Thursday, July 31, 2008

Is it Wrong to Make a Profit? Part 2

Yesterday I asked an important question in light of our current economic times: is it wrong for us to try to sell "frivolous" things to others when money is so tight right now?  Is it wrong to promote our micro-businesses when what we have to offer falls outside of the necessities?  

Part 1 of the answer tackled the economics of the issue.   I came to the conclusion that it is not wrong to sell during these times, even to sell non-essentials.  But that it is irresponsible to convince people to spend beyond what they can afford.  Scroll down or click here to read more on yesterday's post.

For part 2 of the debate, I wanted to talk a little bit about culture.  Because even before the economy was in rough waters, I questioned the validity of making a living on "girly" things.  When I was in college, I briefly sold Mary Kay, and struggled to convince young women that they needed to add cosmetics to their budget.  It just didn't seem very noble to me.  I mean, with all of the things that we should be doing with our money (saving it, investing it, donating it), was it right to spend it on things that made the world look prettier (or our complexions) but didn't make it a better place?

Many years later, I find myself selling decorative items for home--a job not appreciably different than selling Mary Kay.  What made my perspective change?

It started just after 9/11.  I was in a fellowship in Washington DC at the time where we were studying history, law, and culture.  Our instructor gave us all a copy of a short essay written by C.S. Lewis during WWII.  Lewis was addressing a group of students for this speech, and in a roundabout way, he tackled my "cosmetics" question.  You see, his message to these students during war was to keep studying in the midst of distraction, because knowledge and art were the very things worth fighting to preserve.  He mentioned that in such times, it was tempting to do away with everything that seemed frivolous (like art, languages, music, humanities) in favor of that which was strictly utilitarian (for survival), but that they must resist this temptation.  Civilization, Lewis argued, was not worth saving if it didn't sustain beauty, music, poetry, art, science, and the like.  

Now, I won't say that throw pillows and make-up are akin to poetry and music, but they serve a similar aesthetic function in society.  And they provide a creative livelihood for women, and an opportunity to invest in a smaller, more flexible, more community-oriented economy.  Yes, they can also represent vanity and consumerism at its worst (hardly the kind of ideals that Lewis was encouraging his students to preserve), but just because something isn't "utilitarian" doesn't mean it doesn't have value in society.

Maybe you are considering taking your creative talents to the marketplace--or you already are--and are struggling with the idea of selling something that doesn't meet an immediate need for people.  I would encourage you to persevere anyway.  Don't let distressing times distract you from your skills and passion.  And do believe that your creative ideas and products are valuable to society--even with high gas prices and mortgage troubles.  

Coming shortly we will be discussing marketplace mavens--women who are not afraid to make a profit on creativity even in these times.  Stay tuned to read more!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Is it Wrong to Make a Profit? Part 1

I know I've said this recently before, but reading the news lately can be a bit alarming.  I particularly find the economic situation to be distressing, especially when I read about families that are struggling under a lot of debt, and about people in other countries struggling to find food.  

Of course, while I'm reading these headlines and hearing these reports, I'm also busy trying to get my fall collection together for the beAdornable boutique (my online store).  Here I am making throw pillows and accessories--frivolous items in the grand scheme of things--and trying to sell them during a time when people are losing their homes.  I had to ask myself: is it wrong to try to make a profit on pretty things during these economic times?

I feel like it is important to wrestle with this question.  After all, I'm encouraging us as women to support micro-businesses in our community.  And A Lot of micro-business is providing goods and services that aren't "necessary for life," like cosmetics, clothing, consulting, tutoring, and the like.  Can we in good conscience promote our products, or are we being irresponsible for asking people to spend money on stuff they don't need?  I'll start with the economics today, and finish up next time with culture.

As for economics, on the one hand, we are being strongly encouraged to spend right now.  That was, after all, the whole point of that government stimulus check we all received.  The word on the streets is that if we quit spending our money, the bottom really will drop out of the economy.  Businesses would be hurt, people would lose jobs, and recession would no longer be a debate.  So, by encouraging spending of any kind (bonus if it supports micro-business), we are supporting economic growth during this slump.  Right?

Right.  Communities need people to keep spending money.  Businesses of all sizes need to continue to make a profit so that we can collectively keep our jobs and keep paying our bills.  And now, maybe more than ever, we need micro-business owners to be successful in the marketplace.  So selling during these times is a good thing.

