Wednesday, May 30, 2012


At the close of this month's blog topic about influential women, the women of Shamrock came up with their most-admired list and asked me to choose one to focus on for this week.

First, there is Spanx's Sara Blakely, who developed Spanx women's undergarments. I'll let the women of Shamrock suggest why she's so admired. It should be noted that Ms. Blakely is the youngest self-made woman to join Forbes' World Billionaires list, so she's obviously worthy of admiration.

Another woman on the Shamrock most admired list is J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series. According to Wikipedia, "Rowling has led a 'rags to riches' life story, in which she progressed from living on social security to multi-millionaire status within five years."  In March 2011, Forbes estimated Rowling's net worth to be $1 Billion. I'm sure it's more than that by now.

Pat Summitt, however, is the woman I most admire among the three most admired by the women of Shamrock. This week, Ms Summitt, the former head coach of the University of Tennessee’s women’s basketball team, will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom
(wikipedia.Presidential_Medal_of_Freedom) from President Obama. She led the Lady Vols to eight national titles, as well as an amazing 32 Southeastern Conference tournaments and regular season championships.

In addition to that, Summitt, the "winningest" coach in basketball history, recently announced her retirement after coaching the Lady Volunteers for 38 years. And finally, Summitt, a highly visible spokesperson for the disease, was diagnosed less than a year ago with early-onset Alzheimer's.

Of course, I admire Coach Summitt for her outstanding career wins. More so, I admire Ms Summitt as a true leader. I admire her willingness to speak so openly and courageously about her battle with Alzheimer's. And most of all, I admire her for a 38-year record of student-athletes' productivity in the classroom, including a 100 percent graduation rate for all Lady Vols. The mark of a true leader is her ability to inspire others to succeed. Coach Summitt wins that hands-down.

My friends will tell you that I'm a self-proclaimed sports nut. Football, baseball, basketball, golf... I'm an avid fan of all. Of course, I love the games for the sheer sport of competition. But I also believe that sports teach all of us -- especially participants -- how to overcome many of the obstacles life puts on our paths. Pat Summitt was shaped by the challenge of the game. It is such challenge that helps her accept the challenges of life. She is a true hero.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

I DON'T, BUT I KNOW SOME PRETTY INFLUENTIAL WOMEN WHO DO... This week Bob interviews Kasey Crabtree, a local influential "twitter-er."

I don't tweet and I don't have a Twitter account. But I recently discussed the topic with Kasey Crabtree to learn more about who tweets on Twitter and why, since I wanted to learn more and share it on my blog. I learned from Kasey that up until last year most Twitter users were men, but now women outnumber them by 57% ( Kasey also said that there's a way to establish influence among people who tweet.

Since we at Shamrock designated the month of May to women in business, I was mostly interested to find out from Kasey who are the influential women tweeting about entrepreneurship.

Q. Kasey, how does a person who tweets become an "influencer?"
A. There are several online measurement tools. Among them is PeerIndex (PeerIndex), which measures people's Twitter presence in terms of impact, eminency or leadership, on a scale of 1 to 100 based on three major areas: authority, audience (number of followers), and activity. A rank of 100 is the maximum possible; a score of 90 or more puts you in the top 0.01% of the population. The average score is 19. These scores attempt to measure how other people respond to tweeters. A tweeter's rating is a function of other people's assessments and not the tweeter's own. This makes it harder for people to "game" the ratings. So, essentially, a Twitter influencer has some important knowledge or understanding of a topic, she tweets about it, her audience finds her, seeks out her wisdom, and often shares (retweets) it among their Twitter friends.

Q. So, I'm curious to know, what's your score?
A.  Remember, the average score is 19. My score on PeerIndex is 45, and I'd be happy to have people follow me at @kaseycrabtree on Twitter.

Q. Congratulations on that great score, Kasey! Excellent segue to my next question. Since our topic for today's post is influential women who tweet about business -- primarily women entrepreneurs -- how can we find out more on this topic?
A. I began by doing a Google search and found an interesting post written by Holly Reisem Hanna, a contributing writer for Forbes. She used the PeerIndex tool and came up with an excellent list of the "25 Most Influential Women Tweeting About Entrepreneurship." To be considered for Hanna's list, women must have a PeerIndex score of 55 or higher, which is way above the average score of 19.

Q. Did you see a theme among all 25 women?
A. Empowerment. Most of these women have their own blogs or online newsletters, in addition to their active Twitter account. All seek to inspire women to think about what they do best and consider how to start their own business. And, of course, all of these women are entrepreneurs who share their aspirations, as well as their frustrations. Many of the women also suggest ways to use new media to enhance business, which is a growing topic of interest for all women... and men, too.

Kasey also informed me that, in total, more women are taking an entrepreneurial route in business -- and that, in general, women now dominate all forms of social media. "That's why I'm not surprised to see there are so many women tweeting about entrepreneurship," Kasey said.  If you'd like to see the entire list of "25 Most Influential Women Tweeting About Entrepreneurship," check it out here: Forbes.25-most-influential-women-tweeting-about-entrepreneurship/. And, one very last thing: Shamrock now tweets on Twitter, thanks to Kasey and others on the Shamrock team. You can find us on Twitter, @shamrockcompany. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

PERFECT BALANCE. This week Bob offers thoughts about the work/life balance working women, and all parents, face.

Earlier this year I talked about work/life balance and the importance of managing the two. While it's often the woman in a two-career household with children who juggles the most tasks, all parents have to make daily home vs. work life decisions. I'm a big proponent of balance, and I realize how difficult it sometimes is for working moms. But I believe there are benefits for women who work that often outweigh the difficulties, like additional income, increased self-confidence, improved status in society and success in the workplace.

