Interview with Sean Magennis, COO at YPO

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I met Sean Magennis soon after I moved back to Dallas and began consulting with Earth Day Texas. Sean is a green energy entrepreneur from South Africa (with a great accent), and founder of Gateway Green Energy Holdings, LLC. In our interview, I spoke to Sean about his role as President and Chief Operating Officer of YPO (Young Presidents Organization). YPO has more than 24,000 members, in over 130 countries.

Sean and I discuss that 50 percent of the YPO senior management team is comprised of women, and the majority of CEO members are men. He says today’s C-level executives have to be better communicators. Learning how to avoid ambiguity takes a high degree of self-awareness. He provides examples of how to ask questions to avoid the triggers that cause one to over-react or act negatively. He comments on why the brilliant and former CEO of UBER stepped in it because he didn’t have a trusted dialogue with all stakeholders.

Learn how to ask people how you’re being perceived to “nip” communication problems “in the bud” before they become a problem. Sean has broad international executive experience across the USA, Canada, the UK, Europe, Mexico, Asia, and Africa. He is the past International President of the Entrepreneurs Organization, (EO), one of the world’s largest peer to peer networks of successful entrepreneurs over 16 years. Smart and as kind as they come, Sean has a BA degree from Rhodes University in South Africa with postgraduate diplomas in business management and financial management. He is a graduate of the Stagen Leadership Institute in Dallas and is married to businesswoman Maria Cintron.

YPO is a global community of chief executives dedicated to becoming “Better Leaders through Lifelong Learning and Idea Exchange.” For more information visit

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Doug Rauch, former President of Trader Joe’s….Serious, Caring and Fun to Talk to…

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Doug Rauch is our 10th Cinderella CEO podcast interview.
Soft spoken, and really smart, the former president of Trader Joe’s, and current CEO of Conscious Capitalism, Doug Rauch has also started a project called the Daily Table to bring fresh food to the inner cities.

Doug talks about how he fell into the grocery biz, and how to avoid “crapitalism!” We talk about how to excel as an entrepreneur, and why listeners may want to consider becoming “intrapreneurs” as an alternative. Doug discusses capitalism, how it can be a force for good, and why “Conscious Capitalism” caught his attention.

(This is a re-edit of the first interview for better audio clarity).
Doug Rauch, Grocery Guru & Force for Good Advocate

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House of Cards “Speaker of the House” Mike Lyons

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House of Cards character actor Mike Lyons and Cary Broussard, former Senate staffer and author launch speaking tour

Mike Lyons, actor and longtime hospitality and travel executive, talks about the trials and tribulations of this year’s U.S. Presidential election with host Cary Broussard. Mike Lyons, popular Netflix hit House of Cards actor, discusses personal branding in politics. How personal branding and politics are intertwined and how we can develop our own brands.

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Barbara Stanny | Wealth Coach, Speaker, and Author

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As the daughter of the R in H&R Block tax services, Barbara Stanny grew up relying on her father, then her husband, to manage her money. But a devastating financial crisis became a personal wake-up call. Her journey to financial enlightenment is inspiring and is the basis for her best-selling books, and our interview with her on Cinderella CEO On Air. She’s done hundreds of media interviews, including Time Magazine, The View, The New York Times, Forbes, MSNBC, Fox News, CNN, PBS and more. We’re so honored to have her on our program.
Barbara’s message: “When you take charge of your money, you take control of your life.” You may have read her books Secrets of Six-Figure Women, Overcoming Under Earning, Prince Charming Isn’t Coming and her most recent Sacred Success. She’s written a total of six books on the topic of financial and personal empowerment. A highly entertaining and sought-after speaker, Barbara teaches women how to map out their financial futures and shares her secrets of personal empowerment.

For more information or to contact Barbara Stanny, go to

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Nora Moreno: From Housekeeper to Corporate Executive

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Nora Moreno began her career in hospitality as a housekeeper. She gives us an inside account on what it’s like to start from scratch, and love the journey along the way. She came from Mexico to the United States, and found her mentors and dream job at Aimbridge Hospitality. Today, she is Vice President of Human Resources for the largest 3rd party hotel management company in the country. Nora has a great voice, a special story and concrete advice on how to move up in an organization that you love.

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Doug Levy, Conscious Capitalism

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CC National LogoCo-Chair of the International Conscious Capitalism Board, Doug Levy, author of Can’t Buy Me Like, and founder of the 20-year old digital agency, MePlusYou, has found time to form a new start up called Tap Goods. I interviewed him a few weeks ago. He recommends reading these books, The Lean Start Up, Holacracy and of course Conscious Capitalism.

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Interview with Jon Stein, CEO of Betterment, Inc

We caught up with Jon Stein, the Founder and CEO of Betterment, Inc., in his New York office this summer. Jon launched Betterment to offer average investors access to first-rate, affordable financial advice. He talks about why he’s okay with his team members bringing their kids to work, why books are important to him, who he admires in the financial world
and why being a trusted fiduciary advisor is his firm’s purpose first and foremost.

Jon Stein

Jon Stein – CEO, Betterment, Inc.

Listen to “Jon Stein, CEO, Betterment, Inc interview” on Spreaker.

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Journey from Housekeeper to Corporate Executive: An Interview with Nora Moreno

Interview with Nora Moreno – From Housekeeper to Corporate Executive

Looking for a place to work after moving to Texas from Mexico, Nora Moreno heard about a job opening in a nearby hotel. She stood in line with other applicants, and interviewed for a housekeeping position.
Nora ended up landing her first job in the U.S. and very happy to be working. What she didn’t expect was to fall in love with housekeeping.
Nora Moreno, now Vice President of Human Resources for Aimbridge Hospitality Corporation, to this day when she travels, inspects every room with an eye for detail and love for hospitality. I hope you’ll learn as much as I after listening to Nora’s fascinating journey.

She has a lot to say about the commitment and joys of hospitality.

Learn more about Aimbridge at Aimbridge Hospitality.

Nora Moreno, Vice President
Aimbridge Hospitality

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Interview with Brian Robertson, Holacracy founder

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Brian Robertson, Holacracy founder with CinderellaCEO   Cary Broussard

Brian Robertson, Holacracy founder with CinderellaCEO Cary Broussard

With all the talk in the press about companies adopting Holacracy, Cary Broussard explores why this unconventional practice is attracting some very successful companies and the Millennials who work for them. In her interview with Brian Robertson, founder and author of Holacracy:The New Management System for a Rapidly Changing World, we hear what it actually looks like to work within the Holacracy system and if it “works.” Brian Robertson is a seasoned entrepreneur and organization builder. Very likable and approachable, Brian calls himself a recovering CEO – a job he now helps free others from with Holacracy. Cary met Brian at the National Conference for Conscious Capitalism this year and Brian generously gave his time for an interview during the conference.

The official Holacracy book comes out June 2, 2015. Online Holacracy webinars, introductory workshops Certification Trainings, Practitioner Trainings as well as Advanced Coach training and certification are all available. Go to for more information.

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CinderellaCEO-Dave Johnson, CEO Aimbridge Hospitality

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Cary2boothCinderella CEO on Air is a career podcast based on the international book, From Cinderella to CEO – How to Master the 10 Lessons of Fairy Tales to Transform Your Work Life. Cary Broussard, author and host of the show interviews CEOs and executives about their Cinderella Stories and how the lessons of fairy tales have helped them successfully navigate business challenges. Guests come from a wide range of businesses and offer steps to develop a successful career. The guests offer anecdotes and stories that guide listeners, based on lessons of fairy tales. The podcasts have a fun tone and create memorable lessons that listeners at all levels of their career will enjoy.

Dave Johnson Photo

Producers Logan Rene’ Broussard and Russ Johns
Production Team: Sylvia Wolosyn, Anita Bell and Debby Englander

We interview Dave Johnson, CEO and President of Aimbridge Hospitality, a billion dollar hotel management company. Dave started in the hotel business as a sales manager in Chicago and worked his way up to President of Wyndham Hotels. When Wyndham was purchased in 2005, he started his own hotel management company with one hotel. Today, Aimbridge is the 2nd largest hotel management company in the country.

Aimbridge won the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award in 2014 and the Dallas Morning News voted Aimbridge one of the top 100 places to work. Dave talks about building Aimbridge from the ground up, and why treating employees like family is core to the company’s values. We discuss the importance of mentoring, the evolving roles of fathers in their family’s lives and financing a sustainable business model.

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Set the History Records Straight….Wikipedia is Your Opportunity

I’ve had some fun recently making updates to a Wikipedia page that tells the history of the Women On Their Way program
I would invite others, who were involved with me in the Women On Their Way program to review and add your verifiable data as well.

Have you ever edited a Wikipedia page? It’s fun and I think the Baby Boomer generation is particularly qualified to help provide accurate records on many subjects floating around on Google. Is there a project or book that you contributed to that might warrant your background and knowledge? Why not Google some projects you’ve worked on or created and see if the details are documented and better yet, if they are correct.

It’s very easy to sign up to edit on Wikipedia. The site asks you to choose a user name and provides reasons why not to use your own name (Ex: people might harrass you). Wikipedia is a self-policing editorial community and will check out your edits, so we need to be accurate. Go for it, and send me a link to the Wikipages you like, and may even have edited!

