“Age is not important unless you are cheese.”

Helen Hayes

“Age is not important unless you’re cheese.” – Helen Hayes, an American actress whose career is said to have span 80 years.

 

When I saw her quote for the first time, it made me think of two things:

  1. The really good cheese I enjoy that takes time to age.
  2. The people I know who are doing amazing things and “have aged” according to cultural concepts of aging.

One of those people who stands out to me is someone named Sherry Saterstrom. I met Sherry when I was a college student and she was a dance professor. She has the kind of voice recognizable from across a room. She expresses the energy of what she’s communicating in exclamations and punctuative sound. Similarly, she is nimble and quick, and the most energetic and curious person I have ever met. At the time, she was also almost 70 years of age.

Sherry Saterstrom

While I was at school, I took several of her dance classes, one of them I even took twice just because it meant more time around Sherry. We learned anatomy, physiology, evolution, somatics, dance, and improvisation, and practiced something we now call “Mindful Movement.” As students, we watched and learned as this limber and spritely woman showed us how with an attention to alignment you can be in the middle of lecture and discover you can do a handstand (this literally happened one day while we were in class).

When I think of someone who doesn’t let anything, like expectations around what someone at age 70 should be doing, I think of Sherry. In fact, her more recent jump from teaching into what most people call retirement also took a more unconventional route.

“Graduation”

After spending 30 years (of one year contracts) teaching dance at St. Olaf College, Sherry decided it was time for one great life phase to end. No, she wasn’t retiring. As a St. Olaf alumnus herself, she told everyone, “I’m finally graduating.”

During her time teaching at St. Olaf, she had never gone on sabbatical, so her first year after “graduation” she set aside as “sabbatical.” She gardened, cross country skied, cooked, organized her home office, and probably ate yummy cheese. But she didn’t sit around in the fridge like cheese. In fact, winter, when Minnesota feels the most like a refrigerated world, is when Sherry loves to be outside the most.

This year, she told me she’s looking for a market. She’s ready to start her own venture about mindful moving and fitness.

“This is an idea I had 20 years ago, but when I was thinking about it then, I was 20 years too early!” She says, “Today, even when I go to the Y for my cross fit class I hear the trainers talking about being mindful. Who knows, maybe I’m still wrong and it’s too early, but I think there’s a wider awareness now about what mindfulness is and that makes me look for a market to launch a venture offering new kinds of classes.”

Lessons about Age

Listening to Sherry’s story, I wonder: how did she know this was the idea she wanted to go for? In some ways, it was because it’s something that she has been fascinated by for decades. In other ways, it’s because she has seen other people talking about the concepts she wants to build a business around. Either way, her age has given her the advantage to see her idea in a broader context.

That tells me two things:

  1. We all have potential skills and value to offer already inside us. Like an expensive cheese, we have so much depth and richness that can create value in the world today. Potentially, even greater value the more we age!
  2. Hearing about other people thinking the same thing isn’t a bad signal. In fact, it may be a signal the idea you have is even more worth doing. Timing is critical in launching and getting traction around a business, and knowing your idea resonates with people who may be future customers is a great signal you’re onto something good.

While things are still early for Sherry, what I love about her journey into “retirement” so far is that it’s characterized by a clear intention to throw out the window all the things we think “should” happen as we get older. Instead, she plans to continue to be curious about what’s next. No venture is too big or too small when you set your mind to it and begin to see all the possibility. Who knows, maybe Sherry’s career in dance will eventually rival Helen Hayes’ career in acting. If you’re going to have that much life, what are you going to get up to?

If you’re curious about what this world of mindfulness that Sherry has seen come to life looks like, take a peek at the Mindful Movement Intro Series from Aging Courageously.

Kirsten Schowalter is the founder of Aging Courageously and the author of the memoir In My Own Skin. Originally posted on Aging Courageously.

