Tuesday, December 30, 2008

With the Middle East in Flames...Would Women Do It Differently?

With images of bloodied Palestinians across the news, I am acutely struck by the sameness and senselessness of the Israeli-Palestinian struggle. What will ever make the difference? It truly makes me wonder: what would women do? Not just one, two or even twenty percent women in power. Thinking BIG: if women held a majority of power on both sides, be honest, what does your instinct tell you? Wouldn't we have a different solution? Since that is so unrealistic as to be trite, where else do we begin to shift the struggle in a credible way?

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Sacre Coeur! Delanoe Cries "Faux", not "Non", to Caroline Kennedy's Candidacy

The New York Times published a letter from the mayor of Paris expressing his view that Caroline Kennedy's appointment would be "surprising and not very democratic". The only problem: the letter was a fake. Why did the editors miss this hoax when it arrived with a dot.com address instead of a dot.fr address, which one would expect? The New York Times has been circumspect if not tepid in its editorial commentary on Caroline Kennedy. Perhaps, they are looking for a foreign bad guy to say what they really mean.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Must Democracy’s Big Tent Include Torture, Kleptocrats and Plutocrats?

These are truly surreal times for democracy. We have two senate seats, whose most popular candidates (Caroline Kennedy and Beau Biden) imply a plutocracy and one seat up for sale. At the same time, our President just gave a news conference with the audible cries of a protester being beaten in the adjacent room. What kind of example are we setting for the countries that we would wish to emulate us?

I’m sure Caroline Kennedy is qualified to be a Senator. I’m not a believer in endless dues-paying to status-quo enforcing political machines because that can result in very average candidates. It also creates a bias against women who typically begin their political careers later in life, after raising their children. The question is: who has the grit, political nose, aggressiveness, and charisma to get things done? Someone like Kirstin Gillibrand, a congresswoman from upstate New York, who just won her second term in Congress, has all of these qualities.

It is disappointing to read Willie Brown’s take on Blagojevich. In it, he encourages us to think more acceptingly of the GREY inherent in democracy, "Keep in mind, politics is a crazy business. When you're appointing people, you expect them to be supportive of you. You expect them to be loyal to you. You expect them to work for your re-election." Similarly, there are many recent writings that suggests Blagojevich is just a slightly more egregious example of everyday politics in Washington, including this post by Melanie Sloan of the ethics watchdog CREW. Yet, we must expect more from public officials. The public expects and deserves that its representatives appoint the most qualified, competent public servant who will bring integrity and the ability to accomplish great work.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The “Madoff Index”: Is Your Investment Strategy in Keeping With Your Stakeholders?

The cluster bomb of the Madoff scandal is now reverberating throughout the progressive non-profit world. The JEHT Foundation, which funds progressive groups like Human Rights Watch, will suddenly close its doors in January. That begs the question: how many non-profits had their endowments and operating funds in alternative investments like Madoff’s hedge funds? And how much are non-profits taking into account their donor’s investment risk tolerance?

What about the latest news that CALPERS has lost 25% of its investmenst this year, requiring it to raise fees on state government and ultimately on the taxpayer?

Taxpayer funded and donor funded investments must take into consideration the risk profile of their funders. Fiduciary obligation is nothing new. What's new is the awareness and scale of losses. Future donation and taxpayer forms should include a short quiz on how funders prefer their money to be invested. Those profiles could be used to create a weighted average risk profile so that all funders felt that their money was managed at an appropriate risk level.

No wonder there's been such flight to T-bills. My irrational side wishes all these groups had been more conservative with their funding, particularly knowing that restoring funding levels in a down economy will be a monumental task.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Linguistic Thoughts on “Hook-up” Nation

An Op-ed in Today’s New York Times discusses the prevalence of hook-ups in lieu of dating among today’s teenagers. Hook-ups occur when groups of friends get together and some couples pair off for some level of physical intimacy. This is reportedly a result of collapsed advance planning, delayed marriage and relaxed values. The difference may also reflect a difference in semantics. Younger people have attached negative connotations to the word "dating": they view dates as pressure-cookers.

In any case, the de-formalization of mating rituals is real and has spread to older generations (ie, those in their 30s and 40’s). To the extent that I‘ve encountered it in my own dating life, it feels like a virus of passion-free ennui. It seems to mostly affect the lives of those who focus on building a great lifestyle. Those who emphasize building a life of significance, such as having a family or anything beyond simple material success, seem relatively immune.

I have lived in formal cities like New York and Paris and did not experience this style of dating. There is no equivalent French word or expression for the concept of “dating” in French. And as a result, if you have two dates with a French man, he’s your boyfriend.

I view many attitudes of younger generations as the positive result of a more egalitarian and practical culture. I have yet to discover the advantage of this new-fangled mating ritual. Perhaps, it's simply a practical strategy to keep marriage at bay. Age at marriage is the most significant factor in predicting marriage stability. According to NBER research by Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers, couples who are 30 and older at marriage have practically a nil chance of divorce.

A hook-up is devoid of the intimacy, passion and oneness that can drive an exuberance to marry. When the time is right, perhaps, we can borrow expressions from other languages to add some spice to our youngsters’ dating lives. For example, in the poetic Persian language, a common term of endearment translates roughly to “I sacrifice for you”. Now, that’s exciting.

Friday, December 12, 2008

A Bold Fresh Piece of Humanity

Yesterday, on NPR's morning edition, Bill O'Reilly discussed his new memoir "A Bold Fresh Piece of Humanity", a moniker give to him by a grammar school nun, presumably with great affection. O'Reilly notes that anyone who "puts themselves on the line" risks being called evil. "Some people thought Jesus was evil; they nailed him to a cross," O'Reilly said. I LOVE the title of his book and deeply admire those who take a stand. With people like Bill O'Reilly, the question is whether they strike the most effective balance between being outrageous and being courageous.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Will "Stay-at-Home-Boyfriends" End the Gender Wage Gap?

