Category Archives: Cheryl’s blog entries

Entries by Cheryl Jensen

“Clarity dissolves resistance.”

Cheryl  offers: I was at DFW today catching a business flight to Nashville TN. Most people traveling this month seemed to be dressed quite casually, really comfortable for the hot summer months, with a few noticeable exceptions. The one exception that caught my eye was women in 5 inch high heels. Don’t get me wrong, I like high heels myself. In fact I wear them frequently, mostly because I’m pretty short and they make me feel more powerful.  However I do avoid them when I travel for several reasons. The first and foremost reason is safety. I can imagine how hard it would be to flee a potential plane disaster in high heels, sprinting to safety seems close to impossible. Like many travelers, my feet swell when I travel.  In high heels it can become an almost unbearable situation when walking long distances such as gate changes, terminal changes, and the inevitable walk to your parked car. I know, I’ve done all of these in high heels and that’s why I wear comfortable flats when I travel now. My desire to look professional, chic and hip are still a part of me; and a statement from the new bestseller SWITCH: HOW TO CHANGE THINGS WHEN CHANGE IS HARD by Dan Heath and his brother Chip Heath helps me deal with it better. They write “Clarity dissolves resistance.” How true! Once I was clear on the perils of running in high heels and walking long distances in shoes that feel a size too small after a long flight, my resistance to wearing low healed comfortable shoes dissolved completely.  Who knew it could be explained in just 3 words? And by the way, this is a terrific book for lots of other reasons.

Doing Good for a Good Cause – Gen Y Strikes Again

Cheryl offers: One of the activities I’ve recently volunteered for is collecting wine corks. While this might sound like I don’t have enough to do between running a business and teaching at SMU, I can assure you I am quite picky about how I invest my discretionary time. This opportunity came to me through my friend Linda Wind, dynamic master mind of the Wind Foundation for Woman dedicated to creating educational scholarships for disadvantaged women.  Why corks? Besides the value of recycling, we earn 2 cents per cork and the money goes to create these scholarships. Our goal is to collect ONE MILLION WINE CORKS and I can tell you right now, that’s a lot! What I’ve noticed as I’ve made the rounds for the local wine bars and restaurants is how differently people from the various generations respond to the request for their support. By far and away, the most enthusiastic and engaged supporters are members of what we might call Generation Y; you know the ones many refer to as selfish, lazy, not willing to put in the work, entitlement crowd.  In 100% of the cases when I’ve asked someone less than 30 years old if they would help, they have said “Yes!”  And the best part is, they keep their word. So, to all those out there who are fearful about the future of our world passing to these young people, I say, “No worries , my dear, Gen Y is here. Thank goodness!”

“Adversity Introduces You to Yourself”

Cheryl offers: Tony Hayward, the current CEO of BP, has had a lot more media coverage than he likely ever anticipated when he took over as CEO three years ago. His comments have ranged from naïve to crass, possibly plainly offensive. It’s an interesting way to have millions of people get to know you as a leader, which is certainly the role he’s been given and must fulfill for BP at this time. So what kind of leader is he? Judging by some of his off the cuff comments, he’s not one focused on others very often. His comment, “No one wants this over more than me: I want my life back” doesn’t sound like a leader who is high in compassion for others. His more measured and likely media coached comments regarding the spill come across with far more compassionate and concern for the multiple ways damage has been done. My question is, which one is the real Tony? I’d vote for his off the cuff persona myself. How leaders respond to crises is a huge indicator of who they really are at their core. They respond from habit, default, and core values developed over a life time. To me, that’s how each of us creates our true self, with practice, focus and attention to developing ourselves over time. As Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner tell us in A Leader’s Legacy, “Adversity introduces you to yourself.”   As the impact of the oil spill moves from weeks to months to years, Hayward builds his legacy each day. I wonder what Hayward is learning about himself and if he can leave a legacy worth admiration.

