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Archive for March, 2010

Have you returned your 2010 Census

Posted by lyndabell on March 24, 2010

Have you returned your 2010 Census.  If you haven’t, read on for some thoughts on why you should complete and return your census by April 1, 2010.

The census is a count of everyone living in the United States.  By Federal law, answers are private.  The census bureau cannot share personal or identifying information with anyone, even other federal agencies, for 72 years.  The US Constitution requires the census be conducted every 10 years, in part, to determine state populations, to distribute tax monies and to apportion seats in the US House of Representatives.  The census also provides a wealth of information about the nation and who we are as people. 

This year’s census will cost the taxpayers approximately $14.5 B to count every resident. 

Planning for this year’s census began 13 years ago.  The 2010 Census has been mailed to 120 million households in the USA.  All census questionnaires should have arrived by Weds, March 17.  This year’s census is one of the shortest since 1790 when the census first began.  The 2010 census includes 10 questions for the head of the household and 7 questions for all other members of the household.  The Census should take about 10 minutes to complete and mail back. 

Statics indicate that about 30% of the population will ignore the census or refuse to answer the questions.  The people in this population cite fear and suspicion of the government as their primary reason for not completing the census.  Please consider the following as you are filling out your census, anybody that files a tax return provides the federal government far more information than is required by the census.  Each of us disclose far more information about ourselves on Facebook, LinkedIn, and even when applying for preferred shopping cards.

By law we are required to cooperate with the census.  You can be fined up to $5,000 for not completing the census, however the government chooses not to fine, instead they elect to send multiple mailings and if needed, dispatch a census taker to your front door to collect the information.  If you are one of the 30% of the population that does not return the first mailing of the census by April 1, you will be mailed another census.  If you still don’t respond, you can expect a visit from a census taker.  The 10 question form costs $.42 in prepaid postage (bulk rate) to mail and a census takers visit costs approx. $56 per household.  The census bureau is estimating it will cost the taxpayers $1.5 B to send approximate 650,000 census takers knocking on doors. 

The Census helps to determine how much federal money comes back to a community, so each uncounted person is costly – about $1,400 per year – to one’s hometown. 

And lastly, it’s important to answer all of the questions on the census.  While the question on race has been part of the census since the first census was mandated by the nation’s Founders.  Over time a major purpose of the Census has evolved to ensure compliance with civil rights laws designed to outlaw discrimination in everything from employment to housing to education.  An example is the Voting Rights Act.  The Voting Rights Act was enacted to prevent states from drawing voting districts to dilute minority voting.  If the federal government cannot tell where Hispanics or African-Americans live, it is a tough Act to enforce. 

As a recap, I have listed 5 compelling reasons to complete the census questionnaire:

Distribution of tax monies, apportion seats in US House of Reps, each uncounted resident costs their community approx. $1400 per year, provides data to ensure compliance with Civil rights laws, and in these economically challenging times, we can save the taxpayers, you and me, about $1.5B by completing by April 1.

If you did not receive a census or you have a question about filling it out, call the census bureau at 1-866-872-6868.  You may also find local centers through the Census 2010 website,

Filling out your census is an exercise in good citizenship.  I hope you will return yours by April 1.


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YWCA Women’s Leadership Conference – “Unwritten Rules”

Posted by lyndabell on March 20, 2010

Last week I attended the YWCA of Cleveland Women’s Leadership Conference.  What a great opportunity to refresh and learn alongside many other talented women.  The Keynote speakers and Break-out Session speakers raised interesting questions and delivered messages to help women gain a competitive edge for career advancement.  In today’s blog I am sharing information based on the message delivered by Lynn Harris, the Morning Keynote Speaker.

Lynn’s new book is “Unwritten Rules.  What Women Need to Know About Leading in Today’s Organizations.”  

Lynn began her presentation by sharing some statistics that I found to be startling.  In the USA as measured in Fortune 500 Companies, women make up 15.2% of the Board of Directors positions and 13.5% of Corporate Officer positions.  Recent news leads us to believe the ranks of women in the workplace are growing, however the real statistic is that women are filling ranks of middle management but not senior leadership roles.  We are not getting better at providing opportunity for women to move into senior leadership roles. 

I believe we all intuitively know that diversity in the workplace is a good thing.  Lynn provided some interesting data and thoughts on how important diversity is to the economic success of organizations.  Consider these for yourself. 

  • Financial Performance – There is a direct link between the number of women in senior level positions and the financial performance of the organization.  Catalyst research reported “companies with higher percentages of women board directors, on average, financially outperformed companies with the lowest percentage of women board directors by significant margins.  The same correlation exists  between the percentage of women corporate officers and financial performance.”
  • Voice of the Customer – Women influence the largest percentage of buying decisions, however women are not in influencing and senior leadership positions in organizations.  Do we really need men in senior leadership roles in organizations trying to think like the female consumer?  How much more powerful would the organization be if we had more women in senior leadership roles influencing the strategy and growth of the organization?
  • Diversity – Intuitively we know we are better at making decisions when we do not all look-alike, act alike, think alike etc…  Working with diverse teams is more difficult at first but once the team members develop skills to work in diverse cultures, decision-making is more effective.
  • Talent Pool – Even with the current economic crisis, analysts continue to predict a future shortage in the senior leadership ranks.  Including women in the senior leadership ranks provides organizations a bigger talent pool.

