Women of the Channel
By Jennifer Bosavage
December 04, 2012
As part of the CRN's Women of the Channel series, Avnet vice president Nicole Enright discusses best practices for balancing work and life. -- Jen Bosavage, editor
I recently wrote a blog about putting oneself first instead of last when juggling the many responsibilities we face as career women. Note to self: be careful what you write about -- someone might ask how you're progressing. So here I am to provide an update on what I've done differently and what I've learned since writing that blog.
Response to the blog was amazing. I received a lot of feedback, some questions and plenty of advice. One of the best suggestions I received was to keep a journal of times when I successfully put myself first instead of last. While I didn't keep a physical journal, I kept a mental one. Here are a few examples of when I succeeded in putting myself first instead of last.
Shortly after the blog published, I found myself faced with a dilemma. A small group of my friends had planned for months to stay overnight at a cabin. I was really looking forward to the trip and quality time with girlfriends, but as the date got closer, doubts crept in.
[Related: Women Of The Channel: Executives I Admire]
The selected weekend was packed with activities, which is true of most weekends. To make the overnight stay, I would need to leave right after my daughter's eighth birthday party. Plus, less than a week later, I would be out of town for six days on business. "Mommy guilt" set in. Now mind you, my daughter never said one word, nor did my husband. This was all "self-talk." I was feeling like a "bad mom" for spending so much time away from my family and I hadn't even left the house. I was worried that my daughter and husband would miss me. I wrestled with the decision the week prior to leaving. I had missed a previous girls' trip and didn't want to miss this one. So I went. Three things happened:
1. My daughter and husband were fine and had a good time together.
2. I had an absolute blast! I don't think I have ever laughed so hard or shared as much as I did that weekend.
3. I returned home recharged at a level that I hadn't felt in a long time.
Although I chose to do what I wanted, I didn't realize until upon my return, that the decision enabled me to be better in all of the roles I play because I was refreshed and renewed.
Weeks later I put myself first again. I had a rare day to work from home and catch up as my workload was particularly high. For some reason, I found myself really struggling to focus. I was worn out and stressed out. I decided to take 30 minutes just for me. I turned the music up (LOUD) in the house and I sang and danced. Afterward, I was in a much better mood and was able to focus. I knocked a week's worth of work out that day after my mini self-indulgent break.
I have learned a lot through this writing exercise. Some are from my own experiences, but most of it is from feedback and conversations initiated by this blog. Here are a few examples:
NEXT: The Art Of Putting Yourself First
We All Struggle With Prioritizing Precious Time
So many of the notes I received from the first blog were expressions of gratitude, such as, "thanks for putting out there what was in my head, but I never said out loud" and "thanks for letting me know I am not alone and that everyone, even those who you might think have it totally together, struggles just like me."
Putting Yourself First Has To Be A Conscious Decision
The only way to do this is to consciously think about what we need and want for ourselves. Stop making the assumption that by putting ourselves and our needs first, we are doing something wrong. I found that by being more self-aware (which putting this in writing helped me to crystallize), I was able to make a conscious effort to consider what I needed, sometimes in the moment, sometimes for the day or for the week. Think about how you are going to do it.
Putting Yourself First Is Different For Everyone
There is no one correct answer. What works for me won't necessarily work for others, but recognizing the challenge and consciously deciding how to address it is something we all must do if we want to find balance in our lives.
What I'm not saying is to always choose your own desires. I find that often what I want and need aligns with others' wants and needs. For example, I love to cook but rarely have the time. I also love to see my husband happy. Sometimes I cook his favorite dishes. They are time consuming, but it's something I thoroughly enjoy doing, and it makes him happy. Win-win! The same is true for my daughter. Just last week, it was important to her to get to school early so she could be the first to pass her mixed times test. (She is a tad competitive.) I rearranged some morning meetings so I could help her do what was important to her. By doing so, I found it was just what I needed as well.
I've had some wins, but I still struggle to put myself first every day. Sometimes it's just not possible because of the many roles I play (wife, mother, leader, etc.), and I alone am responsible for doing them well. But by paying attention to my own needs and wants, I am slowly, but surely, inching my way to better balance. And by doing so, I know I am approaching my work, marriage and parenting roles with more energy and passion than when I constantly let everything come before me.
Nicole Enright is vice president, strategic enablement services at Avnet Technology Solutions
October 15, 2012
Women executives are often faced with work-family balance issues. Wanting to be the best mom, worker and partner are admirable goals -- but largely impossible to do simultaneously. Perhaps, postulates Nicole Enright, Vice President, Strategic Enablement Services for Avnet Technology Solutions, the answer is for women to put themselves first. Then, all the other parts of your life can fall into place. — Jennifer Bosavage, editor
As the leader of a largely female team and as a member of a predominately male executive leadership team, I find myself constantly trying to balance the demands of my work and my life to serve both worlds as a good and balanced example. At this point, I am sure that many of you are reading and already thinking…”okay, here we go again, better work-life balance…check, check, I got it.”
