Archives for April 2014

Don’t Want To Raise A Mean Girl: Don’t Be Mean!

small_430162762Today marks the timeless movie Mean Girls 10th Anniversary. Why do I even know this when I can barely remember my own anniversary? Thanks to the internet this silly fact is stalking my computer and taking space in my cerebrum – and well I’ll admit I’m familiar with the movie. My daughter and I watched it at least 20 times the summer between eighth and ninth grade and many times after that.

What’s the appeal? Well, it is funny and the younger, untarnished Lindsay Lohan is wonderful and Tina Fey is on top of her game and hilarious. The major appeal is the truth behind all of the cliches and cliques. High school has not changed all that much, the social hierarchy is hard to climb and trying to figure out how you fit in can be insurmountable at 14. As for me, I attended an all girl high school sans drama and I have always been a little curious about what I missed out on. My daughter on the other hand is finishing up at a high achieving but pretty typical high school with a host of cliques and students that resemble some of the characters in the movie.

We watched and laughed and I believe that my daughter learned how to navigate the choppy waters of high school by harboring a little secret – that being part of a “select” group or clique sometimes means turning your back on authenticity. This secret was really culled by the passage of time and watching the parody of bad manners, narcissism, social climbing and peer pressure depicted in the movie – all in the name of fitting in.

Along my daughter’s high school journey she has lost and gained friends but has pretty much manned her own boat – she let go of trying to fit in or being part of any select group. For that I’m proud and though it’s made her life slightly harder she answers only to herself – not a higher being that serves as the axis of her world. Truth be told, I operate the same way. On the social front, I like to call myself “equal opportunity.” I enjoy all types of people and have friends at all stages of life.

Sad truth, is that I see a lot of this “clique mentality” among women and though I steer clear of it I just want to say that everything we do as mothers is simultaneously being observed by a very important set of eyes. Your daughter is watching your every move, so I implore don’t send messages about people and friendship that are insular. We owe our girls more than that.

photo credit: <a href=””>Odenosuke</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a> <a href=””>cc</a>

A Harried Mom Speaks Out On The College Process!

get-attachment-53.aspxIt’s been a long, hard year for those of us with high school seniors. I don’t want to pretend our journey can be compared to that of our forefathers arriving in America in steerage – but in many ways it’s felt like that. The emotions have been tumultuous and now that it’s almost over, I’ve developed a handy list of lessons culled primarily from my daughter’s college search. These are my observations and I welcome any comments and input from yours as well.

  • ‘Dream’ School

A school is an institution that can help your child reach his/her dreams. Remind your child that they are steering the way and they are the only ones that can make their dreams come true. Though some schools may open a few more doors, perseverance, grit, determination and hard work will be the final barometers for success. So eliminate this term from your college vernacular, if your child does not get into their “dream” school, their dreams can be realized somewhere else.

  • Brand Name

Ever since I vied for those Jordache jeans (I know I’m dating myself here), I’ve been acutely aware of the allure of the “brand name.” I’m also aware that those jeans never really fit and well I felt like I was walking in a straight jacket. An education should not be reduced to the shallow allusion of a “brand.” I’m sure many Admissions Officers are mortified by the tactics they are forced to use today to promote and build applications. Today college is a big business, so shop wisely and don’t shell out your hard earned money for a “name.” A “name” that may not offer your child the major they choose or best opportunities or options for them. Look, if Harvard comes knocking that’s fine but at an acceptance rate hovering at 5%, the majority of us wont’ be stocking up on Harvard sweatshirts.

  • Major is not a Minor Matter

Even though your child may have no idea what they want to major in, you should still talk about it. At this stage of the game, you know if your son or daughter will be heading off to major in Marine Biology. Students need to think about what courses they’ve enjoyed and been successful at. Seriously, there are so many resources such and career aptitude tests out there that can help chart a course. This could save tons of angst when your child discovers they want to be a Marine Biologist and guess what there is no program at his/her school. Students don’t have to pin down exactly what they want to do but just knowing that your child wants to keep their options open can provide insight into the type of institution they attend.

  • Curriculum 

Guess what seniors? College is school! I’m only stating the obvious because of all the inane comments I’ve ever heard this year – some buoyed by “senioritis.” I forced my daughter to review exactly what courses she would take at the four schools she’s still pondering. Then I had her look at the electives. Since she is considering art schools versus art majors within colleges, I felt strongly this is important. Yet, I can’t emphasize enough that this is important no matter what major your child decides to pursue. Many colleges have core curriculums; please make sure you consider that before signing up!

