We are two working mothers — Lauren Rose, the director of business development for Name Bubbles, and Betsy DeMars, the assistant managing editor at The Saratogian. Try as we may to be really good at both, balancing motherhood and career can get pretty messy. As professionals, work schedules and mommy schedules often collide. So, we plow through, hoping at the end of the day, our kids — Lauren's 5-year-old son and Betsy's 11-year-old son and 9-year-old daughter — know how much we love them.
Monday, March 28, 2011
Monday, March 21, 2011
In need of a home makeover
Whatever it is, a couple weeks ago it was as if I had been walking around in my house blind for several years and all of a sudden had the haze lifted. With my new-found sight, I discovered something -- I hate just about everything in there!
Yep, after living in this house for eight years, I suddenly realized that I've hardly invested any time, effort or money in to decorating our home. My wall decor pretty much consists of scraggly items that likely were given to me by someone who was trying to unload their old stuff or they were in the clearance bin at the Christmas Tree Shop.
Well, not everything falls into those categories. I do have a few things that are lovely. Every time I come down the stairs, I encounter the mirror with the words "live simply" painted on it from my mother. That's her daily message to me, and she looked long and hard for something with those words on it. Yeah, my mother has witnessed the insanity that I call my life.
And then there are the framed photos of our kids, me with my sisters, etc. Those only exist because of rare moments of focus in which I really wanted a particular photo framed -- or they were given to me already in the frames. I guess it just seems like such a chore -- and a commitment — to shop for and buy things for the house. I mean clearly anything that makes it onto our walls is going to stay there for a realllly long time with these decorating habits.
Don't get me wrong, I would really enjoy spending some time decorating a room. And I don't think a small budget would be a major hindrance. What is, however, a major hindrance is my severe lack of time to invest in this part of my life. Whenever I have time to even think about decorating (in the shower), I come up with some fun ideas. It's finding time for the execution I'm no good at.
This morning I was in the shower and started shouting to my husband about what we should do to remodel the spare bedroom. It wouldn't take much to transform those icky pink walls with flowery wallpaper and border into something that won't make my sister puke when she comes to visit. Seriously, my sister, the finish painter, has been encouraging (aka harassing) me ever since we moved in to please redo that room. It's just coming up with the time to do it. Our weekends get eaten up so quickly.
Here's something that I will commit to doing sooner rather than later: I've been saving a few pieces of artwork -- really cool stuff -- that my kids have made in school. They are odd shapes, so I would really have to get them professionally framed. But they would be meaningful and colorful decor for the living room. Then I can pitch that ratty eucalyptus wreath that's been hanging in there for nearly a decade and stop sweeping up the pieces of it that keep falling off.
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Working moms: Making family time count
- Start every day with hugs, kisses and kind words.
- Breakfast (even if it happens to be in front of the TV watching a favorite show like Oswald or Little Bear) is shared with mom and/or dad.
- Engage in one small project or learning activity before we leave for school.
- Make car travel time count for learning and sharing. On the way home from school we review the day, share feelings and often a lot of laughter.
- Dinners are simple during the week, but everyone is involved in the preparation.
- Reading books and learning are at the forefront of our evening time. We have a Junior talking globe, anatomy books and children's classics and encyclopedias and we keep them where we can use them - not tucked away neatly on a bookshelf.
- TV time is limited in favor of talking time or outside play time (weather permitting).
- Bath time and bed time doubles as quality time.
- Structure in our household is negotiable when it means squeezing in a little more kid/parent/family time. It just works for us. Even if it means bedtime gets pushed to 9:00 pm.
Sunday, March 6, 2011
School lunches are getting healthier for kids
Thursday, March 3, 2011
When Valentine's Day is Deadline Day
So, Valentine's Day was also Magazine Deadline Day for me, fumigating the love in the air with intense pressure. I didn't see how I could possibly focus on the attention my kids and my sweetie deserved on a day they all saw as special.
Had I planned ahead a little better (ha, ha) I would have already had in my possession little tokens of my affection for them. But, as many readers know, that would be out of character -- not because I'm not thoughtful, of course, but because I'm constantly on crisis time management.
Coupled with my lack of preparedness for Valentine's Day was the fact that I had no room in my day to think about or feel very loving feelings. There were so many loose ends to tie to get the March edition of Spirit of Saratoga magazine to the printer by the end of the day, I was coming completely unraveled.
I had been up and working at home since about 5 a.m., when everyone else got about 7. My daughter excitedly brought a basket of valentines around the house, delivering several to each of us.
"I'll have mine for you later today," I told her, a twinge of guilt in my gut.
Upon seeing his sister's valentines, my 11-year-old son said, "Oh, it's Valentine's Day? I guess I should get some cards soon."
My eyes widened. As it turned out, though I thought my husband took both kids to get cards one afternoon, only she got cards that day. I apparently was the only one who saw my son's class list for Valentine's Day in the bottom of his backpack, and my husband assumed our son didn't need them.
