5 Reasons to Rethink “Having It All” (Response to “Why PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi Can’t Have It All”)

Posted by on Jul 15, 2014 in Inspiration, Leadership, Vulnerability | 2 comments

In her response to David Bradley’s question about work-life balance (see interview here), PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi made some basic assumptions that I respectfully suggest we consider a little more deeply, before anyone takes as fact her statement that women “can’t have it all”. 1. Somewhere, somebody, actually does “have it all”. Who has such magical powers that their choices in life do not also, always involve sacrifice? It is a ridiculous expectation for any human being, why single out women as a specific gender incapable of it?  No one can “have it all” – doesn’t matter who they are, what they do for a living, how much money they make or …least of all…whether they are male or female. 2. “Having it all” means the same thing to everyone, or even to the same person throughout a lifetime.    At 43, I am still figuring out what success means to me. I know a lot more than I used to, though, thanks to a lot of trial and error.  Trial and error is, in fact, the only way to figure out what works for you. Taking someone else’s experiences as fact for yourself may not be the best thing for you, because you are not them. It’s a tragedy if a young person hears from a role model that they can’t “have it all” and therefore opts to limit their life and career experiences before they even know what “having it all” means to them.  3. Sacrifice is bad. Sacrifices are just choices, opportunities to move closer to your ideal as you figure it out. Some men sacrifice career advancement in order to have more time for their hobbies.  Some women find themselves on the “fast track” because they love what they do and work is their passion. Whatever! It’s your life, and at anytime you can make a different choice anyway – so what’s there to be afraid of?  Stop shying away from making contributions to the world because you’re afraid of having to make a sacrifice. In fact, don’t make choices based on what you are afraid of …period. 4.  If your top priority isn’t work, you can’t be successful. For me –  wanting to be a good partner and mother at home, and a good contributor at work creates a kind of balancing tension that actually makes me better all around. At work, for example, the desire to be home by 5:30 every night is an extremely focusing force. I am much better at knowing what needs to get done and finding the most efficient way to get it done (including mentoring and empowering my team) than I was before parenthood. On the other side, if...

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Ode to My Daughter on her 1st Communion: Part I (The Girl)

Posted by on May 30, 2014 in Inspiration, Just For Fun, Learning, Vulnerability | 0 comments

Like many mothers with pent up creative energy – I use events in my kids lives as an excuse to visit the craft store, make a mess and generally have fun with my purely artistic creative juices. One of the things I really enjoy is cake decorating. I use boxed cake mix, canned frosting (or purchased frosting from the Publix deli)…but the tools and the artistry, they are mine all mine. When a cake decorating opportunity approaches, I get excited. I peruse Pinterest for inspiration, I spend more money on cake decorating tools and equipment. This weekend, my daughter Madeleine will experience her 1st Communion. She is 7 (almost 8), and we are Catholic, so this is a big deal – with a beautiful white dress and fancy hair and shoes and everything. And Madeleine is a pretty incredible kid, in so many ways. At age 7, she is the most self-referencing person I know. She is who she is, not in an “in your face” non-conformist sort of way –  just in a really awesome, beautiful, authentic kind of way. One time she was upset because of something that happened with friends, and she said to me “sometimes I just feel like I don’t fit in” – looking up at me with tears streaming down her face.  As a parent, this is the equivalent of someone ripping your heart out and slicing it in a million different pieces. The first thing I wanted to do was grab the “friends” by the shoulders and say “CAN’T YOU SEE HOW AWESOME SHE IS???”.  But I realized pretty quickly that I couldn’t do that, you can’t change other people – right?  My next thought was, “well, maybe I need to give her more advice about how to fit in? I mean, I’ve been pretty successful at it, maybe I need to teach her some of those tricks”.  But this thought made my heart sink, and make me feel sad…like it would be something akin to painting neon hearts on Van Gogh’s “Starry Night”. I realized this was also not the right direction. And then God intervened, with a lesson for both of us, and here is what I actually said to her, as I wiped away her tears… “Madeleine, I am not really sure what to say to you right now…because the reality is, you are such an amazing and unique person …and that is awesome…but there is cost. The cost is that sometimes, you aren’t going to fit in and people aren’t going to like you. I’d rather you learn how to deal with this fact, the reality that sometimes you aren’t going to fit in and sometimes people aren’t going...

