I wanted to thank everyone for the overwhelming response to Wednesday's post: Bloomingdale's: another example of what is wrong with the profession of marketing". It was a difficult post for me to write because I struggled to be neutral. I am passionate about what I do and have a special place in my heart for marketing that is target to women because I understand what it means to capture the hearts and minds of the female consumer. There is power in supporting and lifting up women in today's culture like there has never been before. It is because of this that I fight for women every single day.
Your responses and readership to the post (my most successful post to date) let me know that there is outrage and concern out there. This concern doesn't just come from women but men as well. We want more from companies and brands and we will speak out about it and "vote with our wallets". It isn't about being a feminist or overly sensitive. It is about understanding the responsibility we hold when we broadcast a message to the world. You came in droves to read this post and whether that was out of curiosity, agreement or concern is irrelevant, you came, you read, you provided feedback both here and on social media and you shared. You may not realize this, but in doing that you helped support my purpose. This is no small thing to me. Thank you is not enough.
If you see any marketing or advertising directed at women that you love and think lifts up women and girls, send them to me. I would love to focus on the good stuff that is out there, and there IS good stuff out there. Let's talk about them and support their business...it's all about voting with our wallets.
It's the last day of September and which a kind of drives the nail into the end of summer. This is when a lot of us tend to slack off a little when it comes to health and fitness. It is the precursor to the holiday and all the delightful cookies, cakes, desserts and sugarplums that dance in our heads. This means it is sometimes hard to keep up with our health and fitness goals.
I am guessing that may be part of the reason that September 30th has been declared "National Women's Health & Fitness Day" . Yup, that's right, we're talking about health and fitness today.
Look, I'll admit I am not always the healthiest person. I have my moments for sure and have tried just about every "eating program" you can imagine and I read about food A LOT. I love food. Everyone says that but I mean, I REALLY love food, all kinds, salty, sweet, sour, bitter. I just love how food is a way to fellowship, express yourself and see the world. Food sustains us, keep our bodies working the way they should and can even cure a broken heart. (I don't care what anyone says.) This can sometimes be a problem, depending on how you look at things. Just about anyone will tell you that at the end of the day, it is all about balance.
The same can be said for fitness. Taking care of our bodies is what keeps us moving, breathing and able to be in awe of the world around us. It is also one of the hardest things to tell yourself on a rainy/snowy winter day when the bed just feels warm and cozy. Sometimes, your muscles ache, your bones hurt, your body is sweaty and smelly. Even though it you feel better later, sometimes the actual process of keeping fit isn't always the most exciting thing to try and do.
National Women’s Health & Fitness Day is the recognized as the largest annual health promotion event for women of all ages int he U.S. It's focus is on regular physical activity and health awareness for women. and here is the thing...
we need that focus
Obviously we want everyone to be healthy but as women it is even more critical. We are the caregivers of the world. Even with the increase of women with not just jobs, but careers, we still take the lead as care givers.
Women are more likely to take care of an elder family member
On average in American households with two heterosexual parents, mothers spend about 11 hours per week taking care of their children, while fathers spend slightly more than 3 hours per week. 4
A record 40 percent of all households with children under 18 include mothers who are either the sole or primary source of income for the family.
Despite this, women are less likely to take care of themselves. We forget to put the oxygen mask on ourselves before everyone else. This is why a focus on health and fitness is so important for us. A day that reminds us to focus on ourselves is needed to remind us that the only way we can be at our best is to take care of the body we have been given. It is a reminder to take a breath (a heavy one), wipe the sweat from our brow and have a moment just for us, to make us healthy, strong and happy.
As part of the day there are a ton of local organizations nationwide that will host a variety of events. The focus is on health and not competition. You can get screenings, exercise, and also learn more ways to be/get healthy. All with the goal of encouraging women to take control of their lives and their health by giving women the opportunity to learn how to make smarter choices regarding their health. More than 50,000 women are expected to participate in their local communities. Will you be one of them?
