11 posts categorized "culture"

September 14, 2010

Is Compassion Linked to Cash?

Will we be less compassionate of each each other when we earn more money? A study by researchers at University of California, Berkley call it the Scrooge Effect

Lead researcher for the study, Dr. Paul Piff, has an interesting interpretation of the findings. He suggests that compassion is a survival tactic; a tactic that only the lower class needs to cultivate as a means of maintaining their community. Then, when hard times happen, lower class folks have each other to lean on until conditions improve.

When we no longer need each other for mutual survival, emergency baby-sitting, shared housing, food... or our time to chat is limited, will our generosity as a gender go south as well? I wonder if the research would say the same thing.


May 09, 2010

Mother's Day = Save Society Day?

Is it time for a new Mother's Day tradition that goes beyond flowers and dinner? That would be YES if Michelle Obama and women around the world have a vote. 

Julia Ward Howe started it in 1870 with her Mother's Day Proclamation. It was a pacifist reaction to the American Civil War and the Franco-Prussian Way. She believed that women had a responsibility to shape their societies at the political level. 

Today at 1:00, women will be standing silently across the globe for 5 minutes as witnesses for change. They'll be recreating the moment when two grandmothers stood still for a day in a park and more and more women joined them in silent protest as they stared at city hall. It seems like a silly thing to do, but imagine how you'd feel if 1000 people gathered and looked at you in silence. 

This morning Michelle Obama sent the following email outlining the things that the Obama administration has done to make the world a better place for women and families to live. It's too good not to reprint the entire thing.

Women tamed the wild west, why not the world? Happy Mother's Day to all who bring peace to their homes. (kisses Bena)

The White House, Washington



Dear Friend,

There's no way I could ever measure all that my own mother has done for me. She is my rock. She pushes me to be the best professional, mother, wife and friend I can be.

As a mother myself, I've come to realize that being a mom isn't always easy and that no one can do it alone.

My husband understands the many challenges facing today's mothers and their families. His Administration has taken steps to level the playing field and ease the burden.

The first bill the President signed into law was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act to ensure that no women face the same discrimination and injustices that Lilly did after 20 years on the job. When women make less money than men for the same work, families have to work harder just to get by.

The President signed an Executive Order creating the first-ever White House Council on Women and Girls to ensure that all Federal agencies take women and girls into account in their daily work and to ensure that our daughters have the same opportunities as our sons.

Through the Let's Move! Initiative and the President's Task Force on Childhood Obesity, we're helping to provide parents with the knowledge and tools they need to make healthy choices for their children and teach their children to make healthy choices for themselves.

This week, we are celebrating Women's Health Week to promote steps women and girls can take to lead longer, healthier and happier lives.

Mother's Day is about showing our gratitude for the mothers and mother figures who have influenced our lives. The President and I would like to extend our warmest Mother's Day wishes to all of the mothers, grandmothers, aunts, sisters and friends who have inspired a child.

Happy Mother's Day!

Michelle Obama


November 20, 2009

Promoting healthy eating causes the corn syrup folks to come-a-calling...

Picture 4
Over the past three years, this blog has connected me to many world-changing women.  One of my favorites is Taiha Wagner who lives near Minneapolis. Like many of us, she's tried on several business projects centered on helping women have better lives and found her biz-soul-match with www.Just One Bite.net.  Even the Minneapolis Star Tribune recently took notice with this article including Taiha and other local women on the same track.


Picture 7 Taiha's a nurse by education and a caretaker by choice. Just One Bite is the blend between her profession, her mission and her passion - organic food. She's seen first-hand how spending the cash up front on organic food has made big changes in her family. For one, her son no longer struggled with seasonal allergies when she introduced him to locally made organic honey. Second, she and her sister's family switched to organic meat and found that their headaches went away. That took her on a quest to see what other common ailments could be healed through better eating and share it with others.

