Farnaz on Featured, Media Coverage, Multicultural Branding and Marketing, New World Trends, New Realities, Women, Emerging Power
Farnaz Wallace delivers a thought-provoking, motivational keynote about The New World Marketplace at 2012 Diversity Woman Business Leadership Conference in Washington DC on December 17, 2012. Here’s a short 3-minute clip of this speech:
The dynamic Farnaz Wallace, author of The New World Marketplace and CEO/Founder of Farnaz Global LLC, will be the opening keynote speaker at the Possible Woman Conference Wednesday April 24 at Atlanta Marriott Marquis. In its 17th year, Possible Woman is an inspiring conference that connects attendees with the growth possibilities in every woman.
Wallace joins international dance star Judith Jamison, choreographer and artistic director emerita of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, who will be the luncheon keynote speaker.
As a former Chief Marketing Officer with Church’s Chicken who drove five years of consecutive sales growth outpacing the category, Wallace coined the phrase The New World Marketplace to define how women, youth and multiculturalism are shaping our future. She is a provocative thinker and an insightful strategist who helps leaders and companies capitalize on cultural macro trends and define their brand’s value proposition and sustainable revenue models in today’s fast-changing marketplace.
Of Iranian background, Wallace immigrated with her family to Louisiana at the age 15. She uses the lessons learned by overcoming issues of ethnicity, gender, class, caste, religious, political, economic and lifestyle experiences to shape her vision and keep it alive. She believes in the spirit’s deep desire for freedom, self-determination and self-expressions to maintain an inner authenticity. She leads others to find authenticity within themselves, their companies and customers.
“Her whole life has been a Possible Woman experience!” said Linda Wind, CEO of Wind Enterprises®, organizer of the annual regional leadership conference. “Her ideas are fascinating and will help makePOWER. PURPOSE. PASSION. Possible Woman 2013 the most dynamic Possible Woman event yet!”
The gender gap continues as the hottest topic as both business leaders and women’s movement continue their focus on underrepresentation of women in high government positions, C-suites and corridors of power. You don’t have to like politics or follow partisan conventions to know that the gender gap is at the forefront of political campaigns as well. The empowerment initiatives are overtly celebrated, but little to no honest discussions are taking place in regards to the real social, cultural and business barriers women face.
This is the Republican National Convention week. Judging by the line-up of speakers, it is easy to see how the GOP is going out of their way to show that this is not just the party for the older white men. Last night, Condoleezza Rice and Susana Martinez gave brilliant speeches. Paul Ryan referred to his mom as his role model. Ann Romney saluted moms, specially working moms who have to work a little harder. All clearly designed to bridge the gender gap for the Romney campaign. Again, empowering but no mentions of the real issues and barriers, nor any solutions on how to overcome them.
Ann-Marie Slaughter wrote an amazing, honest article, Why Women Still Can’t Have It All. I personally wouldn’t use that title, because asking whether women can have it all is a rhetorical question. We never seem to ask if men can have it all, and the question itself is airbrushing reality for both men and women. It’s the same ironic label as “working women” when women represent over 50% of the work force. We don’t seem to ever say “working men.”
Slaughter stepped down from her high power government position so she can spend more time with her sons. She notes reasons such as, inflexible schedules, unrelenting travel and constant pressure to be in the office, conflicts between school schedules and work schedules, and the insistence that work be done in the office. This is not unique to Slaughter. These are the barrier most women face with our current social and business policies, particularly in positions of power. What is more unique is her financial independence and the ability to choose family over career. A choice most working mothers, with the same maternal instincts, do not have….they struggle to simply keep what they already have. This may explain why we have over 50% women representation in low-to-mid-management positions but a very small token in top positions.
Do we want social/business policies and political platforms that keep women at home or a better gender balance in leadership that has proven over and over again to grow the businesses and economy? This brings us up to the honest dialogue about the gender gap.
When given a choice, women seem to make compromises that men are less likely to make. Of course, fathers do not love their children any less than mothers do, but men seem more likely to choose their job at a cost to their family, while women seem more likely to choose their family at a cost to their career. Whether this “choice” is culturally driven or maternal instincts (I think it is both), the reality remains that positions of power provide that choice, while lower positions are occupied by those without one.
Work-life balance is not a women’s issue—it is a social and business issue for all of us. Slaughter offers good solutions for flexible working hours, investment intervals and family-comes-first management culture….shifting the false notion of when, where and how work will be done. I agree and implemented all these suggestions in my previous C-suite position, while generating great financial results. I’d add longer maternity leave, better affordable child-care, and women’s health issues to this list—particularly pertinent for those working mothers, without a choice, who are our future leaders.