It's pretty easy. You can google to find a participating location near you OR just get out and do something. Go for a run, hike with some friends or spend the evening as a family cooking a healthy meal. Do something, take a picture and post online to share with everyone. Don't forget to hashtag #womenshealthfitnessday
I was recently on a plane having a lovely discussion with the woman sitting next to me. She was in her 60’s and was asking me about what I do which then flourished into a really great conversation on gender, workplace, the past and how far we have come etc.
After about an hour or so she got up to use the restroom. When she was gone, the man sitting on the other side of me tapped me on the shoulder “I couldn't help but over hear your conversation, do you mind if I ask you something?”
I of course agreed and this was his question...
"What do you say to boys so they don’t feel emasculated?"
I did a double take unsure if I had heard his question correctly and asked for some clarification. In short he proceeded to explain that he works for the federal government and that in his experience the government and other companies are giving jobs to women instead of men and that the woman are never “thought leaders” and often not deserving of the job but only get it because they are women and that is the big push right now. So do I speak to boys so that they don’t get discouraged by this?
It is not often that I am left , and speechless. In this moment, however, I was. He was not rude but there was something in his tone that told me I needed to tread softly. (also not really a strong point of mine) An airplane is not the best place to have a conversation like this...while there are emergency exits, they are not exactly an option.
But here is the thing, some of what he said isn't necessarily wrong. Across the nation there are programs working specifically to help women get jobs and research shows that women are getting employed in record numbers. But does that mean they are "stealing" jobs from men? Are they not qualified?
I would argue that they are very qualified. In fact women are working to get qualified, consider this:
Women are making all of this headway because they have chosen to go out and get educated. While there are programs for women today (thank goodness), they aren't just given to women. Women are working for them. Need proof?
As I thought about how I would respond to this gentleman, I realized that providing all of these stats and other similar ones was probably not going to make him feel any better. Instead I focused on the fact that what I speak about is not focused on emasculating anyone or saying that any one gender is better than another. I also tried to express that at the end of the day, it shouldn't be about one gender being better than another, one race better than another, one sexual preference being better than another. It's about providing opportunities for EVERYONE that is willing to go after it.
Our conversation was nice. He accepted my explanation and gave me a few things to think about as well. At the end of the day isn't that what it's all about?
I am not sure that this post was necessarily about anything in particular. I just felt like the experience should be shared. So, there you have it
Why She Buys - Bridget Brennan
Women account for close to 80% of all purchases. This statistic is used a lot in the media. In full disclosure, I have used the statistic a number of times in presentations. There is nothing wrong with using the statistic as a matter of fact it is a very useful one in the business and marketing world. It is all the more powerful when you consider that this statistic has changed culture.
Lately it seems that the media is glorifying this statistic behind a stereotype. I have done presentations where people are shocked to learn this number and what it represents but I have also watched people learn this and heard them say things like "well, yeah...women love to shop". You may think this isn't a big deal, but it marginalizes the weight behind the numbers.
These stats don't seem to be talked about quite as much as the other one. They should be though. It is these numbers that actually tell a larger story, a story of how powerful women are, a story of how much women are needed. It's quite simple really.
Don't believe me? Think about this, women are the fastest growing consumer group in the world. That means something. It means the types of products and services that are sold are different than they once were. It means looking at the world from different perspectives. The problem however, is that with all of the growth in education, salary and work for women the spoils of those riches aren't quite growing at the same clip. Consider this...
So how is it that all of these hard working women who invest in their families and produce our food live in poverty? How is it that they only own 1% of the world's property?
It is a problem because not enough of us are speaking out. I know, you have enough to worry about right? We live in a world where hashtags like #feminismisawful and #womenagainstfeminism exist. As a woman this baffles me. How can anyone, especially women believe that fighting for equality is something awful to be against? Rather than give that negative perspective too much time I have some questions for you.
- How much do you really know about women in our country and beyond?
- Are we making noise about the topics that matter to us?