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The Star Tribune article is all about making better choices. Taiha says nothing bad about corn syrup, but the corn syrup-ees came-a-calling shortly after the article hit the streets anyway. They wanted to make sure that Taiha understood that corn syrup isn't any worse than regular sugar. We had to laugh at the speed in which business now reacts to any kind of press and if corn syrup isn't bad, then why the rush to say it was fine? She shared their letter with me. Download Corn 

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She also sent me this information from the University of Colorado:

 

Science finding high fructose corn syrup is detremental to health

  • Use of HFCS is linked to diet induced obesity, hypertension, dyslipidemia and insulin resistance 1.
  • The rise in prevalence of obesity, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and fatty liver disease has been linked to increased consumption of fructose-containing foods or beverages. 2.
  • High Fructose Corn Syrup has been proven to contain mercury. 3.

1. Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2009 Nov 13. [Epub ahead of print] Multiple abnormalities of myocardial insulin signaling in a porcine model of diet-induced obesity. Lee JXu YLu LBergman BCLeitner JWGreyson CDraznin BSchwartz GGUniversity of Colorado H.S.C

You can make your own decisions. All I know is that if business watched out for families as well as Taiha and her kind do, we'd all be a lot healthier. Thanks for changing my world Taiha. 

August 18, 2009

Where are All the Women Ad Agency Leaders?

Picture 23 That's a paraphrase of "Where are all the Women Bloggers"? it was a sentiment aired a few, short years ago which prompted the formation of BlogHer. No one questions where all the women bloggers are now, they are dominating the medium and creating a media of their own. 

If it takes one to know one including making the judgement calls that resonate with instead of repealing female customers, you have to wonder why the Advertising Departments are still mainly male.

Recently the top Women To Watch, were honored at by Advertising Age.(Congrats to all) This is what Tiffany Kosel said to sum it up. I agree with her quoted conclusion - good ideas have no genitals. The problem is, those at the top do and they are ones filtering which ideas get air time. 

http://adage.com/video/article?article_id=138511

What do you think, have the times changed due to arrival of enlightened men at the top of the ad chain. Or have the times changed because women bloggers are ranting about what does and doesn't work for them?

August 13, 2009

New Global Stats on Women's Wants, Needs and Roles

Two years ago I wrote a little paper on Purses, Peers, Posts and the Power to Move Green MarketsDownload Purses Peers Posts and the Power to Move Green Markets

o By 2028, women will control nearly three-quarters (72 percent) of consumer spending worldwide.

The writing was on the wall in lipstick; it was only a matter of time before research would back up common sense:

  1. Women buy all the stuff
  2. The global economy is anchored in consumer goods
  3. The purchasers of these goods will be filtering them based on their needs
  4. Women and business working together will co-create the next economy.
All that is happening right now without any direction from business. All companies can do is follow the money and the feminine culture. As Martha Stewart would say, "It's a good thing..." 

Today, one of my progressive guy pals, (thanks Mark) sent along new findings on the women's market from the Boston Consulting Group. They reinforce what the market has believed for the last seven or so years and have added new insights into just how global this impact will be. 

Read the full story here and paste the press release on your wall. You're going to see these numbers showing up everywhere as they become the new defacto facts for marketing to women.

The survey covered 12,000 women worldwide. We are making more money, but still doing the majority of the work at home as well. Sighhhhh

o Between 2002 and 2007, women's income (globally) increased by nearly $3 trillion to $9.8 trillion. By 2014, women's income will jump by $5 trillion to $15.6 trillion.
o In the U.S. and E.U., most college students (57 percent and 55 percent, respectively) are women. Worldwide, almost half (49 percent) of college students are women.
o Women own or co-own 40 percent of U.S. businesses. Solely women-owned businesses are growing at twice the rate of all U.S. firms (and faster than male-owned businesses).
o Most important, globally, women control nearly $12 trillion of the overall $18.4 trillion in consumer spending. By 2014, women will control $15 trillion.
o In the top 20 markets, women control $10 trillion of $15.3 trillion in consumer spending.
o By 2028, women will control nearly three-quarters (72 percent) of consumer spending worldwide.

