Discovering Your Strengths

By Linda Franklin

Charlotte Beers is a titan of the advertising industry. She’s graced the cover of Fortune magazine as one of the most powerful women in business, worked for Presidential administrations, and currently serves on the Board of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia.

In this video of her TEDx talk, Charlotte shares many insights about discovering your strengths, learning from your background and doing what needs to be done. She’s a very smart lady.

The Real Cougar Woman is a 5-carat diamond who knows the importance of taking care of her health, beauty, relationships, finances and spirituality. Linda Franklin says, ”there’s no stopping a woman who has a strong belief system, passion and a dream. All things are possible”. Linda’s book, Don’t Ever Call Me Ma’am helps women of all ages tap into their power and live life to the fullest.

Man’s View On The Old Double Standard

Mans View of the Old Double Standard Linda Franklin The Real Cougar WomanI received the email below from a young man who had some very nice things to say about The Real Cougar Woman blog and especially the old double standard that I write about so often. Take a look and see if you agree.

Dear Linda:

I came across your blog and I am inspired by your work. You are a true leader and a true force of progress in society.

I am one of these men who have always been attracted to older women but almost all of the time yielded to the social pressures and dynamics and dated women my age. The double standards you so eloquently speak of are not only destructive to women. But to men too.
I am older (39yo) and a little wiser now and if time were to go back I would have done things very differently.

I could share some of my I stories but I am sure it is nothing you haven’t heard before. I see the double standards you speak of around me all the time. At work and beyond. In my work, I serve in some mid-level management role at a fortune-100 company. It is not a very high position but it still high enough to see see what you speak of around me at work all the time. I have seen women denied leadership positions they deserve when they’re more qualified and by far make better project managers and even better managers overall. I have seen women work so quietly and patiently without expecting any rewards. Work which is taken for granted and which when done by men is immediately recognized. I have seen all that and I have seen much more. Yet there is no place where the double standards are hurtful and even destructive to society than the realm of male-female unions and relationships. An older man having a relationship with a younger woman is turned into a hero even if there is zero track record of any substance to these relationships throughout history. An older woman having a real relationship with a younger man where they so effortlessly and naturally connect on every level (intellectually, emotionally, and sexually) and it is considered a criminal act by society with the couple vilified, scorned, and turned into social outcasts.

I loved your piece about Angela Merkel BTW. If only the whole world was run by Angela Merkels. If she were a man, fairy tales of her glory and statesmanship, and economic genius would fill the airwaves, be written in about countless books etc etc. The world hates women leaders. That is the sad truth. But with more voices like yours maybe society would change. Maybe the world would change. If one thinks of the changes that happened over the last 40years, one can hope that the changes needed here are not impossible. Humanity will eventually see the light sooner or late. Perhaps one day most of of the fortune 500 would be run women as they should be. Perhaps then too it would be celebrated with no reservations when a 45yo woman marries a 29yo man. Perhaps then it would be such an ordinary and frequent event that people would look back with amazement and amusement at the time when the world was up-side-down. It can happen and thanks to you it will.

With love and affection,
M.

The Real Cougar Woman is a 5-carat diamond who knows the importance of taking care of her health, beauty, relationships, finances and spirituality. Linda Franklin says, ”there’s no stopping a woman who has a strong belief system, passion and a dream. All things are possible”. Linda’s book, Don’t Ever Call Me Ma’am helps women of all ages tap into their power and live life to the fullest.

All Men Don’t Hate Women

Laurie Penny makes a powerful point – not all men hate women BUT all men benefit from female inequality:

By Linda Franklin

This is going to hurt. In the past few months, it has been almost impossible to open a newspaper or turn on a television without encountering a story about another underage girl being raped, another female politician harassed, another trans woman murdered. But as women, girls and a growing number of male allies start speaking out against sexism and injustice, a curious thing is happening: some people are complaining that speaking about prejudice is itself a form of prejudice.
These days, before we talk about misogyny, women are increasingly being asked to modify our language so we don’t hurt men’s feelings. Don’t say, “Men oppress women” – that’s sexism, as bad as any sexism women ever have to handle, possibly worse. Instead, say, “Some men oppress women.” Whatever you do, don’t generalize. That’s something men do. Not all men – just some men.
Most of us grew up learning that being a good girl was all about putting other people’s feelings ahead of our own. We aren’t supposed to say what we think if there’s a chance it might upset somebody else or, worse, make them angry. So we stifle our speech with apologies, caveats and soothing sounds. We reassure our friends and loved ones that “you’re not one of those men who hate women”.
What we don’t say is: of course not all men hate women. But culture hates women, so men who grow up in a sexist culture have a tendency to do and say sexist things, often without meaning to. We aren’t judging you for who you are but that doesn’t mean we’re not asking you to change your behavior. What you feel about women in your heart is of less immediate importance than how you treat them on a daily basis.
You can be the gentlest, sweetest man in the world yet still benefit from sexism. That’s how oppression works. Thousands of otherwise decent people are persuaded to go along with an unfair system because it’s less hassle that way. The appropriate response when somebody demands a change in that unfair system is to listen, rather than turning away or yelling, as a child might, that it’s not your fault. And it isn’t your fault. I’m sure you’re lovely. That doesn’t mean you don’t have a responsibility to do something about it.
You can choose, as a man, to help create a fairer world for women – and for men, too. You can choose to challenge misogyny and sexual violence wherever you see them. You can choose to take risks and spend energy supporting women, promoting women, treating the women in your life as true equals. You can choose to stand up and say no and, every day, more men and boys are making that choice. The question is – will you be one of them?
The Real Cougar Woman is a 5-carat diamond who knows the importance of taking care of her health, beauty, relationships, finances and spirituality. Linda Franklin says, ”there’s no stopping a woman who has a strong belief system, passion and a dream. All things are possible”. Linda’s book, Don’t Ever Call Me Ma’am helps women of all ages tap into their power and live life to the fullest.

Office Romances – Do They Ever Work Out?

by Linda Franklin 

Risky Business

We spend so much time working, it comes as no surprise, that office affairs are on the rise.  Apparently, one in four office workers gets romantically involved with a colleague at some point in time. And, one in ten are having sex somewhere in the workplace.

In any sexual encounter it takes two to tango.   But why is it that the woman is the one who ends up holding the short end of the stick?

Apparently, the old double standard is alive and well in the workplace, so when an office romance ends up on the rocks it’s the man who gets to hold onto his job. The old boys club sticks together. Even though it’s completely biased, the woman who has had an affair with a colleague is  regarded with more prejudice than the man she has been sleeping with.

So, knowing all of the pitfalls, why are so many women throwing caution to the wind?  Sometimes it’s just too  irresistible to pass up.   It started  with an innocent flirtation, and the attention she is getting is exciting.   Someone is telling her how pretty and how sexy she is.  And, we can’t forget the power factor.  Power is one of the greatest aphrodisiacs there is for both men and women..  A man or woman who is smart, confident and successful is a definite turn on.

Temptations are all around you.  Be careful and be smart.  You’ve heard it before it’s never a good idea to play where your bread is buttered. 

The Real Cougar Woman is a 5-carat diamond who knows the importance of taking care of her health, beauty, relationships, finances and spirituality. Linda Franklin says,”there is no stopping a woman who has a strong belief system, passion and a dream. All things are possible”. Linda’s book, Don’t Ever Call Me Ma’am helps women of all ages tap into their power and live life to the fullest.

Six Paradoxes Women Leaders Face in 2013

by Jill Flynn, Kathryn Heath, and Mary Davis Holt  

 

Six Paradoxes Women Leaders Face in 2013 The Real Cougar WomanEasing into the New Year, one big hope we have for 2013 is that women continue to bridge the gender gap in terms of pay equality and access to leadership positions. So much of the news was good last year: women were better educated than ever, we continued to claim coveted CEO roles at companies such as IBM and Yahoo, and one study even reported that women were the primary breadwinners in a majority of households in the US. That sounds like progress.

Yet, in order to clear a path for greater advancement and parity in 2013, we need to address the difficult paradoxes that women leaders continue to face — these are the mixed messages and uncomfortable realities that complicate an arguably positive picture of progress.

1. The Pay Paradox. According to the latest figures, women are better educated than ever, earning almost 60 percent of all college degrees. Yet, we are paid 23% less than men on average. Some of the gap can be attributed to career choice: more women than men choose to go into teaching and social work, for example, which pay less relative to “male” professions such as finance and technology. But career choice does not fully explain The Pay Paradox. An analysis of full-time workers 10 years out of college, for instance, found a 12 percent difference in earnings that was entirely unexplained by choice of profession. The bottom line is that progress in wage equity has hit a wall.

