Wednesday, January 6, 2010

An article today confirms that there are certain communities in California where the incidence of autism is higher. The article states that families with higher education and greater levels of income report higher incidences of autism. The report speculates that there might be an environmental factor such as the household products that high income families use. I think this is a total hoax and a distraction from the real issues. What possible products could rich people use that are not used in the homes of middle and low income families? I grew up poor and I guess would be considered one of these highly-educated folks and I don't see a bit of difference in the household products used by my family in the projects and by my family today. Autism is ravishing communities, and not just rich ones. Poor and middle class families have children with autism. Suggesting that it is an affluent disorder makes it all the more impossible for poor families to get the resources they so desperately need--after all, if the only face of the disorder are the rich and famous, and highly educated, god knows that's where the research and resources will be focused and expended.
I have been asked to facilitate a woman's circle in Dallas and in LA so that success-oriented woman can come together to provide support and strategies to help each other. I am excited about the opportunity to be a part of something so incredibly powerful. In preparation, I decided to share some of the strategies outlined in my book "Journey to the Top." These are success principles that I have learned over my 20 plus years as an attorney, business owner, non-profit leader and now in my new role as author and TV lawyer. I am always pleased when I get reports that someone used one of the strategies and indeed had success. I will also be posting shorter versions on my Face Book page as so many women are online talking about how to improve their lives and to make a difference in the lives of others.

So here we go--Strategy No. One--Find Out What You are Made Of--this may seem like a no brainer. But before you can begin any serious endeavors, you must know your own strengths and weaknesses. This sometimes involve painful analysis of one's self that most of us would rather avoid. However, imagine if the President had not done some serious soul searching before throwing his hat into the race two years ago. If he wasn't absolutely and positively should that he had the stomach for the criticism, the high level of scrutiny, the grueling travel schedule, the time away from family and the shear rigors of a presidential campaign--he clearly would have lost the election. Quite simply, there are no short cuts and no way around doing some soul searching if you are serious about achieving anything new and different in your life. So start today--enlist some trusted friends and family members. Ask them to help you make an assessment. Write a list of your strengths and on the other side of the paper--list your weaknesses. This little simple exercise should tell you a lot about yourself and what your future prospects. Take your time, dont be afriad to laugh and to cry--and by all means, be brutally honest with yourself--after all, this is your journey to the top.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Think of your empowerment circle like the group that you need to accomplish any goals. Just think no one has ever been successful without a strong team--Ronald Reagan had his "California Kitchen Cabinet," Barack Obama had his Chicago Crew and Vanity Fair wrote about Hillary Clinton's team well before she made her bid for office. These teams provide not only moral support, but they provide the expertise and insight you need. For some, its comfortable to rely solely only those friends you have the most in common with, those you enjoy going to the movie with, shopping, eating out, etc. But members of an empowerment circle aren't usually those close friends. For example, if your goal in the new year is to open a small business or to change careers, although your closest friend may support your efforts, you need to ask yourself do they have any knowledge or expertise that will be helpful to you in opening a business--are they business owners? do they know anything about marketing, accounting or human resources? do they know bankers or lenders who provide small business loans? If the answers to these questions are NO--then they may be good friends but they are not ideal candidates for your empowerment circle. You need to go outside of your comfort zone and handpick individuals who have the expertise that can help you. And remember this is a circle--so its not a one way street. You will invite key people into your circle and everyone in the circle needs to be able to offer everyone else something so that its a reciprocal process of give and take. To get started, write down your goals. Then write next to each goal the type of information and assistance you need. Next write the names or even the titles of the persons you think can best help you. Finally, make the ask. Invite these key people into your circle and watch how much more you will accomplish.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Making Your Dreams Come True in 2010

