Book Review

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I recently attended a time management seminar, and the core idea was to break down the entrepreneur’s time into a systematized workweek of 1-hour blocks, allocated in certain ways. I’ve spent 10 years professionally helping mostly women with time management, and I was one of the first true work-at-home employees over 20 years ago, when the internet was still new and shiny, and “logging on” meant listening to a symphony of computer clicks and chirps at 64 baud. So I know a little about working, working whenever and wherever, and working when family demands your attention. I know this traditional approach of managing your life in tidy 1-hour blocks doesn’t work as well on the road as it does on paper.

If you, also, are a busy women looking for time management answers, check out the latest book I’ve read on this topic, called “Overwhelmed:  Work Love and Play When No One Has the Time” by Brigid Schulte.

For some people the issue is needing more structure and discipline in their lives, and I love it when they show up in my client base, because my job is then easy.  We just fill in a calendar with one-hour blocks as traditional teachers on time management will propose, and away they go. BUT THAT NEVER HAPPENS. The real problem is what Schulte pinpoints as “contaminated time” or “fractured time”, which is the modern expectation to work from anywhere, seamlessly, and still hold down the home front. This is mostly a female problem, magnified in households where there are young children, and quite different from what most men experience. This is not chauvinistic, just the facts.

Some folks can still operate and succeed in this world of contaminated time, and some feel constant and unmanageable stress from it. The idea that our day can be broken down into 1-hour blocks of time is hilarious. Even 30 minute or 15 minute blocks are hard to come by (although one strategy that I help my clients with is to create those 15 minute blocks, using an audible timer while removing or  shutting off all other distractions for brief bursts of time, repeating them over and over in rapid fire to create larger blocks of time).

I think Schulte’s book is an important addition to the modern library. You’ll hear Schulte describing, sometimes with real, justified anger, what the family has to go through in America. Most women I know and work with are exactly what Schulte describes…successful professionals who had to make drastic changes, sometimes “dropping out” and re-inventing a new career path in order to find a spot where they could re-fashion their calendars to allow for the demands of a family that needed them to be there for sick days, snow days, and horribly expensive childcare situations.

Women will read this book and feel relief; their “contaminated” and “fractured” calendars aren’t a symptom of their inadequacy, but rather a symptom of modern life. Men can benefit from this sometimes raw description of how their wives, daughters, and co-workers are juggling too much. There isn’t one solution to this epidemic, but rather a series of small steps to recognize the problem and manage it for every phase of your life. Read Schulte’s book through to the end, and then develop your own plan to manage the time challenges in your own life.

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If you are looking for proof that Lynn Bardowski’s book, “Success Secrets of a Million $ Party Girl,” is a serious book, there it is, right on page 84, with her tip to “get a crock-pot”. As she says, “As long as your family is fed, they will let you do what you have to do.” Truer words were never spoken.

Lynn shares truths from her rise to a million dollar business owner over the last decades in order to encourage other women. I’ve known Lynn for years, but only in reading this book did I learn how similar our backgrounds are. We both spent years in corporate sales. We both considered our hot pink suit to be our power suit. We both raised (I’m still in the midst of) two girls. And we both absolutely love what we do. That last one is pretty important, because it’s awful to work for yourself doing something you don’t love.

Lynn’s book is full of good, tactical advice, like her reading lists on page 13.  She advises women to read, read, read.  Think and Grow Rich and How to Win Friends and Influence People are the two basics, but she goes on to list many of her favorite “can do” books.

She gets you excited not just for the idea of building a business, but building one that can create aundance for others, and not just the people who work for her. Her vision of prosperity goes well beyond your own home office.

 Think about the impact on the economy and the abundance my vision created.  That includes supermarkets that sold food that was serves at the parties, lighters purchased to light the candles, purchases made with the income entrepreneurs earned, etc. It’s a ripple that just keeps on going! And that doesn’t even count the number of UPS workers that delivered the products!

By chapter 10, I was thinking, “Who can I pass this book on to?  Who else needs to read this?”  Chapter 10, you see, is entitled, “Your business Is Your Life”.  The leading quote is “No one ever dies from sleeping in an unmade bed” from Erma Bombeck.  Not even this professional organizer will tell you to stress about the little things when there is so much life to be lived!

Lynn’s story of how a cell phone, sister-in-law, and candles collided to send this career gal into a totally new orbit is a quick read. And if you’re looking for a boost in the right direction, a little encouragement from someone who’s been there, you’ll pick up your copy quickly.

Available in paperback:

And available for your Kindle:

(Affiliate links included)

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I just finished reading the book Quiet:  The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain.  It is a must read for many of us introverts, closet introverts, socialized introverts, and those who love them.

My first real job out of college, I later found out, the managers all expected that I would fail quickly.  I was too quiet for sales, or at least that’s what they thought.  It turns out that being quiet has power and allows for a different level of engagement.  (I went on to rise to management and a very healthy salary in the 12 years that I worked at that company, by the way.)

