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Words of Wisdom from Bill Gates

June 23, 2009

Microsoft founder Bill Gates recently gave a High School Commencement speech.  His focus:  Eleven essentials for successful living that you don't learn in school. I believe he hit the nail on the head -- and shared Gates' list with my 17-year old son.   Here it is:   

Rule 1: Life is not fair - get used to it!

Rule 2: The world doesn't care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself.

Rule 3: You will NOT make $60,000 a year right out of high school. You won't be a vice-president with a driver until you earn both.

Rule 4: If you think your teacher is tough, wait till you get a boss.

Rule 5: Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your Grandparents had a different word for burger flipping: they called it opportunity.

Rule 6: If you mess up,it's not your parents' fault, so don't whine about your mistakes, learn from them.

Rule 7: Before you were born, your parents weren't as boring as they are now. They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you thought you were. So before you save the rain forest from the parasites of your parent's generation, try delousing the closet in your own room.

Rule 8: Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life HAS NOT. In some schools, they have abolished failing grades and they'll give you as MANY TIMES as you want to get the right answer. This doesn't bear the slightest resemblance to ANYTHING in real life.

Rule 9: Life is not divided into semesters. You don't get summers off and very few employers are interested in helping you FIND YOURSELF. Do that on your own time.

Rule 10: Television is NOT real life. In real life people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs.

Rule 11: Be nice to nerds. Chances are you'll end up working for one.

The Meaning of Michelle, Sonia, Ursula and Anne

June 16, 2009

I have a new feature on my Blog:  the ability to post your own comment.  I'd love to hear from you.  


 What a month it’s been.

First it was an historic, stockholders meeting for Xerox. CEO Anne Mulcahy officially confirmed she will be retiring July 1st and introduced her personally selected and groomed successor, Ursula Burns. Not only will Burns be the first Black woman to head a Fortune 500 company, she and Mulcahy have also charted the path of another milestone: the first woman-to-woman CEO handoff in Fortune 500 history.  

Then, my Time Magazine arrived with Michelle Obama’s strong and focused face on the cover. The featured article, entitled The Meaning of Michelle, probed the significance of the journey our national psyche has made as we’ve watched a trailblazing First Lady evolve from “the caricatured Angry Black Woman of last spring to her exalted status as a New American Icon . . . “

And when Judge Sonia Sotomayor was introduced as President Obama's nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court, we witnessed another subtle shift of our leadership paradigm. Regardless of the gender bashing that Sotomayor is now enduring, this legal heavyweight, who was raised by a single mother working two jobs yet went on to graduate Summa Cum Laude from Princeton and edit the Yale Law Review, is modeling another national brand of fresh possibilities.

Three sterling examples.  Each in the stratosphere of influential public arenas: global business,the political spotlight and the judiciary.  They are fresh, sparkling evidence of why I am convinced that our nation of women Achievers is moving into an unprecedented era of women Leaders.

What does it all mean? It means women are on the move again.

Several years ago, I was discouraged about our progress. For all of our individual accomplishments, we seemed to be idling in place -- stalled just below all those nearly impenetrable glass ceilings in every arena. There was even growing evidence that women were slipping.

Now, I sense the wind is changing. And it feels so good.

I believe the next phase of women’s evolution in the U.S. is about power.  Not individual power, but collective power. Throughout all of history there have always been stunningly brilliant, courageous women who slipped their gender chains, bucked cultural pressure and pushed the edges of feminine possibility. Cleopatra, Madame Curie, Golda MeirSojouner Truth, Eleanor Roosevelt, Coretta Scott King, Hillary Rodham Clinton. The list goes on and on. But cultural change requires collective power.

That’s what is still missing for women: a broad understanding that every woman for herself is a losing strategy. It’s time to cultivate Sisterhood, with a capital S. It's time for women to begin actively reaching across racial, cultural, economic and generational lines to lift and lead one another into leadership positions – in big numbers. I'm tired of tokens and trailblazers. It's time for women's leadership -- in numbers appropriate for 51% of the population and the most educated, skilled and savvy critical mass of women in the history of the world.

And there's one other piece that's essential for humanity to make the next significant leap forward. It’s the mindset of men. I’ve been disgusted by the depths to which some male commentators have sunk recently in their drive to derail Judge Sotomayor’s nomination. For example, national radio talk show host G. Gordon Liddy recently opined to his listeners, “Let’s hope that they key conferences aren’t when she’s menstruating or something, or just before she’s going to menstruate. That would be really bad. Lord knows what we would get then.” 

How pathetic!

Men who are threatened by the ascent of women are making a critical mistake. For centuries, women and minority men have had to learn to play the games invented and controlled by white men. While everyone else was adjusting and hustling to make the grade according to white, male standards, those born to that homo-social group had little adjusting to do. Yet the rules of the game are changing and the players rapidly diversifying. There are some uncomfortable days ahead for the likes of G. Gordon Liddy. Fantastic, evolved men, who are eager to shed their own gender chains, understand that we will all rise together. Dan Mulhern, Michigan's "First Gentlemen" and husband of our Governor, Jennifer Granholm, just wrote a terrific piece on this topic called, Father Leaders.   His insight is more evidence of how the winds are changing. 