How to grow up and live a fulfilling life

When you grow up

You spend your life trying to figure out what you’re going to be when you grow up. Maybe you know from the get-go or maybe, like me, you are just trying to figure out the next step along the journey.

When I was little, I never really had a clear idea of what I wanted to be when I grew up. I thought, “I could be a ballerina, or maybe a teacher, or a doctor, or a secretary.” Every time I picked something, I felt like I was jumping in a category of people and nothing felt just right. What if I started a job when I was 22 and woke up ten, twenty, thirty years later and decided it wasn’t for me? In some ways, I feel like my early career has been dictated by the fear that I will have to choose something and stay with it… for the rest of my life.

That’s intimidating.

When I was 18, my mom (age 48) decided to quit her job and go back to school to become a doctor. Nobody knew how this was going to go.

There was only one school that accepted her, so clearly not many places thought she could do it, right?

How can someone reinvent themselves just like that?

Last year, my friend Aaron lost his job at age 52. He told me, “It’s likely the best years of my career are behind me now, Kirsten.”

When we live to be a 102, how can the best years of our lives be behind us at age 52?

One day while my uncle drove me to the airport, he said he wished he could find work he really loved. “I love antiques, but where are the jobs in antiques? Plus, who would hire a guy in his late fifties anyway? I’m worthless on the job market.”

Do you know the feeling? You have experience, and yet somehow it doesn’t mean anything?

So what’s left for you?

While I was in grad school at UC Berkeley, I studied demography, or population studies. In one class, the professor put up a picture on the screen and said, “The U.S. population is aging. We know it, we can see it, and the only way we are going to be able to survive it is if you go out and make better institutions.”

When I look at these four situations, I think, “There’s got to be a way that we can live that supports us in finding something we care about and can make a living doing, no matter how old we are, no matter what stage in life we are in.”

Now there is.

Whether you’re looking for a new story, sending kids off to school, leaving a long standing career for retirement, or something else entirely, you can reinvent yourself. This is something I believe deeply.

Launched in 2018, Aging Courageously will inspire and strengthen you to make your dreams real at EVERY age. Rather than follow the social momentum of slowing down as you get older, with Aging Courageously it’s never too late to feel engaged and passionate about your life.

Who am I?

I’m Kirsten. I guide people in restoring their sense of self through major life changes.

How did this become my life?

As I said, when I was little, I felt like every time I considered a career for myself I was deciding on something that would stick for the rest of my life. Honestly, being put in a category like that scared me. So, I decided I didn’t have to just do one thing. I researched brain cancer in a genetics laboratory at Mayo Clinic, curated exhibitions at an Austrian ethnographic museum, worked as the head baker in a farm to fork bakery on a fruit orchard, and got a Master’s degree at UC Berkeley where I studied populations and aging. After it all, I was sure there was something more for me.

That something more turned out to be sharing my own story. I wrote a memoir called “In My Own Skin”. It’s memoir about my story of loss, love, and growing up after my dad died when I was 14 and my family was in a car crash. Reflecting on the choices and circumstances that have shaped my life, I want to help you love who you are and make your dreams possible from where you’re standing right now.

Let’s get this started!

That’s why I started Aging Courageously. Because the best way to grow up to a fulfilled life is to believe it’s possible at ANY age.

And that’s why I’m excited to share stories of Aging Courageously with you, my new friends at Scrappy Women. We know what it’s like to create something from nothing – “to take risks and put ourselves out there;” “to care about something more than we care about being comfortable, socially acceptable, or politically correct;” and “to be absolutely, totally committed to extraordinary results.” As we venture on this journey into the world of aging, grab hold of your scrappiness and dive in. Let’s show the world just how far our scrappiness can take us in living long, healthy, and fulfilled lives.

Join the Aging Courageously family on Facebook and buckle your seat belt, because when you grow up this time, there’s no more wishing, no more waiting.

Stay tuned for my next post about my friend Sherry, a 70 year old “graduating” into entrepreneurship.

Kirsten Schowalter is the founder of Aging Courageously and the author of the memoir In My Own Skin.

