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Stay Fit While on the Road

  • Work and Money
  • Health and Fitness

11/18/10 | Carolyn "The Healthy Voyager" Scott | 0 Comments

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Carolyn "The Healthy Voyager" Scott

 

 

 

 

Sure, it can be tough to stick to a workout regimen if your job takes you out of town, but there are plenty of ways to keep to your fitness routine while also breaking up the monotony of your “business” dealings—and releasing that business trip-induced tension.

Here are a few things you may want to pack so you can get your groove on, whether you’re staying at a 5-star hotel (with a 5-star gym) or your joint has a tiny, or worse, no gym:

  • Athletic shoes – Yep, you can’t do much in your dress shoes.
  • Exercise clothing – A comfy shirt and shorts will do the trick. Nothing fancy or bulky (think suitcase-efficient).
  • Jump rope – It takes up virtually no space, and a few minutes of jumping in your room can really get your heart rate up.
  • Resistance tubing – This is another fabulous exercise tool that takes up no space in your suitcase and can do so much. You can work out every muscle in your body with some simple sets that incorporate your travel bands.
  • Music and headphones – If you opt for the hotel gym, your tunes will help you stay on track and motivated through your workout.
  • Exercise video or DVD – Most business travelers carry a laptop, which makes it easy to do some floor routine or yoga DVDs in the hotel room.
  • Weightlifting gloves – These are easy to pack and very helpful if you choose to hit the gym.
  • Swimsuit – If your hotel has a pool, laps are a great workout for your body and mind.
  • Tennis racket – These may take up some space, but if you want to make your workout social, there’s nothing better than a tennis racket (or golf clubs).


(For a different type of travel workout, you might ask the hotel staff about renting a bicycle.)

Once you’re packed and safely at the airport, kill time (since we need to get there so dang early anyway) by getting some exercise. Wear your walking shoes and store your carry-on bags in a locker (if available). Walk briskly through the terminal while waiting for your flight. Pump your arms to increase your heart rate. Light exercise before a flight will actually help you fly better by oxygenating your blood, relaxing you and helping with jet lag symptoms. During your flight, get up occasionally to stretch and walk.

If you’re traveling by train, walk through the cars every 30 to 60 minutes. Walk outdoors when the train stops to let passengers on and off. If you’re driving, take frequent breaks to get out and stretch. Even a short walk around a rest area can boost your mood and energy level.

No matter where you are going, or for how long, it’s easy to fit in fitness – keeping you healthy, balanced and sharp!

Carolyn Scott is the executive producer, creator, host and writer of The Healthy Voyager brand, www.healthyvoyager.com. Her web series, radio show, site, blog and social network show you how to live, and travel, healthy & green.

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How to Find Your True Path

  • Work and Money
  • Architects of Change

11/15/10 | Dianne Aigaki | 6 Comments

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Dianne Aigaki, Writer/Social Activist/Artist/Philanthropist

From the time I was a little girl I was driven to help others. My three never-married aunts, who lived together their whole lives, guided and influenced me.  They were women who traveled the planet, built great friendships and had successful careers.  My aunts came out of the Great Depression with the attitude that you pull together as family, and with this united strength, you have love and resources to share with others. They taught me that one person can make a difference—and that person could be me.
 
In the beginning, my community was my elementary school and my role was defending the child being bullied at school or helping the kid who couldn’t read.  As I got older, my world expanded, and I became involved in advocating for universal health care and fund-raising for environmental causes. As a young woman, I dropped out of college and traveled to South America to live; I came back to the States a year later, driven to finish my education, so I could help people poorer and less fortunate than myself.  By the time I was an adult, I seemed to be unable to take a vacation, or make a painting without immediately projecting forward how I could use this initially self-motivated activity to help others.
 
Now, I live between three countries (India, Mexico and Tibet), working as a consultant to nonprofit organizations worldwide, helping them make their dream into a solid plan of action; documenting the rare and endangered flora of the Tibetan Plateau as a scientific botanical illustrator; writing a novel, and leading tours to Tibet as part of an ecotourism partnership with Tibetan villagers and nomads that sends 100 poor children to school, supports political prisoners, and provides health care for frail, elderly Tibetans.
 
Every one of these aspects of my life is rooted in the same values my aunts passed on to me when I was five—help others and have great adventures while doing it. I start and end every day with a statement of intention that reminds and refocuses me on what is truly important: “May everything that I think, do and say today help me end suffering in others.”  Every evening, I sift through my day to see if I have stayed true to my values and that intention.
 
My Life Strategies:

  1. Take time to reflect on and identify your core values. Define your core values and never do anything that does not reflect them. That way you are always acting with integrity, and even if you don't achieve your specific expectation of success, your life will be a true reflection of who you are.
  2. Know what makes you special and act on it. There is no one just like you and you are here for a unique reason.  Consider what that may be and act on it. Give yourself credit for the parts of your personality and approach to life that make you special.  Soar with your strengths.  Do the activities in life that come easiest to you, and seek help and support for those things that are not so easy.
  3. Create a Life List that magnetizes your goals to you. Write down the things in your life you would love to do (not what you think you should do—although they may be one and the same), that would make you feel exhilarated and optimistic about your future.  Write the list from your heart and become the person who can live it.
  4. Seek to inspire and mentor others. Become a person who can inspire others. Believe that living a life of integrity is an inspiration to those struggling to define themselves. Take the time to respond to a child, teen or adult who is looking for direction.  Consider that this time spent is one of your most valuable gifts —to yourself and to society.
  5. Believe that you can make a difference in the world. The world is made up of people who have accomplished great things through sheer force of will, passion and focused direction.  Once you have determined what you can do to make a difference, don’t give up.  Keep looking for people who share your vision and can become partners with you in making a difference.

