The One Thing Preventing You from Having Your BIG Hairy Audacious DREAM by Randy Peyser

RandyPeyserphotoYou know that one big hairy audacious dream you’ve been wanting to create since forever? That big mission you were meant to do in this lifetime? The success that other people seem to have that hasn’t yet waltzed into your life – no matter how long or how hard you’ve tried to create it? Yeah, that’s the dream I’m talking about.

If you are feeling discouraged or frustrated because other people seem to have all the magic happening for them, and no rabbit is jumping out of a hat for you, there might just be one teensy weensy thing that is preventing you from “having it all”.

Before you decide to spend the rest of your life making nests out of pencil shavings, I encourage you to try the following game with your friends. It just might bring you closer to your dream!

Here’s the game…

Pretend you are a dragon. You are guarding a treasure – in this case, let’s make it a shoe that is lying on the ground between your legs. Let your friends surround you in a circle. The object of this game is for one of your friends to grab that shoe. As you hover over the shoe, you can tag anyone who tries to snatch it. Any of your sneaky friends who you tag is instantly frozen in place. The winner is the one who can steal the “treasure”…um, shoe. The winner now becomes the next dragon and the game starts all over again. (This game is called, Smaug’s Jewels. It comes from the now-defunct, New Games Foundation.)

So, why am I having you play a game like this? I’ll tell you why…

One of the best life lessons I ever experienced came as a result of the day I first played this game. I positioned myself in the circle of children and adults. No matter the age or the size of the dragon, there seemed to be one little seven-year-old, who consistently emerged with that shoe in his hand. But how did he do it?

I wanted to understand how it was that, no matter the size of the dragon, the positioning of his opponents, or the quickness of anyone’s reflexes, this one boy kept coming up the winner. So, I decided to sit out the next game and observe his actions.

As I watched this child for a few games, the answer became clear. So I stepped back into the game again and copied what I’d observed – and the next two games, the shoe ended up in my hands!

The Secret to the Shoe Grabber’s Success

When the boy lunged for that shoe, here’s what I observed: He moved from stillness to lunging in one clean swoop. He held nothing back. Every bit of him went into that movement. As he made his move, there was no hesitation, no split second or afterthought before he lunged.

This seven-year-old taught me about what I’ve come to call, “The Hiccup of Hesitation,” which is that split second in which we have an opportunity to move forward and stretch beyond our comfort zone, but where we usually hesitate for even a micro-millisecond, or some other really, really small measure of time, because underneath it all, we are too afraid to create what it is we say we want or possess too many doubts that it will actually happen.

Here’s a great example: I wanted to be on Oprah, but underneath it all I was terrified of being in her presence. Oops! A hiccup. Meanwhile, Oprah didn’t call me. (P.S. I am not afraid to be on Ellen, so Ellen, you can call me!)

Here’s another example, let’s say you want to be in a relationship, but deep down you really don’t want to be hurt again, right? Oops! A hiccup. (Isn’t it funny that there are no available men or women left in your entire city? Where’d they all go?)

Or perhaps you’ve worked hard for that promotion, and you really, really, really want it. But it’s probably going to mean you’re going to have to give up your weekends. Oops! A hiccup. Someone else gets the promotion and you mope for weeks wondering why you weren’t chosen when you know you deserved it more than that other person.

The Hiccup of Hesitation is that milli-pause, unlike menopause, where some form of an underlying fear sabotages our ability to get what it is we say we want to create.

It’s easy to point to the actions of other people and to the outer circumstances of our lives and affix blame, but truthfully, it is our own hiccup of hesitation that is holding us back.

So, how do you “cure” this hiccup? Begin by noticing it. Notice what you say you want and then notice how you feel about what it is you say you want. If you experience a fearful little hiccup, get some help to do some inner healing. You can also play the dragon game. Get the feeling of “going for it” without hesitation in your body.

You can create your dream. Just put on your dragon suit and take off a shoe; the treasure is always in your own hands.


Randy Peyser is the CEO of Author One Stop. She helps people find literary agents and publishers and edits and ghostwrites books. She is the author of Crappy to Happy and The Power of Miracle Thinking.

Family Meals by Dr. Arti Jain

family-meal-3Family meals are making a comeback. And that’s good news for a couple of reasons:

  • Shared family meals are more likely to be nutritious.
  • Kids who eat regularly with their families are less likely to snack on unhealthy foods and more likely to eat fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
  • Teens who take part in regular family meals are less likely to smoke, drink alcohol, or use marijuana and other drugs, and are more likely to have healthier diets as adults, studies have shown.

Beyond health and nutrition, family meals provide a valuable opportunity to reconnect. This becomes even more important as kids get older.

Making Family Meals Happen

It can be a big challenge to find the time to plan, prepare, and share family meals, then be relaxed enough to enjoy them. Try these three steps to schedule family meals and make them enjoyable for everyone who pulls up a chair.

1. Plan

  • Look over the calendar to choose a time when everyone can be there.
  • Figure out which obstacles are getting in the way of more family meals — busy schedules, no supplies in the house, no time to cook.
  • Ask for the family’s help and ideas on how these roadblocks can be removed. For instance, figure out a way to get groceries purchased for a family meal.
  • Or if time to cook is the problem, try doing some prep work on weekends or even completely preparing a dish ahead of time and putting it in the freezer.

