Saturday, July 11, 2015

Sorry, Not Sorry...

What is it about us women, and our propensity to apologize for everything, from asking a question to just breathing? What is it about our language where it is acceptable to use words like bossy, nag, feisty, hysterical, catty, and tart to describe women, and for men we use words like leader, determined, passionate, disagreeable, and player?

Ever since I read Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg, I've become more aware of the language used by both women and men. Specifically, the language used between women and men as they interact. The diagram below is the result of my non-scientific observations, over the past few years.
These observations are gleaned from my work environment, as well as from other business environments of which I've had the privilege to take part over the years. To be fair, there are certainly exceptions in every environment.  The men and women who treat each other in a truly professional manner, are the superstars of most organizations. They are easy to spot and people tend to gravitate toward them. Others want to be around them, people want to learn from them, and they emit an energy of confidence, strength, and others feel safe in their presence. They are the opposite of the "energy suckers." You feel good when you are around them and you're not afraid to fail. You know if you do fail, you'll be coached to succeed in the future. Why? Because these people have confidence in your ability, and most of all, they are not threatened by your presence.

On the other hand, there are plenty of men (and women) who are threatened by the presence of strong personalities. So, those of us who are on the receiving end of this dysfunction, tend to apologize and make every effort to help everyone else save face.

So, although there are plenty of exceptions, there are not enough exceptions to water down the fact that our culture of how men treat women is sexist, and we allow it to continue. As poor as the behavior is of the men who are demeaning to women, it is the women (and other men who bear witness) who allow it to continue. We must take responsibility for allowing people to treat us as they do.

We live in a culture where we permit bad behavior to continue. Rather than address the problems head-on, we adjust our own behaviors in order to avoid the discomfort. Similar to bullying, bystanders are less likely to jump in and say something for fear that they will become a part of the situation and potential target for the bully, as well.

And that's where the misplaced apologizing usually surfaces.

In 2012, The Women’s Media Center (WMC) which was co-founded by Jane Fonda, Robin Morgan, and Gloria Steinem to make women visible and powerful in media, published a user-guide for members of the media to help them identify sexism and stories biased against women so that sexism doesn’t remain a barrier for women elected to office. The glossary at the end of the document is an especially interesting read.

The WMC research shows that sexist media coverage results in a drastic decrease of voter confidence in women candidates. This is similar to studies of bullying, in which people are less likely to identify with those negatively treated in public, due to the conscious or unconscious fear that such bullying or negative public characterization will then include them as bystanders and supporters. The ever-changing media landscape creates an unmonitored and often not fact-checked echo chamber, habitually allowing damaging comments to influence opinion without accountability. Name It. Change It. was launched to hold media outlets accountable for their role in our government’s gender disparity; women make up only 17 percent of Congress and 23 percent of state legislatures. Name It. Change It. identifies and publicizes sexist media coverage of women candidates and political leaders of all races. This project is also race-conscious in its understanding of stereotyping as it is used against various groups of women. 
-Source: The Women's Media Center 
The Pantene ad below illustrates how women typically apologize for situations where they should not be sorry. The 2nd video, hits it out of the ballpark, with Amy Schumer's parody of women apologizing for... you know.... existing.

Are you sorry? Next time you apologize, ask yourself what you are apologizing for, then consciously think of a different way you will approach that same situation next time. Because it will come up again, you can be sure of that.

Thursday, June 04, 2015

Intellectual Property - What's The Big Deal?

My favorite Explainers do it again. This is a terrific video that explains intellectual property. Thanks to @commoncraft

This video follows the story of a creative and talented woman named Candice who plays music, invented a new instrument, and created a new business. Using copyright, patent and trademark laws, she learned to how to protect and build a business from her creations.
It teaches:
• Why intellectual property is different from physical property
• The risk of not establishing and protecting ownership
• Why copyright law matters in selling and managing your creative works
• Why patent law matters in protecting your inventions
• Why trademark law matters in protecting your brand

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Study Tips to Improve Memory

The following is a (collaborative) guest post from Mentoring Minds. (See Disclosure.)

Whether studying for a spelling test in elementary school or the final examination in a college class, everyone must spend time studying at some point in their lives. Most parents are well aware how difficult it is to get children to study and, for some students, studying does not always lead to success. Test anxiety can be difficult for some students and there are some who have difficult retaining what they do study. These tips, some of which are unique, can help students improve their memory and help them improve scores.

Reward Yourself with Treats

If studying requires reading textbooks, place a small treat on each paragraph (such as Starburst, M&Ms or gummy bears). When the child finishes the paragraph, give the next treat. Place the treat so that the words in the center of the paragraph are covered to encourage the child to begin reading the next paragraph before getting the treat.

Teach Others

Experts say that the best way to know if you have learned a subject well is to try to teach it to others. College or high school students can try to teach parents or siblings some of the concepts they are learning. Set up a classroom for elementary students with stuffed animals, dolls, or other ‘students’ as well as parents and have them “teach” their spelling words, math problems, or history lessons to someone else. Blow the dust off your video camera (or just use your smartphone) and have your child make a video tutorial. Just point it at your child while he/she explains a concept. Then upload it to a video sharing site such as SchoolTube and share it with others, so they can benefit from the explanation. Here's an example of an easy way to make a video tutorial. Thanks to David Fisher and his students for this timeless example.

Create an Association

Steve Jobs often said that “Creativity is just connecting things.” When people are able to connect things they are able to retain the information more easily. When students must learn vocabulary words, connect the word to something that they will remember. For example, the word ‘arduous’ means difficult. If the child remembers it as something silly like “harduous” they may retain the information more easily.
Use Blocking Apps

There are many apps available that will allow students to block distracting websites, such as social media or email. High school and college students benefit most from apps that block sites that can easily distract them. Consider downloading a blocking app in order to keep minds from wandering. Here's a couple to get you started.


