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There has been quite a bit of buzz around LeanIn.org and the Girl Scouts of the USA’s public service campaign Ban Bossy. In full disclosure, I am a CEO of one of the Girl Scout councils.

As you can imagine, the opinions range from supporting a ban on the word “bossy” while others think being “bossy” is synonymous with confidence.

I am fascinated by this discussion because I think everyone can relate on some level. I am sure we’ve called someone bossy, we were called bossy, or we overheard someone being called bossy. In every instance, the word was not meant as a compliment.

Why would anyone think being called bossy is a compliment? Could it be that the definition of the word has been expanded to include positive attributes and less of the “sting” that used to accompany the word?

Through time, the word “bossy” has become more ambiguous to me. I started to feel one would need to be bossy if they were to reach their goals. Perhaps “bossy” meant you were not a pushover and you were capable of standing up for yourself in any situation. Even though I found a way to accept a negatively-charged word, being called “bossy” still did not feel good.

Now that I have a greater understanding of this campaign and have re-evaluated the meaning of the word, I’ve had a change of heart. The campaign encourages us to ban the general and broad use of the word and describe the actual behavior. For instance, if someone is acting aggressive, we should describe the behavior as aggressive instead of “bossy.” “Bossy” is being used to describe both aggressive and assertive behavior. This is why the authors of the articles I read embraced the word “bossy. They thought the word meant assertive.

As a female in an executive leadership position who has the responsibility of hiring, I look for staff, especially women, who are assertive. The assertive women that I know are successful because they work hard to reach their goals. They do not allow anything to get in the way of them succeeding. They stand up for what is important to them even if it is an unpopular opinion.

The Ban Bossy campaign is also addressing how the use of this word is causing girls and young women to shy-away from leadership positions because they do not want to be considered “bossy.” There is a glass ceiling in corporate America. Women are underrepresented in many areas, and the only way that this will change is if girls and young women are not afraid to take leadership roles. If banning this word will encourage girls to lead, count me in! I do not want to see anyone, girl or boy, not succeed because of the use of a word. I remember as a child the saying, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” As an adult, I know that this childhood saying has some flaws, but we cannot let the word “bossy” prevent anyone –especially girls –from being leaders.

Join me and others as we take the pledge to ban “bossy.”

Four business executives having meeting in boardroomForbes magazine published an article that talked about how women receive conflicting messages in the workplace.  The article gives examples of conflicting messages like, “speak up but don’t be pushy” or “lead with confidence but don’t contradict your boss.”

With all these unspoken codes, it’s any wonder that women speak up at all. As we strive to break the glass ceiling and earn the same rate of pay as men, it comes with an inherent set of ground rules that we have to redefine.

There are times in an office setting when your opinion is the unpopular one, but you have to develop the fortitude to share it.  I agree with the author of this article when she said, that women who do not speak up in the workplace contribute to stalled progress in their professional careers.  A leader learns to trust his/her instincts and is willing to accept the consequences of those decisions.

Sometimes as women move up the corporate ladder, many are not interested in mentoring or offering career advice to young women within the organization who are striving to follow in their footsteps. The mindset of “I’ve got mine, now get yours” is unproductive and can set back the progress so many women in our past have fought for.  I’m reminded of the saying that is still relevant today – each one, reach one.  Let’s not allow the unspoken rules in the office silence our creativity, passion, or experience. Let’s avoid living up to the stereotypes of women being jealous and “catty” toward one another and choose to embrace the teamwork and solidarity needed to not only celebrate women’s successes, but to collectively strive to redefine the messages that are being sent in the workplace.

According to the article, our courage to share our thoughts and opinions begins in the classroom. We must teach our children-especially young girls, that it is ok for them to have an opinion and to not be afraid to share it.

As these young girls grow up and join the workplace, they will begin to trust their instincts and ultimately will exhibit the confidence that is respected in the boardroom by their colleagues.

A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” – John C. Maxwell

What About the Children

I recently completed an alarming but beneficial training on how to identify child sexual abuse.  The organization is D2L and their mission is to “To Empower People to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse.”

I walked away from that training with these words ringing in my ear. Who is listening to the voice of our children? Who will speak up for our children? If adults won’t or can’t do it, who will?

Then I was reminded of the chorus of Yolanda Adams’s song “What About the Children” that says,

What about the children
To ignore is so easy
So many innocent children will choose the wrong way
So what about the children
Remember when we were children
And if not for those who loved us and who cared enough to show us
Where would we be today

As the lyrics say, “and if not for those who loved us and who cared enough to show us, where would be today.”  Let’s give our children the chance to experience a childhood filled with laughter, lots of fun, and an environment that allows them to dream!

No matter our role (parent, educator, nurse, coach, etc.), we have an obligation to protect our children from those whose agenda is to take advantage of our youth.

Let’s use our intuition and if something doesn’t appear as it seems, or policies are being compromised, let’s make the conscious choice to speak on behalf of children.

They are counting on us to be their voice.

In the business world, it is not uncommon to hear employees who work in a leadership capacity discuss mentors who were significant in helping them build their careers.

They identified their career goals and were coached on not only what job opportunities to consider, but how to navigate within an organization.

I have had numerous mentors throughout my life. One of them is the reason that I returned to college to earn my Masters of Science in Management and currently serve as a CEO. His insight was invaluable to me. He identified untapped strengths in me and complimented my natural business acumen.

There are several benefits to having a mentor. One in particular is that when you’re charting unfamiliar territory in your personal and/or professional life, someone who has been down that path can point out challenges and “wins” on your journey. They also provide an unbiased perspective to situations and circumstances based on their own professional experiences.