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Millennials Say (and Can Do) The Darn-dest Things

For those of you who don’t know what age range the Millennial group refers to…the “Millennials” are the generation born between 1975 and 1995 (18 years of age to 38). There’s a whole bunch of Millennials, the next biggest population bubble to come along since the Boomers (1945 to 1964).

Sylvia, Woloszyn, a Millennial in her first entry level position , wants to travel, travel and travel some more...

Sylvia, Woloszyn, a Millennial in her first entry level position , wants to travel, travel and travel some more…

One of the great Milliennials I’ve come to know is a young woman named Sylvia Woloszyn. I met Sylvia when she attended my class on special event marketing at NYU. I soon found out that Sylvia is both soft spoken and brilliant. So when Sylvia graduated, I was thankful she agreed to work with my company and help it grow into a larger entity. She has a full time position with an airline company and works remotely for Broussard Global on a part time basis. A first generation American, who has become integral to the growth of Broussard Global cause-related marketing and communications company, Sylvia can do anything when it comes to technology, design or the written word (just to scratch the surface). The smartest people say some of the darn-dest things, and this smart, young woman has a great deal to say about her generation and what makes her age group tick. Check it out.


CinderellaCEO: Sylvia, your parents moved to the US from Poland. How has your background affected your perspective on global events?

Sylvia W:
Being a first-generation American, as they say, bears both benefits and difficulties. My parents immigrated to the United States in search of opportunities and a better life which is a very realistic viewpoint. If I would have grown up in Poland, I don’t think I’d have as many opportunities as I did here. For one, I speak both English and Polish fluently and spent my early years in a very diverse neighborhood that had its fair share of immigrant families. Already that type of exposure made me more aware of different cultures from a young age.

I also think many first-generation Americans can relate with the statement that they grew up in a mixture of two cultures: the American culture ever so present in their day-to-day lives and the ethnic culture of their parents. Although many immigrants assimilate to American culture, they don’t want to forget their roots and continue practicing their culture and keeping traditional values alive.

For example, at home I speak to my parents in Polish and we celebrate Polish holidays but they might be tweaked to include elements of American culture. This dual-type of upbringing also enables me to see global events in two different perspective and have a more global outlook. I don’t see things one-sided and try to view issues at different angles.

Sometimes being the first generation can be a strange feeling. When I visit Poland, at times I tend to feel like an outsider because compared to the natives, I didn’t grow up in the typical way they have and can’t relate to certain experiences or I have a different mindset on certain topics. At times I also get that feeling here in the United States because compared to a typical American family, I grew up a tad differently with an emphasis on Polish culture. At times it feels a bit like you are stuck in the middle, you’re not a standard of one particular culture.

Cinderella CEO: As a millennial, what do you value most about your generation? What skills are needed most in the workplace today in your opinion?

Sylvia W: It’s difficult to describe an entire generation based on a specific set of traits, especially when those traits may differ based on social, economic and cultural backgrounds. One thing’s for certain though, millennials grew up in a constantly-changing environment with one of the most drastic being technology.

Apart from technology we’ve seen the effects of globalization, terrorism, an increased talk of climate change, and not to mention, the great recession which continues to have a significant effect on youth employment levels. With this mixture of events taking place all within the lifetimes of millennials, an important skill comes to mind – adaptability.

Adaptability is an important skill to possess in the workforce. Depending on your career path, there are many positions being created that did not exist five years ago. Likewise, being able to multitask and wear many hats as they say, are all useful skills in today’s changing work environment….Also having good communication within an organization can make life so much simpler and more efficient. In addition, depending on where you work, the ability to work in a diverse environment can also become of importance. In my case, it’s something I prefer and if my job requires me to relocate, no problem.

Cinderella CEO: You are a graduate of New York University. What was the job search like for you and what advice would you give to your peers or anyone pursuing a career in the travel industry?

Sylvia W: From my experience, I felt as though I had heightened expectations upon graduation to what the workforce really looks like. What I can tell you is searching for job is a job in itself. The job search was not easy and I definitely became acclimated to rejection but no matter the circumstances, I didn’t give up. I’ve sent out numerous applications and had multiple interviews which in the end helped me improve my interview skills. When it comes to potential candidates, many choose experience over a fresh grad so it is very beneficial to have a professional network in place or internship experience.

Having a degree in hospitality and tourism is a fairly new direction of study that may not always get the same amount of recognition as a degree in general subjects such as business, the sciences or mathematics, to name a few. There may be times when you say to yourself, “I went to school for this?”

One thing’s for certain, do not get discouraged. I think most first jobs are not likely THE dream job but it can help you gain important experience and skills to find that dream job once it comes your way.

CinderellaCEO: Do you have a mentor? How has a mentor been helpful to you?

Sylvia W: I do not have an official mentor, but I try to learn from as many individuals as possible who hold influential positions by asking them for advice or just about their life story. It’s very helpful to get a real perspective of what steps someone took to get to the position they are currently in, or just advice on how to deal with tough decisions or situations.

If I come to a crossroad and don’t know what next step to take, I ask someone more experienced for feedback or advice. Most of the time it turns out that the more experienced individual went through a similar situation and can relate which provides me with a sense of relief.

CinderellaCEO: Do you think gender or global background influences who is promoted or how decisions are made in the workplace?

Sylvia W: Unfortunately, yes. Gender or cultural differences should not ultimately be the deciding factor over an individual’s competence whether or not he/she is suitable for a particular position. Having said that, there are specific cases where it may be necessary.

For example, if your company happens to be working on a project or doing business with an overseas client based in Brazil and your colleague is chosen to work on that account because they happen to be a native Brazilian, would that be unfair? For these cases it may be more suitable for the company to have a Portuguese-speaker on their team and someone familiar with the culture.

Another example would be if you as an American, happen to work for a Japanese company in their U.S. branch. Let’s say most of the management is comprised of Japanese citizens and their culture influences how they conduct their business. In one way it’s great that the company is giving preference in employing its own citizens over foreigners, but on the flipside it may be more beneficial to hire locals who posses a deeper knowledge of the market.

Generally, most decisions in the workplace, in my opinion, are made taking into account who the majority is.

Have more questions for Sylvia? Contact her at

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Writing a book? Book editor Debby Englander helps navigate and mentor.

Finding myself up to my eye balls in projects these days, two of which happen to be books, I am constantly asking questions of people “in the know” about traditional publishing and digital publishing. Debby Englander, my editor for the book, From Cinderella to CEO, has become a dear friend and mentor.
Here’s some background on Debby and her career beanstalk tips.
I know you’ll benefit from Debby’s advice and enjoy getting to know her as well. Debby Englander is available for consultation and you can find her on LinkedIn here.

Debby, how did you get started in publishing?

Debby Englander: My career in publishing really launched at Money Magazine, where I started as a copy editor with no experience at all in editing books. I went on to manage the Fortune Book Club and then became a business book editor at Wiley & Sons.
I worked with Kerry Hannon some 25 years at Money Magazine and then approached her about doing a book while I was an editor at Wiley. We’ve now worked together on several books including a very successful title, Great Jobs for Everyone 50+ which published about a year ago.

Besides Kerry Hannon, who are some others you’ve published books for?

Debby Englander: I published two books by Jonathan Tisch, CEO of Loews Hotels. He worked with a writer and on publication, actively promoted the book, making as many appearances as his work schedule allowed. He listened to us when we told him how important it was to make speaking engagements, and would rearrange his schedule to make sure he met his commitments. Most of my authors truly want their books to be substantial and they approach the publishing process as seriously they would another professional endeavor.
I’m especially proud that many of the authors I worked with published two, three and more books with me. An editor and author develop a relationship and while the marketplace may change, having that one-on-one connection is important.

Why should we publish? It seems like only academics were the ones who needed to publish to stay relevant and up-to-date?

Debby Englander: Books can be a useful tool for business people. If you’re trying to attract more clients, a book becomes a calling card. These days, the book is just one tool to use; people may use Twitter, a website, e newsletter as a way to communicate with clients and potential clients. The book does give someone a certain credibility. Although it can be difficult to find a mainstream large New York publisher to take on a business project, there are more opportunities to publish books these days. People can publish ebooks and print books on their own. There are many reputable newer companies that will provide the services necessary to create a book. Of course, it’s then up to the author to do the lion’s share of marketing and publicity. With these options, the authors are out of pocket for the expenses. With the traditional model, authors received advances, albeit modest ones.

What advice would you give to someone who wants a career in publishing?

Debby Englander : Although I started in subsidiary rights of a large publisher, submitting books to foreign publishers, magazines and other media to sell rights, I later worked in the book department of a woman’s magazine. But my career changed direction when I ended up as a freelancer at Money Magazine. I didn’t have a business background but worked as a fact-checker and later as a reporter at Money, writing on consumer topics, travel and of course, personal finance. I am telling you this, because careers are circuitous, not usually straight up the career ladder, especially in publishing.

Did you have a mentor or have you mentored others?