A 24-year old market researcher told me that her same-aged gainfully employed boyfriend dreams of quitting his job and becoming her stay-at-home-boyfriend. They neither live together nor have children. The boyfriend simply would like to pursuit his interests during the day and finds nothing untoward in this choice.

If this attitude were pervasive among Millenials, we'd see the end of the wage gap among this generation in a hurry. In a recent study reviewed in Time magazine, researchers found that sex role stereotypes alone could explain a large proportion of the difference in earnings between men and women. Men with traditional views of gender roles (ie, men who have a wife to do all the housework and child care) have the highest income and earn 71% more than and women with traditional views of gender roles (those with two full-time jobs). Men who hold egalitarian views have much lower wages than traditional men and these men earn just 7% more than egalitarian-oriented women - even today.

Perhaps this is one of the keys to why younger women seem so unconcerned about feminism. Their generation's views towards gender roles are vastly more egalitarian than previous generations and they already assume a fairer outcome in wages.

With fewer men holding traditional gender roles, will there be fewer jumbo salaries and what does that imply for income inequality more broadly?

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Might the Needs of Women Abroad Resonate With Young American Women?

Cecile Richards praised the appointment of Hillary Clinton to Secretary of State because of its positive implications for women's health in developing countries. She states: "in some parts of Africa, women have a one-in-10 risk of dying in childbirth" I welcome Cecile's focus on what Hillary will represent to women in developing countries.

Young women have consistently rejected a domestic feminist agenda as so much uninteresting gas-bagging. I wonder if an appeal to younger women about the rights of women in other countries might have more resonance to them than appeals about women's well-being at home.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The End of Ideology? Millenials Embrace Pragmatism

In previous posts, I've marveled at how Millenial women find feminism irrelevant, somewhat like Alaskans' view towards heatstroke. As another indication that Millenials embrace a more pragmatic and less ideological view, Richard Cizik, the chief lobbyist for the National Association of Evangelicals, told Terri Gross on Fresh Air, that he looks forward to working with President-elect Obama on climate change and reducing unintended pregnancies. He said his views had softened over the past four years because he is becoming more like younger Evangelicals. Cizik stated that younger Evangelicals have different views towards gays and they are particularly concerned about the environment. Paraphrasing, Cizik said, "It is Godly to work towards Creation Care."

Older generations need to be be wary of being dismissed by Millenials if they continue with their customary appeals to ideology and group identity. Millenials are undeterred by slippery slope arguments over issues such as abortion. They seem ready to jump on a taboggan and slide down those slippery slopes into some practical solutions.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Misery Index Redefined

Reagan famously called the sum of the rates of inflation and unemployment "the Misery Index". In the current recession, a better indicator, particularly regionally, would be the sum of the rates of unemployment and foreclosures.

Lately, it's been worrying to see a convergence of libertarian and liberal economists on many major economic policy issues. Yikes, does that mean it's so bad that there are no other options? I wonder what would happen if an economist constructed a Misery Coefficient: the extent to which the opinion pages of The Wall Street Journal and the New York Times agree on such matters as government bailouts for the financial and auto manufacturing sectors and fiscal stimulus spending. Perhaps it should be called the Panic Index. Would we be at a historic high? And if so, what does that imply?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Hillary Kerfuffle, Part 2

A lot of press and blog attention (Jodi Kantor's story in the New York Times on Saturday which was re-posted on HuffPost and heavily commented) has been given to what Hillary's appointment to Secretary of State means for women. At this point, that seems like an odd question. The questions should be, "what does Hillary's appointment mean for US foreign policy? What will her appointment mean for women in developing countries? And waht does it mean for this extraordinary woman's career?

As the third woman to be Secretary of State, Hillary is not breaking new ground for American women. Still, I'm thrilled that she will likely become the most high profile and effective Secretary of State in a generation and that women in developing countries have much to gain with her ability to affect development policy.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Sexy Century

The most popular NYTimes article today is "Pastor’s Advice for Better Marriage: More Sex". “Today we’re beginning this sexperiment, seven days of sex,” Pastor Ed Young of Grapevine, Texas said, with his characteristic mix of humor, showmanship and Scripture. “How to move from whining about the economy to whoopee!” Amidst this enthusiasm for congregational copulation (singles can have chocolate cake), we may find ourselves at the dawn of a giddy wave of abundant marital sex.

Perhaps our new Presidential couple can help set an example for our conflicted sex-obsessed yet Puritan culture. Ebony magazine nominated the Obamas in 2007 as the sexiest couple of the year. Photos in the French press lately confirm this view. I will try to scan photos from the print editions of Paris Match and post them. They are electrifying. See post below "La Force D'Un Couple".

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Feminism is My Frenemy

My friend Barb and I were talking today about the state of feminism. I am fascinated by everything relating to women and expanding women's power, yet I cringe at some feminist's grievance and demand based approach to feminism. We have to work hard to build infrastructure to support women's advancement in greater numbers across all sectors, first and foremost. We also need to Obama-ize feminism, ie, move beyond the status quo of grievances and on to the next stage of hopefuleness. Trust me, I know this is still fuzzy!