Many men, just like women, would like this cultural change too, but we need to redefine what success looks like. Her article sites research proving that organizations with extensive work-family policies have better performance. So, what do you think is stopping politicians, specially female politicians who fight so hard for women’s votes, from addressing these issues? We keep hearing that children are our future, but are they paying any respect to our future when it comes to working mothers?
I don’t have any kids, so this is not personal for me. But I care and believe in policies that support women not to choose between family and career. I can afford my own insurance, so taking away women’s right to have health insurance pay for birth control is not personal for me. But I care and believe in women’s reproductive rights, equal pay for equal work, and the freedom to “choose.” Professional success with real commitment to family life–with or without kids–is important to everyone. Don’t you think it’s more about country’s social and business policies than women’s lack of ambition, as often repeated by the status quo?
Political campaigns are rightfully centered on job creation and keeping women and men employed. But they are missing a greater point on how to support families when they are employed. A big opportunity in closing the gender gap in leadership, as well as political votes. You see, it’s time to have an honest dialogue about the gender gap.
I saw the movie Snow White & the Huntsman last week and was intrigued by the twist to this fairy tale. This Snow White didn’t just lie down waiting to be kissed and saved. She got trained in the art of war by the Huntsman and led an army of her fellow men in a quest to vanquish the Evil Queen. These archetypal changes for the roles of women is nothing new in movies and our pop culture. Remember Princess Leia standing up to Darth Vader in Star Wars, or Trinity fighting alongside Neo in The Matrix? And who can argue whether Angelina Jolie is the new James Bond or not?
The hero/ine is an archetype that is universal, but we are now recognizing that it is also gender neutral. Practically all new epic movies from Avatar to Harry Potter have female heroines as well as males heroes who physically go to war, fight injustice, and bring peace, harmony and happiness to the world. I find it interesting that different female archetypes throughout history were far more diverse and complicated than where we ended up in our current social model and branding messages. Even in the classical music world, we’ve seen classical trumpeters as stereotypically male. But women like Alison Balsom, who won the female artist of the year in Classic Brit Awards 2011, have trumped that stereotype as well.
I read an interesting article on New York Times, Boys Have Fallen Behind, about how American girls have achieved parity with boys in math but are well ahead in verbal skills and reading. The National Honor Society says that 64% of its outstanding members are girls. Some colleges even give special help to male applicants to avoid skewed sex ratios. How is that for a change? Among whites, women earn 57% of bachelor’s degrees and 62% of master’s degrees. Among blacks, the figures are 66% and 72%. One of my own continuous sound bites: for every two men graduating from college, three women graduate, and with better GPAs. This is real, and contrary to the popular belief that it may due to multicultural demographic growth in the US, it is a global concept.
The National Bureau of Economic Research outlines this beautifully in the article, Why Do Women Outnumber Men in College. In 2003, there were 1.35 females for every male who graduated from a four-year college. That contrasts with 1960, when there were 1.6 males for every female. This article suggests that the shift started in the 70s when women aimed to have careers rather than to follow in their mothers’ footsteps, and as a result the age of first marriage increased by 2.5 years. Factors include the availability of the contraceptive “pill”, the feminist movement, social acceptance of co-habitating without marriage and higher divorce rates. By 2009, the median age for the first marriage was delayed by 5 years (Do You Really Know 20-somethings). I believe it is a byproduct of cultural, social and economic forces.
And to top it all off….Sorry, Young Man, You’re Not the Most Important Demographic in Tech, either. It turns out that women are new lead adopters of the whole bundle of technology. The technology industry’s focus on men is just a reflection of women’s current underrepresentation at major venture capital firms and electronic/internet companies. And it is built on a plain wrong stereotype and a far cry from the reality of the new marketplace. To negate this stereotype further, this research shows that the majority of technology users are women in their 40s, 50s and 60s, not the 18-24 year olds. So who do you think you should ask about what the future looks like?
At a time when men are still hugely overrepresented in Congress, on executive boards, and in the corridors of power, do we think this will shift the future of our Corporate and Leadership culture? The Dark Side of Girls’ Success in School article in Huffington Post argues that it won’t unless girls shift the “good student” toolkit for greater risk taking and challenging the authority. This article attributes girls’ success in school to respect for an obedience of authority, careful rule-following, people-pleasing and succeeding in an externally imposed framework…qualities that will translate into their success at lower-mid-levels, but not as leaders and game changers. While there may be some truth in this perspective, I can shoot holes in it by women’s zest for entrepreneurship, which is all about risk taking…and decades of women’s movement which is all about challenging the authority and shrugging off criticism.