The other side?  Well, selling and buying is a good thing, up to a certain point.  And what is that point?  Right now I'd say it is the line between cash and credit.  Even though banks and lenders are telling us that we need to keep spending, what they really mean is that we need to keep spending money we don't have.  Their financial survival, unfortunately, depends partly (if not completely) on us borrowing from them.  And that is not a good thing.  

It is a common selling strategy to convince people that they deserve something new--that they've earned it, or that they can't live without it.  As a good retailer, I would probably be wise to adopt that strategy.  Especially since spending is the new patriotism.  But the truth is that people don't need my boutique items, at least not the way they need food and gas.  And I hope that those who need the money for food and gas won't spend it instead in my boutique.  I never want my boutique items to be a part of the reason women are stressed about getting their credit card statement in the mail.  Sure, I'd love to see my pillow on their sofa, but not if it means that collection agencies are going to call them everyday for the money they used to buy that pillow.

So, am I irresponsible for selling boutique items during this economy?  No, of course not.  We all have to make a living.  But I am being irresponsible if I tell you to "just put it on your credit card" if you can't afford it right now, or if I tell you that you've earned a splurge you can't really afford.  

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Money on the Mind

You might be wondering why I am always writing about work and the economy.  I realize it seems like a strange thing for a "housewife" to focus on.  Most articles written for women focus on other topics, like health and fitness, children, self-image, and relationships.  And though I think those things are important, I think money often trumps them all.

I was reading through a list of forum topics on a local moms' network website, and noticed something interesting.  Most of the issues posted to the forum were typical--questions about how to handle tempermental two-year-olds, which doctors were most recommended in the area, and who was throwing the latest mommy get-together.  But the one question that drew more comments than any other was this:
does anyone know how I can make some extra money from home?

The popularity of the question confirmed what I already suspect: money matters.  Work matters.  Maybe it matters because bills are due and the budget is a little too tight for comfort.  Or maybe it matters because we don't just want to be "moms," but we also want to be connected to the market too.  Or maybe we are bored.  Or maybe our husbands are pressing us to bring in income.  Or maybe a little bit of all of the above.

Regardless of the reason, I think the economy is always on our minds, even if our lips are speaking on different topics.  And I would guess that most of us feel like we lack confidence in the subject.  We wish that we were better at making money, or at setting boundaries, or at sharing our ideas, or at moving ahead.  We wish it wasn't such a big deal in our lives, and we worry about it almost more than we worry about anything else.  Will there be enough money at the end of the month?  Will I ever be able to quit and stay home with my kids?  Will we ever get out of debt?  Will I ever get promoted?  etc. etc.

It is for these reasons that I talk so much about it.  Because we are already thinking about it all the time anyway.  I also happen to believe that some of those worries and insecurities can be overcome with some creativity and perseverance.  I think that if we band together, we can take more initiative of our economic lives and futures, just the way we take initiative with our children, our marriages, and our health.  

So even though I may sound like a broken record sometimes--always talking about the green stuff--I have good intentions.  I just think that if we tackle what we're intimidated by (and I think we are a bit intimidated by the economy), we might just overcome our anxieties.  And then we can free up more time to talk about the other stuff, like kids and relationships and the latest-greatest new workout.  

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Marketplace Mavens

I had a lot of female role models growing up.  They had a variety of different roles, occupations, and families.  Many of them stayed-home while their children were young.  Some worked full-time, balancing career and family.  Most were married, although a few were single.  I learned a lot of lessons from them, like how it was okay to put work on-hold to raise a family if you wanted, and that women could be leaders in their industries.  

My favorite type of role model, however, was the female entrepreneur.  I gravitated toward the idea of having a "cottage industry" that you could mesh with your other life responsibilities.  Most of the entrepreneurs I knew had small businesses, often operated from their home (aka micro-business), and they commonly provided goods and services to other women.  I liked their lifestyle--how they fit work in-between their home and family responsibilities.  They were mothers, wives and entrepreneurs, all at the same time.  And that really appealed to me.  

These childhood role models would eventually come to inspire the type of woman I aspire to be: a marketplace maven.  A maven, by definition, is someone who is an expert on something.  A marketplace maven, then, is an expert on the market.  In other words, she knows how to apply her unique skills and talents to the market for both profit and pleasure.  

Marketplace mavens surround us today.  Titans like Martha Stewart and Oprah Winfrey show us that there is no ceiling to success.  But my favorite mavens are the small ones--the women who run businesses alongside their day-to-day lives.  