 

 

Dianne Aigaki's documentation of endangered flora from the Tibetan Plateau
Dianne Aigaki's documentation of endangered flora from the Tibetan Plateau


Dianne Aigaki is a writer, social activist, artist and philanthropist. Besides being a consultant for nonprofit organizations and training over 4,000 people worldwide, she has been an artist for 35 years, working in acrylics, watercolor, stained glass, print making, and cyanotypes, a technique used in the 1700s to document rare plants. As a woman explorer, she is a member of both Wings World Quest and the Society of Women Geographers, the two premier women’s exploration organizations in the world. Her blog is www.dianneaigaki.wordpress.com; her website is www.dianneaigaki.com

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5 Steps to Fulfilling Your Entrepreneurial Dreams

  • Work and Money

11/5/10 | Susan Mason | 0 Comments

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Susan Mason, Director, Intuit's Financial Freedom Foundation

Over the next decade, women around the world will enter the workforce at an unprecedented rate. Close to 1 billion women, many of whom have either never worked or worked at a subsistence level, will be contributors to the world economy. Small business formation specifically will be a key driver to the growing influence of women around the world. The recently announced Intuit 2020 Report describes the growing influence of women as the "She-conomy."

Being an Architect of Change was much discussed at The Women’s Conference; entrepreneurship and small business formation certainly embodies that sentiment. Currently, women are starting businesses at twice the rate men are. For those women who are still on the fence or do not know how to get started, here are 5 critical first steps to fulfilling your entrepreneurial dreams:

  1. Put it on paper. Writing a plan for your business will help you think about every possible scenario. Going through this process and having it on paper will help you stay on target. The U.S. Small Business Administration has a great written guide to get you started.
  2. Ask questions of experts. You can find local support and training via government-funded small business programs and community college business classes. Check out the nearest ASBDC by searching your zip code.
  3. Structure it. Your business structure is important, because it has tax and legal implications. What are the advantages of a Sole Proprietorship over a Partnership? Learn more about the advantages.
  4. Get a personality. Picking the right business name and logo will help you attract customers. Put yourself in their shoes, then start writing down ideas for names. Bounce your ideas off family and friends. Intuit offers some tips.
  5. Spread the word. Marketing can help turn a great idea into a money-making business. Create a marketing plan that includes a profile of the people who are most likely to buy your products or services. Then determine how best to reach them: social media, newspapers, industry publications and radio. Mashable blog breaks it down for you - offering tips on how to market with no budget.


Starting a business has never been easier or timelier. We look forward to seeing the She-conomy in action!

For more information on how to get started, please check out Intuit.com.

Susan Mason is the director of Intuit's Financial Freedom Foundation.

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5 Tips for Succeeding in a “Man’s Field”

  • Work and Money

11/3/10 | Dr. Catherine Huang Begovic | 0 Comments

Dr. Cat Huang Begovic MD 200x2
Dr. Catherine Huang Begovic

“Girls who look like you don’t become doctors,” said the father of my 8th grade classmate.  This was one of the first of many sexist and discouraging comments I’ve heard in my life.  I started modeling at the age of 12, but it had been my dream since I was a child to be a doctor.  I remember when I was working a charity as Miss Delaware Teen USA, an older man told me that I was “very pretty” but should still “consider going to college.”  He didn’t believe that I had gotten a perfect 1600 on my SAT’s and was starting Harvard University in the fall. 

Now as a Plastic & Reconstructive Surgeon, and also a board certified Head & Neck surgeon, having completed not one, but two top surgical training programs, I dare any man to question me.

How have I survived being a woman in a man’s field?  How have I fought through the stereotypes to come out ahead?  A few tips I have learned along the way:

  1. Think ahead and have a game plan.  I think women are blessed by being great planners. I always knew what my next goal was and then made a list of what I needed to do to accomplish that goal.   I would complete each item on that list systematically.  This method has helped me stay focused, given me a sense of accomplishment along the way, and kept me from feeling overwhelmed.
  2. Ask for advice. As a woman, you may think that asking for advice is a sign of weakness, but it isn’t.  Don’t be afraid to ask.  Sometimes men will give you helpful tips they usually wouldn’t share because they don’t see you as competition!  There is no better way to learn than to talk to those who have done something before you.  Usually people love to help, and you can learn from others’ mistakes instead of making your own.
  3. Work harder, be tougher, be better.  Being a woman in a traditionally man’s field has been challenging.  There have been so many times in my life when I was exhausted – working over 120 hours a week as a surgical intern, taking too many classes at Harvard while participating in too many extracurricular activities.  OK – so I was extreme!  But women can be just as tough and capable as men.  Don’t sell yourself short.
  4. Exercise and be good to yourself.  While leading a busy and stressful life as a surgeon, I always make time to exercise.  Taking care of your body is not only good for you physically, but helps refresh you mentally and emotionally.  Somehow I always feel more focused after getting a good workout or run. Similarly, getting a facial or massage can be hugely restorative.
  5. Dress to impress.  If you want to be taken seriously as a professional, you should look the part.  No matter how tired I’ve been in my life – running around the emergency room all night, or seeing patients at different hospitals – I always made sure I was dressed nicely, my white coat clean, my hair neat.  If you look sloppy, people will think your work is sloppy.  Just 15 minutes to brush your hair back or iron your clothes takes you a long way. 


Dr. Catherine Huang Begovic is a Plastic & Reconstructive surgeon in Beverly Hills CA and CEO of her cosmetic and plastic surgery practice Make You Perfect, Inc.  She is also a board certified Head & Neck cancer and reconstructive surgeon.  She is on the board of BeautyTV.

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How to Network More Effectively

  • Work and Money

10/20/10 | Larry Benet | 4 Comments

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Larry Benet, The Connector

 

 

 

 

I want to share a few networking tips with you for The Women’s Conference 2010. (These strategies will actually help you at any event.)

These are the six things you can do before, during and after the Conference to create more powerful connections with the people you meet -- and to get a higher return on the time and money you invest in attending.

What to Do Before the Event

1. Research. Whom do you want to meet with? What will you say to them that will get their attention and stand out from the crowd?

Here are some of the tools that can help you do with that research. A good place to start is always Google or Bing.

Other great resources to tap into include
http://www.Wikipedia.org
http://www.Linkedin.com
http://www.Hoovers.com

Make sure you read up on someone's previous blog posts and read their bio; perhaps you have something in common with them. If you know someone they know, grew up in the same town, went to college at the same place, share the same passion, or support the same charity, you will likely connect more easily.