Debby Englander: I have to admit that I’ve never had an official mentor; however, I certainly wish I had someone who could have helped during some of my job transitions. I do think that I’ve served as a mentor to several people. and have been more of a subtle mentor; I have been fortunate in hiring some first-rate recent college grads and letting them do as much as possible on their own. I make myself available to answer questions but encourage them to work independently. Also, I learned to be more even tempered about work crises. Things happen—manuscripts are late; books don’t get delivered on time; jackets can have errors, etc. There’s a quick moment of panic and anger when something happens but then I usually focused on finding a solution. That’s how I encourage my younger colleagues to approach difficult situations. Most work issues are not life or death so you can be annoyed and irritated, but then you look ahead and move on.

Here are some self-publishers you may want to check into ~ From the desk of… Cinderella to CEO:
Netminds: and Green Leaf Books.

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Bring Your Parents to Work Day. Really?

My parents helped me get my first job. My aunt had a friend who was the Executive Director of the American Cancer Society. Aunt Milton (yes, my Aunt’s name was Milton) helped me get an interview for the PR Director/Special Events position. The hiring decision was given to an impartial 3rd party, the publicity chairman, who happened to be the local NBC news anchor. I got the job, and my career in public relations began…and my parents butted out. However, 25 years later, I wonder how involved I would be as a parent in helping my child land a job. The article in PRNewser below and other media pubs are buzzing about how LinkedIn and companies are involving parents of millennials in the hiring, retention process, primarily with regard to internships. Finding the right workplace culture, a career foundation and ultimately a decent boss could definitely be influenced by one’s parents. Seems like it’s frought with all sorts of issues though. What if one’s parent would also like to apply for a job at same company? Or what if the candidate’s new boss gets along really well with parent but not with the millennial, or visa versa? I don’t know, could be a PR person’s dream….What do you think?

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Do personalities get wrinkles?

I know we have creams, plastic surgery, all sorts of supposed cures for making our wrinkles go away. No matter what I’m armed with, winning the war on wrinkles is probably a losing battle…but don’t get me wrong I’m certainly willing to stay in the battle! However, I would really would rather spend time in a more cause-related battle, making improvements to the wrinkles in my personality…. Starting with being a more giving person, being more understanding of my husband, more thoughtful to my co-workers, less egotistical, less judgemental, less fearful about the future – Wrinkles or no wrinkles. So when I watched this TED TALK video featuring Jane McGonigal and how her video game helped pull her out of depression following an injury, I was intrigued.

Did you watch it? I am grateful to Jane for her insights and for most of the TED Talks for that matter….Jane McGonigal’s talk gave me something very specific that I could to work on very deep wrinkles that tend to bring me down. I was one of those people who thought playing games were a waste of time. Not anymore, and if I’m not mistaken, my skin looks better too.

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Why Reinventing Yourself Doesn’t Always Mean Quitting Your Day Job

Harvey Performs Improv All Year and Keeps His Day Job in Journalism

Harvey Performs All Year in Improv and Keeps His Day Job in Journalism

If you’re in the travel business, Harvey Chipkin has written about you or your company, or maybe you’ve read his work or you’ve just had the pleasure of meeting him.

Harvey currently writes for Travel Weekly, Hotel News Now, and and many other publications and websites. He’s written about every major hotel brand and interviewed travel industry titans, including: former Marriott CEO Bill Marriott, former Starwood CEO Barry Sternlicht, current NYU Hotel School Dean Bjorn Hanson and Associate Dean Lalia Rach of University of Wisconsin, just to skim the surface.

So when I received an invitation from Harvey to attend one of his improvisational comedy shows in New York, I was intrigued and had to check it out. You see, I’ve known Harvey for 20 years, and had no idea he had been studying improv comedy for over a dozen years now.

So investigative reporter, I had to become. What gave Harvey the courage to go out into the night, on his own, and pursue improvisational comedy as a hobby and now even a second career? I implored Harvey to open up and shed some light on his underground career.

“Journalism is my full time job, but I’ve been doing improv now for 12 years. I now take an improv class at least one night a week, and perform 2-4 nights a month.”

Harvey Chipkin

Harvey Chipkin

I asked Harvey if journalism was changing so much that maybe he had become bored with travel writing. “Not at all,” Harvey replied. “Travel journalism is more fascinating than ever because people are more fascinated by travel more than ever.” He added that as in every other industry, user-generated content like blogs and review sites has dramatically transformed the information landscape.

“The perspective of the experts is still very much appreciated and needed….while on the other hand, something like TripAdvisor is an incredibly powerful form of popular input where individuals are contributing and there is more transparency.”

So back to Improv…Harvey first took acting classes when he was only 19 years old, on the Lower East Side in New York at the Henry Street Settlement House. Close to 30 years later, Harvey’s wife Janet picked up a flyer on improvisational classes while walking around in New Jersey and handed it to Harvey. He said he was simultaneously mortified and intrigued. So Harvey crept into class one night.

“The greatest fear is public speaking,” Harvey reminded me. “What’s scarier?..,” he added. “Getting on stage and making things up, now that’s scarier!” But getting down to the question of Why improv?, Harvey gets a bit more serious. “It’s all about the people supporting you. It’s all about support…and it’s about listening.”

“I interview people all day and it is all about listening. Fundamentally, improv is listening. Improvisers are all writers – mostly full script writers or partial script/sketch writers. ~ On certain movie sets there are improvised scenes that are done over and over again. Then they come out with a script – it’s improvisation, trial and error. The movie Best in Show for example, comes out of improv. Summed up, the underlying principle of improv is “Yes, and….You accept, and then add on to it. And so on….”

Stephen Colbert in a commencement address compared life to improv comedy. “Well, you are about to start the greatest improvisation of all. With no script. No idea what’s going to happen, often with people and places you have never seen before. And you are not in control. So say “yes.” And if you’re lucky, you’ll find people who will say “yes back.” RDR Public Relations and self-described fan, commented on Harvey’s improv artistry, ”Harvey makes the difficult, fast-paced and highly imaginative craft of improv look quite effortless. Above all, he’s the perfect example of “meeting your bliss half way.”

She added,”Harvey’s improv group, Lunatic Fringe, is a small but versatile team of performers that takes audience suggestions and creates skits around them on the spot…Audience participation and volunteers are key to the program, so you never know what to expect.”

Harvey also conducts improv workshops for various companies in and around New York. He works regularly with a public relations agency, Hawkins International among others, where he brings 20 people in a room for teamwork improv sessions. “Many of the younger associates never have the opportunity to look up from a computer screen, and improv gets them out of their comfort zones. I emphasize trust and collaboration.”

Jennifer Hawkins, owner of Hawkins International Public Relations in Manhattan describes the workshops as a way to encourage her team to think a bit differently and be spontaneous in contributing ideas and play off one another. “I think the benefits of hosting the improv session for the staff is two-fold: It offers everyone the opportunity to break up their day and the monotony of the everyday and work/play with their colleagues in a totally different way than the regular day. It also is a good exercise session for our more reserved or shy executives, especially the younger people, to have the opportunity to speak aloud in a group. We are constantly trying to train our staff to speak up and contribute their ideas and opinions in staff meetings, with supervisors and with clients – so this gives them a fun venue to practice speaking up and hopefully get more comfortable…”

Apparently improv and stand-up comedy are like swimming and running. There is not alot of overlap between the two. “Stand up is about the jokes and improv is about the truth in comedy,” Harvey explained.

So I finally made the connection after speaking with Harvey. The truth will eventually come out in pure improv just as it does in good journalism. At least I like to believe that is so. Either way, where do I sign up and who wants to go check out improv in your city? Let me know if you’ve tried improv or if you have some favorite haunts. If you’d like to contact Harvey Chipkin to learn more about his workshops, email him at

Improv locations and reviews, some recommended by Harvey and others worth exploring:

Upright Citizens Brigade founded by Amy Poehler
Second City – a Bill Murray haunt.
Magnet Theater
The Pit
Whole World Theatre
YELP reviews of NYC Improv Classes
YELP Reviews for Dallas Improv Classes

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Instead of riding my bike today, I read about cardboard bikes instead

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Getting Into the Community and Digging It!

Volunteers helped plant a new flower bed in honor of Cinco de Mayo at West Dallas Community School, as part of a series of events designed to support the school, which serves at-risk children of West Dallas. Getting to dig in the dirt with a group of amazing 5th graders from the Nature Studies Class at WCDS, literally reconnected me to the earth and to the Dallas community. You see, I’ve just returned to Dallas after living in New York and New Jersey for the last four years. Volunteering as part of a volunteer effort gave me the opportunity to also make new friends at and Slingshot.

West Dallas 5th grade students and all the volunteers utilized the colors of the Mexican flag — hope (green), white (unity) and red (the country’s heroes) to plant the 14′ x 4.5′ flower bed. The colorful flower bed was planted in front of the school sign.

If you’re interested in getting to know the amazing administrators, teachers and students at WDCS. The school hosts regular Lunch & Learns to highlight volunteer opportunities such as mentoring and tutoring. For more information, reply to

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Meryl Streep, Sallie Fields Have Nothing On Robin Benson

Picture yourself as the only woman working in a power plant. No, this is not a Meryl Streep or Sallie Fields feel good movie, it was real life for Robin Benson at age 23. According to Robin, members of the workers’ union at the power plant were very protective of her, but most in the male-dominated organization never expected to be working side by side a young woman their daughters’ age.