2. Prepare

  • Involve the kids in preparations. Recruiting younger kids can mean a little extra work, but it’s often worth it.
  • Simple tasks such as putting plates on the table, tossing the salad, pouring a beverage, folding the napkins, or being a “taster” are appropriate jobs for preschoolers and school-age kids.
  • Older kids may be able to pitch in even more, such as getting ingredients, washing produce, mixing and stirring, and serving.
  • If you have teens around, consider assigning them a night to cook, with you as the helper.
  • If kids help out, set a good example by saying please and thanks for their help.
  • Being upbeat and pleasant as you prepare the meal can rub off on your kids. If you’re grumbling about the task at hand, chances are they will too. But if the atmosphere is light, you’re showing them how the family can work together and enjoy the fruits of its labor.

3. Enjoy

  • Even if you’re thinking of all you must accomplish after dinner’s done (doing dishes, making lunches, etc.), try not to focus on that during dinner.
  • Make your time at the table pleasant and a chance for everyone to decompress from the day and enjoy being together as a family.
  • They may be starving, but have your kids wait until everyone is seated before digging in.
  • Create a moment of calm before the meal begins, so the cook can shift gears. It also presents a chance to say grace, thank the cook, wish everyone a good meal, or to raise a glass of milk and toast each other.
  • You’re setting the mood and modeling good manners and patience.

Family meals are a good time to teach civilized behavior that kids also can use at restaurants and others’ houses.

You can gently remind when they break the rules, but try to keep tension and discipline at a minimum during mealtime. The focus should remain on making your kids feel loved, connected, and part of the family.

Keep the interactions positive and let the conversation flow. Ask your kids about their days and tell them about yours. Give everyone a chance to talk.

Need some conversation starters? Here are a few:

  • If you could have any food for dinner tomorrow night, what would it be?
  • Who can guess how many potatoes I used to make mashed potatoes?
  • What’s the most delicious food on the table?
  • If you opened a restaurant, what kind would it be?
  • Who’s the best cook you know? (We hope they say it’s you!)


Dr. Arti Jain – Doctor Jain is a very caring pediatrician practicing in the Santa Clara County California area.  You can contact her:  Tel (408)-378-6171 or email her:  You can read more on her website:

Staying Healthy While You Travel by Dr. Arti Jain

201003-b-homepage-3When your family travels, being away from your household’s usual eating and sleeping routines means it’s more likely that someone might get sick. Kids can be especially vulnerable to travel-related problems such as motion sickness, diarrhea, and infections.

Special Considerations for Travel Abroad

If you’re heading overseas, start preparing well in advance.

– Find out what vaccinations your kids (and even you) might need.
– Different countries have different risks and requirements and may require specific vaccines.
– Some vaccines require more than one dose and are given in a series.
– Most immunizations should be given at least 1 month before travel, so try to schedule a doctor’s visit 4-6 weeks before your trip.
– Although all kids get the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine at 12-15 months of age, any who will travel outside the United States before that should get the vaccine as early as 6 months of age.
– Also, kids of any age can get malaria so if you’re traveling to a country with a malaria risk, talk to your doctor about antimalarial drugs.

Common Travel Troubles – Here are some health issues that your family is likely to face:

Jet Lag

When you fly across time zones, it can take time for your internal body clock to catch up with the local time. In addition to tiredness, jet lag can also cause an upset stomach and even insomnia. Here are some tips for dealing with jet lag:

– Try to adjust your family’s sleep schedules 2-3 days before departure.
– Get plenty of rest before your trip. If possible, sleep on the flight.
– Make sure everyone drinks plenty of water during the flight. Avoid alcohol, coffee, tea, and other caffeinated beverages.
– On a long flight, try to stretch regularly and even walk up and down the aisles when they’re clear and it’s OK to do so.
– After arrival, encourage kids to be active outside or in brightly lit areas during daylight hours.
– Try to follow local time at your destination (for example, try to keep kids awake until their usual bedtime).

Ear Pain

It’s common for kids to experience ear discomfort during a plane’s takeoff and descent caused by pressure in the middle ear as it tries to keep up with the rapidly changing air pressure. Encourage kids to swallow, yawn, or, if they’re old enough, chew gum. It may help infants to nurse or suck on a bottle.

All of these things can help kids’ ears adjust. You may also want to give your child a pain reliever, such as acetaminophen, 30-60 minutes before takeoff or, if it’s a long flight, before landing.

Motion Sickness

– Before you leave, have kids eat a light meal or snack. Provide foods that are easily digested, such as complex carbohydrates, and avoid fatty foods.
– Try to avoid eating during short trips. For longer trips, sip drinks and eat light, small meals and snacks.
– If your child is feeling sick, provide some blander foods, like crackers.
– Encourage kids to look outside the car, rather than inside. They should focus on still objects — not moving ones (like other cars) — or a distant point.
– Keep the window open a little to allow fresh air to circulate.
– Use a headrest to minimize head movement.
– Make frequent stops, if possible, at places like rest stops and parks.
– Ask your doctor about medicines to prevent travel sickness.


Water in many developing countries isn’t treated in the same way as water supplies in developed nations and may contain bacteria, viruses, and parasites. Take precautions to ensure the water is safe:

– Consider drinking only bottled water when traveling.
– Use only purified water for drinking, making ice cubes, brushing teeth, and mixing infant formula and foods.
– If you use tap water, boil it first or purify it with an iodine tablet.
– If you’re breastfeeding your infant, continue to do so.
– Remind kids to practice the good hand-washing techniques.
– Keep pacifiers, teething rings, and toys clean.
– Keep an alcohol-based hand sanitizer handy.
– Make sure all dairy products are pasteurized.
– Fresh fruits and veggies should be cooked or washed well and peeled.
– Meats and fish should be well cooked and eaten just after preparation.
– Avoid food from street vendors.