2. The Double-Bind Paradox. Women must project gravitas in order to advance at work, yet they also need to retain their “feminine mystique” in order to be liked. Perhaps surprisingly, of all the stereotypes that women encounter, this is the one that most women tell us about in coaching situations. Research by Catalyst confirms that gender stereotypes make it difficult for female leaders to feel comfortable taking a commanding stance because they are perceived as either competent orliked — but rarely both. As Forbes recently noted, “Studies show that assertive women are more likely to be perceived as aggressive; that women usually don’t ask for what they deserve but when they do, they risk being branded as domineering or, worse even, “ambitious.” These are the double-bind dilemmas that we as a society need to banish before women can contribute fully within organizations.

3. The Promotion Paradox. It is as plain as day that women are equally qualified to lead in terms of skill and talent, yet we capture far fewer job slots at the top. Only four percent of the CEOs in Fortune’s top 1,000 companies are female and less than 20 percent of Congress is female. Even worse, progress has been relatively flat over the past several years. This is a sticky wicket because there are a dozen different ways to explain this sad situation and each one rings true to some extent: Women are less aggressive than men in stepping up to ask for the big jobs they want. Men at the top are more likely to pull other men up by their collars into the C-suite to join them. Women have fewer leadership role models and they arguably have greater demands outside of work competing for their attention.

Regardless of whether the mitigating factor is discrimination, the leadership pipeline, society, or something altogether different, the extreme disparity of women versus men at the highest levels provides fuel for many of us to push harder. Unfortunately, it also leads many of us wonder if the struggle for career parity is truly worth it. The effect is that the pool of qualified female candidates for top jobs gets smaller when the best women leave to raise families or pursue part-time work or other endeavors.

4. The Networking Paradox. Women are consummate relationship builders, yet we don’t use our contacts to get ourselves promoted. The women we coach say that time spent networking with each other leaves them feeling renewed. It gives them the strength to face the day, the next meeting, or the next crisis. Social exchange not only grounds women but it also allows them to share information and solutions to the common problems they face. Yet, our strong social networks also represent a tremendous, untapped opportunity. Men network in a much more transactional way — they exchange business ideas and establish a quid pro quo of career favors. They actively seek out sponsors and they ask for jobs. For women, networking is largely social. We are not as effective as men at using our strong networks to advance our careers. Women spend more time interacting with each other, yet we fail to ask for favors. In short, we hesitate to trade on our relationships because it feels crass. What this means for 2013 is that women have a huge opportunity to convert their connections into career advancement.

5. The Start Up Paradox. Women make great entrepreneurs, yet we have a tougher time getting VC backing. A 2012 analysis by Dow Jones VentureSource shows that women launch nearly half of all startups and the most successful startups have more women in senior positions than unsuccessful ones. Yet, despite these findings, less than seven percent of executives at the 20,000+ companies in the Dow Jones study were women. This tells us that the gender gap is even more pronounced in venture-funded start-ups than in corporate America. This points to the scarcity of women pursuing careers in technology and science, as well as the need for venture firms to wake up and acknowledge the leadership potential of female entrepreneurs.

6. The Careful-What-You-Wish-For Paradox. Women have more opportunities to work today, yet they are opting-out in high numbers. It has been nearly a decade since Lisa Belkin’s article “The Opt-Out Revolution” made headlines in 2003, yet recent statistics illustrate that more women than ever aspire to walk away from work to stay home full-time to raise children. This paradox underscores the reality that women today still feel pressure to have it all and can become stressed and discouraged when that dream is revealed to be impossible. All women (and many men) feel the pressure from conflicting priorities, yet when good women leave work it is organizations that suffer the most. Study after study proves that companies with more women board members perform better.

These paradoxes are important to address for a great many reasons — fairness being the most obvious. But even beyond creating a fair and just system that allows more women into the leadership pipeline, the practical problem created by mixed messages is that it robs women of confidence and squashes their desire to jump into the fray and become leaders. The world needs the best qualified women to step up to the plate, and women need to be able to weave their way through these most difficult of challenges.

Yet, the fact is that these paradoxes are not going to disappear in a year. What, then, is the solution in the short terms? The women we coach who manage to sustain and fuel their ambition amid so many mixed messages use two tools.