What does it all mean?  It means our culture is on the rise again.  And it feels so good.

 

The Meaning of Michelle, Sonia, Ursula and Anne

June 15, 2009

What a month it’s been.

First it was an historic, stockholders meeting for Xerox. CEO Anne Mulcahy officially confirmed she will be retiring July 1st and introduced her personally selected and groomed successor, Ursula Burns. Not only will Burns be the first Black woman to head a Fortune 500 company, she and Mulcahy have also charted the path of another milestone: the first woman-to-woman CEO handoff in Fortune 500 history.  

Then, my Time Magazine arrived with Michelle Obama’s strong and focused face on the cover. The featured article, entitled The Meaning of Michelle, probed the significance of the journey our national psyche has made as we’ve watched a trailblazing First Lady evolve from “the caricatured Angry Black Woman of last spring to her exalted status as a New American Icon . . . “

And when Judge Sonia Sotomayor was introduced as President Obama's nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court, we witnessed another subtle shift of our leadership paradigm. Regardless of the gender bashing that Sotomayor is now enduring, this legal heavyweight, who was raised by a single mother working two jobs yet went on to graduate Summa Cum Laude from Princeton and edit the Yale Law Review, is modeling another national brand of fresh possibilities.

Three sterling examples.  Each in the stratosphere of influential public arenas: global business,the political spotlight and the judiciary.  They are fresh, sparkling evidence of why I am convinced that our nation of women Achievers is moving into an unprecedented era of women Leaders.

What does it all mean? It means women are on the move again.

Several years ago, I was discouraged about our progress. For all of our individual accomplishments, we seemed to be idling in place -- stalled just below all those nearly impenetrable glass ceilings in every arena. There was even growing evidence that women were slipping.

Now, I sense the wind is changing. And it feels so good.

I believe the next phase of women’s evolution in the U.S. is about power.  Not individual power, but collective power. Throughout all of history there have always been stunningly brilliant, courageous women who slipped their gender chains, bucked cultural pressure and pushed the edges of feminine possibility. Cleopatra, Madame Curie, Golda MeirSojouner Truth, Eleanor Roosevelt, Coretta Scott King, Hillary Rodham Clinton. The list goes on and on. But cultural change requires collective power.

That’s what is still missing for women: a broad understanding that every woman for herself is a losing strategy. It’s time to cultivate Sisterhood, with a capital S. It's time for women to begin actively reaching across racial, cultural, economic and generational lines to lift and lead one another into leadership positions – in big numbers. I'm tired of tokens and trailblazers. It's time for women's leadership -- in numbers appropriate for 51% of the population and the most educated, skilled and savvy critical mass of women in the history of the world.

And there's one other piece that's essential for humanity to make the next significant leap forward. It’s the mindset of men. I’ve been disgusted by the depths to which some male commentators have sunk recently in their drive to derail Judge Sotomayor’s nomination. For example, national radio talk show host G. Gordon Liddy recently opined to his listeners, “Let’s hope that they key conferences aren’t when she’s menstruating or something, or just before she’s going to menstruate. That would be really bad. Lord knows what we would get then.” 

How pathetic!

Men who are threatened by the ascent of women are making a critical mistake. For centuries, women and minority men have had to learn to play the games invented and controlled by white men. While everyone else was adjusting and hustling to make the grade according to white, male standards, those born to that homo-social group had little adjusting to do. Yet the rules of the game are changing and the players rapidly diversifying. There are some uncomfortable days ahead for the likes of G. Gordon Liddy. Fantastic, evolved men, who are eager to shed their own gender chains, understand that we will all rise together. Dan Mulhern, Michigan's "First Gentlemen" and husband of our Governor, Jennifer Granholm, just wrote a terrific piece on this topic called, Father Leaders.   His insight is more evidence of how the winds are changing. 

What does it all mean?  It means our culture is on the rise again.  And it feels so good.

Sonia, Sarah and Why I'm Sick of Gender Bashing

June 15, 2009


When will we stop passively accepting -- and laughing at -- stereotypical gender bashing?  As I listen to the most recent round of pathetic, personal attacks on Governor Palin and Judge Sotomayor, I'm thinking, Here We Go Again!

 Talk show host David Letterman derides a U.S. Governor for what he called her, "slutty airline stewardess look." And radio host G. Gordon Liddy, talking about Supreme Court nominee Judge Sonia Sotomayor, tells his listeners, "Let's hope that the key conferences aren't when she's menstruating or something, or just before she's going to menstruate.  That would really be bad.  Lord knows what we would get then."

I've never been a fan of Palin's politics.  And I only know Sotomayor from reading her sterling resume.   Questioning their credentials and personal biases are all fair game.  But a drumbeat of relentless, character smears based on gender are unacceptable.  Just as unacceptable as racial attacks.  Over the years I watched African Americans do a much better job of recgonizing racism, in all its forms, than women do of calling out insidious sexism. 

Years ago, trailblazing women who were elbowing their way into professional arenas and economic independence were often accused of "having no sense of humor" about the never-ending diet of snide remarks and alleged "jokes" they were force fed.  Now, here we go again.  This time, it's women who dare to aspire to the highest levels of leadership who are the butt of the jokes. 

I'm not laughing.  Hope you're not either.

 

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