I met Robin while serving on a career advisory board for an all girls high school in Memphis, Tennessee, our high school alma mater. I am fascinated by Robin’s energy and so pleased she was willing to share her observations with me.

Robin’s mother was head of housekeeping at the Hutchison School for Girls, and head of the fledging computer program….and she was also the art teacher. Robin’s mom, modeled career diversification early on for Robin!
I interviewed Robin recently for a new book I’m writing, From Cinderella to CEO…and Back Again! (this will be the 2nd edition version of From Cinderella to CEO, How to Master the 10 Lessons of Fairy Tales to Transform Your Worklife).

Robin joined a women’s power group after graduating from college. A male peer asked Robin why she needed a group like that. He didn’t understand the concept of why the women would need a support group. “He didn’t buy into it,” according to Robin. Being one of six women in a company of 1500 men, Robin said to him, “as I see it, these women, and I either have the opportunity to fail magnificently or achieve magnificently. Everyone is watching because there are so few women.”

Robin eventually left her position at the power plant, and as an engineer has moved up and often in her career with international companies, based in the U.S. and elsewhere.

At the power plant, she often made suggestions about how there could be safety clothing provided in women’s sizes, vs. women wearing a man’s safety clothing to make the work environment more attractive to other women. She did not win points for speaking up about her observations. Her questioning came across as aggressive, her boss told her. So Robin moved on and up as I mentioned. Today, Robin Benson is a Senior Analyst, Integration Office, at Exelon, based in Baltimore and is an engineer.

In all of the companies in which Robin has worked, she’s primarily been the only woman (or one of a few) working with a team of Caucasian men in their 40’s, who thought they were diverse; however, it became clear to Robin that most did not understand the benefits of diversity or inclusion, or even what it is.

Robin’s advice to those facing or experiencing similar circumstances to her own:
1. Find an advocate within or outside of your company, and it helps to discuss issues you are facing with a male mentor who is more senior to you. That way you can learn from the open communication and different perspectives.

2. Communication is one of the most important things you can do to improve how you manage or work with women. Pay attention to what you say. Being a leader means changing how you communicate, especially if it’s not working for all the members on your team.

3. Bosses and colleagues who encourage an open dialogue and have a perceptive ear for listening to diverse views are the most successful ones I work with. If you don’t find that, then it’s not the place you want to work anyway.

What do you think about joining a women’s group or a support group for girls?
Have you ever been part of one? What is your definition of diversity? of inclusion?

We’d love to hear from you.

Posted in Advice for CEO's, Advice for Entrepreneurs, Advice for Students and Parents, Chicago, General, Getting Along in the Workplace, Memphis, New Jersey, New York, Respect in the Workplace | Leave a comment

There’s a Right Way to Zag in Marketing

Within the marketing industry, many organizations have created annual award shows for the creative product. The general public rarely sees who the winners are. Most of them are set up for internal publishing and viewing. It may sound too simple, but a quicker way to survey or benchmark the quality of creative products for any given year is to review Super Bowl commercials, and global events like the Olympics.

Venturing to say, probably only two or three commercials were worth the astronomical media costs this year. Yes, they made you laugh, but what was the product they were selling? Or the cinematography was magnificently executed, but how clear was the message they were trying to convey? What was the point of difference of the product or service?

Take another quick glance survey into the world of print media. For instance, take the Tourism, Travel and Hospitality segments. Just grab any travel & leisure magazine (or look at the photos on their websites). How many of them look exactly the same if you were to cover the logo or sign off? Would the message stand on its own or could you just move that execution to another hotel and it would suffice?

You might think each hotel or tourist destination’s message is saying “hey, I’m a me too property, and there’s nothing unique about me either.” Now is it really worth the media cost of that advertisement?

Recently in an interview with an owner/CEO of a mid-level advertising agency, the question was asked of him, what does he look for in a creative department employee? His response was “I look for someone who can put a great spin on a communication.”

Granted a “spin” can make a compelling execution. But there is so much more to a strong, memorable marketing concept. The key operative word is “concept.” It may seem a simple, uncomplicated term. Titling it “The Big Idea,” “The Spin,” and more recently “The Buzz,” it seems with this disposable, sound bite, quantity not quality approach of today, the “Big Idea” misses just that – there’s no “big idea,” because short-cuts seem to be the order of the day, and indicative of thoughtless strategy. A lot of that “missing it” is in the social media arena, but that’s another article. (Stay tuned).

Humor has taken the place of clarity, and shock for shock’s sake has taken the place of compelling, and what’s missing is the information to keep it concise and truthful. Lets just say it seems truth is just thought of as boring in this age (i.e. bad form). The good news: This makes a great opportunity for experienced marketers to stand out in the crowded world of badly executed marketing.

The maverick approach seems to be held as the benchmark home run. There is nothing wrong with zigging while the competition is zagging, but there is a right way to zag.

A good way of looking at how important good marketing is, is knowing the basics before you start bending the rules. Let’s take a look at the culinary arts, for example. The media spotlight is on culinary reality shows such as Iron Chef, Top Chef and Chopped. To be a winner or standout, critics look for the “zagger.” Winners are made on the points of difference, and the winning execution is being maverick with the right ingredients. But for Chefs to play games with those ingredients, they have to understand and realize what the culinary balances are to the whole cooking process. The genius of the dish is the extraordinary match ups, making it a successful dish. The balance is there because of the chef’s basic knowledge of each individual ingredient. Just like a chef, marketing and branding professionals have to know the basic marketing ingredients before breaking any of the rules.

Again, the right way to zag is knowing the simple rules of marketing, completely ingrained almost in your sleep, knowing and have a ‘no holes barred’ respect for those rules.

Rule #1: Determining framework of the strong marketing strategy
A) Keep the message clear and concise
B) Boil down the positioning statement , branding or offer to be as simple and uncomplicated as possible
C) Ask the question: Is the message communicating a strong need or action that surprises and resonates the target audience.
D) The message must be truthful

Then start playing the maverick with them. Knowing why these basic rules are there and doing your homework can make the zagging maverick a winning maverick, a marketing genius, not a shotgun genius. And good spin, in my opinion is automatic.

Now it’s your turn. View some commercials. Don’t overanalyze them but for the cost of the media are they up to snuff? Let me know which ones you think are most effective and legitimately break the rules, and win.
Super Bowl Commercials 2012
Olympic Ads on You Tube

This blog post was written by Logan Broussard,
Creative Director for BlueDeep Branding, a partner organization to Cinderella to CEO
specializing in diversity and inclusion marketing and business strategies

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(This is an excerpt from my speech given in Dallas, at the invitation of Linda Descano, president of Citi’s Women & Co and head of digital media.)

Women’s issues seem to be at the forefront.
Through the fog of controversy, we are getting some kickin’ coverage on the issues. From the Atlantic Monthly, July 2012, article by Ann Marie Slaughter, saying women can’t have it all to McKinsey & Co, releasing the “Women Matter” studies, stating that keeping women in the workforce are our competitive edge in business. Women Matter Asia supports the same.

If you agree or disagree with Professor Slaughter’s article, you can tell her on Twitter @SlaughterAM

When I was Head of Marketing and Branding at MPI (Meeting Professionals International), from 2006-2008, we learned then that the wealth of the world was going to shift from the Western countries to China and India and other countries. I didn’t realize then that the ground (and much of the job opportunity) would soon shift beneath my feet (and out of my 40lK). The shift didn’t hit me hard until 2009. So I am taking these studies and their recommendations very seriously – how our country, and other countries must understand what we need to do to keep women in the workforce in order to compete.

It’s a new day. We have to do more with less, man or woman.

Cinderella may have earned her crown. But today, we have to tilt our crowns, move them back on our heads, not tiara-like, but more like a bicycle racer. And in this environment, it requires more discipline, more self-confidence and more grit than ever….to continue to win.

Have you heard the term Radical Openness? It’s the theme of the Global TedTalks. Radical Openness has been described as “Pulling ourselves out of context….getting out of our comfort zones in order to come up with new solutions. “
• No more keynote speakers for events. It’s crowd connections and discussions. Impromptu panels.
• There’s a guy who left Wall Street to go into farming. He couldn’t afford farm equipment, so he started sourcing to create DIY farm equipment, that anyone can afford and build in order to farm and make a living…
• You get the idea, it’s upside down thinking that leads to solutions
Women in business are used to reaching out of their comfort zones, whether we like it or not – we do it. We have to.

Yesterday, I taught a class to a truly blended class of college undergraduates in their early 20’s. Students from Mexico, Peru, China, San Francisco, Dallas and New Jersey, just to name a few were in attendance.
–One said they hated email and technology. When I mentioned downloading the text book on Kindle, one said “No, I prefer the hard cover book.”
– It’s a small class, but no one owned an iPad
– The most interesting thing about this – is that 4 months ago, the majority of the students in my class, at the same school, had iPads, and I would be disciplining some who were texting in class, Let’s just say, I’m taking note, I am paying attention and I am listening, and who knows what the next 4 months will bring.
– Do you tweet? Blog? Want to write a book? Produce videos?
– Write letters?

