April 28, 2010

A Well-Intented, Misplaced Job Aid

Here is an example of a job with good content but poor execution. The outlets in this room at the Westin Copley Place were on the side of the desk, which made them very convenient to use, but also very difficult to find. I'm guessing the hotel got a lot of calls asking about the outlets, because this sign explaining where to find them was placed under the glass on the top of the table.

The problem with this solution is that you rarely look on top of the desk when you're looking for an outlet. The sign would be better if it was mounted on the wall where an outlet would normally be. Choosing the right delivery method is just as important as the quality of the content.

April 22, 2010

BRING YOUR DAUGHTERS TO WORK | a look at the results

Yesterday, I ranted a little bit about the dilution of a good idea when we expanded Bring your Daughters to Work Day to include male offspring and changed it to Bring OUR Daughters and Sons to Work Day. I thought I should take a look at the actual results of women in education and in the workforce, because maybe, just maybe I was over reacting.

33% of women 25 to 29 had attained a bachelor’s degree or higher in 2007, which exceeded that of men in this age range (26%). (source)

28% of women 25 and older obtained a bachelor’s degree or more as of 2007. This was up 11 percentage points from 20 years earlier. (source)

Women earned 58% of the bachelor’s degrees during 2008-09; 60% of the master’s degrees; and nearly 50 percent of first-professional degrees, such as law and medical. (source)
All good news.


In 2007, women earned 77.5 cents for every $1 earned by men. (source)
Not such good news. And even more frightening:
The 10 most prevalent occupations for employed women in 2008 were—
  1. Secretaries and administrative assistants, 3,168,000
  2. Registered nurses, 2,548,000
  3. Elementary and middle school teachers, 2,403,000
  4. Cashiers, 2,287,000
  5. Retail salespersons, 1,783,000
  6. Nursing, psychiatric, and home health aides, 1,675,000
  7. First-line supervisors/managers of retail sales workers, 1,505,000
  8. Waiters and waitresses, 1,471,000
  9. Receptionists and information clerks, 1,323,000
  10. Bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks, 1,311,0
Women accounted for 51% of all workers in the high-paying management, professional, and related occupations. They outnumbered men in such occupations as public relations managers; financial managers; human resource managers; education administrators; medical and health services managers; accountants and auditors; budget analysts; biological scientists; preschool, kindergarten, elementary, middle, and secondary school teachers; physical therapists; writers and authors; and registered nurses. (source)
I don't know. Maybe I should just get with the program and bring all my children to work and make sure I talk to my daughters about plenty of career opportunities.

Leave your perspective on this topic in the comments section. I would love to read what you think.

April 21, 2010


I'm the proud father of two boys and two girls. I've always had the idealized notion that my wife and I would raise them all gender neutral. You know, boys could play with dolls, and the girls could play with trucks. But the truth of the matter is that the boys choose trucks, and the girls choose dolls.

And the girls (a few years younger than the boys) talk a lot more about having crushes on boys and hurting each other's feelings than the boys ever did. In my own little household laboratory, it's been clearly shown that boys and girls are different.

When I first heard about Bring your Daughters to Work Day almost a decade ago, I was excited because I thought this was a easy and powerful way to help my little girls see they could be more than a school teacher or a secretary (not that there's anything wrong with those professions, but they should be a choice and not an implied expectation).

However, by the time my princesses were old enough to participate, sons where invited as well. It became bring all your offspring to work day. Here's a quick historical overview from the website College News:
Back in 1993, the foundation was called simply Take Our Daughters to Work Foundation, and its purpose was to show young women the benefits of a college education at a work, office, or career setting. At the time, college admissions for women were decreasing, and the organizers of Take Your Daughter to Work Day felt that something needed to be done.

The program was created in hopes of boosting self-esteem for young women, offering an insiders perspective to the workforce which had just experienced an influx of female professionals from the 1980’s career boom. In 2003, the program was expanded to include sons. Naturally, the boys felt a little left out.

This new format was:

Designed to be more than a career day, the Take Our Daughters And Sons To Work® program goes beyond the average “shadow” an adult. Exposing girls and boys to what a parent or mentor in their lives does during the work day is important, but showing them the value of their education, helping them discover the power and possibilities associated with a balanced work and family life, and providing them an opportunity to share how they envision the future and begin steps toward their end goals in a hands-on and interactive environment is key to their achieving success. ~ from the Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Foundation Website

It seems like male inclusion and family balance became bigger priorities than helping young girls see bigger career opportunities. And that bothers me. First I think the latter is a bigger problem, and second why do we need a foundation to help active boys feel involved and show them how to balance work life priorities. That's what regular parenting is suppose to do.

Taking daughters to work seems a clear and direct idea to expose them to possible career paths. Every spring when this day rolls around, I get mad about how our societal need for inclusion has diluted a great solution.

Okay, enough venting! For the next post I'll check out some of the facts. After all, I hear college enrollment is up for women, maybe a daughters-only program really isn't needed.

WHAT DO YOU THINK? Am I being an old feminist crumugdeon? Should boys have the same chance as girls? Or am I on to something? I would love to read your thoughts. Let me know what you think in the comments section.

April 18, 2010

What Adults Can Learn from Kids

I learned about this TED presentation from my friend Paul Simbeck-Hampson and just had to share. Adora Svitak is very inspiring at only 12-years-old. This video is well worth the eight minutes it runs. Enjoy!

April 6, 2010

MANAGING CUSTOMERS | What's Your Etched Fly?

The most compelling speaker at the SMG Forum this year was easily Frances Frei. She was engaging, funny, challenging, and thought-provoking. One of the points she made that stuck with me is to learn how to manage your customers for mutual benefits. She went on to illustrate this point with a very concrete and memorable story.

At the Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, they were having a tough time managing customer behavior, specifically males going to the bathroom. The men's restrooms were filthy, and the airport authorities determined the constant uncleanliness was due to a lack of consistent aim into the urinals.

Their first solution was to put signs that said, "Focus." I love when leaders try to solve problems with signs. The Department of Motor Vehicles in Missouri has turned this into a fine art. Sadly, the signs did not work. Next, they came up with the brilliant idea of giving guys something to aim for, and they created an etched fly on the porcelain.

Instantly the cleanliness of the washrooms improved. Don't mandate the behavior you want from your customers. Find the etched fly that will naturally drive the behavior you're looking for.

Leave your observations in the comments below.