A few years back, I was able to connect quickly with Sir Richard Branson at a charity function. When I had been reading articles about him, I uncovered something that pointed to one of his priorities at the time, and when I met him I invited him and executives from his team to an event at which they would find value. He gave me his private email in less then 30 seconds.

Reviewing someone's Twitter feed or Facebook posts is another great way to find insights that can be helpful in starting a conversation.

2. Know what to say when someone asks you what you do. This could be the biggest opportunity most people miss. We all know that, at some point in a conversation, most people will ask what you do. You have 10-15 seconds to grabs someone's attention, and if you do a good job, perhaps another two minutes to whet their appetite about your product and services.

For example here is mine: Have you ever met someone who is mega connected in their industry and very influential at what they do, and as a result they are able to get more business in less time, and get more referrals then their peers? Well I teach entrepreneurs, authors, speakers, and sales professionals to become highly influential, and then go to people in their industry.

What to Do During the Event

1. Have a giver’s mindset. If you want to easily differentiate yourself from most everyone else at the event, show up with a giver’s mindset. Most people tends to have a taker's mindset (looking for what can they get from other people when they first meet them). If you, on the other hand, focus on being a giver and seeing how you can serve other people, you will find it much easier to connect with others.

2. Know the right questions to ask. Here are some questions I have found to work most effectively when connecting with people at an event.

  • What do you do for fun when you aren't doing ______ ?
  • How did you get started in the business?
  • What brings you to the conference?
  • Who are you looking to meet while you are here at the event?

If and when you have rapport, a great question to ask is this: What is the most important project you are currently working on in case I or my network can help you in some way?

I can't tell you how many doors this last question has opened up! With good follow-up and leveraging one's network, you can add instant value to many people you meet.

What to Do After the Event

1. Prioritize your follow-up. One thing you should do when you first meet people is to make notes of important information on the back of their card.

I like to write down personal things they may have shared about their family or what they like to do in their spare time. I also like to record where I met them and what we discussed. If there is a way I can add value, I note that on the card, as well as any next steps.

It also makes sense to prioritize the contacts you met in an A/B/C fashion:

A - Must follow up. There was a good connection and there is a strong possibility of doing business in the near future.
B - Great people to stay in touch with. While there may not be a possibility of doing business in the short term. there could be strong possibilities in the future.
C – Keep in contact. This could be someone who you may just want to put into your online newsletter and stay in touch with in case something develops down the road.

2. Follow up fast and add value. If at all possible, follow up within 24 to 48 hours while the event is still fresh on someone's mind. The key to turning this into a connection is to add value to your newfound friend. Can you make a referral for them? Can you share a book or an article that can help them? If they were a speaker at the event, perhaps you can give them a testimonial they can use on their website. Can you invite them to an upcoming event that can help them generate more business or help their favorite charity?

The faster you can add value to someone else, the easier it will be for you to turn your newfound contacts into long-lasting, profitable connections.

Good connecting to you.

Larry Benet is known as The Connector. He is CEO and Co-Founder of the Speaker and Authors Networking Group (SANG). He is known for helping entrepreneurs, speakers, authors, and sales professionals to effortlessly turn contacts into connections. He has shared the stage with Tony Robbins, Jay Leno, Paul Abdul, Keith Ferrazzi, Peter Guber, Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen (from Chicken Soup For the Soul fame). To get more connection tips please visit http://www.larrybenet.com

Watch Larry Benet
Follow Larry Benet on Twitter

For more on networking,
Read Sandra Yancey’s Business Tips: How to Network, Sell & Glow

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Getting Published (Thanks to The Women's Conference)

  • Work and Money
  • Architects of Change

10/12/10 | Mary Ann Wasil Nilan | 5 Comments

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Mary Ann Wasil Nilan, Author, A Diary of Healing, Executive Director & Founder, The Get In Touch Foundation

 

 

 

 

I answered my cell phone as I was stepping out of my local post office one swelteringly hot day this past August.  Okay, I admit, I didn’t exactly hear the caller introduce herself, I didn’t recognize the out-of-state number, and someone was honking (a lot!) at the group of kids crossing the street to get to the local duckpin bowling alley…so I answered with the generic and distracted pleasantries, “yes, hello,” “uh-huh,” “oh, thank you.”

And then - in between beeps - I thought I heard her say the word “congratulations,” and then say that “Jan Miller” would be in touch with me in the next few days.

“What a minute…who is this?

“It’s Lacy from Dupree/Miller & Associates - we got connected through The Women’s Conference.”

“The California Women’s Conference?!”

“Um, yes…”

“I’m sorry – did you say Jan Miller?!

“Yes…Mary Ann – she is looking forward to speaking with you to congratulate you herself!”

“Wait, wait, wait…are you saying I won The Women’s Conference Publishing Contest?!”

“Yes, Mary Ann…”

WHO is this?!?

And so, for the third time in less than a single minute, Lacy patiently re-introduced herself and told me that I had won the contest I had entered after attending The Women’s Conference 2009, and that they were excited about working with me to publish my book.

By this time I was sitting in the hot silence of my car and grabbed hold of the handle alongside my seat and put the seat back – alllll the way.  I was afraid I might faint, and the sudden throbbing in my right eyeball felt odd, to say the least.

Someone walking by my car looked in at me laying down and through the closed window asked, “Are you okay?”  I gave her a thumbs-up and slowly brought my seat back up to a sitting position. 

I met literary agent Jan Miller at The Women’s Conference 2009 at a session she spoke at entitled, “Getting Published.”

Attendees at the Conference were invited to participate in a contest in which they could submit a fiction or non-fiction writing sample for consideration for publication.  One winner would be chosen, her book would be published, and she would be invited to speak at the Conference the following year.

My submission was slightly unconventional, a patchwork of timelines and stories and speeches and presentations I’ve given over the last six years of “survivorship.”  I always feel a little “jazzed” when I write about my big adventure with breast cancer – it’s pretty shocking, actually, and I usually wind up thinking, “Wow, that chick’s been through the ringer!”  And then I realize that chick is ME!  I have always hoped that my story could be any-woman’s story, and hoped that the judges would feel the same way I did.  I crossed my fingers and my toes and clicked “SUBMIT.”