“Publish or Perish” is not JUST for academia or for doctors anymore. Not that everyone can be the next J.K. Rowling or write the next 50 Shades of Grey book series.
– But as we adjust our crowns to grow our businesses, I strongly encourage YOU to publish. We may think it takes time away from gaining clients or looking for a job, but it doesn’t. It helps us grow our brands. It helps you grow your business. Blog, tweet, write a letter, develop content, speak. Get it into public viewing and discussion. Some of us women in the Southern United States, were raised to speak when spoken to, well we kicked that habit didn’t we?!

When my first book was published, the process of finding an agent and a publisher, writing and rewriting proposals with my co-writer took 4 years.
Today, self-publishing is very respected, and it’s extremely affordable. – However, the expertise of a professional book agent, a book publisher and an experienced editor is extremely valuable, and I encourage you to put your own team together, if you can’t find a major publisher. But remember, you’re leaving your mark and you’re growing your business.

I have specialized in reputation management for a long time now and the rules are the same, self published or publisher backed…. Take responsibility for your words, clearly communicate, differentiate yourself, and have a strategy. Our audience, our target markets are all reporters now too. Yes, your words could show up on the front page of the New York Times, or an influential blogger’s blog or tweet. Have you heard of Klout scores ? The good news is that the world is your oyster. Caution: the oysters all talk to back now and to each other, and not just in months without R’s in them {sic}.

This is a great time to….Tune up the wheels, pull away from the writers block and lead the pack. The emerging talent out there is just waiting to work. There are so many wonderful young women and men to mentor and it’s a two street. We are able to be teachers and we learn more from them. Delegate so that you can develop your content. Collaborate with businesses around the table and across state lines and globally.

I recently coached a young woman on how to write her first proposal to a large consulting firm. She works with Miilenials/Gen Y. She shared an interesting story with me – that Google top decision makers will only listen to R&D teams w/new ideas who come forth as a multigenerational team. And look at Facebook’s success early on with the Boomers. FB included boomers into their target market. They zigged when everybody else zagged. The lifetime value formula said boomers were too old and didn’t know technology. They may have been the laggards, but they gave Facebook staying power.
Billions of dollars later in profits, marketers and brands have resurrected respect for the boomers.
…. 15 years ago, the hotel industry thought marketing to women was a crazy idea, a laughable idea. Trammell Crow , the man, who started Wyndham Hotel brand, had always surrounded himself w/strong women (married a strong woman, hired them and raised of course Lucy Billingsley). Our CEO who had been in the retail industry, understood the power of women making retail, purchasing decisions. Young people, like me at the time, who had no fear about expressing an opinion, in a growing company w/40 hotels who wanted to compete with Hyatt, Hilton, Marriott (we called them the big boys) wanted to win. I wanted to win. It’s a powerful combination for a business to have thought leaders who are brave, and at the top of the food chain, who will listen and cultivate young, diverse talent and listen to the drum of innovation through a diverse workforce. It’s lucrative. It’s smart business.

I have spent a great deal of my career engaging in the wellbeing of women’s business organizations. I want to stay in touch with people I’ve known and yet to meet. I crave it. I look around the room, and I see my life, new and long time colleagues, friends, and my connections.

Just like publishing or perish, I believe we have to connect or perish.

I thank the innovative thinkers for LinkedIn and Facebook. I absolutely love it. And we still have to get in front of people, just like a a CEO of a large corporation. We are our companies’ sales and marketing leaders.

It took 5 years to grow the women’s marketing program from 1995 – 2000, and the competition laughed while our market share just continued to go up – up – up. We increased revenues by hundreds of millions of dollars per year, by engaging women. I wonder if with Twitter had been invented, if it would have taken 2 months!)?.

The Women On Their Way case study I’ve just shared, is very relevant to the work I am doing with a Japanese bank and their Diversity & Inclusion Council. As an advisor, I am helping the team develop a very similar program to Women On Their Way within a global Japanese bank. It is more of an internal program than an external one. It’s an exciting time for this bank, moving toward developing women in management, developing an inclusive culture and embracing diversity within the workforce, to reflect their client base, also increasingly more diverse, and growing globally. As my client said, we’ve done more in two years than the last 200 years.

Because for every action, there is still a reaction, and the ease of getting on the highway still means we can have a wreck if we’re texting while driving. But we can’t be scared to get on the road either, even if we’re in the slow lane.

So let’s reach across these tables to each other here today, across state lines, across global cultures, across gender identities and connect or perish. I’ve featured a few books on my Pinterest Book Page from some of my colleagues that may be of interest. You can download or flip the pages. I am also anxious to read Leslie Grossman’s new book on the importance of connections, Link Out, due out by Wiley publishing in 2013.

Posted in Advice for CEO's, Advice for Entrepreneurs, Advice for Students and Parents, General, Getting Along in the Workplace, Japan, Respect in the Workplace | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Comments

High Performers and Innovators, Please Apply Today”

What makes workplace diversity potentially one of the most polarizing issues today in business?

I have rarely, if ever, worked for someone who was my mirror image. However, many, if not most of us, feel more comfortable and more at ease with someone who shares our same belief system, likes and dislikes … and, yes, even looks like we do.

What I’ve just described will solicit a different reaction from those filtering my words. For example, those reading who are between 35 to 65+ years of age may have quite a different reaction from someone 18 to 35 years of age. Within this dichotomy of perspectives rests our hope, our future and our burden in business and society today.

I have been fortunate to teach undergraduate and graduate classes at New York University in the Preston Robert Tisch Center for Hospitality, Tourism and Sports Management. NYU attracts an international, national and regional student population. On a regular basis, I have the opportunity to listen to students, both male and female, describe how they do not fit into any one culture and how each is creating a new identity for him or herself.

Two students, one Italian, the other Japanese, during a recent class discussion, shared a unique commonality. Each expressed that neither had the same cultural proclivities of their parents or that of their parents’ generation. Nor were they complete converts to the American ways or any other culture. They said they didn’t fit in anywhere, because what they were experiencing has never existed. They told me theirs is a new culture, and even they weren’t sure what it looked like or will look like in the future. The class of 25 students broke out in a collective, “ah-ha” moment, after hearing what these two students had to say. The general sentiment of these young students from around the world, many first and second generation Americans and citizens of other countries were hearing: “They don’t know me, and I have to find my own way – and I am not the mirror image of anyone.”

Does this sound like every generation who has gone before them? “I am not like my parents, and I must find my own way.” Never before, however, have there been so many in a burgeoning workforce with a multi-national upbringing and diverse perspective.

Many of today’s young, global generation are forging new ground and know that misunderstanding and even biases against them may exist. The students I have been teaching at NYU are gaining an education so they can be successful in business and in life. They are learning as they go.

Sylvia, a recent graduate of NYU, who moved as a young girl with her family to New Jersey from Poland, has this to say about diversity: “Many individuals of my generation (Generation Y/Millenials) have grown up attending schools with students from all walks of life. The rise of the Internet and, more recently, social media, further brings people together no matter what their geographical location…. It is even apparent when analyzing consumer trends,” she added. “One of the features a Millenial will look for when purchasing a product is personalization/customization.”

Recent graduates, of which there are 14.4 million more in the U.S. than there were 20 years ago*, may, like Sylvia, believe that if a company does not practice diversity it can be seen as more conservative and hierarchical or even unwelcoming.

Another 23-year-old, seeking a position in public relations and media, told me, “I believe that many people like myself [young college grads] do accept individuals from other backgrounds or cultures and aren’t as quick to question or criticize them as the older generation. It’s easier to wear certain clothing, sport certain hairstyles or listen to certain types of music. Nowadays, I think employees can show more of their personal side in the workplace without being singled out or judged.”

Layering the perspectives of a global and international workforce, on top of this notion, there is evidence to believe that inclusivity and the most recent shift of wealth from the Western World to the Eastern Hemisphere has brought us to a new cliff, one where we can see the future clearly. We can embrace the amazing gift of inclusivity and diversity or turn around and run back to the caves or familiar mirrors where we all look the same.

A colleague of mine who runs a global diversity organization recently made this point: “We may never get through to everyone about the importance of diversity and inclusion, so it is very important to focus on those individuals and leaders who will be the early adopters and ultimately the fastest growing market of innovators that the world has ever seen.”