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Hillary Kerfuffle

The blogosphere is alight with commentary on Obama's selection of Hillary for Secretary of State. A Huffington Post article on the topic has generated over 17,500 comments http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/11/13/hillary-clinton-secretary_n_143735.html. By comparison, a post by Gavin Newsom is barely breaking into double digits - so much for electric cars. Back to the Team of Rivals. I would love to see Hillary stay in the Senate and I love the idea of her being Secretary of State. Sorry to the angry Hillary opponents. The American Prospect wrote this about Timothy Geithner in September, "In a deep crisis, truly talented and effective people can earn broad respect." The same should hold true for Hillary.

Some that oppose Hillary simply want big change and a much more progressive agenda. They are going to have a rough ride in the next year as I predict many more disappointments to come. Let's be realistic, not much is possible in a financial meltdown and with a President who has said that he is Pay as you go (or would be in more normal times). Get your antacid ready.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Closed Circuit: A Top Tip Towards Ending the Blame Game

Have you ever found yourself justifying yourself repeatedly in your mind, over and over again. If so, consider this: you're wrong. You’ve got a problem with your own story. You don’t believe yourself, otherwise your mind would be settled and you would have stopped trying to prove your point to your most gullible jurist: YOU! Back up. Find the flaw in what you have contributed to the situation and address it. Blaming someone else does not move you forward and only after you’ve addressed your contribution to the problem will your mind be at ease.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Can Anyone Be A Visionary?

Leadership literature often makes the case that anyone can be a good leader with the appropriate training, self-awareness and discipline. I haven't yet seen the question of whether anyone can be a visionary. Here, I'll make the case that, yes, anyone can be a visionary. As fodder, I compare two strategic planning sessions for the same organization with the same board members. Both sessions started with visioning exercises. The first year, we came up with a broad, credible and most importantly, energizing vision. This vision infused the entire day with enthusiasm and drove our decisions in the right direction. A year later, we skimped on time and planning for our visioning session. Each of us chimed in with great ideas about our long term vision. Yet, a down economy can make people practical and some ideas were met with splashes of cold water. Without the discipline of "greenlighting" all ideas, we were quickly bogged down. Vision requires a few simple things: frame an open mindset, spend the time, and greenlight all ideas with discipline and optimism. As Steve Jobs has said, vision is connecting the dots. Anyone can be visionary with the right framework.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

La Force D'un Couple

In the commemorative edition of Paris Match (the French version of Life magazine), there is a captivating photo of Barack and Michelle Obama's embrace onstage at Grant Park. The caption gushes "they are alone in the world in front of millions of spectators. Barack et Michelle Obama, Mister President et la First Lady, la victoire de la passion." In this photo, the Obamas look like the winners of the tango Olympics; the intensity of their relationship leaps off the page. I had not seen their relationship portrayed this way in the American press.

I double-checked. Time magazine features a photo of the very same moment from a different angle. The affect is completly different. The Obamas look like a pleasant middle-aged couple who get along with ease. It's caption reads, "Yes, they can. The President-elect shares an embrace with the future First Lady. The couple have promised their children a White House puppy."

I know we Americans are puritans, but really: a puppy?

The French narrative about Barack Obama glorifies his passion for his wife and attributes at least some of his political success to his passion. It seems that Americans, in their demand for family values symbolism, throws cold water on our leader's passions, and their marriages for that matter. What kind of model is that?

After many years of marriage, our most ambitious hope is a puppy.

The Obamas appear to have an electric relationship and we should be granted the ability to embrace them. Let's see if the American media can get it right next time.

The Obamas have a lot of hopes pinned on them and I have another hope to add: maybe, the Obamas can restore faith in marriage.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Ruthless Ambition: More of That

What makes people angry in the world of politics and ideas? A good friend of mine ran for city council this fall and she spoke eloquently about the small things that make city life enjoyable. As she discussed her vision for her community, she reminded me of Jane Jacobs’ “The Rise and Fall of Great American Cities”, with an eye to the closely observed detail. In 1960, when Jane Jacobs published her book,

“some critics used adjectives like "triumphant" and "seminal" to describe the book while others... eviscerated her ideas. The battles she ignited are still being fought, and the criticism was perhaps inevitable, given that such an ambitious work was produced by somebody who had not finished college, much less become an established professional in the field. Indisputably, the book was as radically challenging to conventional thinking as Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring," which helped engender the environmental movement, would be the next year, and Betty Friedan's "The Feminine Mystique," which deeply affected perceptions of relations between the sexes, would be in 1963.” NYT 2006 obituary

Like Jane Jacobs, my friend has many admirers who call her their “hero” in thank you notes and e-mails. She also had a critic who said she had run a negative campaign (with no specific examples) and cited her “blind ambition” in a complaint. This tempest in a teapot has me thinking about the nature of controversy.

There's no question that my friend was running for office to gain power to implement her ideas. And there will always be those that disagree with a candidate’s ideas. We can’t be so naive to believe that seeking power and shaking up the establishment will always be met with smiles and approval. The only way we will enjoy smooth sailing is if we field candidates who wait in line and have few fresh ideas that would disrupt the status quo.

When we have critics, we must listen for the kernel of truth that they are so desperate, if ill-equipped, to convey and we must adjust our tactics where appropriate. We must also plow forward and loudly encourage those with ambition and vision, who while perhaps imperfect, are our engines of progress and reform.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Oprah's Human Hanky

Thanks to Sam Perry for allowing me and Katie Stanton to re-live his election night celebration with Oprah leaning on his shoulder. While election night was emotional for many of us, this photo represents the gleeful week after.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

It’s a Downturn, Is Your Team Happy?

Most people are happy to have a job as they see unemployment rise and their 401k fall off a cliff. Instead of being satisfied that retention is a non-issue, now is the time to double down and help your team perform in ever more productive and innovative ways.

