Category Archives: Work

WM Working Mom Hero Awards…..At Long Last

I am months delayed in the first recipient of today’s highly sought after Wired Momma Working Mom Hero Awards series but better late than never, right? First, some context. Earlier this summer, pretty much all of us read and talked about Anne-Marie Slaughter’s piece in the Atlantic Monthly on “Having It All.” Some agreed, some disagreed, some of us were pleased she used her platform to raise the importance of the struggle we all face to manage work and family life – even if we found Slaughter herself self-righteous and annoying (cough, cough).

Whatever the case may be, I struggled to put my finger on exactly what bothered me about Slaughter’s essay, no matter that there were parts of it I enjoyed and agreed with. Something was still gnawing at me.  Until I read a piece in the New York Times way back in June honoring Nora Ephron. You guessed it – she is today’s first award recipient, posthumously of course, of the Wired Momma Working Mom Hero Awards. The reasons to honor Ms. Ephron are, of course, endless. Do you have all day?

Meg Ryan in the iconic scene

I mean – the scene with Meg Ryan mimicking an orgasm during “When Harry Met Sally” and Ms Ephron placing her own mother-in-law in that scene to be the woman asking to order whatever Meg’s having – isn’t that right there reason enough to love her and honor her?

But it’s her wit, wisdom and common sense that appeals most to moi. In  Alessandra Stanley’s New York Times piece I mentioned above, Stanley mentions Slaughter’s piece and references a commencement speech Ephron gave to Wellesley graduates in 1996 where she said the following: “Maybe young women don’t wonder whether they can have it all any longer, but in case any of you are wondering, of course you can have it all. What are you going to do? Everything, is my guess. It will be a little messy, but embrace the mess. It will be complicated, but rejoice in the complications. It will not be anything like what you think it will be like, but surprises are good for you. And don’t be frightened: you can always change your mind. I know: I’ve had four careers and three husbands.”

Right there. She says it all. She is exactly right and in those few sentences, she also addresses the very thing about Slaughter’s piece I couldn’t put my finger on – quick taking yourself so god damn seriously. It’s annoying. And self-righteous. And unrealistic. That is exactly what bugged me this entire time.

Instead, Ephron nails it with her common sense advice to embrace the mess, embrace the complications, to be realistic about life and her own self-deprecating humor in noting she’s had four careers and three husbands. For anyone following along, one of the qualities I admire most in WM Working Mom Hero Award recipients is they tend to discuss their mistakes, their failures and move on. I admire this in a person because, again, it is real. It isn’t about perfection at all, quite the opposite, it’s about realistic approaches to life.

Following Ephron in today’s Awards ceremony (isn’t it a fancy ceremony) would be intimidating for pretty much anyone – except probably today’s other winner – and this particular woman is long over due for the award. Like Ephron, she is also, personally, one of my favorite and most beloved public figure moms; successful professional and overall star – she is none other than Michelle Obama. Now, you might not agree with her or her husband politically, but I challenge you to not find some thing useful in some of her recent parenting rules. I also challenge you to not absolutely adore many of her great outfits and her steadfast effort to fight childhood obesity and promote healthy, active living. But that aside, let’s focus today on specifically what she’s done to earn today’s award. It’s really what she said and frankly, I believe she meant it.

Mrs. Obama with her girls. Photo Credit:

First – partly what inspired my reaction to her words was something I witnessed on Friday morning. I left the gym around 7:02AM and on the corner by the gym were four teenage girls. They were standing there waiting for the school bus. Wanna know what they were doing? Every last one of them? They were TEXTING.

It had everything in me not to knock the phones out of their hands and tell them to get over themselves and TALK TO EACH OTHER. They weren’t even standing close to each other. Each one was strategically positioned a substantial distance from the other, totally engrossed in their cell phone. Who were they texting at 7am? Some girl at a bus stop three blocks away? What the hell? Now, don’t get me wrong. Rewind the clock back to 1991 and give me a cell phone and crazy rabid dogs would have had to rip that thing out of my hand. I would have had




No matter the time of day.

