Newsflash

Biz Bucket List

I have not yet seen the movie, “The Bucket List,” but I’ve heard from many it’s a pretty good flick. The message of the film is a simple (yet grim) reminder: Time is running out. Do now all the things you want to do before you “kick the bucket.” Very good advice!

I plan to rent the DVD of that movie soon, watch it for inspiration and, thereafter, work on a bucket list (to-die-for) of my own. I’m thinking: Write a book. Vacation in Spain. Meet George Clooney!

In the meantime, though, I’m thinking more about another kind of bucket list — one that identifies all the things we entrepreneurial types better do right now before the ongoing recession gets the best of us and our businesses bite the dust.The timing of this kind of thinking is not surprising. This month marks the sixth birthday of Houston Woman Magazine. And, in the midst of all the hoopla and festivity around here, we are looking back with a critical eye and forward with a healthy dose of reality. We have worked hard thus far and accomplished much. But, given the changes in our industry and the current economic situation, continued success will demand even more of us. And, more of you too!

Nowadays, we must invest in our businesses. A poverty mindset isn’t going to get us anywhere. We must not let the negativity of others hinder us from taking positive steps to move forward and grow our businesses. Too many are “holding on to their cash” and “waiting things out.”

Well, girlfriends, I believe that way of thinking isn’t going to take us where we want to be — swimming in the cream that rises to the top.

Deciding to put marketing and advertising efforts on hold is a really bad idea — especially now. Here’s why: These days, there are just too few (in any field or profession) putting themselves out there, trying to get attention, doing remarkable things that get people talking. In contrast, those who do “beat the drum” get noticed and get more business.

Yes, today’s economy demands so much of us! It demands us to stay up with the times, at the forefront of changes in trends and technology. No longer can any business survive by hiding in the shadows, wishing things would go back to the way they were! News Flash: They’re not going to!So, I’m advocating a Bucket List for Business that outlines all our must-do-nows.

Here’s what I’ve come up with thus far: • Share our passion.

• Ask for help when needed; help others too.
• Identify a new need for our clients and fill it.• Get the word out about everything we do. • Update our website.
• Blog more about our special fields of expertise.• Create a video and put it on YouTube. • Network more effectively. 
• Accept free speaking engagements.
• Refresh our monthly e-newsletter.
• Connect more with Friends on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
• Host more events that bring our clients and friends together.
• Stay focused on our mission.
• Have fun and enjoy the mix of challenges and rewards.

Doing all of this will take time and energy. It will be exhausting. But, like any good workout, the results are so well worth it. So, I ask you, “Why not just go for it?”

Am I a traitor?

As a black woman, I’m delighted to see my history celebrated and acknowledged. But, as a mom, it continues to be one heck of a frustrating month. In fact, I’ve grown to hate Black History Month because, inevitably, one of my children will come home with an absolutely incorrect fact from a well-meaning, but not-too-thoroughly prepared, teacher.

For example, one year Kayla came home after seeing the Black History Month play at her mostly white private school. I asked her what she learned from the play. Her response, “that slaves stole things, and they didn't know how to read or write.” Huh?

Correction: Slaves were not allowed to read or write. They would be killed for that. There’s a big difference.

Another year, another assignment to write about slavery or how Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves. Attention teachers, principals and all educators in any teaching role imaginable: Black history is more than just slavery. If you are going to teach black history, please don’t just talk about the parts you feel most guilty about, the parts that come readily to mind or the parts that you were taught in school decades ago.

There are a host of other periods to discuss during Black History Month, like the Civil War, Reconstruction or the amazingly powerful Harlem Renaissance.

Think of people like Madame C.J. Walker, the first black millionaire. Or Thurgood Marshall, the first African American on the Supreme Court. Or Ralph Bunche, the first African American to win the Nobel Peace Prize. Or the time when Harlem became the hotbed of black intellectualism, art, music and culture.

Better yet, take a look at our rich African heritage. Any good encyclopedia will tell you the historical roots of black slaves in the United States can be traced back to the ancient kingdoms of Mali, Ghana and Saonghai in central and west Africa. These kingdoms were rich in art, literature and music. This historical reality was purposefully suppressed to support the pro-slavery moral position that needed to convince the world blacks were less than human. This is a truth that must be taught.Please do not make more work for me by having to correct your historic wrongs. I’ve spent years and earned multiple degrees studying your history, so please take a few moments to get black history correct. And, quite frankly, I have enough to do.

