the blog Synergy

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Cast your shadow


shadow_knows
Originally uploaded by shersteve.

As tall as I am (6'2") my shadow makes me appear even taller in this declining sunlight. I appear to be almost as tall as the trees next to me, although in reality, there is no comparison. But you don't know that from the picture. Only the shadow knows!

How far does your shadow cast?

Turning the windward tack, the month of April is rapidly receeding as the sunlight sets. I will acknowledge that I am behind in summarizing the activity in what has been a month of discovering where the women are in the Power of We.

I have two more interviews in the hopper. One awaiting the interviewee final approval, the other pending the completion of my draft for review.

Given the work schedule for the week ahead: I only have three days in the office with the Good Experience Live in NYC on 5/4-5, I have plenty to write about and precious little time with which to write.

So there is work to do.
I must not delay.
Enough shadow casting for this day!

Women´s confessions

I admit being puzzled by our monthly issue. Indeed, it is not easy for me to write about women's leadership. I have written a post on my blog with some anthropological comments on the way power and women´s place in work and society has been interpreted in the last hundred and so years.

What else can I say about women and their leadership?

In this post I´d like to say something about women´s role in the blogosphere. I read some women's blogs, Rosa Say, Jory des Jardins, Omara and others really make me feel comfortable. But what I find more interesting in women's blogs is that you can find interesting confessions of their private lifes. It was Jacques Lacan who interpreted communication as the process leading from wandering words to an open confession. This quality of talking of one's experiences to an open audience is something really amazing. That's the reason I find to visit time and again their blogs.

As an example of this, just take a look at Jory's engagement story.

Monday, April 24, 2006

It's a Small World After All - Jodee Bock on Where the Women Are

Recently I had the opportunity to interview Jodee Bock, "soul proprietor" of Bocks Office in Fargo, North Dakota. Below are my questions and her answers, with the answers in italic type.

What do you think of the April topic on the blog Synergy? ("Where are the women interested in the Power of We?")

I was especially interested in the April topic on the blog Synergy because I’m a woman blogger, and also because of the comments the original question has generated after the fact. This is why I love blogging … it gives people a chance to create a dialogue (suspending assumptions for the purpose of learning something) -  in other words, it gives people time to formulate their thoughts and to be reflective about the other comments that may be generated.

Ever since I got my undergraduate degree in communication and English, I’ve been very interested in gender communication, and the reflective nature of blogging may help explain why, at least in Synergy’s case, the women have taken more time to respond. However, now that I think about it, the majority of comments I get on my blog are from men … and they are the ones to follow up more assertively as well. Is it a lack of technological knowledge on the part of the women, perhaps for all the reasons in the original post? Or is it that women really can’t find the time to engage in dialogue for dialogue’s sake? I don’t know, but I’m interested in all angles of the original question, and the additional comments it provokes.

Do you have any suggestions on how the blog Synergy can engage women readers?

It’s difficult to find the blog Synergy unless you are pointed there by a post or by someone else’s blogroll. I’m not sure if that’s intentional or not, but even on your Make It Great! site there is no link directly to the blog … or if there is, I was having a tough time finding it. I saw the Synergy team, but wanted to go directly to the site and had to find it through a search of your site.
Now that I know about Synergy, I will add it to my blogroll, and will be talking about it on my own blog. Asking engaging questions and getting responses from the women the blog has been getting will definitely help to create a buzz about the nature of the blog.

I’m not sure whether or not it is intentional, but there is no description of the mission or cause of the blog Synergy. What do you hope to create with the blog? The first time I visited, I thought it was almost a private dialogue among the people on the team and I was eavesdropping by watching the dialogue. As a first-time visitor to the blog, I may read it differently if I know there is some mission that my voice may support by adding a comment.


Do you have your own blog or blogs?

I sure do. You Already Know This Stuff and three Squidoo lenses, Jodee Bock, You Already Know This Stuff, and Bocks Office


How comfortable are you with technology?

With your help, getting better! I’m not afraid to mix it up with stuff I don’t know much about if I can see the big picture – how this will benefit my efforts, whether it be in computer technology or any other form of new learning.

How much technology do you use blogging?

Not too much – I’ve copied other people’s code to add my own book links as an Amazon affiliate and have learned a lot from you – still want to get the Technorati tags down sometime…ready for my next lesson! I have a blog in Typepad, but haven’t done much with it. I initially got intimidated because I knew it would take more time than I had to learn all the ins and outs – Blogger has served my needs to this point.

Did you hear of the blog Synergy before (being contacted by one of the team)? If yes, how? Please elaborate.

