October Is the Wrong Shade of Pink

English: pink ribbon

I couldn’t let October pass without giving my two cents on the marketing machine known as Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I think it’s great that there’s an emphasis on creating awareness, but as we know, all attention isn’t good attention. Though October has been the month of awareness since 1985 it’s not been until the last decade that marketers decided to make it “sexy” and “cool” to go pink. It teeters on the line of awareness and exploitation.

Everyone has something pink to sell these days. You can find office supplies, gadgets, accessories, even groceries adorned in pink! There are athletes decked out in it, buildings lit up with it, and stores dedicated to it. What I don’t see are stories putting a face to this terrible disease. Do you know how much of your money from that pink whatever is going towards real cancer research? My guess is 10%. If they’ve already reached their goal for the year it may be 0%. In some cases these products aren’t even affiliated with breast cancer research. As a marketer I get it. We’re “cause” marketing, but as a woman I just feel exploited.

It’s not enough that I live with the fear that breast cancer may one day strike me or my family, but I also live with the memory of a loved one who did not win the fight. Until you’ve witnessed breast cancer firsthand you have no idea how devastating this disease is. Lung cancer I understand, skin cancer makes sense, but breast cancer has no rhyme or reason. As I think about my grandmother’s last day on earth after fighting so hard to beat cancer only to have it re-occur more vicious  than before there’s no pink anything in this world that could erase that pain. I honor her not with tattoos, decals, or trendy things, but by living my life in a way that would make her proud, not just in October.

As you buy your pink products put a little thought behind it. If you want to support breast cancer research just give directly to an organization. For many companies their pink looks more like green to me. Capitalizing on the pain of others under the guise charity is deplorable. I refuse to help them pad their profits in the name of breast cancer and urge you to join me. Since it’s almost November I’m sure we’ll be on to the next cause pretty soon. I’m sure next October will be even pinker.

I made this in honor of my grandmother who lost her fight in September of 2002. Her fight is my motivation.

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My 6 Phrases To Live By

Over the years I’ve developed this list of phrases and sayings to cope with or motivate myself through any situation. I hope you find the meaning in them as well.

  1. The sun will rise tomorrow. No matter how deflated and defeated you may feel always remember that the sun will rise again on a new day and opportunity. It is not the end of the world.
  2. Anything worth having is worth fighting for. Drive and determination will take you far in life. Saying what you want means nothing if you aren’t willing to fight and sacrifice to get it. If success were that easy we’d all be living the perfect life now.
  3. Headstones don’t read job titles. Though your work is part of you it does not define you. Remember that once this life is over you don’t want to regret not having more life in your work/life balance.
  4. You can eat an elephant, one bite at a time. We’ve all experienced what seem like insurmountable obstacles and somehow we conquered them. This was one of my grandmother’s favorite sayings. It wasn’t until I got older that I understood what it meant. You can conquer anything if you take it in small chunks.
  5. For every ‘no’ there’s a ‘yes’ waiting.  I like to think of this as my “Vegas odds”. Whenever I get a rejection I see it as increasing my odds for a yes the next time around. Stay positive!
  6. The one thing you can’t change is change. Inevitably things change, people change and you will change (I hope). Not all change is bad. You have to roll with the punches if you want to end up on the right side of change.

What’s phrases or mantras keep you motivated? Share them with me! I’m always looking to add to my list.

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A Letter To Catty Women – Can’t We All Get Along?

Dear Catty Women:

As a woman the lack of sisterhood and unity among us disappoints me. Instead of banding together to rise to the top we often step on each other just to win. Our behavior serves as entertainment for men as we continue to perpetuate the stereotype that all women hate each other. And for no reason at that.

Case in point, this year alone we’ve seen the drama surrounding Gabrielle Douglas’ “unkept” hair unfold, Lolo Jones bashed by her own teammates for being too popular, and most recently Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj cat fighting on American Idol like school girls. In each of these scenarios women were hating on other women because they were, in my eyes, jealous or insecure. As it all played out on TV I remember thinking men do not act this way.

I’ve experienced the foolishness firsthand. In high school I moved to a new school district my sophomore year and it took a while for me to make new friends. There were rumors started that I thought I was better than the other girls because I was from the other side of town. Puh-leese! Craziest thing I’ve ever heard. Catty women are great at judging a book by its cover and being threatened by the contents. Luckily, many of these girls grew out of it.

Just when I thought the pettiness died in high school here comes a twenty-something with the same mentality. As insecure women you, not the rest of us, fulfill your prophecy of not being smart enough, pretty enough, successful enough, and etc. One of my best friends after college we began to let her insecurities show. In her eyes I was smarter and prettier (her words, not mine) and everything became a competition. It got to the point where I couldn’t continue being caught up in her one-sided competition. You can’t blame others for your lack of self-esteem or expect us to dial back our lives for you.  What you can do is learn from those who threaten you. I know several women who would love nothing more than to see another succeed.

The pettiness isn’t reserved for personal lives either. The stigma that women can’t work together or be effective leaders stems from you! I’ve seen some bizarre encounters at the office, but this one is the pettiest of all. I befriended a woman at the office. We didn’t hang out outside of work but we did go to lunch often. I remember speaking to her one morning and she literally rolled her eyes at me and stormed off. We worked to on several projects and attended meetings together. She refused to make eye contact or directly communicate with me. Now that’s catty. Business is business and personal is personal and as a professional be able to separate the two. You won’t like everyone but show some professionalism  and respect. Pettiness will kill your career. How can you manage a team if you can’t manage your emotions?

These are just my examples. I could write a book with the stories I’ve heard. It genuinely saddens me to see women go out of their way to put other women down. How can we advance as leaders this way? How can we grow if men are too afraid to put us in a room together because they fear drama? Catty women, if nothing else I ask that you learn to coexist with the rest of us. We won’t all get along but at least be able to act like a lady in our presence. On behalf of the non-catty women everywhere we thank you in advance for you acceptance and support.