Below, the "women influence over 80% of consumer goods" from the prior research, still holds true.

o 88 percent say they have responsibility for grocery shopping.
o 85 percent have responsibility for meal preparation.
o 84 percent have responsibility for laundry.
o 84 percent have responsibility for cleaning.
o And 77 percent have responsibility for household administration

Ironically, shopping doesn't make us the happiest - owning a pet does! Expect to see a huge upswing in ads with women and pets in them. The Humane Society should be very happy.

o The values most important to women are: love (77 percent); health (58 percent); honesty (51 percent) and emotional well-being (48 percent).
The things that make women extremely happy are: pets (42 percent); sex (27 percent) and food (19 percent). Only 5 percent cited shopping, and only 2 percent cited the economy.

My sincere thanks to the Boston Consulting Group for pulling these new, global stats together. It proves that the gender is mightier than the culture that it lives in, and that the next global culture will definitely have a woman's touch. 

October 26, 2008

Three things I'm most grateful for - ever!

"What are the three things you're most grateful for, ever"? That's the question of the month for the green carnival women being hosted by Karen Hanrahan. That "ever" part threw me, how can you limit it to three? My DH would be #1, but outside of family and friends I had to really think about what I use/do that makes me grateful each and every day.

#1 would be, knowing how to grow food and cook a meal from scratch. (Thanks Mom and Dad and Grandma and Aunt Wilma)  It's cost SO LITTLE to scratch a little hole in the ground for a seed and later have SO MUCH that I'd have extra to give away. Gardening is such a simple skill that I took for granted in the midwest, little did I know the peace of mind it gives me now during these rocky economic times. If I lose everything, I know I can survive if I have 200 square feet of earth.

Along with gardening comes preserving my own food, although it's been years since I've done it. I'm actually looking forward to the day when I'll have the time to line up my little jars and wait for the lids to softly ping as they seal.

Then there is the final creative moment  - cooking from scratch and to taste. It's very freeing to walk into a kitchen and 20 minutes later enjoy a meal without cracking a book. Today I bought a $22 bottle of black current Modema vinegar. I could blow that much on three fast food trips. Instead I have a memorable gastronomic experience that makes me also grateful for tastebuds.

My #2 item? Knowing how to type and having a computer connected to the web. I can't imagine my world if I couldn't type. How could I communicate?!? (Thank you Mrs. Sleeman for my 11th grade business typing class)  Through typing and blogging I've made amazing friends who will always be there just a tapity, tap away no matter where in the world I'm logging in. Since I don't have children my virtual friends are my family. They provide an endless supply of inspiration, advice and kindness that fill my mornings and now my nights. When I can't sleep, I log onto Twitter and there are all my friends who can't sleep as well.

I'm MOST grateful that millions of people are blogging and creating a new world order through their thoughts and actions. Every time an opinion is carved into the Internet cave wall, a vote is cast - for better schools, safer food, universal healthcare... and it far out weighs the angry mob that also lives on the web. Blogging has proven to me beyond doubt that people are basically good. That gives me great hope as we race to fix a shaken economy and climate change solutions.

#3 - oh if only I could make it happen... RAIN. Until you've lived 50 years in the midwest and then 6 years in the LA desert, you can't appreciate how delightful and reviving a good rainstorm is. Here in Orange, CA, we get a really good rain maybe one or two days a year. I mean a good soaker storm, not that little airy stuff that dries up before it hits terra firma.

I miss rain - the smell, the need for sweaters, the worms, the rainbows, the post storm sunsets and that extra bounce it gives your attitude afterwards. I still click on the MN DOT highway cameras back in Minneapolis when I need a fix. It's almost November and with it the "green" month(s). When it rains, I'll be very grateful. Until then, I'm equally grateful that I have experienced the joy of something as common as weather.  

November 24, 2006

Animal Testing - would you buy or not if they do or don't?

I just added a new link under Culture Shifters (left) for animal testing. The site lists tons of companies who use animal testing and many more who don't. The Animal Defense League made the list because NOT using animals to test products, is a big selling point for women. (Reader beware, the site also has a lot of information regarding the raising and eating of meat, etc. It ain't pretty.)