I first read about it on your blog (Make it Great!) and responded to the original post because you mentioned me as one of your women readers on your blog. I was interested in what you must have been talking about, so I visited and really liked what I saw, at least as it related to this topic. As I visit more and more often, I get a better feel for the dialogue and will do whatever I can to promote your efforts.

Anything else about Synergy or blogging or anything else of note?

I am continually amazed at the number and variety of people I meet as a result of my interest in blogging. There are times it can feel pretty remote to be running a business from Fargo, North Dakota, especially as a “soul” proprietor. Blogging definitely makes the world a lot smaller. I have learned that I’ve been playing way too small in the promotion of my speaking and coaching business and will be more proactive with my blog to generate business.

Awesome stuff Jodee! Thanks for sharing of yourself with the blog Synergy and everyone else.

Phil Gerbyshak


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Sunday, April 23, 2006

Set Priorities

Maggie Jackson has a good advice in her column in today's Sunday Globe BostonWorks section. (Free registration required) She says: (Bold is mine for emphasis)
... the complementary strengths of confidence and resilience promote prioritizing and perspective-making -- essential qualities in the digital age. Consider them our ''lasers and razors," the tools that can help us slice through the often-overwhelming fog of work and life today.

Confidence is the expectation of a positive outcome. That's how Kanter defines this intangible trait. Put simply, if you believe that your efforts will pay off, success will likely follow, says Kanter, an avid sports fan who studied the winning and losing streaks of sports teams, businesses, schools, and other groups to dissect the anatomy of confidence.

The Kanter referenced is Harvard Business School professor Rosabeth Moss Kanterwhose
recent book, ''Confidence: How Winning Streaks and Losing Streaks Begin & End," explores this crucial ingredient of success.
Maggie goes on to quote Kanter:
... nurture your confidence in the long term by making sure you routinely reap small, short-term wins.

''That's what makes you feel really successful," says Kanter, who sometimes comforts herself with one of her own adages: anything can look like a failure when you're in the middle of it.

She goes on to pair this confidence theme with that of resilience. University of Pennsylvania researcher Karen Reivich studies how resilience buoys us during everyday stress and extreme traumas.

You improve your chances of achieving those reassuring wins and an optimistic outlook on life if you focus on what you can control, not what you can't, says Reivich, whose research on resilience grew out of her early work with University of Pennsylvania psychologist Martin Seligman, father of the field of positive psychology.

''A clear-cut antidote to anxiety is purposeful action," says Reivich

 
Great advice!
 
We have a plan. Let's execute it.
Small wins. Focus on what we can control.
Purposeful action. Nothing wasted. Building confidence.
 
Even if it looks like a failure when we are in the middle of it, we will succeed because we expect a positive outcome.

The "Power of We", honk, honking each other along the way, we will succeed!

 

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Saturday, April 22, 2006

Thank you Rocky!

Our dear friend and colleague Roger (Rocky) Noe of Kentucky has decided to take a break for a while from the Blog Synergy Team.

We are delighted to report Rocky has obtained a super new leadership job that requires much of his time at the moment.

We will miss Rocky’s distinctive, warm and powerful words and we hope to re-engage with him in a while.

Rocky told us:

“It is wonderful to be a part of such a great team. Through my connections in the Blogosphere I have learned a great deal. Some of the most important lessons I have learned center around the ideas of integrity, simplicity, daring to do things in a great fashion, expecting to succeed, and giving back. I have chosen to follow those ideals and have accepted a leadership position with a wonderful agency. My new job has proven to be quite a challenge and it is consuming much of my time. As a result I have been forced to make a difficult decision regarding my involvements in the Blogosphere. I must take a sabbatical from one of my passions. I hope to get things lined out real soon and resume my activities. Until then keep it simple, make it great, do not wait for permission to succeed, keep giving back, and talk your story with great vigour and passion!”

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Andrea Learned provides insight to Where are the Women?

I am pleased to introduce Andrea Learned, marketing to women expert and co-author of Don’t Think Pink, to the readers of the blog Synergy. She has graciously consented to an interview as part of our April discussion: Where are the Women interested in the “Power of We”?

 

Andrea, what do you think of the April topic on the blog Synergy?

I wasn't surprised in your findings.  It reflected both the way I tend to do things, and what I know about women in terms of the "buying" process/which can be applied to their "participation" process, I'd imagine: We may be using our online/blogging time more wisely because we want to make sure we maintain/have time for our more enriching offline life.

