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Money and Sexism

Last week I was looking closely at a property to purchase, a cabin on a lake that I had dreamed about since I was a kid. I have had the money saved for several years and have been slowly looking for the right property. During my search, the 24-year-old real estate agent sent me a random text saying, “Now remember, this property costs XXX,XXX,XXX dollars!” At first, I chuckled, but then it occurred to me – does he think I can’t afford this property? What does he mean by that? Would he say this to a man? I doubted he would say this to a male customer. I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt – I was driving a rental car. What was he projecting on to me? Do I remind him of his poor aunt who wandered into the wrong suburb in her old pick-up truck?
The second unexpected comment came last week during a meeting with my investment bankers, and ‘my main guy’ started the meeting by introducing me to Dave, who was an expert on ‘collar and put options’. He said, “I have asked Dave to speak …

The Adversity Advantage: Turn Your Childhood Hardship Into Career and Life Success

As an adult you go to work, form relationships, and accomplish tasks on a daily basis. You probably have many successes and also issues that are constantly irritating or downright problematic for you. You may have work distress that keeps you awake at night ruminating about a possible solution. 
Often we look for answers and blame others for the distress, but I believe that the answers to your work problems are within you. I recently completed a scientific study of over 300 men and women about factors that lead to success. They were very clear on the attitudes and behaviors that led to their achievements. What surprised me is that 40% of the successful people I studied experienced childhood abuse, witnessed domestic violence, or had an alcoholic parent. When I include other categories, such as poverty, death of a family member, and family mental illness, the number experiencing serious childhood troubles is 60%.
In my book, The Adversity Advantage, I describe the negative impact of chil…

Abusive Relationships from the Past: How They Impact Workplace Productivity

One out of every ten employees, male or female, have been physically abused in their lives as a child or abused by a partner as an adult. The statistics are even higher when considering emotional and verbal abuse. Therefore, if you have 500 employees, anywhere from 50 to 100 have a history of abuse. Is it possible for individuals who have experienced this kind of trauma to cut off this part of themselves when they come to work? Absolutely not; how your authority figures or intimate partners communicate with them become embedded in one’s subconscious. Hopefully, most were among the lucky kids hearing kind words and support, which now has become of part of their internal landscape. However, many of you reading this blog may have experienced abuse yourself, and know that it truly includes all socioeconomic and educational backgrounds.  There is no question that employees’ personal backgrounds affect their workplace interaction and when he or she has experienced abuse it may complicate eve…

Compassionate Accountability

There is a plethora of articles written about effective leadership. But, our intensely competitive business environment has made leadership more complicated when negotiating the line between providing support to employees and holding them accountable. It begs the question of how can you be an authentic, compassionate leader and still hold an employee accountable to job performance standards? For instance, you have an employee who was recently divorced and is experiencing grief and is possibly in crisis. But, he or she is negatively impacting work by coming in late several times per week. How do you express support without sacrificing job standards? Your compassion may even slow your response to the employee job performance problem. In addition, if you have experienced a divorce yourself, you may be overly empathetic or, conversely, harsh. The first step is to be honest with yourself about how your employee’s situation may be affecting you. If you are grieving your own recent divorce, yo…