Today is 10 October. How will you feel on 18 January if you start a 10-day goal today? Wow!

Imagine How You’ll Feel on January 18 (if You Start a 100-Day Goal on October 10)

by Bill Murphy

Recently, I wrote about how 100 days is the perfect amount of time to achieve a key life goal.  It’s enough time to accomplish something big – but short enough to be able to see the finish line from the start, and to discourage procrastination.

I’ve done these kinds of 100-day challenges a few times: studying for the bar exam, running a marathon, even persuading my wife to marry me. These challenges work. And, after the article, quite a few readers contacted me. Together we launched a mutual 100 Day Challenge –  one that starts next Tuesday, October 10, and ends 100 days later, on January 18, 2018.

About 50 people have signed on so far, using a Facebook group to keep one another honest, provide support, and achieve goals. Maybe you’ll be inspired to join too. Here’s how it works.

Lose weight, write a book, get more clients …

Among the most popular goals that members want to achieve:

  • Lose weight and improve health (quite a few!)
  • Run a successful crowdfunding campaign
  • Write a book (or at least a draft)
  • Start a podcast
  • Increase sales or get more clients
  • Launch or test a business concept
  • Achieve a personal goal (relationships, etc.)

I’m doing a challenge too: conducting fifteen 60-minute interviews that I’ll need to write the first draft for a new book project.

However, the goals are less important than the fact that people are doing it all together and offering support for one another. By sharing the same milestone dates (more on that below), the hope is that we will keep one another honest and on track.

Five easy steps, 100 challenging days

There are really five steps to this 100-day process.

First, you’ll want to identify a goal that is (a) worthy, (b) quantifiable, and (c) at least “arguably achievable.”

Next, you’ll want to really force yourself to question the goal you’ve come up with. Seriously, take some time on this. It’s no fun to go through this entire 100-day process only to realize you chose the wrong goal.

Third, map out the milestone dates. There are four of them–see the next section of this article for details.

Fourth, schedule the quantifiable markers you’ll need to accomplish by each date in order to succeed, and finally–

Fifth, track your outputs. In other words, act, and be scrupulous about recording your progress.

Day 1: October 10

Starting a 100-day challenge on October 10 means mapping four milestone dates. The first three are the 30-, 60-, and 90-day marks. The last, of course, is the 100th day.

As they teach in the U.S. Marine Corps, the human brain is optimized to track (at most) three things simultaneously. Thus, we divide most of the challenge into thirds.

The remaining 10 days are meant to be either a failsafe–an extra slice of time to help you achieve where you might have fallen short–or a week-plus celebration. Working from October 10 therefore, the milestone dates are:

  • October 10: Start
  • November 9: Milestone 1
  • December 9: Milestone 2
  • January 8: Milestone 3
  • January 18: Finish line

Again, it truly doesn’t matter what your goal is. On November 9, some in the group will hope to be a third of the way toward losing 10 pounds; others might hope to be a third of the way toward writing 100,000 words; others might hope to be a third of the way toward starting a business. Others will be working toward something that hasn’t even occurred to me.

The point isn’t the goal itself; instead it’s the idea of achieving consistent progress, which in turn helps you achieve the goal.

Envision the future: January 18, 2018

By January 18, 2018, for my personal goal, I plan to have interview transcripts running more than 100,000 words–fodder for my new book. Others in the group plan to have lost 10 or 20 pounds, or to have built the first stages of a business, or to have achieved other quantifiable goals.

There’s a big emphasis on quantifiable goals. No, wishy-washy “I want to get better at playing guitar,” in other words; the goal has to have specific, measurable objectives. We want black-and-white markers, so you’ll know at the end whether you achieved them. (No cheating!)


Women on boards – what will 2016 bring?

2016 may be a year of great opportunity for increasing diversity, though much remains to be done.

Last year ended positively.  Lord Mervyn Davies, the outgoing chair of the government’s equality taskforce reported that:

  • his target that women make up 25% of FTSE 100 directors had been achieved
  • women now make up 26.1% of FTSE 100 directors, up from 12.5% in 2011

What is behind this?  Over 90% of the new women directors appointed at FTSE 100 companies in the last five years have in fact been non-executives.  While non-executives can  make a big impact on a business, it’s not the same as being on the executive board and having a say in strategic direction. So is this then just a token gesture, simply a politically correct manoeuvre to maintain reputation?  Equalities minister, Nicky Morgan, said, “Women don’t want to be treated differently or seen as window dressing”.  They want to make a positive and proactive contribution.