 

Paco Underhill talks about the buying angle in Why We Buy.  Traditionally "shopping" is something women like to do as a social past time, and men (traditionally, again) dislike it and want to get it done quickly.  Behaviors are reversed online, however (and so very tellingly, I think).  Women are more strategic online, going straight to their intended destination, doing their research or making their purchase and then getting out – so they can go back to "real" life and what needs to be done at the office or in the yard.  Men will surf around for hours.  They like meandering through the online "mall" of possibilities.

 

I think there is a correlation to leadership in "group" gatherings.  We women want to "get it done," and have found that we can do more by taking action and moving forward for ourselves in the business realm.  I read a statistic recently about how many women entrepreneurs are starting their own business, and choosing NOT to hire employees.  I, for one, represent this statistic in my business and in tennis.  I want to go it alone so I know how much work I can take on and guarantee it is done to my standards.  I prefer to play singles tennis, because I want the responsibility for getting the shots or blowing a game.

 

There are specific realms where women embrace community and the social connections that come from it, and there are others where it just makes more sense, from a practical standpoint, to get the job done themselves.

Do you have any suggestions on how the blog Synergy can engage women readers?

Well, discussions like this one help – where you are posting interviews with a wide variety of women.  And, perhaps you could refer to the now-classic studies of women and leadership, like The Female Advantage by Sally Helgesen or The First Sex by Helen Fisher - and start to discussions from their findings.  Another possibility is to look at the language you use (is it corporate-speak, for one) or how you present it.

 

Sharing stories of how men and women tackled a business problem, rather than framing everything in the usual labels can be much more useful/attractive for male and female readers who are looking for full-brain stimulation.  A woman's brain may not separate "business" from "life" as much as a man's does.  Business-y discussions, solely, don't tell the whole story for us.

 

Again – look at how Sally Helgesen wrote The Female Advantage, with chapters like "The Web of Inclusion" and "The Leader as Transmitter."  Concepts like inclusion and transmission of ideas are much more "feminine."  They are words and concepts of connection, not hierarchy.

 

But that may be a big digression from your question.  I don't think there is an easy answer about how to get more participation from women on the Synergy blog.  I suspect it will just depend on topics and to your doing a little extra reaching out – as you have done with this.  That is a LOT more than most other blogs would do.

Excellent, Andrea. This will give us some food for thought and further discussion. Let’s shift a little to provide some background and context to what you do. Do you have your own blog?

I do have a blog – you can get there via my site: http://learned.typepad.com/learned_on_women/.

How does the blog fit into your overall business? 

Well, because my work is all about staying up on marketing to women trends and consulting or speaking on the topic.  Having a blog is a way to make sure I stay current – I have to keep finding fresh things to write about.  It gives me a reason to monitor a wide variety of media on a daily basis and gives me a way to connect the dots for my readers between any larger articles or books I might publish.  It’s also a great way to keep my speaking audiences interested in, and motivated by, the concepts I’ve introduced in presentations.  I see blogging as a tool to keep my writing skills up, and a way to stay connected with past and future clients and editors.

How comfortable are you with blogging technology?

Hmmm…  I use technology where it serves a particular purpose, but I do not jump on every bandwagon.  I bought an iBook recently (did the big jump away from Dell), but didn't really pay attention to what it could do – beyond my immediate needs.  I already love it, but over time I will get into its full capacity and love it more. It may take longer, but I do remain loyal to technology once I have figured it out.  This is true for a lot of women, I've found.

 

And, I am a very low-key blogger.  I use the basic typepad stuff and may very slowly comprehend all the additional possibilities, but only IF I discover a need.  I may start podcasting later this year, but I am slowly getting used to even how to put an audio clip on my web site.  I see all the things that other bloggers are doing, and though I'm impressed, it overwhelms me to give it space in my head.  I like to write… therefore I blog.  It's that simple.   And, that's all I need to connect with people as readers and potential clients.

Did you hear of the blog Synergy before (being contacted by one of the team)?

I actually had not.  Because I survey so many publications, and get so many e-newsletters, and subscribe to a number of blogs, I really filter what I'll take time to keep up with.  When I got into the blogging realm two years ago, I could quickly see that it would take over my life, so I maintain clear parameters and "let it go" if I miss some amazing blog post that everyone else is talking about. 

 

Bottom-line:  I tend to form a connection with a person - which opens my highly structured blog world to new blogs.  People connections, not issues, catch my interest/motivate me to participate.

Well thank you, Andrea. I appreciate the time and feedback you have provided for us.

 

To our readers, I would encourage you to stop by Andrea’s blog, Learned On Women, to read more of what Andrea has to say on “The women’s market … deconstructed.”

 

I would encourage you to join in the discussion of this month’s topic by leaving your comment here.

 

 
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Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Seize the Opportunity NOW!