+ + + + +

Resources for further reading:
Harvard Business Review article about diversity in the workplace: 3/12/2012 @
US Gov.: Corporate Advantage: How Women Leaders Elevate the Bottom Line Globally @

Cary Broussard is the engine behind the creation of one of the hospitality industry’s longest running women’s marketing programs – Women on Their Way at Wyndham Worldwide. She also has authored a book –From Cinderella to CEO – published by John Wiley & Sons, which has been translated into 10 languages. Cary is currently a marketing and diversity and inclusion consultant, based in New York for global companies. She teaches part-time at New York University. You can read more about Cary and her work at

Posted in Advice for CEO's, Advice for Entrepreneurs, Advice for Students and Parents, Atlanta, Chicago, General, Getting Along in the Workplace, Japan, Media, Memphis, Respect in the Workplace, Women in Media | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Taking the Gracie Awards to Los Angeles

With the 2012 Gracie Awards having come and gone, I have the opportunity to reflect upon my time as interim president of the Gracie Awards and the Alliance for Women in Media in 2010. My time with the organization was truly the opportunity of a lifetime. Taking the Gracies to LA for the first time in 35 years (it had always been held in New York), and working with a dedicated board of directors and staff was a great privilege. If you ever have the opportunity to attend the Gracie Awards, by all means, go! It is a great experience (albeit usually a tad too long as all awards shows tend to be).
The Gracie Awards bring together the biggest names in news and entertainment to honor the best in programming for and about women. These links capture some amazing women (and men) who attend this prestigious gala, and for me, lots of great fun.
Gracie Awards – Green T – Alliance for Women in Media
Gracie Awards at The Beverly Hilton – Cary Speaks

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Diary of Girl Scouts’ 100 Years of Making Dreams Come True

I don’t think it’s just me who has noticed that the Girl Scouts are everywhere these days – And apparently, they’ve been around 100 years. Yep, the Girl Scouts were founded in Savannah, Georgia in 1912.

My friend Missy Rainer keeps me posted on all things Girl Scouts. And I am so proud of my friend Connie Lindsey in Chicago, who has Chaired the GS for the last couple of years and Linda Descano, new on your national board, lives right across the street from me.
So these three women have something to do with me being “uber” aware of the Girl Scouts. These three women Missy, Connie and Linda all have something unique in common, and I think of them when I think of the Girl Scouts. They go above and beyond, always doing something for someone else..…I admire them, and I have great admiration for the G.S. – And I do have a confession to make… I keep a jar of cookies filled in my kitchen – so I am reminded everyday how special the GSs sales acumen is and how yummy your cookies are.

It is a great honor for me to be invited as the speaker for the Heart of the South Girl Scouts 2012 annual meeting.

I may live in New York….. but my heart never leaves the South. I still say please and thank you and excuse me everyday on the subway, which sometimes sounds like one of the many foreign languages being spoken in New York.

When I look back at being a Brownie in Memphis, Tennessee, I had so much fun. My mother had five children and she made time to be my Brownie den mother. It was a commitment for her, and we had the chance, even for a small time after school to spend time together, just she and I.
The lessons my mother and father taught me inspired me to write From Cinderella to CEO. Nine foreign translations later, I’ve learned that Fairy Tales are universal.

But have YOU noticed lately how Hollywood has been infatuated and reformulated so many classic fairy tales into movies? At least a dozen movies have come out in the last few years. Tangled-based on Rapunzel, Little Red Riding Hood, Shrek I, II, III (and of course there’s the Broadway Play); Mirror, Mirror starring Julia Roberts, based on Snow White, and Snow White and the Huntsman with Charlene Therzon, opening June 1. Beastly, Beauty and the Beast, and don’t forget Narnia Chronicles and Lord of the Rings, which led the pack. And who has seen Hunger Games or read the books? I’ve just scratched the surface. Bottom line, there are new fairy tale heroines in town, sisters and brothers…

These movies have universal appeal, and overall they are featuring women and girls in positive roles. Disney fairy tales, based in the 50’s mentality of princes rescuing princess are fading into the background. A recent finding bucks the old Brothers Grimm versions of fairy tales. Click here to read more.

So what is it that intrigues us about fairy tales? Why do we keep these simple stories alive?
Rumor has it that the story of Cinderella was discovered 3000 years ago in China and before that in Greece. The story of Cinderella has been told over and over again, across oceans and miles, by adults and children alike…. and this was all before what? All before the Internet!!! That my friends, is the power of fairy tales. They entertain, they hold mystique and it’s been said, they are part of the human DNA, and I believe, our innate desire to do the right thing when faced with challenges.

And w/all the translations and languages and embellishments, oh my’s and oh wow’s….the story of Cinderella has pretty much stayed the same over all these centuries w/the same message. Dreams can and DO come true….

I have been speaking and writing about this concept for the past 5 years and I think the comfort of fairy tales and the connection they make is needed more than ever now – all generations, all genders, in all countries. When I started out on this journey, I thought “oh boy, this is never going to work.” Fairy tales are too simple to compare to business lessons.

I believe Fairy Tales have been around for 1000’s of years, because they are rooted in goodness and good things last…and yes, there’s always a dark side, a flaw that gets in the way, but we learn through fairy tale lessons that we can overcome…

Think About it….If someone found your Cinderella Story 3,000 years into the Future, what would they think? They might think that Oprah was a fairy godmother for sure! If time travel existed (and who knows one of you girls out there may invent it), what would you want girls in the future to find and learn about from you? You’d want to tell them the real story I think.
Which by the way, that made me think….What will the GS uniform look like 100 years from now?

I love what Halle Berry wears as Storm in the movie X-men.
But seriously, What lessons will we share? What stories will we pass on to others?– not just electronically but over the dinner table, camp fires, slumber parties and perhaps even one day….telepathically! (I’m serious)

How did Cinderella attract such a powerful, generous spirit as a fairy godmother?
Well what I’ve come to believe after studying fairy tales, is it’s because Cinderella had good intentions and worked hard to do the best job she could do despite her crummy circumstances. She attracted someone to help her out of her situation. Now it was up to Cinderella to stay focused and keep doing the right thing. She wasn’t perfect either. Cinderella did get off course a couple of times, but her Godmother “had her back.” Found her a dress, helped her find her shoe, gave her guidance. Even forgave her…

So whether there was a prince involved or not, Cinderella would not have made it to the Palace if it had not been for her Fairy god mother – And we all need Fairy godmothers in our lives. Your Girl Scout Leader, your teachers, our mothers, our aunts, our sisters, and yes, men can be godmentors too – and are.

So Cinderella is a simple story. Do the right thing, and you will find supporters. But in reality, our lives are not so simple are they? Girls and women are complex and we have such responsibilities on our shoulders. The pressures of what the ideal girl and woman today should be are massive and quite frankly, unattainable – it’s just plain silly.

So how do Girl Scouts in particular help lead the way and take the shallow, media-driven, tabloid type pressures off our future and present girls?

If you were to write your own book, what words of wisdom would you share? Do any of you keep diaries anymore? We didn’t immediately share everything like we do now on Facebook and Twitter now.

I used to keep my diary tucked away, writing under the covers by the light of a flashlight, so as not disturb my sister sleeping in the bed next to me. Sometimes my little brother found it, and read it! That’s a whole ‘nother story….

I believe we women and girls can “own” the message of the ideal woman and girl. We have to not only do the right things, and support each other (and this is key), but we have to forgive each other for our flaws and embrace them – even celebrate them as well. We are leaders. We are strong. We are all Cinderellas, despite our politics, our societal beliefs, even our accents.

I encourage you to write, and tell your stories. Share them with each other. Laugh a lot. Cry a lot. Be each other’s fairy godmothers. A diary is just as powerful as a book. We’ve all heard of Anne Frank – she wrote in her diary every day and her writings have influenced the entire world.

So from me and from many others from lands far, far away.
Happy 100th Birthday Girl Scouts! You are our fairy godmothers. And please keep making our dreams come true.

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What if every Wall Street IPO or Trade Benefited a 501C3

….What if the New York Stock Exchange or NASDAQ donated a percentage of transaction costs or a percentage of all trades to a charitable fund or many non profits ? For every company that makes an Initial Public Offering, could a percentage or portion of the percentage of trades be donated to charities or causes? I like for instance what GoodSearch does by donating a percentage of every search to charity of the searcher’s choice.

I believe it would help the tarnished image of Wall Street (NYT, 3/16/12, On College Campuses, a Wall Street Career Loses Its Luster).

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Politics, Technology & Elections, Oh My!

Gotham Media Ventures recently hosted a panel discussion in New York at Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz on Madison Ave., titled “Politics, Tech & Decision 2012.” About 100 people attended and the audience was a mix of women and men, all ages. Now before you glaze over, it is an election year and we are about to elect the next President of the United States…Don’t you want the inside scoop?

Some of the highlights I think you and I should pay attention to from this type of discussion:
1. The panel was made up of all men. Was it because they were talking about money, politics, and technology, and Arianna Huffington wasn’t available, that there were no women on the panel?
Okay, I digress. The men did make some compelling points:

Barack O’Bama’s use of the Internet four years ago in the U.S. Presidential election was a significant “disruptive” milestone in politics. Just as John F. Kennedy utilized TV, a relatively new technology, to get his message out to the masses, the O’Bama campaign used the Internet. Panelist Taegan Goddard, founder of Political Wire, made the point that Mitt Romney has raised only 9% of his money online (where donations typically under $200 are made). Conversely, O’Bama has raised the majority of his funds online. Interesting to note: Republican candidate Ron Paul DOES use the Internet to build his base and raise funds, and it also keeps him in the race at the top of the polls.

2. Eason Jordan, co-founder of Poll Position, stated “In 2008, the Internet was the disrupter and in 2012 the Super Pacs are the disrupters.”

