Are you making plans to re-set something in ’18? Exercise levels? Career goals? Relationships? Your look? Last week I observed a quick moment that reminded me of the very real opportunity we all have as we begin another year. The opportunity isn’t found in the newest exercise app nor in the latest color palette for our homes. Instead it is something that resides in each of us. Continue reading
Tag Archives: linda rossetti
The best presents do not come in boxes. My picture with Gloria Steinem is testament to this very statement. This holiday nothing in a box or with a fancy ribbon will compare to the moment captured in the photo. For nearly forty-years I have admired Steinem’s work for its ability to shape a meaningful public conversation. I even use her journey as a model for my own work.
She was more gracious than I expected. And kind. She embraced me strongly as if her own force could encourage me to continue my efforts. It was a tremendous gift, a gift borne out of a choice I made several years ago. With the holiday season upon us, I want to encourage us to think about our choices and the gifts we receive as a result. Continue reading
This morning as I was walking our dog I found a painted rock by the side of the road. It had an inscription that read, Think Outside the Box. The unexpected treasure is a part of our town’s kindness project. Up until this chance encounter I didn’t really ‘get’ the program. Now, I have a different opinion. I smiled brightly when I found the rock. The inscription felt as if it was meant only for me. Yes, outside the box is a place I inhabit comfortably. I’ve been amazed at the goodness I’ve met there. What awaits you outside of the box? Continue reading
I’ve learned over the past four years that the word, ‘transition,’ is a loaded term. We use it to describe everything from the vital first efforts of a new presidential administration, a.k.a. a transition team, to the heavily scrutinized transition of celeb, actress and athlete Caitlyn Jenner. What does transition mean for you?
“Thank you for being honest,” said a woman who introduced herself to me Thursday after a speaking event I did with Women Unlimited. What struck me in our quick conversation was our agreement – both hers and mine – of how unusual it is for any of us to be so transparent. She sought me out after a story I told about a moment that I remember vividly. I was sitting in my boss’s staff meeting, an all-day affair attended by the top brass of a Fortune 500. I had worked tirelessly for decades for a seat at this table. This moment is so memorable and bracing because I recall sitting there saying to myself, “you’ve got to be kidding me. I’ve worked this hard…for this?!!? There must be something more.” Continue reading
One day I had two back-to-back interviews that ended with the interviewees asking me roughly the same question. It went something like, ‘I know where I’m at isn’t right, but I am not really sure what I want to do next.” I found it incredibly interesting because the circumstances that brought these two women to the same question couldn’t have been more different. One was regrouping thanks to a harsh corporate experience and the other was challenged by an empty-nest. This coincidence got me thinking that their experiences didn’t differ all that much from my own. After all, I arrived at transition with a deep belief that something more was possible for me. But what? How do we move forward from moments like these? Continue reading
Have you ever sponsored anyone? I keep bumping into this notion of sponsorship. Earlier this week, I spoke with a friend who serves in the military, in a rank that few women achieve. We were talking about why women transition out of the military. Her top reason? Lack of sponsorship. I know, I know. This is nothing new. We cite sponsorship, or lack thereof, for all sorts of advancement shortfalls. With so little progress, I can’t help but wonder if there isn’t another way to approach this. What if we are missing the cues for sponsorship?
First let me level set our understanding of sponsorship. The word is all around us. It lives at the intersection of nearly every consumer brand and our sports-enthused society, like Gillette’s sponsorship of the home of the New England Patriot’s, Gillette Stadium.
While lovely for the Patriots, I am not interested in this type of sponsorship.
I am talking about personal sponsorship, or our willingness to advocate for another person in a setting or in a way that will be beneficial to the sponsored person.
It happens in big and small ways.
Like when my neighbor suggested that her retired mother run the Tag Sale at the annual fair. Or when my study group mate was sponsored by a senior executive for an overseas assignment. Or when my friend’s son, who thankfully is on the other side of a substance abuse problem, chose to sponsor another 20-something who was just starting his treatment.
When was the last time you sponsored another?
I have to come clean on this topic. Over the past few weeks I’ve been trying unsuccessfully to get my network to sponsor candidates for a Board seat. I’ve been frustrated and dismayed by the experience.
I serve on the nominating and governance committee for the Girl Scouts in Eastern MA, a not-for-profit that serves >35,000 young girls. Since December I’ve been networking to identify potential new Board members. My net take-away after culling through layers upon layers of my contacts is simply this: people cannot be bothered to make the effort. They are too busy, too distracted, too important. Too….?
When I summon my best self, I skate away from these negative reasons and believe that we are ‘missing the cues.’ Without this rationale, I find my conclusions too unsettling.
