Kenversation with Anne Loehr, Founder, Anne Loehr & Associates, “The Generational Guru”

Women are leaving the workforce in big numbers and are becoming independent workers. You hear more and more about women starting their own businesses after growing tired of Corporate America, allowing them their own schedules, freedom, increased quality time with family and friends, and an overall amelioration in their well-being. Of course, making the leap isn’t all easy and does come with its challenges. But, it seems, a lot of the time, the benefits outweigh the setbacks.

Anne Loehr addresses this trend in this Kenversation Q&A and tells us of her findings on the topic.

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Who is Anne Loehr?

After graduating from Cornell University, Anne Loehr managed and eventually owned international, eco-friendly hotels and safari companies for over 13 years. Frustrated that she couldn’t find top-quality team development programs for her 500 Kenyan employees, Anne honed these skills herself by creating her own dynamic leadership and management development programs.

Since selling her hospitality businesses and becoming a certified executive coach, facilitator and management consultant, she has been working with diverse organizations such as Facebook, US Air Force, Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, American Red Cross, Booz Allen Hamilton, John Hancock, Coca-Cola and MD Anderson Cancer Center to consistently help organizational teams improve their communications and deepen their working relationships. The impact? Creative collaboration, improved employee retention and increased sales.

Named the “Generational Guru” by The Washington Post, Anne’s work has been featured in Newsweek International, The Washington Post, The New York Times, Huffington Post, National Geographic Traveler, Washingtonian and CNN Money. A member of the prestigious National Speakers Association, Anne speaks regularly at national conferences and on the radio.  She is also a faculty member of the American Management Association, teaching leadership courses around the country.

Anne co-founded Safaris for the Soul, international leadership retreats that help senior managers find their organizational values and purpose. Her first book, A Manager’s Guide to Coaching: Simple and Effective Ways to Get the Best Out of Your Employees  was published by the American Management Association on 2008. Her 2nd book, Managing the Unmanageable: How to Motivate Even the Most Unruly Employee, was published by Career Press in 2011.

KENVERSATION:

Kendra: One of the topics you address in your work is the state of independent workers and the fact that women are leaving the workforce in big numbers. When did this trend start becoming a significant movement?

Anne: During the last recession, organizations hired independent workers in order to keep costs down. Then, better technology came on the scene making offsite working easier than ever. That coupled with the fear of another recession just continued the trend. There is definitely an appeal for the younger generations to have the freedom and flexibility of independent work. You could say that they are carrying the torch now.

As far as women leaving the workforce, I think they are realizing that they can achieve more by consulting or creating start-ups. Despite being equally (or more) educated and experienced as their male peers, statistics show that only 19% of C suite executives are women. Only 4% are CEOs!  That’s not very inspiring.

Kendra: In her book, Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg talks about wanting more women to “sit at the table”, to be active participants in the decisions made and directions of companies, teams, and even home life, rather than taking the passive back seat and watching it all happen. Do you think that’s something women have been doing for some time or it’s still a valid concern?

Anne: Yes, I think this is something that has been happening for a while but is seeing slow results. More and more women are leaning in and more options are opening up for them, but these changes are happening slowly. Women are still not represented at the top. The policies are a big problem; maybe the problem is that the policies aren’t leaning in rather than the women?

Kendra: What are some of the experiences of women in the workforce? More specifically, what are some characteristics of these women, as well as their mindsets and even emotional health?

Anne: An info-graphic we made on women in the workforce shows that 77% of women felt impeded in career advancement because of exclusion from social networks at work. I suppose that is one of the more frustrating parts of their experience in the workforce.

There is a very interesting article from Stanford on transgender experiences in the workplace. One participant, Thomas, replaced Susan (himself), at work. Someone from an associated company called Thomas’ boss to say that he was glad Susan was replaced since she was incompetent and Thomas was not. He did not know they were the same person.

Extensive interviews reported that overall, participants couldn’t believe how much more authority they were given at work after transitioning to male. Even on topics they were not experts on, they were listened to more than actual experts in the same conversation who were female. One participant said as a male, he suddenly had more “great ideas.” They also felt fast-tracked to promotions.

I guess this all is to say there are gender differences at work and also a gender hierarchy. It is a very real thing.

As far as what women in the workplace are like,The Fiscal Times had a piece that talked about men and women’s characteristics from a contemporary perspective. They reported that women in the workplace ask for more challenges, work longer hours, are team players, can see situations more holistically and are more persuasive than their male counterparts.  

Kendra: How do the women differ when they are single versus when they have children and a family? Or are there any differences?