I won!

I’m a breast cancer kickin’ survivor with a unique story – my plastic surgeon once said to me, “Mary Ann, you’re worst-case-scenario.  Women will take one look at you and say, ‘I don’t have half the battle she’s had – I can do this.’”

You can do it…you can do anything.  My story is not a “how-to” book, but an “oh, yes you can!” book.

And so…I’ll be winging my way west from Connecticut to California, where I will join Jan Miller onstage during The Women’s Conference Day of Transformation to talk about the contest, how I won and what happens next.  Transformative?  Oh, yes!  And I am thrilled that you are all joining me on this next big adventure!

Let’s just say if you learn nothing else, at least know that you never really know why that lady next to you in the parking lot in the post office is lying down in her car!

Mary Ann Wasil Nilan will be speaking at The Women’s Conference A Day of Health, Wellness & Transformation on October 25th.  Mary Ann is a six-year breast cancer kickin’ survivor and the Executive Director & Founder of the non-profit organization, The Get In Touch Foundation, and is currently at work on her book, “A Diary of Healing – There’s a Pony In Here Somewhere!”

Read Mary Ann Wasil Nilan's earlier posts:

Expect The Unexpected: A Mother's Story of Breast Cancer

It's Never Too Early: Get In Touch Girl!

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5 Steps to Buying Your First Home

  • Work and Money

08/19/10 | Sarah Smith | 0 Comments

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When buying your first home, there are two stages -- finding the right home, and then actually buying that home. In her earlier post, Sarah Smith gave 5 pointers on how to find a home -- here she focuses on the financials and process of buying the home.

Buying Your First Place:

  1. Have your credit checked. Michele Edelstein, realtor with Troop Real Estate, advises prospective homebuyers to have their credit checked six months before buying a place to make sure their FICO score is where it needs to be.  Your FICO score determines both your loan rate and approval. If you’re looking to improve your FICO score, Michele suggests not “buying a lot of things [on credit] prior to purchasing a home.”
  2. Know what you can afford. Michele insists that prospective homebuyers “contact a lender and be pre-approved so they know the price of the house they can afford and won’t be disappointed that they can’t go into the price range they were originally considering.” According to Michele, most people don’t get pre-approved, which usually winds up wasting time and causing problems down the line.
  3. Look into location. If you’re going to be in this home for any length of time, look into school districts and other things that may not matter to you yet, but could eventually. Also, find out what your city or county taxes would be, as well as if your community has Homeowners’ or Condo Association dues.
  4. Think twice before buying a home on your own. Buying a home requires real estate and legal savvy, as well as the confidence to negotiate the final price. “Yes, I’m a Realtor,” said Michele, “but there is a reason to use a Realtor, whether you’re buying or selling. They know the contracts. They are the ones who are going to represent you and make sure no one takes advantage of you.”
  5. Have the house inspected. Once you find a place, have a home inspection done to find out “what is wrong with the place. Even if the person isn’t going to fix it, you need to know that before you make the decision to buy the house.”

Sarah Smith is a recent graduate whose work has appeared in Pasadena Magazine, Vegetarian Times, California Garden, BOP, Tiger Beat and various other publications.

More tips for your home:

3 Bathroom Fixes You Can Do Yourself
How to Install a Smoke Detector & 2 More Household Tips
Hang a Picture - Perfectly & 3 More Household Fixes

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Man Enough for The Women’s Conference

  • Work and Money
  • Architects of Change

05/28/10 | Sean Molloy | 3 Comments

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Sean C. Molloy

By Sean C. Molloy

“We need a man in this office. If we get one more dose of estrogen in here, I‘m gonna lose my mind.”

Those words – from the well-seasoned professional who runs the influential Women’s Conference -- were music to my ears. She was looking to hire a man at the Conference headquarters. And that was my “in” to snag an interview for a job.

She wasn’t looking to procure a cure-all “Mary Poppins” or Man Friday for an executive’s office. These down-to-earth women just needed an administrative assistant -- someone to change the water cooler in the office or wrap the occasional gift basket, fabulously.

Nervously I prepared for my interview, out of my carpetbag of tricks, I pulled the crispest pink Brooks Brothers shirt (thanks Dad!), the most ill-fitting dark denim jeans I could squeeze into, and asked my numerous hair stylist friends for suggestions on my current coif. (If I could have afforded it, there would have been teeth bleaching, tanning and even liposuction.)

Armed with my resume of network television assistant endeavors and my snappy personality, I ventured into waters untested by such a bird of so many varied feathers as I thought I was. I hadn’t a clue that the job that I needed and wanted, but was never on my “vision board,” would change my life…and add a few more colors to my proud, feathered frock!

Over a year later, one Women’s Conference under my belt and one approaching very quickly, one Best Buddies Ride down, one Alzheimer’s walk finished, countless hours worked and volunteered with the WE Programs and a year of treasured memories and friendships forged in so many ways, I realize…

  • Where else can a guy with a hint of mint, openly discuss his relationships -- whether professional, romantic or family related – with some of the most amazing minds in the world?
  • Where else can a guy ask if he looks fat in Banana Republic chinos and get an honest answer?
  • Where else can you cry on a friend’s shoulder, laugh out loud at everything, bag groceries for the less fortunate, celebrate Women’s History month with the history-makers, offer flu shots to the homeless, meet living legends, sing show tunes with Emmy nominees, swap recipes with actual mothers, talk about the curse of diseases, interact with political dignitaries, wrap gift baskets with the women who run Hollywood and comfort abused single mothers?
  • Where else can a guy who toiled for years in an “evolved man’s world” actually get the chance to do something that will make a difference in this world?

Well, ladies and gentlemen…right here at the center of The Women’s Conference community. I thank the good Lord everyday for my life: problems aside or behind me, for my mother, my sisters, my aunts, my nieces, my girlfriends, my extraordinary colleagues, and, of course, this hugely life-changing experience.