Transition has taught me that sponsorship is a type of recognition. It says to the recipient, ‘I believe in you,’ or ‘I believe in the value you can bring to a situation.’
Imagine how nice that message would play if you heard it on your worst day.
Anna Fels’, psychiatrist and author of, Necessary Dreams: Ambition in Women’s Changing Lives, identified the real risks women face without recognition. “Women who are not supported by appreciative communities pay a steep price. They often fail to understand why, in the absence of such affirmation, they feel unmotivated and demoralized. They blame it on their lack of discipline or character or talent. But if sources of recognition are unavailable or inadequate or outside of a woman’s control, the chances are dim that she will thrive in her chosen enterprise.” (Women & Transition, pg 64)
All of us can act on behalf of others, regardless of our circumstances.
If you are not sure how, here are some ideas:
- Take the Time to Understand:
- Take time to understand what ‘reach’ might mean for those you plan on sponsoring. A ‘reach’ is something that will bring energy and vitality to the person. These ‘reach’ answers will differ…an advocacy support group for a full-time care provider; or a Town Committee role for a stay-at-home mom; or a coordinator role for the Job Seeker’s Coffee Hour for the empty-nester looking to re-enter the workforce; or a conversation with a lawyer for an aspiring recent grad who is considering law school. The specifics of what constitutes ‘reach’ don’t matter, gaining an understanding of another person’s interest does.
- Keep Your Eyes Wide Open:
- Opportunities to sponsor another person come up everywhere. Be on the lookout. You might initiate a conversation or steer a conversation in a particular direction. It can happen at the office, on the school playground, on your way into the grocery store, via email, or on the way to the airport with your work colleagues in tow.
- Be Ready with a Phrase:
- Be ready to act. I’ve found that being ready with a phrase is the simplest way to prepare. “I wonder if….” or “I know just the person…” or “Could we consider…..” Sponsorship begins with a positioning that you are comfortable with because you need to act 1st. Choose a phrase, be ready to use it.
- Practice Makes Perfect:
- Sponsorship, like voice, improves with practice. Start small. Connect two people or connect someone to a group or connect a mid-level manager to a senior decision maker. Begin.
I would be lying if I didn’t tell you that I’ve benefited greatly from sponsorship. Without it, a tech entrepreneur like me would never have gotten the chance to work in the c-suite of a Fortune 500. So too, I would not have had the opportunity to speak with countless audiences in the last year about my work in transition.
Maybe that’s why I am so beside myself that I am not able to find people willing to sponsor candidates for the Girl Scouts Board.
As you encounter the gift of a quiet moment, I hope that you think about sponsorship. I’ve come to realize that at its simplest level, sponsorship is our own voice in service of others. Maybe its time to adjust the volume on yours….
For those willing to lend their voice my way, please send me a note if you’d like to sponsor someone for the Girl Scouts of Eastern MA Board opportunity (linda@WomenAndTransition.com)
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“I’m not ready,” said Margaret. We were having coffee in a quirky independent coffee shop and talking about her job search. The search hadn’t really started, it was simply brewing on her ‘to do’ list. Margaret is a tour de force locally. She is a newly divorced woman, the parent of two high-school aged children and the volunteer chair of a group that established a multi-million dollar land trust in a neighboring town. This little endeavor is complete with a working organic farm and an impressive educational center. Not ready? How can this type of person not be ready?
I heard Hillary Clinton’s voice for the first time last weekend – yes, days after the surprising and heartbreaking outcome of the 2016 Election. I heard it in Kate McKinnon’s moving rendition of Len Cohen’s Hallelujah on Saturday Night Live. ‘How could this be?’ You might ask. Weren’t we all party to a near continuous stream of voices from both candidates over the past months? Even with all of that volume I was struck with the weight of the words conveyed by McKinnon. It reminded me of the importance of voice, one of transition’s most critical tools. Did we hear Hillary’s voice? Do we hear yours? Continue reading
“You’ll be one of the best next year,” offered my son. Unprompted. He is eleven. We were in the kitchen. It was Sunday three weeks ago. I’d just decided to not participate in a sprint triathlon, an event for which I’d been training for months. A quirky injury sidelined me. I was crushed. In the grand scheme of things this was minor – hardly a blip. If I was still pre-transition, I would have simply gone on that day and not said a word about it to anyone. Instead, my transition inspired me to give voice to my disappointment. I was struck by my son’s humanity and emotional intelligence. Our typical exchanges are single words conveyed over an electronic device. His pivot made me reflect on how much of myself I can bring to interactions with others. It is my choice just like it was his. I can mimic the sentiment of his single word responses or his deft comment. How much of my voice do I choose to engage? Continue reading