(In case you’re curious…Above is a picture of my mom speaking at her medical school graduation.)

 

Scientist Comedian Finds an Algorithm to Bringing Laughter to the World by Vidushi Somani


I stood in front of hundreds of people, worrying that the microphone would slip out of my sweaty hands. Suddenly, my throat swelled up, and my chest became heavy. I took a moment to reflect on how I’d ended up on this stage. This was different from anything I had done before.

For years, I had entertained my parents with stories from school and accents I picked up. My parents would hang on every word, laughing hard. Then they would invite me to perform in front of their friends. Embarrassed at first, I became more comfortable the more my audience laughed. Soon, I was making up stories on the spot, coming up with new ways to embellish and exaggerate to get people howling with laughter. Almost every week, I’d find a new family to entertain.Continue reading

How Female Entrepreneurs Can up Their Game With Tech Skills By Avery Taylor Phillips


If you’re not learning, you’re already falling behind. Being an entrepreneur is no walk in the park, especially if you’re a woman. The need for more entrepreneurs in the U.S. is undisputed, and though the rewards and benefits of entrepreneurship are enough to put in the effort, you need an extra edge if you want to be successful.

That’s where the tech industry comes in. Technology is everywhere; there’s no escaping it. Instead of fighting it or just learning the bare minimum, why not embrace this field and go all out? This male-dominated industry is ripe for the influence and innovation only a woman’s perspective can bring.

Tech jobs cannot be filled fast enough and many companies bemoan not being able to find enough qualified workers. Through technology, your entrepreneurial options become endless. All you have to do is take advantage of them.

Beauty and the Tech

Believe it or not, women were the pioneers of the tech industry. At one time, they even outnumbered men in this field. In the past, many women gravitated towards majoring in math, giving them the knowledge and skills that were necessary for computer science.

Women such as Jean Jennings Bartik and Grace Hopper made great advancements in this field, though they weren’t given much credit. Perhaps the lack of known female role models in technology was what led to the eventual decline of women in computer science occupations.

Many tech firms now only sport a 30 percent female employment rate. It was around the late 1980s when female computer science majors dropped below 20 percent. Before that, 40 percent of computer science majors were women.

What caused this decline? During this time, personal computers were on the rise. Steve Jobs and Bill Gates were all over the news, and people took notice. Soon, computers were associated solely with boys and men.

Male students became the top picks of schools with technology programs, and women were left to pursue other degrees. However, things are changing now that the gender gap is becoming a more recognized issue in public discourse.

Tech 101

So now you have an interest in tech, but what exactly do you focus on? There are so many fields in technology to explore, and although you can’t really go wrong with any of them, here are some tech skills entrepreneurs must have to succeed:

  • Coding: learning some coding basics can do wonders for your website. HTML and CSS dictate how your site looks and works. Java and Python are other options to look into as well.
  • Big Data: Being able to analyze large sets of data and derive patterns from that data is an incredibly useful skill to have. Big data analysis can help you narrow down a target audience and inform business decisions, not to mention getting a leg up on the competition.
  • Online Accounting: Every business needs to keep their finances in order, including yours. Find an accounting software that offer billing and receipt tracking features and anything else your specific business requires.
  • The Cloud: As technology advances, more and more signs are pointing towards data storage in the cloud. That being said, you’re gonna need to learn how to use Google Drive and Dropbox (both are great timesavers and lifesavers). It makes sharing and storing content much easier.
  • Graphic Design: The saying “don’t judge a book by its cover” definitely does not apply to the website of a new business. How your website looks design-wise can be as important as the business itself. Bad website and logo design can be enough to deter many potential customers. So effective content marketing graphics with Photoshop and Illustrator is a must.
  • Mobile: More likely than not, there’s probably a cellphone on your person right now. That being said, you need to make sure your business is easily accessible on peoples’ phones. Once your website is optimized for mobile users, your business will be accessible to a much wider audience.
  • Email: Email is one of the most important tech skills you can have. It is one of the quickest and easiest ways of communication and can be made even more efficient by learning shortcuts and employing automated emails.
  • Social Media: Social media skills are also a necessity to have when trying to get the word out about your business. The benefits of sharing media (such as video) for your business are numerous. You can gather a multitude of useful information from social media free of charge. Plus, it’s a way to better connect with your customers as well.