Still, for working moms both home and office jobs must get done, and sometimes a working woman's personal life combines with her professional life to throw stress levels off balance.

So what can we do to maintain equilibrium? First, and most important, I would say to all working parents that it's important to find work in a culture that accepts and understands the need for balance. I believe Shamrock knows this. From the top down, there's a commitment to understand that for each of us, sometimes family-life will require more attention than work. As long as the job gets done, with help from colleagues and friends, we can tip that balance in favor of family when it's necessary. Other steps might include:

Sometimes, like a tightrope walker, we have to practice balance before it becomes second nature. A satisfying, healthy and productive life includes work, play and love, as well as paying attention to our personal and spiritual needs, interests and values. For women, and parents in general, the need for certain flexibility in policies like extended maternity leave, working from home, part time work and career breaks may be important. And if this is important to you, investigate these choices before taking a new job.

I've spoken with successful women and asked them how they balance work vs. family. Many have said that they had to figure out how ambitious they are and what price they are willing to pay in order to have a home, husband, children and career. They said they had to plan carefully and learn how to manage their time to every precious minute.

These same women also said they carefully plan, delegate, use technology productively and efficiently, set goals, review their plans ruthlessly, and learn to say "No" if someone makes unreasonable demands.

ONE LAST THING... The life of a working parent isn't for everyone. It's hard. It can be ruthless. But the payoff can be wonderful. When friends, allies and colleagues come together to help one another, great things can be accomplished.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

WARM TOAST FOR WORKING MOMS. This week Bob serves up some thoughts on the moms who work at Shamrock.

There are certain pictures of Mother's Day seared into our brains from watching TV, seeing magazine ads and hearing stories throughout our lives. Breakfast in bed for mom on Mother's Day.  Many of us probably attempted it once or twice before realizing what a mess it is to make mom breakfast in bed.

But that doesn't prevent me from raising a huge cup of coffee on this upcoming Mother's Day to toast every mom who works at Shamrock.  Like most companies in recent years, Shamrock has been through a number of rough patches. But we've come out stronger than ever. It's because of the women of Shamrock, who are the bedrock of our company, that we've continued to thrive. They work here, and raise a family at home, and manage to make it look easy.

Today, women are overtaking what used to be traditional jobs performed by men, including meeting and convention planners, HR managers, education administrators, medical scientists, advertising and promotions managers.  All of these professions have one thing in common -- people skills. I've noticed that most women work hard to cultivate the skills to survive, and to succeed, at work.  Maybe because they had to work harder for acceptance, or maybe it's because women learn early on how to use their skills as nurturers to achieve success.

In this business the most successful people have been women. Why? First, I would say that 50% of the women who work here have to work, whether it's to meet their personal needs or to help feed their family; so they work hard. Second, I've noticed that the women at Shamrock work harder, smarter, and are more detail-oriented than their male counterparts. Third, I've noticed that, generally, women who are moms don't bring their problems to work. They seem better able to compartmentalize their home life from their work life. Even though they are often the "go-to" parent at home.

Balancing home vs. work is a hard job for any working parent and I have incredible admiration for the women at Shamrock who do it with such grace and resilience.

ONE LAST THING...  Even before reading a recent article in Time Magazine (March 26, 2012) "Women, Money and Power", I believed that today's working wives and mothers deserve our admiration. The magazine story just confirmed it. It states that, "...within a generation, a majority of wives will out earn their husbands, and that right now women contribute 44% towards family income, an increase of 5% from 1998.” My advice? This Mother's Day, show some additional love for mom, not only because she wields a heck of a lot of power, but because she does it so well.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

MAY BRINGS FLOWERS, MOTHER'S DAY AND POWERFUL WOMEN. This week Bob provides some interesting facts about women in powerful places.

May, moms and flowers. Since this is the month of Mother's Day and there's an abundance of blooming flowers, these three naturally go together. As kids, we always scrounged enough money together to buy a card and flowers for mom. My kids always remember their mom on Mother's Day, and I hope this tradition continues in every household.

But today Mother's Day is different in many homes, from single moms, to two moms, to CEO moms. Many working mothers today hold powerful and significant positions in government, business and the media. While the glass ceiling may still be visible, it's filled with cracks and holes and appears to be weakening year by year.

One thing is clear as a bell: more and more, successful women in business are not forsaking motherhood for business success. For example, one astounding statistic that was brought to my attention is that 88% of women on the 2011 Forbes' List of The World's Most Powerful Women are mothers with an average of 2.5 children!

While many women aspire to have it all: Mom, Wife, CEO of Big Business, some women choose to start their own business so they can manage a career and motherhood to meet their personal needs. If their choice is to own and manage their own business, I say, "Go for it."

However, I like to think that moms who work at Shamrock can have it all! At Shamrock we value and respect the needs of all parents who may require time away from work to be with their children or other family members. But the truth is that many large corporations are not so understanding. Susan Spencer, former general manager of the Philadelphia Eagles, raised an interesting point when she was interviewed on CBS (CBS News interview with Susan Spencer). Spencer, the first woman to manage a major sports team, said, "... It's all in the numbers – women are more likely to be discriminated against, passed over for raises and just passed over even when they're not asking for flextime and a maternity leave so they can raise a family. I think women who are raising a family are better off starting their own company than working for someone else..."

ONE LAST THING...  The bottom line is, each of us must decide how to balance work and family life. Regardless of whether we're moms, dads, single or married, our success comes not just from our job away from home, but from the joy and pleasure we achieve in our time away from our job.