Featured Member: Deborah Lynn Blumberg

Deborah Lynn Blumberg describes herself as “a business, finance, and health and wellness writer and editor who tells the stories of the people and companies that are changing our world for the better.” In telling Deborah’s story as this month’s featured member, we like to think we are doing the very same thing; after all, is there any more uplifting way to start the day than showcasing and celebrating a woman with this kind of talent, energy, passion, and drive. Read below and let us know!

 

Tell us your work story : Who are you and what do you do?
I got my start at The Wall Street Journal, where I reported on global financial markets during the height of the credit crisis. From there, I took a role in marketing and communications at JPMorgan Chase, working with senior leaders to develop content and messaging. Now, I use my skills as a reporter and my marketing know-how to help companies better reach and inspire their clients. I’m also the co-president of the Texas chapter of the American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA), a board member and literary co-chair of Women in the Visual and Literary Arts, and a member of the Historical Novel Society and the Writers’ League of Texas.

 

What is your proudest professional accomplishment?
Having an article on Page One of The Wall Street Journal.

 

What is the hardest challenge you’ve faced, work-wise?
Deciding to leave my full-time job in corporate America to freelance full-time.

 

If you could change one thing about how your given field operates, particularly with regards to women, what would it be and why?
I would have women speak up more and negotiate for better rates.

 

What advice do you have for other women looking to make a career change but who are afraid or lack confidence? How is it on the other side?
Change is scary, but can be transformative. Sometimes you just have to take a leap of faith.

 

How do you negotiate the balance between life and work when you are the one setting the boundaries?
Force yourself to take time off and for much needed self care: exercise, eating well. Schedule it into your day.

 

How do you make work work for you?
I’m my own boss and love it!

Thank you Deborah! If you want to be a Featured Member please fill out this survey.

Parental Leave– When is long too long?

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has long offered one of the most generous paid leaves in the U.S. (an unfairly weighted honor considering the dismal competition) However, they announced last week that they are reducing the time they offer from one year to six months. Before we excoriate them on social media it’s worth a deeper look at the reason why: one year of paid leave was too hard on their current employees and did not have a positive lasting impact on the advancement and retention of talent.

 

Among the myriad debates about parental leave is the argument about what length of time is most effective. The norm in the US is twelve weeks unpaid leave– though California Governor Gavin Newsom recently proposed offering six months. The Gates Foundation found that while three months is too short, one year is too long. The longer leave was difficult for employees to hand off work and it was hard to re-assimilate back into a changed organization. Six months seems to be the de-facto timeframe that is not too short for families and not too long for companies.

 

There are more factors than what timeframe is best for families including:

financial assistance for childcare

gender-neutral parental leave

flexible schedules

paid sick days. 

Acknowledging that the issue is not just about time off, the Gates Foundation is also giving a $20,000 stipend to help with childcare costs.  You can read more about this story in the New York Times Upshot.  To find out how The Second Shift works with companies to provide fill-ins for workers out on parental leave please reach out to info@thesecondshift.com. Let us help you support your current workers, and look good doing it.

My Maternity Leave: A Cautionary Tale

I wish The Second Shift existed when I was going out on maternity leave.  As an admittedly type A personality, I plan everything, including the step back in my career that I took a year in advance of getting pregnant.  In my role as a sales manager, I was responsible for a national team and was on the road almost every week.  I was thrilled with my achievements and moved quickly up the corporate ladder. But I knew I wanted to start a family and this was not a schedule that would work once I had a baby.

 

So I left management, took a step back and moved to a new company as an individual contributor. I followed all of the advice I had given my direct reports over the years: I was super buttoned up with my notes, follow-ups and pipeline.  Once I got pregnant and maternity leave was imminent I became me even more diligent. Pregnancy brain be damned–my turnover documents were super thorough. As my belly was expanding I prepped all of my clients about my coverage plans. I had ALWAYS hit my goals, and I was not about to let having a baby tarnish my record.

 

The team covering my leave was an incredible but overworked account manager and a sales manager who was already tapped out with too many internal meetings. So even with all the prep work, I came back to crickets…  No meetings scheduled, a non-existent pipeline and revenue numbers below 50% for Q1. Not having a maternity leave fill-in wasn’t just a bad business decision for me, but for my company as it meant lost revenue for multiple quarters. It wasn’t the fault of my back-up team, they were already stressed about their own jobs and responsibilities. They should never have been made to cover my work– I should have had a backfill. It was a devastating and unnecessarily stressful “welcome back” for a sleep deprived and emotional new mother.