Remote Working Tip: Did you know now you can work from home at your convenience on your preferred device(PC/android/iOS) by accessing your online private work space with windows virtual desktop from www.CloudDesktopOnline.com with 24*7 dedicated technical support from one of the leading cloud solution providers – Apps4Rent.

Tech Savvy Education

As mentioned before, a career in tech entails a lifetime of learning. Fortunately, there are many routes one can take to gain a better understanding of computer science. There are plenty of free resources, such as tutorials, blogs, ebooks and workshops, that are available to gain a basic understanding of a particular subject.

To get a more in-depth education, it’s best to go to school and major in a degree such as computer science. Whichever path you decide to take, it’s best to set some goals for yourself. It’s important to reach the goals you set to not only boost your confidence, but also to grow personally.

The opportunities for entrepreneurial growth are at its peak, especially if you are a woman. A female perspective is much needed and desired in this industry. Instead of waiting and letting this opportunity pass you by, take the initiative and become the newest pioneer in tech.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Avery Taylor Phillips – Avery is a freelance human being with too much to say. She loves nature and examining human interactions with the world. Comment or tweet her @a_taylorian with any questions or suggestions.  Check out her blog on https://www.equities.com/user/AveryTaylorPhillips

Time Management Quiz: Do You Have Time for This? Rate Yourself by Kathryn McKinnon

Time Management Quiz: Do You Have Time for This?
Rate yourself on your ability to accomplish the following:

I have time for creative or strategic thinking.
I stay focused on one thing at a time.
I have time to do what I enjoy most.
There is meaning and significance to my work and my life.

I feel connected to my company’s mission and purpose.
I am connected to my own life’s purpose.
I have opportunities for learning and growth.
I have time to do my best work.
I minimize interruptions and distractions.
I schedule time for my highest priorities.
I have systems in place to manage my time successfully.
I stay positive throughout the day.
I maintain a sense of energy throughout the day.
I understand what it takes to be successful at my job.
I balance my work and personal life.
I disengage from work.
I build healthy boundaries with my time.
I manage perfectionism and minimize procrastination.

If you don’t have the ability to accomplish the items from this Quiz, then what do you have time for and how do you spend your time?

Demand for our time is exceeding our capacity, draining us of the energy we need to bring our skills, talents and sense of purpose to our lives. Increased competitiveness, a leaner work force and a requirement to do more with less are adding to the pressures. The rise of digital technology is exposing us to an unprecedented flood of information and requests we feel compelled to respond to 24/7.

The truth is that we always have time for what’s most important to us. How do you  prioritize your day?

If you can’t accomplish as much as you want, especially when time and quality are of the essence, begin by tracking your time to notice how you’re prioritizing your work and tasks. You’ll start to notice patterns and unproductive habits, what distracts you, what interrupts you, the choices you’re making with your time and what gets you off track. Once you know this, you can begin to make better choices with your time. If you don’t track your time, you’ll never know what’s getting in the way of your productivity.

Or if you’re Stressed, Frustrated and Overwhelmed…

…You’re not sure how to get started, and you’re ready for executive coaching, I’d love to be the one you reach out to for help solving your time management issues and challenges.