I should not have to send my children to the Benjamin Banneker-Malcolm X-Betty Shabazz-Booker T. Washington School for them to get an accurate Black History Month experience. I won’t even begin to expound on why African American history isn’t taught more all year round.

I’m hoping that every year more and more teachers will get the point — that our history as Americans is as integral to this country’s history as any other group. And one year soon, I can scratch “correcting Black History Month errors” off my to-do list.

Kimberly Seals Allers is an award-winning business journalist and founder and editor-in-chief of MochaManual.com, a weekly online magazine for moms of color. She is also the author of “The Mocha Manual to Turning Your Passion into Profit.”

My Reinvention

I often tell my audiences that I am the daughter of an engineer. And this is true. But it is only half true. I am also the daughter of a hausfrau.

A hausfrau. That’s how my mother described herself in an oral history interview we did when I was in graduate school. It’s German for “housewife.” My mother had studied German in school.

She had also studied Latin, so when any of us kids were struggling with a word, she’d break it down by its Latin roots. “And if you’d taken Latin,” she’d finish offhandedly, “you’d know that.”

It’s no surprise that all four of her children earned advanced degrees: MA, JD, MD, PhD.

My mother was a teacher, and we were her star pupils. She told me she loved teaching. Said it was “her thing.”

This was a curious turn of phrase for my mother. She sounded more like a free-thinking hippie than a middle-class Catholic girl from White Plains, New York. But she deeply believed that everyone has their “thing.”

Claire Ann Daly had studied American History at a small, private women’s college, and taught high school for two years. When she got married, she quit her teaching job. That’s when she turned hausfrau. 

When I interviewed her, I was in my late 20s, living my dream. She tried to make me understand what it was like for her and her friends at that age. “I ran with the hausfraus,” she explained. “We all stayed home to take care of the babies and were good wives and that’s the way it was. Nobody questioned it that I knew of. Lucky or unlucky, I only knew people who were like me. What we did, like going out with lady friends, we did after housework and child work.”

When I was a teenager, I didn’t have much in common with my mother. By then, home had become her thing. She was all about the ruffled curtains and the spotless floors and an occasional hospital fundraiser. As a model of womanhood, it left me chafing at the bit. I wasn’t a particularly admiring daughter. I saw, and felt, how claustrophobic her domestic life was. And I hankered for something much bigger and more real.

My mother did try, once, to make a break for it. She started some part-time substitute teaching at the local high school. But my father and younger brother couldn’t bear a single unwashed dish in the sink and didn’t think to wash it themselves. She quit the job by Christmas and used her earnings to buy my father a camera. She realized then, she told me, “that going out to work meant taking two jobs.”

My mother understood quite clearly that she and my father were products of their time. “When I worked at the high school,” she told me, “if I didn’t have the tea ready, no one else was going to do it but me. And whose fault was that? The 1950s.”

And yet, I struggled for a long time to make sense of her life.

In one respect, she loved being a hausfrau. She aimed to raise four smart, capable kids, and she succeeded. She got what she told me she expected from marriage: “to grow old gracefully with a guy I thought was the greatest.” She said she had no regrets, and, you know, I do believe her.

And still, there was that road not taken. My final interview question was about what else she might have become. I will never forget her exact words, and I will never be able to describe the way she spoke them. “I think,” she said, “I would have made a good lawyer.”

Even more, she allowed that, at another, later, time, she might have approached childcare and housekeeping in a way that gave her more options.

For me, it was my father’s words of encouragement that propelled me out into his, public world. That much I always understood. It took me decades, however, to realize that it was my mother’s silent permission that released me from her domestic sphere. She was the one who gave me the newspaper clipping about the writing contest that sent me to Brazil as an exchange student. She was the one who gently questioned my decision to marry so young. “You have so much that you want to accomplish,” she reminded me.

My mother never made it out the 1950s. She hadn’t been equipped to reinvent herself. But she made sure that I was. I intend to keep on reinventing myself as many times as the ambition arises. That’s the legacy from my mother, the hausfrau.