I recently purchased Bare Escentuals makeup because A) I loved the way it looks and B) they don't use animal testing. I support products that use humane manufacturing methods. It's not a big political statement, just a small act of putting my money where my values are. Bare Escentuals is on the above list of those who DO NOT use animal testing. It's also written on their label.

There is enough cruelty in this world without adding to it for the sake of my inner or outer beauty. That's too high of a price for me.

November 14, 2006

Worthwhile becomes "What's your Motto"

Motto What's your motto? is the question asked throughout the first issue of Motto, the rebranded Worthwhile Magazine. Apparently the Worthwhile name wasn't worth the while or money to fight about; they'd rather switch than fight. Wow, now that's progress.

Motto's "motto" is Purpose, Passion, Profit or being a good global citizen first and then make a living as well. It's a very inspiring publication and makes everyone want to be a good guy - to which I would like to say, "Welcome to the club," guys. It was refreshing, to see page after page of men doing the right stuff for the world and for business.

Women were there as well, but then, we've always been there. The fact that women "give" and incorporate the giving into their business isn't news, it's normal.

This is where women and men can learn from each other. Women have to learn not to give it all away - that it's OK to make a profit and men need to learn that giving defines how truly successful you are.

What's your motto? If you don't know, read Motto until you do.

September 08, 2006

The "whole" truth about trust

This tour through trustland has been very interesting. It's no surprise that most men have a negative reaction to the title of this blog/book - and to be honest, some women have had it as well. It implies that all women can be trusted and that all men can't. We know that isn't true, but now that I have your attention... we can discuss the merits that are true.

The title was in recognition of more and more women choosing their own (culture) when it comes to doing business. Why do they do that? For one reason, whether women know it consciously or not, they have their own set of consistent characteristics that are so ingrained that you'll find them showing up around the globe. People tend to trust those who are most like them self and if that's the case, what is "most like" in women?

Let's take this out of consumerism for a minute and look at how women operate in business.

1. Cindi Andrews the editor from Women Business Cincinnati, posted the following from the Center for Business Women's Research. It's focused on what women and men care about when they go to sell their business.

"The final report isn't due out until September, [this month] but Elaine Sarsynski, the chief administrative officer for study sponsor MassMutual Financial Group, shared some initial findings.

Chief among them: While 85 percent of both male and female business owners rate price as the No. 1 factor in selling their business, women are more concerned than men about other factors.

Fully 86 percent of female owners take into account the prospective buyer's plans for current employees, vs. 61 percent of male owners.

Likewise, 72 percent of female owners take into account the buyer's identity, personality and background, vs. 30 percent of male owners.

"Women are more concerned than men about what happens to their business and their employees," Sarsynski told the 240 roundtable attendees. "Aren't we all better off when business owners aren't just interested in their bottom line?"

Like all studies from the Center for Women's Business Research, this is solid, well-grounded research. It was based on interviews with 800 business owners — half men and half women — who had at least $1 million in annual revenues and had been in business for at least five years. The margin of error is 3.5 percent.

2. The WBC also participates in the Athena Foundation for Leadership, which helps women business owners and young women develop their business strengths. They don't focus on business operations as much as they focus on leadership skills, and they see women's inherent skills as very different from men.

The ATHENA Leadership Model®, developed through a grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, identifies eight distinct characteristics or tenets that are reflective of women’s contributions to leadership: Authentic Self, Relationships, Giving Back, Collaboration, Courageous Acts, Learning, Fierce Advocacy, Celebration and Joy. These personal traits that are more intuitive to women, and combined with the strongest aspects of traditional leadership—taking risks, assertiveness, hard work—prepare women to be successful leaders in the 21st century.

Ok - if those two items are an indicator of where women stand and then you add in the political findings in election after election of what women care about, i.e. the environment, healthcare, family... Well, after awhile it begins to sound like any weight loss program, i.e. if you want to lose weight, just diet and exercise. If you want to win women over in business and as a consumer then, BEHAVE LIKE THEM.