 

….If there had been a The Second Shift I likely would not have chosen to take a step back in my career path and leave my sales management role. I would have realized there were other options for my growth.

….If there had been The Second Shift I would have found the perfect member to fill in during my leave. We could have worked together to prepare ahead of my birth and she could have been there to assist me during my transition back. I would have felt supported and my team would have not resented me for the extra work they shouldered while I was gone. Work could have continued on successfully and my sales numbers would have reflected the positive effects of an unbroken workflow with no loss of momentum.

 

The Second Shift offers you options and takes the burden off parents, families, and co-workers. And I am proud to be a part of this team that supports and encourages female growth and keeps women engaged in the workforce.

Remote Workers = More Productivity. We Agree!

I visit a lot of offices. I have moved offices 3 times in the past 2 years; so I can speak with authority about offices and I can say for sure that the move to open office spaces does not increase my personal productivity. In fact, I have clocked it: If I stay home and work from 7-10am on a sprint I am getting the same amount of work done as I do in my office during a normal day. That 3 hours of work time is not broken up with meetings and deciding what to have for lunch and coffee runs and chatting about tv shows and the news. In an open office space find it hard to concentrate on a specific task for very long because of the ambient noise and interruptions. Plus,  I am not a fan of headphones or going into another space to work.

 

I realize I may be in the minority and I know I am adverse to change– I still use a Filofax for goodness sake. But everywhere you go today there are open office spaces with distractable perks like ping-pong and plentiful snacks and blow-out bars. I understand it is meant to provide creativity and foster a collaborative environment… but I don’t buy it and the research is now backing me up: in open offices workers spend more time talking to each other online than they do in person. So there.

 

Another study shows it takes more than 23 minutes to get back on track when you are interrupted. Which basically means proves that when I work in my pajamas in my bed without speaking to anyone except my friends on Morning Joe I am actually way more productive than if I went to work this morning.

 

Look, I definitely understand the counter-argument and working remotely does have its challenges: you miss a lot not being around the conversations that take place outside of scheduled meetings among co-workers. You may lose out on opportunities that come up on the fly. And while it may be personally more productive for me to work remotely, it may be less productive for my co-workers to have to catch me up on what I missed.

 

There are, however larger, less personal business cases for why remote work should be encouraged:

  • Increased productivity–studies show remote work increases productivity and efficiency.
  • Ability to hire from a larger talent pool than only those who are geographically available.
  • Parents will flock to work for your business– flexible/ remote work is the number one thing caregivers are looking for when choosing work opportunities through The Second Shift.
  • Lower overhead and operating costs without needing to provide office space and all those snacks and craft beer-on-tap.

 

Okay, time to get up and get dressed and go into work for a meeting. I have been at this computer for 2.5 hours and gotten my entire list of “to do” tasks completed. So now I can go to my actual “office” without the pressure of deadlines and enjoy myself and my co-workers.

 

From Jenny Galluzzo: Co-Founder/ Luddite/ Possible Curmudgeon?

 

 

Pitch “nearly” Perfect

 

We chose this example because it is a great pitch and with a few tweaks it would be perfect!

 

I’m a seasoned human resources professional who has had the opportunity to develop & deploy recruiting strategies for various business segments & levels. Over my career, I’ve built, restructured, manage & develop teams as small as 4 & as large as 60. I had the opportunity to work on enterprise-wide initiatives, most recently with the HR Change Management team in supporting the implementation of Workday.

 

Last year, I had the opportunity to help develop & execute XX Employment Brand. In the last few years, I’ve gained the confidence of XX Executives to partner with internal executive recruiting team vs hiring a retained firm for C-Suite roles, which has saved the firm millions each year. I have viewed myself as a brand ambassador. From speaking with students on campus to participating on national diversity conferences panels to networking with C-level executives. I am confident that my experiences provide me with a solid foundation to be successful in this role.

 

The Good:

 

She touches on the basics: who she is, what she does and why she is successful– with quantifiable results.

 

Not Quite There:

This pitch is all her past accomplishments and it is missing a vital element– why her background is relevant to the position and why she is uniquely qualified to succeed.

 

For more information about how to craft a great pitch read our do’s and don’ts:

Pitching-dos-donts

 

 

Older and in Charge!

“Women, we’re nurturers, that’s what’s expected of us. We have our children, we have our husbands if we’re lucky enough, and our partners. But we have to find personal fulfillment. We have to follow our dreams. We have to say, “I can do that, and I should be allowed to do that.”