Be Prepared

When you pack, include any medications and other medical supplies you and your family use regularly.

Other items you might want to pack:

– over-the-counter (OTC) pain reliever like acetaminophen
– a small first-aid kit that includes antiseptic, antibiotic ointment, bandages, and other OTC medications your doctor may recommend
– sunscreen
– insect repellent (the most effective ones contain DEET)
– waterless alcohol-based hand rubs for when soap and clean water aren’t available
– Do some research before your trip to find the hospital or medical care facility closest to your destination, particularly if your child has a chronic health condition. If you’re traveling overseas, try to find one where English is spoken.
– It’s also wise to carry a written copy of your child’s medical history.

And Don’t Forget . . .

While you’re away, it’s important to take the same health and safety precautions as you do at home. These include:

– Sun smarts. Broad-spectrum sunscreen of at least SPF 15 and hat and sunglasses to keep the sun off of your child’s face.
– Water safety. Because life jackets and goggles — may not be available at your destination, consider bringing these from.
– Buckle up. If you’ll rent a car, you might want to bring your child’s car seat with you, As always, kids weighing less than 40 pounds should be properly restrained in a car seat. Kids between 4 and about 8 years old should use a belt positioning booster seat.

Before you leave, consider asking your doctor for other information about how to protect your family from illness and injury during travel. Doing a little planning in advance can help ensure that when the time comes, all you’ll have left to do is relax and enjoy your vacation!


Dr. Arti Jain – Doctor Jain is a very caring pediatrician practicing in the Santa Clara County California area.  You can contact her:  Tel (408)-378-6171 or email her:  You can read more on her website:

Scrappy Tip from Kimberly: For more great advice on traveling healthy, check out this site from positive healthwellness.

Becoming a Successful Business Diva Takes Skill by Shanna Webb

2013-12-20 Shanna Webb pic1Quote: “You don’t need anybody to tell you who you are or what you are. You are what you are!”-John Lennon

Becoming a successful business diva takes skill. It is a mind-set and it is a decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly.

When I started my public relations agency Webb & Associates more than five years ago I had exactly $250.00, just enough to get my business license. My mind-set became one of, ‘I better be successful or I will be sitting out on the corner with a plastic cup begging for change.’ Well, that wasn’t an option for this diva. And with the average American woman earning 70 cents to every dollar a man makes I knew I was going to have to work hard.

So I’m going to give you some tips to help you become the business diva you deserve to be.

1. Knock down doors – The very first client I got was an automobile dealership. I gained there business simply by walking in and handing the general manager a brochure about my services. Don’t be afraid to go out and canvas for business. And certainly don’t be fearful of meeting new people.

2. Talk a good game – My first client called me up and asked me if I could film some commercials for the dealership. I had never produced/edited a professional commercial before. But he didn’t know that. Luckily, I had friends who knew how to do this work. If you don’t know how to do it turn to your network of business associates and friends who can help you.

3. No one can wear your skirt – In order to become diva-lious you have to remember you are an original. There may be many businesses out there that do the same thing, but you have something no one else can offer. Find that one thing and capitalize on it.

4. Get paid what you are worth – A lot of times we have this false belief that customers buy price. This isn’t true and every luxury item sold whether it is cars, jewelry, or real estate proves that point. Don’t under bid a job or service, but be careful not to price yourself out of the stratosphere. Know your worth.

5. Don’t cherry pick – Every customer is a potential client and or sale. You can never judge a book by its cover. Assuming always makes an ass out of you and me.

6. Keep your finances tight – The biggest issue a businessperson will experience is money. Sometimes it rains down money and other times there will be droughts. It is important to plan. Stay out of debt and don’t buy it unless you can afford it.

7. Follow your brave heart – You can meet with business mentor organizations and talk to other businesses owners; however you are ultimately the captain of your yacht. The comfort is when you follow your heart you know you always made the right decision.

8. Dress for success – This is especially important in sales. I’m not saying run out and buy a Hermes bag or a Mercedes, just look professional and wear the proper business attire. When people dress for success they have a successful perception and attitude that shines through.

9. Avoid the crap-out crew – There are going to be people in your business and personal life who are just negative. These people are mentally destructive and total buzz-killers. Limit your time with these people and be aware when they mount their pity pony they want you to join them for the ride. Just say no to negativity.

10. Roll honest – Be honest with your clients and do good business and good business will come to you through referrals or ongoing sales. Roll honestly and you will always have excellent karma.


Shanna Webb, is a scrappy business woman and CEO of Webb & Associates Public Relations. As a veteran of the USAF, Ms. Webb is tough and determined. She believes in taking risks and in her abilities as a smart, sassy scrappy chick to teach other woman how to become scrappy!!

Nine Similar Behaviors That Have Different Consequences for Men and Women by Caryl Rivers and Dr. Rosalind C. Barnett

17707613 book coverWomen who want to be successful are often urged to act like their male colleagues. But new research says this strategy often backfires. When they behave they same way, women and men are often judged very differently, leading to consequencesthat are poles apart.