Yes, I'm talking to you. A Gallup study in 2003 found that only 28% of employees were fully engaged in their jobs. (more on Gallup with citation below).

First, a good metaphor.

In their book, Made to Stick, Chip and Dan Heath describe Stephen Covey’s sticky metaphor for job satisfaction. It is based on a poll of 23,000 employees drawn from a number of companies and industries. Findings are:
·37% said they have a clear understanding of what their organization is trying to achieve and why.
·Only one in five was enthusiastic about their team’s and organization’s goals.
·Only one in five said they had a clear line of sight between their tasks and their team’s and organization’s goals
·Only 15% felt that their organization fully enables them to execute key goals.
·Only 1 in 5 fully trusted the organization that they work for.

If, say, a soccer team had these same scores, only 4 of the 11 players on the field would know which goal is theirs. Only 2 of 11 would care. Only 2 of 11 would know what position they play and know exactly what they are supposed to do. And all but 2 players, would, in some way, be competing against their own team members rather than the opponent.

Below is a simple test drawn from the Gallup Q12 instrument (a survey designed to measure employee engagement. It has been used on thousands of work units and millions of employees):

The Q12 Index

1) Do you know what is expected of you at work?
2) Do you have the materials and equipment to do your work right?
3) At work, do you have the opportunity to do what you do best every day?
4) In the last seven days, have you received recognition or praise for doing good work?
5) Does your supervisor, or someone at work, seem to care about you as a person?
6) Is there someone at work who encourages your development?
7) At work, do your opinions seem to count?
8) Does the mission/purpose of your company make you feel your job is important?
9) Are your associates (fellow employees) committed to doing quality work?
10) Do you have a best friend at work?
11) In the last six months, has someone at work talked to you about your progress?
12) In the last year, have you had opportunities to learn and grow?
(From the Gallup Management Journal, “Feedback for Real” Author: John Thackray)

Do all your team members reply “Yes” to these questions? If not, use your lifeline.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

A Push or a Pull: More Positions of Power for Women

I have long held the view that there are no longer any "women's" issues. Women's issues, those subset of issues that affect women more directly, are a ghetto. It's not to say that the women's issues of yesterday are trivial. It's that I believe all issues are women's concern. If there is any remaining "issue", it is gaining more positions of power for women in all sectors: private, public and non-profit.

In a 19 year study of 215 Fortune 500 firms, Roy Adler shows a strong correlation between a good record of promoting women into the executive suite and high profitability. Three measures of profitability were used to demonstrate that the 25 Fortune 500 firms with the best record of promoting women to high positions are between 18 and 69 percent more profitable than the median Fortune 500 firms in their industries.

What's going on? Some have said that profitable firms are more able to experiment with promoting women. I would guess that companies with more women in senior positions have higher employee retention rates and promote more from within - great indications of well-managed companies.

In any case, the data support the huge benefit of having women in the highest ranks. Sounds like a pull, not a push.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Now More Than Ever: When Women Vote, Democrats Win

When women vote, Democrats win. My favorite corollary: when women run, women vote. According to exit polls on November 4th, 56% of women gave Obama their vote, compared to 49% of men. The last election with as large a gender gap was 1992, the Year of the Woman, when anger surrounding the Anita Hill hearings drove a gender gap of 8% for Clinton and women's representation in Congress rose from 6% to 10%. This year, women's Congressional representation rose from 16% to 17%.

Another opportunity to drive women's devotion to the Democratic ticket is upon us: senior hires in the executive branch. Will President Obama do better than past Presidents in his appointments? Keep your eye on www.change.gov.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Obama Victory

Tyranny Cuts off the Singers Head
But the Voice
from the Bottom of the Well
Returns to the Secret Springs of the Earth
And Rises
Out of Nowhere
Through the Mouths of the People!

- Pablo Neruda

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Sophie Hahn for Berkeley City Council

In the weeks since I wrote my orignal post about Sophie Hahn's race for City Council, I've had the pleasure of meeting and talking to many District 5 voters about Sophie's candidacy. I have known Sophie Hahn since 1983 and she has been a close advisor and mentor to me for 25 years. While campaigning with Sophie at the Spice of Life fair, I talked with many voters. I was particularly struck when I and another voter listenend to Sophie speak about the scaling of the proposed Safeway in ways that mezmerised us with her keen intellect, passion and historic understanding of the area. If Sophie can stop people in their tracks with a discussion of square footage, imagine how the community will want to listen to her on the full range of issues facing Berkeley. She changed the mind of every voter that I saw her speak to that day. Those that have heard Sophie in public forums and endorsement meetings say "Sophie blew me away". I would encourage any voter in District 5 to call Sophie and see for yourself what I am talking about.

As a co-founder and Founding Executive Director of Emerge America, the premier training program for Democratic women, I have met with many wonderful candidates for
public office across the country. Sophie Hahn is special among them. She has inspired my work at Emerge over the last seven years and I have often thought (out loud with my board of directors) "How would this program help women like Sophie Hahn represent us?" This election represents a unique opportunity to elect someone who sees every aspect of Berkeley within a broad long-range vision for the city. There are few people who have Sophie's unique combination of gifts: her top caliber education and work experience, her passion, vision and leadership, and her deeply felt caring for her community. People like Sophie don't step up often enough. This is a unique opportunity for Berkeley.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Negotiation Gap

My friend Peter was hiring a marketing manager for his technology company and asked a strong candidate about her salary requirements. She replied, "In my last job, I made $75,000, but I....". Peter stopped her before she talked her way down the pay scale and offered her $85,000 on the spot. He didn't want to deal with the office politics when she found out that others were making more because they had done a better job in their negotiations.

