I was intrigued to see a new book by the guy who wrote The Millionaire Next Door, Thomas Stanley. His new book is ‘Millionaire Women Next Door’. Apparently in his research for his first set of books, he discovered that some 92% of the folks he ended up speaking with were men, and he decided that it was time to look for the millionaire women and find out what their secrets were. I haven’t read the book yet – want to check it out of the library – but according to the book review on Amazon, “While many characteristics such as frugality and simplicity of lifestyle are similar to those of their male counterparts, Stanley demonstrates that most millionaire women work harder and do better at school, in business, and in investment practices”.

So it highly amused me to see the book that Amazon is offering to pair it with in one of its ‘Buy Together’ promotions – ‘Lottery Master Guide’. So the secret of millionaire women has nothing to do with financial or business acumen or personal achievement; it’s that they know how to pick those numbers??

I consider myself a reasonably intelligent person. Did a little bit better than OK in school, worked hard (_really_ hard) at a couple of classes in college, but other than that, the main work there was time management to get things done. So, have been looking forward to returning to school in the fall to finally (!) get started on that MBA I’ve been thinking about since my junior or senior year in college. The timing was never right. First I wanted job experience to make the MBA that much more worthwhile (and hey, maybe easier if I already knew the stuff). Then we got married. Then we had a kid. And then we had another one. School takes time, time that’s always spread a bit thinner than one would like. But still, the MBA beckoned. I’d peruse the course catalog and wish I could take the class, just for the material covered. I’d plot out how many years it’d take to complete the degree part-time (too many!). I even went so far, last fall, as to write out my application essay for a local school. Never actually sent it in… Jason and I were looking at baby #2 coming and then some minor upheaval in the Coleman household as I returned to work and he took over primary care for the kids. Didn’t seem fair to load a night out to class on top of that.

In the meantime, my interest in the courses haven’t waned. And each time they come around at work to check where we individually fit on the GSA schedule, I’m reminded yet again that I never got that advanced degree. So, today went and took the GMAT exam. It’s required for the local biz school where I hope to earn my degree, one class at a time over the next several years. I’m quite certain evenings spent watching Law & Order will now be spent poring over economic and accounting tomes. Jon Stewart’s monologue may be the refrain behind research for papers. Signup’s coming up for the fall semester – need to get my application in order, including that application essay and a copy of my resume. Good excuse to get it up-to-date, anyway. Lots of things to add, of late, including (tada!) a paper I’m listed as a co-author on that’s going to be presented at a conference at NIH in a couple of weeks. (If it’s posted anywhere, I’ll post a link here… paper describes some cool work we’ve done at the National Library of Medicine).

It’ll take me long enough to get through the MBA program that Cora may be doing her homework while Mommy works on hers. One class at a time, baby, one class at a time.

Fast Company magazine’s cover asks “Where are the Women?” The starting point of the article is to ask why there aren’t more women in corner offices / executive positions, given the number of women in the workforce and the number of years we’ve now had to make it into the cushy chair. The article basically examines a study done by a professor at Stanford Graduate School of Business that determined that men are almost exclusively the ones in executive positions because men compete harder and sacrifice more of their personal lives than women. Women are just as competent, just as skilled, etc, as men, generally, but men are m ore willing to work longer, relocate, and just generally give more of their lives to work than women are. This is actually the second article I’ve seen that’s based on this study. The first was in Fortune magazine, entitled “Power: Do Women Really Want It?”.

Particularly in article in Fortune, the spin seemed to be that women just aren’t willing to go that extra mile for the executive spot, and that, hey, that extra mile is required for those who want to reach the pinnacle. Two thoughts come to mind: one, is that extra mile really required for the job itself, or is it just more of a barrier to entry, a way to winnow the competition? Couldn’t companies figure out better ways to use their top job resources, so that above and beyond all call of duty _isn’t_ the required duty? Seems like then the company would be less about the man (nearly always) at the top, and more about its mission of producing something that produces value (to shareholders or some other ownership).

Second thought, and more interesting to me to explore… If the reason that more women aren’t at the top is because they value other things in life over the rewards gained via sacrifices for work, why is it that men don’t value those same things? The articles pointed out that women aren’t stepping aside merely for the “mommy track”, that they’re often stepping aside for other jobs that provide a better balance of work and life. Lots of folks seem to look at that as “settling”, as somehow demeaning what you could have been. But that supposes that the best you could be was the person wholly focused on beating the competition out to win the top spot in this one arena of business, and thus necessarily losing focus on other areas in life. Those other areas – family, personal time, other interests – why are they of so relatively less value to the men examined in this study?

I’ve been hunting the perfect PDA for a while now. I generally carry a phone and a PDA, and worry about dropping one or the other. Women don’t tend to wear the Bat-belt setup that guys do, with a pager, PDA, and phone all strapped to them like either techno bombs or Batman’s equipment belt. We just don’t tend to draw attention to our waist, particularly not with things that stick out from it. And it doesn’t matter if we’re geeks who’re just as excited about the newest toy as the guy in the next office: we’re not going to strap that thing to us and have someone pay close attention to whether we’re quite as tight in the abs as we want to be. The woman thing of wanting to look thin beats out the geek excitement any day. For guys, that whole thin waist thing doesn’t seem to apply for any but the very few. Given the “street cred” a cool geek toy gives to a techie, women need to find an appropriate way to wear their PDA. PDA armcuffs? A mini purse? (A real purse is generally too bulky to pick up and lug into meetings.) More thought required… both on the case and that perfect PDA.