This problem is part of what we call “The New Soft War on Women.”

The direct, in-your-face gender discrimination of the past has faded, but cutting- edge new research finds that bias hasn’t vanished. It’s just gone underground and is gaining strength, based on stubborn stereotypes about what women can’t do.

It’s why both men and women too often judge the same actions very differently,when they are taken by one sex or another.

For example:

Caring and showing empathy

Men at work are richly rewarded, and are seen as heroes when they step out of the macho stereotype to offer a helping hand or a shoulder to cry on. They get heaps of praise. (Oh, what a wonderful guy!) When men are helpful to others, they are given high performance ratings and they are seen as likely to succeed.  In contrast, when men don’t help, they suffer no consequences. They are just being “guys.”

Women are expected to be caring. Such behavior is taken for granted– and ignored. Women get no credit for caring, because that’s what they are “supposed” to do. But unlike men, when women violate the “caring” norm, they are harshly penalized. They are seen as unlikely to succeed or advance in their company. Moreover, they are judged as nasty, selfish, manipulative, and unworthy of promotions. So it’s a lose-lose for women. They get no benefit for caring, and they get slammed if they don’t care.

Taking risks

Men are seen as leaders and rightfully ambitious workers when they take risks. If he fails, his superiors dust him off and say, “It’s not your fault; try again next time.”  There’s little downside when men take risks.

Women who take risks are looked at with skepticism and are carefully scrutinized. Because of this wariness, women are hesitant to take the kinds of risks they are told they need to take in order to succeed.  Moreover, women who fail don’t get second chances. No one’s there to dust them off.  Risk-taking is a high stakes strategy for women.

Displaying competence

Men who are competent are seen as forceful, worthy of promotion and likely to succeed. It’s all a plus.

Women who display competence often pay a price. They are seen by both men and women as unlikeable–unfeminine, aggressive, conniving and untrustworthy— as “downright awful.” Such perceptions hurt them on the career ladder. Who wants to work with a “bitch?”

Less competent women are seen as more likeable, but not very good at their jobs. Another lose-lose for women. Be very competent, and you’re seen as a bitch. Be less competent, and you won’t move up or you’re out the door.

Working in a mixed-sex team

Men who work with women in a team automatically get credit for the team’s success. The man is assumed to be the leader, even if the woman has actually done most of the work and made most of the decisions. Often, he is promoted while she is not.

Women in a mixed-sex team are seen as relatively less competent, less influential and less likely to have played a leadership role. They do not get credit, even when it’s due.  As a result, women are less likely than men to be promoted.

Speaking at length

Men who dominate the conversation are seen as powerful and forceful.

Women too often find that silence is golden.  Both men and women judge females to be more competent when they are quiet and less capable when they talk more. If women speak up at some length, even if they are in a senior position, they are seen not only as gabby but also as incompetent.

Becoming a parent

Men do not experience any roadblocks in getting hired just because they have a child.  In fact, they enjoy a “fatherhood bonus” and often make more money than non-fathers. Fathers are seen as hardworking, striving for advancement, and reliable.

Women pay a price if there’s any hint in their resumes that they might be mothers. They may not even get inside the door. In one study, managers who had the power to hire and fire were sent resumes identical except for a hint that some women were childless and others were mothers. Managers called back the childless women twice as often as the equally qualified mothers.

Women employees experience a “motherhood penalty” that can be as high as a million dollars over a lifetime.  Mothers are viewed as having divided loyalties, as unreliable, distracted, and therefore are less likely to be hired or promoted.

Having an MBA or other advanced degree

Men with advanced degrees get substantial raises and promotions.

Women earn more advanced degrees than men but   get a far lesser payoff. Female MBAs earn, on average, $4,600 less than male MBAs in their first job out of business school. Male chief financial officers are paid an average of 16 percent more than their female counterparts of similar age at U. S. companies. The Sloan Foundation reports that Women lead in college but not in the workforce…Women’s earnings, relative to those of men, have not kept up with their gains in educational attainment.”

Working hard

Men are expected to be hard workers and they reap the benefits of their efforts. Hard work pays off for them in higher pay and frequent promotions.

Women are not expected to be hard driving and ambitious. When they are, they are seen as unfeminine and uncaring. And they pay a price for their non-traditional behavior. Over a lifetime, women with a bachelor’s degree will earn a third less (estimated $700,000) than a man with the same degree.

Expressing anger

Men who express anger at work are judged by males and females as committed to their jobs, powerful, competent and worthy of a high salary. Blowing your stack is not a problem for a man.

Women who express anger, in contrast, are seen much less favorably. They are viewed as out of control, irrational, incompetent, weak and unworthy of a high salary. Only if women can demonstrate that they have a reasonable, non-emotional reason for their anger will they avoid being labeled.

Simply being male or female

Men benefit from the male stereotype–forceful, competent, assertive, a leader. Unless they demonstrate otherwise, the stereotype helps them.

Women suffer from the female stereotype–passive, incompetent, non-assertive, a follower, not a leader. They have to actively prove they don’t fit these categories before they can escape the female stereotype.

Women need to be aware of these traps to avoid stalling out in the workplace. But women can’t do it alone. Companies need to mean it when they say they want gender diversity. New research finds that while ninety percent of companies about the globe have such policies, too often these programs lack clear goals, evaluation and enforcement, and less than half have criteria that allow for them to be evaluated. There’s little commitment to the programs in the C‑suite, and it gets weaker as you go down the organizational ladder. At lower management levels, a paltry 17 percent of managers support diversity programs. It can be disastrous for a young woman if early in her career she runs into a manager whose mind-set, conscious or otherwise, is that women don’t have what it takes.