"Opportunities multiply as they are seized." - Sun Tzu (c 500–320 bc), Chinese philosopher

Steve Sherlock recently had a great interview with Ronni Bennett about leadership, and I read something that really hit me:

Ronni thinks that the biggest thing is corporate leaders are not focused enough to get things done. Quoting Ronni:

“That's what drove me nuts in the "business" place I worked. There were too many chiefs who had equal say, so confusion reigned. Final calls were not necessarily “final” and any number of people could switch direction of the project even after it was well on its way to completion, requiring weeks - and sometimes months - of starting over. Further confusing and probably contributing to people's lackadaisical attitude toward delivering what they'd promised in the last meeting, was that everyone knew the goal would change at some point, so why bother working at it too hard.”


Interesting closing line. Everyone knew the goal would change at some point, so why bother working too hard. That's tough to swallow for me. Why does the goal change at many businesses? Is it because senior leaders don't set real enough goals to start with, so we need to roll to something else? Is it because too many people that call themselves leaders are afraid to stand up for what they believe in? WHY?????

Or perhaps this isn't true. Maybe this is just one person's opinion.

What do you think? I really have no answers, only questions. I'd love to hear what those wiser than me think about this.

Make It Great!
Phil Gerbyshak



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Monday, April 17, 2006

Ronni Bennett on Leadership

I had a wonderful conversation recently with Ronni Bennett of Time Goes By. The conversation kept on task but moved around and wow; did the time just fly by. Little did we know that our allotted time was up? She needed to get to plan her packing process and I needed to take my daughter to for a second visit to one of her college choices.

While this was supposed to be an interview, I did learn a few things about interviewing. One, I probably should have recorded it. Two, I need to write more carefully when taking notes. I took quite a few notes (seven single sided pages worth) but some of them are now challenging my deciphering skills (and I knew what we were talking about!).

So what I will attempt here is to recap the salient points of our conversation. I will try to keep as much of Ronni’s voice (and phrasing) as I can. That probably was the third learning I had, after having blogged (and exchanged comments and emails) with Ronni for over a year, to actually talk with her for the first time was a joy. As Ronni and I reviewed what was written here, I did take the opportunity to add some direct quotes from what Ronni sent back via email.

I framed our discussion with what Team Synergy had discussed during March and how women did not participate in the discussion, looking for her thoughts on this issue. Ronni thinks with leadership is a male topic. Someone, somewhere said, “What does leadership matter?” “It is how we keep score” was the response. She talked of the comparison to the BlogHer group and the problems they had when setting up the corporation. They met with the lawyers and the lawyers wanted to know who the leader was. Was it Elisa, Jory, or Lisa? The ladies wanted to do BlogHer differently. They wanted to divide the roles equally. They structured BlogHer with each as a President with an area of responsibility. The lawyers could work with that.

Ronni said
the tight, top-down command structure of the military is unassailable, necessary to be workable in a combat situation. It's the most extreme kind of leadership and probably the easiest to implement: "I say. You do." But it's not flexible enough for most business situations and certainly not knowledge work”.

For example, in her TV production experience, everyone had a role and responsibilities. The show had a deadline. It did not move, it was not postponed, there were no excuses, the show went on or there was a black screen. There never was a black screen.
“That is not an option -ever. So with that kind of a drop dead deadline, there is a different kind of pressure to deliver on time. You meet the deadline - period.”

Everyone focused on the task at hand and helped each other as required. There was no consideration of not helping. It was part of the culture. You helped them when they needed it. They would in turn help you when you needed it. An executive producer could step out into the hall and shout out “You have the interview with Katharine Hepburn at her house on the 29th.” And retreat to their office. They all knew what to do. They did not have to have meetings on what to do, they just did it.

When she worked in the “corporate” world for a time, it was completely different. There were meetings, meetings that folks put on her calendar without consulting with her. Meetings that would last for hours with folks just pontificating, not accomplishing a lot, talk, and heads nodding, let’s do this, so and so do that. They would resume the next week and some things were not completed and no one cared. It did not matter. It was not like the TV deadline. Not like the women’s role raising a family. The kinds of things you could not avoid doing (diapers to change, food shopping, preparing meals, etc.). Women are focused more on the doing. Doing what needs to be done.

We talked of the difference between an assembly line and knowledge work. Things on the assembly line needed to arrive on time. Heaven forbid the car could arrive at the end of the line and not have tires available to be mounted so it could roll off. Where in a knowledge world, it was not so obvious what the workflow was, or where the hold up might be. Six Sigma makes sense in the assembly line. She is not sure that Six Sigma makes sense in the knowledge world.

