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When You Become a Parent, You Become a Leader

Tick tock. Tick tock. Goes the clock.

They say timing is everything. From seizing opportunities, winning the lottery, and falling in love to business success, landing your ideal job, and becoming a parent. Whatever it is… there seems to be such a thing as timing.

They also say time management is critical to being successful.

I’ve always thought of myself as a good time manager. In the sense of delegating my time to “get things done” (not being on time—I still struggle with that). Yet, and still since becoming a mother, timing and my time management skills have been tested and I’m determined to find ways to make life a little easier. For my daughter’s sake. For my sake.

As a leadership development professional, I’ve met with many CEOs and discussed the importance of making time to think, assess and develop a strategy for their organizations. Over and over again I’ve witnessed that successful organizations typically have leaders who spend significant periods of diligent, focused time “thinking.” This is essential so an organization stays aligned with its mission, doesn’t lose focus or spend time putting out fires rather than seizing opportunities, fulfilling strategic aspirations, understanding why they do things the way they do and knowing what they do great.

As a single mother of a 4 year old, settling into a new job, new city, and new home, I admit that I haven’t found my rhythm yet. I often feel overwhelmed, scared and tired. Overwhelmed with all of the things I know Zoe needs to know to survive in this world; scared that I won’t be able to raise her to be the awesome person she is and show her the world, while simultaneously trying to pursue my creative/entrepreneurial projects, career, relationships and life goals. Tired, from the constant juggling, constant hustling.

Laundry. Cleaning. Grocery Shopping. Hair. Daycare. Gym. Church. “Zoe and me” time. “me” time. Family time. Bills. Work. Show. Writing. Sleep. More bills. The list goes on and on.

I’ve come to realize that I can’t just rely on my time management skills to raise my daughter and “hope” we maximize life’s experiences. Why? Because when you become a parent, you become a leader.

While management and leadership share commonalities, their functions differ.

Managing is about efficiency. Leading is about effectiveness. Managing is about how. Leading is about what and why.

Looking at parenthood through a leadership paradigm and applying leadership principles to parenthood suddenly makes sense to me. I don’t want my parenting experience to be status quo. Meaning, I don’t want to just “go through the motions,” “get by,” “hope,” “fly by the seat of my pants” and “pray it all works out.” I want more! I want to be the best mom I can be! I want to make the most out of time!

You see, just like nature, music, jumping double-dutch, or great sex, there is a rhythm to timing; and getting your timing right is important!

Tick tock. Tick tock. Goes the clock.

As Zoe transitioned from a newborn to an infant, I simply adapted and enjoyed her growth and development. But now, as she transitions from a toddler to a preschooler, and becomes more aware of the world and her place in it, I am finding myself recalibrating (often) and finding it critical to be more intentional, more strategic with my time.

So, I’ve decided that I’m going to become a successful CEO of parenthood!
Beth Gonzales-Host Words, Wine and Women
Over the next several weeks, I’m going to focus on the leadership concept of “thinking.” I am going to block time out of my schedule to think. Think about what kind of parent I want to be, think about my strategy of how to be the best parent I can be, how I want to spend my time with my daughter, how and what I want to teach her, how I want to develop her morale compass, confidence, talents and abilities….the list goes on and on. Doing this, I believe, will make my parenting experience better, more fulfilling and more focused. And ultimately, I think this will help me find my rhythm as a parent, and make me feel comfortable with that timing as Zoe grows.

Remember, successful organizations usually have leaders who spend significant periods of diligent, focused time thinking…so I’m going to do just that–take time to think, assess and strategize about what I want and need from my parenthood experience…which is the first step towards helping me become a leader who recognizes good timing and makes the most of the circumstances time presents me as a parent.

Tick tock. Tick tock. Goes the clock.

Parents, have you taken time out to think?
#bealeader


Until next time, Beth Gonzales

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Feminism: Defining or Dividing

“I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is: I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat, or a prostitute.”
Rebecca West, Young Rebecca: Writings, 1911-1917

You might laugh when you read Rebecca West’s quote but I understand exactly what she means. A quick Google search of “I’m not a feminist” will garner thousands of results of women going back and forth surrounding the use of this word.