[Related: Women Executives I Admire ]The truth is—most of us don’t get it. While as women we know the importance of balancing life, we find it difficult, if not impossible to be outstanding in all of the roles we play. The reality is—none of us can simultaneously be the best leader, employee, wife, mother, daughter, sister and friend. We can try, but I usually find that as a result, we end up placing ourselves last. A good friend and a fellow CRN Woman of the Channel once told me that: her children come first, her job second, her husband third, her extended family fourth, her friends fifth…and she herself, what she needed, what she wanted, that came last. I find the same to be true for me.
So the question is: why do we put ourselves last? I think we feel it’s expected. If you have children and a family, they should come first, right? If you have a job, you want to do the very best in that role. If you are a leader, you want to create an inspired and engaged team that is able to learn and grow. The good news is while I don’t think we can do everything, I do think that if we changed our priorities, and instead of placing ourselves last, we put ourselves first, maybe, just maybe, it would actually be easier for us to accomplish all of these things well.
For example, if we took care of our health, if we took time for ourselves, if we stopped placing all of our needs last and put some of our needs first I think we would be stronger and able to do more. I think that perhaps that’s what work-life balance is. It’s not about juggling; it’s about recognizing that the only way to achieve it is to take care of ones’ self first. If we don’t do that, I truly believe it’s so much more difficult to take care of everyone else.
Sometimes taking care of yourself is taking up kickboxing or yoga and sometimes it’s volunteering at your child’s school or for a charitable cause. A friend shared with me that her children left her a note in her lunch box asking her to come have lunch with them at school that day. I remember how much she wanted to have lunch with them. For her that would have nurtured her soul while nurturing her children. But instead she felt she had to participate in a meeting and didn’t go.
Sometimes it’s true. It’s not possible to always put ourselves and our needs first, but I think it’s more possible than we allow it to be. One of the members of my team called me in a panic because her daughter’s first dance recital was on the same night as an important dinner with some senior leaders. She wasn’t sure what to do? Why do we even allow ourselves the question? There was only one place she wanted to be and needed to be, but still there was a little war within her as to what she wanted and what she felt might be expected and important to her career.
Balance isn’t about juggling, it’s about balancing between needs, wants and what we believe is expected, and ensuring we are honoring all of the roles we play in the best way possible. As women, I believe one of the most effective ways we can do that is to stop placing ourselves last and instead to honor our needs and wants, minimally, the way we honor the needs and wants of our families, our employees and our organizations.
Perhaps I am writing this for myself—to move from this conviction I have to put myself first into the actual act of doing so. This is a fast-paced industry within a fast-paced world. I am constantly exhausted trying to be all things to all people all of the time. Perhaps if I listened, really listened to this voice within that continues to tell me that I can have balance, and may even do a better job than I am doing now for my family and for my organization, if I truly placed myself and my needs first, maybe I would do something about it. Maybe we all would.
And without really realizing it, I did just do it. When I was first approached about writing for this forum, I was interested and wanted to contribute to the blog (for me – it was something I really wanted to do), but I almost didn’t agree to do it because at the time I thought I was way too busy.
And this is how we, as women of the channel, can all take that first step—from last to first.
October 08, 2012
Communication is key — but when should you say, "Enough is enough" when scheduling meetings? Stacy Stubblefield, co-founder and vice president, Product Strategy at TeleSign quantifies just how much money a meeting costs a company.—Jennifer Bosavage, editor
Have you ever sat back, thrown your feet up on your desk, and thought about the financial impact meetings are having on your business every single day, hour after hour? I’m not talking about external client meetings, meetings with VC’s, vendors or any meeting that involves someone from outside your company – that’s a whole separate matter. Instead, I’m talking about the dozens of time-sucking meetings that are constantly taking place across your organization. Look around, there’s probably one happening right now.
Some people will argue that meetings are important for information sharing across a company. Others will say that meetings are where key decisions get made. I disagree with both of these points of view. How often to you attend meetings where anything of value is actually accomplished? If you’re like most of us, the answer is: not often.
So maybe a meeting is a waste of time, but it can still be interesting, and at least you get a bit of time to socialize with your coworkers, right? What’s wrong with that? Well, let’s take a quick look at the financial cost of a meeting. According to Indeed.com, the average salary across all jobs in Los Angeles is $73K. If you invite eight people making an average LA salary (not including benefits, taxes, etc.) to a two-hour meeting, the total cost of your meeting is approximately:
[2 hrs] X [$35/hr] X [8 ppl] = $560
By itself, $560 probably isn’t enough dough to make or break your business. But if you do this twice a week for the entire year, the cost becomes:
[$560/mtg] X [2/wk] X [52 wks/yr] = $58,240.
