Texting 9 to 5: A Generational Throwdown

Lately, I have noticed that my Gen Y colleagues have been spending more and more time pecking away at their mobile phones during the work day, (a boomer pet peeve that I have learned to live with). I assumed my millennial partners were exchanging one-liners or plotting cool parties with friends but in today’s Wall St. Journal, I learned that the person most often on the other end of the text is a mom.

Seems that twentysomething’s are g-chatting parents, mostly moms, as often as 20 times a day, just to dish on the sly or to share an indignity of office life. The article didn’t question whether daylong cubicle texting is a career-enhancing move but instead, asked whether the younger generation ought to be dumping work issues in mom’s lap rather than building independent problem-solving skills. After my initial eye-roll’s, I realized that I have actually embraced this digital reality and can even see the good in this changed office etiquette.

First things first. When I was climbing the corporate ladder (yes, and I walked barefoot to school in the snow), personal phone calls were NOT allowed. If Mom called, which she didn’t because she thought I would get in trouble, I would rush to hushed tones and hang up with promises of “I’ll call you tonight!” I’d been taught that the boss was paying for my attention to the job, not to my personal life.

But that was back when my workdays used to end at 6PM and when that same boss rarely, (make that never), called me at home at night. And there was no email. Can I say that again? There was no email. Today’s jobs aren’t 9 to 5 and haven’t been for years. Work summons us with the beep on the bedside table and haunts us with the last blink of night, while emails pile up on the pillow. So, with the workplace boundaries widened, the window for daytime personal duties opens. So I’ve decided I can get over my reflexive cringe at the sight of a clutched iPhone and admit that I like to text from my desk too–my husband, my friends, my to-do’s zip seamlessly in and out of my day. (Oh, how I would love to still have my Mom to text to!) Distracting? Yes. But helpful. And hard to kick. And I’m the boss, so why not? And if so, why not, others on the team?

And while at first, I felt annoyed reading about young-un’s running to mom with every office bruise, on second thought, maybe it’s not a bad idea. While it’s critical that we learn coping and negotiation skills early on, there’s nothing wrong with turning to “the source” for advice. I know I talked to Mom every night about every little nick and achievement. One friend said to me that her daughter texts her the moment her lunch break begins, her cue to lay out all her morning frustrations. And my friend’s responses are usually wise: “Give it some time.” “Think about why that might have happened.”  “Next time, try this approach.” Sound, thoughtful perspective or, one might say, skills training, which let’s face it, is rarely coming from the boss who can barely keep up with her/his own email avalanche. So, as long as the digital umbilical cord doesn’t extend into the performance appraisal session (“But she’s was so smart in fifth grade!!!”), I welcome the life line of Mom, AKA career coach. If the job gets done, I’m good with it. Ping away!

 

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A Personal Letter to Disney: Be Brave

There is a storm brewing with the Disney release of a toy line featuring its first truly ‘brave’ heroine, Princess Merida. Seems that in an effort to appeal traditionally to little girls’ doll tastes, the rough and tumble star of “Brave” has lost weight, filled out her too tight gown and adopted that doe-eyed sparkle princess look….the look and the life that the animated Merida despised.

I will let anthropologists and psychologists dissect why this is right or wrong. Or just cowardly.

I will turn instead to my own experience, watching the animated film alongside a 7 year old redhead named Soleil.  From the moment that Merida, the cartoon ginger wild child, picked up her bow and galloped through the woods, Soleil’s heart pounded in the saddle alongside her heroine. Proud, cheering, valiant.

For once, the story wasn’t about a cookie-cutter forgotten waif lifted by a prince to a palace. This was true grit, the kind of beauty any girl with guts can achieve. The knowing eyes, the powerful stance, the in-your-face joy of being a girl alive in her own skin spoke to Soleil. And the hair, the untamed, boundless curls that said, “Remember me!” Go ahead, Disney, give our real ‘brave’ Merida a sparkly crown. We need her in the Magic Kingdom. But don’t mess with her curls or her curves or her courage.

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Making a big leap after 40?

MLQ signing humbnail

Got a career dream waiting in your pocket? Most of us do. In 1998, I took a big step to achieve mine and Just Ask a Woman was the result. And the dreams keep growing. Hope you enjoy this piece published today on LearnVest, the fantastic financial support site for young women. Read it HERE!

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Weighing in on Leaning In and Sheryl Sandberg

 

The news of Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s new book “Lean In” hit the front page of The New York Times this week. But how will it affect the way women, especially younger women look at work? My blog on today’s Huffington Post gives my two cents. Enjoy, comment, like, disagree…whatever. Love to hear from you! Or leave a comment on Huff Po!

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5 Reasons Women Talk More than Men

On TODAY today, Andrea Canning hosted a segment about why women talk more than men, see it here. New research indicates that women may actually over-index on a brain protein linked to language, called FOXP2.

Of course, the piece concluded with lots of irate husbands on the street complaining that their wives never shut up and in-studio banter about who talks more and ‘Chatty Cathy’ defense. After listening to thousands of women–especially my besties–talk over the years, I know they talk more than most men. (I sure do!)

I have used the ‘women talk 20,000 words to men’s 7,000 words’ stat but never knew about the protein rationale. Here are my five unscientific reasons why women talk more:

1. They notice more and therefore, have more content to share. And they want you to know it.

2. As a gender that feels unlistened to, they figure, if I just talk more, something has to get through!

3. They like to tell stories and provide context rather than just ‘get to the point’ as they are so often (annoyingly) told to do.

4. Talking is therapy and connection. By talking, I am soothing, sharing, being alive with you. Silence is often a signal that something is wrong. Unless it’s during savasana, which means, ahh.