P.S.- I cannot wait to see the fall collections on every one of you ladies!

Sean C. Molloy was born and raised in LA, he has a BFA in Cinema from Southern Methodist University and worked for years in network television before finding himself at the center of it all as an Administrative Assistant at the Women's Conference. He enjoys long walks on the beach with his puppy Clancy.

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Your Taxes: How Going Green Will Save You Green

  • Work and Money
  • Architects of Change

04/12/10 | Carolyn “The Healthy Voyager” Scott | 0 Comments

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Carolyn "The Healthy Voyager" Scott

 

 

 

 

Tax season is about to wrap up, but you can get some savings in just under the wire (lucky procrastinators!) or plan early for next year.

Outside the usual deductions, donations, etc., did you know that becoming eco-friendly will help you save on your taxes? If you did any of the following in 2009 (or plan to this year), you can save yourself some serious dough:

  • Energy efficiency is key in 2009, so if you installed energy-efficient windows or an energy-efficient boiler or furnace this year, claim it. You can qualify for a tax credit of up to $1500 for doing so, in addition to saving money on your energy bill. However, be sure to check updated criteria for which products qualify before you claim. You can find this information at the Energy.gov site.
  • If you installed a geothermal heat pump (pump used to heat and cool your home), up to $2,000 of the installation cost can be used as a credit.
  • 30 percent of the cost of installing a solar power system in your home can be claimed on your ’09 taxes. Such systems include geothermal heat pumps, small wind turbines, ground source heat pumps and fuel cell systems. This credit will be available for the next 8 years, so if you missed it, get a head start on next year.
  • Installation of a fuel cell or microturbine system in your home will get you a $500 credit for every half kilowatt of capacity within the system. This credit is also available through 2016.
  • The first 250,000 buyers of a plug-in hybrid vehicle get to claim a fat $7,500 tax credit. For eco-conscious daredevils, those who purchased electric plug-in motorcycles can receive up to $2500 credit. If you’re handy, you can get up to a $4000 credit for converting an existing vehicle to a plug-in.
  • You can receive one of the largest credits if you have (or will by 2014) installed a clean fuel refueling system in your vehicle. This addition to your auto will reap you a whopping $50,000 credit for a natural gas refueler or a recharging system for plug-ins and an even more hefty $200,000 for a hydrogen one!
  • Research the credits available in your state, as each has it’s own list of incentives and credits.

 
Good luck & have a money-saving tax season!
 
For more information, visit www.healthyvoyager.com

Carolyn Scott is the executive producer, creator, host and writer of The Healthy Voyager brand. Her web series, radio show, site, blog and social network show you how to live, and travel, healthy & green.

More by Carolyn Scott: Spring Clean Your Kitchen, Your Body Will Thank You

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Women Taking Ownership: What is Your Home Really Worth?

  • Work and Money

04/6/10 | Shari Olefson | 15 Comments

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Shari Olefson, Esq.

America is in the midst of an economic crisis thanks, in part, to the “profit-at-all-costs”-driven behavior on Wall Street and the less-than-stellar choices made by us, the homeowners.   Maybe the stock market is recovering, but most of your wealth may be in your home, not stocks.   Whether you’re struggling to figure out how to keep your home or wondering how to make money buying distressed properties, women across the country are realizing the next five years are key to their financial wellbeing.

Your options, opportunities, and financial future may depend on what type of home you live in, what price range your home is in, and where you live.  Nationwide, as long as nothing else goes wrong, home values will increase at the rate of 3% a year, but that may take longer in some areas.  In others, values will decrease further before turning around.

How the heck do the so-called ‘experts’ know what your house is going to be worth in five years or when it’s the right time to invest in foreclosures? The answer is they don’t know exactly.  But because real estate largely follows consistent trends, we’ve developed proven indicator-based methods.  Here’s where the secret to your self-empowerment lies:   By keeping an eye on these indicators, you can make reliable predictions about your home value and investment opportunities, safeguarding your pocketbook and American Dream.

One such indicator is the National Association of Realtors Existing Home Sales compiled from Realtor-reported closings across the country.  Why should you care how many homes are selling?  Easy.  Real estate prices – including the value of your own home - hinge on supply and demand -- how many homes are available and how many folks want to buy them.  When there are more homes (supply) than buyers (demand), the price goes down until more buyers are willing to step up to the plate, normally because they become enticed by the lowered prices.  As home supply gets absorbed by buyer demand, the price of homes goes up again.

National Association of Realtors U.S. Housing Inventory


What you want to see is a steady increase in the National Association of Realtors Existing Home Sales indicator until the number of home sales is back to where it was in 2003, when the real estate bubble began.  At that point you will want to see the Existing Home Sales indicator continue to increase at a slow but steady level comparable to what typically happened each year prior to 2003.   At that point, there will be far less risk that your own home value will decrease, and instead, your home will begin appreciating in value again.   If you're looking to buy, you'll want to do that before the number of sales and prices go up again.  That's precisely why you care about the number of homes selling.

National Association of Realtors Existing Home Sales Pace


Existing Home Sale information for March will be released on April 22. A key test of whether or not your own home's value has stabilized will be whether or not you see a significant decrease in Existing Home Sales following expiration of the home buyer tax credit in the coming weeks. To check out the NAR Existing Home Sales indicator yourself, simply go to www.realtor.org/research/research/ehsdata.

Shari Olefson, author of "Foreclosure Nation; Mortgaging the American Dream," is a Bar Certified Real Estate attorney, Supreme Court Certified Mediator, and commentator for CNBC, Fox News, and CSPAN.   She is a partner at Fowler, White, Boggs, has two teenage daughters, and is a staunch advocate of teaching and preserving the American Dream for all of our children. Follow her on Twitter. Join Foreclosure Nation on Facebook.

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Your Finances, the Economy & A Bad Haircut

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04/5/10 | Hollis Page Harman PFP CASL | 0 Comments

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Hollis Page Harman PFP CASL

April is National Financial Literacy Month.

Bangs too short? Or did the style just look better on the model in the magazine?  What do you do?  You wait it out, do some trimming and maybe vow to pick a different stylist. So what does a bad haircut have to do with your investment portfolio?