That’s for just one recurring meeting - think about how many meetings your company has across all departments every day! Plus, while the financial impact is high, I’d argue that the opportunity cost of each meeting is even higher. What else could those eight employees have accomplished during the two hours they spent twice a week in this recurring meeting? Guess what – you’ll never know, because that time is gone FOREVER.
So, what can you do to help make sure this type of needless time-wasting doesn’t happen to you? Here are tips for more productive meetings:
1) Every time you plan a meeting, give a significant amount of consideration to who you’re inviting. Does everyone you plan to invite really need to be there? Determine the total approximate cost of their time, and what’s the ultimate value of the meeting. If the salary cost is approximately $1,500 and you’re making a decision about how to allocate a $1,000 budget, you’re not getting good value for your time. Make sure to cut anyone who isn’t vital to the meeting. Afterward, e-mail a summary to any peripheral stakeholders who need to remain in the loop.
2) Make sure there’s a good reason you’re meeting. You should have AT LEAST ONE clear item that must be accomplished by the end of the meeting. This item could be a decision, a detailed plan with work assignments, a design, etc. But there must be something you can point to after the meeting and say “Look, this is what we accomplished.”
3) Distribute a clear, concise agenda to all attendees at least 24 hours before the meeting begins. The agenda will help attendees come prepared to contribute. It will also help employees identify meetings they don’t need to attend.
4) Schedule the length of your meeting to be as short as possible. People have a tendency to fill up time. If you schedule quick meetings, attendees have more incentive to stay on point rather than getting distracted by tangential issues.
5) Make the meeting as physically uncomfortable as (reasonably) possible. Having attendees stand for the entire meeting is always a good option.
6) There should be no laptops or cell phones in meetings (except to present information). Why are you in the meeting if you have time to check your e-mail and do various other tasks? Instead, leave either your work or yourself at your desk.
October 01, 2012
Cassidy offers adults a twist on educator Maria Montessori's "Absorbant Mind." Cassidy discusses the importance of observing management styles, applying what you like, and leaving the rest behind. The result is a manager who is true to herself, and therefore, can lead effortlessly, because she is not adhering to a guidebook, but following her own principles and values.—Jennifer Bosavage
Navigating the technology channel is challenging for any professional and in the past it seemed like "Mission Impossible" for women. Thankfully, that is changing. While women are finding their way to top spots in technology, there is room for many more. Determining your management style is part of the process.
[Related: Women Executives I Admire ]I don’t claim to have all the answers, but if I had to sum up my success thus far, I would say in my early days and even now, I’ve always seen myself as a sponge. Yes, you read that right, a sponge!
More than 20 years ago, I graduated college and started my career with lofty goals of being a high ranking advertising executive; that was the family business. My mom and dad held posts at creative agencies, so it seemed like a good fit. Right out of college, I took on several internships, one of which eventually led to a full time role at a successful technology company. That role exposed me to the world of corporate marketing, the channel, partner programs and more. Because it was in high tech during the dot-com boom, there were several opportunities for me to learn from creative thinkers, innovators and seasoned professionals. Basically, I learned from the best of the best.
Like a sponge, I soaked up everything I could, especially from the team members working on partner programs. In those days and even now, I took something away from every experience. I soaked in the good, the bad and the ugly. One of my supervisors at the time led a global team. Her management style was that of a strong taskmaster, and everyone knew exactly what was expected.
Once, she went so far as to put up yellow caution tape around her office, so her colleagues and direct reports knew not to bother her. She wasn’t big on compromise, idle conversation, or collaboration if it wasn’t productive. Though she consistently delivered results, I soaked it all in, and determined I didn't want to lead using such a rigid management style.
On the other hand, I had the pleasure of working with a fellow “Woman in the Channel” a few years ago. She has since accelerated through the ranks as well, and she is still on top of her game today. Her management style is best described as (seemingly) effortless. I observed her during difficult sessions with partners, during big presentations with industry insiders and less formal employee events. For her, being a driven leader, mother and wife required the same skills: respect, diplomacy and collaboration. She’s never tried to have it all. Instead, she has surrounded herself with driven people who like her, only focused on what is important.
Through the years, I’ve found my way by trying new things and leveraging professional hits and misses. As a result, I’ve been exposed to alternative leadership styles. Such exposure has put me in close reach with decision makers who have influenced my career path. They have positioned me to move from soaking up information to transitioning to leadership roles. Today, I am acutely aware of my impact and approach in the workplace. As leaders, we must commit to continually learning and sharing insight.