Caryl Rivers is a professor of journalism at the College of Communication at Boston University. A nationally known author and journalist, she received the Helen Thomas Award for Lifetime Achievement from the Society of Professional Journalists.

Dr. Rosalind C. Barnett is a senior scientist at the Women’s Studies Research Center at Brandeis University. Her pioneering research on workplace issues and family life in America has been sponsored by federal grants, and she is often invited to lecture at major venues in the United States and abroad. Dr. Barnett has a private clinical psychology practice and is the author of scholarly and popular books and articles.

Women, Careers and Risk: Lessons from the Improv Comedy Stage by Kathy Klotz-Guest

Kathy Klotz-Guest head shot pic1Research today illustrates that on average women do not take the same career risks that men do. Why? The reasons are complex but they all point back to a very important subject – how women perceive, manage, and act on risk. Despite gender differences, however, the fact is that anyone can increase the confidence required for smart risk-taking.

As a marketer and business owner, I’ve seen women take far fewer risks in the workplace. I’ve also seen that same fear of failure mirrored in my almost 20 years doing comedy. I’ve seen women come and go – quitting before they reached the prize of confidence, acceptance and the ability to take risks and handle failure. The ability to take risks and to see failure as learning are critical for career growth, innovation, and yes, for comedic success.

Today, I perform regularly with a group where the percent of women ranges anywhere from 10% to 25%. At one time, in a group of 14 players, I was the only woman. My stand-up days were more polarized; I’d often be 1 of 2 women on open-mic nights out of a lineup up of over 15 comics. The good news is I think the gender ratio is changing, at least in improv. In my experience, there are more women in improvisation than in stand-up comedy.

While I am sure there are many social and cultural (as well as family) reasons that contribute to this situation (and because many women aren’t nurtured to think they are funny), I also know the rewards that come from improvisation. Improv isn’t just about being funny. It’s so much more than that: it strengthens our ability to make choices, to take risks, and to trust our gut because it increases confidence. These are the same qualities that have facilitated some bold and successful career moves in my life. No guts, no glory – of course, women don’t have to bet the farm to succeed. They just need to reach beyond where they “think” they are just capable enough. That’s what men do. Statistically, men fail more, and they also succeed more. That’s because they take “bigger” chances where the downside isn’t all that bad, and the upside is substantial.

The bottom line is that “risk” matters, especially in careers and comedy. This lack of bigger “game” risk-taking has longer-term economic implications for women and explains, in part, the gender wage-gap that still exists today (about 21% for equal work according to the Department of Labor). Yes, women are more likely to take time out from the workforce to have and raise children than their male counterparts, and this accounts for some of the gap. However, research also tells us that women are also less likely to take risks in negotiating pay, better benefits, and promotions, and in taking “risky” projects that also come with high visibility in the organization. In the end, less risk-taking in a woman’s career leads to a lifetime wage and career gap estimated to be greater than $500,000. And more than money, it means too many women are ‘settling’ for careers that don’t match their potential or desire.

Women and Risk-Taking

In his book Outliers, author Malcolm Gladwell explores the concept of 10,000 hours: it takes approximately 10,000 hours of practice and experience to reach virtuoso status in an area of expertise – music, software programming, painting, innovating, and comedy. Of course, part of those 10,000 hours will involve failing if you are doing it right. You can’t achieve expert status without trying, failing, taking risks, and learning from those choices. There are also various degrees of risk and it’s important for women to recognize that many of these choices involve “recoverable” risk where no one is hurt, besides maybe a bruised ego here and there.

Research also points out that men and women, on average, deal with and process failure in different ways. Men, for instance, on average look at failure not as a personal flaw, but rather, as a situation outside themselves that just didn’t work out. You win some, you lose some, you move on. Conversely, women are more likely (on average – yes there are individual differences) to personalize failure and view it through the lens of some shortcoming on their end.

Whether it is comedy or career, the same risk-taking is needed to grow to the next level. Just as men take bigger career risks, they also tend to take more chances in comedy. That begs the question – what can women be doing to strengthen their ability to take measured risks and to see failure as learning rather than personalizing it? Moreover, “failure” isn’t bad – it’s part of growth. You are expected and encouraged to fail or you’re not trying hard enough.

Of course, some of this difference between the genders can be explained by physiology. Men are wired to take more risks because they have traditionally been the “hunters.” Yet, the good news is that much of this difference has to do with skills and behaviors that can be learned.

The “Yes, and!” Concept

One of the best ways for people to learn to trust their instincts, take small risks that lead successfully to bigger ones, and learn to see failure as learning is through improvisation. Improvisation is based on a positive framing – “Yes, and!” mentality that accepts offers from others, builds on other suggestions, allows people to stay focused on the present and to fail good-naturedly with small risks. Improvisation strengthens decision-making skills by making it OK to fail. You have to fail to know what works! Without the risk-taking, there is no success.

Improvisation creates a safe environment where failure is encouraged because it means you are taking changes, pushing the envelope and exploring to see what works. Over time, your instincts are strengthened and risk-taking becomes less scary. There are no “wrong” answers in improvisation; there are many choices and alternatives. Improvisation strengthens our ability to react to the situation at hand – to respond with our own solid choices that accept and add (the “Yes, and!”) on to “offers” presented to us by others. Little risks (with low stakes) taken over time lead us to make bolder and bigger choices as we grow in our confidence. This permeates others aspects of our lives including our careers.