In a recent study published in Time magazine http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1843323,00.html, researchers found that sex role stereotypes alone could explain a large proportion of the difference in earnings between men with traditional views of gender roles (ie, men who have a wife to do all the housework and child care) and women with traditional views of gender roles (those with two full-time jobs). Somewhere in the middle were men and women who hold egalitarian views of gender roles. No doubt, some of the persistent wage gap is one's own attitudes and how these attitudes are perceived by employers. Whatever the causes for the persistently large wage gap, an important method for addressing this gap is improving women's negotiation skills through training.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Have Millennial Women Moved Beyond Feminism?

Written with Barb Bylenga

Talking to a Millennial (ages 15-29) about feminism is like talking to an Alaskan about heatstroke. They’ve heard of it, sure, and what they’ve heard sounds pretty unpleasant—but it’s not a part of their world. Not at all. Maya, a 20-year-old woman living in New York, rolled her eyes when asked in a market research interview how she felt about women’s issues. “Oh, I’m no feminist,” she said. Rea, a 21-year-old in LA, had difficulty even comprehending a question about competing for jobs with men: “What do you mean? I don’t see any distinction, like, at all. Maybe I would sell myself short as a professional football player, but that’s just because I don’t like football.” Older feminists, like ourselves, initially react to this attitude with concern: How can the fight for gender equality ever be won if the next generation couldn’t care less?

The Millennial attitude towards feminism reflects the general cultural move towards a post-grievance society. They don’t blame men for gender barriers; instead they view them as a personal challenge to overcome. Therefore, success is within their personal power, and not dependent on the work of the sisterhood to achieve. The mindset of the younger generation exalts the power of the individual, so much so that among this generation, identity politics have largely lost their resonance. Challenges are individual challenges, no longer group challenges. It’s even been coined the “splinter generation” by some within the generation. As the website splintergeneration.com points out, “Our generation is split into a million different cultures and subcultures, whether they are religious, musical, literary, racial, class-based or consumer-based.” They do not see themselves as having power as a group as Boomers did. They identify with much smaller individualistic passions, an attitude that is supported and fueled by advances in technology.

This cultural shift explains much of the divide in how each generation views feminism. Millennial women live in a world where they believe they are equal, for the most part believe they are treated as equal, and importantly, they don’t believe being angry about the past gets you anywhere. In some ways you could claim that the Millenials live in the world Boomer women were fighting for; that they have what Boomer women want. Boomer women, on the other hand, grew up within a culture in which they had to fight for equality and it is fair to say their grievances are still strong. Therefore to them, the fight must continue on or we will lose sacred ground. It’s not surprising that Boomer women look at younger women and say: Wow, they have a very different worldview; I don’t understand these women, they’re not like me.

The outcome of the Democratic nomination process clearly illustrates the changing of the guard. Much of Obama’s magnetism with Millenials comes from the fact that he elevated himself above grievances. His indifference about race gave him credibility as a true catalyst for change, and importantly created a relevancy with the generation that allowed them to believe they have someone who “gets them.” Obama is a visionary in this post-grievance generation.

While Hillary single-handedly achieved extraordinary gains for women’s leadership, she didn’t embrace the post-grievance zeitgeist that is fundamental to the Millennial identity. Unlike many feminists, Millennial women didn’t see her as a critical chance to save the women’s agenda. In fact they could care less that she is a woman because to them it’s not about gender, it’s about embracing their mindset. While Hillary was by no means a battle-axe feminist, she closely aligned herself with an attitude that persists among old school feminists: that you have to fit into the man’s world. She worked too hard at aligning her persona with what she “isn’t” instead of recognizing that times have changed and being a woman is just fine. Beyond a few tears, she never carved her own authentic feminine place.

Sarah Palin, on the other hand, does a better job than Hillary of reflecting Millenials’ attitudes about being a woman. She isn’t running as a female trying to be as tough as a male – she is simply a tough female. She’s comfortable with her gender and doesn’t seem concerned about representing women’s voices. In this regard, if perhaps none other, she represents the new generation. Unfortunately for her as a candidate, she did not shed group identity altogether. She relies on class politics in her stump speeches and does not have broad appeal beyond her base. Regardless, greater subject mastery would serve her well in any future race.

The first woman president will be a full-blown post-grievance candidate, not dissimilar to Barack Obama. She will not strive to become a part of the old guard. Instead, she will rise above the fight with her own female persona naturally shining through.

While there is much work to be done in the fight for equal rights, old school feminists and traditional civil rights leaders will not be able to reverse this world-view in the younger generation. Without a change in voice, they will be increasingly seen as out of touch and irrelevant, just as Hillary supporters’ post-nomination demands and Jesse Jackson’s criticisms of Barack have been met with sighs.

Millennial women represent something hopeful. Instead of being dismissive of their style and approach, the old guard should count the attitude of their daughters and sons as the fruit of their efforts. This mere act of tossing away generations of grievances may seem terrifying, yet we need to better appreciate Millenial attitudes and speak to their beliefs to engage them in the work that is yet to be accomplished.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Bad Attitudes Towards Governance: Penny Wise, Pound Foolish

"Government is the name we give to the things we choose to do together." Barney Frank

It is this attitude that is more prevalent in France and the UK that allowed Europe to lead the way in resolving the current financial crisis. As Republicans have worked toward reducing government's scope and role in regulation, we have compromised our ability to move quickly and decisively. As Paul Krugman points out, the Treasury Department was almost like FEMA - depleted of its civil service talent by years of departures due to politicization and political appointments of relative novices. Hank Paulson has been pulling some of his trusted direct reports into the Treasury Department out of their gilded retirements from "Government" Sachs to work on the federal bailout. We are lucky that Paulson has such great talent at hand who are interested in serving. Yet, it is unclear that a group of investment bankers from one powerhouse can provide the needed perspectives to create the best solutions.

