” focuses on an Atlanta law firm that requires every employee – including the in-house courier making $10/hour – to have a bachelor’s degree. The firm’s managing partner said that this requirement shows that every employee has made “a commitment” to their future and not just a paycheck.
The comment section was closed otherwise I would have responded with a resounding, “NOT SO!”
I just returned from addressing the Association of California Community College Administrators (ACCA) and walked away even more convinced in the validity of community colleges. To be sure, community colleges serve as feeders for transferring students to four-year colleges. Just as vital, however, is the role these schools play in creating sharp, career-focused professionals in certificate programs for health-related fields, technology, agriculture, manufacturing and more.
What an arrogant law firm to think that ONLY BA students are committed. Where would our workforce be without the men and women who become our firefighters, police officers, skilled technicians, and computer programmers? In California, 80% of veterans are enrolled to increase their skills for employment in a world very different from the battlefields. Are they “less committed”?
Community colleges develop workers who are trained in solar, wind, alternative fuels, alternative transportation and biotech. Seventy percent of the nurses in California are trained in community colleges.
Bill Gates did not need a BA. I would call him “committed”. So are the majority of students who look to community colleges to help them succeed.
Last word: Support your community colleges. They are the keystone between high school and entering the adult world as productive, committed citizens.
PS: Wonder if that Atlanta law firm would like to PAY for every employee to get a BA. Might take some of the hot air out of their hiring practices.
The first time my twin brother John, a professor at Boston College, saw Dick Hoyt and his son Rick in the Boston Marathon many years ago, he burst into tears. As John now relates, “What a parable of faithfulness and devotion and freedom. Both of them. They began competing in marathons when Rick was 15 years old. He is now 51.”
I share the following notice because of the power of the story. And, who knows, perhaps some of my readers will be in Boston this Monday, Feb 18 and want to come out to the Boston College campus.
Team Hoyt is an inspirational story of a father, Dick Hoyt, and his son, Rick, who compete together in marathons and triathlons across the country.
Rick was born in 1962 to Dick and Judy Hoyt. As a result of oxygen deprivation to Rick’s brain at the time of his birth, Rick was diagnosed as a spastic quadriplegic with cerebral palsy. Dick and Judy were advised to institutionalize Rick because there was no chance of him recovering, and little hope for Rick to live a “normal” life.
This was just the beginning of Dick and Judy’s quest for Rick’s inclusion in community, sports, education and one day, the workplace.
In the spring of 1977, Rick told his father that he wanted to participate in a 5-mile benefit run for a Lacrosse player who had been paralyzed in an accident. Far from being a long-distance runner, Dick agreed to push Rick in his wheelchair and they finished all 5 miles, coming in next to last. That night, Rick told his father, “Dad, when I’m running, it feels like I’m not handicapped.”
This realization was just the beginning of what would become over 1,000 races completed, including marathons, duathlons and triathlons (6 of them being Ironman competitions). Also adding to their list of achievements, Dick and Rick biked and ran across the U.S. in 1992, completing a full 3,735 miles in 45 days. The 2009 Boston Marathon was officially Team Hoyt’s 1000th race.
In 1975, at the age of 13, Rick was finally admitted into public school. After high school, Rick attended Boston University, and he graduated with a degree in Special Education in 1993. Dick retired in 1995 as a Lt. Colonel from the Air National Guard, after serving his country for 37 years.
But don’t take my word for it. Here’s a fast-paced, animated compilation of research on what results can be achieved when women are in leadership positions. The One Minute MBA offers not only Harvard’s bottom-line report but also details just what it is that women bring to the workplace.
Watch and then look at your employee roster. You might wish to make adjustments. Men and women together can make a huge difference.
If you missed Garry Trudeau’s piece in the Sunday paper, let me translate the key points:
Nine years ago, we were attacked and over 3,000 (counting firefighters and paramedics) were killed.
Our response: Two long wars and vast homeland security system
The Cost: trillions of dollars.
In the same nine years, 270,000 Americans were killed by guns in the U.S.
Our response: weaken gun laws.
The Cost: immeasurable.
Companies shouldn’t aim for a single “perfect strategy” but instead develop and sustain the ability to create strategies that respond to the constantly changing business environment, writes former Procter & Gamble chief A.G. Lafley and Toronto B-school dean Roger Martin. “There simply is no one perfect strategy that will last for all time,” they argue. “That’s why building up strategic thinking capability … is so vital.”
This article appeared in the Toronto GLOBE & MAIL and summarizes what I believe is resilient dynamism. The ability to constantly be scanning the horizon, willing to be agile in response and direction is critical to surviving in a constantly changing marketplace.
Now if only we could get the government to take the shackles off various departments and allow them to create new strategies that are nimble.
Sigh. If wishes were gold… I’d be a millionaire.