Not every maven is a business-owner, though.  Many mavens apply their market expertise in the traditional workforce, shining creativity and innovation into their industry.  A workplace maven is a woman who goes above and beyond in her career.  She practices creative thinking, and presents her ideas to her superiors.  She is always envisioning a newer and better way to do things in her company or industry.  She is a reformer and a visionary.  She takes ownership and initiative in the marketplace she works in, and quickly rises to leadership because of her efforts.  

I will be starting a new feature on called "maven of the month," where I'll be searching out marketplace mavens and sharing their stories.  Whether they operate a side-business, are self-employed full-time, or work in the traditional workforce, these women are inspirations.  Please send me your maven story, or nominate a maven you know, by emailing me at  

Monday, July 21, 2008

Conventional was not for Me

I have been reflecting on the past a lot lately.  Have you ever been in a place in your life where you feel a bit lost?  Like you're playing a game, only everyone seems to have the rules but you?  A year ago, that was how I felt.

I was working full-time in a big financial company, celebrating my one-year anniversary with them.  My employer is well-known and respected, and I was thankful for my job.  I liked my coworkers and my customers.  The pay wasn't great, but it was enough.  And people around me were constantly getting promoted, so I knew there were possibilities for advancement.  

But something was definitely missing.  I had always seen myself doing something more creative, more community-oriented,  No matter how hard I tried to find an alternative, though, I couldn't seem to settle on one.  I considered working part-time so that I could pursue more creative interests, but all of the part-time jobs seemed like a demotion.  They were almost exclusively secretarial or retail.  I looked into other full-time options, but doors kept closing in my face.  

I finally started to ask myself if "conventional" was really what I wanted.  I mean, I know that we're supposed to grow up and get "real" careers so that we can pay for things and save for the future.  But that path was making me miserable.  I wanted to be home more.  I wanted to create more.  And I wanted to have more control over my time and my future.

Perhaps you can relate?  Maybe you are pursuing a conventional career path, and though everything seems to be on track, you somehow feel left behind.  Maybe you would prefer to spend more time with your family, or wish you had more energy for your friendships.  Or maybe you wish you were doing a different type of work--work that was more "you."  

The solution for me was to leave my corporate job and pursue something more entrepreneurial from my home.  And though the transition has had its share of discomfort, I am so glad I took the plunge.  My appreciation is what has led me to create this blog, and my website, and then fill them with reflections and resources for women in all types of work and family situations.  I realize that not everyone will feel led to make the same choices I did, but fortunately that is not a requirement.  What I wanted was an opportunity to choose a different path from the status quo, and to be a leader in it.  And what I want now is to encourage other women who would like to do the same.  

Share with me your story about how "conventional" was not for you, or how you would like to move into something more fulfilling by emailing me at  

Friday, July 18, 2008

Bringing Business Home

My friend's wedding is approaching, and my search for a bridesmaid dress continues.  I've written previously that one option I could consider is to search the closets of my friends to find one.  Or, I could turn to micro-business.  Many online sellers collect and market vintage and handmade dresses that I'm sure would look fabulous.

I've written before about micro-businesses, and their many benefits.  For instance, I think they could be a great fit for women who are looking for ways to earn money from home.  Also, with our communities overrun by big-box stores and their generic wares, retail-oriented micro-businesses offer unique variety and craftsmanship, while service-oriented micro-businesses help us meet our needs while also providing an income for a small-time entrepreneur.  Micro-businesses are flexible, they boost a local economy, and they're rewarding.

As you might have guessed by now, micro-business is one of the main components of the SHEconomy.  And there are two ways that you can support micro-business in your community:
1.  start your own, or
2. support the "'micro-efforts" around you

Regarding the first, starting your own micro-business, it is easier than ever to do these days.  I have a friend who picks up items from garage sales and resells them on Ebay.  Voila--micro-business.  Another friend, who stays home with her baby, is planning to earn extra money during the fall by watching a friend's infant.  Micro-business again.  And my neighbor makes her own organic beauty products to sell at local stores and farmers' markets.  You guessed it--micro-business.  

These businesses come in all shapes and sizes, and earn different profit margins.  Some are very lucrative, while others provide spending money or supplemental income.  What all of them have in common is they are operated by women who are taking their creative skills to the marketplace, usually from their homes.