- Do you talk about the gender wage gap?
- Do you feel limited at work, school or home because you are a woman?
- Have you ever been cat called on the street, been the target of inappropriate jokes in the office or blamed for something simply because you are a woman?
It's not all doom and gloom by the way. There are a ton of groups and organizations out there now working hard to educate and make a difference for women here in the U.S. and beyond. From advertising campaigns, non-profit's, social media groups, networking groups etc. there is a push towards giving women a seat at the table. Is your voice part of the movement?
Below is an example of a brand working to empower women and create dialogue and discourse. Unilever who has been involved in a number of positive campaigns lately released this new video called Empowering Women. Kudos to Unilever, check it out.
In reading this back, I realize it might be a little bit of a soap box but I am okay with that. At the end of the day, if nothing else happens from my blog, my speaking, my events or my coaching I hope that people will be inspired to get up on their own soap box an stand up for something positive. There's enough negativity out there for 10 lifetimes, why not add something different?
What do we do in our every day lives to speak and build up the women around us? Tell me in the comments below.
Let's start a movement for change.
to help I made this quick reference guide of some of the quotes you read here. It is a quick little thing to post on your instagram, facebook, even pinterest. The more people who know the real deal, the more chance we have at change...so share away.
4.Unilver: Empowering Women - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O71k6-_59rQ
5.“Academia and Education.” Women Moving Millions. (2012).
6.“More Working Women Than Men Have College Degrees.” U.S. Census Bureau (2011).
“Women in America: Indicators of Social and Econ“Academia and Education.” Women Moving Millions. (2012).
“More Working Women Than Men Have College Degrees.” U.S. Census Bureau (2011).
“Women in America: Indicators of Social and Economic Well-Being.” U.S. Department of Commerce and Economics and Statistics Administration (2011).
Parker, Kim and Eileen Patten. “A Gender Reversal on Career Aspirations.” Pew Research Social and Demographic Trends (2012).
Anderson, Doug. “Below the Topline Women’s Growing Economic Power.” Nielsen (2009).
Holt, Lester. “Men Falling Behind Women.” NBC News (2011).
“Degrees Conferred by Sex and Race.” National Center for Education Statistics (2012
1.omic Well-Being.” U.S. Department of Commerce and Economics and Statistics Administration (2011).
2.Parker, Kim and Eileen Patten. “A Gender Reversal on Career Aspirations.” Pew Research Social and Demographic Trends (2012).
3.Anderson, Doug. “Below the Topline Women’s Growing Economic Power.” Nielsen (2009).
4.Holt, Lester. “Men Falling Behind Women.” NBC News (2011).
5.“Degrees Conferred by Sex and Race.” National Center for Education Statistics (2012)
This week has been an interesting one for women and sports so for today's post I am going to keep it simple and share three amazing things in the world of sports that happened this week.
Wednesday was the 43rd anniversary of Title IX. Title IX didn't just change the world of sports for women, it can be said that it was the catalyst for much more. I speak on Title IX often and the fact that it finally gave women a place to experience competition, team work and the drive to succeed in something beyond patriarchal expectations. For this reason I share with you this article from ESPN about the "9 Things we Wouldn't Have Without Title IX".
Another amazing thing that happened this week is Melissa Mayeux. Don't know her? Well she is a 16 year old from France who just made history in the United States. She has become the first woman to be added to the Major League Baseball's international registration list. This doesn't automatically mean that she will one day play in the big leagues, it is a huge step in that direction and she is only 16. Imagine what could be. .
The last thing is a little different. It is two of my favorite people for telling it like it is who got together to put someone in their place in a respectful and hilarious way. This week a sports writer by the name of Andy Benoit decided to tweet his feelings about women in sports with the following three Tweets.
ARE YOU KIDDING ME?
Well Seth Meyers and Amy Poehler to the rescue. Amy made a visit to the set of her old friends show Late Night with Seth Meyers to revive one of their best skits from SNL, REALLY with Seth & Amy. Check it out below.
