Millennium Mom

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

1/26 Blog: Let the fun (and chaos) begin

In about 5 minutes I will begin a whole lot of chaos to allow for some fun in the future.
Arnie and I decided on a whim to take advantage of an international trip I have. Despite all of my travel, we never really consider him going with me...I am in all day meetings, we would both have to leave the kids, get sitters, etc. It just never seemed to make sense.

But this time it seemed different. I was going to Buenos Aires, Argentina. Neither of us had been there. In fact we have never been to S. America at all. We heard FANTASTIC stuff about Argentina and had always wanted to go there. It is also the year we mark our 10th anniversary. Something about it seems extra special and we should try to have more of our own time. Perhaps it is a good excuse, but it seemed like the right thing to do. So three weeks ago (not even) we bit the bullet and bought him a ticket.

We arranged to fly my parents in (they land in 50 minutes so I need to type quick) to watch the kids. The come today, we fly out tomorrow night. Arnie comes back Tuesday and I fly back next Friday. The kids are extremely excited, and we get to see a new place.

So I am crazed trying to get work done, pack, ensure we have boarding passes, that I have laid the kids clothes out for the week, that Amber has everything she needs before we go (i.e. her cash drawer is full, shopping list made out), that addresses are printed out for GPS to get to hockey practice, ballet, swim lessons and so forth.

Yes, chaotic, but so worth it, I can't wait to experience a new land, culture and spirit that Argentina will bring.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

1/23 Blog: When we do the sillyest things

This week I had to do a quick trip up to Michigan to do some interviewing. I lead the Univ Of Michigan recruiting team for P&G. At the Ross School of Business we recruit for three of our functions: Marketing, Marketing research and Finance. This week we were interviewing for Summer Internships this summer. I interned at P&G in 1996 and went back full-time in 1997. I know how important my relationship with the recruiting team was then and have always played a part of the team since I joined the company.

So, on Tuesday afternoon I left an all day meeting around 1pm to head to the airport. I should I have known my brain was a bit foggy when I took 75 North instead of South at one point and had to turn around. I had too many things on my mind (and was taking a call which didn't help). I still arrived on time and realized I needed to condense my purse and my suitcase, as I could only take 2 carry-ons. Off I went, only to head to what is now the "wrong location' for security. They moved the security area since I flew last and me on autopilot just headed to the old place. So, I turned around again and headed two flights up. I still don't know why Delta or the airport spent the millions to change it, given they are cutting flights left and was DEAD in the airport.

I ran into a friend at the security check which was nice so we walked to the gate together. Pete Blackshaw is an old P&G colleague who now is an expert in social media and digital marketing. His wife still works at P&G with me and was in one of my baby groups, their twins are Sarah's age (and they since have had a 3rd). When we landed in Detroit he was giving me some tips on what I should do for my book...tweet, tweet, tweet was a big one.

So, off I went to get my rental car. I got to campus a bit after 5pm and met my colleagues Kevin and Tim who had done the first round of interviews. We needed to decide who they would ask back for 2nd rounds...they interviewed 14 and 6 would be asked back the next day to interview with me. After making all the calls we headed to a casual dinner. I think we got to the hotel around 9pm, I spoke to the kids and Arnie for a while and then made the mistake of turning on the TV. I was hooked on CNN between the MASS. election results and Haiti with Anderson Cooper. I finally got in the shower around 10:30 and off to bed. Our first interview as at 7:30.

We interviewed the candidates and had about 15 minutes to make our decision. We were allowed to make one offer that day and then bring 3 additional names back to Cincinnati for consideration. We made our decision and I quickly headed to the business school for a meeting, while Tim and Kevin ran to catch flights. Somehow I managed to bump into the student who we wanted to make an offer to, so I got to give her the offer in was great. I then made calls to the other five candidates to provide an update on their status. It is never fun telling someone they didn't get an offer. No matter how many times you do it, it doesn't get easier. I remember the stress of trying to land a good internship as if it was yesterday.

I headed to the airport around 2:30 for a 5:50 flight. I actually got stopped by a cop in Ann Arbor, going 45 in a 35, which I had no idea. He was one of the nicest cops I ever met, and as soon as he saw my Ohio license and rental car knew I didn't know the speed limit. He let me go and congratulated me on my success that day interviewing (he asked me why I was there)...go figure. I had a 3 and 4 conference call so I wanted to get to the airport to at least take the 4 there. Even when I travel, my calendar gets booked for drive times, airport time, etc...there is never enough time. While gassing up my Prius (BTW I had never drove a Hybrid before and really loved it...I had to get instructions on how to start it...very funny), which only took a half a gallon (for about 50 miles) I covered one call. My battery was dying on my BB so I had to plug in. I found an outlet, plugged my computer in, then charged my BB from my computer...I am sure there is an easier way, but those were the cords I had :)

I made it back with no glitches and walked out with my marketing research colleagues who were interviewing. As soon as I left the terminal I had a bad feeling in my stomach...I hadn't seen my car keys during my trip. I left my purse in the car and only took my briefcase. As I dug into my bags trying to find them, I also realized I couldn't find my car. I immediately called Arnie and told him I thought I locked my keys in the car, but because I couldn't find the car, I wasn't sure. I needed him to bring me a key. He was panicked maybe someone stole the car. I did quickly find my car, and it was locked. I called him to tell him that, which was good as he was looking for insurance info and VIN number.

They arrived about 35 minutes later and sure enough I had put my keys in my purse, grabbed my wallet out of it and locked the car. So no matter how organized you try to be, and how much multi-tasking you can pull off, there are always those times when you do the silly-est things that cause you to loose all the time you saved while multi-tasking in the first place.