Of course, operating a micro-business is not for everyone.  But supporting them is.  You can make a commitment to micro-business in your community by doing some or all of the following:
*  choosing to purchase goods and services from them when you can
*  hosting micro-business in your home by inviting entrepreneurs and friends together to showcase merchandize, advertise services, or just celebrate the community
*  if you work, consider whether any of your professional connections might be beneficial to a micro-business owner you know, and arrange an introduction
*  encourage a friend, family member or neighbor who might have a talent or skill to consider starting their own venture, and give them lots of cheerleading if they do!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

It's Time for Motivational Speeches!

I was watching the Today Show this morning, and they reported on a recent Gallup poll that suggested that people in the US are feeling down about the times.  Apparently high gas prices, falling home values, debt, climate change, and politics are causing some of us to feel rather pessimistic about the future.  Pessimistic and fearful.

I can relate.  I don't want to be whiny about my life, because in the grand scheme of things, I have it pretty good.  But I understand what it feels like to be concerned for the future.

After showing the results of this Gallup poll, the Today Show then brought on motivational speaker, Tony Robbins.  I'm sure you've seen him before--very tall, handsome man who speaks in a low voice about taking charge of your emotions and your life.  Listening to him was admittedly a little inspiring (he obviously has that ability, given his million-dollar business as a motivator).  He encouraged people to recognize their fears and emotional habits, and then use them to make the most of the circumstances.  Easier said than done, right?

One thing he did mention that I liked was that troubling times are fertile soil for creativity and ingenuity.  Sort of a "necessity breeds innovation" philosophy.  I happen to agree.  Yes, the times are challenged.  I'm uncomfortable.  I look into the future and worry a bit.  But, I also look at my neighborhood and see a lot of potential.  I see other women who, if connected, could support each other through these times.  I see tons of creativity and innovation just waiting to burst forth.  I see opportunities to share resources, nurture small business, and take leadership.  

Now, I'm no Tony Robbins.  But I do think that if we take the time to invest in each other, and to practice some of the things we've been talking about these last several weeks (like supporting micro-business, using our "relational currency," and being "rooted" leaders), that our efforts might bear good fruit even in unstable times.  It's worth a shot, don't you think?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Relationships are Key!

I am a bridesmaid for a wedding later this summer, and as all bridesmaids, I have to find a dress to wear.  Fortunately, my friend (the bride) is letting us choose our own dresses, so long as they fit certain criteria.  

My dilemma?  I can't find a dress.  At least not one that I really like.  Well...that is not entirely true.  I can't find one that I like that I can also afford (there are plenty gorgeous dresses to choose from outside of my price range).  So, I have a few options: one, I can keep shopping and hope to find something both special and affordable; two, I can use the black dress I already have hanging in my closet, even though I don't love it (but it would be very resourceful of me); three, I could visit a large boutique I like to call "my friends' closets" and see if they have something I could wear.

This last option, the "friends' closets" is a small example of a key component of the SHEconomy.  I like to call it the "relational economy." 

The relational economy is essentially a good old-fashioned barter system.  It begins with a need: a black dress, an errand, a chore, a service.  I take this need to my relational network--my friends and family--instead of running out to the store.  If a friend can and is willing to meet my need, she does.  And of course I return the favor if she needs something, today or down the road.  

Sounds simple, right?  In fact, I bet most of you are already doing this.  Borrowing, trading, swapping.  We women are good at it.  And we could be even better at it with a little bit of organization.  Imagine if you had a list of the skills, talents, and offerings of your friends and neighbors, and could use that information to be a "bartering matchmaker."  Or maybe you aren't the matchmaking type, and would prefer to host a get-together where everyone pitched in to make trades and connections.  Or maybe you are really savvy online and have the ability to set up an informal "swap meet" online and invite friends and neighbors to visit.  

And what are the benefits of setting up a relational economy?  Well, the most obvious to me is that needs can be met without using money.  Our "currency" in this economy is our relationships.  Secondly, it gives us opportunities to share our lives with other women.  And it provides a system for us to showcase our talents while appreciating those of our friends.  Finally, it gives us a chance to serve women in need, building up that safety net that I've been talking about so much.  

I am excited to start working on some resources for those of you who would like to explore a "relational economy" among your friends, starting with how to throw a "relational economy" party (I'll call it something cooler, I promise).  Of course, there's no need to wait for me!  Start swapping today with friends, or take your bartering to the next level if you already have some swapping taking place.  And please--email me with your stories.  I'd to hear them!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Small Steps Pave the Way

I was talking to my friend this morning about conversations we recently had with other women who were looking for opportunities to make money part-time or from home.  And if it wasn't too much to ask, they also wanted to enjoy and be challenged by the work too.  