Many women, I believe, are concerned with their ability to succeed in their own business or someone else’s because they are introverts, hate to sell, and can’t stand to do the pressing-flesh networking events that seem so necessary to get ahead.  No need to stress about it, says Cain.  Just make a “Free Trait Agreement” with yourself.  She outlines exactly what this is leading up to page 222 of the book. Basically, it’s a concession that you make with yourself or someone else, allowing yourself to do a certain number of activities outside of your comfort zone in exchange for allowing yourself to spend more time comfortably in your natural state, which might be solitude or comtemplative time.

On page 222, she uses the example of a woman who wants to build a small business, work for home, and take a more active role in the daily life at home, but hates to do the necessary networking that will allow her to grow a business to the right size to accomplish staying at home.  She suggests, “make a Free Trait Agrrement with yourself: you will go to one schmooze-fest per week.  At each event you will have at least one genuine conversation (since this comes easier to you than “working the room”) and follow up with that person the next day.  After that, you get to go home and not feel bad when you turn down other networking opportunities that come your way.” 

This is great advice, and something that all of us, even the die-hard introverts who absolutely hate to sell, can practice.  The key is making the agreement that allows you to spend time where your personality is fulfilled.

There are lots of other gems in this book, including the validating estimate that 1/3 to 1/2 of the people in any room are an introvert. 

Go read:

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New Book Alert:                                            Mastering The Mommy Track: Juggling Career and Kids in Uncertain Times

by

Erin Flynn Jay

 

ADVICE FOR WORKING MOMS TO GET THROUGH UNCERTAIN TIMES AND ACHIEVE HAPPINESS AT WORK AND HOME:

–Publicity expert addresses struggles working moms face during economic downturn and solutions to overcome them

 

         Many working mothers today face great tension between their families and careers. They are more likely than men to feel pressed for time and conflicted about being away from young children while working. They are also more likely to seek out help or guidance.

         In Mastering the Mommy Track: Juggling Career and Kids in Uncertain Times (ISBN 978-1780991238, 2012, John Hunt Publishing, 206 pages, $19.95, available on Amazon), Erin Flynn Jay tells the stories of everyday working mothers, the challenges they have faced and lessons learned. She also offers solutions from experts on how mothers can overcome current issues in order to lead happy, healthy lives at home and work.

         The Great Recession has had a deep impact on working mothers; this book delves into the issues these mothers have faced and timely solutions to overcome them. The Great Recession saw women working harder than ever before to support their families, many being the sole breadwinner while Dad stayed at home, caring for young kids. Many women also experienced burnout and depression, putting their children and spouse’s needs above their own.

         A 2010 Pew Research survey found that 30 months after it began, the Great Recession has led to a downsizing of Americans’ expectations about their retirements and their children’s future; a new frugality in their spending and borrowing habits; and a concern that it could take several years, at a minimum, for their house values and family finances to recover.

         As we gradually recover from the economic slowdown, women are seeking to reclaim their lives. Mastering the Mommy Track helps them do this, offering timely case studies and solutions that work.

         The dozen chapters each address critical issues women grapple with including: parenting, financial, time management, romance, psychological and nutrition/health. Mastering the Mommy Track, while not grim, takes a serious approach, telling the tales of women who have struggled through the economic downturn to achieve a new working attitude.

The need for such a book has become greater as the US economy still sputters along with national unemployment over 8 percent and 100 million Americans without jobs. “When shaping this book, I thought of 12 trigger areas that cause working mothers anxiety today–these became my chapters,” said Flynn Jay. “This was based on my personal experience, research, and feedback from friends and acquaintances.”        

Through a thoughtful and moving read, Mastering The Mommy Track touches on timely topics including:  

  • Unprecedented challenges moms face during this weak economy
  • Advice for getting through these uncertain times
  • The added stress unemployment and lower income brings
  • How mothers can take their careers to the next level–even with active home lives
  • Why many moms are resentful of their partners
  • Why moms must carve out more personal time for themselves

      “Many families across the country are still struggling to make ends meet, and parents are often too afraid to speak publicly about it. The middle class is facing poverty and many are fighting to survive. Our generation is very different than the one we were raised in,” added Flynn Jay. “My book offers insight that will help working moms improve their personal lives and careers. It is a juggling act to balance home and work duties, and for a lot of women in 2012, it’s a walk on a tightrope–a fear their families will never experience the rewards (vacation, travel, time off) they so rightfully deserve.”

About the author:

Erin Flynn Jay is a writer and public relations executive.

Since 2001, Erin has been promoting authors of new books and small businesses in all industries. Erin has expertise in successfully obtaining print, online and broadcast media placements for experts and authors. She has established on-going partnerships with other public relations agencies and teams with them on projects when her PR and writing skills are needed.

Erin’s articles have appeared in publications including careerbuilder.com, MSN Careers, Brandweek, Costco Connection, Opportunity World, Sales and Marketing Excellence, The New York Enterprise Report and Wealth Manager. In 2010, Erin wrote extensively about timely professional coaching topics for www.coachingcommons.org.