I first learned about Super Pacs by watching the Colbert Report on Comedy Central (seriously!). Stephen Colbert was not on the panel, but his brilliance in focusing on the issue of Super Pacs forced the media to talk about and educate us on what these legal candidate/issue-endorsing pacs do. Here’s a clip from Stephen Colbert if you haven’t seen it.

Back to the subject of polls, Jordan made the point that there are flaws w/all polling, and that we should as a whole, be skeptical of them – recommending that we always read several polls from various sources, and remembering that one can word a question in a poll to get the answer(s) one is looking for….Keep in mind that there is no perfect polling.

One statistic quoted was….”4 out of 5 Americans are fed up with American politics”….and it’s only going to get worse. Also stated was “American people are fed up with the media’s role in politics.” What do you think?

3. Sorry to beat a dead horse, but here goes… Polling over two weeks is too long, according to all on the panel. Too much change occurs over two weeks. Therefore, 2 days (or two hours!) is a more accurate measurement. Jordan made the point that it is illegal to poll people by calling their cell phones, and with fewer people (especially younger ones) doing away with their land lines, then, the polling skews older (I suppose). As commedianne Paula Poundstone said on NPR’s “Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me” recently, “I’d be concerned about the results of a poll that caught people at home who had time to answer a suvey anyway….” Robo-calling was made illegal for companies, but Congress has not restricted it for political calls. Note to self: “Interesting.”

4. Goddard, who threw out several statistics, most of them relevant, said, “those who use Google+, spend an average of 6 to 7 minutes a month engaged in it. Those who use Facebook, spend 7 hours a month on Facebook.” His point I think was that you can’t make people engage in a product, no matter how powerful you are, and Google is powerful. However, Facebook weilds the power when it comes to engagement, and politicians and brands want what Facebook’s clientele can provide. It’s how to insert themselves in our conversations, be relevant and motivate us to donate to a campaign or buy a product(s). That’s where the gold lies….

5. Eli Pariser, Board President of (who I received the invitation from via the Internet) said that even though we are all sick of the TV ads (already!) that the number of ads will just increase between now and the election in November (w/key networks in key cities ad time already sold out). Pariser made a salient point in that we are more likely to hear and see the two party system in action on TV vs. the Internet. Television ads, although annoying, probably provide a more democratized delivery. Whether we like it or not, we will be hearing/seeing (over and over!) both sides or all sides of the arguments and issues from all candidates on TV. Because the Internet is more interactive, advertisers know us psychographically and socially vs. just demographically. We are being categorized, followed and “cookied”, based on our likes, dislikes and through algorithim formulas, calculating what we will likely do or believe in the future.

Campaigns and products are getting better and better at matching the message to what we think we want to hear. As one panelist said, we begin to listen to our own echo chamber. All panelists agreed that we should actually make ourselves listen/read opposing views. Watch Fox, CNN, MSNBC, and Public Television. Don’t just limit yourself to one news outlet. It’s kind of like the polling point above, it’s all in how the question is asked….

The Internet has increased the volatility and the speed of issues, so crisis communications planning is now about anticipating what could happen or how a candidate or brand can respond w/in 15 minutes.

Lastly, Pariser, also author of The Filter Bubble: What the Internet is Hiding from You, added that it is possible for a candidate to saturate the television mainstream airwaves, and believes new channels will continue to open up, like YouTube.

Richard Hofstetter, moderated the panel. He is a law partner with the firm FKR&Selz PC, full name mentioned above. Michael Bassik was also on the panel. He is CEO of Proof Integrated Communications and U.S. Digital Practice Chair of Burson-Marsteller

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Back from Japan, a little jet-lagged and a lot inspired

I didn’t think to ask anyone how jet-lag would affect me upon returning from Japan….Finally two weeks after my trip, I felt normal again. FYI – Melatonin was not helpful to me – it actually made me feel awful. I don’t recommend it, but my colleague traveling with me loved its effects! Traveling for 3 weeks straight with back to back speaking engagements from Memphis, Dallas, Los Angeles and of course Japan, drained my energy. Although jumping back into teaching at NYU re-energized me!

As I listen to and read historical reports on the 70th anniversary of Pearl Harbor today, my emotions and perspective are mixed. I wince in horror at the root and destruction of wars and yet I have to stay hopeful that current wars will one day be settled in peaceful partnership – as the U.S. and Japan have. This brings me to describing my trip to Tokyo just 6 weeks ago.

I gained such an appreciation of Japanese service culture and the country’s commitment to quality and sustainability. In addition to taking away amazing learnings from the GOLD conference, I discovered so much about the wonderful culture of Japan. For example, just some things I noticed….very rarely (if at all!) did I see a trash receptacle on the streets of Tokyo. Maybe only once (at McDonald’s) was I given a paper napkin, plastic cup or paper plate to throw away. Instead, a steaming hot towel, a ceramic cup and chopsticks were given in place of throwaway items that we in America toss out sometimes 3X a day. How much plastic and paper do Americans throw out a day?

Service ah-ha moments included, genuine eye contact and helpful service from hotel staff and retail providers. When I asked directions from any store clerk, all selling stopped, the map(s) came out, a highlighter, most clerks (men and women) walked me 1/2 way to the destination or subway stop to make sure I had clearly found my way. This delightful treatment was coupled with a truely joyful reaction, even a guteral laugh sometimes when I practiced my rudimentary Japanese saying “thank you” in Japanese – arygato!” Ha, ha, isn’t she cute trying to speak our difficult language!

Japan is attempting to take a long hard look at itself and the challenges and opportunities it faces. Women have not been welcomed easily if at all in the business ranks of Japanese companies. There business population and ways of doing business are aging rapidly leaving (temporary?) holes in their capacity to innovate.

Japanese business has not been based in meritocracy (which is amazing, since Japan is one of the world’s top economies). Japan leads in technology and automobile design, but apparently is losing ground fast. However, I am optimistic for Japan and its people, despite having suffered such a major setback with the tsnumai and earthquake. The world NEEDS Japan to keep on contributing great concepts to better the world! We must support them in these efforts. With women’s voices in Japan, their knowledge and fresh business perspective, we will all benefit.

Women in the U.S., and around the world, helped change the hotel industry for the better for all travelers. This “case study” example, could be useful as Japan contemplates seriously its need for women’s contributions to current business practices and management. Hotels today have comfortable beds (can you say Heavenly Bed? Thank you Starwood and CEO Barry Sternlicht for listening to what women wanted). Great cuisine replaced ho-hum rubber chicken and tasteless hamburgers. All sorts of creature comforts that we access today in hotels didn’t exist 20 years ago. Women were listened to and yes, were even put in charge (something like 35-50% of hotel general manager positions in the U.S. are filled by women now). Here’s to Japan and the world becoming an even better place for all to not only thrive, but to sleep safely and soundly in all our heavenly, peaceful beds.

My remarks:

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Exploring similarities and differences between Japan and the US

Reflecting upon what makes diversity and inclusion so powerful in art, culture and business, I look forward to posting impressions from my upcoming trip to Japan. Most recently a study from GEWEL (Global Enhancement Women’s Executive Leadership), conducted in 2009-10 found findings that show Japan and U.S. have much to learn from each other. This study opens the door to more opportunity for businesses in the U.S. to collaborate with the Japanese. The economic pressures we are facing world over require that we collaborate in fresh ways. Hiroko Tatebe, founder of the Global Organization for Leadership and Diversity, and a pioneer in this area, is a great resource in understanding the opportunities for leadership and collaboration between the two cultures. Ms. Tatebe has invited me and my colleague Leslie Grossman, founder of Women's Leadership Exchange, to lead a delegation to Tokyo to speak on topics related to creativity, collaboration and connectivity among influential business leaders from Japan and the U.S.

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Keeping Your Sense of Humor…In Not So Funny Times

My friend Barbara sat down for dinner the other night and the first question fired across the table was “Now Barbara, what HAVE you been doing?” Barbara said she felt herself go red. She fired back, “Can we not start with me first. I’d like to hear what everybody else is doing.”  Barbara wished she had her clever, very together “elevator speech” she used just that morning in a women’s networking group. But that night at dinner with friends, she wasn’t prepared to be “on”…..She had joined her friends for what she thought would be time to let go and forget about her uncertain future. She knew her sense of humor wanted to show up for dinner too, but it had walked out the door when her friend asked “what have you been doing?” such a simple, innocent question…..”Arghhhh!” she thought.  Now that she was building a consulting business, and needed work desperately, she said she wished she could roll back the clock and have a better answer to her friend’s question. So we talked about this, and we developed a checklist of ways to stay in a happier zone when answering this simple question.

Here’s our list for keeping your cool, staying calm in a chaotic world and yes, maintaining a sense of humor.