It's a pickle in this day and age to find those type of jobs.  I mean, most of us are intimidated to start our own businesses.  And we don't love the idea of turning our home office into a call center where customer complaints are routed to us all day.  And we aren't thrilled with being a waitress or a secretary, even if it does help to make ends meet.  But...we do need to make ends meet.  So what are we to do?

Well, the reality is that our current economy isn't very friendly to the kind of arrangements we're looking for.  Small, flexible, "home-based," or part-time businesses just don't fit well into the "big is better" globalization model that is so popular these days.  If you are anything like me, though, you're still hoping for an alternative, in spite of the obstacles.  

The reality is that we have to create our own alternative economic culture where the employment opportunities we want can thrive.  Because the global economy isn't interested in our type of businesses, we have create the environment for them on our own.  We have to create our own SHEconomy.

But how do we do that? you ask.  Good question.  I think we start small, first by encouraging each other.  Whether we work or stay home, here is a short list of things we can do to get the ball rolling:
1.  support micro-business: whether you run one, want to run one, or are willing to buy from one, supporting small, flexible, community-based businesses is so important.  The more support these mini-enterprises have, the more they will succeed.  And the more they succeed, the more other enterprises like them will be able to follow.  
2.  get out of debt: not having debt frees us up to work in the kind of way we want to--not the way we have to.  It gives us more control over our economic choices because we aren't making choices based on bills.  Fortunately, there are A Ton of resources out there to help us create a debt-free plan for our lives.
3.  share resources: sometimes the new little black dress we need for our friend's wedding isn't at the store--it's hanging in our friend's closet.  Sometimes we can trade our talent (like tutoring Spanish) for a neighbor's talent (like planning killer parties), and both win without spending a dime.  I call this the "relational economy," and think we would be great at it!
4.  stay connected: the more we get together and talk about our ideas for businesses, share our struggles and fears, and encourage each other, the more successful we'll be at creating and sustaining the SHEconomy.  If we try it alone, we're doomed to fail.

I know that these steps do not automatically and immediately open doors for real, tangible, wage-earning jobs.  But they will plant the seeds for those jobs to sprout.  The SHEconomy isn't a business model--it's a lifestyle.  And it is one I think is worth living.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Come Back Monday for More SHEconomy!

I've been MIA the last few days frantically working on a wedding gift for one of my best friends (I tend to procrastinate, but that's another story...).  But I am so excited to jump back in with the SHEconomy next week.

At my friend's wedding shower I had the opportunity to talk with a lot of women about their lives and their children and their plans for the future, and I left with strengthened convictions.  Convictions that as women we can use our relationships to strengthen the economy, and that we are always on the lookout for creative ideas that allow us the flexibility to work and care for our homes, marriages and families at the same time.  

In the week to come I want to tackle a few important subjects relating to the SHEconomy, like discussing in more detail the following: micro-business (I think it could be a boon for us!), relational currency (more on what this means soon), and marketplace mavens (a celebration of women who are already living out the SHEconomy!).  
Also coming soon are SHEconomy party kits--good for energizing creative market ideas among your family and friends.  

Again, the SHEconomy is a lifestyle that I hope will open more economic doors for women, a place to share testimonies of what works, and a way for us to bring our creativity and our skills to the marketplace.

I hope you'll join me Monday as we talk more!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Women's Economics in the News

I was minding the news this morning like I normally do (click here to read my current event blog, Cigars in the Parlour), and I encountered several stories on women and the economy.  Naturally my ears perked up since we are discussing that very thing this week.  

Talks about women and the economy in the media tend to vary a bit from what I like to banter about, but it is definitely worth listening to what others are saying.

First to speak was Barack Obama, presidential candidate for '08.  Obama was asked about his plans for economic policy if he were to be elected into office, and I was intrigued to hear that he has chosen women as his target.  He said that the reason he is focusing on women is because we earn less on average than men, we are still in need of family-friendly policies in the workplace, and we need avenues to pursue discrimination lawsuits if we have been wronged.  Unsurprisingly, these are the common talking points about women and the economy from politicians.  They like to focus on the structural problems in the workplace that can inhibit women from excelling to their full potential.  Structural problems like lower wages, lack of childcare, lack of flexible work times, and discrimination.  

