Archive for February, 2011

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WHAT A LUXURY…

February 21, 2011

And I am enjoying it in spite of the weather!  A day off today – just for me.

You may have noticed and appreciated that I’ve been pretty quiet this month-hardly thinking about the blog, and certainly not sharing my thoughts with the world.   The Riverfront Visitors Experience and the selection of the design team to guide the redevelopment Above the Falls , tax appointments, more press interviews about CRV 2010, preparing to speak at RETHINK –and attending  the launch of that new concept held in Minneapolis, New York, Copenhagen, and Paris simultaneously, two great ISES gatherings including a field trip to Ellsworth to learn all about the art of ice carving from Chris Swarbeck, our own award-winning expert, have hardly left me time for anything. 

Then throw in the planning for the upcoming Catersource/Event Solutions Conference in Vegas and another intense experience in collaboration as the CRV team re-united to respond to an RFP that could (or not ) represent a significant series of events in 2012. It all added up not much sleep while I also battled this season’s version of the winter flu/cold that wrapped me in misery for sixteen days.

And so I spent the morning leisurely reading the Sunday paper and letting my mind wander with every article:

As I read about King Tut at the Science Museum, I was flooded with images of visiting the Field Museum in Chicago with good friends, Gene and Susie Lehner, and the awe that surrounded us as we experienced the 1970s touring version of that exhibit; I lamented about no time to see Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom; and wondered why I still have not experienced Cocina del Barrio when I live in the neighborhood. 

I read the review of “The Paris Wife” and was transported, not to Paris, but to Rochester in the early 60s when Hemingway was in Rochester staying at the home of a classmate of mine.  So while I picked Archibald McLeach for my “American Author” in sophomore English, that classmate picked Hemingway.  What a wonderful experience to have the author featured in your report right there to guide you through the background and message of one of his books.  And what a learning experience to have the teacher tell that classmate that he had missed the point and the real message Hemingway was trying to communicate!  An early life lesson I will always remember.  Read a book and enjoy it on whatever level it resonates with you.  If you find a hidden meaning and second level-great; but if you don’t, don’t worry –your enjoyment at whatever level may be just what the author had in mind!

I was glad (and concerned) to see a favorite restaurant, Kindee Thai made the Strib today; I hope that does not make it more difficult to “drop in” when I am craving Thai food; and the mention of the bouillabaisse at Sea Change set off a whole chain of memories  that spanned a lifetime.  I first was introduced to this wonderful culinary experience on an early visit to Marigot, St. Martin, way back in Winnebago days in the mid 1970s…and it became a favorite pick each time I was in St. Martin, France or Monaco for the next ten years.  From there, in the 80s when traveling to Cupertino for meetings with Apple, I discovered the Italian-influenced San Francisco version, cioppino. It became a favorite dish to order at Cocolozzone’s, and eventually, I learned to make a good version myself   – and still serve it up for special occasions!

I read about the MS benefit and thought of three good friends who have made this disease personal for me; I saw that Wayne Kostroski has written a book about the origin and growth of “Taste of the NFL”. It’s on my list, as I remembered Super Bowl in Minneapolis and under Wayne’s direction, co-chairing with Carolyn Vinup that very first Taste of the NFL event.

And finally, I lamented about the Walmart advance on Target and thought of its impact on the 50th and Hwy 100 neighborhood commercial district.  The locally owned hardware store will be replaced with a Walmart; the hardware store will move to Olson’s Pharmacy and put it out of business.  Two of my favorite stores-uprooted because of Walmart.  I am saddened by that, and know that becomes one more reason to stick to my plan to leave this area and re-locate back downtown in the city near the river where I belong!

And then, paper absorbed over two double-shot espressos, I ran some errands before this snow storm got too awful.   It was quiet, and without much traffic, I tried one more time (to no avail) to see if the T-Mobile experts could get my e-mail functioning, finished the rest of my errands and was on my way back home within an hour.  By then, traffic had slowed down considerably, but I made it back…and then got stuck in the parking lot here at home!   I abandoned the car, knowing that means a lot of shoveling after the plow has come through, but like Scarlett O’Hara, decided to deal with it “tomorrow”-and this gave me one more nudge to move out of here and get back to the city.  I have to accomplish that in 2011 one way or another!