#Shocking,I Know

That being said, I also pretty regularly got in trouble for talking in class (and passing notes to my friend Sara Teater), so I feel confident that I would have had plenty to say IRL (that’s In Real Life for anyone hoping to never learn teen acronyms. I secretly love acronyms but I hate emoticons. Teen moi would have over-used emoticons, however.) In fact, as a teen, my freshman college roommate, Keeley, deliberately avoided me in some lectures because she knew I would talk to her the entire time and she actually wanted to listen.




Back to Mrs. Obama. I absolutely couldn’t stop thinking about these obnoxious teens texting at 7am when there were live teen girls standing next to them that they could have been gossiping with. I was struck by the reality of it. I was consumed with what I needed to do to make sure my girls don’t end up like this. Sure, they can text, but I so badly want them to want to talk to a human being when there is one standing next to them. Especially one their own age. Look, I’ve been to conferences on raising good cyber citizens, sat through lectures on raising kids with technology and already plan to implement the whole “cell phones charged in mom’s bedroom every night by 8pm” regimen that so many others employ. But in case you missed this from Mrs. Obama, here’s the parenting rules recently covered by Jodi Kantor in the New York Times:

  • “When the girls go on trips, they write reports on what they have seen, even if their school does not require it.”
  • “Technology is for weekends. Malia may use her cellphone only then, and she and her sister cannot watch television or use a computer for anything but homework during the week.”
  • “Malia and Sasha had to take up two sports: one they chose and one selected by their mother. “I want them to understand what it feels like to do something you don’t like and to improve,” the first lady has said.
  • “Malia must learn to do laundry before she leaves for college.”
  • “The girls have to eat their vegetables, and if they say that they are not hungry, they cannot ask for cookies or chips later. “If you’re full, you’re full,” Mrs. Obama said in an interview with Ladies’ Home Journal. “I don’t want to see you in the kitchen after that.”

Okay – something tells me she lives by those rules and doesn’t bend. This isn’t to say that I’ll be quite as strict. On some level, if I’m going to preach no technology but for weekends – should I also live by that one a little? So I’ll figure some variation on that one but I am quite intrigued by her decision to choose an activity for the girls and make them understand what it feels like to do something they don’t like and still improve. I respect that about her and think too often, our kids are overly coddled and catered too. Just the other day I let my first grader pick her two after school activities. She chose art and science. I really wanted one of her two activities to be either French or Spanish but she objected and I conceded because I felt art and science were perfectly solid choices.

Would Mrs. Obama have wavered? I know that learning a language at a young age is the ideal time to do so. And why am I letting the 6-year-old pick – she isn’t paying for it? No one ever said it was a democracy chez moi. So why did I cave and not push the foreign language as one of two activities?

Maybe next session, I pull a Mrs. Obama. Her logic is solid, in my opinion.

So, while there are myriad reasons Mrs. Obama earned the WM Working Mom Hero Award today, I’ll stick with her recent list of parenting rules. I am certain she actually does lives by them.  It’s refreshing to have a first lady in office with younger kids and hear her speak so openly about how she’s raising them. Say what you will about parenting today, and by no means am I generalizing enough to say that American parents are alone guilty of this, but we coddle our kids. So many of us do. And to what end? Until my kid is texting her way through a foreign language class she never wanted to take to begin with?

Not under my watch.

Famous last words?

I hope not.

To keep up with more fun, frolic and WM Working Mom Hero Awards….or to suggest a winner…..”Like” Wired Momma on Facebook. Also – the next Wired Momma book club is tomorrow night in Tysons Corner…you’ll have to log onto the Facebook page to learn the details.


Working Mom Hero Awards Continued: Business & Media Titans

I spent the last few days in New York City with about 4,000 other bloggers attending the BlogHer12 conference. On the train ride home, in a rare moment of quiet, I started wondering what my blog topics would be this week. I figured I was so exhausted from the conference, I just couldn’t think clearly, because I was drawing a blank.

Then over dinner that night, I relayed so much of the conference to my family, specifically the keynote speakers.

Then I got a good night sleep and woke up still thinking about the keynote speakers. When it hit me like a ton of bricks…girl was tired because OBVIOUSLY I am blogging about Martha Stewart and Katie Couric, two of the keynote speakers at the conference. You know, the ones I keep thinking about and talking about.

Remarkable that it took me a few days to realize it, isn’t it?



So, much overdue, today I continued the Wired Momma Working Mom Hero Awards and instead of drumming up lots of articles and interviews with these two women, I will instead relay to you what they spoke about that really struck me over the weekend.