Recently, Meryl Streep, Shailene Woodley, and Marion Cotillard, all announced that they are not feminists and the backlash from those statements was significant.

In a recent HuffPost article, the author attempts to define the word, “feminist” for everyone and even says, “if you believe in basic gender equality, SURPRISE, you’re probably a feminist!”

What I suggest, what I am proposing, what I am urging is that the use of the word really doesn’t matter. Does it really matter if I use the word, “feminist” as long as I love my larger than size zero body, work my a** off in a male-dominated industry of entertainment to prove everyday that I deserve every penny that a man will earn without even asking and produce a web series about female empowerment and women having a voice and using that voice?

I think not.

Where there is no unity, there is no progress. And my momma always told me, “Actions speak louder than words”.

I think we have to be careful that this “word” (that is suppose to unify us and give us strength) doesn’t completely tear us apart. I so often feel we are in a battle of the “feminists” vs. the “non-feminists”; and, if we are spending our time fighting internally and attempting to define each other with one word, then who is fighting the real fight?

And if we lose that fight, “men” don’t win. Future generations of women to come will lose. Now I ask you — is an 8-letter word really worth all of that?

From the Desk of Tara Johnson

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Viola Davis, Shut Up Already

viola-davis-emmys-2015-speech-so-inspiringI’m sure that is what many people thought (or even said) when Viola Davis made her acceptance speech at the 67th Prime-time Emmy Awards this past Sunday night as she walked away as the first African-American woman to win the award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series.

What started all of this?

Was it Halle Berry in 2002, who is still the only black woman to win an Oscar for Best Actress, who mentioned “…every nameless, faceless woman of color who now has a chance tonight because this door has been opened” during her acceptance speech?

Or was it Patricia Arquette’s Oscar speech earlier this year that demanded “wage equality once and for all” and now Voila Davis’ proclamation that “[t]he only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity. You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there.”

Or is it simply the other countless speeches, articles and studies written each and every year about the lack of roles and opportunities for women in Hollywood.

But to Halle, Patricia and Viola, you won? Isn’t that enough? When you stand to accept an award, must every woman make some political statement about the plight of Hollywood and opportunities for women in this country?

The orchestra conductor need not worry about the length of this answer because it is short and sweet – yes.

The question is not “how dare she make these types of statements at such prestigious occasions?” The real question is “how can she not?”

Stats-ViolaDavisHow can she not when only 31% of speaking roles in films are given to women and only 23% of protagonists in film are women. And behind the camera on the tip top floors of the high rise buildings in the C-suites, film studio heads are 94% white and 100% percent male while television network and studio heads are 96% white and 71% male, as reported by the 2015 Hollywood Diversity Report.

I’m sure Viola Davis would have preferred to stand in front of the Emmy audience and simply thank her family and friends for all of their support. I can only imagine how Patricia Arquette’s mind must have been racing as she walked up the stairs to accept her Academy Award asking herself over and over again if she would truly speak the words written on the note in her hand. But they did and they spoke for all of us, not Black women or Hispanic women or Asian women – women period. That is no small feat.

It is a complicated issue for which right now we are only armed with a simple solution: “the squeaky wheel gets the grease” and we won’t stop, we can’t stop until the playing field is leveled.

As happy as I am for Viola Davis’ award at the Emmys (and I am ecstatic), I am equally disturbed that in 2015 we are still experiencing these types of “firsts”. And for the millions of dollars we hear that actors are receiving everyday for numerous roles to know that the woman who is possibly standing right next to them in the movie/television promotion poster doesn’t make the same wage is mind-blowing.

So thank you Halle Berry, Viola Davis, Regina King, Patricia Arquette, Meryl Streep, Dame Helen Mirren, Cate Blanchett, Kerry Washington, Zoe Saldana, Olivia Wilde, Mindy Kaling, Geena Davis and many many others for having the courage to use “your time to shine” for us. Ladies, continue to squeak that wheel until, as Harriet Tubman stated, “we all can cross that ‘line’”.

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Body Shaming Should Change to Body Respect

“You should lose some weight”, “Girl, you need to gain some weight”, “Maybe heels will make you more attractive”, “Wow, you in heels, look like a towering giant”. Body shaming, it comes from direct criticism of your body or it can come as “friendly suggestions”. Any way it is said, it hurts and, as women, we tend to internalize our hurt and begin being ashamed of the way we look. Even worse, we perpetuate the cycle by continuing the criticism of others. Our society should focus on body-respecting.