 

Glen Close famously said that in her Golden Globes acceptance speech last Sunday. She is just one of a growing group of successful women over 60 coming into their own power in this present moment. Think Nancy Pelosi, Maxine Waters, Susan Zirinsky who was just named the head of CBS News.  This is a demographic of women who are sidelined and silenced no more.  But why now? A recent NY Times article points out a few unique reasons that 60+ women are taking center stage:

 

  • The overall aging population is staying healthier and working longer than ever.

 

  • The #metoo movement forced a reckoning with power dynamics and unfair gender structures that have historically kept women from reaching the top.

 

  • Women who started working in the 70s and 80s are now at the height of their power and success… as their male counterparts are dealing with the fall out of their poor behavior.

 

The rise of women as a political, cultural and professional force can’t be ignored. Let’s hope it spreads and companies fill their leadership roles with older, experienced women. The pipeline of female talent to senior level roles is depleted because, according to Pew Research,  39% of mothers say they have to take time off to care for family and 42% reduce their hours. This is a fact that is talked about a lot about in articles, conferences and summits but there are very simple answers:

 

  • Hire and promote more women
  • Create family-friendly policies including fluid parental leave,  flexible hours and remote options.

 

The more the workplace changes to accommodate the needs of women early in their careers the more women will remain engaged, rise up the ranks and take home the ultimate prize– power!

 

Featured Member Allison Prior

Allison Prior is our kind of leader, embodying and inspiring confidence and kindness at every turn. Despite a resume filled with impressive professional accomplishments in the notoriously cut-throat apparel industry, her continued commitment to mentorship and making work work for all women is why we chose her for this month’s featured member.

 

Tell us your story : Who are you and what do you do?
I am a seasoned sales executive in the apparel industry with proven leadership skills, a strong and trustworthy reputation, and a critical eye for success in an ever-changing retail environment. I am the mom of 2 kids, Jack (3.5) and Molly (15 months). I am a master juggler and I love being busy. In fact, I don’t know how to be bored. My mind is always churning and burning with the next new idea, recipe for dinner, strategy at work, project at home, activity with the kids, party to plan. I have it all but have learned that I want it all on my time and terms.

 

What is your proudest professional accomplishment?
I could say that my proudest accomplishment has been launching a new label or opening a new account—and, yes, these moments have felt great—but, really, my proudest professional accomplishment has been mentoring other colleagues in making work work for them. Seeing their nodding heads and beaming eyes as I help them build their confidence to prove that they are worthy of getting the job done in ways that suit their life has been the most meaningful. I have worked with some amazing women over the years and I have loved holding their hand as we navigate this transitional time where companies are needing to bend to retain talent.

 

What is the hardest challenge you’ve faced. work-wise?
Striking the balance between work and home! When I went back to work when my oldest child was 12 weeks old, I felt an immediate uneasiness and, for 3 years, I wavered between being OK and not OK at all with the balance I was striking. During this time, I worked for understanding bosses and also for bosses who did not respect the constant pull I felt. I also felt the pressure of colleagues who didn’t have children, who did not understand the push and tug I was experiencing.

 

If you could change one thing about how your given field operates, particularly with regards to women, what would it be, and why?
It would be flex hours for all—with the expectation that top notch performance is required! I work in an industry where so much of our success is determined by the hours we clock. But I can drive sales, build relationships, and analyze data from anywhere. Of course, face-to-face interaction is important in any industry, but technology allows us to have that. I wish that the leaders could stop being afraid of the “what ifs.” What if women were really given the tools they need to have it all and succeed at work and at home simultaneously?!
What is the best piece of professional advice you’ve ever received?
If you want your boss’s job, you’re in the right spot. If you are the boss, well then, #goals!

 

How do you negotiate the balance between life and work when you are the one setting the boundaries?
Lead by example: If you’re balancing life and work and not getting the job done, that is not ok; if you’re “doing it all” then that will rub off on the team.

 

How do you make work work for you?
I speak my mind and am honest about my needs! I am also a believer in being where I am meant to be. Learning about and joining the Second Shift could not have come at a better time in my life!

Motherhood Misogyny

Once upon a time, back when Gina and I were first hatching the idea for The Second Shift, we spoke to everyone we knew about our idea. One of our early meetings was with a very well-known and successful Public Relations strategist who gave us her time and advice. One thing I remember clearly from the meeting is she told us not to use the word “mom” because the perception of the word undervalues the expertise and professionalism of the women in our member community.