Martha Stewart rocking the orange pants & wedges at the BlogHer12 Conference

Let’s start with Martha because she spoke on Friday. Look, I went into that lunch knowing that I absolutely respect Martha Stewart but didn’t expect to like her. I came away from it standing in applause, wanting to hear more from her.  Over a crowded ballroom lunch with my closest 4,000 friends on Friday, Martha sauntered on stage in beautiful reddish orange pants, a white and beige button down and extremely high orange wedge sandals that matched her orange pants perfectly. She looked chic, stylish and relaxed. Immediately the Twitter-sphere was exploding over her mere presence, which frankly is to be expected when thousands of social media obsessed women gather together.

Fringe details aside, let’s cut to the point, what did I like about Martha? What did she say that resonated with me and has me thinking days later? Here’s what – she repeatedly wove a theme of the need for constant curiosity in life. She said countless times that without curiosity, you lose your creativity. This is a business tycoon who can speak eloquently to the importance of social media to then discussing Japanese knives, floral arrangements and which pregnant staffers will and will not return to work after maternity leave (apparently she has a 100% accurate prediction rate of who will and won’t return after having a baby). There seemed to be no topic she couldn’t discuss with ease and she oozed confidence. When asked what she isn’t good at, she replied, “Only what I haven’t tried yet.”


She oozes confidence, she’s funny and she is unabashedly curious. It was clear from how she spoke about social media that Martha might run a media empire but she doesn’t rely solely upon staff to handle her personal social media – she is knee deep in social media herself and appreciates its importance to growing her business and brand. In other words, she does not rest on her laurels and she addressed the importance of doing the big picture strategic thinking and the mundane parts of daily life – every day.

What might be mundane in Martha’s life, you might wonder?

She mentioned brushing her horses hair every day, as an example. So while the rest of us might not be in our horse stables every evening brushing our their hair, there are plenty of mundane tasks we do have to do every day (I can think of a few in my day that I’d trade for instead brushing horse hair on a farm in Connecticut. You?)

While I hoped for more questions about getting through the peaks and valleys of her life (oh, I don’t know, doing hard time comes to mind), and unfortunately those didn’t come up (note: the WM Hero Award Recipients all share this in common: they all have faced low dark moments, some failures, and they powered through and rose above), she was asked about balancing career and family. She breezed through that topic fairly quickly but pointed out that her life has seen tremendous business success but her marriage failed. Then I actually thought she was going to cry on stage because it seemed her voice cracked when she noted the failure of her marriage was a difficult year. Then she corrected herself and said “a difficult few years.”

I really do respect brutal honesty above almost anything else.

The other question I really appreciated was what piece of advice her current self would give her 20-something self, if she could. She said “encouragement.” Then she went on to reference that scene in “The Help” when Aibileen, the nanny repeats to the little girl “You is kind, you is smart, you is important.” She said this is what we should tell ourselves, those we are mentoring and our children, every day. We all just need encouragement.

And let’s not forget, she repeated the importance of curiosity in cultivating creativity again.

Finally, she commented that the two grandchildren she now has are the best things that ever happened to her. She didn’t leave the stage without demonstrating her business savvy first-hand when she gave all of us a one-year free digital subscription to all four of her magazines (thank you, Martha!) and asked us to visit her up in the Exhibit Hall where she would be staffing the Staples booth displaying her new line of Office products on sale now (I checked them out, they are fabulous).


The ever-chipper Katie Couric at the BlogHer12 Conference

Next, on Saturday, I eagerly arrived early to the lunch to hear Katie Couric. Obviously I knew I would love Katie, I already have seen her speak in real life a few times in the past and looked forward to hearing from her since she’s anchored the evening news and interviewed Sarah Palin.

Katie clearly was savvy enough to accept the invitation to speak because she wanted to promote her new daytime talk show debuting next month. She walked onto stage in a black halter dress and killer camel strappy sandals and opened with “I love the smell of estrogen in the morning!”

The crowd went wild.

It already was a different experience than with Martha. Katie is so skilled at reacting to the audience and engaging the audience. You can’t help but feel like she is your friend and wants to hear from you, she makes it seem so effortless and honestly, it is a tremendous skill.