Contact me at support@Kathryn-McKinnon.com for a complimentary Discovery Session to identify your biggest time management issue and uncover steps you can take to solve your issue.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Kathryn McKinnon, a Harvard Business School and Fortune 500 Executive Coach, Time Management Expert, Bestselling Author of Triple Your Time Today on Amazon, Speaker, Seminar Leader and CEO of McKinnon & Company dedicated to helping executives, professionals and business owners reduce the chaos and stress, add order and structure to the day, boost energy and explode productivity to achieve the best results with your time. https://www.Kathryn-McKinnon.com

 

 

10 Powerful Tips to Write and Sell Your First eBook (SBO) by Scott D.

There are a lot of writers who have succeeded in publishing an e-book. This was not an easy feat though. They had to go through a lot just to come up with something interesting that people would want to read. There were others who have tried publishing an e-book but ended up with failure.

If you are planning to write an e-book for the first time, you need to make sure that you gather your ideas first. People don’t want to read disorganized thoughts or just simple rambling words that don’t make sense. Just because you are an expert in a specific area does not mean you can easily convey your thoughts. You have to tie those words together and arrange them first before people will appreciate what you have written. This will make your e-book more appealing.

Once you are done brainstorming and identifying what to put on the e-book, it is time to start writing. Make sure that you don’t just give information that people already know. Use your unique personal experiences to share with them something that they don’t know yet. This makes it easier for them to like the e-book.

Eventually, if you have succeeded in writing an e-book, you can come up with more e-books in the future and people will still buy what you offer. We have gathered the best tips for you through the image below so that you won’t have a hard time writing an e-book now.

10 Powerful Tips to Write and Sell Your First eBook (SBO)

           

5 Tips for Older Adults During Tax Season

Photo by: Pixabay.com

Does the word “taxes” make you cringe? Do you have April 18th circled in thick, red marker on your calendar? Tax season doesn’t have to be stressful. Before you roll your eyes in disbelief, let’s review the facts. For those who are over 50 years of age, you are well-experienced in this time of year. You have been through enough of them to know what things to avoid and what things to research. However, it never hurts to take a second look at  the world of income tax to make sure you are in the know this season. As things are constantly changing, let’s review just a few points to keep in mind while you conquer this tax season:

1 – Know Before You Go

Are you familiar with the tax benefits that are available to you? If not, do some research before handing your well-earned money over to anyone else. There are very knowledgeable professionals available to help you (not to mention 1099 software, W2 Software, E-File software, and payroll software), but no one knows your situation better than you. For example, did you know that once you retire if you withdraw money from your ROTH IRA, you do not have to pay taxes on that money? Make sure you are well-informed in all of your applicable deductions before you seek help from someone else or file on your own.

2 – Don’t Pay a Fee If It Can Be Free

Beginning at age 50, you have the opportunity to obtain free help when filing your taxes. Instead of paying out of pocket or paying a percentage of your refund, head to an AARP or TCE volunteer who can help you file your taxes at no additional cost to you. AARP and the IRS certified TCE volunteers are located in cities all over the country, and in some cases, they are reimbursed for their expenses, so that you can be provided with some of the best free help there is!

3 – Have Fun With Your Refund

Alright, maybe our definition of “fun” varies a little from what you may be thinking. Financial stability is probably one of the most relieving, and yes “fun,” things you can do. Use your refund check to pay down your debt, invest it into a promising company, or save it in an emergency fund. Smart financial pre-planning will help you navigate your cash-flow now so that you can enjoy the years to come.

4 – The Medical Bills You’ve Paid Are Just a Deduction Away

Medical bills are expensive; you shouldn’t have to feel the weight of those more than once. Did you know you can claim those expenses when you file your taxes? If you or a dependant uses a medically issued device such as a wheelchair, or if you pay for a nursing home, you may find that to be an advantage during the tax filing process.

5 – Before Your Check Is Spent, Save 25 Percent

If you own a small business to help supplement your social security income, make sure you know which tax bracket you will be responsible for. It is good practice to hold back roughly twenty-five percent of each sale you make, so that you will be able to cover your taxes at the end of the year, without making an unexpected dent in your income.