ANN DALY PhD (www.anndaly.com) empowers women to get clear about what they want and how to get it. Before reinventing herself as a life coach, Dr. Daly was a journalist and then a women's studies professor at The University of Texas at Austin.

Social Media Killers

The current oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is a first-degree public relations nightmare for beleaguered BP. Whether BP can and does survive this ordeal financially remains to be seen. Certainly, their financial survival will depend on how many claims are filed, the aggregate value of those claims, the legitimacy of the claims and how long the claim filing goes on. All of which remains uncertain.

But, what seems to me to be more certain is that BP will have a difficult time surviving the corporate image nightmare. It is a problem that will likely continue in perpetuity. Why? Two words - social media.

These two words, and the peer-to-peer communications explosion they represent, did not exist in 1979 when the Ixtoc oil spill occurred in the Gulf of Mexico or when the Exxon Valdez ran aground in 1989. Ixtoc and Valdez are two environmental accidents on a similar scale as the current BP spill. But, the corporate image pitfalls of those pre-social media accidents will not live on to the same extent as will those of the BP spill. Those corporate image perils were not as threatening because social media did not exist during the times of Ixtoc and Valdez. And, because there was no social media then, there would not be as much deposited about the Ixtoc or Valdez incidents within blogs, social networks, mini-blogs and photo sharing sites as there would be about the BP incident.

Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, YouTube and blogs galore are alight with news, opinions and lies about the BP disaster. The extent of the social media coverage, much of it launched by “citizen journalists,” is so voluminous that it cannot be chronicled here. For your own customized look, you may simply enjoy the miracle of Google and type “BP” into its search box. But here I can, at least, take a quick look at one social media view of the BP accident. This one is particularly unique among all the social media haranguing of the hapless British multinational. Prompted by the BP rig explosion and the ensuing spill, Greenpeace, the global environmental non-governmental organization (NGO), initiated a “Rebrand the BP Logo” contest. Via the Internet, Greenpeace asked its supporters to submit their own versions of the BP logo, telling them:“ . . . create a logo for BP which shows that the company is not “beyond petroleum;” they’re up to their necks in tar sands and deepwater drilling.”

And what did the NGO say they would do with the winning redesign? (Which is known in other parlance as a “culture jam.”)

“The winning logo will be used by us in innovative and exciting ways as part of our international campaign against the oil company.” (quotes per Greenpeace Web site -  http://www.greenpeace.org/usa/news/gulf-oil-spill/bp-logo) 

Now, when viewed by the casual observer such an action might seem clever, cute, even perhaps tongue-in-cheek. Certainly, because of these characteristics, the Greenpeace campaign would attract a lot of attention. But, when viewed from the perspective of a business person, it’s plain to see this campaign will also add further contemporary damage to the BP corporate image. Be that as it may, let’s not be short-sighted and forget the BP of the future. That damage will be of an extended nature, one of a “silent killer,” which will continue to injure the corporate image long after the last gallon of oil is scooped up, long after the last pelican is cleaned and released, and long after all compensation is awarded, no matter how much more “green” that energy company attempts to become. That injury to the future BP corporate image will endure because of the way Greenpeace collected the contest entries. Greenpeace asked the contest entrants to submit their entries to a photo group on Flickr.com, the social photo and image sharing site. When the contest ended on June 28, there were approximately 2,500 entries in the two Flickr.com photo groups, “Behind the Logo 1 & 2,” that Greenpeace had set up for their purpose. Also, at that time, there had been about 600,000 views of the logo rebrands entered, views racked up in only a matter of a few weeks. In terms of numbers of future views, what do you think that number implies if these images remain on Flickr.com?

It doesn’t seem likely that Greenpeace would remove all these rebrand entries once the contest is complete. Why would they? And in that case, for as long as Greenpeace keeps its Flickr.com account active, these images will live “forever” on Flickr.com, and they will be available for people to digitally share and pass around as they like, ad infinitum and ad nauseum for BP. Even if, at some point, Greenpeace did remove these logo rebrand entries from Flickr.com, in all probability, because these images would have been exchanged online (digitally migrating away from Flickr.com), moving from one site to the next, they will continue to live indefinitely on the larger social web.