Like weight loss, it's easy to say, but harder to do. Even if you were born female, working inside many corporations trains you to behave and think like a man and convinces you that it's the only way to do things. It's changing, but slowly.

Am I advocating that you have to start behaving/thinking like a woman to be effective in business? Yes, if you want their consumer dollars. It will give you a competitive advantage to align with what they like and don't like inside their "culture." This goes WAY beyond what you can see in a product or service and speaks to the ingrained and intangible trust factors.

Am I advocating to replace the current corporate system and require everyone to wear panty hose? Not at all. To do so negates the point of balance. It takes both left and right brains to be a fully functioning humans and it takes both the strengths of our respective genders to be at our best in business.

This is about real endemic change that goes to the core of who we are as individuals and as a species. Women don't want to take over the world, just have their say in it. When they are with other women, that happens. When business listens and responds to them with the same curiousity and concern, then they will respond back and provide some of that "fierce advocacy" that was mentioned earlier.

That's the whole truth about trust. It recognizes the whole person, not just the wallet.

August 19, 2006

How do you create a retail revolution? Julie Gilbert at Best Buy, Inc. is doing it one WoLF pack at a time.

Julie_gilbert_best_buy “If we are loyal to each other and we bond together with other males, we can reinvent the company and the industry.” Julie Gilbert

Today’s INSIDE LOOK features Julie Gilbert, Vice President of WoLF and Entrepreneurial Initiatives at Best Buy, Inc. WoLF stands for Women’s Leadership Forum which was Julie’s personal project while she was the Vice President over Best Buy’s Premium Customer Segment. It's a networking group functioning inside the corporation.

“WoLF is a movement to develop amazing leaders,” Julie told me, “If we want to be a great place for women to shop, we have to be a great place for women to work.”

Julie is on a mission, to have Best Buy’s female employees contribute to their individual futures as well as the company’s future direction. It’s based on woman-to-woman networking and came out of her concern regarding the lack of women-to-women mentoring opportunities. Out of need and “inspiration” she created a way for Best Buy’s female employees to network, learn, and create from each other and at the same time build business for Best Buy. Her WoLF packs aren’t part of HR, marketing or sales and yet all three departments benefit from the packs. 

WoLF is a combination of building leaders who happen to be female and using their unique perspectives to turn the company into a female focused organization and serve the $55 billion female consumer electronics market. Women actually outspend men today in the consumer electronics, but the industry was built by guys for guys. As Julie says, “It’s a different world today”!

What started as a way to help women become better leaders at all levels, however, is transforming Best Buy and creating a new business model based on “real” relationships regardless of title, education or gender.

Wolf_logo_color

MARY: Welcome Julie, what terrific news for the women of Best Buy.

JULIE: It’s a good time for Best Buy men as well. I just received an email from a guy who is involved in WoLF and he said that he has not had such a powerful experience in his 18 year career.

MARY: This isn’t the first time you’ve connected the disconnected. I read that before you came to Best Buy that you co-created a new business at Deloitte and Touche by merging the taxation and consulting divisions.

JULIE: I was a senior manager there and noticed that the two divisions didn’t communicate with each other well. It was almost like one group was “blue” and the other “yellow.”  My interest in consulting and curiosity caused me to think of a new business opportunity that combined the two and then spent the next six years building the new business across the country.

MARY: Before this new WoLF position, what did you do at Best Buy?

JULIE: I created and led the team that created Magnolia Home Theatre, which is now the largest high-end home theatre in the world. I also co-created a venture which launched Virgin Mobile in the U.S. from a Best Buy perspective.

MARY: I’m impressed… with those two successes, I can see why you get the support that you do. I read that you have a Masters in Strategy and Marketing from Carlson School of Management and a CPA. That explains how you can identify a business opportunity and then be able to prove that it will be profitable. 

JULIE: The financial side of my brain is always thinking, “How can we make money from this”? In turn, that’s the challenge I present to the WoLF packs, to come up with ways to improve their own career and also make Best Buy more profitable. They go hand in hand.