The French and the British had the varied talent pool that they needed and moved much more quickly and effectively than the Americans. And our anti-government nationalization (quick, is that a new oxymoron?) of the banks will not be as effective. The Europoeans have taken voting stock in the banks that they have nationalized and can get the banks to start lending instead of hoarding capital. Half-measures with the banks, i.e., ownership without representation, will not be enough, unless we get lucky or the European's cure paves our way.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Obama/Biden: When Hope and History Rhyme

Senator Biden made a moving speech today at a fundraiser in Atherton. In closing, he quoted Seamus Heaney's poem:

History says, Don't hope
On this side of the grave,
But then, once in a lifetime
The longed-for tidal wave
Of justice can rise up
And hope and history rhyme.

This is our moment. Just by electing Barack Obama, we progress in our dreams for the future.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Barack's Pitch Perfect Performance in the Final Debate

In last night's debate, Barack Obama reached new heights in leadership. He let go of the Democratic disease of needing to be right at all costs. He stopped correcting the record on each and every count.

It's an important leadership discipline because defending oneself often feels pedantic, causes the speaker to lose energy and compromises the ability to offer a broader vision. Last night, Obama looked presidential by laying out his plans and only selectively and at times reluctantly responding to McCain's barbs. Barack only responded to the Ayers poke after McCain's second attempt and delivered his finest moment. After he explained his association with Ayers, he went on to name his real advisors, including Richard Lugar. It was a touchdown moment.

By contrast, McCain looked frantic as he tried to bully Barack into defending himself. He looked like a has-been politician in a wrestling match, trying desperately to score points so that he might win a technical victory. For the first time, I felt nostalgia for the old McCain and excitement at having won a big game.

Obama was at the top of his game and this debate will be used often in teaching skills on debate, tough questioning and leadership.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Speech on Race by Head of AFL-CIO in Support of Obama

I'm not usually moved by speeches which feature a lot of shouting. This one moved me and it's obvious why this video is racing around the blogosphere. Watch the head of the AFL-CIO as he makes his appeal about overcoming racism in the Presidential race. This will no doubt be remembered in years to come. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7QIGJTHdH50.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

What does Sarah Palin Represent Beyond Her Improv Genius?

I’m taking an Improv class and we’ve been doing work around status and how people achieve status by what they project physically and how other players endow each other with status. Sarah Palin has improvised herself onto the global stage by successfully being herself on a grand scale. She has achieved this status by sucking lots of helium. And many have embraced her new status enthusiastically. So far, hats off: more power to her. We all have much to learn and admire about this rise.

The problem is that Palin has not yet mastered the fundamental beliefs of her party. When asked which Supreme Court decision she disapproves of, she rightly zeroed in on Roe v. Wade. Fine so far. Then, she immediately said she believed in the right to privacy. God, I would love to have seen the looks on the faces of all the members of the Supreme Court, not to mention the Federalist Society. Yikes, the Republican Party has spent decades trying to dismantle the right to privacy and the entire branch of law built upon the 1965 landmark privacy case, Griswold v. Connecticut. And at the outset of the vice-presidential debate, she spoke of ramping up regulation to prevent another meltdown on Wall Street owing to greed and corrumption.

Even in the biggest of tents, these are not acceptable deviations from party orthodoxy. It might be nice to think we could have a national leader who pays no attention to party beliefs. Yet, she will be ceding her power to those around her as they whisper the basic truths to her. It reminds me of Dr. Evil asking for a ransom of $1 million dollars, only to learn that $100 billion would be more in line with the current financial reality. One cannot retain credibility with the Putins of the world with this lack of basic knowledge, even if she can see Putin across her maritime border.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

How Much is that Jerk Costing Your Company?

We’ve all worked with someone who creates resentment and bad feelings at the office. Let’s call him Greg. Greg cuts people off in meetings if they don’t get to the point quickly enough and he micro-manages people to try to replicate the exact same result as if he had done the work himself. He thinks he’s being efficient and where would we all be without Greg’s enormous talents? Most likely, he is very well-intentioned. Funny, his team members are miserable and they hide it. I should know. I used to be Greg.

Let’s think about how much the Gregs of the world cost companies in cash. It costs Pizza Hut $2,400 to lose an hourly delivery-man: imagine the cost of losing a highly trained professional. In Bradford Smart’s book ”Topgrading: How Leading Companies Win by Hiring, Coaching, and Keeping the Best People”, the cost of a mis-hire is 28 times the salary for a person who earns between $100,000 and $250,000. If Greg earns $150,000 and is not performing due to the lack of strong leadership skills, by this calculation, this costs the company over $4 million. And think of the cost of that associate that just left because he couldn’t take Greg.

I hear Greg’s story with varied details all the time. There’s plenty of misery out there and many misguided attempts to correct it. The good news is that complete turnarounds are possible if the leader is open-minded and committed to fixing the problem. Again, I should know. Very quickly with the right assessment and skill-building, my team knew I was serious about change and we moved toward greatly improved team performance in 2 weeks and I continued to rebuild the team over the subsequent year.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Leaders Without Borders

I had dinner last weekend with a conservative journalist who is well-known among policy wonks and blue hairs. A couple across the bar recognized my dinner companion and decided to broadcast their political views by miming the act of vomiting. Happily, my friend was entirely unaffected and maybe even mildly amused. He’s obviously seen much more effective debate strategies from those who disagree with him. I, on the other hand, was surprised by my fellow traveler’s gross lack of civility.