In her TV production experience, she did not quantify how many hours it took to deliver the show. It was just done, whatever was needed to do it. Again the cooperation was there amongst the team. Even though roles and responsibilities were clearly defined, the overall team had a commitment to make it happen. They would work hard, pull it off, then figure out how to accommodate the schedule to allow folks to take time off after the event so it would be fair and still allow for preparation for the next one. When she worked on the first web site for TV, they all worked in one room. The espirit de corp was wonderful. They were all figuring it out at the same time. They could call across the room to get a graphic for an article and get the research to back it up. They organized it like the TV show and it worked. Everyone pitched in.

Brain storming sessions in the TV world were different than in the corporate world. Egos were not married to ideas in TV. You did not own the idea. You tossed it out. It may spark another that built on it, you went with the flow, truly brain storming, freely sharing and collaborating.
It's not that egos didn't exist in TV brainstorming sessions, but that within the cooperation, there was a clear line of "command." After all the discussion, one person, usually the executive producer, made the decision on how to proceed. The overall goal then couldn't change (or we'd miss the deadline), but each staff member made the smaller decisions within his or her domain to reach the goal by deadline. It was assumed and 99 percent so that each production staff member would meet their various interim deadlines so others could move forward with theirs, and it was possible because the main goal never shifted.”

Ronni said:
“In that sense, I don't believe business should be a democracy. There needs be someone steering the ship who, after all the ideas have been put forth, makes the final call so each person on the team can proceed with their part of the project.”

Ronni thinks that the biggest thing is corporate leaders are not focused enough to get things done. It seems to be a simple thing. Even artists, as creative as they are, know which tool to use as their approach their work. It is not very difficult to define what is required for you to do so that you can get your paycheck. If certain things are not required, it would be good to know what others are.

Ronni said:
“That's what drove me nuts in the "business" place I worked. There were too many chiefs who had equal say, so confusion reigned. Final calls were not necessarily “final” and any number of people could switch direction of the project even after it was well on its way to completion, requiring weeks - and sometimes months - of starting over. Further confusing and probably contributing to people's lackadaisical attitude toward delivering what they'd promised in the last meeting, was that everyone knew the goal would change at some point, so why bother working at it too hard.”

The importance of respect for the individual and for appropriate working conditions comes from the top. The leader needs to set the standard. The environment needs to be functional or it will be painful to get up to go to work. The roles and responsibilities need to be defined and followed through. Deadlines honored. Commitments kept. Do something. Lend the helping hand.

There were other threads to the conversation that will likely appear in other posts over time but this pretty much summarized the key parts of the leadership conversation.

Ronni, I want to thank you for taking time to share your thoughts on leadership with us. You should see some of there effects as we (Team Synergy) go forward. Good luck on your move preparations!


The ‘takeaways’ for Team Synergy I think are
  • to spend more time doing rather than talking.

  • to be careful of what words we use (particularly buzzwords)

  • to walk the talk

What do you think?


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Thursday, April 13, 2006

Trevor Gay interviews Mary Schmidt

As you know we are trying to understand why relatively few females contributed to our discussion last month on leadership. To do this we have been interviewing some well known ‘Blogging females’ to tell us why they think that is. Here are details of my interview with Mary who, by the way, will be a very welcome guest writer on Blog Synergy in the near future.

So … here is the interview ….


Trevor: What do you think of the April topic on the Blog Synergy? (“Where are the women interested in the Power of We?”)

Mary: At the risk of being flip, maybe we're busy "being we" versus talking about it. Women on the Internet tend to be much more focused on getting in, getting what they're looking for and getting out. That said, I think there are, in fact, many more women Bloggers, than would first appear. However, many don't have their own URLs, and/or Blogging is not part of their systematic business strategy. In fact, many are Blogging to keep in touch with friends and family - not to get link love or fame. So, "we" are out there.

Trevor: Do you have any suggestions on how the Blog Synergy can engage women readers?


Mary: Give things we can use in real life. Theory and discussion is great and should be there - but mix it up with short, to the point posts with tips we can use in bettering communications (and results) in our business, life, etc. P.S. For what it's worth - "synergy" is a way over-used and abused term in Corporate America.

Trevor: Do you have your own Blog or Blogs?

Mary: Yes
http://www.maryschmidt.com (my site is a Blog and vice versa.) I also Blog at http://strategicreality.wordpress.com.

Trevor: How comfortable are you with technology?

Mary: I'm comfortable with what I have now but it's a moving target.

Trevor: How much technology do you use Blogging?

Mary: All the basic "stuff" (html, etc.) - looking at adding vlog and podcasting, but I want to make sure I'm not overwhelming my visitors with too much, too fast.


