The Colors of Gender Thanks to Modern Marketing and Ancient Ancestors

From the day you were born, even before conception, there are beliefs and stereotypes that are attached to gender.

Let’s consider the color continuum for gender. Pink is for girls and blue is for boys. Right? Where did this begin? Who decided which colors belong to which gender?

Here is a brief trip through history. In the 1800’s all babies, male and female, wore white “dresses” in infancy. Thus, babies were gender neutral. These sacks were easy for changing diapers and to bleach when they became dirty.

Then around the 1920’s Western parents began dressing the little ones in colors. Pink was associated with boys. Yes, you heard me, boys. Here is the rationale: red is a bold and brave color and too strong for children so, boys got the watered-down version…pink.

Blue, a more subdued color was for girls. And by the way, blue was associated with the Virgin Mary, thus a color of purity. Just saying!

Fix-Em, Don’t Fire-Em

Ever hear (or say) something like “Diane is THE PROBLEM. Everything will be solved if we just get rid of her.”

How often does this type of response show up when things aren’t working at work?

Look, maybe Diane is THE PROBLEM and she must go. However, then again, maybe there’s a deeper issue lurking under the radar.

Our natural tendency is to point the finger at her, him or them and step back from looking at the whole enchilada.

Magic Moments Best When Unexpected

Got on the bus. Waited. Got on another bus. Waited even longer.

Had a bad feeling this paid in advance tour was going to disappoint.

And it did.

Almost.

Tours to that revered site in Rome, the Vatican are expensive and seemingly necessary. Otherwise the lines can be hours long.

The Vatican is a must see in Rome. Regardless of religious background or preference there is a majesty to being in the presence of some of the most amazing art and sculpture the world has to offer. And looking up at the Blessing Window where the Pope stands and then pivoting around to observe what it must be like to look out at huge numbers of appreciative and reverent individuals is a stunning moment.

However, that is not where the memorable magic happened for me.

Big Decisions, Little Decisions: Which Are More Important?

The quality of your life, personally and professionally, is based on how you make decisions.

There is the old way and the new way: hint, the new way is actually older than the old way. The indigenous cultures all knew and still know that everything is connected. Somewhere along the way as we became “sophisticated intellectuals” and “rugged individualists” the idea of inter-connection became old-fashioned.

Take business decisions.

Most companies use a variation of the Gap Analysis. First you are supposed to look at where you are; then where you envision you want to be; and finally create a plan to get from here to there. Simple. It’s like: think, vision, execute.

However, there is a missing piece.

Ain’t It Good To Be Alive

Last weekend we trekked to Manhattan for the season premiere of ALIVE: 55+ and Kicking.

And what a day it was.

Just being in the presence of the executive producer, Vy Higginsen would have been enough. However, the day brought so much that I simply want to stand up and applaud the entire cast and the brilliance of an idea so needed in our world today.

Vi took the microphone before the start of the show and in her vivacious manner said, “The first 50 years of life are for learning, and the next 50 are for living.” And off we went on a musical holiday of song and story about, well just about all of us. It was about dreams gone astray, dreams fulfilled, happy days, hurtful days, and how to get up and get going, no matter what.

I will be interviewing Vy for my book “GUTSY BREAKTHROUGH STORIES” so here is just a snap shot of this mover and shaker. She is an award winning author, playwright, radio and TV personality. She is full of firsts: first woman on New York prime-time radio, first female executive in advertising, and founder of the Mama Foundation for the Arts in Harlem.

A Vital Missing Piece Of The Workplace Puzzle

Since most of us prefer information to be fast and direct, here is the missing puzzle piece right up front: what happened in our original organization, the family, goes with us to work…whether we like it or not.

When I stumbled on this counter-intuitive nugget of knowledge it changed the direction of my career to work exclusively with businesses to rethink the causes of stress related issues and interpersonal conflict.

I used to believe the common philosophy that there needed to be clear boundaries between home and work. The “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” mindset is the one to live by.

Right?

Not really. While most of the time we can maintain clear boundaries, when stress hits the hot button all hell can break loose.

Over the top stress can be a deal breaker. It impacts physical health, emotional perspectives and important relationships.

While I adhere to great stress reduction techniques, there is one area that exercise, yoga, deep breathing, massage or mindfulness could not touch.

Sadly, it held me back from promotions and workplace success. I also lost some good friends and colleagues over my behavior. Even traditional psychotherapy never gave me the answers I needed.

When I became an entrepreneur and owned a business, I was finally forced to take a deeper look into that dark part of my behavior and grab the darn puzzle piece that had been eluding me for decades.

First, the back story.

Watching my father die from a sudden heart attack when I was fourteen was, no surprise, a master game-changer. My older brother was off to college and there I was, left with a gaping hole at home including a fearful and depressed mother.

Eventually, scabs formed over the trauma and to the outside world all was now fine. Different, yet fine.

Life goes on. I put the past behind and focused on the future. I used the present as a launching pad for what was next.

Except…the past is always part of the present and helps to determine the future. I chose to ignore the past. It was too painful.