Joe Biden, in the vice-presidential debate says that he stopped questioning people's motives early in his service in the Senate. Instead, he questions their judgement. Similarly, I believe Democrats and Republicans share many common values and yet have very different beliefs about how to best acheive those values through policy and practice. Ultimately, if we focus our dissent on the how and what of achieving goals instead of judgements about people's motivations (since these are often loaded and incorrect), we will have a more civil politics.

Think about your workplace: when someone underperforms, what causes acrimony? If we think about a mistake as a deficit in our systems or the result of an unusual situation, there's little room for upset and we'll focus our energies on building a more supportive system. The poison flows when someone makes negative assumptions about WHY someone screwed up (they're careless, they're an idiot, etc..

In the best of worlds, we can learn about people's motives and understand them. And that should be our first goal. If that is not possible, we should assume their motives are exactly the same as ours. If you try that with your co-workers, spouse, or someone from the opposite party, you'll find yourself in more productive conversations, looking for solutions and getting better results.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Wiki Leadership

What would it take to launch an internationally celebrated holiday with major events in over 100 cities, significant municipal policy pronouncements in honor of the day and loads of press coverage? I’d guess a million dollars, a small staff and some event planning consultants.

OneWebDay’s founder Susan Crawford accomplished all of this with no staff and no money. She unleashed a torrent of global activity by tapping hundreds of people’s passion for how the web is changing people’s lives for the better and connecting them to action. Then, she stepped out of their way.

New York City’s event on Monday in Washington Square Park was a perfect example of her wiki-style leadership. She opened the session with brief remarks about her passion for the power of the web and why she started the holiday. Then Susan introduced Sree Sreenivasan (Columbia Journalism and WNBC-TV to moderate the speeches of other of the Internet’s leading lights: Jonathan Zittrain (Harvard Law), Laurence Lessig (Stanford Law), Craig Newmark (Craigslist) and Tim Westergren (Pandora's Box). Susan could have chosen to run the show herself as a distinguished academic, ICANN board member and former partner at Wilmer Cutler. Instead, she turned the attention to others and they owned the moment.

In addition to some old-guard victories like San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom’s extension of internet access to low-income housing on the day, Susan has engaged the vision and passion of countless Millenials, including Fred Benenson of Creative Commons and Live Culture and Matt Cooperrider. They are the future of the Internet and their early accomplishments bode well.

Is this style of leadership applicable in all situations? As Jonathan Zittrain said in his remarks on OneWebDay, “all the beer apps on facebook and one-word twitters are crap and I love them because noone knows where it will all lead”.

Most organizations are concerned about the quality of their products and services, and are protective of their brand. Imagine what they could accomplish with a more wiki-style of leadership.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Inspirational Leaders: What Do Women Want?

I was on a panel for consumer insight at Levi's this week, which is gathering women's opinions about the future and the cultural environment. I'm sure they will distill all of the expert's opinions in hopes of capturing a greater share of women's clothing purchases. Here are some of their questions:

What are the current movements and ideas that resonate with women, and why?

Anything positive, humorous, intelligent, ironic, surprising, entertaining, optimistic, self-determining, individualistic, and green. Social networking and Twitter-induced intimacy with wider circles, Mommy bloggers, Dooce, and a generation less defined by aging.

What is surprising about women lately?

Despite all our progress, it is surprising that Sarah Palin appeals to so many women. She appeals to the smallness in each of us. She's a mean girl and that seems so last century to me.

How will these surprises impact the future?

Hold us back. Obama represents the top of Maslow’s hierarchy, and as Deepak Chopra pointed out, that can cause a backlash of fear.

Who is making an impact? Those that inspire through hope and optimism. Entrepeneurs and those creating their own lives through smaller enterprise; fewer people are joining the behemoths that my generation funneled into.

Who are the most influential women around the world?

Oprah, Segolene Royale, Michelle Obama, Aung San Suu Kyi of Burma for her courage and light, Misty May Trainer and Kerry Washington, Dana Torres, Gloria Steinem, Hillary Clinton, Anna Wintour, Diane von Furstenburg, up and coming: Judith Warner, Gail Collins, Deceased: Benazir Bhutto, Wendy Wasserman, Barbara Olson. Fabulous comic named Julie Goldman, Alice Munro, Anna Gavalda (French writer), Chellie Pingree, Sandra Day Oconnor, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Arianna Huffington, Tina Fey, Dooce blogger, Angela Merkel, French Justice Minister -Rachida Dati, Dutch politician from Somalia-Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Ann Richards, Madeline Albright, Angelina Jolie, Natalie Portman.

What are they doing that is emotionally magnetic?

They are authentic and looking toward the future with optimism and courage. They offer a new perspective.

What future do you want to create for women?

I look to the newness that younger women bring to feminism. They have a wonderful expectation of equality, and the confidence, entrepreneurial drive and originality to create the world they envision for themselves. I applaud them. While this certainly has its naievete, it is unburdened by past encounters with the most serious forms of sexism and by the more conventional career paths trod by older women - ones which were riddled with overt discrimination. They represent the end of divisive identity politcs. They recognize that there will be barriers and they view them as individual struggles and not group struggles. Their generation represents the promise of the America.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Women's Leadership; It's the Pipeline, Stupid

While McCain nominated a woman to the second highest job, it's the Democrats who are succeding in filling the pipeline with women elected officials. In an earlier post below, I note data from Rutger's University that shows more than twice as many Democratic women elected as Republican women and that this trend is likely to worsen due to "gendermandering".

