May 18, 2013 § Leave a comment
I had a heartwarming experience lately with the most unlikely of persons. I say unlikely because the old paradigm of competition in business, with women in general, is changing. The Internet is giving women an opportunity to start businesses and reach the masses like never before. And with more women doing business with other women, a new level of support and authenticity is emerging.
I grew up in a time when you were encouraged to climb to the top and kick over the ladder when you got there so you couldn’t be followed up. Women were taught that to compete in a man’s world, you had to think and behave like one to get ahead. I can still painfully remember the first time I was betrayed by my good friend in the workplace yet I never had it in me to do what some women feel they must.
I’ve always believed that what works for a man, is not the same for a woman. While we can out-think the best of them, we aren’t wired to communicate and strategize in the same ways. The authors of the new book “Mean Girls at Work” offer an exclusive take on how men and women differ at the office. Their conclusion, to paraphrase one bestseller: “men are from the combat zone, women are from the support circle.” 
My heartwarming experience came from a confident woman who encouraged me to do what she is doing, to be a competitor. I prefer to support and mentor assistants one-on-one, but Bonnie Low-Kramen has been training groups for well over a decade teaching workshops on everything you will encounter in this profession. Not only did she encourage what I was doing but helped me to make connections with others to expand my business. And she hipped me to an amazing new book by the COO of Facebook, Sheryl Sandberg, a woman who is “kick-starting modern feminism in the workplace.” My good friend Dee Morrison at http://www.lagirl13.com is always there to advise, and give me an impromptu and amazingly accurate tarot or astrology reading. Marie Forleo, Ali Brown and Sharla Jacobs are all women who are changing the way women do business. A large part of their training is in supporting, connecting and listening to your customers and they’ve all built six and seven figure businesses doing so!
So while the ruthless are still among us, I know things are changing for the better and Bonnie proved me right. I encourage you to see your business and everyone you encounter with fresh eyes and a willingness to inquire how you can help them. I wish you all love and success!
May 13, 2013 § Leave a comment
Anyone who has worked in a home as a personal assistant, nanny, housekeeper, caretaker, driver, major domo, house manager etc. should be paying special attention to a California Domestic Worker’s Bill AB241. Assemblyman Tom Ammiano’s office summarized, “It is focused on ensuring six rights for domestic workers: 1) overtime; 2) meal and rest breaks; 3) three paid sick days; 4) workers’ compensation; 5) the right to use kitchen facilities; and 6) the right to have some hours for sleep (eight hours recommended, with some possible exceptions). The previous bill also included cost of living increases, 30 days notice of termination and Cal OSHA protections, all of which have been omitted from the current version.”
Modern day slavery isn’t a new problem. As long as there have been people who work in other’s homes, there has been a need to clarify and specify the pay structure and job responsibilities of employees. It is one of the last industries that often and purposely ignore state labor laws and it’s an accepted mindset of employers that needs changing.
Most publicly we recently saw this with Lady Gaga not acknowledging that her assistant, who accompanied her 24/7/365, was entitled to overtime pay. (https://assistantsurvival.wordpress.com/2013/03/01/big-monster-behaving-badly/) The obvious reason workers accept abuse is fear of being replaced. There is no one to enforce the laws, no liaison between the worker and employer and it becomes a contentious relationship you’re fighting your employer to for overtime pay-one that never goes over well.
However, when the employee is hired from an agency, the agencies work on behalf of the candidate and client to make sure the job expectations are outlined, hourly rate agreed on, and time demands clear. Even then, I have seen the responsibilities and hours get skewed once time on the job sets in. But unfortunately, most people do not use an agency to hire someone, settling instead on getting recommendations from their friends for new hires.
So how can a worker protect themselves from miscommunications or uncompensated excessive hours? I recommend going into a position with a written job description or asking for one to make sure you’re all on the same page. It should include the max hours you are expected to work, holidays off, with or without pay—especially if it is a salaried position. It need not be a confrontation, just clarifying so you can make plans and have a life. Frankly it is good for both sides. Email it to your employer, whether they sign it or not. At least they will be aware of your understanding of the position.
Everyone that works in a home (especially live-in employees) should get behind this bill to see it to fruition because there are powers in numbers and awareness in involvement. You can get involved via this link: http://www.domesticworkers.org/news/ca-bill-of-rights
More reading on this topic: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mobileweb/2013/03/07/domestic-workers-california-bill_n_2822520.html?view=print&comm_ref=false
It’s not just happening here: http://www.vancouverobserver.com/life/canada’s-modern-day-slaves-filipina-nannies
May 4, 2013 § Leave a comment
Many of my friends are currently out of work and some are starting completely new careers. As a personal assistant who freelances, I’m always “between jobs.” It doesn’t matter if you’re a personal assistant or a CEO, these quick tips are useful to anyone who is in unemployed.
1) Revamp your resume—do so professionally. Make sure it is current with the styles others in your industry are doing. Ask the best headhunter in your industry for a referral on a resume professional. It’s worth the investment.
2) Let people know you are looking for work. While you are fresh in the minds of those you had been working with currently, ask them if they know of anything you can follow up on. Make it easy for them to pitch you by telling them what you are looking for. Give them your resume once it’s redone or at the very least, a bullet pointed list of your strong points. If they have to think too hard about how they can help you, it won’t happen.
3) Analyze your bills and cut out all frills. I don’t care how much money you have saved, cut your bills now (not later). Goodbye 200 premium cable channels, 2,000 minute cell phone plan, Starbucks venti lattes and impulse shopping. You don’t know how long you will be unemployed so start saving now.
4) Become a quick learner of the unemployment department’s system. Find out what benefits you are entitled (or not) with unemployment and apply. This info is crucial to knowing immediately what you can be expecting financially so you can make a budget and begin making payment arrangements with utilities if necessary.
5) Make it a job to look for a job. Set aside scheduled time daily to follow up and do what you need to do to find work. Meet with friends and others on their lunch hours to catch up and stay connected. Offer them suggestions on how you can help them, for free if need be, with a project. You’ve got the time and they will think of you first when something comes up. Be a solution to their problems and they will appreciate you for it. And network with new friends. Click here to find out what Lindsay Olsen’s blog on how to find groups in your area.
Men are notorious for having their self-esteem tied to what they do. Remember-you are not your job. A job is what you do for a living. You are no less important because you are unemployed. And remember, this is temporary.