One way that women differ in the workforce when they are single is that they earn more money. In fact, a recent article in TIME reported that for the first time, women in many cities are earning more (on average 8%) than their male counterparts. But the women who are earning more are all single, childless and in their 30’s. 

The study states these women earn more largely because of education– for every two guys who graduate college, three women do. And women have better adapted to our new knowledge-based economy. The problem is, their economic advantage evaporates as they age and have families.

Women with families absolutely have a different working experience than those without. Joan Williams, who is the director of the Center of WorkLife Law at the University of California, Hastings College of Law, says of all the triggers of stereotyping in today’s workplace, motherhood triggers the strongest bias. Researchers have given subjects identical resumes, aside for one single detail. One resume stated involvement in the PTA, indicating motherhood. The mothers were 79% less likely to be hired and 100% less likely to be promoted. Harder still, they are held to stricter punctuality standards and higher performance standards.

I guess we can conclude that women in the workforce who have families face huge barriers for success and are expected to work even harder for it. Add that to the high cost of childcare and the lack of tax credits and it becomes really clear why a woman might want to leave the workforce and think more creatively about her career.

Kendra: What types of comparisons are drawn between their male counterparts? This may seem obvious but sometimes we tend to coast through situations and become content with the status quo.

Anne: People love to compare men and women in the workforce. Some articles can really make you cringe. Everyone is an individual and behaviors definitely blur between gender lines, but having a broad picture of differing behaviors between men and women can actually be beneficial for organizations in certain ways. You can never see these gendered characteristics as absolutes but with the right perspective it can help with communication, with management, and it can strengthen the team.

An article in The Fiscal Times says that men are more linear in their thought processes and more narrow in their focus, so are able to break down problems into their component parts to solve them, while women more clearly see a problem holistically and can see the big picture even without all the details. This is complementary behavior!

Men are seen as adopting new technologies earlier and relying on them more than women. Not surprisingly, men more often ask for what they want and have negotiation strengths, while women are more persuasive. Men display more confidence than women and will “wing it” more often. Even when women are prepared, they feel unprepared!

Of course these behaviors aren’t what dictates the success of either gender. There is also the fact that people tend to be mentored by others of the same sex—meaning that if men still largely make up the executive leadership, other men will have more access to high ranking mentors.

Kendra: What have been the experiences of women, who leave the workforce, leave their jobs at large institutions and end up having a positive experience?

From my own experience, I am much more available for my family and can set my own schedule which is incredibly positive. That’s not to say there aren’t challenging times running my own business! However, it’s incredibly rewarding to make my own rules.

Kendra: And then what about the women who experience the opposite?

Actually, this kind of plays into the characteristics we were talking about earlier. Leaving the workforce and starting their own thing can be tough when women have less high-ranking mentors and lower confidence levels. They also tend to undervalue their skills. Additionally, women are generally underfunded (average of $8k) when compared to men (average $30k). The fact is, women have a 5.3% rate of discontinuing their business vs. 3.6% for men. That is daunting but I think knowing the reasons why this may be happening—undervaluing oneself, lower funding—can help women make the adjustments they need in order to succeed.

Kendra: How can women make the leap into taking the route of becoming independent workers, without the worry that they are making a mistake and/or won’t be able to sustain themselves?

Are there any decisions that don’t come with the worry of making a mistake? What if the mistake is not making a change? Yes, there is a ton of risk, but staying in a position that doesn’t offer the room to achieve what you are capable of or doesn’t give you the freedom to create your preferred lifestyle sounds like a mistake as well. If you really take a look at corporations, especially in regard to how women function within them, you may see that they aren’t the safe bet they seem to be. It is really tricky when it comes to money and health insurance, especially in this country, but we can’t let that prevent us from experimenting with our capabilities.

The value of mentorship is huge. Having others coach you on making small steps can make things feel more possible. Starting out slowly and then making the change when you’re sure you can sustain yourself is a good strategy. This means that there may be a period of time where a person needs to be working double time creating their new independent career while maintaining their current one.  Considering a partnership is worthwhile—someone who has skills you may lack, or a different set of connections. Having a support system in place if you have a family is absolutely key. Get other people on board.

If you don’t feel you have the confidence to pull it off, pretend you do. Act like someone with confidence. Take a hard look at the energy that you put into your current job and imagine what that energy could do for an independent venture. The more we make things happen for ourselves, the more we are making things happen for other women.

Kendra: What will the short term and long term future look like for women in the workplace versus women who have left the workplace to strike out on their own, in the form of self-employment?