So when I’m asked on interviews whether we will ever achieve gender equality in leadership in my life time, I always say, yes, we will, and just by default of this cultural evolution currently in progress. Even the child care culture is evolving as men get more involved with this responsibility. And young families will end up with the spouse most qualified to earn higher pay taking on greater financial responsibility, regardless of gender. Again, a byproduct of cultural, social and economic forces.
Should we care whether boys are struggling in schools and underrepresented in colleges? Of course we should. The feminist movement, rise of women and the evolving cultures and archetypes were always about equality and partnership–to make the best use of human capital for economic success and to enhance our social models–but never about the shift in power, making one inferior to the other. Wouldn’t it be a better world if everyone focused on their own personal and unique strengths and passions, regardless of gender? I would argue that this will be the only way to increase productivity and prosperity , both at work and in personal lives.
Have you heard this, or seen this on t-shirts and bumper stickers? It’s true. I’m turning 50 this summer, so I’m inspired to write a blog about what this really means. People flatter me all the time by saying I don’t look my age. But I’m not the only one. Turning 50, for many, have made it possible to live an active, healthy, productive lifestyle. This is a game changer for many businesses that have been stuck with their 18-49 target planning. And here’s why….
In my 2012 trend predictions blog, I noted that with baby boomers staying younger and more fit, expect to see a higher % of ad dollars for them. There is more. Boomers 50+ have unique life stage milestones that provide them with the means to splurge more on bigger-ticket items—changing jobs, starting a new business (yes, thank you very much), children going off to college or getting married, adopting a healthier lifestyle, changing homes, developing new hobbies, discovering new habits, taking more trips, joining the digital/mobile way of living, enrolling in weight loss programs, becoming care givers to parents or even a spouse. This is more than just going through a mid-life crisis of ditching the spouse and buying a motorcycle/sports car, or jumping out of an airplane.
Maybe it’s just about forgetting to get and feel older. For women, in particular, it’s about saying good bye to invisibility and getting traded in for the younger. I think 35 to 60 is where it all comes together for women with elegant maturity, spiritual wisdom and a balanced outlook on inner and outer beauty.
This mid-life transition, once a very exhausting and confusing life stage, is now a midpoint to another adult life that can easily last 30 to 40 years more, thanks to medical science coupled with holistic herbal approach, greener/healthier forms and diet, active lifestyle, and living a more meaningful life in pursue of happiness beyond a paycheck and financial planning. These are rapid cultural shifts with a completely different set of needs and values. Our pop culture, from actresses and TV personalities to business leaders and writers, is already redefining 50.
Companies who understand the dynamics of this new milestone and negate existing stereotypes will be able to intelligently develop products and services that allow this new 50+ target maximize the upside of their lives, and will win in the New World Marketplace.
So to all friends: let’s celebrate the new 50 and start redefining our culture.
PS—My pre-release party and book signing event is scheduled for Wednesday, April 18th. Click here for the details.
We celebrated the International Woman’s Day last week. Lately, from revolutions in the Middle East, to polarizing political debates in the US, and online campaigns all over the globe, women are at the forefront of social and cultural change. Yes, women are blooming, and this is a good time to share a bit about our emerging leaders–the Gen Y women.
The Gen Y (aka milllenial) women have a different life path than you can imagine. Levi’s survey in 2010 reported:
- 96% list “being independent” as their single most important life goal
- 87% define success as being able to shape their own future
- Only 68% say becoming a mom is on their priority list
- 50% say getting married is a priority
- Just 43% ascribe much importance to getting rich
Put differently, half of young women do not see marriage as a priority and one third say the same about becoming a mom. And it is not so much about getting rich as it is about shaping own future.
We all know Gen Y is a wired, digitally connected generation. But did you know women are becoming more active users of digital media than men? According to Neilsen’s digital consumer report, women are:
- 51% of TV viewers
- 53% of online video users
- 54% of social network/blog visitors
- 50% of smartphone owners
These differences are not statistically significant, really. Plus, I neither believe it should be a man’s world nor a woman’s nation. But I am hoping that this type of data sharing will help negate stereotypes and dichotomies that are still out there in media and advertising–even politics. Did you know women control/influence 85% of all major buying decisions? We couldn’t tell by our media coverage and ad campaigns. I’ve always believed the media’s misrepresentation of women has led to the underrepresentation of women in positions of power and influence in this country. And I believe the Gen Y women will change all that…!!!