Trevor: Did you hear of the Blog Synergy before being contacted by one of the team?

Mary:
Nope. Your email was my first contact.

Trevor: Is there anything you would like to add?

Mary: One reason many "real people" aren't all that interested in Blogging is that we Bloggers spend so much time talking about - well - Blogging. Blah-blah-blahhhhhhhhhh. Preaching to people who haven't got the first clue just turns them off. We should think about the writing itself - are we saying something interesting? useful? Are we providing something the reader can think about? It's not the blog, folks, it's the content. Also, I think many of us write way too much at a time in one post. People (including me) have limited patience with scrolling. I still get a lot of "what the heck is a blog, anyway?"

Monday, April 10, 2006

Maybe it's just 'boys with toys'



The current debate we are having in Blog Synergy about why there are not more female Bloggers is truly fascinating.

As a male it is not for me to be too outspoken about this so I proceed with caution! :-)

One thing that has crossed my mind several times is that women, in my experience, are better at the ‘up front communication face to face’ where body language is crucial. Communication through the written word on Blogs is clearly not as inter-active physically. That is not to say emotions cannot come through in our writings on Blogs. Indeed many people associated with Blog Synergy are gifted writers who express emotion superbly. I just wonder if ‘the physical’ has something to do with this.

Another thought is about that old saying - 'boys with toys.' Blogs are still ‘toys’ for many.


In my circle of friends and relatives there are many who do not even know what I am talking about when I mention Blogs. Those who are familiar with Blogs tend to be males and in the tradition of ‘boys with toys’ it occurs to me be that us boys learn through mistakes and experiments, only to see the wiser more cautious and pragmatic females capitalise on the learning and use Blogs more creatively in years to come. We all know us ‘boys’ love to experiment and push the boundaries – something to do with the spirit of adventure and the need to go out and hunt as no doubt the scholarly historians among us might say.

Finally I wonder whether females comment on Blogs that are in the world of creativity and the arts rather then the world of management, leadership and organisational development. My feeling is those latter subjects do not generally attract as much female interest as the more creative Blogs.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Where are all the women bloggers

Many people wonder why we don't have a lot of women bloggers involved with the Blog Synergy. Is it because we have overlooked women? Maybe we do not value women in the corporate world? With the group that makes up The Blog Synergy, I can say that this is not the case. Rosa Say is one of the finest and most effective leaders I have been involved with. The male members of The Blog Synergy are some of the most forward thinking people I know. So, why has it been so difficult to recruit women bloggers.

It is not that women do not blog. There are some really great blogs hosted by women. I don't really know the answer, so I will have to take a huge guess. I think it is hard to recruit women because they are very busy. If most women are anything at all like my wife, they barely get time to sleep at night. Women are busy taking care of children and caring for households. Most are working mothers and active members of school organizations for their children. They are soccer, baseball, basketball, football, cheerleading, and whatever else moms. Many are coaches, girl scout leaders, neighborhood leaders, youth league board members, nurse, holiday planner, vacation planner, family shopper, banker, family accountant, and just about everything else you can think of. This is all done after they have prepared the meals, washed the clothes, cleaned the house, and worked a full day at the office. Somewhere in all this they find time to do a few things for themselves, like take a bath and maybe watch Survivor or American Idol. Oh and get this, many are single moms to boot. This means they get no help from a spouse.

It may be a little difficult for some to get involved with blogging, but when they do, they are usually just as outstanding as they are in their other roles. I know I have not come close to describing all the many roles women play. Please feel free to add to the list. With this being said, we welcome all comments and contributions from a very special group of people. The true leaders and the power of WE.

Gender Bent Leadership Images??

Is there a problem with the language we use about leadership? Are the words inherently male?

In the various postings and comments last month writing about great leadership I used a bus driver, an orchestra conductor, a sports team manager, and a ship's captain to help make my point. All of these positions are historically male. More recently, bus drivers are equally male or female. But have you seen a female conductor (other than in the schools)? With the advent of women's sports leagues there are still many male managers although females are getting the chance to lead some of them.

Sometimes there are discussions about the proper term to use. Is it "policewoman" when the person is female? Or should we avoid the issue and use the generic "officer"?

If our thoughts become our words, are we inhibited by the words available to us?

Not necessarily. We can always invent new words.

So, do you have words for leaders that are female?
or suggestions for new words?


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Are There Gender Differences with Synergy?

Steve has voiced a question we have been wondering about within our Team Synergy conversations for quite some time now, “Where are the women?