Source: Facebook – not a diet

No woman seems free of body shaming in today’s society. With social media’s outreach growing and Hollywood’s stardom becoming the main attraction, we see how even our greatest stars can suffer from body shame and body-critics. Instagram is now beginning to see a roll of “nude” celebrity women standing up for their own beautiful bodies. Kim Kardashian is putting out rumors of a surrogacy with her nude selfie, Naya Rivera also did a photo shoot where she poses nude with a fur stole holding her baby bump and Christina Aguilera does an Instagram post of her getting “personal” with her followers. Of course, there are supporters and then there are the naysayers. Yet these women are showing that their bodies, no matter the judgement of others, are beautiful!

Of course beautiful women are being body-shamed regardless of their shape, according to the media, the only perfect body type is no body-type. As seen when Serena Williams is called out for being too muscular in an article from Ben Rothenberg, who writes for The New York Times, “has large biceps and a mold-breaking muscular frame”. Further insult happens when the coach of Agnieszka Radwanska is quoted to say,

“It’s our decision to keep her as the smallest player in the top 10,” said Tomasz Wiktorowski, the coach of Agnieszka Radwanska, who is listed at 5 feet 8 and 123 pounds. “Because, first of all she’s a woman, and she wants to be a woman.”

It is this mindset that a woman is only a woman if she is petite and feminine in every aspect of her life which makes being a woman difficult. In truth a woman can look or be any way that she chooses, just as a man can. Being athletic is not a crime, nor is being muscular. Yet it is not only the “muscular” women who are under attack. Claire Danes recently came out saying “I feel like my body is monitored” in an interview with People magazine. She goes on to say,

“I remember a couple of Emmys ago, Lena Dunham and I were on the carpet together. We were singled out and criticized for having different body types – I was too skinny and she was too big…She is a dear friend of mine, and it made me angry because this is just how we are.”

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And our bodies are exactly that, just how they are. There is nothing wrong with them. There is nothing shameful about being a woman. In reality, we all look different and have different traits. These are not flaws or imperfections but simply differences in looks. Our Words, Wine and Women team all look different, have different personalities, styles and looks, but each one is beautiful, just like you, the reader are.

It is a hope of mine that one day women AND men everywhere no longer have to feel the stress and shame of not having that “photoshop perfect” body. Of being proud of the body they have and realizing they ARE beautiful as is. The way this hope becomes a reality is by each of us appreciating our own bodies and respecting those who have a different body. Body shaming should become body respecting and it starts with us!

We want to hear your story of how body shaming has affected you and how you overcame it. Comment below, share on our Facebook page or tweet us @wordswinewomen. Let’s get the discussion going!

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New Online Talk Show Liberates Words, Wine and Women

This article originally appeared on tv.com on June 11, 2015.

Can we talk?

If you answered ‘yes’ to this question then you’re gonna love the new online talk show Words, Wine and Women.

The show comes from host and creator Tara Johnson, who recently appeared as a host on the ‘after-show’ online network AfterBuzz TV and co-host on Black Hollywood Live’s “Phenomenal Women.” Now, she’s gathered 5 diverse women to chat about edgy issues affecting today’s real woman.

I recently had a chance to interview Tara Johnson to find out what happens when Words, Wine and Women all come together.

Q: Tell us about your new show Words, Wine and Women?

TARA: Words, Wine and Women is an real look inside the raw honest fun that happens when women get together over a delicious glass of wine (or two) to discuss life, love, careers, parenting, dating, politics and everything else in between. Words, Wine and Women strives to create a community that celebrates the mystery, beauty and joy of being a woman.

Q: What’s different about your new talk show?

TARA: Several things make us different. The first thing is the women. Each of these women bring something completely different to the table – different life experiences, life views, career paths but I think each of us connect with our target audience. Plus, we’re just regular women figuring it out.