First, they remain true to their own leadership style. The skills that many women bring to business naturally — a collaborative style, a talent for listening, and a natural ability to manage interpersonal relationships — are some of the aptitudes that all leaders need now and in the future. Women don’t need to imitate men in order to be persuasive and authoritative, they simply need to be authentic. Second, we coach women to have their own definition of success. The reality is that, historically, men have been the ones to define ambition — and so that leaves it to women to redefine it for themselves in 2013. When we ask women what ambition looks like to them it runs the gamut, from becoming the CEO to leaving the corporate ladder behind altogether to start a small business. If ambition leads one woman to Wall Street it may lead another to Silicon Valley. Who is to say which of these endeavors will require more ambition or have more impact?

These paradoxes and others mean different things to different people. What did they mean to you this year?\

The Real Cougar Woman is a 5-carat diamond who knows the importance of taking care of her health, beauty, relationships, finances and spirituality. Linda Franklin says, ”there is no stopping a woman who has a strong belief system, passion and a dream. All things are possible”. Linda’s book, Don’t Ever Call Me Ma’am helps women of all ages tap into their power and live life to the fullest.

Obama Elected By Women – Now It’s Time For Payback

By Barbara Hannah Grufferman

Obama Elected By Women - Now It's Time For Payback   The Real Cougar WomanThis week, the women of America spoke with a voice that was loud, clear and unified, and it is now universally acknowledged that our votes helped President Obama win the election.

President Obama and his team worked very hard to convince us that he needed more time to ‘be the change’. In the end, even in the face of severe economic problems and worrisome doubt about his abilities to push America back from the brink, we gave it to him.

We even have an historic number of women in the Senate — 20 — no doubt also helped by women’s votes.

Women have a vision of a different America: an America that shows its citizens — by actions and not just political lip — that every single one of us is equal in the eyes of the law, regardless of gender, race, religion, politics or sexual orientation. It is an America led by brave men and women who will step up to the plate, work to unite this divided nation and start the healing so we can rebuild our economy, create more jobs and bolster our standing in the world once again.

What’s more, we want to go to sleep at night knowing that in the morning, our bodies will still belong to us, go to work every day and get the same amount of money in our paycheck each week as our male colleagues and rest easy knowing that we are protected by the U.S. Constitution.

That’s where the payback comes in.

To read Barbara’s entire article in the Huffington Post click here.  Find out what needs to be done.

The Real Cougar Woman is a 5-carat diamond who knows the importance of taking care of her health, beauty, relationships, finances and spirituality. Linda Franklin says,”there is no stopping a woman who has a strong belief system, passion and a dream. All things are possible”. Linda’s book, Don’t Ever Call Me Ma’am helps women of all ages tap into their power and live life to the fullest.

 

The Naked Truth About Working From Home

The Naked Truth About Working From Home Linda Franklin The Real Cougar WomanWorking from home definitely has it’s advantages.  How many of us have spent the entire day working in our PJ’s or have jumped out of the shower to take a business call totally naked?  Some people even admit to taking client calls while sitting on the john.
I had been working in an office since I was 19. I loved the routine and it took me a long time to get used to working at home when I left Wall Street. One thing I learned very quickly is – it takes lots of discipline when you only have to answer to yourself.  And home offers tons of distractions.
I am my own boss so I really don’t have anyone to answer to, but lots of people working from home are working for companies that offer that perk. So are these folks being entirely honest about time spent working on company business?
The findings of a poll conducted by electronic cigarette retailer ecigarettedirect.co.uk  revealed that 72 per cent of home workers surveyed catch up on household chores on their company’s time.

And nearly a third admit they had done their food or clothes shopping while technically ‘at work’.

A healthy four in ten of those questioned admitted to visiting the gym or doing some other form of exercise while in ‘the office’, but for 15 per cent the best perk was being able to smoke in the ‘office’, with many saying they engineered days away from the workplace just for that reason.

One respondent said: ‘The problem with working from home is the lines and divisions between private and professional life become blurred. ‘It’s easy to forget you’re meant to be working, especially if your partner is home as well.’  Nothing better than a little afternoon delight.

Another said: ‘I love to go shopping during work time because I can get my chores done instead of having to do them on the weekend when the supermarket is so much busier.

I must admit that I have gotten used to the flexibility of working from my home office and yes I do get easily distracted.  But bottom line –  whatever I need to get done – gets done.

The Real Cougar Woman is a 5-carat diamond who knows the importance of taking care of her health, beauty, relationships, finances and spirituality. Linda Franklin says,”there is no stopping a woman who has a strong belief system, passion and a dream. All things are possible”. Linda’s book, Don’t Ever Call Me Ma’am helps women of all ages tap into their power and live life to the fullest.