Enjoy your saturday night!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

1/14 Blog: Buy some books :)

Hi everyone. Have a break at work before a meeting so thought I would blog quick. We finally met with my publisher before the holiday to get an update. Before than everyone would always many have you sold, and I really had NO idea. Well now I know, but am not happy. Through stores I sold 550 books, and about another 550 on my own. So over a thousand. Should I be happy or sad? I am not sure

I really wanted to sell more, and still hope I can, but I realized in all of this a few important things:
1) I am really spoiled at P&G and the millions of dollars I have to market the brands I work on. When it is your own money it is so tough. To keep myself "clean" at P&G I hired a marketing firm to deal with the publisher, handle press releases, do events and so forth. They are local in Cincy, so couldn't get strong national reach, but at least we would try. It was $4K per month for this, so no small change. I only did it for 9 months because I just couldn't afford it. This got me some awareness locally which led to sales, and my deal with Fox 19 but certainly didn't drive broad awareness of the book...without this I rely on word of mouth from friends and family and my ability to sell, which leads me to #2
2) I am NOT a salesperson. I hate selling myself, and now I know why I really don't like true salesmen...I find them pushy and fake, but it is because they are good at their jobs and will sell whatever they are trying to sell in their sleep if they had to. I just can't do this, I feel like I am taking people's precious time. I would sit at book signings and daydream. Finally I started taking the kids so I had someone to talk to. I just can't throw out a comment to try to stop someone...but you need to to sell books, I just found that I am a marketer, not a salesman and that didn't help;
3) I need to ask more of friends and so forth. I NEVER talk about my book. I sent t-shirts to friends asking them to where it, but when someone is expecting I never say "hey you should buy my book" or when someones daughter is pregnant "hey my book would make a great gift." My new admin didn't even know I wrote a book...because I don't talk about it. That is a problem to. I need to be more proud of it as I do think it helps women like me as they try to manage it all.

So, looking back on the past year I have learned a lot. I am not sure if I can change really as it is who I am, but given that I have almost 4,000 of these in my house I will leave you all with "buy a book" makes a really good baby shower gift :)

Sunday, January 10, 2010

1/10 Blog: Happy New Year (okay, so a bit late)

Well, it only took me 10 days to finally get back online and write my blog. I truly have NO EXCUSE except for total vegetation and relaxation over the holidays. I actually took two full weeks off. With the way the holidays fell this year, P&G gave us both Thursdays and Fridays off, so it only took 6 days to get the full two weeks. A lot of people chose to do this, so it truly was a "break".

Last year ('08) was the first year that I can remember where email traffic truly shut down over the holidays. We all figured (because we were all talking about it because no one could believe how everyone "logged off" for the holidays) that it was the tough year and bad economy and the pressures it has brought that made everyone need to get away. It was a surprise last year, but truly a delightful one. This year I think everyone was hoping and praying the same thing would happen. As many of you know the economy still has not truly turned around, so it has been another tough year of too much work and not all the glory.

At P&G we are very fortunate in many ways, because we sell "staple" goods per se...even in bad times you still have to wash your clothes, hair, teeth, floors and so forth. Our challenge is to make sure the price premium our brands demand is still worth it in tough times. So our sales may slow down a bit, but we don't tend to have the huge swings like many other industries or companies (like travel and leisure industry for example). So we have not had the huge lay-offs, salary cuts and other measures that have been taken in the tough times. That's not to say they couldn't happen in the future, but for the most part the bad economy has just meant work even harder...hence why everyone is so happy to truly get a week or two away from it all, including email.

The first week Arnie actually worked that Monday and Tuesday, so I had the days to myself. On Monday I finished our Christmas shopping. I had done all of my family, but still needed some stuff for the kids, so I blocked this day early on, knowing the kids would be in school, which meant I could buy the gifts and get them wrapped without fear of them walking in (or me having to stay up late in the evening which is tough for this morning person).

On Tuesday I volunteered in the kids classrooms. It was both of their holiday parties so I could spend the morning with Claire and afternoon with Ben in their classes. This was a treat because I never really get to go into their classrooms while the kids are there. Of course we go for open houses, book fair night, conferences and so forth, but those are always in the evening. Ben never really asked me to come in, so I would volunteer at evening activities but never in his class. I think this year Claire was in school about 3 weeks and she already started asking "why everyone's moms are in the class and not hers." I am not sure if it is the difference between boys and girls or what, but she really never stopped asking.

So it was great to be able to drive her to school (her request, rather than take the bus as usual, Ben of course still wanted to go on the bus with his buddies...and home with his buddies, even though I was at school) and spend the whole morning with her. It was actually holiday assembly day so I got to see the kids sing and perform which was great...still not sure why they don't invite parents to this, I guess maybe they don't have room, but it was great. I have made the mental note to volunteer that day every year so I can enjoy it.

Volunteering involved "making" some math activities for Mrs. Geiger in Kindergarten...think papers that have one circle all the way up to 10 circles, I guess for counting game...two versions of each number, including coloring the circles. There was another mom there so we were able to get it done before the party started. Then I just helped out at the party. For Ben's class I had lots of copying to do, cleaning up in the class and then "extra" Math and Reading help for a few of the students in the classroom. I realized how fortunate we are with Ben, who has taken to Reading and Math quite well. Already we see that Claire if very different, and requires different teaching...I can't imagine how teachers do it when magnified by 20.

I log on later to talk about our 8 days in much fun...tons of family...