Although they are often considered “old school” for studying, flashcards are still an excellent way for students to learn new information or refresh information they have already learned. Use 3x5 or 4x6 index cards, write the question on one side and the answer on the other. The student views the question while someone else views the answer. Students can even use them to study alone by placing them on a table with the answer side down. If you prefer (and I do) use online flashcards. Here's a list of some great online flashcard sites where you can create, and share, your own. Thanks to Richard Byrne over at for curating the best stuff on the web.

Documentary or Mini Series

Today, many networks and studios are creating documentaries, movies, and mini-series on historical events. In addition, many networks, such as Discovery, SciFi and others like Netflix, Hulu, and other on-demand apps, often carry documentaries on educational subjects. Consider watching one in order to get a better grasp of the subject matter, whether it is Tudor England or physics. Don't stop there! Have your child recreate an historical moment and record it on video. Ask "What if" questions such as "What would the United States be like if the North did not win the Civil War?" or "What would be different about our world if people were not allowed to create art?"

These simple tips can help students increase their memory and help them improve their test scores. For more information on learning, visit
Mentoring Minds online today.

Sunday, January 04, 2015

Two Tips for Rebooting Your Self-Talk

This may be the beginning of a series of personal and very vulnerable posts. It is the beginning of a journey for me that will be difficult, but should have started years ago. Maybe together we can figure some things out together, or maybe this one isolated blogpost will hang alone on the tree branch of my online space; dangling and just waiting for enough wind to blow it onto the ground, where it will decompose, and then turn back into earth. 

Soon, there will be some big changes in my life that will be positive, but scary at the same time. 

I like the idea of sharing my journey online, but I make no promises on frequency, because the thought of committing to anything right now is too overwhelming. My #1 goal is to keep overwhelming things at bay. 

People tell me that they see me as confident, engaging, and smart. Some tell me they see me as attractive and funny. Often times, I don't take ownership of those things. (More on why in future posts. Maybe.) I know I need to remind myself often to step up, smile, engage, be confident, and be stronger. Mostly I need to remind myself to take deep breaths, because sometimes I find myself holding my breath. 

I know there are other women and men who feel the same way, and may be going through the same things. So, I offer two "tricks" I use that are easy and helpful. I hope you will add your own ideas in the comments, so we can help and support each other. 

  1. Let your password be a mantra for you. Every time you log in to a computer, device, network, email, and hundreds of other services every day, you have to repeat something in your head. Make that "something" work for you. Consider: "5tay_P0sitiv3" or "fear.nOth1ng" Go to and create a mantra AND a secure password at the same time.

  2. Download HotPaw Morse Code Ringtone Maker. You type in any word or phrase and it creates a ringtone or text tone in Morse Code. (Who knows Morse Code? Nobody, which is exactly the point. YOU WILL know what it says every time you get a text.) 
I hope to hear from you in the comments. Let's make it a happy new year.

Creative Commons LicensePhoto Credit: Lee Kolbert 2015 (Central Park NYC 2015)
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Another Chance to Win Big and Teach Fiscal Responsibility At The Same Time

Disclosure Statement

H&R Block thinks personal finance education is so important, They're paying people to learn.

You may recall a previous post of mine from early September 2014, where I shared a terrific program put out by H&R Block. Well, another session is coming up and I want to remind my readers about this great opportunity.

Everyone knows money doesn't grow on trees. At least they will if H&R Block has any say in it. By learning strong budgeting skills and fiscal discipline early, kids can gain the knowledge and confidence to manage their own financial future. The free H&R Block Budget Challenge encourages students to learn personal finance in a fun, engaging way while competing against other classrooms and students for $3 million in classroom grants and student scholarships.

Money smarts + classroom grants + student scholarships = 1 challenge worth taking

THE H&R BLOCK BUDGET CHALLENGE Is fun, free, and students love it. Participants encounter real-world personal budgeting situations, problem-solving, and decision-making through an online simulation and accompanying lessons that meet national standards. With sessions October through April, teachers have six opportunities to participate.

The Budget Challenge is open to students 14 years of age or older and enrolled full-time in grades 9 through 12.

Teachers must register classrooms to play The Budget Challenge. Teachers simply visit to begin the classroom registration process. Registration closes one week before the simulation start date, so be sure to sign up before it's too late. Read the FAQs here! 

Quotes from teachers who previously participated: 

"My kids love this challenge. Everyday they are engaged and want to learn more about personal finance—and, more importantly, they are becoming more financially literate." 
"I must thank you for the wonderful resource this simulation is and how useful I'm sure it is going to be for their future financial success. They are checking on their status in class all the time, even when it isn't our scheduled activity. Those who have downloaded the app have found it incredibly useful and convenient as well." 
My Juniors and Seniors do this for a Project grade every Wed. and Fri. We have a good time with this "bonding" experience and there is great laughter as well as dread when they have late fees! I really appreciate the people who put this challenge together. It is wonderful to witness them learning about "real life!" 
"The Personal Finance teachers at our school have incorporated this simulation into our daily class procedures. The students (and teachers) love the real-world components and valuable lessons to be learned. We are very grateful to have this free resource to help students better understand financial responsibility."  
"I am so thankful that you guys have put together such a wonderful curriculum for teens. Every time I am out and someone asks what I do and I tell them I teach financial literacy to teenagers they all say "I wish they had that class when I was growing up." Thank you for everything you do!"
I hope you will participate and share the information with others who may be interested as well.

Disclosure Statement