Women at Forty’s Whirly Girls

Rosie the Riveter Women are starting small business at twice the rate of men, 10.6 million firms are at least 50% owned by a woman or women, and women-owned firms employ 19.1 million people and generate $2.5 trillion in sales annually*.  Behind these facts and figures are the names and faces of women, just like many of us, who had a vision, and despite of – and sometimes because of adversity- are finding ways to make their dreams reality.

One of the unexpected benefits of launching The Women at Forty Project has been meeting some of these very women. I’ve been so inspired by them that I’m launching a new series in our Money & Career section called Women at Forty’s Whirly Girls. The term “Whirly Girl” refers to the elite group of less than 1,700 female helicopter pilots in the world. For me the term represents women who are innovators, risk takers and who’ve chosen the often bumpy, usually risky, road less traveled.

Over the next few weeks I’ll be introducing you to women in their 40’s who are doing just that. From an award winning musician and documentarian whose dream career began only after being fired, to a TV producer forced to start her own business after being struck with a debilitating disorder, these women represent the strength and determination that has come to personify 40.  (Photo: 1942’s Rosie the Riveter) Continue reading Women at Forty’s Whirly Girls

Embracing change

j0402579 Something Tricia said in Monday’s post got me thinking about change. Specifically about adopting the mindset of embracing change, in whatever form it comes, as opportunity – opportunity for growth, expression, and reinvention. Change can take the form of the end or beginning of a relationship, a move to a new city or country, or as in my case, a layoff. Or more accurately, another layoff.

Unfortunately, or fortunately as I now see it, layoffs are nothing new to me. I’ve been handed my walking papers three times in my almost 20 year career. And although that might not seem like a lot, when you’re a dedicated employee who (for the most part) enjoys the work you do, a layoff can feel like a punch in the gut.

The first time I was laid off was while I was working at an adult vocational school. There’d been a curriculum change that made the courses I, and a few other instructors were teaching, obsolete. After they told us about the impending change, they told us that they’d be serving cake and ice cream in the break room to say thanks. Today, although I know they meant well, getting sugary treats with my walking papers still feels a lot like Marie Antoinette saying “let them eat cake!” Continue reading Embracing change

Fear, the final frontier: Why women are bad at networking

j0400337 A recent UK Times Online headline read, “Why women are such bad networkers.” My knee jerk reaction was to cry foul. One problem – it’s true. Well it’s true for many of us. We’re not talking about setting up Facebook and Twitter accounts or being the life of a party when you know and like everyone there. No, we’re talking about the kind of networking that gets empires established, rules changed, and money – serious money – made.

Last week we mentioned a few things we could learn from men. Networking – effective networking – should have been on that list. The UK Times article struck a nerve because it spoke so many truths:

Continue reading Fear, the final frontier: Why women are bad at networking

WAF’s Five for Friday – Diamonds, budget luxury, eating out…

Five fabulous finds we think you’ll like…

frugal bonvivant

1. Diamonds might be a girl’s best friend, but at what cost? For years I’ve been troubled by “blood diamonds” and other precious gems mined at the expense of others’ lives and wellbeing. The company Brilliant Earth believes that luxury goods don’t have to come at great human or environmental cost. The company tracks their gems to ensure that they are mined, cut, and finished in a socially and ethically responsible manner. They also donate 5% of their profits to help communities who have suffered from unethical practices in the jewelry industry. Now that’s jewelry we can live with.

2. Love the good life, but live on a budget? The Frugal Bon Vivant is the perfect site for you. In her own words “The best things in life might not always be free, but they can usually be had at a bargain. The Frugal Bon Vivant serves up deals, coupon & promo codes, how-tos, and tips on enjoying the good life on a budget.” Now who wouldn’t like that? Continue reading WAF’s Five for Friday – Diamonds, budget luxury, eating out…

At forty, I’ll take ramen noodles over a bad boss any day

ramenToday, contributing her first article to Women at Forty’s – Money & Career category, guest blogger Denise talks about stepping out, and into entrepreneurship. A fellow blogger and freelance writer facing down forty, Denise has had one really bad boss too many…

A couple of months ago, Time magazine did an article about Internet start-up companies and their lean existence.  Time called it Noodleconomics, based on the term Ramen Profitable.  Basically it means making just enough money to pay the bills and survive on a diet of ramen noodles. You know those dried, versatile and very cheap noodles that are a major food group for college students worldwide.  Time was talking about Internet start-ups, but I think the term is applicable to any start-up business.  And as I approach forty, the appeal of a start-up, ramen noodles and all, outweighs the prospect of kowtowing to yet another bad boss any day.

I’ve had more Really Bad Bosses than I care to remember, and the stories I’ve told attest to their supreme badness. After having a string of bosses like that, ramen noodles are starting to look like steak tartar.  I think I’m due for a really good boss.  In fact, I think I’m due to become a really good boss.

As a really good boss, I’d cultivate confidence in my employees, not fear. I’d have the kind of open door policy that the other bosses promised, but never mustered up the courage to follow through with.  And, as a really good boss, I’d respect the opinions of my employees and admit that even I, the best boss in the world, can make mistakes.  Of course, before I can do any of this, I’ve got to get at least one employee, and be able to pay him or her with something other than noodles.  And sure, being a really good boss isn’t as easy as 1, 2, 3.  But, what I do know for sure is I won’t refer to my employees by their ethnic group, sex or weight.  I won’t start thinking they’re old when they hit forty. When I have good ideas (of which I’m sure they’ll be plenty), I’ll promote them through logic and reasoning and not by threatening employees with poisoned  Kool-Aid.  And, I won’t conduct random trashcan searches and pantyhose inspections just for the hell of it.  I’ll be much too busy building my empire and cooking up the next batch of ramen noodles to do any of that.

Denise is a marketing consultant and freelance writer. She currently co-blogs for the site Really Bad Boss.