Is transition for me…

“How do I know I am ready for all of this?” asked a woman who attended a talk I gave on Tuesday evening at our local independently owned bookstore. Picture folding chairs tucked in and around narrowly arranged aisles of books.  Her question was an honest one.  Transition seems like a big undertaking. Full of risk.  Is it for everyone? Continue reading

Our Steps

We caught ourselves at the very last second.  Our hands reached out to grab a nearby wall.  My neighbor and I were on our morning walk.  We walk laps around our town for an hour at dawn most days.  5:30 am.  It is typically dark or nearly so.   Who knew that brick sidewalks could be as treacherous as ice when coated with a layer of fallen leaves?   As we started to slip we froze in an effort to stop from falling.  For an instant fear consumed us. Continue reading

Free Book Giveaway and Review

800CEOreads reviewed my book Women & Transition and is offering free copies to the first twenty who register.   Concerned that it might not be for you?  The review states, “this is a book very much meant for women. That is not to say you won’t learn a lot as a man reading the book; I think all men who read it will learn a lot from it, and that it’s especially instructive for business leaders, administrators, and policy makers to make clear just how much more challenging it is for women—still—and consider changes that could make it more equitable.”



Wonder and Grace

“Are you ready for your big day?” asked my husband this morning.  It was 7 am. Chaos was percolating in every corner of our house.  One child was rejecting some admittedly overdone toast as a ploy to escape a final review of test material.  Someone else was searching frantically for a misplaced item.  “Time to go?”  “Where’s my lunch?”  “Who is picking me up after school?”  My big day?   Continue reading

Unchartered Territory

“I just finished your book,” shared a friend who had graciously offered to help me by reading a pre-release version of it.  “I have tears in my eyes,” she said.   “That last line in the text…perfect”    She is an incredibly intelligent financial services veteran who stays home full-time with three children.   She recently reestablished her family in our town after a major geographic move initiated by her husband’s job.    Net net she’s no stranger to transition.   What she didn’t know as I opened her email….. Continue reading

Unlived Lives

This couldn’t possibly be all there is.   It was a sentiment I used to describe the work world I inhabited prior to my transition.  I grappled with the sentiment as I faced what I now describe as my unraveling.   This inelegant moment occurred when I hit the pause button on a more than twenty-year six-day-a-week commitment to my career.  I recall this moment every time someone asks me what inspired me to write Women & Transition: Reinventing Work and Life.  How can I describe that moment?  I’d spent years rising – achieving – Harvard MBA, start-up ceo, Fortune 500 c-suite insider.  But the overwhelming sentiment I had at the time was – this is it? 

My pause wasn’t a retreat.  It was a conscious act and a belief that something MORE was possible.   I found that the top of the corporate hierarchy world wasn’t enough to engage ME.   For me it had to have bigger meaning – a deeper connection to who I was.   But what – exactly?


Transition's Positive Attributes from Rossetti's Research

Transition’s Positive Sentiments taken from Linda’s upcoming book

I often struggle with how to describe that moment.  The goal or work image that had captivated so much of my attention for decades was ringing hollow.   This realization occurred in parallel to the exploding demands of my personal life.  I’d had two children right around my 40th birthday.   By 45 I was at this intersection…wondering.

Thankfully I had the presence of mind to do two things:  I reached out to women and I really listened to what they were saying.   What I heard captivated my soul.

One thing I heard was a commonality of experiences among these women despite the differences they voiced.   They talked about welcoming another child, or remarriage, or divorce, or job loss or career change or going back to school or an empty nest or a geographic move.  And on and on. What fascinated me was how readily these women truncated their experiences into buckets.  Creating walls.

As I listened I heard something else entirely.  I heard common patterns across all of these events.  Few of us – including myself at that moment – knew that each of these events had the potential to initiate a transition.   I had a growing suspicion that we were all missing something important…..

Last Thursday I spent an hour with a dozen women.  I talked about my upcoming book but more importantly I shared with them some basics about transition.  A framework.  Some vocabulary.  A process.  Stories from other women.  This primer offered them a lens into a new way of thinking about the events that shape their adult lives.  Instead of feelings of failure or self-doubt or inadequacy that too often accompany these events these women immediately saw how this knowledge made room for inspiration and empowerment and clarity.  What is the old adage?  With knowledge, power.

One woman came up to me and hugged me after the presentation.  She was thoroughly engaged with my message and its promise for her and for all women.  I was so thankful for her kindness.

An understanding of transition – at its best – can give us the sight lines into the unknown and the confidence to pursue the lives we only dare imagine.

Can transition be the key to exploring what MORE there is for you?


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Does Transition Matter?

