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Lindsay Bell

The Three Things, Edition 43

By: Lindsay Bell | August 11, 2013 | 
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The Three Things

By Lindsay Bell-Wheeler

Welcome to the 43rd edition of The Three Things, the weekly update of three links, podcasts, videos, or books you can’t miss from  Michael Schechter (Honora, A Better Mess), Howie Goldfarb (Blue Star Strategic Marketing), and yours truly, Lindsay Bell.

For those of you new to this series, The Three Things arrives in your inbox on Sunday mornings (unless you don’t subscribe, but that can easily be fixed if you hurry over and enter your email address or add to your RSS feed) so you have some extra time to spend perusing the obscure content we’ve curated for you (and one another) before your week begins and deadlines, meetings, and work takes over.

This week we look at marketing and the NSA, how easy it is to whitewash our lives, and whiny well-off white women. 

Muting

Michael on Self-Censoring. One of the best things about the web is the ability to personalize your experience. You can pick which sites you visit, who you follow, and how you spend your time.

This gift can also be a curse.

If we allow ourselves, we never have to see a single thing we dislike or disagree with. Don’t like what someone said? Block them. Tired of hearing about a certain topic? Mute it. This is tempting, but it’s also dangerous. It leads to a web and a world where we can close ourselves off to reality.

Matt Alexander has touched on the risks a few times on his podcast Bionic, but I was glad to see him flesh his thoughts on his site. This is a quick read and is well well worth your time, especially if you tend to be heavy handed with the filters now available to you.

NSA Cites Case as Success of Phone Data-Collection Program

Howie on Social Media, Facebook Ads, and Social Influence. Marketing success is like the NSA. So much going on yet when asked to prove success instead of an overwhelming volume of proof, they tout the one or two random success stories.

The Opt Out Generation Wants Back In

Lindsay on Women and Work. Nine or so years ago, you couldn’t swing a cat without reading articles or seeing magazine covers expounding upon a massive sea-change in the working world: Women were *gasp* sacrificing it all – high paying jobs and prestige – to stay home with their children.

Well, apparently this highly-educated, mostly white, mostly married (to high-earning spouses), country club cohort has grown tired of volunteering at the kids’ private schools, overseeing “comfortable” renovations on their large, comfortable homes, and shuttling their broods to sporting events and summer camps.

I say broods because they all seem to have have three to four children – “How will we ever afford to put them all through college?”

They want back in, and can’t believe how much they’ve sacrificed. Complaining about a ‘less than’ job that only pays 100 grand a year? Cry. Me. A. River. Marriage breakdown because of the stress of these life choices? Get. In. Line. Clearly this is not ‘me’ at my most unbiased. This New York Times Magazine ‘follow-up’ article really got under my skin. I’m interested to hear your thoughts.

Now it’s your turn. Is there a podcast, video, book, or article you think we need to see?

About Lindsay Bell


Lindsay Bell is the content director at Arment Dietrich, and works in Toronto. A former TV producer, she’s a strong advocate of three minutes or less of video content. She has a cool kid, a patient husband, two annoying cats, and Hank Dawge, a Vizsla/Foxhound/moose hybrid. Ok, maybe not moose.

33 comments
lauren_cass
lauren_cass

Yes the whining of 'only' earning $100k is quite distasteful.  However, I still think the issue of women in the workforce is an important one.  I do think it's important that women are represented at the board level and particularly in politics.  It's well accepted that diversity in decision making yields better, more creative solutions and that includes diversity of gender.  This simply won't happen without more parent friendly, flexible workplaces.  Note I said parent friendly, not mother friendly as I think father's should be equally supported if they want to spend time at home with their children.  That means part time work options or working from home options.

Yes, becoming a parent is a choice and we should be responsible for those choices.  But given that reproduction is also an evolutionary urge and a basic human right, it should be supported with policy.

Aside from the personal reasons of remaining in the workforce (fulfillment, etc) there are also sound economic reasons. Reducing the number of older people reliant on pensions being one of them.  Divorce is one of the contributors to this problem.  Take the example of my friend's mother.  They divorced when she was in her mid 50's.  She only worked part-time whilst raising her children and now works in admin.  She has barely any superannuation.  The result of the divorce settlement is that she has the house, but also a significant mortgage.  Her options are quite bleak.  She has almost no chance of paying off the mortgage prior to reaching retirement age and won't have accumulated much super, certainly not enough to support herself for potentially 20+ years in retirement.  This is not an unusual story.  We have skyrocketing divorce rates and an aging population that is living longer in (mostly) poorer health.  The cost of this to the economy will be gigantic. Somebody has to pay taxes in the future to support these people.  This is one of the many reasons I think it's incredibly important that all people (men & women) work towards being individually financially secure (not wealthy).  We should be actively encouraging this, including support women to remain or re-enter the workforce after having children.