While improvisation won’t change the overall salary gap or underrepresentation on corporate boards or the C-suite over night, it will strengthen women’s confidence in their own choices, in their risk-taking and will help them learn that “failure” is not personal. Nor is it something to be feared. It happens, you learn and grow from it, and you move on. And sometimes you get it just right, and get a “win.” Like when you negotiate for better pay or a more visible position. And it’s those little individual wins that, in aggregate, will lead to real change.

After all, ladies, we’ve got nothing to lose by trying. It’s the high cost of failing to take smart risks – the lack of pay equity and loss of bigger careers – that we should fear.


Kathy Klotz-Guest, A marketer and storyteller, helps clients tell compelling stories that get results. The founder of marketing strategy and communications firm, Keeping it Human, she also performs improvisational comedy and kicks jargon’s butt.

Caring for You and Your Family During the Flu Season by Arti Jain, M.D.

images (1)What is the flu?
Influenza (the flu) is an infection of the nose, throat, and lungs caused by influenza viruses. There are many different influenza viruses that are constantly changing. They cause illness, hospital stays and deaths in the United States each year.
The flu can be very dangerous for children.

How serious is the flu?
Flu illness can vary from mild to severe. While the flu can be serious even in people who are otherwise healthy, it can be especially dangerous for young children and children of any age who have certain long term health conditions. Children with chronic medical conditions and those receiving long-term aspirin therapy can have more severe illness from the flu.

How does the flu spread?
Flu viruses spread mainly by droplets made when people with the flu cough, sneeze or talk. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby. Less often, a person might get the flu by touching something that has flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth, eyes or nose.

How long can a sick person spread the flu to others?
People with the flu may be able to infect others by shedding virus from 1 day before getting sick to 5 to 7 days after. However, children and people with weakened immune systems can shed virus for longer, and might be still contagious past 5 to 7 days of being sick, especially if they still have symptoms.

What are the symptoms of the flu?
Symptoms of the flu can include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills, fatigue and sometimes vomiting and diarrhea. Some people with the flu will not have a fever.

How can I protect myself and my child against the flu?
To protect against the flu, the first and most important thing you can do is to get a flu vaccine for yourself and your child.
• Vaccination is recommended for everyone 6 months and older.
• It’s especially important that young children and children with long term health conditions get vaccinated. (See list of conditions under “How Serious is the Flu?”)
• Caregivers of children with health conditions or of children younger than 6 months old should get vaccinated. (Babies younger than 6 months are too young to be vaccinated themselves.)
• Another way to protect babies is to vaccinate pregnant women because research shows that this gives some protection to the baby both while the woman is pregnant and for a few months after the baby is born.

Is there a medicine to treat the flu?
Antiviral drugs can treat flu illness. They can make people feel better and get better sooner and may prevent serious flu complications. They work best when started during the first 2 days of illness. These drugs can be given to children.

What are some of the other ways I can protect my child against the flu?
In addition to getting vaccinated, take – and encourage your child to take – everyday steps that can help prevent the spread of germs. This includes:
• Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
• Stay away from people who are sick.
• Wash hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.
• If someone in the household is sick, try to keep the sick person in a separate room from others in the household, if possible.
• Keep surfaces like bedside tables, surfaces in the bathroom, kitchen counters and toys for children clean by wiping them down with a household disinfectant according to directions on the product label.
• Throw tissues and other disposable items used by sick persons in your household in the trash.

What can I do if my child gets sick?
Talk to your doctor early if you are worried about your child’s illness.
If your child is 5 years and older and does not have other health problems and gets flu-like symptoms, including a fever and/or cough, consult your doctor as needed and make sure your child gets plenty of rest and drinks enough fluids.
If your child is younger than 5 years (and especially younger than 2 years) or of any age with a long term health condition (like asthma, a neurological condition, or diabetes, for example) and develops flu-like symptoms, they are at risk for serious complications from the flu. Ask a doctor if your child should be examined.

What if my child seems very sick?
Even children who have always been healthy before or had the flu before can get very sick from the flu.
Call for emergency care or take your child to a doctor right away if your child of any age has any of the warning or emergency signs below:
• Fast breathing or trouble breathing
• Bluish or gray skin color
• Not drinking enough fluids (not going to the bathroom or making as much urine as they normally do)
• Severe or persistent vomiting
• Not waking up or not interacting
• Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
• Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough
• Has other conditions (like heart or lung disease, diabetes, or asthma) and develops flu symptoms, including a fever and/or cough.

Can my child go to school, day care or camp if he or she is sick?
No. Your child should stay home to rest and to avoid giving the flu to other children or caregivers.

When can my child go back to school after having the flu?
Keep your child home from school, day care or camp for at least 24 hours after their fever is gone. (Fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.)
A fever is defined as 100°F (37.8°C) or higher.


Dr. Arti Jain – Doctor Jain is a very caring pediatrician practicing in the Santa Clara County California area. You can contact her: Tel (408)-378-6171 or email her:

Chapter One of the NINE YEARS UNDER book by Sheri Booker


Gotham_Nine Years Under_author photo_credit Alvin GrayThe custodian who controlled the thermostat for Baltimore’s summer heat was a smug son of a bitch—relentlessly unleashing lethal doses of sweltering humidity and dampness into the inner-city air. There was no way to dilute the blazing mixture.