HBR – You’ve Gone Too Far

Cheryl offers: I subscribe to HBR for obvious reasons; it’s one of the most insightful professional pieces of business literature published. There is seldom an issue that doesn’t contain something I want to keep in my library of reference material. In the May issue entitled “How to Keep Your Star Talent: Engage your top performers, manage your Millennials, and coach tomorrow’s leaders” on the cover, I was all ready to dive in – that is, until I saw the graphic on the cover.  If you haven’t seen it, let me describe it for you. There’s a person in the center with flowers, gifts, money, stock options, and prizes being handed to them, only them is a him. All I could think about is, here we go again, reinforcing stereotypes. Since when is the only “Star” talent one gender? I’m not advocating it be either/or (male, female); I’m advocating for a way to portray both equally (and).  Surely the folks at HBR with all their talented contributors could figure out how to make that picture happen! So, while looking inside for who would receive my letter expressing my displeasure, I was shocked to see the names of 39 women as compared to 17 men on the Editor page, including a female art director! How can this be, I ask? As Maddy Dychtwald’s new book, Influence: How Women’s Soaring Economic Power Will Transform the World for the Better points out, women make up 51% of the workforce and last year women graduates exceeded men in every category of college and professional degrees. The valedictorians at Notre Dame and West Point are both women this year. How HBR could arrive at the graphic for their article with the overwhelming data advocating for a more inclusive picture of our future is a mystery to me. This time, they’ve gone too far and in the process, they lost me, maybe many more.

Steel Magnolia in Pakistan

Cheryl offers:  Dressed in traditional Muslim attire, the beautiful face of Mukhtar Mai stares at me from a magazine page with a hint of serenity, courage, and steely determination in her eyes. The story below her picture reads “After her brother held hands with a girl of a higher caste, as punishment Mukhtar Mai was gang raped and led naked down dusty streets in Pakistan. Beside the field where she suffered the darkest violence, Mukhtar built an abused women’s shelter, legal aid clinic, and two schools. Out of tragedy, she formed a lasting hope.” We cannot always control the events of our lives, yet we certainly do control how we respond to them. Years ago Warren Bennis and Burt Nanus famously wrote “A business short on capital can borrow money, and one with a poor location can move. But a business short on leadership has little chance of survival,” I found this in a great leadership book which is no longer available called The Essence of Leadership by Edwin A. Locke. Mukhtar’s organizations have not only survived, they have expanded and thrived.   The fact Mukhtar has started and runs not one, but four different businesses would seem to be affirmation enough that they are blessed with her leadership talents and skills, courage, understanding, and appreciation for the importance of education and more importantly, generosity of spirit.  Like a steel magnolia, she has a lovely exterior, and anyone can tell there is also a steely resolve to make a difference underneath.  She is making a difference and the world is a better place because of it.

Newsflash! Take Your Brain to Lunch is Good Brain Exercise

Cheryl offers:  Surprisingly, there was an interesting item in my mail yesterday. It was the Dallas edition of a Medical Directory with an article called “Mind Matters”. I’m intrigued by the brain, so I started reading it. Low and behold, on the second page I found this. “Frontal lobe function, also called “executive function,” is not what you know but how you use what you know. This begins to decrease in many people in their 30s because they simply stop using it. (NOW comes the good part!) Reading a book is fine for your brain; analyzing it, and talking about it with a friend or book club is good for executive function.”  Woohoo! Experiencing a book synopsis of a relevant business book focused on women’s business topics, then discussing the contents of the book’s synopsis led by facilitators who ask thought provoking questions is exactly the format for our event, Take Your Brain to Lunch! So now, we can rightfully claim, not only is this a fun event, it’s good for you too. How many other things does anyone get to do that are both fun and good for you? Not enough say I. Join us July 14 for your brain’s “executive function” workout. We’re doing How She Does It by Margaret Heffernan and Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi and Raz Aahl.  No leotards required!