After giving us an overview of her new show, which frankly I hadn’t thought about before Saturday but does sound like it will be interesting and topical (and she asked Sheryl Crow to write and sing the opening song for her show), she was asked some excellent questions. She spoke candidly about the difficulty of becoming a widow at the age of 41, about losing her sister to pancreatic cancer not long after losing her husband and about the need for more cancer research and funding. She sadly noted that her sister was running for Lt. Governor of Virginia when she fell ill and passed, and her professional dream had been to interview her sister in office. You could still feel her profound sadness and it’s been over a decade since she faced this horrible loss. Her willingness to share with us these personal and dark moments is disarming and something I really respect about her.

She was asked about infamous interview with then-Governor Palin during the 2008 election, specifically how she felt during that interview and she very honestly said you would have to have ice coursing through your veins to not have felt sorry for the Governor during that interview. She said “I just felt bad for her” but she noted she had to ask her the questions she would ask anyone running for the second highest office in the country, notably with the oldest presidential candidate running for his first term.

When asked about the Anne-Marie Slaughter piece on “Having It All,” she noted that the piece started an important conversation but every woman needs to do what is best for her and her family and “move past the BS mommy wars.” The crowd erupted in response to that question. She also elaborated a bit on the “Having It All” subject to raise an important point about the Slaughter piece, which was that women like Slaughter and herself have tremendous help. She spoke about her nanny who was there to do everything that she didn’t have time to do and felt that what we need to discuss more are all the women who can’t afford this level of support and help because most women don’t have “high-class problems.”

When asked “How do you do it all?” her response was “Brian Williams never gets asked that question!” and again the crowd erupted. I have mixed feelings about powerful women objecting to being asked questions on how they manage their career and family when men of the same power don’t get asked such questions. Frankly, I think it’s a legitimate and fair question. I think we ask these women this question because there are so few women that reach such levels of professional success and we ask it because we all spend countless hours complaining, venting, writing and talking about how much more work we do at home than our husbands – so OF COURSE we are going to ask this question of other women.

About her two daughters, Katie noted they are her greatest achievement. And about her amazing figure, specifically her toned legs and biceps, she claims she is inherently lazy but works out in spin classes because it is such an efficient calorie burn, then starts every day ON Weight Watchers and ends every day OFF Weight Watchers.

Again, the crowd erupted in applause and laughter.

In the end, as I think about both keynotes, it was Martha’s words that stuck with me more than Katie’s, despite Katie’s warmth and honesty. But both women are remarkable working moms who have shattered glass ceilings and paved careers and opportunities for the rest of us. And both commented that their children and grandchildren are their greatest accomplishments.

Katie & Martha – I anoint you this week’s Wired Momma Working Mom Hero award recipients and appreciated your time at BlogHer 12.

To keep up with the ever-constant dialogue about work-life choices and all the other fun snark I toss in between, “Like” the Wired Momma community Facebook page.

In case you missed this amazing advice

Marissa Mayer, new CEO of Yahoo. Photo Credit: Fortune Mag & CNN Money

I am so slow with getting this post written because of my lack of internet access at home…oh…and being lost in boxes and cans of paint. You know it’s insane when it’s been days since I’ve last blogged. Unfortunately my guess is that my chance to write will be spotty for the next few weeks so please…bear with me!  With that aside, you might have missed what I thought was the best article in the Sunday papers. In a rare moment, I found myself buried deep in the Sunday Wash Post business section (a far cry from my usual Sunday NYT Style section obsession, c’est vrai). Way back in the Technology & Innovation page was a piece on who else – Marissa Mayer. It was not about her pregnancy. And let’s talk about that for a minute. To me, her pregnancy is relevant because a Fortune 500 Company Board hired a her as CEO despite being pregnant. This strikes moi as a huge step forward. The news is not about how LONG she will take her maternity leave for. Her maternity leave is her maternity leave, not mine or yours or all woman kind’s maternity leave. Not to mention, to be a Fortune 500 CEO at the age of 37 means you aren’t just ‘Superhuman’ as Anne-Marie Slaughter wrote about wildly successful professional woman. It means you are addicted to working. How could it mean otherwise? Your drive and ambition is unlike most others hence being a CEO. So OF COURSE her maternity leave will be brief and she will work the entire time. This shouldn’t be a point of discussion, in my view, instead we should just hope that other companies take note that women can and should be hired while pregnant. Is anyone else with me here?