If you’re like most of us, your investments got a nasty haircut in this recent recession.  Some of you may have cashed out, others may still have unopened statements…afraid to look at the closing balances.  But if there was a game plan, like with our bad haircuts, we could deal with our new reality and become proactive. 

Here are 6 questions to ask yourself when you open those statements and actually read them.

1. Which investments had the biggest losses?

Comparing my investments to their benchmarks or their competition, did they do better or worse?

2. Do I have any bonds or do I think they are too staid?

As a rule of thumb, my age should represent the percentage of bonds in my portfolio:  if I’m 40, then 40% of my portfolio should be in bonds. Generally, stocks and bonds move in opposite directions: stocks up, bonds down; bonds up, stocks down. Having some of each may give greater balance in more market conditions.

3. Are my stocks diversified?

Do I have large, mid- and small caps? Which are growth and which are value or are they a blend? What sectors do they represent and what percentage of the portfolio: ex. Information technology, healthcare, financials, etc.?

4. What is my risk tolerance?

How much retirement money am I comfortable putting at risk or even losing? Investor behavior tells us that people actually feel the pain of loss about twice as strongly as they feel pleasure from gain. Is my risk tolerance today different than before the recession? When the market was going up, I may have invested riskier than today when I may be feeling more conservative. It’s time to get in touch with the real me now that I’ve experienced both up and down markets. Take a quiz; pick one from this web search.

5. What is my investment objective? From lowest risk to highest:

-- Income with Capital Preservation. I don’t want to lose my money and I need income.
-- Income with Moderate Growth. I need income, but I also want some of my money to grow.
-- Growth with Income. I want both income and growth.
-- Growth.  I don’t need income and I am willing to be risky, but I want more conservative growth investments.
-- Aggressive Growth. I’ve got time and don’t need income, but I need my investments to grow and I’m willing to take some risks.

6. Now what do I do? Fix that haircut!

Rebalance my portfolio according to my investment objective and risk tolerance.
Continue to save and add to my investments. In one year, take another risk tolerance quiz and rebalance my investments. Has anything changed? For example, I could have gotten a raise, lost my job or have a child starting college.


Each life transition presents an opportunity to revisit your investment decisions so you can reach your goals. So get past your fear of your finances and move forward with this game plan. Start now. If you have questions, feel free to email me at hharman@kidsfinance.com.

As a financial consultant, Hollis Page Harman empowers women to take charge of their money to realize their hopes and dreams. As the author of Money Sense for Kids Barron’s), she helps families prepare their children for financial independence. Her wit and call to action make her a sought after speaker on financial literacy. Contact her at http://www.kidsfinance.com.

More by Hollis Page Harman: 5 Ways to Become the CFO of Your Finances

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When (Almost) Everything Changed

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10/15/09 | Gail Collins | 3 Comments

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Gail Collins, New York Times Op Ed Columnist

When I was in college, people talked a lot about the "revolution," although I'm not entirely sure we would have recognized one if it happened in the front yard. This was back in the late 60s and early 70s, when everybody wanted to be a revolutionary, including the kids who were majoring in investment banking.

When we failed to actually create a political and social utopia, it didn't truly come as a big surprise. And some things worked out just the way we hoped -- maybe even better. I don't know if we would have dared imagine an African-American president who won his nomination after a hard primary battle against a woman.

And we would have been pleased to know that the United States of the 21st century would be a place where women worked as routinely as men did, and where young couples automatically assumed they would share the role of family breadwinner.

It really was a revolution. And we would never have imagined that that the country was going to charge right into it without ever asking who was going to take care of the kids.       

Back in the day, we were totally confident -- so confident that we hardly even bothered to discuss it -- that our futures would involve flexible jobs that allowed both husbands and wives to take time off or reduce their workweek without ruining their career opportunities. And that early childhood education would be available to everybody just the way elementary school education is.       

But it didn't happen. And the tension between work and childcare is the one thing that restricts all the amazing progress that American women have made over the last 50 years.

It crops up all over. Girls outstrip boys all the way through college, yet they don't have the same earning power once they've been out in the world of work for a while. We still only have 17 women in a 100-member U.S. Senate, and one of the big reasons is that women who go into politics tend to wait until their children are older. They get a later start than men, and it's harder to make it to the top of the ladder.

I named my new book about what happened to American women since 1960 "When Everything Changed." But this, alas, is one thing that didn't.

Gail Collins, a New York Times op ed columnist, is the author of When Everything Changed: The Amazing Journey of American Women from 1960 to the Present. She was previously the Times editorial page editor, the first woman ever to hold that position.

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What Do Women Want?

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10/15/09 | David Gregory | 4 Comments

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David Gregory, Moderator, Meet the Press

What do women want?  I’m asking as a husband, as a father, as a professional who works closely with women.  I ask it in the context of all that we are learning about the changing role of women in America.  I ask because I still don’t think I have the answer.

I’m blessed to be married to a wonderful woman who is successfully negotiating a path as mother, prominent trial lawyer and former business executive.  Our life reflects many of the struggles of modern couples: We both have careers, requiring a great deal of negotiation about who does what, set against the backdrop of shared, 50-50 parenting.

And yet, our life is more marriage than merger.  It needs to be if we are going to stay connected to each other as a couple.  That gets to the point of asking my question.  As the role of women changes, some of their basic desires do not.  Yet, I think many men are having a hard time keeping up.  We get that the days of “Mad Men” are over (my wife reminds me of this when we are watching the show), but we sometimes lose the complete picture of what the women in our lives need.

In my experience, women expect flexibility from their partners as they negotiate their lives. They expect an openness to reexamine traditional roles.  But women, and particularly working mothers, also are seeking reassurance about their path.  Many professional women want to know that they are striking a good balance between work and home.

The other crucial factor to a good relationship is staying connected.  In the Bible, God asks of Adam, “Where are you?”  So, too, as men we need to pause to ask where our wives are: How are they, what do they need and want?  Are we making the space for each other as a couple – time spent separate from the business of our busy lives?