MARY: Why WoLF? Which came first, the name or the initiative?

JULIE: The dream! No, really… I was touring Best Buy stores as part of my Premium Segment job where female employees frequently hugged me. One day, about 2 ½ years ago, I asked one why she did it. She said, “You give us hope that we can one day become you.” It made me want to help women more directly. That night I had a dream and woke up at 2 am. Growing up in South Dakota, I often heard the howls of wolves or coyotes howling in the distance during full moons. In my dream, I heard the same thing, but instead of wolves or coyotes, it was women’s voices. Inspiration struck me and I realized that each of us feel alone like a stray wolf but if we are loyal like wolves are loyal to each other, and we bond together with other males, can reinvent the company and the industry. AND we can build amazing leadership skills in the process.

MARY:  I can see why the pack structure would work, providing a place for women to speak freely and support one another is a key element in how women interact. They can’t do that inside the current business model, it’s too hierarchal in structure. When did you start WoLF and how many women are participating?

JULIE: I started it the day I had the dream, while still in my Premium Segment role. I literally launched the first WoLF pack on October 12 which was one week after my dream. In August 2005, I transitioned to do it full time. This year, we will have impacted directly more than 10,000 employees as well as thousands of people outside of Best Buy through “Community Give Backs” which is a core pillar of the program.

MARY: I know Best Buy has about 120,000 employees worldwide, so that means about 10% of Best Buy is already benefiting from the program?

JULIE: Yes ,that’s correct.  To be clear, not all 10,000 are in WoLF packs. We actually have 7 ways for both women and men to participate. The first, of course, is to be in a WoLF Pack. We have 21 packs of 27 people across the country today. Next, Community Give Backs - pack members like to volunteer time back into society. We have quarterly events across the country to ensure they have an opportunity to do that. Third, agree to be a Network Partner. They must want to mentor another WoLF anywhere in the country. It probably should go without saying that those in the packs are committed to their career at Best Buy. Part of a pack’s success is the membership longevity. It’s hard to know and support one another if you come and go quickly.

Each year we sponsor an Annual Event which we’ve been doing for 3 years – last year we had over 1700 attendees from the U.S., China and Canada. We also had 45 other companies join us as well. Next month [September] we have 1600 attending a 3 day event. Another way to participate is Just Be You.  In this, we have the first group called the Dancing Wolves which is an actual hip-hop dance group. Its purpose is to illustrate what it is like to express yourself like you should be doing in your job each day with new ideas, and just bringing your “whole self” to work. We’ve had about 300 participate so far.

Inside the WoLf packs you can be an Alpha WoLF. These are leaders of the packs and they must go through a nomination process and then be interviewed for the positions on the packs across the country. And for those who want to participate but can’t because of the size limitation on the packs, we have a Be My Guest Program. Anyone can be a guest at any of the meetings or activities.

MARY: Ok, I have to hear more about the Dancing Wolves...

JULIE: That’s kind of our fun thing that’s also instructional. You know how stupid you feel when you’re first learning to dance? You don’t know the steps and your moves are sloppy and you’re embarrassed that everyone is looking and laughing at you? Learning how to dance (for real) is also our metaphor for learning how to take on anything that you don’t feel comfortable doing - first it’s the mis-steps, then you get your footing and finally you are so confident that they can’t get you off the stage. This is a place where the women can try out their steps both literally and figuratively.

MARY: I can see why being on in a pack is both inspiring and fun. Do many apply?

JULIE: Yes. Everyone wants to be part of something that has such a positive impact and they all know what type of person we’re looking for - if they have a high career commitment, can network and giveback, we want them in the pack.

MARY: Women already do a lot of volunteering, why is it important to make it part of the pack culture?

JULIE: First, because it’s the right thing to do and second because you learn more communication and coaching skills, gain empathy - all of that makes you more human and everyone benefits.  It is this skill that will ensure they are truly great leaders—investing in other people and finding ways to help them be successful.