Howie Goldfarb
Howie Goldfarb

I guess after my comment on Gini's post today the real story is the 80% of women and men who can drop out to raise kids and not miss a beat because they have crapy love paying service jobs in retail, banking, childcare/eldercare, restaurants, call centers, etc Jobs with low training requirements. Vs the 1% who have nannies and get bored. Or the 20% who went to college and have jobs that give raises above the cost of living which the bottom 80% do not. 

Or this generation of college grads who for the first time in 100 years can expect a lower standard of living than their folks.

Just amazed this is in the Times focusing on the Housewives of the OC

Latest blog post: The Three Things, Edition 42

photo chris
photo chris

I don't know where to start.

Perhaps I will try again later......

RebeccaTodd
RebeccaTodd

Great selection! Before I get to Ell Bee's pick- Michael- thank you for sharing. Howie- I kinda adore you- saying so much with so little... 

Argh what bothered me most about the article was the lack of responsibility for their actions. These women CHOSE marriage, CHOSE spawning, CHOSE quitting. Choices. Myself, I just chose a new job with a crazy travel schedule, and chose along with that never to have biological children, and know that my choice will also limit any relationships I may have. I put all these factors on a big pro an cons list, and "excitement, adventure, and really wild things" was a higher priority to me than looking for a relationship or having children. Which drew almost IMMEDIATE criticism, not from family and friends, but random people who think it's totally appropriate to judge my choices as "selfish". So I don't want to come off as judging these women for choosing to stay home- bravo! I think it is incredible choice made by many wonderful parents I know, who made the choice consciously and stand by the consequence of their decisions. But don't suddenly act all "poor me" after a quicky marriage to your sugar daddy didn't work out so hot for you. 

Karen_C_Wilson
Karen_C_Wilson

I couldn't agree with you more, @Lindsay Bell-Wheeler. The sense of entitlement from the women in this piece is nauseating. Most women who "opt-out" (and I heartily dislike that term) and then divorce don't have anywhere near the advantages that these women do. I think it's also telling that the salaries of the women are discussed but only one mention of child support/alimony and it doesn't discuss amounts. Not that we need to know every financial detail, but we KNOW that there has to be alimony and child support going to these women. So, they aren't really providing for their kids solely on a fraction of their original salary. To me, this is misrepresenting the picture even more.

I will say this, though - there are issues in a marriage if a woman leaves her job to save it. "All this would be easier if you didn’t work" - that statement speaks volumes for the entitlement of the husband to have his cake and eat it too - why should HE get to be the one to stay at work. Marriage should be an equal partnership and where children are involved and compromise is required, there should be give and take on both sides.

LauraPetrolino
LauraPetrolino

ok, so I told Lindsay I'd come over here and comment on this article because I have some very strong thought on women, and the way to do or don't deal in the professional world. I've waited all day to try to calm my little self down enough to put together some rational, non-ranting insight on this subject, and well frankly, I give up.

This is one of those issues I simply can't talk about without throwing my arms around in seizure like movements and storming off mid rant to go kick at something and break another toe. Honestly, WOMEN!!! You all drive me friggin crazy! Whine, whine, whine....I want this, I want that, I'm being objectified, I'm being marginalized, wa wa wa wa! Just shut your freaking pie holes, decide what YOU want, what your priorities are and then go out and make it happen. For goodness sakes, if some of these women took the same amount of energy that they spend whining and balking and trying to make 'societal statements' just figuring out how the can impact the world and how they even want to freaking impact the world...then maybe we wouldn't have to listen to this crap all the time. 

Life isn't perfect for anyone, it is full of choices. This is true for men just as much as women! Just shut up already because the only thing you are actually doing by continuing this never ending, useless dialogue is getting in the way of the rest of us that actually want to do something productive.

.......Whew....and that my friends, was me NOT making a comment on this issue.

The end.

Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes
Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes

The stay-at-home-parent conversation is subjective. I spent close to a decade as the sole "provider" income so that my kids wouldn't be in a day care. 

In the beginning it was relatively easy because I was making a very good living so we didn't miss two salaries and then there came a point when things changed and things changed because we felt the second income would barely cover the cost of daycare.

The funny thing about it was that the costs hadn't really changed but the change in my income changed the dynamic again and there have been moments where I wondered if what I thought was great hurt us in the long run because the kids ended up with parents who were in very different position career wise.