Now to the point. Farhad Manjoo’s piece in the Post, which after an annoyingly long Google search, I realized first appeared in Slate, was about Mayer professionally. Majoo describes how Mayer interviewed with Google as she was finishing graduate school, back when Google only had a few employees, how she was offered a few different jobs and as she weighed her options, she explained how she made a decision. It was how she approached making a difficult decision that really stopped me dead in my tracks. Here’s what she says:


“I had to think really hard about how to choose between job offers,” she said. Mayer approached the choice analytically. Over spring break, she studied the most successful choices in her life to figure out what they had in common. “I looked across very diverse decisions—everything from deciding where to go to school, what to major in, how to spend your summers—and I realized that there were two things that were true about all of them,” she said. “One was, in each case, I’d chosen the scenario where I got to work with the smartest people I could find. … And the other thing was I always did something that I was a little not ready to do. In each of those cases, I felt a little overwhelmed by the option. I’d gotten myself in a little over my head.”


I thought her advice was remarkable. Admittedly, it’s never once occurred to me to study the most successful choices in my life to look for what they have in common. Has this occurred to you? And while working with the smartest people isn’t the most revealing advice, it’s part two of her advice that I think is good for everyone to hear – this idea of taking a chance, putting yourself in a position where you are maybe not quite ready, out of your comfort zone – and on some level – probably being willing to open yourself up to failure by taking that risk. I think this is really common advice from very successful people all the time but personally I find it easy to lose sight of that because we are hearing from them only when they are already successful – not in the middle of their failure.

Anyhow – pack to unpacking…but if you’ve ever studied all your past choices to look for commonalities – I’d love to know. What an analytical and smart, non-emotional way, to approach a decision. Quite un-Wired Momma like…..heh heh.

Like “Wired Momma” on Facebook to keep up with the fun, the snark and whatever the hell else I feel like posting about! (hint: new concert give-away going to be posted on FB soon)

Is the new Yahoo CEO the new poster-woman for working moms?


Marissa Mayer, new CEO of Yahoo. Photo Credit: Fortune Mag & CNN Money

The big move starts tomorrow – so I REALLY don’t have time for the kind of post that is running through my head and crowding my thoughts – but I had to throw something up. Last night, I heard the news that Marissa Mayer was named newly appointed CEO of Yahoo. I thought it was cool and just didn’t focus. Tomorrow’s move on the brain, I guess.


This morning I heard a news blurb that she is 37. Wow – that shocked me. She could join our Forever 39 wine and yoga pants club.

Then the news followed up with this – she is pregnant with her first child and due in October.

If that didn’t stop every one of us dead in our tracks, I don’t know what will.

Forget the Anne-Marie Slaughter piece, forget everything else – here we have actual action. We have a youngish business WOMAN appointed CEO of a large company….and she is pregnant – not just newly pregnant but very pregnant – and taking her maternity leave.

All eyes are on her amongst the working mom set, whether she likes it or not. Did she suddenly just become the new poster-woman for breaking new ground, actually breaking some barriers and setting an example that pregnant women should still be interviewing for all kinds of jobs – even competitive intense jobs – and that pregnancy should not be considered as a barrier to strong candidates?

And will it be the edgier, newer businesses that will walk-the-walk about work-life balance and adapt to helping families manage careers and family – in a way that the older, more established businesses just can’t seem to be able to do?

I hope business people, HR departments, hiring managers everywhere are taking notice. This decision on the part of Yahoo isn’t just another philosophical piece published by a privileged woman – this is a stop-you-dead  in your tracks decision that sends a loud message.

Last year, I interviewed a friend who is also an attorney with the EEOC. She sees work discrimination cases every single day. She has a very realistic perspective and she provided some excellent advice to women who are pregnant and interviewing or considering a job search. Since posting that interview, I consistently see traffic to my blog where someone entered the search terms “should I interview while pregnant?”

Ladies  – I don’t think anything just changed over night but hopefully this empowers you. What do you think? Is the hiring of Marissa Mayer significant for working women everywhere? I will resume the WM Working Moms Hero series, probably next week. Until then, for more on working moms, “Like” the WM Facebook page.