This is the year to make your dreams come true. Don't be afraid to reach for the stars. Everyone that has ever achieved any success started with a vision or a dream. That vision has to be followed by a concrete plan of action and a willingness to make the necessary sacrafices to achieve the goal. To often we are afraid to take the first step and without it, we can't possibly move to the second phase of the details and the strategies needed to accomplish our goals. In December of 2009, I signed up on Facebook and after realizing the power of the site, I set a goal to have 1,000 friends by the end of December. By 11 am on December 21, I had my 1,000 friends! And although this is a small goal, practicing with smaller goals can give you the courage and confidence you need to move on to bigger ones. Take advantage of today to not only set goals for 2010, but also, to define the steps you need to take to make your goals a reality. Don't leave out the hard work and sacrafices that you will need to make in the new year. Remember that all goals and successes present challenges and you can count on obstacles along the way--so fortify yourself so you will be ready for what will come your way in the new year. Follow these steps and watch yourself soar in the new year!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Are Your Text Messages Private? This is the question the US Supreme Court will address in a case involving an Ontario, CA police officer and his boss' attempt to read text messages he sent from a pager given to him by the police force. In City of Ontario v. Quon, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals held that Mr. Quon's messages were private and protected by his 4th Amendment rights to privacy. The City of Onatario disagrees. It argued in its papers to the US Supreme Court that it should be allowed to regulate its workplace including reading the private messages of its employees.

I say enough already. Without doubt employers should have the regulate what happens in the workplace, but this doesn't mean that everything that is said or done in the work place becomes a matter of public record. Imagine your wife or husband visiting you at the office and during that visit you have a very private discussion about your finances, sex life, etc. Now clearly your employer would not be privy to this discussion even though you may have had it on company property. So why should those same private thoughts and personal words become subject to public attribution simply because they are transmitted via a pager or cell phone. The advent of the electronic age does not vitiate our constitutional rights to privacy. For goodness sake let officer Quon send his private messages. If you want to admonish him for have private calls or in this case texts while on company time, do so, but to read each and every private message goes to far.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Many are confused about the recent news reports that Tiger Wood's wife is considering negotiating a contract by which she would receive almost 100 million dollars for staying with Tiger for at least six years. Before you judge his wife too harshly, you should know that many couples have both pre and post nuptial agreements. Essentially these are legally binding contracts that couples enter into before or during a marriage which determines a variety of things including the distribution of assets assuming death, divorce, separation and yes, even infidelity. Most states acknowledge the validity of such agreements and when entered into properly they can be used to alter community property laws and other statutes which govern the distribution of assets in divorce proceedings. Many people believe that such agreements are some how inconsistent with traditional notions of marriage and the vow--for richer or poorer. But to the contrary, pre and post nuptial agreements can actually be just what the doctor ordered and may work to help keep some couples together. As of this writing, it looks like Tiger Wood's wife will have to decide if even a very generous post nuptial is enough to keep her in a marriage were this is admitted infidelity. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

On Tuesday, the LAUSD School B0ard will vote on how to drastically reduce its upcoming budget including laying off teachers and administrators. The proposed layoffs will result in class sizes for elementary school students increasing from 24 to 29. The superintendent of schools says these cuts are necessary in order to avoid a complete disastrous situation. The alternative to layoffs is for school staff to agree to a 12 percent pay cut. The teachers' union says given that they haven't had a raised in three years, a pay cut would essentially make teachers homeless!

Like the new movie starring Meryl Streep and Alec Baldwin, "It's Complicated." Clearly, there are no easy solutions to the budget deficit and crisis that has plagued LAUSD and other urban school districts for decades. In California, this situation was made worse by the recent state budget cuts to public education. Asking teachers to take a 12 percent pay cut seems like a formula for failure. Although I doubt that the majority will become homeless, we should expect
performance rates to plummet. To the contrary, lay offs will mean that already crowded classrooms will become warehouses instead of instructional sites.

There must be a better solution, one that truly makes the needs of students the primary consideration. For some reason, public education keeps falling to the bottom of the priority list for local and national elected officials. As important as new roads are to any infrastructure, imagine what could be if some of the hundreds of millions of dollars spent on "shovel ready" projects as a part of the stimulus package would have been spent on training young teachers, equipping classrooms with the latest in technology, building new facilities and overall committing to ending the educational gap that continues to widen in this country.

LAUSD teachers plan to march in front of the Superintendent's office to protest the proposed cuts and to ask for additional funding from California legislators and the federal government. I hope their pleas don't fall on deaf ears as the education of this nation's next generation is "complicated," but not intractable.