What's the point of this post? The point is to get this type of news into the lexicon. Things are happening for women in sports and that means something not just for sport but for our culture. It is the continuation of Title IX, it is the continuation of equality and equal pay movements. Anything we can do to bring that dialog to the forefront is a win.
I have finally settled into this whole blogging thing and I realized that I have yet to really speak about what I love, so for today's 3 things I thought I would discuss my 3 favorite things to speak on. You see, speaking (storytelling) is really what I love. There is something about being able to teach, and relate to a crowd that is so exciting for me.
Because this subject could get very long in the tooth...I will spend the next three Fridays to complete this post. (I realize this is technically cheating the "3 Things" concept but I also know that you don't have time to read a super long post. So here are the three
The buying habits of women & how education, employment & cultural changes have shifted the way we live & spend.
Consumer segments & marketing effectively once you know your target audience.
Purpose, passion & drive and how we not just find them but pursue and succeed at them.
I guess I should start with the first topic I really spoke about. In the last 20 years, I have had the opportunity to speak at sales meetings for a number of companies. They were all AWFUL! I'm serious, like real knee shaking, voice quivering and high speed speaking AWFUL! I have video proof of a practice session is which I literally broke down in tears in front of all of my bosses) It was like that nightmare you have where you walk into work/school naked. (wait is that just me?)
Then I found myself planning an event and before I knew it I realized I had committed to speaking. What was I thinking? Granted, the audience was very small (though size of audience had never calmed my nerves before).I had to get in front of 6 separate small groups in a row.
This time I spoke on something a little more interesting to me. The weirdest thing happened, my knees didn't buckle, my voice didn't quiver and I spoke in an even slow tone. (not like ridiculously slow but a proper pace). I was having fun. I looked at the audience and they were having fun too. WHAT? I couldn't believe I got to do this 5 more times that day.
By the closing day 3 I ended up on a stage in front of the whole larger group not one but 4 times on a variety of other topics. Still no nerves. so weird. After this, audience members asked me to come visit them and do the presentation for their staff. WHAT?
They did, so I spent the next 4 months traveling the country speaking in front of groups and the groups kept getting bigger and bigger. Each time it was so enjoyable. Then on a stage in North Carolina, the moment came. I like to say it was a day when my outfit was amazing, my hair and makeup were fierce and the audience was laughing in all the right places. When it was over I walked off the stage and had this silent moment of awe. It was in that moment I realized THIS IS IT! THIS IS WHAT I AM SUPPOSED TO DO.
This is when a slight terror started to come my way. What do I do now?
Check in next Friday to see what happened next! And if you've found your passion, tell me what it is? Love to see and hear other's people's purpose.
The word "network", when used as a verb means to:
"cultivate people who can be helpful to one professionally, especially in finding employment or moving to a higher position."
As soon as I read the definition, I realized why so many people struggle with this particular part of the job search. The definition is almost sleezy. It is all about what you can get from people and not about what you can offer them. I get it, climbing the corporate ladder is no easy task, it is a dog eat dog world, everyone must fend for themselves...YUK." I prefer to look at things differently. I define networking as a way to cultivate relationships among people with the intent of building EACH OTHER up. It is about learning from each other, having someone's back and sharing common passions and pursuits.
My biggest pet peeve in networking is being asked "what I do" or "where I work" as an introductory line. I am not my job and my job is not me. I am here to meet and connect with people and that is not the best opening line. Think of it this way, on a first date, do you really want someone asking you how much money you have in the bank and what kind of yield you are getting from your 401K? No, well to me these are very much the same things.
The easiest place to get caught in the trap is when you join a networking group or organization.
Networking groups are a great way to meet people in a similar industry or profession as you. Most people however get overzealous when it comes to the term "networking" and "networking organizations". The job market is crowded, competition is stiff. People see this, get scared and use networking entirely wrong. They use these orgnaizations to "pad"their resume instead of truly becoming part of what they are doing. Networking is all about what you put into it and the authenticity that drives the connections you make.