The key is making the time to ask.  I don’t think I have all the answers, but if I’m trying to be the best husband, or colleague or boss I can be, I’m asking, “What do women want?”

Good shoes.  Right, that part I get.

David Gregory is the moderator of NBC News’ “Meet the Press.” He is also a regular contributor for “Today” and serves as a back-up anchor for the broadcast.  He is a regular contributor and analyst on MSNBC, and lends his voice and reporting to all NBC News broadcasts including coverage of special events.

David Gregory will be speaking at The Women’s Conference 2009.

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Random Thoughts on Progress, Women, The Media and Skinny Cigarettes

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10/15/09 | Linda Ellerbee | 0 Comments

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Linda Ellerbee, Television Producer, Journalist & Best Selling Author

In 1968, Philip Morris introduced a cigarette for women. Virginia Slims were skinny (everybody knows women like skinny, right?) and the copy line was “You’ve come a long way, baby.” Because I’ve worked as a television journalist since God was a lad, I’m sometimes asked about women in the news media and the progress we’ve made. When this happens, I always think of that slogan. And, just for a moment, I want to throw up.

When I started working in TV news in 1973 (five years after being told I’d come a long way), there were precious few women TV journalists. The only reason there were any was that the federal government — pressured by the women’s movement — had told the stations and networks they had to hire some of us. Of course, we had to be young, willing to work for less money, have faces that wouldn’t stop clocks, and, oh, I almost forgot — we sorta had to be single and childless. Girl journalist? Or Playboy Bunny with a notebook? Isn’t she cute trying to do a man’s job in those high heels? Also, we were expected to be obedient. Many of us were (are) not good at that part. It’s hard to be told to get aggressive about getting the story, then come back to the newsroom and say, “Yes sir” all the time — and keep smiling.

And so we fought back. Things got better. But better is not equal.

Remember all the silliness that surrounded Katie Couric’s promotion to Uncle Walter’s Chair? You could drown in such deep doo-doo. Recently, when Diane Sawyer was named anchor for ABC World News Tonight, the president of ABC News, on making the announcement, said that Diane had "more than paid her dues and waited her turn appropriately.”

Uh-huh. Haven’t we all?

Ah well. If young women starting out in the media today stand a better chance of being treated equally (including pay), it’s because they stand on the shoulders of the women who came before them, just as we stood on the shoulders of the women who marched and lobbied to get us in the door. Tomorrow someone will stand on the shoulders of today’s women, and not just those in the media. I believe we all stand on someone’s shoulders. So we must make sure our shoulders are strong enough for the next woman. It is our responsibility. It is the debt we owe. To the past, and to the future. All of us.

And it is still damned hard work. Progress almost always is. I keep a letter written to me by an 11-year-old girl. “Dear Ms. Ellerbee, when I grow up, I want to do what you do. Please do it better.”

The good news: In the end, we may not have come a long way, and we’re certainly not babies, but we are getting more equal all the time and, well, there is this. Few of us smoke these days. That must count for something.

Linda Ellerbee is an outspoken journalist, award-winning television producer, best-selling author,  breast cancer survivor, mother, grandmother and one of the most sought-after speakers in America. She is the co-founder of Lucky Duck Productions, which produces programming for Nickelodeon, ABC, CBS, HBO, PBS, Lifetime, MTV, Logo, A&E, MSNBC, SOAPnet, Trio, Animal Planet and TV Land, among others.

Linda Ellerbee will be speaking at The Women's Conference 2009.

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Mixing Love & Money – Without Losing Either

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08/25/09 | Jean Chatzky | 2 Comments

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Jean Chatzky, Today Show Financial Editor

Jean Chatzky will be speaking at The Women's Conference 2009.

When it comes to life, knowing how to differentiate between the things you can control and the things that you can’t control can make everything a whole lot easier. Take, for example, your finances.  For the most part, you have the ability to be in control of them. But when you’re married or in a committed relationship, the line between yours and theirs tends to get a bit blurry.
 
Although it might seem right to share everything, a bit of financial independence is imperative in any healthy relationship. When it comes to my marriage, I need to be able to buy a cup of coffee without checking with him. He needs to be able to do the same. If you don’t have this sort of financial independence, one spouse starts feeling like a parent and the other like a child.
 
But how can couples manage finances together and still achieve the right balance of control? For me, what’s key is remembering that just because you tie the knot, you don’t all of a sudden become the same person. What you have to do, therefore, is understand HOW you are different and how those differences are going to worry or stress your partner. Then you need to keep lines of communications open so that you both understand what is happening with the family pie.
 
Talk About Your Finances Once a Week
 
To make discussing your finances an ongoing dialogue, set aside time to talk about money once a week. It should be a time when neither of you is overly tired nor overly cranky -- perhaps after a television show you always watch together. During the week, keep a list of items you want to make sure not to forget to discuss. This meeting is like a doctor’s visit -- you want to be sure to put the time to good use.
 
How much should you put in the FSA? Should you switch healthcare plans? Are you paying too much for cable? Should you re-allocate your 401(k), or should you start budgeting for a new flat-screen? All of these items are fair game. If you are feeling nervous, worried or angry over money, try to understand what is behind your own feelings before you air them with your spouse. If you can understand why you feel a certain way, your spouse will have a greater chance of understanding too.
 
Create a Household Budget
 
While it’s more than necessary to talk about finances with your significant other, you’re going to have to take some action.  There is a school of thought that says the more you merge your money, the more you trust each other and the marriage. I am not completely of that school — quite possibly because I’ve been divorced. I am a big fan of joint AND separate accounts. The way this works best is if you come up with a household budget that the joint account will cover. It must include the amount you want to save for your joint goals – like vacation, a house and retirement. Then figure out what equal percentage of both salaries will cover it, transfer that much in from the separate accounts, and leave the rest. NOTE: The bills covered by the joint accounts shouldn’t ALWAYS be paid by the same person. One will gravitate toward these tasks, but make sure you switch it up at least once a year.
 