We haven’t been totally bereft of their presence here on blog Synergy, however the ratio of men to women in our comment conversations have been pretty dramatically skewed toward the male persuasion, and we have to wonder why.

Is there some reason we are not aware of? Is there some way in which we have been less than welcoming? If so, as the sole female blogger on Team Synergy currently I am pretty embarrassed by it, but my curiosity about why, and my desire to embrace more women here trump my embarrassment— by leaps and bounds.

The gender discussion on collaboration habits is not something I understand and can relate to by merit of my own experience. Interest on content and subject matter, certainly. Personality and like-mindedness, sure. But gender? I have to say I don’t buy it.

Let’s look at what synergy requires from those who choose to engage in the effort; this is by no means a comprehensive list, just a quick brainstorm...
  • Cooperation
  • Involvement
  • Collaboration
  • Teamwork
  • Mutual Effort
  • Patience
  • Partnership
  • Networking
  • Engagement
  • Harmony
  • Participation
  • Curiosity
  • Corroboration
  • Community
  • Inclusiveness
  • Togetherness
  • Open-mindedness
  • Creativity
  • Humility
  • Connection
  • Positivity
  • Optimism
  • Enthusiasm
  • Hope

Not one of these attitudes and communication traits are restricted to men, or to women. However when we have the blending of the two? Richness in an as-it-should-be complexity, and a harmony of valuing any differences which may exist.

As far as I can see, it is in our differences that we blend together so well.

Ladies, we have missed you here, and I am thrilled you are adding your voices now.

Team Synergy, I am so pleased and honored to be associated with gentlemen of the highest character and aloha.

Related posts:
Where are the women interested in the “Power of We?”
Our beginning: Synergy Defined.

The Power of We
1. to build a knowledge base of the power of synergy
2. to build a global network of unique individuals united by a common belief in the value of synergy
3. to connect the unconnected
4. to build a global team of collaborators
5. to be a clearinghouse for viral ideas

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Where are the women interested in the "Power of We"

Googlefight may not be the best resource for research but it does make research fun. I was toying with some word combinations to prepare for this months topic on the blog Synergy. Last month, you may recall that we dwelt on what makes great leadership. Over 20 posts and dozens of comments resulted as summarized here and here.

In a Googlefight between going “solo” or as a member of a “team”, the team won easily (2.6 billion to 418 million). *Note, the results described do vary slightly. This is a dynamic inquiry and the net is alive.

When you looked at “alone” versus “collaborate”, alone won (684 million to 118 million).

When you look at “synergy” versus “antagonism” (according to wikipedia the opposite of synergy), synergy wins easily (52 million to 5 million). So synergy does better than its opposite but rates lower than going alone (and this is proved out with a result of 527 million to 54 million).

Clearly, the “power of We” has not yet taken hold in the marketplace. These factors help to reinforce our own mission as meeting a need. There does not seem to be too much attention to it (other than what we are doing).

When you look at the classic googlefight of “men” versus “women”, the ladies take it to us (1.6 billion to 1.2 billion). When you look at the more recent “male blogger” versus “female blogger”, the male take back the lead (14.4 million to 14.2 million). Yet when you look at female leadership versus male leadership, the ladies come back (35.7 million to 29 million).

So where was the female participation during the past month? Good question.

It was not here at blog Synergy. Yes, we did have Rosa lead us admirably but where were her compatriots?

The BlogHer blog was busy: 386,000 references in google. But there was very little posted by way of collaboration, team work, or actually discussing working together

Turning to Yvonne writing at Lipsticking who recently posted 5 Questions You Should Ask Yourself.

Summarizing my answers to her questions: While we are a blog (not a retail site), we don't post many pictures (period). Hopefully we do come across as a person and not impersonal. If folks have questions, they can contact anyone of us. The comments do reflect testimonials of our readers. We don't advertise our privacy position but neither do we ask for much by way of personal information so we can put this question aside.

This does not provide much to go on.

Where do we go from here?

I think we should continue to explore this opportunity this month. Let's expand our horizons. Let's reach out to the female bloggers amongst us. They apparently like the topic of leadership.

I am open to your ideas of course. You have shown yourselves to be creative. What should we do to increase the participation of females in a discussion on leadership or collaboration, the power of We?

And especially to you, our reading community, please feel free to join the discussion.

Updated 4/8/06

Phil has

Rocky has

Trevor has

Troy has

Rosa has


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What is great leadership? - My summary


I find myself looking back upon the discussion on great leadership that Rosa Say started us on at the beginning of the month. Rosa has painstakingly accumulated the 21 postings that Team Synergy generated on this topic during the month. A review of these and of the dozens of comments that they generated leads me to summarize great leadership.