The Obama campaign needs to highlight the greater progress that Democrats deliver and pledge to work even harder to push diversity of repersentation at all levels of government, through elected and appointed positions.

From a September 9th, NYT editorial, “Women and minorities are not the novelty they once were in Congress, statehouses and legislatures, or even, starting with this election, on the presidential campaign trail. But elective office is still overwhelmingly a white male occupation. A new study suggests that may have less to do with the glass ceiling than with the pipeline: too few women and minorities are being appointed to top state jobs where they can get the experience and the public attention to establish a political career.

The report, from the Center for Women in Government and Civil Society at the State University of New York at Albany, tallied how many women and minorities were appointed by governors in the 50 states to leadership jobs between 1997 and 2007. The answer is: not enough. Of 1,834 top state jobs — including advisers to governors, department and commission heads — 643 were held by female appointees, or about 35 percent of the total. Minorities held less than 16 percent… For leaders to rise from the mix that is America, governors need to cast a wider net for appointees today.”

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Going Against the Grain: Endorsing Superstars

A huge thank you to Delaine Eastin, formerly the California State Superintendent of Public Instruction, for endorsing Sophie Hahn. Sophie is running for the Berkeley City Council against an incumbent with a lackluster record. Sophie is a true superstar and seeks to raise the bar of excellence in her community. She is a Stanford trained attorney, former small business owner, lifelong activist and mother of three. She is also a graduate of Emerge America, the premier national training program for Democratic women who want to run for office. Here's the problem: her opponent has a lock on all the local endorsements.

To get fresh women's faces into politics, we need to think outside the box. Most local endorsements come from within the community. Incumbents, absent a scandal, are almost guarnteed insider endorsements even with mediocre performance. We can get around this by encouraging well-respected prominent folks committed to women of excellence to lend their names to this kind of campaign. You can show your support for Sophie by lending your name to her campaign at http://www.sophiehahn.com/.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Top Tips to Conventioneering and World Class Schnoring

I made a very last minute decision to go to Denver last week for the Democratic convention and had exactly zero tickets to anything. I quickly discovered these tips.

1. Prepare to invest a good part of your time basking around for tickets to glamorous parties, VIP upgrades, and credentials for the evening speeches. Conventions provide an opportunity to practice speed-patronage, hoarding, back-scratching, and schnoring.

2. Bring extra batteries for your cell phone. You will blaze through your battery with the furious texting.

3. It’s all about getting into the flow to get tickets. You have to ask favors, be ready to accept generous offers and be prepared to hoard a little to return favors.

4. If you have no other plans, hang out in the lobby of the main hotels. It will be like old home week, a reunion for your life. You’ll see people you didn’t even know were involved in politics.

5. Make it a game and skip the inherent status anxiety. All week long, the Google-Vanity Fair party was the party to go to - the crown jewel. I tried all the angles for getting tickets - to no avail. I even agreed to do a fundraiser for an out-of-state politician in the general gush of goodwill at the convention, "We can do ANYTHING!"

6. Don't give up. We were getting ready to go home from an after-party after Obama accepted his nomination. I was talking to my dear friend Norm, the uber brilliant litigator, founder of CREW, supporter of state’s attorney generals, and Obama fundraiser and advisor and some of Norm's friends decided they were too exhausted to go and gave us their tickets at 11:00pm.

7. Don't be too literal with party rules. The tickets to the glittering Google party had a hitch. They were non-transferable. We went anyhow and they ushered us in. Norm knew every federal elected and swanned me around - an incredible cap to a glorious week for Democrats.

8. Thank your patrons. John Rogers, I couldn't have done it without you. THANK YOU!!!

Time for Obama to Increase the Visibility of Democratic Women's Leadership

With Hillary holdouts and the Palin announcement, Barack must make clear that the promise of women's leadership is delivered by the Democratic party.

The numbers speak for themselves:

In the US Senate, women hold 11 Democratic Senate seats and 5 Republican Senate seats. Advantage Democrats 2.2 to 1. Likewise, in the US House, there are 51D and 20R plus 3D Delegates. Advantage Democrat 2.7:1. In State government, women Democrats hold 1.7 times the number of Republican seats. (Source: Center for American Women in Politics at Rutgers University. )

This trend will only worsen with continued gerrymandering or what I call "gendermandering".
Women are viewed by voters as more liberal than their male counterparts. Therefore, as districts become safer for their respective parties, more Democratic women and fewer Republican women will get elected and Republicans will have to work doubly hard to get their women candidates into office. I don't see that happening. Republican used to invest in trainig programs for Republican women, the Excellence in Public Service Series that is present in 20 states. That funding stopped during the second Bush administration, just as these programs became ever more critical.

Barack Obama and the Democratic Party need to introduce a more visible approach to Democratic women’s leadership. As the saying goes, when Democratic women vote, Democrats win. I propose that Barack Obama support the following:

1. Pledge to appoint more women to senior administration positions than any of his predecessors.

2. Increase support for leadership development of Democratic women in politics at every level. This includes DNC monies for groups like Emerge America, Loretta Durbin’s IWIL, and Emily’s List training programs.

3. Show leadership through the party apparatus and direct DNC, and state and local Democratic parties to recruit and support women candidates.

4. Support research into constraints on women’s leadership through groups like the White House Project and the Women's Campaign Forum (which are non-partisan), and academics at Rutgers' Center for American Women and Politics, and elsewhere.

5. Increase support for women’s leadership in developing countries through AID.

Women vote more heavily for Democrats because of Democratic policies. And women candidates energize women to get out and vote. To win this election, we need women to more visibly see that Democrats deliver vastly more women's leadership and the policies they want.