We can all do our part to support the next crop of women leaders in technology. They can use our antidotal experiences to fast track their professional pursuits, but only if we share. In the end, a skilled leader knows how to soak up the good and squeeze out the excess. That certainly sounds like a sponge to me!
September 24, 2012
Kristi Houssiere’s career in the high-tech industry spans more than 20 years. Here, Houssiere realizes while on family vacation that there are crucial lessons you can apply to business wherever you go, if you're willing to learn them.—Jennifer D. Bosavage, editor
As Director of Worldwide Channel Programs and Operations for Guidance Software, I often find myself applying happenings in my personal life to how they relate to my work in the channel, and this summer was no exception. Here are three lessons I learned from a recent family vacation touring the beautiful northern coast of California that can apply directly to the channel:
1) Plan for change. Who knew that when my family and I showed up at the airport on Saturday at 6:45 a.m. to begin our vacation, that our plane and the flight crew wouldn’t be there ready to take us? When the plane finally took off at 11:00 a.m., we adjusted our plans as we knew we wouldn’t hit our first road trip milestone at Point Bonita Lighthouse in Sausalito.
We all know that in the channel, change is the only constant. Re-assessing or even optimizing your plan may be needed to address changes in the market, selling region or in the channel community as a whole. For those of you that create or support channel programs, you clearly understand the many operational and departmental interdependencies present in your company. As department initiatives change, executives move, or new products are announced or acquired - you too have to adapt and change your plan to mirror new objectives. So plan for change and create programs that can adapt to the channel’s ever-evolving environment.
2) Don’t miss the big picture. You can’t always see the forest from the trees. This was especially true as I found myself climbing 75 feet up a redwood tree to then launch myself on a zip line through an ancient forest. I was physically forced to only focus on the trees, bringing a whole new meaning to the phase “tree hugger!” Losing sight of the big picture can happen, especially as new programs are just developing.
Have you ever been in meetings to build out a new channel offering and someone steers the discussion toward minute delivery details, before the program purpose, goals and objectives are fully confirmed? Set then communicate the big picture by mapping it out and developing a crisp, simple overall purpose, goal and timeline for the program. Share your goals with key stakeholders and ask for input to ensure it is valued and relevant. Make sure your time is well spent by sticking to those core objectives rather than getting “lost in the details.” When you do work out supporting details, keep a critical perspective on the main objectives and you’ll reap the reward of a job well done.
3) Remember, there is no “I” in team. A large part of our vacation was spent driving through quaint small towns, windy coastline and the Redwood National Park. Everyone in the car had jobs that benefited the team as a whole. My husband was a terrific pilot and schedule keeper while I took on the role of co-pilot and peacekeeper. My daughter was DJ and meal planner (important for mind and spirit) and our son acted as comedian, social media historian and photographer. In the channel, not only do you need the right tools for your desired outcome, but you need the right team too. Build your team (whether they are direct reports, subject matter experts or borrowed task masters) in a way that utilizes everyone’s strengths and expertise. Assigning the right team players to the right task should not be overlooked. Keying in on who does what best while understanding what each person has a passion for helps to navigate toward the team goals in a very efficient manner.
Two more personal (bonus) lessons learned during the family road trip, to which you may be able to relate: My 12-year old son could put an ACLU attorney to shame in his cries for quality and fairness, and my 14 year old daughter could be 100 percent entertained forever anywhere (or completely oblivious- depending on how you see it) with cell coverage and her iPhone. Sigh.
We completed our epic road trip up the California coast and through the woods in only 1,100 miles. I loved watching my children discover and learn from the world around them. I too was reminded of ways I can use my experiences (yes, even on vacation) to improve my work in the Channel. By leveraging these three principals of flexibility, big-picture thinking, and teamwork, we will better serve our channel partners and utilize their abilities to grow sales.
- From Last To First: Practice Makes It Possible, Not Perfect
- From Last To First
- Meetings: Do You Hear That Sucking Sound?
- Keys to Success: Soak It All In
- What I Learned On My Summer Vacation
- Glass Ceilings: Do They Exist or Do We Create Them?
- For Women With IT Backgrounds, the Sky's the Limit
- A Leadership Mindset: Practical Advice for Women in Tech
- Threats from Within: Former Moto Engineer Gets Jail for Espionage
- Par For the Course: Augusta National Admits Women
- Things That Matter: One Woman's Life Inventory
- Learning To Learn From Rejection
- Three Things That Have Made All The Difference
- Telling the Boss You're Pregnant and Other Chores You Wish You Could Skip
- Oh Mr. Welch! Myths of Women in Business
- Why Sally Ride Is a Hero
- IT Is No Longer a Man's World – So Where are All the Women?
- Don't Make This Hiring Mistake
- Trouble Communicating? Fix It.
- Is Your Social Media Presence Annoying?