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THE GENDER GAP

February 8, 2011

Forty years ago, a friend thought I had more to contribute to the world than continuing my traditional female role of “Tina Travel Agent” and instilled a belief in me that I could do more.  He pointed out a few women role models to follow and sent me on my way to make of my life what I could, telling me that “You’ll be judged on what you do, not on what you say.”

And off I went into the corporate world. As most of you know, I was blessed with many an additional mentor along the way as I became a divisional director at the age of 28; a divisional vice president at 39, and left that corporate environment after 20 years – well-armed to start my own business and succeed.  Overall, that journey has been a good one for me, as I took from that world the skills and philosophies I needed to run my own business and continue to indulge successfully in my personal passion for meetings and events and how to use them as tools to help people learn.

There are many reasons for that success, but today, the STRIB recap of Arvonne Fraser’s address at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs which focused on The Gender Gap caught my attention – and made me mad!

It also opened a floodgate of memorable incidents that demonstrate how difficult that pathway has been-because of the times in which I found myself, and the general thinking of men in business at the time.

Early in the 70s as I successfully absorbed new responsibilities, they often came with the caveat that “we need you to do this, but once we are bigger, we will be able to afford to hire a man to take it on and you can move to something like managing the Pretrip department.”

In 1971, I fought to become travel staff at a time when there were only 4 women nationally holding that role.  The excuse, of course, was that clients and vendors were men and to maintain good relations with both, a female would have to react positively to personal advances – and of course, my manager “valued me too much to allow me to be put in that position”.

When a large incentive program I planned demanded I be on site, the President of Travel set out to prove his point.  I arrived at the hotel to be told that rooms were tight and I would have to share mine with the male ground operator (DMC contact in today’s world).  When I did not make a scene, that ploy was abandoned for another; but fortunately I also survived a drink with him and the ground operator and sales director of the hotel – where both half-heartedly staged attempts to “pick me up”.  Little did he know he not only lost the case that evening, but it was a beginning of a deep friendship with both those wonderful Hawaiians that continued for more than 15 years.   

And as important, I became a pioneer along with those original women at E.F. McDonald and Maritz that raised the bar on the performance of travel staff and proved at least to our satisfaction, that women did it better – as still shown today when you look at the ratio of male to female in the world of professional trip directors!

The list of incidents goes on through-out my career, and for the most part, I managed to rise victorious above the thinking of the day.  I tried to live by the mantra, “I did not fail – I just have not succeeded yet”.  But over and over again, I was defeated in the realm of financial equality. I became a product area director with no increase; I became a company director with no increase; and finally, 15 years into my career, when I took a stand and fought to a draw – I became a divisional vice president with a bonus plan but still no salary increase commensurate with new responsibilities. 

Although I co-managed a new division based on a business plan I singularly authored, presented, and fought for through all the levels of approval, I made 39% less than my male partner did.   And sadly, that was less important to me, than the fact that when, together, we made our numbers that first year, the letter congratulating us on becoming “Goalmakers” was sent to him, with a footnote, asking him to pass on the congratulations to Cheryl.

As I look back I am not so much sorry for myself, although I certainly never had my eye on my own financial best interest, but I am sorry that because I did not fight at a time when maybe there was a chance I would have won, I perhaps have done a disservice to those who have come after me.

I am appalled but not surprised that our GOP-led legislators think it is not a problem that women still make 22% less than men – not much of a change in the 26 years since the 1984 Local Government Pay Equity Act was passed and that same year, over in the corporate world, I became a vice president.  To improve that disparity only that small amount so clearly demonstrates the fight is not yet over. 

What’s to be done about it?  I am not sure.  As the world moves forward, that male “quest for power and superiority” through any means is still less important to me than “doing good work”, so perhaps I am not being realistic when I think that the 21st century move away from building empires to building consensus and collaboration  will prove victorious.  I need to think on that further.    Nevertheless, I take my hat off to Arvonne Fraser  for once again bringing this issue to the fore.