  Lynn defines the current state “Unwritten Rules” as follows:

  1. Senior Leaders are available anytime and anywhere.  These means full-time availability,  10+ hours per day in the office, ability to travel extensively, and have geographic mobility.
  2. Senior Leaders have a linear career path.  Continuous career history without the career breaks typically seen in a woman’s career for focus on the family.  Senior Leaders begin to break away from the pack in their mid-30’s, again a time when women often take a break to focus on the family.
  3. Senior Leaders are competitive.  Lynn described this as motivated by money and position.  When torn between career and family, they chose career.  Women often choose differently.  They often put their careers on hold to start, and often to raise, a family.
  4. Senior Leaders promote themselves.  They speak confidently about themselves and build a network with people who can support their career growth.  When women behave “the same” as men in this area it is often viewed by others very differently.  Women are not expected to have strong negotiation skills and an assertive style.  They are often not rewarded for the same behaviors. 

These “Unwritten Rules” disadvantage women and create a work environment where it is difficult for women to advance or succeed in Senior Leadership positions.  Lynn provided tips she considers to be mandatory for professional development.

  • Due Diligence – Do your homework on the organization before you join.  Ask companies what they are doing to get more women into Senior Leadership positions.  Ask them what you would need to do to move forward in the organization.  Research the organization, the diversity of the Board and the Senior Leadership Team.
  • Strategic Influence – Build skills in the competency of Influencing.  Invest in skill development.
  • Networking – Develop and maintain professional relationships.  Don’t think of networking as smarmy.  Don’t ever stop investing time in building and maintaining your professional relationships.  Set aside time to do this, it is critical.
  • Personal Sustainability – Take care of yourself.  This is body, mind and spirit.  You can’t perform well if you don’t look after yourself.  Women have a tendency to take care of everyone else first.  Take care of yourself first.  It’s like the preflight message:  Give yourself oxygen before you try to help others (paraphrased).
  • Authenticity – You must understand your values and stay true to yourself.  You don’t have to behave like a man, your strength and contribution is in being a woman.
  • Mentoring and Coaching – If you don’t have a mentor, get two.  One inside the company and one outside the company.  And always seek one-on-one coaching.  If you can afford it or influence the organization to provide it, seek the skill of a credentialed coach for developmental feedback.

In the end, understand your values, develop skills, understand the “Unwritten Rules”, and don’t try to behave like a man.  Be your authentic self.

Lynn’s book is “Unwritten Rules What Women Need to Know About Leading in Today’s Organizations.”  I highly recommend it!

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How do you differentiate yourself in the job market today?

Posted by lyndabell on March 16, 2010

Every day I wake up and ask myself, “What am I going to do differently today?  What can I learn from yesterday and improve on today?”  As I attend lectures and webinars I look for ideas from others to help me answer these questions.  Last week I had the opportunity to hear Mike Perry, President of Szarka Financial Management, speak on “Using Tools and Resources to Tell Your Story and Stand Apart from the Competition.”  I found Mike’s presentation to be just what I needed to jumpstart my thinking.  These are some tips I found most helpful – I am hoping you find these helpful too!

RESUME – Don’t think one size fits all.  Each time you apply for a position, tailor your resume to the position.  Review the skills and requirements needed for the position and be sure you have accomplishments that support your qualifications for the position.  Tailor your objective / positioning statement to the position.  If you list key words at the top of your resume like I do, tailor those to the job description.  Don’t stretch the truth but do put your best foot forward by presenting your unique qualifications for each position.

MARKETING PLAN / PROFILE – This is a one page document that has become a must have in today’s market.  The marketing profile is used during informational meetings when a resume is too much information.  The marketing plan provides highlights of your past experience and, at a high level, what you are looking for in your next position.  If you don’t have a marketing plan, get one.  If you don’t know where to start, visit local job seeker groups or google “marketing plan for job search” for ideas. 

YOUR NETWORK – Who’s in your network?  If  you did not answer “Everybody is in my network” you are thinking too small.  Your direct and indirect contacts are in your network.  If you are using one method to communicate to your network, you are thinking too small.  Use different methods to communicate to your network and always make sure your message matches what you say on your resume.  I’ve already mentioned two of the tools you will need to use in communicating to your network, others include LinkedIn, Blogs, Newsletters, Status Updates via email and telephone, and networking events.  I know you’ll think of communication methods I haven’t listed here, be creative and get your message out in your network.  People can’t help you if they don’t know what you need.

DEMONSTRATE LEADERSHIP – Leaders do the right thing.  Reach out and help others.  Engage and learn from others.  Don’t close your ears to any opportunity, you don’t know where the conversation will lead.  Be proud of your experience and communicate how you can impact the organization!

I am revising my job search plan to include ideas from these four tips.  It’s time to jumpstart the job search!

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