Recent research shows that the number of women-owned firms pulling in $10 million or more in annual sales has jumped by 56.6% over 10 years. That number isn’t decreasing; it’s growing. And as women’s networks grow and funding for women also grows. it will become easier for women to get in the game of self-employment and entrepreneurship. The women who see success will provide a larger and larger pool of mentors and even investors for the next generation of women. We all know that Corporate America is predominantly run by men. If women continue to vote with their feet and become the competition, not much will change for Corporate America, will it? Men will still run it.

Kendra: What are some of the things you advise women to do when considering their situations and whether or not to choose one route or the other?

Anne: Lots and lots of research. Get as much information as you can get before making a decision. What’s the trend? Who’s been successful at what you want to do? How did they do it? How can you meet them and learn from them? Grow your network by getting outside your comfort zone before making your next move.

A huge thank you to Anne for her time and insight! If you would like to read more about Anne’s work, please visit her website at www.anneloehr.com.

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Ken-versation with Cynthia Good, CEO & Founding Editor of Little Pink Book

Have you ever met a woman you instantly believe to be Superwoman? You look for her cape, yet don’t find one. But still, you are convinced she has some sort of super power? Well, I have come across these women several times and you will meet some of them in the near future on my blog, because they are so inspiring! It’s funny how there are people who can complain about the littlest things in life, that really are of little significance in the grand picture. Then, there are others out there whose lives are too busy for a 24 hour day, yet they never utter a worry. They somehow manage to keep it all together and flowing seamlessly. 

 

My Q&A Ken-versation with Cynthia Good gives some insight on how women can balance their days so that they are making, and keeping, their priorities, a priority.

 


Who is Cynthia Good?

 

Cynthia Good, CEO & Founding Editor, PINK

During her last quarter-century in journalism, Good has worked ardently to make a difference in the lives of women and their families. Her latest contributions are PINK and LittlePINKBook, which under Cynthia’s supervision have grown into national phenomenons, inspiring businesswomen to achieve both a beautiful career and a beautiful life. The Little PINK Book offers daily editorial digitally to women nationwide.

Good launched PINK in 2005 as a website, event series and national women’s business magazine. Previously, Good launched Atlanta Woman Magazine, wrote six books and worked as an award-winning TV news reporter at stations across the country.

 

KEN-VERSATION :

 

Kendra: You are the CEO and Founder of Little Pink Book, your business geared towards helping women in business. What is the Little Pink Book?

 

Cynthia: Little PINK Bookis a daily e-note that goes out to women everywhere, delivering tools, tactics and strategies to help women find greater success in their work and more joy in their lives. We’ve seen how just a bit of information can help a woman advance in her career, get raises and promotions, get out of a miserable job and into one that brings her joy. That’s what gets me up in the morning. Women in the PINK community (on LittlePINKBook.com) also get to see exclusive profiles featuring Top Women in business, as well as Minute Mentor TV segments, the chance to dialogue with each other in ‘Comments’ and attend nationwide Spring Into Ownership Events for entrepreneurs each spring (we’ll be in NY, LA and Atlanta in June), and our Signature Fall Empowerment Series featuring top women execs this Fall now in its 7th year!

Kendra: How did you get started?

 

Cynthia : I got my start in TV news where I felt I could make a difference. I left the Atlanta Fox station, Fox 5, in ‘97 because I didn’t have enough time to be with my two young kids – and was tired of covering crime, weather and stories I felt contributed to problems rather than making things better.

 

I created a TV series called Good For Parents and then wrote some books. I won the GA Writers Assn ‘best author of the year’ award for my book, Vaccinating Your Child”. I helped launch a women’s business magazine in Atlanta, which did so well we decided to offer this sort of content to career women nationally – and PINK was born.

 

Kendra: What is your vision for your business?

 

Cynthia: The vision for Pink is to grow the community so all 70 million women in America and millions more globally have access to Little PINK Book content to advance their careers and improve their lives.  It’s really needed. Women’s progression in the workplace has actually stalled! Today the Fortune 500 has 11 female CEOs. Last year there were 15; that’s a microcosm of what is happening elsewhere. 

Kendra: Now I know you are a mother and CEO of a successful business, as well as a journalist, author, and general innovator! In today’s busy world what are the daily activities you keep busy with, including inside and outside of the home and work realm?

 

Cynthia: Activities: 6:30AM wake up, get the kids off to school. My oldest is driving so he brings the younger one. They usually help/trade off feeding the animals (2 chickens, 2 miniature horses, a cat and a love bird). Then it’s off to work. Often my husband and I car pool since his company BrightHouse and PINK share the same cool, triangular, brick building with high, exposed ceilings – in West Midtown Atlanta just down the street from CNN. The office is always buzzing – meetings with sales, editorial, design and the events team. PINK honestly has the best staff we’ve ever had. Everyone with the company is so passionate about making a difference for women. Their genuine care and commitment inspire me. I go home to a wonderful dinner since my husband likes to cook and the whole family usually has dinner together and we catch up on the day.

