Tag Archives: facebook

Will Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg Now “Lean In” and Help Single Parents?

Sheryl_Sandberg-cropA mere 10 days after her husband died unexpectedly, Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer for Facebook, announced that she was back to work. Her public return so soon after her husband’s death struck a chord with me as a single mother. I’m sure plenty of people in the tech industry think she’s a real trooper who believes the show must go on under any circumstance, but I think her actions highlight a real problem with Silicon Valley.

The reality is that Sheryl is now a single parent like me and nearly 14 million other women and men in the United States who have been put in this position due to a vast array of circumstances. Whether the cause of becoming a single parent is death of a spouse, divorce, or other reason, this status makes it darn near impossible to get hired at Facebook or maintain the work schedule required to sustain a position there. The same could be said of nearly every other tech company in Silicon Valley and beyond. While Sheryl’s job is protected, countless other single parents can’t get hired or will be let go because of scheduling issues due to the challenges of solo parenting.

It’s no secret that Silicon Valley loves to hire young men because they typically don’t have commitments like having to do the daily school pickup or having to make dinner every night. Companies aren’t known for working around single parents’ schedules. Not so surprising, men make up 69 percent of all Facebook employees, and 77 percent of its senior-level employees. This doesn’t look like a company that is overly welcoming to women, especially those who are also juggling being full-time parents.

No one can dispute Sheryl’s success within the tech industry and her personal desire to promote gender equality with her “Lean In” movement. Yet, there remains little equality for single parents who have to juggle 24-hour parenting and also work to make ends meet. Unlike Sheryl who is a billionaire, the vast majority of single parents scrape by and don’t have extra funds for childcare, housekeepers, and chefs so that they can devote the hours needed to grow their career. In other words, we can’t “lean in” when we’re not even at the table. We’re too busy juggling a frenetic schedule and too many bills to make an impact at the next big startup.

In a recent Huffington Post piece, media and tech entrepreneur Laura Wellington, who is also a young widow, explained that Sheryl had “joined an exclusive club that no one ever wants to be part of.” This is true. I can only imagine the devastation of being suddenly widowed.

However, the everyday challenges of becoming a single mother without support is no cake walk either. I know this firsthand. Not only do you lose your partner, you also lose a substantial amount of your family’s income and all of your time, too. And, there’s no one there to comfort you about it. In fact, I’m sure I could walk into Facebook with my 20 years of experience as a marketer and technical writer and would be quickly shown the door. I wouldn’t “fit” into the culture there because I have to send my kids off to school, pick them up, help them with their homework, and make dinner for them each and every day.

If the majority of Facebook’s employees are men, single mothers are probably the least likely to join the company’s payroll. I figured this out very quickly after applying for a couple of tech company jobs following the birth of my first son. I think I’m too much of a mother to also be a tech employee.

I’m one of the lucky ones, though. I was able to offer my skills as a freelancer. This year, I celebrate a decade of being self-employed, and interestingly, most of my clients are tech companies! They like my work, just not my schedule.

If I hadn’t become a single parent, I would probably be sitting in a corporate office putting in 60 hours a week and thinking about my stock options and retirement down the road. Instead, I work from a desk in my living room and make enough to pay the bills and to occasionally take the boys to dinner.

Hopefully, Sheryl will embrace joining the ranks of single parenthood and realize that she’s in the unique position of being able to call attention to the need to help this vast group of people who often don’t require anything more than a flexible schedule and a little encouragement. There are millions of talented single parents out there who want to lean in too. But, they just need to do it at the dinner table, instead of the conference room.

Song of the Day:

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I’m Liking the Queen on Facebook!

Those who know me are well aware that my love for the royal family runs deep. My home is filled with commemorative memorabilia that spans back to Queen Victoria, and I have practically every book ever written about Diana, Princess of Wales. Now, I have one more way that I can express my dedication to my favorite British family. Today, I found out that Queen Elizabeth is launching her Facebook page, and I hope to be amongst the first to “like” her!

I’m looking forward to keeping up to the minute on all things Royal on Facebook – particularly with the possibility of a  wedding between William and Kate next year. Social media will certainly put a new spin on all of this, and I’m excited.

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LinkedIn Etiquette

A few days ago, I had a member of one of my networking groups send me an email completely out of the blue. It was nice enough. He introduced himself, told me about what he did, and asked if we could set up a time to chat on the phone. Ok, nothing out of the ordinary with any of this. This happens quite often, and I always like the opportunity to meet fellow business owners. So, I wrote him back to see what his schedule looked like.

As I always do when I meet someone new, I also invited him to join me on LinkedIn. Not a big deal on my part. Well, I received a curt message back from him stating that we didn’t know each other well enough to be connected on LinkedIn. Hunh, or more like WTF?

Of course, as I read this I muttered to myself, “Up yours! You were the one who initiated the conversation in the first place.” I then took a deep breath and wrote back in a kind fashion that I was simply trying to add him to my list of contacts that I keep on this social media platform.