So, given this one silent social media killer example, and because of all the other countless social media “pastings” of the BP brand that exist out there on the social web, I believe it will be very difficult for BP to survive the perpetual corporate image impact. This is an impact borne of an easy to use tool, accessible to almost everyone in the developed world, that didn’t exist a half dozen years ago and one which will likely become more pervasive as time marches on.What does that signal for BP? And what does that indicate for any other company, such as yours, which is either rightly or wrongly accused within social media?

Richard Telofski is the founder and president of The Kahuna Content Company, Inc., a competitive strategy consultancy. He is also the author of four books, including “Insidious Competition” and “Dangerous Competition.” For more information, visit www.InsidiousCompetition.com.

Latina Voices

Three inspirational women — Minerva Perez, Patricia Gras and Sofia Adrogué  —joined forces two years ago to create and host a television program that would provide insights into the minds of highly educated Latin American women.

That program, Latina Voices: Smart Talk, is an English-speaking, 30-minute talk show. It focuses on a variety of topics of interest — ranging from business and politics to entertainment and pop culture. The show is filmed in HTV studios in Midtown and airs on HoustonPBS Channel 8 every Sunday at 2:30 p.m. It can also be seen on HTV/Comcast Cable Channel 16 every Wednesday and Sunday at 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.

As the talk show hosts explain, Latinos make up one of the largest groups in the country. More than 44 million now live in the U.S. According to them, this community is often referred to as a “sleeping giant” and often disregarded in mainstream media. 

Two years ago, Perez, an Emmy-nominated broadcast journalist and former KTRK-TV ABC 13 anchor, decided it was time to give this “sleeping giant” a wake-up call and develop a show to give the Latino community a voice.

Perez said, “I was dumbfounded that Barbara [Walters] didn’t have a Latina on The View. Latinos are the biggest emerging group — not even emerging, we’re burgeoning; we’ve exploded already. I was frustrated that the Latina voice wasn’t being heard, and I had to do something about it.” 

After coming up with the concept for the show, Perez asked Gras and Adrogué  if they would like to be a part of it.

Perez said, “When I pitched the idea to Patricia, she was the first one to say ‘I want to be a part of this; this is groundbreaking. Let’s do it.’”

Gras, an Emmy Award-winning broadcast journalist and PBS producer, said, “I wanted to be involved with Latina Voices because I wanted to represent a point of view that is seldom heard in the mainstream. We [Latinos] bring so much to the melting pot that is America and, yet, on the major networks, I felt we didn’t have a voice."

Even though the show’s target audience is Latina women professionals ages 18-59, the hosts of Latina Voices stress its philosophy that everyone cares about the same things, and the show is there to provide a different perspective on those issues.Perez said, “We don’t talk about  only Latino issues. We are addressing issues that affect everyone, because everything that affects non-Latinos, affects Latinos too.”

Gras said, “Many people assume because we are Latinos we don’t speak English or all we care about is immigration or bilingual education, when in fact, we care about the same issues everyone else cares about. The difference is, we are bicultural, so we come from a different angle.” 

Some of the issues the women have discussed on the show so far include: women in the workplace, immigration reform, healthcare and the census. The hosts of Latina Voices choose the topics to discuss by deciding what is affecting society and  what subjects the audience wants to be better informed.

“One woman asked us to do a story on poverty in Guatemala, so we interviewed the vice president of Guatemala, Dr. Rafael Espada,” said Perez.

Some of the other guests who have appeared on Latina Voices include: Barbara Padilla,  a local finalist of America's Got Talent; Pam Gardner, president of the Astros; Olympic Medalist Raj Bhavsar, and his Olympic coach, Kevin Mazeika.

In its first two years on the air, Latina Voices has found its way into over 40,000 homes.

The hosts say they are happy with the popularity of the show but stress “we’re not concentrating on the number (of viewers); we’re concentrating on making a better and better show.”

Although the show has been extremely successful in such a short amount of time, the women said they have had their difficulties. 

“It costs money to fund the shows, and we don’t have a lot of it,” said Perez, who hopes that Latina Voices will continue to gain sponsors as the show develops.

Currently, the show is being sponsored by Goya, Fiesta and Continental Airlines.To get more details about Latina Voices, please go online and visit www.latinavoices.com.

Amanda Trella is a native of Chicago, a senior at the University of Houston, majoring in print journalism, and a summer intern at Houston Woman Magazine.

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