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How to turn Ignorance into a Competitive Advantage

Posted by on May 20, 2014 in Digital Strategy, innovation, Inspiration, Leadership, Learning, Strategy, Vulnerability | 0 comments

In 2010 I was the 4th most traveled person at my company, helping to introduce a new digital offering to clients. I was in such high demand because entering into a discussion about digital marketing with their clients made the sales professional feel vulnerable, for very good and logical reasons (these sales people are some of the most impressive individuals I’ve ever met, they aren’t easily intimidated). The client would ask…  “Well, have you heard of company X? They said they could do A, B and C…you guys can only do B” (I paraphrase of course). The salesperson would feel stupid if they didn’t know the company, or they couldn’t match the capabilities in the meeting. I was essentially on the road and in these meetings to handle this one question over and over  and over. The truth is, in many areas of tech (and definitely in Marketing Technology these days) it’s IMPOSSIBLE to know all the companies. The barrier to entry in “marketing services” is flat out non-existent. And here is something has and always will be true about the vast majority of technology start ups (and many new ventures within non-startups)…but established companies tend for forget this:  More often than not – there is no there, there. (shhhh, don’t tell anybody) And the newest of ventures have very little to lose by overselling what they can do (whereas an established company, trying to take a new capability to existing clients, has quite a lot to lose… the clients trust for one, opportunity cost of selling what they know works for another). If someone asks you about a company or a person you’ve never heard of (but your client thinks you should have), IT’S AN INTELLIGENCE GATHERING OPPORTUNITY! Say, with confidence and without losing a beat, “Nope, I haven’t heard of them. But we have a team tracking the space very closely, tell me more about them & I’ll see what I can find out for you.” Here’s what that statement just got you: The chance to learn something, and gather intelligence. In fact, the most valuable intelligence…such as, what your real or potential competitors are saying to your clients. You leveraged your role as an already trusted, existing advisor to expand your expertise into this new field. You demonstrated good, active listening skills, let your client know that what’s important or of interest to them is important and of interest to you. You bought yourself time to research and come back with a thoughtful, useful and well-positioned reply. You have an explicit reason to follow up and continue the conversation with your client about the new capability. If you lie, or skirt over the issue, and pretend either that the...

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Live Today Like Someone Left the Gate Open

Posted by on May 19, 2014 in Inspiration, Just For Fun, Leadership, Learning, Vulnerability | 0 comments

  This is my dog, James. I’ve seen a quote and an image something like this before – it features a dog running as fast as he can and he looks so happy – the quote on the graphic is “Live life like someone left the gate open.” My kids and I often reference the quote out loud when James is running around full tilt, as he was just before this photo was taken. “Hey Mom, James is living like someone left the gate open!” We love to watch him. Something about the pureness of the joy, the fact that he will run and run and run until he is completely and happily spent, that I admire… and, honestly, sometimes I’m even jealous of him and the pureness of his joy and the simplicity of his exhaustion having put all his energy into his joy. So for Inspiration Monday, I offer this awesome picture of my dog James – taken right after he had run his heart out through mud puddles and rolled around in freshly cut grass – and a slightly modified quote, that seems more possibly than living my whole life that way…I can do this for one day, just enjoy it – go all out – don’t worry about anything… “Live TODAY like someone left the gate open.” If it gets really messy, you can always take a bath, get a good night’s sleep and try again tomorrow :-). Susan O’Neal Gear has over 20 years of experience at the intersection of consumers, marketing and technology. Passionate about all aspects of a consumer’s relationship with brands and retailers, we’re spending the next year looking for new, groundbreaking thought leadership  – if not disruptive solutions – with the potential to redefine the parameters of consumer loyalty. If you also want to see some game changing happen -then follow Upstream Insight, contribute your voice, share this post…do something! ...

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Failure Is An Option (Domino’s)

Posted by on May 16, 2014 in Consulting, innovation, Inspiration, Leadership, Learning, Strategy, Vulnerability | 0 comments

There is no growth, no innovation without someone making a decision to be vulnerable – both personally and organizationally. Kudo’s to Domino’s. And if you are questioning how failure leads to success, it is this – knowing that one event, one fact is  – by itself-  without power to define you or your organization so long as it is not the last thing you ever do. Even the most seemingly awful mistakes don’t define you if you keep moving in the direction of how you want to be remembered (too many famous examples to choose from, I am thinking of Bill Clinton, New Coke, ?..who/what can you think of?) MediaPost Publications For Domino’s, ‘Failure Is An Option’...

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