Davies concluded by recommending that FTSE 100 companies should work towards a target of 33% female directors by 2020. While targets are better than having quotas, we need to be increasing diversity in general on executive boards, as the majority still consist of white men.  There are currently just five female CEOs running FTSE 100 companies, and this remained unchanged during Davies’ time in office.

We need more evidence of the advantages of boardroom diversity and of how inclusiveness benefits all.  A 2006 Harvard Business Review study quoted male directors on the impact of women in the boardroom. Men on the board of one company said “how terrific the discussions and richness of outcomes have been” and that with women’s voices, “there is a higher level of understanding of the business.” A corporate secretary said that having 3+ women on a board makes the dynamic “much more conversational and less hierarchical and, as a result, all the directors get better information.” Fewer than three, however, and the women found it hard to be heard.

Catalyst research shows that boardroom diversity is linked to increased profitability and that 3+ women directors are pivotal to change. McKinsey research also provides evidence that companies prioritising diversity raised profits. It was found that, in the UK, for every 10% increase in gender diversity on the senior executive team, there was a 3.5% rise in pre-tax profits.

We need to ensure that stories and research like those above are shared more widely in order to encourage and inspire the next generation of female and non-white business leaders.


One Woman In The Boardroom Isn’t Enough. Here’s Why.

by Emily Peck, Huffington Post

Elizabeth Dolan quit her job as a director at a public company in May. Then, she did something unusual: She told the world why.

As the sole woman on the board of the activewear company Quiksilver, Dolan says she faced an unacceptable level of unconscious gender bias, as she described in a June blog post for Fortune and recently reaffirmed to The Huffington Post.

Dolan, 57, said that her male colleagues completely shut her out of multiple discussions over whether to fire Andy Mooney, the company’s chief executive — even though hiring, firing and searching for a CEO are among a board’s most critical jobs.

Writing at Fortune, Dolan said she only learned of Mooney’s firing in an email after the fact. She said that four of her fellow directors told her she was “too conflicted” to be involved in the process, because she and Mooney had worked together many years before at Nike. Yet when she was first being interviewed for the board position, Dolan said, the directors had asked her whether she’d be willing to replace the CEO if necessary.

“I said yes,” Dolan wrote at Fortune. “Like them, I am a businessperson. I understand the tough decisions that we all need to make. I thought my answer had satisfied them. Apparently not.”

“The board assumed they knew how I would have voted based on a biased assumption that I’d vote to keep my ‘friend,’” wrote Dolan, who is now the chief marketing officer at Fox International Channels. “Because that’s what girls do, right? They make emotional decisions about friends instead of strategic decisions based on business facts. Girls can’t keep a secret. Girls are too emotional. Girls can’t make tough calls. And, thank goodness, girls won’t speak out when we marginalize them.”

Quiksilver declined to comment to HuffPost.

“Had there been other women on the board, the decision to silence me would have been different,” Dolan told HuffPost. “The more diversity, the more likely someone will speak up.”

For years, academics and others have warned that you can’t just appoint one woman to a board of directors and consider it “diversified.” But a number of firms seem to have adopted a one-and-done philosophy — particularly smaller companies, like Quiksilver, and tech startups.

Being the only woman on a board can mean you’re treated as the sole representative for an entire demographic — as in, “Hey Betty, you’re a woman. You think ladies will like our new product updates?” Your actual expertise gets overlooked.

“The danger of being the only woman or only minority in any room is the danger of being seen as a token or representing the ‘women’s point of view,’” said Brande Stellings, vice president of corporate board services at the women’s advocacy nonprofit Catalyst. “You’re noticed more for your gender than for your contribution.”

A stunning 37 of the companies on the tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 stock index, including Tesla Motors, Priceline and Comcast, have just one woman on the board, according to an analysis conducted this week by HuffPost. Eight other companies have no women at all. And not a single company has a board with at least 50 percent women.

It’s worse when you look at the so-called “unicorns” — that is, private firms with a valuation of at least $1 billion. That list includes Uber, Snapchat, Airbnb and other startups approaching household-name status. None of them has a board with more than a single woman, according to a recent analysis from Fortune.


In a widely cited 2006 survey of 50 women directors and other executives, women who were the only female director at their company said they were ignored in meetings and left out of social activities and “even from some decision-making discussions.”