“What a great gift this is,” said a woman from Southern CA referring to my book.  “You have so carefully and thoughtfully given voice and structure to an issue that millions of women and some men face throughout their lives.”   I was humbled by her remarks.  We were debriefing after a seminar I hosted on women and transition.  It was the first time that I’d presented to an unfamiliar audience.   A truly unbiased test.   The generosity and kindness of her words reminded me of the most basic question I always come back to….



Does transition matter?

Before I answer that question let me remind you about why I investigated it in the first place.   I found myself at forty-five not knowing the answer to some key questions for the first time in my adult life.   Questions like ‘What did I want to do?’ or more importantly, ‘What really mattered to me?’    I had a storied career up until that moment – Harvard MBA, tech start-up ceo, c-suite executive, and mom.  The latter was added right around my fortieth birthday – two children within sixteen months of each other.

As my children moved beyond baby carriers the conflicts between my various worlds took on epic proportions.  I learned to function – or so I thought – in a state of sustained exhaustion.   Thankfully within this operating fog I had an instinct, an instinct that something more was possible for me.

Have you ever felt the same?

At that moment I was racked with emotions.  I felt guilty for not working sixty hours a week like my ‘successful’ peers.  I was ashamed because I couldn’t answer the question, ‘what’s next for you, Linda?’  I was shocked by the way society wanted to instantly marginalize me.  One long time friend’s comment sticks with me.  Upon learning that I’d temporarily stepped away from my crazy c-suite existence she said, “You – of all people.”

Distance from those early days – and a fair amount of research – has led me to understand more about the transition triggered by my own unraveling.

  • Transition can occur at any age in either gender.   A person has the potential to repeatedly transition over the course of their life.
  • Even with this potential, transition is widely misunderstood in our society.  So too, the skill sets required to navigate it are underdeveloped.
  • Without awareness of transition women often interpret the early signals of transition incorrectly.  We read them as ‘failure’ instead of ‘growth.’  If left unchecked, this mismatch can lead to feelings of inadequacy or self-doubt – and all sorts of conclusions that can lead us to stall, disengage or retreat from living the lives we imagine.
  • An understanding of transition is super important for women. More than 90% of women I surveyed expected to transition again within five years.

Combining this frequency with a lack of awareness and underdeveloped skills – it is no wonder I felt that way I did.

I’ve learned that transition is a process that we choose when faced with the need to change in our lives.  Some people choose transition.  Many others do not.  For those who choose it, transition requires us to re-examine our assumptions about identity, capacity and values.

At its core transition asks us to dignify that which has value and meaning to us.  One woman whose transition was triggered by a wrenching personal tragedy summarized her transition with, “I felt as if I could breath for the first time.”

Does transition matter?

I know it does.  For me it gave me two perspectives.  First, an understanding of transition gave me critical context.  It allowed me to interpret what was going on for me.  With it I was less buffeted by the emotions.  It was a steady anchor –  this understanding.

It also gave me a roadmap – a playbook – for unchartered territory.  Even though I was walking forward into uncertainty I was less unglued about not knowing.  I could trust the process.  It offered vocabulary and context and sight lines.

I’ve come to believe that an awareness and understanding of transition is an invaluable gift of strength in an uncertain time.

Where do you stand?  Does transition matter?

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Invisible Standards

“We need your voice,” I said in closing a workshop with about a dozen women on a Saturday in early September.  I was making a connection between an exercise we’d done on developing our own voices and the needs of our national economy.  I view the development & expression of women’s voices as fundamental to our country’s long-term economic well-being.   For me it’s an easy and obvious linkage – although I won’t bore you with the details here.  What surprised me in that Saturday moment was the reaction I got.  The attendees were honestly touched.  My comment seemed to elevate our work.  It connected every one of us to something greater.  Our voice work was instantly relevant.  Meaningful. Continue reading

The shame of should

A grad school classmate of mine and I were at dinner last week with another friend, Tricia, who had an undergraduate degree from UPenn.   Tricia mentioned that she’d recently attended an informal get together for women from her graduating class.  She’s been out of school just over twenty years.  “Shame” she offered in summary of the get together – immediately capturing our full attention.   “Many women weren’t doing anything because they were ashamed that they hadn’t done more since leaving school.”   I understood her remarks to mean that negative self judgment played an enormous role for many of these women.  It impacted their choices and their beliefs about success or failure because they hadn’t done what they ‘should’ have done.   Wow.  This discussion left me wondering, what role shame?   Continue reading

The courage of starting…

“I don’t know if I told you,” shared a friend, “but I left my job.”  It was my son’s first day of school.  Chaos swirled around me.  Kids. Parents.  The occasional dog. A forgotten backpack.  Above the din my friend’s tone was mildly apologetic.  While I saw a little sparkle in the corner of her eye, something weighed heavily on her.  Was it fear that I saw?  Shame? Continue reading