Kendra: As a wife and mother, what is the most important thing you can do to make sure you are keeping your family a priority?

 

Cynthia: The most important thing I do to keep my family the priority is to remember that my family is my priority. There’s no such thing as ‘perfect balance’. There’s only an acceptable imbalance. But I have learned to honor my feelings which really helps. Years ago when I felt sad or guilty that I wasn’t spending enough time with my kids I would “suck it up” thinking that’s just what women have to deal with. I do not believe that now. If something isn’t right in your life – you have the chance to change it. And in fact we must. At PINK we now telecommute on Wednesdays. So I pick my youngest son up from school. We both enjoy this and amazingly my guilt is gone!

 

Kendra: You mention 10 Commandments you follow, and we’re not referring to the biblical sense. What are some rules you implement in order to keep things running smoothly?

 

Cynthia: We always try to observe the BlackBerry 10 Commandments that PINK wrote about. We set basic rules to keep technology from intruding on our family life, i.e. Thou shalt not take the BlackBerry to any table with food on it or family around it.  Thou shalt do everything possible to misplace your BlackBerry on weekends. Thou shalt not confuse number of e-mails with self-worth. Etc. 

 

Kendra: What are your goals for your family?

 

Cynthia: The goal for the family is to nurture each members spirit and make sure we each feel loved – so we can fly.

 

Kendra: You describe yourself as a “famillionaire”. What does that mean to you?

 

Cynthia: We coined the term “Famillionaire” because this is what it means to be rich – the real wealth is in family and the people you love. If you have that then you are the richest of all.

Kendra: What would you tell the women in the world who are dreaming of starting their own business, but are playing small and are fearful, because they feel they have to choose one or the other, success at business or success at family?

 

Cynthia: There really is no other choice but to follow your heart if you want to live a happy, authentic life. Too often I think women owners, and women in general don’t think big enough. They don’t ask for what they really want. I’m at Emory University (in Atlanta, Georgia) today grading presentations for finals in a business class. Upstairs in the west lobby of the Goizueta School of Business, there’s a mahogany granite bench that answers your question as well as anything I’ve seen. It says: “Go forth. With courage. Without delay. Into the uncharted. To receive your reward.”

 

Kendra: With all of your ambition and expertise and having it all and doing it all, what other plans do you have for your future?

 

Cynthia: Goals and dreams change and evolve over time. We’re thinking ahead to the time when our kids go to college and what to do then. It’s fun to dream and consider the life we want to build. We’ve found that these ideas, once manifested in your mind and talked about and planned for, actually come true.

 

Kendra: When do you sleep? : )

 

Cynthia : It’s a challenge to sleep and turn off the brain when you’re so excited about tomorrow – and thinking about the challenges and opportunities that await, at work and at home. I keep a pad of paper and pen in most rooms and jot down notes to remind myself of things in the morning. Only then can I get back to sleep!

 

Kendra : Thank you, Cynthia, for your time and for sharing your personal experiences, outlooks and goals. You have created a workable space where you are able to balance your work and home life, and I think that others will be inspired to do the same, with your example. I also think it’s worth pointing out that you make sure to have dinner every evening, as a family, around the table, together. I grew up the same way and believe it to be an important component in strengthening the family unit and relationships. Your children will be thankful for that quality time, as they grow and appreciate its meaning. Great Ken-versation !

 

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My interview with up-and-coming artist Nina Foot! We will keep a look out for her as she becomes more visible on the scene. Her passion for life and music is apparent in this casual Kenversation and her drive and visions are inspiring…

Ken-versation with Vivian Kanchian (personal trainer, nutrition student)

Who is Vivian Kanchian?

“From a very young age, I have been fascinated by the body’s ability to heal itself;  likely something I picked up from my health nut dad.  I have since studied many integrative healing modalities including homeopathy, mind-body visualization/ hypnotherapy, and my true love… food therapy.  I wholly believe that health and happiness are intimately entwined, and that when people put good, clean food into their bodies and spend as much of their time doing those things which they love, they are living their lives the way the universe intended” – V.K. 

KEN-VERSATION

Kendra : Now, you are a Certified Personal Fitness Trainer, and are working on your nutrition career, but you are a student of life. Having said that, what is your PASSION?

 

Vivian : My passion is to get people to understand that what they put inside their bodies, and the way that they treat their bodies, both nutritionally and in terms of physical activity, can have a huge impact on their lives, and change their lives towards the better, or towards the worse, depending on the decisions that they make.