This can be the most stress-free tax season you have ever experienced. Stay informed about the ins and outs of your tax requirements and stay prepared for your future. Whether you are just coming into retirement or you are a seasoned, senior tax-payer, use these tips to allow your money to benefit you in the years to come.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Julie Morris – Ms. Morris is a life and career coach who strives to help others live the best lives that they can. She believes she can relate to clients who feel run over by life because of her own experiences. She spent years in an unfulfilling career in finance before deciding to help people in other ways.
Juliemorris.org | jmorris@juliemorris.org

My Scrappy and Resilient – Driving Strong Results Discovery by Mariellie Rodriguez Mundy

 

A few months back I received an invitation to explore an opportunity (I call it my “shiny object”) to join a Private Equity firm’s platform company as their Chief Financial Officer. The role seemed to meet many of my criteria for great jobs in my career, but most importantly it also had a very high degree of challenge and learning opportunities. I felt that my entire career had led me to this opportunity, and I was confident enough to give it my all.

The first step was an interview with the CEO and several key stakeholders. This was a lengthy process that included several phone interviews, in-person meetings and traveling to meet several board of director members at the firm’s headquarters.

As part of the process I completed various assessments. I’ve done many of these in the past, and have embraced the opportunities for self-awareness that they offer.  But something was different this time. This was the first time that I was scheduled to meet with a consultant as part of the assessment, “the guy from Boston” hired to form an opinion about my ability to meet the requirements of the CFO role.

It makes sense that an investment firm would want to do this kind of research before they make a substantial investment in such a key position. Naturally they’d want to know what kind of professional they are getting.

Fast forward a couple of months . . . on a Friday afternoon I was advised that the investment firm decided to pass on both of the two final candidates, including myself.  Ouch! The “shiny object” was gone. Gone, gone, gone. It was a moment where rejection and self-doubt overwhelmed me.

I was alone in my car driving around aimlessly when I decided to just park. As I sat there I decided to challenge my thinking and acknowledge my emotions. The great thing about embracing the fact that I felt rejected and incompetent was the deeper connection to the many “Why’s?”. I felt an irresistable need to find wisdom in this experience.

Days later, after I had time to process and understand how this experience was going to add value to my journey, I decided to reach out to “the guy from Boston” for feedback. He had met with me in Florida a month prior, and after four and a half hours of intense questioning about my life journey, he had drafted a report for the investment firm. He agreed to a call to debrief with me his assessment.

And this is where my scrappy discovery took place. The headline of his report to the investment firm described me as: “Scrappy and Resilient – driving strong results, will deliver against all odds”

Scrappy, what did he just called me? I’m scrappy? I was referred to as “scrappy” by a perfect stranger, and this was his professional opinion that he shared with a group of investment professionals! Is that even professional?!!

This man just met me, and after four and a half hours he concluded that I was scrappy. “Scrappy” was not what I had in mind as I put on my business jacket, my best watch, and arrived with confidence to meet the consultant from Boston sent to assess my ability to deliver results.

Many experiences have had a great impact in my life and the day I was called a “scrappy one” is one of those. The more I thought about it the more wisdom I found in this scrappy word. A quick google search for the definition of scrappy yielded synonyms such as feisty, tenacious, determined, persistent, dogged, aggressive, and forceful. Dictionary’s provided the following definitions:

“Having a strong, determined character, and willing to argue or fight for what you want” – Cambridge English Dictionary

“A person who is little, but can really kick some ass” – Urban Dictionary (Yikes!)

I thought I would be clever and write about how impactful this word was to me, but then I discovered an entire website with the intention of connecting scrappy women to each other. Led by Kimberly Wiefling, the founder of scrappywomen.biz, here I found a bunch of women who were unapologetic about being scrappy! I couldn’t stop smiling when I found an entire community of other remarkable, inspirational businesswomen who are not afraid to share their scrappy wisdom with others.

