Category Archives: aging

The Ladies Room

7 Unexpected Business Lessons I’ve Learned From Millennial WomenScreen Shot 2017-03-22 at 11.22.25 AM

I am a VP and editorial director at a large media company. Now 56 years old, I follow with interest debates about whether women at my level do enough to mentor millennial women — a heated and sometimes fractious discourse that covers why they do or don’t, if they should or shouldn’t and so much more… Read more on Tue/Night >

Tagged , ,

The Ladies Room: 8 Things I’ve Learned From Working With Millennial Women

I am a VP and editorial director at a large media company. Now 56 years old, I follow with interest debates about whether women at my level do enough to help millennial women climb the corporate ladder — a heated and sometimes fractious discourse that covers why they do or don’t, if they should or shouldn’t and so much more. Famously, there’s Madeleine Albright’s “special place in hell” arguing from the “should” camp (although she’d later characterize the statement as “undiplomatic”). There’s Harvard Business School professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter’s supposition that women feel obligated to not show a gender bias leading the “why they don’t” discussion.

And then there’s the less discussed but pervasive—and patronizing—attitude of a certain kind of senior leader toward her younger female colleagues. The sentiments shared with me, because I am old and it is assumed I will feel the same way: They are entitled, brash, not deferential enough toward leadership, look at their phones when I’m talking in meetings and let’s not even get into what they wear to work. As a theme, the objections are mostly about ignoring social queues and not adhering to “normative” workplace behavior.

It should (but doesn’t) go without saying: what’s “normative” changes constantly. I try to remember this when I find myself rolling my eyes at generational differences in the workplace. It’s also worth knowing they’re rolling their eyes back. I’m thinking of the time I referenced “the ladies room” only to overhear one female employee grousing to another: “why the f***k is a grown-ass woman talking about a ‘ladies room?’” The truth is, adapting to a changing world is how any of us survive— in the workplace and on the planet. And I don’t intend to stop adapting now, even if the change agents are women 35 years younger than I am. A partial list of what I’ve learned: 

  1. Casual references to calories, dieting and “I feel so fat” are not OK

When I was the rising generation, a certain kind of striving-to-be-inclusive female boss would attempt to cozy up with “just us gals” chat like this. Fifty-something leaders, myself included, need to celebrate body positivism as a great leap forward.

  1. Pronouns matter

I got into a ridiculously heated discussion over using they/them when referring to an individual, so as to honor their not choosing to use he/she/him/her. My wrongheaded objection was based grammatical — an individual can’t use plural pronouns, I said. I was so, so wrong. The argument ends here: yes, they can, whatever Chicago Manual of Style might think.

  1. (Office) Clothing, optional

Women miss the point when they judge each other on clothing choices: bared midriffs, ripped jeans, lacy bralettes worn over tops. Too long, we’ve had men characterize us by how we dress. Let’s not do that too each other, OK?

  1. Don’t use prissy punctuation on Slack

I’m an editor. I like a well-placed semi-colon and the proper use of a one-m dash. But Slack (or a text) is not the place for them.

  1. Stop all that ‘splaining

Sometimes, when you’re the boss of people in the room or simply when you happen to be the one talking, you talk over people about something you know less about than they do. This is a kind of abuse of power, at worst, and borderline offensive, at best. And by “you” I mean “me.”

  1. Girl, not interrupted

I’ve been stunned—in a good way—at my younger female colleagues easy deflection of manterrupters. It’s not harder than this, as it turns out: “Give me another sec, I haven’t finished my point, Andrew.”

  1. I am not her mother

There’s slightly icky workplace type called the Office Mom, who helps the young’uns personally and professionally (whether they want her help or not). It’s all too easy to see your daughter or son in like-aged colleagues, but they’re not actually your children, let us remind ourselves to remind ourselves.

  1. It never was a dress

ceagudmusaau8tj

Put another way, it’s best to steer clear of anachronisms like “the ladies room.”

Tagged , , ,

Things I Can Never Remember

How to pronounce deus ex machina (doesn’t come up a lot, but still)

Which direction to cross myself in a Catholic Church: left to right, right?

How to spell commitment without autospell’s help: how many t’s, how many m’s and don’t read too much into this.

The rationale for the Electoral College

To remove my mascara before I get into bed, after which time it’s it’s far, far too late

Not to drink a third glass of wine

Tagged ,

For everywoman who refuses to be invisible…

 

alyson-walsh-3-2014_04_25_pure_aw_13_shot_13_139-copy-2There’s Alyson Walsh’s blog “That’s Not My Age.” I mean look at her! She’s beautiful and cool and British. And she recently posted this photo of Lauren Hutton. I’m following her (anywhere).