But the thing is there are no crystal balls and hindsight is 20-20. If the company I once worked for hadn't had the issues it had I might have continued making that great living for years beyond and there never would have been a need to tap into savings and some of the other dramatic changes wouldn't have taken place either.

I can't say so I go to my default position which is that in my family it worked out because mom didn't go back to work until all of the kids were in school. It worked pretty well for us. Doesn't mean it is the only way, just the one that we chose.

biggreenpen
biggreenpen

I read it (the opt out generation article). It IS long, and although it clearly has a theme, I also found it wandering all over the place. Marital roles, career ladder deviations, why being alone in a mediocre apartment may be more fulfilling than being together in a manse in a gated community. I think first and foremost parents of either gender who choose to work (and most of us have to ... at least one partner) should be respectful of the wide variety of choices that are out there. I don't think the author of the article was very neutral (although I understand that her point was to revisit the group from 10 ish years prior, which makes the article focus on a specific demographic). I wish I had time to wade through the 1058 comments -- I can only imagine what a dynamic dialogue there is in that!  I am pretty sure I am in the minority among my peers, but I really did want to be home with my kids (now 14 & 17). The thing I kick myself for is not really really laying that groundwork with my spouse before we got married. At no point was it possible to stay home with them without drastic financial consequences that we were not willing to endure. And I suppose if I HAD, my kids would be on their therapists' couches one day complaining "all the other cool moms worked -- I felt so smothered having my mom home all the time" whereas now I think the legacy I've given them is one of work being "bad" -- all those mornings at preschool dropoff tensely saying "my boss is gonna be mad if I'm late so GET OUT OF THE CAR."

I think at its heart, what this article points out is that couples need to be clear on their core values as a couple at the very beginning -- the world changes rapidly and no one can know how the other is going to feel 10, 20, 30 years down the road. I had the sense that a lot of these couples lost sight of their values in the face of the career aspirations, wealth, and other external incentives. (Not saying I've got it right in my marriage either, just saying.....).

Not many of us have the luxury of a life without needing to earn an income. When we do make the choices (along with our spouses/significant others) of how we're going to do that, it's important to keep in mind that time spent with our kids may not show up on our balance sheets but their are payoffs that we can't quantify.

I know based on the comments I've seen this morning that a lot of us/commenters are hesitant to comment on this (LOL and I'm going to be really embarrassed if the 10 foot pole comments meant the phone data collection program and not this article!) but I hope you all will ... I am truly interested in your thoughts and think we have a good enough relationship with one another to hear diverging opinions.

And I will send along a suggestion of something good I've read/watched this week  - gotta think about that one.

RebeccaTodd
RebeccaTodd

@Howie Goldfarb EXACTLY. No cover for the woman who quits her minimum wage Tim Hortez job because it doesn't cover childcare, then comes back at the same rate of pay and status years later. No story there, I guess. 

rdopping
rdopping

Word! I don't know how Janine feels about this but I work in a company that puts huge value on family BUT is overtly respectful for life. Whichever you choose. J and I chose not to have kids. That doesn't mean we are safe but ahead is a very smart woman in taking the necessary steps to protect herself. I just shake my head at the audacity of these people. Grow up and see the trees.

LauraPetrolino
LauraPetrolino

@RebeccaTodd word to this yo! I know we've had this discussion before and I obviously so agree with you! And have faced the same!

Karen_C_Wilson
Karen_C_Wilson

@RebeccaTodd Every time I hear a man or woman (but especially women - not gonna lie) say they've felt judged for not having kids, it makes me a little bit crazy. Proof: http://karenschronicles.ca/blog/2011/11/18/you-know-what-they-say-about-assuming.html.

The first time a colleague asked me if I wanted to have kids was when I decided people just need to stop making assumptions about each other. He had no idea how touchy a subject that was for me at that particular time, nor would I have told him since he's the type to keep his woman barefoot and pregnant. That was ten years ago, and I cringe every time someone gets asked when they're getting engaged, when they're getting married, buying house, etc., etc. 

Just live and let live, people. And maybe we can just talk to each other about our lives, sharing in each other's experiences rather than comparing them to see who's doing better.

aimeelwest
aimeelwest

@Karen_C_Wilson @Lindsay Bell-Wheeler did you notice how the children were referred to? This pissed me off 'find himself sidelined either by his wife’s devotion to her children or her dedication to work or both' 

Devotion to her children - so they are not his children? 

So as a husband you can be devoted work and that is ok but your family is for the wife and the husband just wants the fun hours before bed? 