Certainly I think that these structural problems are worth tackling.  However, the SHEconomy is more about what we can do to take ownership of the economy in our lives and our communities, and less about what politicians can do from the top.  Needless to say, the tactics may be complimentary, but they are different.  

I do agree with Obama: women are a key to our future economic success.  Another article (okay, so this one was on Islam and insurance--not women) sparked my thinking in light of this discussion.  The article discussed the concept of solidarity as a principle for insurance in Islamic cultures.  I had to stop reading right in the middle and look up "solidarity."  The term means unity, particularly among a group of people who share a common vision.  I immediately considered that if Muslim insurance professionals could apply the concept to their business model, then certainly we could apply it to the SHEconomy.  Solidarity really is one of the keystones of women's economics.  It will be in our close relational ties and care for the commonwealth that our economic strengths will shine.  

A third article on women and careers was the final one to cross my path.  This was a blog post exploring the idea of entrepreneurship as an "encore career" for women (encore meaning a career later-in-life during retirement).  The author is interested in this possibility for older women who are seeking creative, productive, wage-earning work, but also flexibility and control.  My first reaction?  Why not explore this for All women, not just the recently retired?  

In sum, reading and listening to these stories highlighted three elements of the SHEconomy:
1.  it is not about reforming the structural challenges in the workforce, though they are needed.  Rather, it is about maximizing a specific ground-level economic lifestyle (more on this to come).
2.  one if its hallmarks is solidarity.
3.  another of its hallmarks is entrepreneurship

The SHEconomy is a lifestyle, not a series of policy recommendations.  And it is for all women--working, staying at home, retired--because it is based on the economic strengths of being a woman.  

I admire journalists and politicians who recognize that women are a foundational asset to the economy, and I welcome their ideas and actions.  But I also recognize that articles and policy recommendations only go so far.  By nurturing the SHEconomy in your life and your community, you are putting your stamp on the economy.  True, you may not be published for it, or get an interview on the Today Show.  But you will create positive things for your family and your neighborhood.  

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Fits like a Glove

Have you ever tried to wear a pair of gloves that were too tight?  I have a pair that was given to me one year for Christmas.  They were a stylish brown leather, slim and attractive.  I wanted them to fit, but every time I put them on, I could slowly feel the blood to my fingers wane.  

I bring this story up because sometimes I feel like the modern economy is too tight.  The four philosophies that I wrote about yesterday--the ones that I think are pulling the economy out of balance--feel constricting to me.  Perhaps they make you uncomfortable too.

The expression, "fits like a glove," is supposed to mean that the fit is just right.  Not too tight, not too loose.  This is how I want to feel about the economy.  Unfortunately, because of its current preference for big and impersonal, the fit is wrong.

What would the right fit feel like? I wonder.  Of course you know me well enough by now to know that I'm leading up to the answer to that question.  The right economic fit is the SHEconomy.  The SHEconomy fits well precisely because it elevates what the modern economy squashes.  It nurtures relationships as a necessity rather than an inconvenience, because women are relational.  It values small and nimble, because we have long since learned that being smaller and "weaker" can make us quicker and more agile.  The SHEconomy measures success in multiple ways, like health and well-being and community welfare, instead of just monetary gain.  And it understands that the economy often operates in the midst of life, in between dinner and soccer practice and grocery shopping, rather than within tidy boxes.  

Do you see why the SHEconomy, by counter-balancing the philosophies of the modern economy, could create a good fit for women?  It is a place where women can take leadership and ownership, because it affords us an opportunity to express what is important to us.  And it capitalizes on what we naturally excel at--on our economic strengths.  

For the rest of the week we are going to talk about what the SHEconomy looks like, and how we can nurture it regardless of our lifestyle.  Staying at home?  Great, the SHEconomy is for you.  Working 9-5?  Awesome--the SHEconomy has opportunities for you.  Stay tuned for more!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008


Normally I'm not a critical person.  Really--you can ask my husband.  I'm fairly mellow, letting others be.  I generally prefer to see the strengths in others.  But sometimes I just have to point out the flaws.  Like when I see someone wearing white athletic socks with dress shoes (really, what are they thinking?).  Or, say, when I see the economy operating out of balance.