I immediately Googled "free kids Valentine's cards," found something decent and hit print -- only I realized when nothing came out that I had accidentally printed it to the computer in the newsroom. Oops. My husband and I laughed at the reaction people in the office would have when they saw Spongebob Squarepants rolling off the printer.
After getting the kids out the door, I got back to work, electing to work from home free of the distractions at the office. But things were not coming together as well or as quickly as I'd hoped, and I just grew more freaked out in the quiet of the house as the hours wore on.
By the time the kids were coming home from school, I was packing up to go finish the magazine at the office -- and I was at a breaking point in my stress level. The kids were buzzing about their days as they barreled through the door, one of them carrying a vase overflowing with red roses. "Here, Mom. We all got these for you!"
I busted out in tears. "Oh, thank you" I blubbered. I read the confusion on their faces. "But Mom, it's supposed to be a happy day."
"I'm sorry guys. It's just that the magazine work isn't going well today, and I have to finish it by the end of the day."
They were so sweet trying to console me. And I took off to the office ready to conquer what remained to be done and determined to get home with Valentine's treats in hand.
Several hours later, I was hitting the final button to send the magazine to the printer. It was nearly 9 p.m., and I was exhausted. One of the guys working in the sports department asked if anyone wanted a couple heart-shaped Reeses peanut butter cups because he had consumed too many already. "Ooh! My kids love those," I told him.
I still didn't have a card for my husband, though. Then I saw -- still sitting on the printer — two sheets of Spongebob Valentine's cards. I giggled as I cut them up and stuck them in an envelope.
Grabbing my coat and running out the door, I noticed a nice array of treats someone in the Advertising and Classified departments had left out (thanks, Meg!). I took two heart-shaped lollipops and shoved them in my purse with the other treats.
I made one stop for a bottle of wine to go with my Spongebob cards, and headed for home.
The end of the story: my kids were happy to get a treat, my husband got a good laugh out of his cards, and we both enjoyed a lovely glass of wine -- celebrating a quiet moment at the end of a crazy day.
Wednesday, March 2, 2011
Habits of successful salespeople
Every sales manager knows that creating and managing a successful team takes skill, experience, timing and, in my opinion - a little bit of luck. Recruiting talent is commonly an agenda item on management conference calls these days because it's both challenging to pull off and at the same time critical to a company's bottom line. So, what does it take to build a successful team?
I thought I'd take a look at my current team for information and inspiration. As it turns out, they have some things in common:
- 77% played competitive sports in high school and/or college.
- More than half hold degrees in Business Administration with concentrations in Marketing, Communications and Economics.
- 2 hold degrees in Fashion Marketing/Merchandising.
So are sales people hard wired for the profession? Partly, I think. Sure it's about maximizing natural talent, but it's also about developing the right habits.
This week's sales meeting/training I held focused on time management and other habits that successful sales people have in common. Let's face it, just about everyone I know is being asked to do more, do it better, and do it FAST. Patricia Drain, author of Sell the Sizzle, had the opportunity to interview 177 top sales producers, both male and female, from all backgrounds. She discovered several main points in common. Here's what she had to say:
"...I discovered that each individual followed certain daily habits that took them to the level of Top Producer in their profession,” says Patricia.
7 Habits That Top Sales Producers Have in Common Are:
Habit #1: Develop a PLAN. Sizzling salespeople plan their days, weeks and months. They set goals in place and work their plan to exceed those goals.
Habit #2: They Create a Clear FOCUS. Sizzling salespeople ALWAYS stay focused on their specialty and their plan. They stay focused by prioritizing each day.
Habit #3: They Ask QUESTIONS. Sizzling salespeople understand and utilize the art of asking the right questions. They list the RIGHT questions to ask when sizzle selling.
Habit #4: They SHARPEN Their Skills. Sizzling salespeople understand the importance of sharpening their saws. They invest in the resources needed to assure ongoing training.
Habit #5: They Understand the Power of NUMBERS. They understand that to increase their sales, they must increase their prospects, customer base and sales volume.
Habit #6: They Know How to Stay in CONTROL. Sizzling salespeople stay in control of themselves to stay on track. They use this control to keep a personal balance in their lives.
Habit #7: They Have a Strong BELIEF SYSTEM. Sizzling salespeople believe they are worthy of the highest earnings, commissions or salary, and that their time is extremely valuable.
I'd like to add a few more I've observed during my 20 years in sales:
Habit #8: They know that INNOVATIVE thinking keeps them one step ahead of their colleagues and competition.
Habit #9: They know how to answer what's in it FOR THE CLIENT when developing pitches, RFP responses and presentations.
Habit #10: They possess INTEGRITY and know that at the end of the day, doing it right trumps selling out.
Source: Patricia Noel Drain is an international author and speaker living in Arizona. Visit her online at http://www.buildagreatbusiness.com and http://www.patriciadrain.com