During the past few years I have spent a significant amount of time learning about my role as a servant leader and my effectiveness as a conscious leader. I’ve deeply considered my ability to understand the world around me and my ability to make an impact. Here’s what I am absolutely sure of . . . that there is so much more I still have to learn! And nothing excites me more than looking forward to spending the rest of my life learning – learning from others, learning from past struggles, from success, and most importantly from failures. There is so much wisdom in each moment, and every experience we are given is an opportunity for growth.

I am a businesswoman, and an entrepreneur at heart. I’m sure I was born with a shovel in my hand so that I would be ready to assist my father in mixing concrete when necessary. Ever since I can remember I knew what I wanted to do when I grew up. It was simple to me, “I love construction and playing with the cash register.” I wanted to be a top financial executive of a construction firm! I lived my dream for many years, and my heart still wears a hard hat. That heart with a hard hat is eager to explore the next steps and bigger challenges.

After 20 years of a successful progressive career as a finance executive in the construction industry, and most recently CFO of a large national electrical contractor, I have decided to pause for a moment. I am determined to take the time I need to search deep within myself in order to align the second half of my career with my personal values and purpose. As someone in a field and a role where certainty and risks are constantly being evaluated, defined, measured and accounted for, I have decided to embrace uncertainty and take a risk in order to build a legacy of which my children will be proud. This journey is not shaped by a new job or even a well-defined business plan at the moment. It is a fluid process filled with wisdom and inspiration from many sources.

Today I have chosen to challenge my lifelong thinking of what I had previously assumed success looks like. I’m not sure what the future holds, but one thing is certain in a world full of uncertainty – when you are scrappy, you work very hard and will deliver against all odds! I am committed to continue to be a scrappy woman in business with a big servant heart. And I’m thankful to “the guy from Boston” for sharing his feedback.

For many years now I set my intentions for the year around three words to live by.

In 2017 I’m committed to these 2 words: Create, Connect and be Inspired.

I look forward to continuing to serve the industry I love while creating a legacy for my children, intentionally connecting with the community around me, and finding the wisdom and inspiration in each moment.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Marielle Rodriguez Mundy was the former CFO of Miller Electric Company.  She is a business professional, who is scrappy and resilient – driving strong results, will deliver against all odds!!  Currently, she started her new venture, she consults for a family own business assisting with strategy oversight, exit and ownership transition from the CFO perspective.

Mariellie R. Mundy, CPA, MBA
The Mariellie Mundy Company
Mmundy@marielliemundy.com
904-608-0080 

 

WHY PUT ON A SHOW IN THESE TURBULENT TIMES? by Pamela Rose


As if spending two years researching, writing, collaborating and rehearsing with extraordinary artists wasn’t challenging enough, lately I’ve been dogged with the question  – why bother, in these turbulent times, to ‘put on a show’?

BLUES IS A WOMAN is a story I can honestly say that I’ve been driven to tell.  The fierce, audacious voices of women in the blues have always inspired me – and of course, carries on the mission of the Wild Women of Song project to honor key women in music.
I began my career as a blues singer: a teenager belting out Bessie Smith and Koko Taylor songs. The fierce, independent messages written and sung by powerful women, helped shape my own identity as a feminist — especially in the mostly-male world of live music in the early 1980’s.

What I did not imagine was just how RELEVANT it all has turned out to be. In Act 2 of BLUES IS A WOMAN, the ensemble turns an eye to post WW2 music and culture.  Everything was changing so fast – as soldiers returned home from the war, there was an uneasy feeling that somehow things should, but wouldn’t, go back to the way they used to be.  Lots of women didn’t want to give up that factory job.  Proud black soldiers couldn’t stomach being called ‘boy’ again.

It was a tectonic shift in American culture – as Aretha sang “Respect” and “Freedom”, protestors took to the streets for Civil Rights and Women’s Rights.  Nina Simone’s “Backlash Blues” is an extraordinary cry against political hypocrisy.