If we are going to do this, then we need to ask some questions to ensure that we choose the right networking group for us...
Here it is important to look for organizations that will help to educate, inspire, lead and nurture you into whatever your next step may be. This means you have to ask yourself some hard questions. I suggest some quiet time to reflect in a place that inspires you. (it's okay if it involves some sort of dessert or wine, I am not one to judge.) As you are contemplating these question it is key that you research groups that will work with what you are going after.
Networking groups vary. Many meet only once a quarter. (How in the world are you going to network like that?) Some meet every other day. (Who has the time?) But networking is about more than sharing a cocktail and trading business cards. It is important when doing your research to find a group that meets or interacts regularly enough to develop real relationships with the people in the group. You also need to be honest about how much time you have or are willing to invest.
If 80% of all jobs are secured through some form of networking, why are you spending the lion's share of your time on job boards? When you look at the landscape of your search, how much time are you committing to true networking? When you have a job you love, how much time are you committing to networking AND helping others? Both are important because you never know what the future holds. Reciprocity is key.
Everything you do with regards to networking should have a "why" attached to it. That does NOT mean you have to GET something out of every network but it does mean you should know why you are there. Driving with no destination in mind is a fantastic way to spend a Sunday afternoon, it is NOT however a great way to find your purpose. You need to attack it with intent. This doesn't mean you know where you will end up, but you should have a destination in mind. Don't jump the gun. Don't "pad" your resume just because it will get you A JOB. Determine what you REALLY want to do. Think it out, write it down, pray about it, meditate and really hone in on what it is you want. THEN, start your network. When you do this, you build with purpose in mind and the results become much more fruitful.
In the spirit of networking, leave a comment below with some of your favorite networking groups. To get you started here are a few of mine.
Happy Motivational Monday! This post is for all my strong women out there trying to move mountains.The key is to start within, believe in what we are capable of and realize that not everyone needs to like us. We, on the other hand have to like ourselves. And why wouldn't we?
Have you seen us lately?
We are smart, but not that unapproachable smart, more like the kind of smart that puts people at ease and makes them tell us their stories. Because of this level of intelligence, we are also blessed with humor, like laugh out loud funny but also that sly witty type of humor that surprises people, drives their curiosity and makes it impossible to skip our name on any invitation list. It's not a party with out us.
We are cloaked in strength that lifts, encourages and builds. It is a quiet strength that doesn't boast. It is seen in surprising places to others, but deep down we have always known it is there if we ever needed it. Often we use it for everyone but ourselves which makes it easy to forget but take a look, it is there. When we see it, we need to take it out, for us. It is this strength that will push us through.
Have you looked in the mirror, I mean really looked? We are gorgeous, maybe not super model gorgeous but that's because super model looks, aren't real. We are real. We share our beauty in our smile, our eyes, our lines and our curves. It makes other's sing songs, write poetry and know what love is. It's not contrived or airbrushed, it is pure, unique. It is us.
So again, why wouldn't we like ourselves? Why wouldn't we love ourselves? Truth is once we do...everything is possible.
one last thing...
It helps to remember how phenomenal we are when we look at our phenomenal women. One of my favorite reminders in "Phenomenal Woman" by Maya Angelou. It is a must for any bookshelf. (click on the image to get your own copy.)
In a groundbreaking study UCLA researchers found that something different happens in the body in response to stress if you are a woman. I should first mention that before this study 90% of all studies on stress and the bodies response to it were done with men only. Like many things in this world, there was an assumption that it didn't matter your biological make up in relation to what sex you are born as when it came to our response to stress.
Because of this, the prevailing theory around this response was that of “fight or flight”. This is when a person (man) is presented with some form of stress, the body will release hormones including testosterone that increase energy so that they can in essence do exactly as it says…stay and fight, or get the heck out of their and catch flight.