This dork made me feel for a hot second like a Viagra-hustling spammer instead of a legit business owner who he reached out to. Then I came to my senses. Trust me! I have no intention of scheduling a phone chat with him now. A little too much nonsense too early in the relationship.

Anyway, this rather bizarre business situation must not be all that unique. I’m sure countless others must wonder if they should or shouldn’t reach out to someone on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. How do you balance being proactive with social media without looking like an over-eager nerdy high school kid who wants to be friends with everyone? How do you deal with someone who snubs you like what this guy did? And, how do you manage all of this graciously when there are no set rules?

I don’t have any good answers. Right now, my personal rule of thumb is that I only use LinkedIn for those who I meet in a business capacity. And, Facebook has both my business and personal contacts. On Twitter, I mostly follow those who might Tweet interesting links worth reading.

Obviously, my passive aggressive networking buddy who declined my invitation on LinkedIn has some other guidelines for himself that I wasn’t aware of. He is more selective, and I guess this is his choice. However, he may want to reconsider sending out unsolicited emails to other business owners if he has such a stringent social media policy.

While I can’t expect everyone to take the come one, come all approach to these sites that I generally have, I also shouldn’t be subjected to having to decipher mixed messages from those who have different social media rules.

So, nothing resolved here, but an interesting dilemma that must be becoming increasingly common. If you want to connect with me on LinkedIn, go for it. I probably won’t turn you down. Unless, you have some Viagra you’re trying to sell me.

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Is Social Media Impersonal or Does It Make Us More Personable?

The other day my dad was in town, and we were talking about Facebook over burgers at Houston’s in Scottsdale. He isn’t a fan of social media and thinks that it’s all very impersonal. As dad put it, “If I want to talk to someone, I’ll pick up the phone and call them.”

 Ok, Dad has a point. However, I believe that there’s much more to the story that Dad might not be considering. Since I’ve joined Facebook, I have reconnected with friends from the 1970s, met some great new friends who connected with me after my business was featured on CNN, and even found a long lost second cousin who had lost touch of our side of the family since 1953. All of these people make my day-to-day life richer and wouldn’t be there if it wasn’t for the benefits of making connections over the Internet.

 Besides the personal connections that I’ve made, I truly believe that I wouldn’t have a business today if it wasn’t for the ever increasing need for content on the Internet. …And, much of this is driven by social media. Businesses need good writing that they can provide to their customers, and this is what I do best.

 I use Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter to chat with my business clients and friends and have become far more social than back in the days when I had to pick up the phone to say hi to someone. I send b-day greetings via Facebook, refer friends for jobs using LinkedIn, and distribute links of interesting information via Twitter to my followers. Social media hasn’t made me impersonal. Quite the contrary, it’s actually made this somewhat introverted person far more personable!

 While I respect Dad’s preference for the phone, I have a higher regard for the benefits of social media. It streamlines my life, opens up new opportunities, and lets me be social in a way that works for me.

 For those who haven’t seen this, this clip about the social media revolution is worth checking out.

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What Can Bob the Wonder Poodle Teach Us about the Power of Social Media?

Courtesy of BobtheWonderPoodle.com

If you’ve been on Facebook lately, you might have read some buzz about the mysterious fan group “Can This Poodle Wearing a Tinfoil Hat Get More Fans than Glenn Beck?”

 If so, you’ve probably wondered about this cute little pup. And, what’s his beef with the Fox News poster boy?

 Well, Bob the Wonder Poodle is the brainchild of web developer Dale Blank. He was inspired by the Facebook phrase “Can this (random object) get more fans than (scorned object).

 Thoroughly disgusted with the “fear-mongering tactics” of Fox New TV host Glenn Beck, Blank wanted to “create an image that combined both sincerity and paranoia to grow a fan base of individuals who are choosing to support “Bob”.

 The results? In less than two weeks, the poodle with the Reynolds Wrap chapeau had over a quarter million Facebook fans.

 Of course, I joined the legions of fans. Not only does Bob look just  like my dog “Bingo” when I was a little girl, he also speaks to my particular political views and sense of humor, I’m also thoroughly amazed by this hilariously peculiar viral movement.

 Bob the Poodle has clearly demonstrated the power of social media through connectivity. His group has allowed over 250,000 people to connect with each other and share their thoughts and frustrations about something that they all agree upon. This ability to communicate with a growing audience based on the exponential reach of one’s network, built on a friend’s network and so on and so on provides a never seen before opportunity for Bob the Poodle to succeed. This simply wouldn’t have been possible a few years ago.

 For those who still downplay the importance of social media, I say take a look at Bob. His number of fans is increasing by leaps and bounds daily. No, you might not be able to expand your fan base by 250,000 in two weeks, but you can grow a healthy group of followers, fans, readers, customers by reaching out to your network who will then take it from there.

 Be part of the phenomenon and join Bob and his loyal fans today.

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