Fired up like an open rotisserie, it roasted the skins of innocent bystanders—gravediggers, policemen, and outdoor merchants—until they were a golden-brown delight. Those who could tolerate the unbearable heat were desperate for any sort of hydration—a fire hydrant, a frosted bottle of water from a street vendor—or for God to at least have enough mercy on the city to let it rain.

I had stopped petitioning the heavens for miracles four days before, when my aunt Mary’s light went dark. My mother discovered her slumped figure just in time to see it gasping for its last taste of oxygen. We were now en route to see her remains for the first time since she was taken from me, and in just a few moments, I would be standing inside a building designed to transition corpses from lifeless organisms into living memories.

None of us should have been surprised, but eight wide eyes stared at Great-Great-Aunt Mary’s unresponsive body that horrible night. My parents, my sister, and I hovered around the bed where she lay slouched in an eternal slumber, her eyes shut tight and her body completely still. My father knew CPR; he was a policeman. And my sister had been certified in CPR for the camp where she worked that summer. But no one moved. As I stood there, the plush carpet shifted like sand beneath my bare toes and the walls of the room felt like they were closing in on me.

My home had felt foreign for weeks. The hospice nurse stacked the shelves with medical equipment, a few weeks’ supply of Depend adult diapers, morphine patches, bandages, and gauze. People were in and out all the time: nurses, visitors, and ministers back-to-back. If Aunt Mary had been in her right mind, she would have called it “signifying or meddling in her business,” but she hadn’t been coherent for a while.

We watched her shrivel and shrink as the cancer consumed most of her body. The hospice nurse warned me to savor every moment because time was running out. She gave me a purple double-pocketed folder with booklets about preparing for death and what to do when your loved one has a terminal illness, but I shoved it into a drawer after her shift was over and didn’t look at it until weeks after the funeral when we were cleaning out Aunt Mary’s room. Neither flowery folders with colorful brochures nor compassionate nurses can prepare you for the inevitable.

After weeks of hospice care and enough meds to tranquilize an army, Aunt Mary slipped through our fingers like twenty thousand dollars on a gambler’s bad day. No little girl wants to stand by and witness her hero surrender. I wish someone had told me back then that hospice care was the beginning of the end. Then I wouldn’t have blamed myself for not doing enough. I wouldn’t have felt ignored by God.

Excerpted from NINE YEARS UNDER by Sheri Booker. Copyright (c) 2013 by Sheri Booker. Reprinted by arrangement with GOTHAM BOOKS, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, A Penguin Random House Company. Copyright © SHERI BOOKER, 2013.


Sheri Booker: Ms. Booker accepted a summer job at the Wylie Funeral Home in West Baltimore the age of 15, she didn’t realize she was also signing up for a wild nine year-long ride during which she witnessed the funerals of gang members, AIDS patients, cancer victims, young, old, and everyone in between. NINE YEARS UNDER: Coming of Age in an Inner-City Funeral Home (Gotham Books, June 2013, Hardcover, eBook) is the compelling story of how working in a funeral home, so close to death, changed Sheri’s perspective on life, as she recently discussed on NPR’s Weekend All Things Considered.

Changing the World One Woman at a Time by Patricia Rain

Patricia 1 DSC_12251African Women’s Leadership Summits: Kenya and Uganda 2013

On July 29th, 2013, I leave for East Africa for five weeks. I will attend two African Women’s Leadership Summits, then visit the farms and projects of some of these women leaders. Also, I will finally meet, in person, hundreds of generous, caring farmers who prayed for my survival during my battle with terminal breast cancer!

Our Goal: To Establish a Women’s Leadership Cooperative Throughout East Africa.
Women’s Leadership Summits

In 2005, I was one of twenty women in the inaugural Women Leaders for the World (WLW) training program at Santa Clara University. This program, conceived by the Global Women’s Leadership Network, was designed to further empower women leaders in their work, locally, nationally and internationally.

The training helped me to expand my work as the voice for tropical vanilla growers worldwide, many of whom I met while doing research on vanilla in Mexico, and many of whom I have met through my business. Over the years, I have come to be known worldwide as “The Vanilla Queen” for my work representing and working with the farmers.
I have helped three women leaders attend the WLW training. However, Mariam Mukalazi of Uganda, whom I met through my business and who work with women farmers in East Africa, were unable to secure a visa. In January I decided I needed to go to Africa this summer to meet Mariam, other African farmers I know via the Internet and also the WLW graduates living in Africa, whom I have never met.

Initially, I thought that we might have a one-day gathering of women leaders in Kampala, Uganda. The project quickly grew into two two-day African Women’s Leadership Summits – one in Uganda, the other in Kenya.

Our ultimate goal is to establish a loosely-knit cooperative of women leaders throughout East Africa. To this end, our proposed summits will add value in the following ways:
* Women who have gone through the WLW training will have the opportunity to meet women from other classes, get to know one another and determine how they can potentially share their training with other women leaders.

* We will continue a conversation about how we in the industrialized world can support these leaders as the Millennial Goals become due in 2015. How can we train women leaders unable to come to the US? How can we create a network of support – a leadership cooperative for women in East Africa – and connect with other leadership groups globally? The conversation has started via e-mail and Skype. We will meet in the two countries in August to expand this vision.