Our topics are different. Not that we don’t love pop culture. Who doesn’t love Beyoncé’s latest anything or Kim and Kanye’s latest escapade but we all know that those are not the only things real women discuss. We look for those topics that are not mainstream like medicinal marijuana for children. We question things in the hopes that you might look at some things differently like is technology helping or destroying present day relationships and parenting?

Lastly, the wine! Drinking wine isn’t different but I would also describe Words, Wine and Women as an infotainment program. Just like we offer our audience tips on online dating, we also want to bring in sommeliers who can educate our viewers on wine. I mean if you are going to drink it, let’s learn something too.

Q: Where do you find the topics for each episode?

The greatest thing about the topics we discuss is that we get them from everyday life. Anything can spark a discussion – a question, an article or a simple conversation. My co-hosts are so creative that the topics are endless.

Q: Were you shocked by anything you’ve learned on the show?

TARA: Yes, I didn’t know women could squirt! If you are not sure what that is or what that means, keep watching.

Q: What made you want to create a new talk show series from scratch?

TARA: I just thought there was a missing piece to how women are portrayed in the media today. So many of the depictions don’t look anything like me, my family or the women in my life. I wanted to create something that resembled how I interact and feel about other women and how the women in my life have supported, challenged and encouraged me. We don’t always agree but I’m definitely better for having those relationships and conversations.

Q: Tell us the biggest lesson you’ve learned from the project?

TARA: Starting anything from scratch definitely isn’t easy but it is worth every lesson, delay and trial. I’m simply a better person because of this project. I hope that translates into me being a better producer and a better co-host for Words, Wine and Women and each one of our viewers.

Watch Words, Wine and Women the series at: www.WordsWineWomen.com

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Rachel Dolezal (from the desk of Jacque Borowski)

As many of know (since this is the topic of the day) Rachel Dolezal recently came out as, what one could call, “transracial”.

The comparison to “transracial” has been made to “transgender”. Caitlyn Jenner recently came out as transgender. For the most part, the world applauded her for her bravery. This article at “The Wrap” contemplates the struggle I’m having within myself, “If I accepted Caitlyn Jenner as a woman, why can’t I accept Rachel Dolezal as African American?” My first thought was “Dolezal lied” and it makes me angry that she lied… to so many people. But didn’t Caitlyn Jenner (when she was Bruce Jenner) lie to protect herself from those who wouldn’t understand? And I thought about it more and I realized that gender is a 50/50 chance we all have at birth. Race is not. Gender is also something that can be easily changed through surgery, Race is not. There are performative aspects to both gender and race (many of them based on stereotypes of what we think gender and race should be or look like) but, race is part of a person’s heritage and a part of a person’s identity that is attached to family history AND attached to world history. Being transgendered is not the same thing as being transracial. Gender and race are two separate topics as gender is part of sexual identity.

What if Dolezal had been adopted into an African American family and had been raised by African American parents? Might I feel differently about her lie then? Ellie Freeman, who identifies as “transracial” has an excellent article on this. She explains, “Simply put, a transracial person is someone raised in a culture or race different from their own.” The reason that Dolezal’s lie is so frustrating and baffling is that, as far as we can tell, she seems to come from a privileged background and is associating herself with a race that has been historically mistreated. Why did she do it? When I’ve discussed this topic with friends, most everyone agrees that she could have been a successful civil rights leader without identifying as African American. I understand that Dolezal formed a connection with an African American man she thought of as “dad” and that her sons are African American. I can’t blame Rachel for wanting to find her place in the world, wanting to find people that she connects with. As Ellie Freeman explains, “It is normal, and quite healthy, to be interested in another culture than your own. But if the people of that culture cannot pick and choose their own race – whether it’s biologically or through shared history – then neither can you. All you can do is be a good ally.” In fact, it’s arguable that she’s undone any of the good work she did as a civil rights leader by not being honest.

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New original series ‘Words, Wine & Women’ premieres edgy straight-talk

This article originally appeared on examiner.com on May 20, 2015.

Ladies – you know how dangerous it is when you get together with your gal pals, open a bottle of wine and make no subject off-limits?

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Why Words, Wine and Women?

Hello to all, I’m Tara Johnson, the creator, executive producer and one of the host of Words, Wine, and Women™, an online women’s talk show dedicated to the real raw fun that happens when female friends meet a couple of glasses of wine. 

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