1483464953-hbz-lauren-hutton-bottega-veneta

Lauren Hutton for Bottega Veneta

Tagged , , ,

Makeup Free Movement, as reported by blogger Atypical60

Catherine gets real about “no makeup,” better called “some makeup” and also “lots of makeup.”

Source: Makeup Free Movement? Nope. I’m of the Make Me Up Movement!!!

Tagged

This is What 68 Looks Like

linda-rodin-by-rebecca-pollak-5

Linda Rodin: Girl-Crush-Worthy

I don’t know Linda Rodin, except for what I’ve read on Goop. The profile is as breathless and overstated as you’d expect from a pro-woman web site. To clarify, the sites and their intentions are good, but the boss-lady profiles tend to bog down in superlatives. Here’s the first sentence, awkward in its girl crush: “There’s lit-from-within in the “glow” sense, and there’s lit-from-within from the standpoint of visibly, joyfully vibrating with energy …

Etcetera.

The thing is, Linda Rodin just seems cool and natural and a little chary in her responses to questions about her slim build and good skin. “Everybody sees these pictures of me retouched. I don’t look like that! People say, you look so great, but I mean, we’re not having lunch together, that’s not how I really look,” she says.

Here’s how she looks:

vogue_michaelbeauplet

Linda Rodin, age 68

linda_in_bed

Linda Rodin: Sleeping Beauty

Rodin has a skincare line called Olio Lusso, from which I have a tiny bottle of skin oil. If it would help me look like her at 68 and, most especially, be that cool, I’d buy it by the barrel, along with a tube of lipstick called Billie on Her Bike, because the name’s so, so good.

luxurylipstick_7e5cb2a5-660f-4637-bfb0-478d22f3f6f2_grande

BILLIE ON THE BIKE Inspired by Linda’s mother Beatrice, aka “Billie,” this violet berry is the shade she wore to ride her bicycle, work in the garden or to do just about everything.

Tagged , , , ,

This is what 84 looks like

Carmen Dell Orefice is billed by this Fortune article as the world’s oldest working model (Baddie Winkle might have something to say about that). Her looks are confectionary: flossy platinum hair, doll-like features, painted-on lips and a complexion like wedding cake icing. Nearly 100% artifice, at least in her modeling photos, which is all we ever see.

carmen-dellorefice-emily-siegel-1200x800

Carmen Dell Orefice, age 85

She’s looked exactly like this for decades — same gravity-defying white hair, same placidly arrogant expression. But as a young model she was an extremely interesting-looking beauty, an Italian girl, which is to say ethnic for that time.

nb03_810_015_v1b

Carmen Dell Orefice

Tagged , ,

This is what 63 looks like

Almost disqualified because she is French (which is cheating), Isabelle Huppert was among the most self-possessed of women at the Golden Globes last Sunday. She doesn’t look “young” or even “young for her age.” Rather, she looks just right: slender, chic, the product of diligent self-care and groomed without looking calcified, which is sometimes the case with older American beauties.

2040079-1484078762-640x0c

Isabelle Huppert, age 63: Suits up like a boss

2040238-1484080948-640x0c

Isabelle Huppert, age 63: Ice queen

Tagged ,

The Guest House

mary

Mary, my Mother-in-Law

Another profile in the NY Times magazine, this one about a doctor who lost three limbs when in college and now tries to bring a “good death” to those who reside in what’s called the Guest House, part of the Zen Hospice in San Francisco.

“Good death” is something I thought about when I visited my mother-in-law, Mary, who lives in a memory care facility in Orlando. She has severe dementia and, after falling and shattering an elbow, was in a rehab that simply wasn’t equipped to accommodate patients with memory loss. We spent a weekend relieving Steve’s sister, Laura, who also lives in Orlando and is mostly tasked with her care. Observing Mary, in pain, in an unfamiliar place, in adult diapers, not remembering not to lean on her elbow, addled by medication, I wondered about sustaining life after the mind goes and the body breaks down.

By most yardsticks, hers is not a good life. Would a “good death” be a better choice? Simply put, it’s not a choice we can make and it feels like heresy even talking about it. And that is exactly what Miller spends his life working at: inviting death into our lives, our relationships, our conversations. He’s looking to “disrupt the death space,” a mission statement that sounds perfect for the Silicon-Valley VC community he solicits.

The article never links Zen Hospice’s “Guest House” to the Rumi poem, but I did, so here it is. Perhaps it’s something of a cliche to rely on Rumi for Life’s Big Ideas. But it continues to amaze me how the work of a 13th-century Sufi poet endures. (Some of his relevance is explained by this New Yorker article.)

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.

Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

Tagged , , , ,