As a young manager I was empathetic, encouraging and energetic. Yet, when someone left my team for another opportunity I judged them. I loudly predicted they would want to come back. I decided never to talk with them again. It was not pretty.

I became a real witch.

Most of us believe that we make work decisions based on conscious deliberation. One important study found that our unconscious brains are engineering our decisions milliseconds before our conscious brains can get around to them. German brain scientist John-Dylan Hayes states “Our brains make decisions based on emotional and rational assessment that we’re not aware of; only later after the decision is actually made do we explain our decisions and actions to ourselves.”

Thanks to advances in neuroscience, we now know that our unconscious emotions occupy a different region of the brain, often exerting a more powerful influence on our preferences and actions. Daniel Siegel’s book “The Developing Mind” synthesizes information to explore the idea that interpersonal experiences impact the structure and function of the brain.

Enter Lisa.

Lisa was my assistant. She was woven from angel cloth. We worked together in tandem, the flow was amazing.

One sunny May day she wanted to talk with me and my partner (who was also my husband). The look of delight on her face made me uneasy. We exchanged pleasantries and finally she blurted out “I love working here and so it is hard for me to say I will be leaving in six weeks. You have always taught everyone to grow to their fullest potential. I was hoping that I would get enough money back from income tax to return to school and, yes, it happened.”

She waited to hear congratulations.

Instead I burst into tears and said through gulps of air “Lisa, you can’t leave.”

Lisa sat, with that deer in the headlights look, while my husband took my hand and said “Sylvia, she’s going back to school. This is all good.”

Then he “got it” and asked Lisa to leave us for a bit.

“What’s up” is all he said.

Donald Trump, Pandora And The State Of Our Nation

There was a curious incident during a recent basketball game between the students of two high schools in Massachusetts.

Is it because of Donald Trump?

Or is it just that somewhere on the planet Pandora, that beautiful gal from Ancient Greece, once again opened the mysterious box she was told never to open.

And all hell broke loose.

Pandora opened the box hoping to see gowns of silk and bracelets of gold. Instead out of the box poured all the evils of the world. In the shape of ugly creatures (thugs, if you will). What poured out was disease, poverty, jealousy, anger, corruption, lying, stealing, bigotry, polarization, mean-spiritedness, contamination, war, pestilence, affairs, physical and sexual abuse, gun and knife fights, partisanship and whatever else you can think of that resides in the realm of humankind that we prefer to, either avoid, deny or attack without thought of consequences.

Back to the high school basketball night. The kids at one of the schools with high intensity began shouting at the all-boys Catholic school that it was a “sausage fest.” Yes, you know what they were talking about.

Leadership Lessons How To Raise Healthy Kids To Be Excellent Leaders

We know all the basics: lots of fresh air, sleep, fruits and vegetables, friendships, and loving parents.

There is one extra area that works like a charm. It is kids teaching kids.

You see, too much adult supervision and youngsters stop listening. All they hear is blah, blah, blah. And more than that, there is a deep pattern starting when the little ones are around two years old to say “NO.”

Enter the peer group.

No, I’m not talking about in the teen years when there is the fear of rebelling and going to the dark side with friends. I’m talking about when friendships are forming and behavior patterns can be developed amongst the youngsters for good habits.

The Power Of Film And Film Stars: Thank You Jim Carrey And Leonardo Di Caprio

I sat through the Golden Globe Awards hoping to see and hear something that would stay with me emotionally. With all the sixth grade humor about butt holes, alcohol and sexual innuendos I was able to multitask and get some work done on my new book, “Every Word Counts.”

I kept thinking “When did we lose the elegance of wanting to elevate and help people grow?”

Toward the end of this fluffy and superficial evening I was just about to give up and turn off the tube. And then Jim Carrey came on looking majestic with a super cool beard. It was clear he has done some good personal work when he talked about “being Jim Carrey who has won two Golden Globes and falling asleep thinking about becoming the Jim Carrey who will win three Golden Globes hoping will complete him.”

It was done so simply, so subtly that I wondered who got the message behind the message. It is also what we discuss with business leaders. No matter how many awards you win, no matter how well recognized you are, no matter how much money you have, you cannot fill the deeper place inside you with outer trappings.

I said a silent “thank you” to Mr. Carrey.

Happy Holidays, Happy YOU

I just came home from shopping for the last minute gifts for my family. Was it fun? Well, some of it was and some of it was rather annoying.

I took time to observe my reactions to the good moments and the sour ones. Then I found some research that aligned with my feelings and I decided to share this now, while we are still in the throes of holiday fever. At least till after the New Year’s bells ring out at midnight on December 31.

Listen to what I learned and then pay attention to how you respond in the next week.

The research from The British Medical Journal indicates that people who celebrate at this time of year have increased oxygen flow to five parts of the brain. Celebrating whatever you call your special holiday is the good part. Just sharing with family and friends with no more of an agenda than being together is powerful.

In the research they had individuals look at yuletide images, could be Frosty the snowman, Rudolf the red nosed reindeer, chestnuts roasting on an open fire, jolly old Saint Nick, photos of candles and evergreen trees. You name it, it works to evoke feelings of joy and nostalgia.

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