I know that for most couples, money isn’t the most enjoyable thing to think about or discuss. However, if you start looking to the future and what it might hold for the both of you, it can be. One of the best parts about being a couple is dreaming together. Setting financial goals is a form of dreaming. Ask each other what do you want this year, next year, in 5 years, in 10. Then attach numbers to those dreams so you can figure out how you’ll get there.

 

Jean Chatzky is the financial editor for NBC’s Today, a contributing editor for Money, a columnist for The New York Daily News, a contributor to "The Oprah Winfrey Show" and a featured money coach on Oprah's "Debt Diet" series.  She is the author of four books, including best sellers such as Pay It Down: From Debt to Wealth on $10 A Day and her latest book, The Difference: How Anyone Can Prosper In Even the Toughest Times. Her website is JeanChatzky.com.

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My Grandmother's Lesson: Courage

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07/27/09 | Angella M. Nazarian, Author | 30 Comments

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Angella M. Nazarian, Author

I remember the first time I went to New York to pitch my book to a prospective publisher. I stood on the busy sidewalk two blocks from the office, tears streaming down my face, a scrap of paper clutched in my right hand. It was a chilly spring day and I’d slipped on the stylish 70’s black overcoat that was a keepsake from my maternal grandmother who had passed away eight years earlier. When I put my hands in its deep pockets to ward off the icy air, I discovered they weren’t empty. I pulled out a handkerchief, a small piece of the candy she always used to stash away, a note she had scribbled to herself. In her familiar quivering hand she’d written two words: Mint. Apricots. It was a grocery list. That’s when the tears came.

It took me back to the day, soon after her passing at the age of 84, when we’d gone to clean out her apartment. I’d asked my mother if I could keep two pieces of her clothing: the tailored black overcoat, and the green and burgundy checkered dress that she often wore to Friday night Shabbat dinners. She had been known as an impeccable dresser. She was petite like me and very spiritual. But the similarities stopped there -- or that’s what I thought at the time.

My grandmother was raised in a deeply patriarchal Iranian culture, where women were expected to be supportive wives and devoted mothers only. Having influence beyond the sphere of family life was uncommon and looked down upon. My grandmother rarely spoke up in front of people, and sat in what I jokingly called, “the Siberia,” or most peripheral corner of our family gatherings. Even so, she was regarded as a wise woman. If she were asked for her opinion in front of others, she would deflect the attention, giving elusive answers. “Only God knows,” she often replied.

Her behavior felt too passive to me, as if she could not break out of the feeling of being invisible. I had had a vastly different experience than she did. I immigrated to the U.S. at the age of eleven, right at the start of the Iranian Revolution. During my first five and a half years here, my parents were stuck in Iran, so I lived with my older siblings. This early experience encouraged me to be self-sufficient, determined, and independent, while being raised in the U.S. afforded me opportunities the women of past generations simply didn’t have.

I am the first woman in my family who not only graduated college, but who also went on to graduate school. In our traditional culture, it is not expected that women will work outside of the home, especially if there is no financial need. I worked because I wanted to, and much to my family’s surprise, continued teaching part-time at the university until four years ago, when I left to work on a memoir. It was when I started writing about our family experience of escape, exile, and our eventual adjustment in the U.S. that the old notions of self-censorship and self-repression surfaced in my life. Who would care about what I have to say? I wondered, finding it hard to believe that others would even be interested in my experiences. That’s when I realized that my grandmother and I had more in common than I originally thought.

But the similarity didn’t stop there. When she was forty years old and her children were grown, my grandmother, unhappy about her minimal education, asked my grandfather to get her a tutor. He did, and she worked diligently for years on her reading and writing, until she felt confident enough to write correspondence and reach out to others. She had a real zest for learning that seemed to grow and flourish. In her 80s, she hired a tutor who visited her twice a week to work on her Hebrew.

On that day in New York, wearing my grandmother’s overcoat, I felt fully embraced by her presence. As I walked toward my meeting, I somehow knew I was carrying her essence -- all her dreams, joys, loyalties, denials, doubts, and disappointments -- within me. It was astonishing to think that my grandmother began to fully read and write at the same age as I was hoping to publish a book. Mint, apricots, it meant so much to her to be able to write those words, just as it means so much to me to write about her. I knew then that others would be interested in her story, our story, and that maybe she wasn’t so invisible after all. That’s when I realized that writing our family memoir not only impacts future generations, it also has the power to bring honor and heal the unfulfilled dreams of women of generations past.

Angella M. Nazarian teaches psychology in local universities and facilitates adult personal development seminars for women. Her writing and poetry have appeared in the Hufffington Post, MO+TH and Milllenium Literary Journal. Her new book, Life as a Visitor, is due to be released in Oct. of 2009 by Assouline Publishers.

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Project to Paint the Modern Portrait of the American Woman

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04/15/09 | The Women's Conference | 2 Comments

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On Tuesday, April 15, 2009, Maria Shriver announced a new project called, "A Woman’s Nation", which will take a new, empirical look at American women, who for the first time in our nation’s history, make up half of all workers and are becoming the primary breadwinners in more families than ever before.

This is a multifaceted project in partnership with the Center for American Progress and the University of Southern California’s Annenberg Center on Communication Leadership and Policy. TIME magazine will also be involved in research and reporting, as well as co-presenting discussions and roundtables around the country.

“We will take a hard look at how women are doing in the United States today and consider the central question of the role government, business, and faith organizations, as well as individual women and men should play in supporting women’s role now in the workforce and the U.S. economy,“ said John Podesta, president and CEO of the Center for American Progress. “We look forward to teaming up with Maria Shriver on this important work.”

A Woman’s Nation will include roundtables, a national poll, and interviews with icons of the women’s movement and other prominent leaders. The preliminary report will be released in the fall, to be followed by a book.

“Examining ways to improve the lives of women in this country is a noble cause, and I congratulate Maria Shriver and CAP on launching this new venture,” said White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett. “As a true leader in this area, Maria brings the perspective of a professional journalist, a working mother, and a caretaking daughter. Maria’s contributions to better understanding American women today are invaluable, and we look forward to the results of this work.”


Read Maria Shriver's blog on The Huffington Post.

View press release.

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