On the latter, I don't want to be overly critical of the economy.  After all, it has provided a lot for me, like a paycheck and the ability to pay bills and the money to buy this computer I'm typing on.  And it helps the community, too, by providing jobs and healthcare and entertainment.  It's just that while providing these great things, a few not-so-great things happen too.  There are a handful of philosophies that I think could use some tweaking, like switching out athletic socks for dressy ones.  They are as follows:

Philosophy #1: "it's not personal, it's business" 
I have to confess that there is a sort of comfort in this ideal.  To push aside emotion and stick to the bottom line can be ruthlessly refreshing.  However, for most of us women, it is personal.  When our friend loses a job, it's personal.  When our coworker takes credit for our idea, it's personal.  When we get a raise, it's personal.  When our business fails, it's personal.  
The trouble with taking the emotional, personal connection out of business is that at least half of us in the workforce are emotionally and personally connected.  For us, business is relational. And though relationships can be inconvenient to the bottom line, ignoring them can produce negative consequences for all of us.

Philosophy #2:  "bigger is better"
When it comes to the economy, growth is king.  The more growth, the more wealth.  The more wealth, the better for everyone, right?  Not necessarily.  
Big can become a bulldozer, plowing down everything in its path.  And sometimes our health, our communities, and our families are the casualties crushed in the wake.  

Philosophy #3: "the bottom line is the bottom line"
AKA: it's all about the money.  Measuring value exclusively by dollars and cents doesn't make much sense to most of us.  And yet it is the modus operandi of the modern economy.  Every sensible business owner will tell you that at the end of the day, profit is what matters.  But what happens when money now means fallout later?

Philosophy #4: "leave work at work, and home at home"
How is it that everyone seems to be so good at compartmentalizing life?  Oh wait...not everyone is good at it?  You mean that you have a hard time keeping work and home separate too?  Apparently we're out of luck, because the economy operates best when work is work.  It prefers not to be bothered with sick kids at home, and "mental health days," and the individual ebb and flow of creative energy.  It could care less about the fight you had with your husband while you were walking out the door.  And it does not understand your frustration when you want to have a relaxing evening but can't seem to shut off from "work-mode."  Leave work at work, and home at home.  How about bring work home and take home to work?  How about mashing them all together in one messy heap?  

You already know what's coming next.  Women, incidentally, are the antidote to the negative consequences of these philosophies.  In fact, it is our preference for the opposite of these philosophies that characterizes the SHEconomy.  Check in tomorrow to hear more.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Me? An Economic Leader?

Hello!  Welcome back after a long holiday weekend.  Hope you all enjoyed it!  

Before launching into this week's series of posts, I want to recap from last week.  As I wrote last Monday, I'm starting a whole month's worth of discussions on women and community leadership, and will be introducing some new concepts, as well as new resources.  

Last week we talked about community leadership and the "I'm Rooted" campaign on  I wanted to end that discussion by mentioning that I had a great time spending the week thinking and writing about female leadership, and that I compiled all of my thoughts into an online resource found by clicking here.  This small "treatise" on leadership can be downloaded and forwarded to others, or printed and mailed.  My hope is that you'll take advantage of the "write it out" and "talk it out" activities, as well as the "3 weeks to rooted" calendar.  Even more, I hope you'll write to me at and share your thoughts and ideas on community leadership.  

That said, I am going to transition the conversation to the next topic: the SHEconomy.  I've mentioned that term on this blog a couple times before, but want to spend the whole week talking about it in more detail.  So, for starters, those of you who follow my current event blog, Cigars in the Parlour, know that I like to write about economics.  Now, I recognize that the economy is by all accounts a fairly boring topic, and one that is intimidating and difficult to get into.  Rest assured, I am Not an economic expert, and therefore won't even attempt to talk about it like one.  I am however, very interested in it.  And very convinced that we as women have a great opportunity to lead in it.  In fact, we have an opportunity to put our own feminine stamp on it.  A stamp I like to call the SHEconomy.  

The SHEconomy is not meant to replace the traditional economy that is currently buzzing about around us.  Rather, it is intended to provide some balance to the way it operates.  We women are particularly good at balancing things out, and the economy should be no exception.

Therefore, my hope is that by the end of this week you'll:
* no longer be intimidated by the economy
* recognize your potential as an economic leader in the SHEconomy, and
* take some time to contemplate how you're going to start walking out your leadership

First step will be to peek into some of the...ahem..."testosterone" qualities of the economy as it currently operates, and contemplate how some "femininity" might give it a boost.  Stay tuned tomorrow to read more!

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