For the first time since these types of studies have been conducted, UCLA looked at what happens with women when presented with stress. The results were shocking. A woman’s body creates a chemical in the brain that actually causes us to make and maintain friendships. As we do this we create added amounts Oxycontin (the calming hormone). It seems that when this combines with estrogen, it enhanced feelings of calm that does not happen with men. Only women!
So friendships with women are good for us. They get a bad rap though. You see reality tv shows that seem to soley focus on women tearing other women apart. We read magazines that tell us we have too look better, act better, lose 10 pounds and that it can't happen for all of us, just a select few, and so there is a focus on competition for women instead of camraderie. I remember when I was younger how often I heard the phrase "I just get along better with guys" from most of girls I met. Do we? Do we really get along better with guys? Have we tried getting along with other girls?
I would argue that we have not done this. Add to that the fascination with the voyeristic past time of what I like to call "social media stalking" and friendships with women, or anyone for that matter seem to be a thing of the past. We know so much more about people, but it is only the surface level items we know about. It is this picturesque view of a person's life that is only half real.(if even that much.) In my opinion it seems real friendships are declining. We think we know what is happening in people’s lives, so we call less, we text instead of writing letters and sending cards and we stay home more. We get further away from real friendships.
But why, when all the research tells us how valuable they are, especially for women?
wHAT THE EXPERTS SAY
We know that friends are good for us.
Researchers have even discovered that people who had no friends increased their risk of death over a 6-month period.
Another study found that the participants who had the most friends over a 9-year study cut their risk of death by more than 60%
Harvard researchers found that breast cancer patients that did not have a network of friends were four times more likely to die from the disease than patients with 10 or more close friends.
Yet another study, this time by Dove (I love them) found that 70% of women felt prettier because of the relationships with other women.
The studies go on and on to support increases in health and emotional well being are improved by strong female friendships including, lowering blood pressure, protection from dementia and lowered risk of depression to name a few.
As you may know, this past week I left my job and moved home to start my own venture. This first week has been so healing. The reason for that? My female friends. Now, don’t get me wrong, being with my family has its healing properties as well, but it was today when I truly felt a healing.
My friends surprised me with such a wonderful day of catching up to welcome me home in style, including wine, scenery, food, an amazing welcome home package and of course A LOT of laughter. It was at times, almost overwhelming. I normally only get a blast of this during my time home over the holidays. Realizing that this would now be part of my full time life gave me not only a sense of calm but a sense of possibility and relief. (although admittedly, the bag on the let has a slight Law & Order, CSI vibe.)
So what are we doing? I realize that asking this question in a blog, which in and of itself is a form of social media might be a little counter intuitive, but if this is how to reach people in today’s society, well then that is how I am going to do it.
Women have always worn many hats. But today, it seems as if the hats have gotten bigger or maybe there are just more of them, I am not really sure. There is this unseen and un-talked about pressure to be all things to all people. To take care of everyone, to stay on top of remembering birthdays, anniversaries, doctors appointments and then make the cupcakes for some event. The list goes on. We do all of this while trying to maintain a home, a career, family, friendships and maybe even a hobby or two if we are really industrious. But here’s the rub. We CANNOT do all of this. There are times when we are going to burn the cookies, let the laundry sit, miss a work out class, even a deadline, but what we cannot do is miss time with our circle of female friends. Everything else can be repaired, fixed or redone. This can only happen though if we are centered, happy, relaxed, confident and that comes from our female friends. So stop assuming you are selfish, stop saying you don’t have time and pick up a phone, a pen, a pencil or even your keys and spend real time with your female friends.
I am sure glad I did. And if I don't say it enough THANK YOU for keeping me healthy.
Who keeps you healthy? I'd love to hear the great ways your female friendships have kept you going.
P.S. If you want to read more about how female friendships are good for our health check out some of my sources below. I have also included a book suggestion in the spirit of #bookitforward on theubject. http://www.anapsid.org/cnd/gender