Companies also lose out when top corporate leaders are a homogeneous group. “We’re not saying women are better,” said Stellings. “But teams should reflect the full deck of talent and your customer base. You want the business to be poised and ready for the future, and what does your board look like? Does it reflect the past?”

Facing criticism a couple years ago, Twitter finally appointed a woman to its all-male board. Just one. That seemed to squash the uproar. These days, the Twitter board is desperately hunting for a new CEO as the company struggles. Not many people are making a big deal out of the board’s lack of diversity.

Perhaps they should.

The general theory is that you need at least three women to achieve “critical mass” — the point at which there are enough women in the group that men stop seeing their gender as the most important thing about them. As Harvard Business Review puts it, once there are at least three women in a group, they “tend to be regarded by other board members not as ‘female directors’ but simply as directors, and they don’t report being isolated or ignored.”

We’re a long way off from that being the norm. Overall, the percentage of women in the boardroom is absurdly small: Only 19 percent of directors at Standard & Poor’s 500 companies in the United States are women, according to research from Catalyst.

Stellings wouldn’t comment on whether unconscious biases play a role in the boardroom. But she did say that because women are so underrepresented, there’s a higher risk of stereotyping. Groups might experience “not a bias against women,” she said, “but a bias in favor of the dominant group.” (That would be men.)

It’s extremely rare for a female board member to speak up about bias. There’s a concern that doing so would be career suicide — that companies would hesitate to appoint a “loudmouth.”

Indeed, one corporate recruiter told HuffPost that he would have advised Dolan to stay silent, since speaking publicly in the way that she did can be harmful to a company’s reputation (and its stock price).

“I applaud anybody who stands up for the need for diversity of thought and inclusion in the boardroom,” said Dennis Carey, vice chairman at the executive search firm Korn Ferry. “But you’ve got to be careful when you do it.”

Still, Dolan said that she’s been hearing from a lot of peers who are thanking her for speaking up. They’ve told her they’re on the lookout for a new board position for her. Dolan has held executive-level positions since the 1980s, when she was at Nike; she also ran marketing at OWN, Oprah Winfrey’s company.

Dolan said that going public with her story was something she considered very carefully.

“You want to make sure people understand you’re doing it because you believe in the company, and business in general, and basic gender equality across the board,” she said. “You don’t want it to become a misunderstood moment where you are just a noisy girl who can’t play in the big time. I’ve been in the big time a long time.”

One woman in the boardroom isn’t enough!

It’s not the glass ceiling that’s stopping women getting to the top of business


Companies have to mend the ‘broken windows’ that prevent women advancing, says Jean Martin

cracked ceiling

The glass ceiling, that familiar and too-often impenetrable barrier to female advancement in the workplace, is one of the most common phrases in the diversity debate. But it’s an analogy that doesn’t fully reflect the actual obstacles to equality today.

The reality is that female staff leave companies for a wide variety of reasons, from a range of positions in the corporate hierarchy. It doesn’t happen overnight or when they reach a certain level. Women make up 51% of the non-management workforce. That goes down to 40% for first and mid-level positions, 32% at department head level and just 21% at the top executive level. Many studies have shown that ability is not the issue, as there is very little difference in leadership capabilities across genders. So what’s stopping these women from moving up?

While the glass ceiling is a powerful and important metaphor, there is no one big barrier at a specific point that blocks women from fulfilling their leadership potential. A CEB survey of women found the real problem is not one, but many: a series of small issues that they can face daily, which accumulate and slow their journey, or stop their progress up the corporate ladder altogether.

There are hundreds of instances of managers overlooking women in meetings, ignoring their flexi-time requests, or assuming they might not want that high-risk, high-reward assignment because their supposed priority is to spend time with their family. Our research shows that it is this collection of micro-decisions, rather than one macro-issue, that ultimately lead to a startling lack of diversity at the top of many companies.

There is a perhaps surprising parallel to the broken windows theory of crime prevention, which holds that small acts of crime, such as littering, graffiti, or broken windows, will escalate to more serious ones if ignored. But diversity issues are very similar. Small decisions made the same way many times aggregate to create a more serious lack of fair and equal opportunity for women and suggest that the organisation does not support their need. As with small criminal acts, those seemingly innocuous oversights, inconveniences and omissions by employers will build up and will often eventually drive out valuable female talent.