In addition to the guidance that a mentor provides a mentee, there can also be a great sense of accomplishment by helping someone reach their goals.

I recently read an article by Sara Afzal who shared a Boston Globe story written by Billy Baker. In the article, Baker shared how he met and subsequently mentored two underprivileged brothers who attended Boston’s Latin School. In spite of the challenges of their upbringing, one of the brothers was accepted to Yale. This is a great example of what can be achieved when you have a mentor guiding and empowering you to reach your potential.

If you are asking yourself what it takes to be a mentor, I think it takes an interest in helping others and a willingness to be open and honest about your journey. When mentoring children, confidentiality and being able to see the less-than-obvious abilities in a child is “key.” Identifying an untapped skill or helping the child understand that making a bad decision doesn’t define who they are is important.

I know many well-established successful people, who did not have mentors. They set their sights on their goal, met challenges head-on, and didn’t stop until their goal was realized. The irony is while they did not have mentors; they saw the benefits of mentoring and chose to mentor others.

In observance of National Mentoring Month, take a moment and consider what skills, abilities or life’s lessons have you learned that you can share with someone charting a similar path.

“When a young person, even a gifted one, grows up without proximate living examples of what she may aspire to become–whether lawyer, scientist, artist, or leader in any realm–her goal remains abstract. Such models as appear in books or on the news, however inspiring or revered, are ultimately too remote to be real, let alone influential. But a role model in the flesh provides more than inspiration; his or her very existence is confirmation of possibilities one may have every reason to doubt, saying, ‘Yes, someone like me can do this.”  ~Sonia Sotomayor

A Season of Giving

Thanksgiving Feast

The holiday season is right around the corner and I am reminded of Andy Williams’ song, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.”  Great food, good conversation, and spending much needed time with family and friends makes this time of year wonderful. 

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, I happily crossed off of my “to do” list spending quality time with my family.  It was great to slow down from the pace that I keep on a day-to-day basis to reconnect with my family.  I always enjoy reminiscing about the past but it is equally important to also create new memories.  That is why this year I am going to spend my energy recharging and refocusing on those things that are important to me. 

Susan Taylor, Emeritus Editor for Essence Magazine says, “We need quiet time to examine our lives openly and honestly – spending quiet time alone gives your mind an opportunity to renew itself and create order.” 

While we take the time we need to renew ourselves, let’s take a moment to help those in need. Consider volunteering at your local food bank, donating toys to underserved youth, or giving a monetary donation to an organization whose mission aligns with your values.  There are so many worthy organizations that can use your talents to further the organization. 

Mahatma Gandhi said it best, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”

Happy Holidays!

In looking at thcoupleis month’s calendar, October has a lot of nationally recognized days.

While they are all very important causes, I would like to talk about domestic violence awareness month. Historically, domestic violence was widely known to impact women and men, but we are seeing increased abuse against young women in dating situations.

According to Break the Cycle’s website, one in three teens and young adults experience some form of dating abuse. In addition, 56% of teens and young adults report experiencing abuse through digital and social media.

Violence on any level is unthinkable, but violence among youth is extremely troubling. A young woman’s childhood should be a carefree life of fun, friendships and trying new and exciting things.

As parents, educators, community activists, and interested parties, we have to help our youth. We need to explain to these young women that abuse on any level, by any one, is not ok. We need to encourage them to report abuse and to explain that healthy relationships are not hurtful, embarrassing or demeaning.

I’m not sure what the answer is to help our young women, but seeing healthy male/female relationships and building confidence and self-esteem is a start. We can no longer allow these young women to suffer in silence. While they may use makeup to cover bruises or scars, self-esteem can’t be covered up. I also think that as women, we should feel obligated to live healthy lifestyles in front of girls. When you’re healthy and whole, there are challenges and circumstances that may present themselves, but you don’t allow them to permeate your sphere of influence. I recently heard Susan L. Taylor, former Editor-in-Chief of Essence Magazine say, “hurt people, hurt people.” Let’s show the young girls that love doesn’t hurt.

Did you know over 13,000 girls across Western New York joined forces in participating in the world’s largest girl-led business?techgirlsmagsmunchies

From kindergarten to high school seniors — girls have the opportunity to learn business and financial skills that will last a lifetime while also raising money for their organization.   And while building these business skills, Girl Scouts learn to become self-reliant, future leaders.

For more than 100 years, the Girl Scouts have been building leadership in girls.  And as we experience current and future economic challenges it’s important that our children learn basic financial concepts.

To address this gap, the Girl Scout Research Institute conducted a nationwide survey with more than 1,000 girls ages 8−17 and their parents to better understand girls’ level of financial literacy and their confidence about, attitudes towards, and experiences with money. Having It All: Girls and Financial Literacy reveals that girls need and want financial literacy skills to help them achieve their dreams, with 90 percent saying it is important for them to learn how to manage money. However, just 12 percent of girls surveyed feel “very confident” making financial decisions.

How do we increase girls confident in making financial decisions? Girl Scouts does this through the “learning lab” of the product sales program (cookie sale and magazines and munchies sale).

When girls participate in these product sale programs they learn and develop these essential Five Skills:

GOAL SETTING

DECISION MAKING

MONEY MANAGEMENT

PEOPLE SKILLS

BUSINESS ETHICS

My son turned sixteen last month.  I, like other parents of teenagers know that our teens’ “want list” increases dramatically in cost. Not a bike but a car; not a pair of “boat shoes”, but Sperry’s; not a fishing pole, but a boat.  So it is up to us parents to give them the knowledge and discipline they need to be financially responsible.

Fundraising involves terms such as selling, price, cost, and profit.  All these terms are valuable to the financial literacy of our children.

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