MARY: Other than as a guest, how do men participate?

JULIE: Men can participate in all 7 ways and do.  On Wolf Packs, Each pack has 25 women and 2 additional men for 27 total. The men have to apply and adhere to the values as well. To be honest, they are just as excited as the women to be included. It’s interesting because they get to hear the stories that women share about what it is like to enter a room and not have their hand shook and how that instantly makes them feel like an outsider. Men don’t go through that same experience, not as much, anyway. There are just enough “men” in the room to remind the women that Best Buy serves both genders, but not enough to stifle the conversation. If my emails are any reflection, like the one I mentioned earlier, being inside a WoLF Pack is a positive experience for them as well. 

MARY: How do you put the packs together? Are they all customer service people for instance?

JULIE: No, in fact that’s what we don’t want. You can’t build your career path if all you know is people on your level. The packs deliberately contain people of all rank and title. We’ve discovered that as the women talk, the rank tends to disappear. The important thing is that the women get to know each other and learn how to build out their own “network” of associates.
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MARY: Besides being personally beneficial, I can see where women customers would be more apt to patronize a Best Buy store that treats its employees with such respect. What about the business side of the pack, are the packs coming up with new Best Buy programs?

JULIE: We have innovation projects launched on the packs to reinvent the company. For example, one of the projects is a Job Share innovation pilot to build a capability where professionals in stores could share a job to ensure we keep talent that may not be able to do the full-on retail hours.

MARY: I’m sure parents appreciate that and anyone else who has to split up their personal and professional life. What about the customers, can they feel the WoLF influence yet?

JULIE: You’ve heard of the Geek Squad, right? It’s a company within Best Buy that helps customers trouble shoot their electronic problems. Recently we’ve seen where the women geeks, we call DIVAS [Dynamic Intelligent Vivacious Agents with Solutions] have turned up more business simply by being… well… women. They may be called out to a home for a computer problem, and then the homeowner feels so comfortable with them that they take them to a second electronic snafu and so on. Sometimes they even invite them to dinner.

MARY: I didn’t know the Geek Squad had women, I’ve only seen the guys in action.

JULIE: DIVAs are fairly new, but because they see things from a woman’s perspective they are uncovering issues the guys might miss. One of our Geek Agents-Kat S., was very passionate about educating parents on the risks their kids face on the Internet. [Child predators can easily find kids based on information they share freely with the emergence of sites like myspace.com and others.]  She created a brochure and training for parents so that they will be educated on this and ensure their children are safe. It's called the Internet Lingo Guide for Parents, Keep Your Kids Safe.

MARY: What a very needed idea. Did you put the information online as well?

JULIE: Yes. There was such a high demand that we put it on the front page of the Geek Squad and added other things since then. The brochure itself is in the Best Buy stores that have Personal Shopping Assistants throughout the country or what we call "Jill stores."

MARY: I’m sure you’d like to have more Geek’s (or DIVAs) like her.

JULIE: Actually we’ve partnered with many organizations to build female linkages.  One of these is Mother McAuley Liberal Arts High School in Chicago to build a pipeline of agents specifically for the Geek Squad. I guess you’d say it’s a women-helping-women program.

MARY: Really? I met some women at BlogHer that will be happy to hear that. Finding ways to encourage girls to go into technology was a big concern during the tech session. I have to admit though, that women-helping-women isn’t normally how you visualize Best Buy, are you afraid it will hurt it’s image? 

JULIE: This isn’t about marketing, it’s about changing the way all women perceive technology and helping them to do that through education and support, both as employees and consumers. It’s also about changing the way we relate to one another, and becoming better leaders through helping others be successful.  If you are an amazing leader, you can accomplish anything you wish.  The best ideas happen when people are allowed to think freely - and howl once in awhile…

MARY:  You got that right! Thank you Julie for not only leading the women of Best Buy, but defining a whole new business model for other consumer companies to follow. I have to go now,  and load up on Best Buy stock. 

For more information on Best Buy and the Women Leadership Forum email wolf@bestbuy.com.