Yes I think you said it best he wants his cake and to eat it too. 

RebeccaTodd
RebeccaTodd

@Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes Solid perspective, Josh. The big difference betwixt you and these...er...whiners in this article is that you take accountability for your choices. Life happens, situations change. 

belllindsay
belllindsay

@Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes I think my issues Josh was more about the insane focus being put on these poor women (and I say that sarcastically) and their 'high end' lives. Why is it "New York Times'worthy"...?? Why was it when they left the workforce originally 9 or so years ago? Millions of women make that decision every day - to stay or go - and 99% of them do not run in country-club circles, or have extreme high-earners as spouses. And millions of women face the same issues - marriages that break down, companies that fire them, the search for new jobs, losing their homes, living in crappy apartments. These poor bawling lambs just made me very angry. 

belllindsay
belllindsay

@biggreenpen Your comment is bang on. And I recognize it was a 'follow up' piece, so to speak, but, as I mentioned to Josh above, I struggle to find the "NYTs'worthyness" of the subject even then! I suppose high falutin' female doctors and lawyers leaving their careers is news - but come on. Millions of moms never have a job in the first place (to choose to leave) and millions more could never have that luxury - myself included. I worked in TV production when my boy was little - holy stress!! Just thinking back to those times makes my stomach hurt. And I went through a divorce and major financial stress at the same time. Perhaps the article should have been titled: What Rich People Feel They Get Knocked Down a Rung. That would have been honest at least. 

EdenSpodek
EdenSpodek

@biggreenpen @belllindsay I could write a blog series about this issue but will opt not to touch most of it with a 10' pole. I've seen way too much animosity in the school yard between the working and SAHMs when my kids were younger; and I'm not in a position to take sides or tick off either group at this point in my career. I've always worked full-time from the minute mat leave ended – granted it's longer in Canada, six months when I had my babies and one-year today – by both necessity and choice. 

I'm all about options and respecting choices. However, when I decided to leave my full-time-with-full-benefits job as a senior member of a digital team at an integrated marketing/PR agency almost three years ago, to go out on my own for "lifestyle reasons," I was disturbed by what several of my young 20-something, female colleagues said during their goodbyes. Almost every single one of them said they understood and they didn't know how I'd worked full-time while raising kids. Their moms had stayed at home to raise them and they assumed they'd be doing the same. I carefully reminded them I had always worked full-time while raising our two sons and would continue doing so. If nothing more, women and men need to be aware of their options and decisions as they embark on parenthood and be prepared to adapt and make changes along the way.

belllindsay
belllindsay

@rdopping AARRGGHHH!!! The poor privileged getting knocked down a rung! It breaks my heart to see them struggle so. Pu'lease!!

belllindsay
belllindsay

@EdenSpodek @biggreenpen It's funny how everyone is focussing on the "stay at home and raise the kids" part. That's not where my anger with this piece grew from. The anger came from the poor poor things losing a small portion of their insanely cushy lives, and crying about it. Whining about *only* making 100,000$ a year??? Give me a break!!! 

RebeccaTodd
RebeccaTodd

@belllindsay @biggreenpen @LauraPetrolino AMAZING Laura!!! That was what was lacking from that article for me- no one forced these women to get married or have kids. They CHOSE that life. So don't suddenly go all drama when your choices don't lead to the Disney sunshine and lollipop fantasy land that you dreamed of at 5 with a pillow case on your head playing "bride". Something I never did- I had a cardboard box on my head playing "astronaut". But I digress- their lives were their choice. Spawning was their choice. Quitting was their choice. No time for this "poor me" drama. 

aimeelwest
aimeelwest

@belllindsay I totally agree with you about "only' making $100,000 a year - are you serious!??  @biggreenpenLove this line 'time spent with our kids may not show up on our balance sheets but their are payoffs that we can't quantify.' I always tried to keep that in mind when I got home from work. I stayed home the first 4 years and my husband stayed home for 5. But that is a whole long story and he was a stay at home dad when it was so not the cool thing to do...   @EdenSpodek I really like what you said about respecting choices. Just because someone makes a different choice does not make it wrong or right even. I also love the comment be 'prepared to adapt and make changes along the way' so true I love when I run into old 'friends' that used to tell me what to do as a parent when they were still out drinking every night and now that they are parents they are not even following all the 'great advice' as nonparents that they gave me. 


EdenSpodek
EdenSpodek

@belllindsay @biggreenpen I thought the cushy lives/salary issue was so ridiculous and out of touch with most North American families it didn't need to be dignified with a response.