I spent a lot of time working with Microsoft Project 2000 this week. I’d count myself as an intermediate user, which means I can deal with resources, tasks, Gantt charts, durations, constraints, and the like, but I don’t yet do much with PERT analysis, cost tracking, earned value analysis, or tracking against a project baseline. After spending literally days working on a project plan for a project that has a defined start date and end date, with an extreme (impossible?) amount of stuff to get done in the middle, here’s my take on how Project could have been more useful.
* more than one undo operation – what other Microsoft app only allows one level of undo????
* better help in figuring out circular dependency relationships
* spell-check that highlights the spelling error, rather than pushing me to a task number – showing me a dialog box that lists a task number does me no good. Take me to the offending task and show me the “error”.
* warnings when data gets truncated in text fields: we overloaded the text1 field to include a description of the task so that we could export a WBS dictionary. Project happily and quietly chopped our text.
* show me what’s going to change down the line, in terms of time lines: given that our end date is fixed, I spent a lot of time trying to get things to line up precisely to end on May 28. I didn’t appreciate it when making a change in March for a task that wasn’t critical path pushed out my schedule in May. Wish I could tell Project – hold the beginning _and_ the end constant.
* a how-do-we-fit-all-these-tasks-in template: My wish – I give the beginning and end date, and you make up a story as to how it will all fit in nicely. Options could include lengthening the work day, adding more people, shortening tasks, hiring nuns to offer prayers on our behalf…

Timeline today:
1:53 – Boss sends an e-mail, saying that the proposal I’ve been working on in the evenings needs to be out, not tomorrow as previously promised to client, but by COB today, as the client will be out of town tomorrow. I don’t get the email until later because…
2:00 – get the toddler finally down for a nap, after 45 minutes (at least) of valiant attempts by the toddler to sleep in her “big girl bed”. ‘Big Girl Bed’ has been the challenge du jour for the past two weeks. Each nap time starts with chants of ‘Big Girl Bed!’, but she’s as yet too excited to actually _sleep_ in the thing. Finally mommy informs toddler that BGB will have to wait until tomorrow, and plops toddler into her crib…
2:15 – get the email from the boss. Clock’s now ticking – toddler will sleep for two hours or less…. email the boss that I’ll have it to him in two hours or less.
2:30 – infant wakes up. Wants to eat. Wants held. Doesn’t want mommy to have two hands on a keyboard.
3:15 – having one-handed typed for a while, finally get infant to snooze in her swing. Finish editing/formatting/recosting proposal. Wrangle with Microsoft Word to get it to stop monkeying with my formatting.
4:00 – talk with boss on phone, explaining why proposal’s cost estimate is as fuzzy as it is. Basically, it’s an R&D project – a more tight cost estimate isn’t possible! Hear baby snoring lightly in swing behind me. Pray she doesn’t wake up during call.
4:15 – get off phone with boss, after letting him know can’t commit to working anymore, due to toddler naptime soon expiring… Doesn’t seem professional to state it that way, but, figure I’m working on my maternity leave time, and reality says that I have to let him know that more progress today will need somebody else’s efforts. Else, my daughter will add text of the following variety to our proposal – “asfwrouasdf;asl1 Big Girl Bed!”.

Breathe sigh of relief that toddler slept through whole thing, and that infant could be coaxed back to sleep. Otherwise, the afternoon would have been even hairier than it already was.

Check here in our photogallery for the view of Tina doing the Mommy/work meld thing.

I’m always excited to see someone put up a comment on a blog entry, but I’ve now been disappointed to see that there’s a new form of spam: comment spam. Rather than send me an e-mail trying to get me to click some link, the spammer puts up a comment on a post. Their comment is full of ridiculous text, seemingly generated to put in as many links to various other commercial sites as possible. Bleah. I can of course delete the comments, but still, yuck. I wonder who they think is el stupido enough to go through those links? Or is it actually some other scheme to try to get those sites up higher in hit counts for search engines due to them being mentioned across various pages? I wonder how sites are targetted for this kind of thing – is there some web crawler out there that just randomly picks blogs and somehow submits comments? Or is some human being paid some amount of money to be web scum and troll the Net for sites to, essentially, graffiti?

If you’ve got some insight, I’m interested. I’d love to somehow turn the scheme around on these folks – become a pain in their electronic neck in the same way that they’re a pain in mine.

Ran across an odd “holiday” called ‘Take Back Your Time Day’. The idea behind it is that on that day (October 24 this year), Americans will already have worked as many hours this year as our Western European colleagues will for the whole year. That’s through a combination of the American proclivity for overtime, as well as the European policy of a month’s worth of vacation time. The site describing the day lists it as just one step in a fight against ‘time famine’ and a struggle to better handle the work/life balance. Americans aren’t balanced in anything, work/life or otherwise. We eat too much. We spend too much. And now, as demonstrated by ‘Take Back Your Time Day’, we whine too much. Want to work European hours? Move to Europe! Or scale back your spending and ambition so that you don’t need to be on the bleeding edge of overtime, whether that requires you to change jobs, companies, or even careers. The idea behind ‘balance’ is that you can’t have it all – to get more of A, then you need to give up some of B. Want the big American salary to live in the big American dream home with the big SUV and the fancy vacations? Then to fit that into your balance, you’re going to have to work a bit more.