Moreover, processes and job designs simply have not evolved to take gender differences into account properly. Just take the common practice of companies having a single, annual round of promotions. Women are far more likely to miss out on the opportunity if they happen to be on maternity leave during the promotion period, or if they are reintegrating after returning from leave.

As with all things in life, prevention is better than cure. Smart companies today will focus their efforts on preventative measures to address what might look like minor challenges in the way of female advancement. They put the time in to understand and engage female employees early in their careers. They help women achieve their full leadership potential by ‘mending the windows’, whether that means enabling flexible working practices, openly discussing career ambitions and opportunities, or seeking new ways to support and quickly reintegrate those who have taken maternity leave.

Our research shows that companies with diverse leadership generate twice the revenue and profit growth as those without. Mend the ‘broken windows’ and ensure manager decisions and company policies support equal opportunity throughout a woman’s career. Then the so-called ceiling will be much easier to crack.

Jean Martin is talent solutions architect at member-based advisory and research company CEB.

by Jean Martin, Management Today, 10 July 2015

Hillary Clinton’s campaign shows women they deserve the spotlight

US presidential candidate is challenging the pervasive myth that women who desire the same power as men are subversive and dangerous.

Hillary ClintonAn inspiration … Hillary Clinton has garnered respect with her seemingly impenetrable skin. Photograph: Bao Dandan/Xinhua Press/Corbis

Let me start by saying that this is not an objective article on the merits and weaknesses of Hilary Clinton’s policies, campaign or politics. To be frank, it is not an objective article at all. This is a description of what it is like, as a woman, to watch Hilary ascend the ranks of government. Because, as women, we are all watching.

No matter what your political views are, it cannot be denied that Hilary Clinton has made the upcoming US presidential election an emotional one for women around the world. She’s someone who, at the very least, understands what it is to have a female body in today’s world.

Clinton has been inspiring me for years. Even when I’ve disagreed with her, I’ve respected her. She seemed to have an impenetrable skin, and as a sensitive child, I envied that. The vitriol that has been lobbed at Clinton over the years would have laid a lesser person flat. The fact that she not only withstood it but rose above showed me that being a woman didn’t mean you had to hide in the background.

She also introduced me to the casual sexism that pervades our society. Every step of the way her intentions have been questioned, but why? Why are we so confused by a woman seeking power? We would never wonder why a man would want to be president. A man craving power is within the natural order of things. It is to be expected. A woman desiring power is considered subversive and dangerous.

Of course Clinton is hungry for power. I would even bet that she is selfish, cunning and would sell her soul to get what she wants. But so would every other successful politician. And most unsuccessful politicians, for that matter.

Clinton showed me that to be a woman in the public eye means inspiring, at best, equal parts hatred and affection. Her introduction to that role was far from a best-case scenario: a supporting character in a story that confronted America’s issues with sex, marriage and, most importantly, dry cleaning.

Hilary’s past as a late-night TV monologue joke will certainly come up (pardon the pun) for Fox News anchors, late night hosts and think pieces alike. Yet she has moved past it. Clinton has fought long and hard for a legacy that is more than her marriage. She worked tirelessly under a president that defeated her in the primaries, she’s visited more countries than any secretary of state in US history, and she is the first viable female presidential candidate. Sometimes we can become so obsessed with image and commentary that we forget that actions still speak louder than words, and Hilary has been speaking loud and clear for the past decade.

For me, growing up in the shadow of a rising Hillary Clinton was inspiring but for young girls today the emotional impact of growing up with a female president is beyond measure. It will shape and build their world view to be more open and hopeful than even mine is, and I still believe the remake of Jurassic Park might be really good. The idea that in 2016, a 10-year-old child could live their entire life without knowing a white, male president is beautiful. Especially since race relations in America often feel like they’re deteriorating at a rapidly increasing rate and white conservatives are all too eager to dismiss racism out of hand since Barack Obama took office.

Unless one of the parties has a surprise candidate up their pinstriped sleeves, or Janelle Monáe answers my longstanding plea to run for president, the next president of the US will not be African-American. There’s a good chance they won’t be a person of colour at all.

Transitioning out of our first black president’s White House residency will have an impact, and that impact can either be cushioned or intensified by whoever comes next. So it feels especially important to replace him with someone who will continue to challenge the status quo, who will break a glass ceiling and who will provide inspiration to all the young girls out there.

– Sarah Hartshorne, The Guardian