5. If they are like me, talking is a way to fill in the sentences that others leave unfinished. Because others don’t talk fast enough. And we know what they are going to say anyway!

The good news for marketers is that women are the talking gender AND the buying gender. Silent types can’t help you figure out your marketing problems. Talkers can. A person of few words, like “Me, too!” isn’t a great help to you. A talker is, and your best talkers are….women.

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What Makes a Mom


 

Yesterday, I performed my one woman show “The God Box, A Daughter’s Story” at the day’s end of the annual Marketing to Moms conference in Chicago. At the start, I could tell that the audience of women, most of them moms who had sat through 9 hours of PowerPoint slides and impassioned speeches…were tuckered out. And cocktails beckoned from the next room.

These colleagues of mine are experts in their own right, devoted to the power mothers of America. What could a play teach them? Turns out that love and loss and hope and mother/daughter bonds trump theory and marketing trends. At least that’s what their tears and laughter showed me.

Why should marketers care about digging into the personal lives of women? Because that is where the truth is. Not at a desk. Or from an armchair. Or the back of a focus group room. In our hearts. Crossing that boundary from marketer to actor was worth the risk.

Have to say, I didn’t need a PowerPoint to tell a love story.  Neither do Moms.

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Too Lazy For Real Pants: Tide And The Whole Truth

Tide and Febreze have teamed up to create Tide Sport, an odor-zapping detergent. But it’s not the product that caught our eye—it’s the ad campaign. Instead of the usual pale purple waft lines of freshness surrounding a laundering housewife, the newest Tide campaign features women telling the Whole Truth.

Our favorite ad (above) revolves around a woman gushing about how Tide Sport removes odors from the yoga pants she wears for all manner of workouts… but actually, they’re so worn-in because she’s “too lazy for real pants.” Looking back on our lazy yoga-pant wearing college years (You didn’t have those? Us neither), her confession made us laugh, but also think.

Props to Tide for hitting just the right note of humor and Whole Truth. Now if you’ll excuse us, it’s time for yoga pants.

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My View On The View

Often women will hold back from telling their whole truth opinions in fear of losing approval from their co-workers, or in an effort to protect their own ego.  In a work environment differing opinions and thoughts are often the driving force behind those “ah-ha” moments that in turn lead to some of the most innovative ideas. So, I have to wonder what will it take for women to voice their differing opinions in the workplace?

I was lucky enough to be a part of  The View’s audience for their live show yesterday. There is something so refreshing about the female hosts’ honesty that draws me into their morning show, especially when there are controversial hot topics to discuss. The hotter the topics, the hotter the tension.

Yesterday the women discussed the on-going Weiner-gate scandal and the rumors, which later that day became fact, surrounding his decision to resign from his position as NY Congressman. The women disagreed and Barbara even became very vocal with her opinion on the matter; however, once everyone stated their opinions they moved on, laughing a minute later regarding their past experiences with shoplifting. There is something inspirational (maybe even empowering) watching these five strong women disagree and the tension rise, only for them laugh and move on moments later.

As women, I know we have all been in the situation when we disagree with even our closest friends, but shy away from stating our opinions in fear of losing their approval or hurting our self image. If Elizabeth Hasselbeck can disagree with Barbara Walters, then why can’t I get the courage to tell my friend that I cringe every time she says Jessica Beil is the epitome of beauty?

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Yoplait: Truth or Trigger?

 

Yoplait, who created an ad where a woman negotiates with herself to be “allowed” a slice of cheesecake (“I could have a medium slice and some celery sticks and they would cancel each other out, right?”), has pulled the ad in response to complaints from the National Eating Disorders Association, which declared that the woman’s internal monologue wasn’t funny or realistic—in fact, it was the depiction of mental conflict that could trigger a person suffering from an eating disorder.

Kudos to Yoplait, of course, for responding appropriately to the situation. Illness aside, here’s a question for you: When the woman in the ad regards the treat and negotiates with herself, what is her actual intention when it comes to her own actions? Let’s break it down:

Half Truth: To justify eating the cheesecake, I’ll limit the rest of my day to celery sticks.

Whole Truth: I’ll consider the celery, but I’ll actually just eat the cheesecake and go on as per usual.

To be honest, we identified with that ad when it showed up in our browser. What unrealistically well-adjusted woman doesn’t second-guess a high-calorie indulgence in the middle of her workday? By nature, Yoplait’s position as a substitute treat and healthy lifestyle aid puts it square at the intersection of health and mental health. And that’s a hard place to be.

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Good Intentions? Gulp!

Whenever we talk to women about eating well, they are quick to jump on the Half Truth of “I try to be healthy,” but within seconds, rebound to the Whole Truth, “But red wine is good for you , right?”

Well, recent news from the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association reveals there can be too much of a good thing sabotaging women’s Good Intentions and may actually be hurting them (“I try to drink red wine instead of white to get that Reserva-whatever” ingredient). The study indicated that while consumers know that red wine has benefits, unfortunately, they don’t know that the benefit has limits. Supposedly women should only consume 4 ounces a day, which to my count is less than a typical goblet served at most restaurants and dinner tables. Add a second or third glass of ‘good for you’ and her Good Intentions can end up leading to cardiovascular disease, like high blood pressure and even stroke.

So, what’s the solution? When healthcare organizations tout the benefits of drinking red wine or milk, eating chocolate or fiber, it’s only fair play to learn from the oldest adage of all, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” (Not an orchard…AN apple.) Be specific. Let her know that too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. Make an honest woman of her, for health’s sake.

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August 18, 2017
by Mary Lou Quinlan

A look at an early production of WORK

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The God Box Goes Global!

“The God Box” has grown to include an app, audio book, philanthropic venture and solo show performed by Mary Lou across the US. Now The God Box Project goes global to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
Go There

press & praise