  • Following The Crowd

We’ve heard this before, “If everyone jumps off the bridge, will you follow?” I know it’s enticing but if you really have to – please make backup plans. What I mean here is try not to be sucked into the vortex of applying to the “It” school in your town. That is the school everyone wants to go to, even if all of your stats are stacked up in your favor. Schools are only going to accept a certain percentage of students from your high school. Many of my daughters’ peers were disappointed by rejections or waitlist status at these schools. It’s fine if the school is a good fit, but cast a wider net just in case.

I’d like to end this with a little advice to students. College is just a start. It’s just the beginning of plenty of hard work ahead. You are going to change, the world will change. Your decision may be spot on or you may transfer. What won’t change is your drive and ambition. Don’t be shy; seek out the best opportunities for “you!” Chase your dreams; look for a career you are passionate about. Don’t sell your soul for money. The way the world is operating today, there’s no such thing as a sure thing –  so find something you truly love and go after it with gusto.




Equal Pay Day

small_7677801114Call it what it is…an issue for the 2014 elections or a ‘feel good cause’ for Obama we should hang our heads in shame that it’s an issue at all in the U.S. in this day and age.

I just didn’t want the day to slip away without mentioning that today marks “Equal Pay Day.” The date symbolizes how far into the new year the average American woman needs to work to earn what the average American man did the previous year. Today President Obama signed an executive order banning federal contractors from retaliating against employees who discuss their compensation.

The president also signed a presidential memorandum instructing Labor Secretary Tom Perez to establish new regulations requiring federal contractors to submit to the Department of Labor summary data on compensation paid to their employees, including data by sex and race.

Obama is also urging the Senate to pass the “Paycheck Fairness Act” which would impose new regulations on how companies pay employees in an effort to ensure women are not unfairly earning less than their male counterparts.

I’m posting my story here again…because not much has changed and seriously it is embarrassing which is what Obama stated today.

Lessons about inequality…the men’s room, getting tanked & a frog.

I graduated from college in 1985 and secured a position at a small public relations firm. It was a gateway job to a better position. After the acceptable 365 days of employment, I searched elsewhere. My salary was abysmally low and while most of my friends headed off to work in management programs at banks or investment firms my job was more like a Seinfeld episode.

My boss, Mr. K, was a fast talking public relations guy. If a client (had a dearth of those as well) called, we were directed to conduct an extensive search. If he was in the men’s room knocking was required.

Though I patted myself on the back for being a college graduate and I loved to write, I was clueless and there was no training program. The senior account executive showed me the ropes. Our major account was Pan Am. We arranged radio promotions across the country to increase airtime.

I enjoyed creating promotions and writing copy for on-air announcers. There was also press release writing and other responsibilities. I was exposed to different disciplines and the responsibility line was blurred.

Now for the Seinfeld part of the story. I also answered Mr. B’s phone, he had lots of famous friends. Mr. B, who was getting on in years, was a former Pan Am public relations executive. Pan Am asked us to house him. I was so green behind the ears, it took me a month to realize that Mr. B was inebriated pretty much every day. When he returned from lunch and attempted to sit, I worried he would miss his chair. He couldn’t get my name straight, and when he saw me in the elevator he had no clue who I was. For Christmas, he bought me a frog filled with bubble bath.

After 365 days, I found a job at Revlon. A big company, better pay (though not great), no Mr. B, restroom knocking or a bubble bath bonus. I had made it big or did I?

Mr. K told me that I wouldn’t like it because I was accustomed to working in a small agency and I would have limited responsibilities.

After a week, I quit. This was very out of character for me but Mr. K was correct. The position was limited and very administrative which was not how it was sold to me. This was the clincher, when I quit I was actually congratulated.

My boss took me out for a farewell lunch and said, “I don’t blame you.” He then regaled, “There’s a woman down the hall from me that holds the same position that I do and makes significantly less money…plus she’s been here seven years longer.”

That was 23 years after the Equal Pay Act was signed and according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics women working full-time earn 77 cents for ever dollar men earn. However, the figure is closer to 91 cents when you take into account women work in lower-paying institutions and those who leave the workplace.

Among college graduates women one year out of college are paid, on average, just 82 percent of what their male peers are paid according to research conducted by the American Association of University Women in 2009.

Things turned out well for me when Mr. K tipped me off about a marketing job at Pan Am and I was hired! I just want to go on record as saying I personally have nothing against frogs! Yet, I do take issue that we are still hoping to pass the “Paycheck Fairness Act.”

photo credit: <a href=””>Leader Nancy Pelosi</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a> <a href=””>cc</a>
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