As I relived the month's postings and comment threads, I found myself coming back to a couple of key points. While I still agree with Buckingham's concept for the one key thing as being clarity but I find that this factor along is not enough. Clarity I think is more a measure of how the leader communicates with his/her team. Measuring clarity should not be that difficult. Recall that for a goal to be SMART it should be measurable.

Clarity is not sufficient. You can have a leader be clear about the direction and head in the wrong way. Will that make the leader great? No.

You can have a leader be clear but if the leader is not flexible enough (contextual intelligence), the bus will end up in a ditch or lost somewhere not able to meet the needs of their market.

But I still struggle with these factors and how they can be measured over time. Time is the one dimension not always given enough credit for its importance, especially in this modern world where generally if it can't be done instantaneously, it is not acceptable. How long will you wait for the page to load? How long will you wait on hold calling for support?

Rosa acknowledges the factor of time:

My post will happen, but I am no longer restricting myself to the window of this month’s time, for I will not post it until I am satisfied with an answer that stirs me to greater actions. I find I am living with this peculiar mixture of patience and urgency as I consider it— that alone is new for me, for I have never sat well with patience.

Troy by sharing that:

WALKING THE TALK = LEADING BY EXAMPLE

acknowledges that this leading occurs over time.

The consistent delivery of quality service, product, or support is determined over time. You can set the expectation today, but live up to it (or down from it) the next time, and the next. Starbucks was not a real phenomenon the first time it opened its door in Seattle. Continuing to open its doors, continuing to deliver enabled Starbucks to grow and demand attention.

Consistency was referenced yesterday by Rocky:

Leadership is being genuine and taking consistent action. It is taking action that others want to follow and emulate.

Clarity, flexibility, and consistency over time develops trust. For me, trust is the one key aspect of a great leader, the one key differentiator of one leader versus another.

Trevor came close to trust in his phrasing of great leadership:

Great leaders are decisive at times when they need to be; they make decisions and they are consistent. The greatest quality is integrity and professionalism. I do not think charisma necessarily equates to good leadership. The best leaders will emerge as those who have done their homework – who have listened to the people around them and led by example. They walk the talk.

Phil also comes close to trust in telling us what he wants when a leader picks up the baton:

Integrity, feedback and a willingness to allow me to work within my strengths zone. I want them to be honest with me about their expectations, to provide me the feedback I need to take things to the next level.

Felix shares that

These three points; a sense of enjoyment-with-others, modelinging work of the team and the inspiration of the leader are for me the basis for real GREAT leadership.

Over the month, (yes, time) I think we have built a consensus on what great leadership is.

Another way to phrase this, is to answer the question are great leaders born or grown? A leader can be anointed or appointed but will only become great by building the trust of their followers or collaborators.

Trust can be broken instantly.

Trust is built up over time.


Trust makes a leader great!

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Saturday, April 01, 2006

Simply Make it Great with the Story of your life

Here we are at the first day of April. For some reason I find myself oddly reflective this morning. I am not sure why, but I have thought of some interesting things. I think it may be that I have been browsing the blogoshere and hit on a common theme. I was looking through Make it Great by Phil Gerbyshak, Simplicity is the Key by Trevor Gay, and Talking Story by Rosa Say. Each of the blogs are very different and unique. However, I seem to have found a common theme in these blogs today. Phil talks about moving beyond good and making it great. He provides a number of articles and outstanding links to help people move beyond good to great. Trevor breaks things down to the simplest forms and always has a great message and Rosa has a wonderful and engaging style of storytelling. All three have a theme based on becoming better managers and people by capitalizing on values, making human connections, and the power of giving.

We are now starting the fourth month of this year. As I look back I wonder how much I accomplished during the past three months. Did I take advantage of opportunities to "Make it Great?" If so, How? Did I work work from a values base that included fairness and ethics? Did I maintain integrity in my decision making? Have I given back in a worthwhile and genuine way? Have I moved past petty differences and looked for the good in people and situations?

To some things I can say yes. To others, I must admit, I need to continue to grow. In the process I have learned an important lesson about leadership. Leadership is not a position or a title. Leadership is being genuine and taking consistent action. It is taking action that others want to follow and emulate. Leadership is keeping it simple, Making it Great, and doing this with the story of your life.

Sign of Spring


Sign of Spring
Originally uploaded by shersteve.

The new month dawns today as we welcome April. Here in New England we start to see some color instead of the winter whiteness of snow.

This picture speaks to me of the effort this group is undertaking. We are all blooming individually. Clustered together, we share our color with the world for all to observe.

Let's add more color to the world with our efforts this spring!

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