Why put on a show about women and the blues?  Well, as it turns out, there couldn’t be a more important time to remember and celebrate our cultural inter-connectedness.  It turns out this is exactly the right time to celebrate black culture, it’s importance to all popular music, and to hear the voices of powerful women.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 
Pamela Rose is a professional musician: vocalist, bandleader, songwriter and educator. While performing weekly in the Bay Area, Rose has also been touring nationally with the Wild Women of Song project, a concert series devoted to giving voice to remarkable women in American music.

Upcoming shows:
Thurs Feb 2 – Angelica’s Redwood City, 7:30 to 9:30 pm
Thurs Feb 16 – BLUES IS A WOMAN show debut – Kuumbwa Jazz Club, Santa Cruz, 7:00 pm
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How to Extract Prejudicial Data from a Political Survey by Yael Ben-Shachar?

How can you extract prejudicial data from a political survey? That was the challenge I faced when I began my summer internship with Tobias Konitzer of the Stanford Communications Department. At first, I was unsure about how a mathematician like myself could contribute to a study about politics. But I was both surprised and delighted to find out that math was the secret ingredient in solving the problem.

Before digging into the work itself, I first had to master a challenging statistical program called “R”, which would play a major role in helping us squeeze bias out of existing poll results.  I also had to learn the ins-and-outs of a proprietary algorithm that Tobi had developed for collecting and organizing large-scale data quickly and accurately.

Still, I had my questions about what we were attempting to do. I asked the project head: “How can polls be biased when the data is a reflection of the people being polled? And, if there is bias, how are we supposed to ferret it out?”

“Most people view polls or surveys as sources of scientifically-developed data,” Tobi explained. However, the history of political polling tells us otherwise because results frequently underperform our expectations. For example, pollsters were far off-base in the recent Brexit vote by British citizens. Furthermore, while the average national results of the Obama vs. Romney presidential election were largely accurate, many individual polls were consistently wrong.”

“If polling is a science, how could so many polls provide contradictory results, and how could polls such as those in the United Kingdom be so far off the mark?” I asked.

Tobi had the answer: “Bias of one form or another is often built into the polling instruments themselves,” he told me. “Such bias can result from the choice of questions posed by pollsters, how those questions are phrased, the groups that are selected for the sample, the size of the sample, and whether polls are self-selected or randomly selected in a scientific manner by a third party.”

Now, this project was getting interesting, and Tobi had my full attention.

The goal of my summer internship at Stanford was to use “R” to mathematically strip all possible bias out of a poll for the upcoming presidential election, and thus produce a more accurate result. The data we used was biased towards one side of the political spectrum because the poll was published on a website viewed almost exclusively by voters who shared that point of view. I used the algorithm to manipulate big data sets containing demographic data for both Republicans and Democrats. Then, I put my math skills to work, using the “R” program to squeeze out biases. After a substantial amount of work, we began to see different results, and my concerns about our ability to actually find and remove bias faded.

Several weeks into the project, I was thrilled to find that the polling data began to shed its built-in favoritism and actually lean towards the opposite side of the political spectrum, as was reflected in more well-regarded polls. With additional work, the data would eventually contain almost no bias, making the polling much more objective and reliable.

Although the results we were seeking seemed anti-intuitive at first, it turned out that the meticulous process we used, helped along by my love of and expertise in math, could achieve what had seemed impossible when we began. Additionally, I realized that I had developed a new skill set using the “R” program and Tobi’s algorithm for data collection and analysis. These skills could have applications in many other areas, including data gathering for school assignments, or analyzing future polling results.

I now realize that our work could have a genuine impact on the accuracy of critical information and that math could be even more powerful than I thought. Meanwhile, I’ve personally learned to take most polling data with a grain of salt.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Yael Ben-Shachar is a senior at a Silicon Valley High School. Volunteers for Boys and Girls Club teaching students math and reading skills and training other volunteers. Works with special needs children, specifically a boy with autism all year.
Learned how to squeeze prejudicial data out of large polls using sophisticated statistical programs at Stanford.
She is a Journalist for her school newspaper.