  1. First step we decided is: “Chill out.”  She decided to create a list of what makes her smile (Steven Colbert, her favorite quote, movie scene). Next time she’ll respond  “What are you doing now?” with a serious response, but with a renewed sense of humor.
  2. She says she will practice answering the question with her professional response (in front of a mirror) and commits to editing it as circumstances evolve…(She might also may say it once or twice in a Paula Dean accent or imitate Barbara Walters just to crack herself up (only in front of mirror).
  3. She committed to actually LISTENING to the questions people ask her without jumping to conclusions or being defensive. She noted that this will also be hard for her….because she’s always been a know it all, which made her laugh….
  4. I recommended three websites: Yehuda Berg, Ladders, Little Pink newsletter. Anyone reading, please recommend others. Barbara said these are “ok” but she could use more help.
  5. Barbara is setting aside specific hours during the week to work on her long term business plan, and creating a spreadsheet with the list of people she will contact for business advice.
  6. We talked about Barbara’s investments. She is going to organize all of her information so she can check in with her money manager and accountant and help her husband manage their money.  I suggested she check out the Women & Co website to help her determine what to organize a plan of action.
  7. I have a list of friends, the “real” down home friends, those who will listen to my rants, support me, and even critique me – warts and all. I suggested she might create a similar “entourage” and call one of these friends at least once a week, since most of her very good friends live in other cities. I also suggested she check out Leslie Grossman’s entourage advice for business leaders.
  8. We decided she needed a mini-vacation to help her relax. My friend cannot afford to go on vacation, so we decided she could look at “substitutes” until she’s saved enough money up for a road trip, etc. – She decided at least once a week to either bicycle, practice Tai Chi (great site for this) or splurge on a movie or a yoga class. We decided that walking the dog doesn’t count toward relaxation, especially since it’s really for the dog.
  9. She is looking into taking a class, one that will help develop her “softer side” – she’s always been a hard driving corporate maven, and quite frankly she realizes her outside interests are well, somewhat sparse. We brainstormed….cooking class, stand up comedy, photography, organic gardening, learning Chinese, enrolling her dog in a school to be a therapy dog or rescue dog. Hey, isn’t it about time the dog got a job ?….(although weak, humor continuing to creep back in to her life). Oh, she found this. Check it out.
  10. Last but not least, she is going to meditate. She is teetering on the unknown and is used to being very much in charge of her life, and her future.  A new friend shared with her: “Sometimes you have to be knocked off the hill in order to climb the mountain.” – She loves that quote and is going to wear a band aid on her knee as a reminder (only not while wearing a skirt). Lame, yes, but it’s an inside joke… wink, wink.



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Celebrity Gossip or the Physics of Intelligence?

I know I’ve changed now. Like all, when I’m in the airport, I have a ton of choices to buy reading material before boarding the plane. For years, when I wanted to relax, I would choose People magazine, USWeekly, some celebrity eye candy publication (along with a chocolate Hershey’s bar) where I didn’t have to think while I was relaxing in between spurts of work on the plane ride home.  Well, this time, on my trip home to NJ from Austin, TX,  I was compelled to buy Scientific American magazine, intrigued by the cover article, “The Physics of Intelligence…Can We Get Any Smarter?” by Doug Fox…. So I bought it plus the June 27th issue of Newsweek w/former President Bill Clinton on the cover. Eye candy? No, intriguing headline, yes, “14 Ways to Save America’s Jobs” by Bill Clinton. Just enough money left for my Hershey chocolate, I dumped my craving for the July issue of People. I felt a little liberated, kind of nerdy, i guess “older” too, but really, I couldn’t wait to sit down and read both magazines cover to cover for the 4-5 hour trip home, complete with stop over.  Instead of admiring photos and salivating over gossip, I was motivated to consider my own mind and body in the context of our planet and the universe.  Yes, I learned my brain (and yours) is probably too small to get that much smarter and Lee Kump in The Last Great Global Warming article says the prior prehistoric warm up, paled in comparison to what’s going on now.  I felt so connected to the words on these pages, not like a passive observer.

I would like to know why celebrity magazines have intrigued me over the years. Why did the more interesting, educational science magazines elude me.  Don’t say it…brain is too small? Ha, ha, ha. Seriously, why? I thought about this and then I saw the answer in a pull quote from Stephen Hawking, the British physicist on p. 21 of SA. He states: “I wouldn’t compare it to sex, but it lasts longer.” – Hawking is speaking about the joys of scientific discovery.

I for one and am looking forward to my expanding wisdom lasting a long time. As I munch on my Milky Way, my appetite (vice?) for chocolate remains unchanged (sigh).

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Cinderella’s Student Advisory Board

Research has shown (my own research as well as others) that having an advisory board can make all the difference in business success and yes, even in personal endeavors. Master mind groups, advisory boards, boards of directors, you name it, listening and responding to a group of qualified individuals whom you trust and respect can produce big dividends.
Three keys to success:
1. Determine what the purpose of your board will be. Is it a focus group for a new product or service ? Is it a group of advisors who will advise you on growing a business or your career?
2. Outline the benefits/commitments to those serving on the board. Networking with other board members, opportunity to learn from you and others. Mention appropriate perks and any monetary compensation and time commitments.
3. Challenge yourself. Invite people to serve on your board who will give you honest feedback. Some advice may not be easy to hear. Remember, you don’t have to act on all advice given to you, but you do need to listen.
4. Treat board members with respect by conducting yourself and the meetings in a professional manner. Work to create a rewarding experience for everyone, and understanding that you have to manage personalities, logistics and outcomes. If you create a board, you have made a commitment to others as well as yourself and your goals.

What other tips would you give to those starting or joining an advisory board ? What other questions do you have?

Our board is featured on the Facebook page,

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Women’s Voices from Around the World

I had an amazing opportunity as part of UN Women’s launch to hear a panel of women from around the globe share their voices at the New School in New York.

Sakeena Yacoobi from Afghanistan (the Afghan Institute of Learning), shared her major concerns about the security of Afghan women.

Three things I especially like about Sakeena’s delivery of her message.

  1. Sakeena knows the new Executive Director of UN Women is in the audience, so she makes her message relevant to Michelle Bachelet (former President of Chile) on behalf of the women of Afghanistan, because she knows Bachelet has influence and power to help lead change for Afghan women.
  2. Sakeena prepared her message – simple and to the point – Her sound bite is easy for us to understand and share with others – Women in Afghanistan need security. Violence hinders/haults their lives.
  3. Lastly, Sakeena’s voice quality is steady, pleasant to listen to and powerful all in one.
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Listen to me, little Red Riding Hood…

There are ZERO calories in music. If I listened to more music, instead of snacking on sweets, I’d be a lot thinner…Ok, it’s settled…one more New Year’s resolution on the list.

What do you listen to while you’re creating, eating or exercising?

My friend Mary Barry created a great soundtrack for me while I was writing my book, and I use it to kick off my presentations sometimes.  Music is an incredible motivator. I grew up in Memphis, Tennessee, a great music town (Elvis, Justin Timberlake, Alex Chilton, Rufus and Carla Thomas, all hail from M-town). Anyway, I’ve gotten away from my music roots and I’ve found the app Shazam to be an amazing help on my iPod in helping me remember songs  and learn about new artists. Check it out!!

So my fairy tale soundtrack includes several songs I want to share. Lil Red Riding Hood by the Pharoahs/Sam the Sham and the Fairy Godmother Song by Jennifer Saunders. Go to if you’re inclined to download or listen to a quick snippet. More to come.

Stay tuned (next blog, an update on my last trip to Apple store for “one to one” from a hip techie in Soho. Hilarious, helpful).

Continue reading

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Do we have a clue about the Internet?

Please read what the FCC opinion on net neutrality looked like in 2010 when I wrote this blog. Actress Justine Bateman, Justin Bateman’s sister inspired me to write this blog when I was acting CEO of the Women’s Alliance for Media in D.C. Justine has been a fierce advocate on keeping the Internet open for the masses. I feel very powerless right now in this discussion in 2017. If you have ideas on what the FCC should do, please make your voice heard.

It does appear that the FCC may have a clue…when it comes to keeping the Internet open for the masses in the U.S. – It seems that the FCC (Federal Communications Commission), Hollywood, big Internet companies (Google, Verizon), the Wireless industry and public rights advocates are divided on how to preserve and, now upsell, the digital marketplace for consumers. A front page article in the New York Times, “Web Deal Near on Paying to Get Priority” (8/5/2010) cautions “Google and Verizon….are nearing an agreement that could allow Verizon to speed some online content to Internet uses more quickly if the content’s creators are willing to pay for the privilege..” However, recent postings on several blogs this week report that the FCC has opened up all closed door meetings with these companies. The snafu seems to be if the FCC actually has any power in this decision at all…. A federal appeals court decision in April involving Comcast and the FCC, restricted the FCC’s jurisdiction over broadband. Who is leading the discussion surrounding  net neutrality so that the public understands this issue and how it affects us all?  Active organizations are following these ongoing talks and speaking out….Public Knowledge and Open Internet coalition are two.  Go to and wikipedia and learn more about what net neutrality means.  Remember….Justine Bateman ? On Family Ties? I was pleasantly surprised how knowledgeable and passionate she is about net neutrality.  Ms. Bateman participated in a panel discussion during LATVFest. She’s all grown up and very articulate and convincing about her views – to keep the Internet free for all….Anyway, she raised my awareness, so now that I have somewhat of a clue – I’m planning to stay posted….

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