 

Kendra : You told me once about proper nutrition as the best preventative medicine and powerful healing modality.

 

Vivian : I did say that ! I just think that people tend not to think of these two things as really, really powerful tools in their well-being. A good example that I can give is, you know, you hear people saying, ‘Oh my gosh, that organic lettuce is twice as much as the one that I get at Cost Plus for fifty cents !’ But aren’t you willing to pay an extra fifty cents, and maybe cut corners from elsewhere, and not from your health? I think that food, and healthy food, is the best preventative medicine, and physical activity when you’re putting food into your body, you have to also exert that energy and burn it off, for optimal health. So, I’d like people to understand how much they can change and how powerful of a tool these two things are.

 

Kendra : Can you elaborate on what they can do and what they’re doing wrong with their nutrition ?

 

Vivian : I know that people are strapped for time and are strapped for money. I think that it is a challenge – it’s not easy, necessarily. But it’s not as difficult as people think it is, to eat healthfully. A lot of people associate healthful eating with, you know, a lot of expense, a lot of time, and I think it takes a little bit of planning. Yes, it takes a little bit more time than a drive-thru to McDonald’s, but aren’t you willing to put in that extra planning ? Maybe on a Sunday night, go to your organic grocer or go to your organic farmer’s market, and buy what’s seasonal. That way you save money, you buy what’s freshest, you buy what’s local and you cook something up in a large amount, and freeze some of it and eat it for several days. That way you save money, you’re eating fresh foods, you’re eating foods that aren’t exposed to pesticide, and you are not taking too much of your time to do it. It just takes a little bit of planning ahead.

 

Kendra : What about – I mean it takes planning – but what if people don’t know what to do with those foods, once they get home ?

 

Vivian : Well, the Internet is a great resource for that. There are books. There’s my blog, on which I have recipes, www.facefreefood.blogspot.com. The thing is raw foods, vegetarian foods, vegan foods – there’s a really big movement towards that and a lot more people are understanding how important it is to eat a much more vegetable and fruit-based diet. Even the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) is coming around to that idea. So, there’s a lot of information out there. If somebody just knows how to use Google ! (laughter)

 

Kendra : I was actually going to ask you about your Food Without a Face blog ! Can you expand on what made you start the blog and what’s the goal with the blog ?

 

Vivian : Well, the goal started out [when] I was thinking of transitioning to veganism. Where I am now with that is that I’m not entirely sure that that lifestyle is for me. While I’m a lot closer to being vegan, I’m not 100% perfect. I eat fish still, sometimes I eat dairy, sometimes I eat eggs. And I think actually at first I felt a little bit of a cheater because it’s been a year since I started the blog and I was thinking to myself, ‘Well, I should be vegan now !’, you know ? People are reading my blog, they would expect me to be vegan, but I think that I represent the average individual who maybe is exploring a different lifestyle, exploring a different way of eating, but isn’t able to embrace it full yet – or don’t even know if they ever will. But, certainly incorporating more fruits and vegetables, more whole foods into the diet, instead of processed, refined foods is a good message to send, especially in America, where we eat everything packaged and in large tubs. So, now I don’t feel so guilty anymore. (laughter) I think I’m helping in my own way.

 

Kendra : What are your future goals with nutrition and health and how do you look to help people in the future ?

 

Vivian : My future goals are definitely food therapy, which is using food as medicine. Food as medicine works just like any other medicine in that the same prescription doesn’t work for everybody, so the idea would be that I would see clients who have a particular ailment, and are looking to improve or eliminate that ailment through a holistic way, instead of medication. I mean, in a lot of cases Type II Diabetes and even heart disease, really advanced stage heart disease, is reversible solely through changing lifestyle, in terms of what you’re eating and also exercising. A lot of people are going through open heart surgery [and] taking insulin when really they don’t know that they can  reverse what it is that they’re suffering from, simply by changing the way that they eat and moving a little bit more. So, that’s my goal and because a lot of people can’t afford that kind of private one-on-one care, my other goal is community outreach and being able to give people ideas on how they can improve their lives, without a huge impact on their wallet or on their time. Those are two things that  most Americans are short on, especially these days.

 

Kendra : Thank you for your time !

 

Vivian : Thank YOU !

 

 

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DISCLAIMER for Ken-versations

Please note that all those interviewed and/or making appearances on Ken-versations hold their own opinions and they in no way reflect the opinions of the host of this blog, Kendra Kabasele. Subjects are interviewed or featured on the blog at their own free will and are free to express themselves as they wish.

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