 

I thought of this today when I read an opinion piece in the NYTimes by Hillary Frank, a journalist and creator of the podcast “The Longest Shortest Time” about all things motherhood. In the op-ed she writes that she hit invisible barriers to success because the topic of the stories she tells revolve around mothers and children—and this is on NPR!!

 

“ I met rejection after rejection…. One guy put it more bluntly: who wants to listen to this except for moms?”

 

I have been asked if The Second Shift is a company for Betty Drapers who want to work in between rounds of golf. I have been told by a male investor that he can’t envision who are our members are because he would never hire his wife or her friends. What I have found is the minute you bring motherhood into the story the tone changes and you have to start explaining and qualifying when, the truth is, as Gina eloquently explains, “you are not doing them a favor and hiring our members because they are mothers. The only reason they are available for you to hire is because they are mothers.”

 

Luckily, in the past few years the public conversation about women and parenthood has dramatically changed for the better: increasingly companies are understanding how and why parents need flexibility in their schedules, and parental leave for both genders is becoming more common. Companies like Twitter have 20-week leave for primary caretakers and work with The Second Shift to fill those leaves because statistics show it can improve employee retention rates by 50%. Progressive companies like JP Morgan, American Express, Microsoft and others are offering external childcare partnerships and benefits like IVF reimbursement and career mentorship. Businesses like Babycenter, Hatch and Care.com are proving that motherhood has become a big business. Where there is money there is power and that will ultimately change the “mom” PR problem forever.

Pitching Dos & Don’ts

Helpful information to keep in mind when crafting your pitch.

 

When writing your pitch think about it as your personal “elevator pitch” tailored to the specifics of that particular role.

 

DOS

  • Say where you have worked and in what role as it relates to the specific job. Show off what you did that was successful for past clients/ employers.
  • Add in any relevant information that will make you stand out especially if you have personal experience /interest in the company.
  • Pitch for jobs that you want even if you don’t have every single requirement listed—if you ever have questions about this reach out to us!
  • Take time to carefully craft your pitch, check for typos and make it shine!

 

DON’TS

  • Cut and paste the same pitch for every job.
  • Put in personal information that is not relevant for the actual job.
  • Sell yourself short by pointing what you can’t do or what skills you don’t have.
  • Pitch on the fly without proof-reading.
  • Forget to use specifics ie: the name of past clients/employers, what your job was and how you rocked that job.

 

TAILOR YOUR PITCH: Questions to ask yourself as you write your pitch.

  • What about this company/position attracts you to this role?
  • What specific experience in your background qualifies you to this role? And where?
  • How do you see tackling this job and what makes you the perfect person to do it?
  • What skills/experience do you have, outside of what is on your resume, that makes you a good candidate for the role.

Pitch Perfect!

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Pitch Perfect: How to put your best pitch forward is a new feature where we will pick a good example of a recent pitch from an anonymous member. Every month we will highlight a different pitch that shows the types of structure, detail and vibe that we believe show that member in the best possible light!  We don’t guarantee that she got the job… but we do think that there was something catchy and persuasive in her personal brand storytelling. We hope you enjoy and learn from these effective examples.

 

As a seasoned marketer with relevant experience, I believe I would be a perfect fit for the fractional CMO position at Fly Louie. I have a breadth of relevant corporate marketing experience at xxx, xxx and xxx in brand, product, customer acquisition/loyalty, and customer experience that has given me a solid foundation for developing strong marketing strategies. Specific to project requirements, I have experience in building loyalty plans. In addition, customer communications with clear product messaging has been a key role in all my positions. Also, I have strong project management skills and am good at working with internal cross-functional teams and external agencies that seems crucial to this position.

 

More recently, I have been consulting for a boutique creative agency in New York City that prides itself in disruptive creative storytelling and really turns brands into a lifestyle. We have worked with clients including xxx and xxx. As the agency’s strategist for these clients, part of my role has been to create customer personas and determine the best positioning to the various customer segments. I take a look into competitive and influential cultural/commerce trends to inform these personas and also help shape the creative campaign process and communications to clients.

 

With all the hassle associated with flying commercial airlines, I believe Fly Louie is offering a service that is very much desired and has huge opportunity to continue to increase routes. I would love to join the team at Fly Louie and together help unlock a fresh, new thinking that will have your company fly over the rest. Please let me know if there is any other information I can provide for you to make your decision. I look forward to hearing from you!

 

For more information about how to craft a great pitch read our do’s and don’ts:

Pitching-dos-donts