When she is not working, Erin loves to explore all that Philadelphia has to offer with her family. Part time taxi driver for her daughters, she will often be at a park, library or play area like the Nest or Please Touch Museum with her daughters.

She received a B.A. in Communication from the University of Scranton in PA and lives in Philadelphia with her husband and two young daughters.

Website: www.erinflynnjay.com

 

Mastering The Mommy Track is available on Amazon and www.jhpbusiness-books.com.

 

Disclosure:  There might be a page of organizing advice by moi in this newest must-have mommy guide, but I’m on my way to check out all the great advice by the experts Assembled by Erin Jay.

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Left to right: Danielle Elliott Smith, me, Aliza Sherman

 

I just finished speed reading my copy if the brand new book, Mom, Incorporated, by Aliza Sherman and Danielle Elliott Smith.  I LOVED this book, and recommend that if you are a mom who wants to start a business, you click over to Amazon right now and buy a copy.  Or keep reading and let me convince you why you need this book.

There is very little about being a mom that is easy.  However, Mom, Incorporated makes it easy to understand the steps to getting started in your own business.  The actual work may or may not be easy, but having the roadmap all laid out for you is wonderful.

These gals don’t skip the obvious, as so many other business books do.  They start with a plea to find your passion because you’ll be energized if you work from that space.  But then they discuss the necessary, like the building your business team (p74) and how to calculate revenue potential (p94) for your business.

Forms.  Gotta love them.  When someone creates a form that saves you time, it’s worth the price paid for the book. The one form I wish I had included in The Pregnant Entrepreneur is on pages 22-25 of Mom, Incorporated.  The Weekly Calendar Template is a really useful grid, and Danielle’s schedule shows the crazy type of schedule many of us moms carry, toggling between home and work lives. If you are trying to get your business off the ground, my advice is to take the time to write in the book, and get some of the nuts and bolts of your business figured out before you have to learn about it the hard way.

The new social media is both an opportunity and a burden for some.  These gals both make their living in the blogger realm, and share their methods and knowledge, especially in chapter 2, Tapping the Power of the Internet, and throughout the book. If you are trying to figure out where to spend your time online, let this duo help you.

The book is easy to read and helpful in a big-sister kind of way.  Both Danielle and Aliza share their struggles with trading past paid positions to create a more sustainable and yet challenging professional identity as independent business women.  As children change the equation, relationships with the spouse change, and we may even have to remind ourselves and others that our small business is a real company and a real job. But there are benefits beyond a paycheck, and amazing opportunities for those who seek them.

Wish you had someone close by to chat about your small business musings?  Pick up a copy of Mom, Incoroprated, and get started building your business plan.

Disclosure:  I received a review copy of the book to facilitate the review, but I still really read and loved the book and meeting these women.

 

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If you are over the age of 30 and if you were awake on 9.11.01, you can probably pinpoint where you were on that awful day.  You might also be able to point to certain actions in your life that are a direct result of what happened to you and how you felt in the wake of 9-11.  A lot of us shifted or changed course entirely on that day.  I can honestly say that my journey to becoming an entrepreneur, and subsequently a pregnant entrepreneur, started that day. 

That day I decided that my north Jersey work location was too close to New York, that I really was doing a thankless job that would not leave the world better, and that maybe it was time to possibly think about perhaps considering to start a family that had more two-footed people in it, and not just four-footed children.  I started prioritizing differently.

The Submission image from Amazon

I hadn’t really thought about reading a fictional account of the events until I heard about The Submission by Amy Waldman.  The book is superb and worth a read.  For a first novel, she really tackles a big topic.  The book starts two years after the attacks and follows a handful of families on all sides of the issues surrounding a monument being chosen to stand at Ground Zero.  When the architect of the monument surfaces as a muslim, albeit a non-practicing one, the firestorm starts. The characters are very believable, mirroring actual politcal figures.  Event the event could have been inspired by the real life group who wanted to build a mosque close to the site.

What kept me reading was the desire to see America turn out OK.  I wanted to know that people could work through their fear, distrust and ignorance to arrive at the America that we imagine we are.  The America who accepts the poor and tired teaming on her shores.  The America who prizes religious freedom for all, not just those who sit beside us in church.  Ms. Waldman does a wonderful job of developing the situation into the complex, messy situation that it is.  The champions change course.  The downtrodden really does have an agenda, even if he doesn’t know it.  The spokesperson for the issue, who has influence she never intended, is someone that no one at all elected.  In the end, success comes despite the turmoil, but not in a satisfactory way. 

I wanted to see America turn out OK.  I’m still not sure if it did.  But I’m sure that those who are earnest enough to read this book are the same people who will be thoughtful about how they spend their time, what they do to shape their family, and how they think about the dark-skinned person standing next to them at the airport next time. 

If you still have time for a fictional read, The Submission is a good pick. 

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