* The owner of the largest certified organic vanilla farm in continental Africa has committed to teach interested women farmers the technology for the labor-intensive curing and drying of vanilla beans. As we are again facing a shortage of vanilla worldwide, this could be an extremely helpful revenue stream for the women and their families.

* Should our project be fully funded, we also plan to document the summits, farms and projects on video and in writing..

The Magic Has Started
The WLW leaders in Kenya and Uganda are excited! They have begun the arrangements for the summits. Some of these women will travel hundreds of miles to attend. We want this to be the beginning of a larger conversation for setting up future women’s programs in the developing world.

Patricia Rain, the Vanilla Queen, who launched The Vanilla.COMpany in 2001 as a socially-conscious educational site and retail/wholesale business focused on pure vanilla and the promotion of those who grow it worldwide.
In 2005, she created the International Tropical Farmers Network (ITFN) and set up a Google Group so that farmers worldwide could communicate with one another and share assistance regarding issues concerning vanilla.
Visit her website or join her at The Vanilla Company on Facebook.

Branding From the Inside Out: Hawai‘i Style by Karen Kang


(This article was originally published on

I often talk about branding from the inside out—that is, from your core values to how you represent your brand. But, it never quite hit home until I was in Kona, Hawaiʻi, running enterprise branding workshops with 22 social entrepreneurs. Despite overcast skies, our Sheraton Kona hotel was resplendent with flowers, the sounds of Hawaiian chanting and the tastes of the Sam Choy Annual Poke contest.

The enterprises in the workshops ran the gamut from non-profits protecting Hawaii’s fragile ecosystem to for-profit restaurant and food service organizations. All had this in common: a love for Hawaiian culture and a deep desire to help its people and promote island sustainability.

The workshops were organized by Hawai‘i Investment Ready (HIR) in sponsorship with the Kamehameha Schools, the largest landowner in the Hawaiian islands. Lisa Kleissner, HIR co-founder and a dropout from the Silicon Valley rat race, is herself a great example of someone who lives her brand values by helping social enterprises increase their social impact.

I was drawn to this project in part because I have roots in Hawaiʻi. One set of grandparents were born here and another set immigrated from southern Korea to work the sugar cane and pineapple fields in Kauai. My parents were both born in Honolulu.

Love What You Do, the Brand Will Follow

What created the greatest impact for me in Kona was hearing the young entrepreneurs talk about why they were in the business of helping Hawai‘i and its people. Over and over, I heard how the motivation was not money, but love.

Kapaliku “Matt” Schirman and Rick Kapanowaiwaiola Barboza of Hui Kū Maoli Ola are trying to save Hawaii’s fast-dwindling native plants that are key to restoring the island’s groundwater supply. Na’alehu Anthony and Keoni Lee are bringing on-demand programming that promotes Hawaiian culture, history and language to Hawaiians and island-lovers everywhere from their ‘Oiwi television network. Others like Johanna Ventura and Stacy Sproat-Beck of Waipā Foundation are building a community kitchen and poi mill to help economically challenged cottage industries thrive in eastern Kauai. They are not only branding their social enterprises, they are branding themselves in the best way possible—with authenticity.

When we first started our branding workshops, a number of the participants were skeptical. They didn’t feel it was the Hawaiian way to promote themselves and didn’t like the competitive context of market positioning. But when it became apparent that what I meant by branding was not one-way promotion but two-way value exchange, education and engagement, they got on board.

Be Visible to Have Impact

To make the greatest impact as a social entrepreneur, you need to have visibility and to be recognized for your value. Without brand awareness and recognition, you will not have the influence that you need to make a difference. If you can’t do it for yourself, I said, do it for your mission and the greater good.

We worked together on the BrandingPays™ five steps:

1) Positioning. Articulate a compelling and differentiated value proposition for their target audience.

2) Messages. We developed vision and value messages that resonated with key targets. We found a way to tell their story that connected emotionally.

3) Brand Strategy. Here we put together their brand’s rational value and emotional value—what I call “cake” and “icing.” We looked at core values, what they loved doing, strengths, personality, image and brand promise to define a brand strategy that can be represented in a 360-degree way.

4) Ecosystem. The concept of an ecosystem with partners and influencers who can help advocate for you and accelerate your brand leadership comes naturally to Hawaiians where everyone is, or acts like, they are related.

5) Action Plan. For many of the social entrepreneurs, developing and executing their action plans was daunting. They realize that they need to be found on the Internet to maximize their reach and opportunities. A few of them have already invited me to join them on LinkedIn, the largest online professional network, and some have been inspired to start their Twitter and Facebook accounts. Now that they have a strategy, their tactical execution will go much smoother and actually add up to something in the end.

The progress in just two days of seminars was amazing. Each entrepreneur became much more focused and articulate about what they were about and the value that they delivered. Their confidence in themselves and their ability to attract investors rose significantly. They radiated when they spoke of their enterprises. And why not? They were doing what came naturally—branding from the inside out.

Karen Kang is the Founder and CEO of BrandingPays LLC, a corporate and personal branding company that offers consulting, training and coaching. She is the author of BrandingPays™: The Five-Step System to Reinvent Your Personal Brand (January 2013) and a former partner with Regis McKenna Inc., the marketing firm that helped launch the Apple, Intel and Genentech brands.

Karen is a sought-after speaker at leading business schools and professional organizations.  Find her at, and on Twitter @karenkang.