I’m starting to feel like Farnaz Global is also blooming like this beautiful Spring. Please take a moment to re-visit my web site and check out the new additions. I’ve also updated my Twitter and Facebook Fan Page. Please follow me….I’ll follow you back…!!!
I’d like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a happy Spring Equinox, coming up next Tuesday, 3/20. This is also the Persian New Year. So if you see or talk to any Iranian next week, say “Eidet Mobarak” which means happy norooz (new day/year). This is a new day, new year, and The New World Marketplace.
Thank you so much for all your support. I truly appreciate all the warm notes from everyone last week when I introduced my book. But there was a lot of confusion about the release date. To clarify, the official release date is June 5th. That’s how long it takes for the publisher, distribuor, wholesaler and internet sites to all get on the same page. However, my book is available on my web site, as well as my publisher’s site. And you can receive your copy 7-10 days after you place your oder.
The New World Marketplace is here….!!! I am so excited to give you the first opporunity to order your copy before the official release date. Click here and you will be directed to my publisher’s link for my page. We have made both paperback and ebook options available.
It will take another 60-90 days for my book to be released to all distribution channels, such as Amazon and Barnes & Nobles. But you can order your copy today and you will receive yours in 7-10days. I am planning pre-release parties and speaking engagements, so I may end up in your city soon. And in the months ahead, after the official release, I will be traveling all over for book signings, so you can bring your copy in for a personal, heartfelt authograph from me.
It would mean a lot to me if you can forward this to all your friends, family and collegues, and post on your facebook and twitter pages. In our new digital globe, success is defined by what friends say and “like”…..
Look forward to seeing you soon.
Happy New Year! Yes, I know….I am late for both my happy new year wishes and bimonthly blogs. Truth is, I’ve been busy finalizing production details with my publisher and gearing up for a busy season of consulting and speaking. But I wanted you to be the first to see the layout of my book cover: “The New World Marketplace – how women, youth and multiculturalism are shaping our future.”
I am super excited and will be rebranding my social media platform once the book is in the market in a month or so. I will also provide updates on book signing events and speaking gigs, and hope to see you in my travels.
In keeping with my commitment to share a New World Marketplace update in each blog, I’d like to tell you a bit about how constant cost cutting during economic challenges can drive new product innovation and quality of service into the ground. While cost cutting is an important discipline in any business model, it should never be at the expense of quality and service—which are the revenue drivers. You can choose to drive profits from the front end, or the back end. Your call. But if you choose the latter, remember your competition is putting new products out in the market faster, and offering better quality and service. At the very best, you’ll end up as a mediocre company with mediocre products and services.
And how long do you think that will sustain you during a recession?
Earlier this month, I decided to end my 7 year love affair with my Audi TT and get a hybrid car. So you can just imagine the pushy sales tactics that I had to overcome online, and by phone just minutes after a click, before I even entered a car lot. I ended up with a Lexus hybrid CT 200h. Sure the product and price was the best fit for me, but it was the service that sealed the deal. Lexus products and prices are not that different than other high-end competitors, it is the service that is their strategic differentiation. Think about this: what type of price or cost do you allocate toward great service? OK, Audi didn’t have a hybrid, but I left because of their inferior service to begin with. Do you think I’m really that unique? And what if low-mid price brands offered luxury service? Wow…that will be one recession-proof brand….!!!
Gen Y’s strong affiniy for hybrid cars are leading us away from traditional vehicles. They also prefer cars that are an extension of their social media and digital lifestyle…and willing to pay for it. This is good to know regardless of what products you sell. It’s about keeping up with the pace of the New World Marketplace.
We’ve come a long way from Cinderella and Snow White stories. Our pop culture only remembers the beautiful young women being saved by the strong handsome Prince and Hero archetypes. We often forget there was always the powerful, evil force in these children movies who was always a woman too. We can see both these archetypes play out in Halloween costumess: sexy or deadly.
Today, Angelina Jolie is the new James Bond and we even see Helen Mirren handle a gun as a deadly spy. Even the fall 2011 TV lineup is full of intriguing portrayals of women, from NBC’s Prime Suspect to Against the Wall on Lifetime, a channel traditionally portraying women as victims. You don’t have to like Sex and the City or the fashions to appreciate the four female archetypes the characters play. As we see and experience a rise in women’s power and diversify women’s social roles, are we merely replacing gender for the same social roles? Would women do it differently?
Different female archetypes in movies, stories and TV shows represent beliefs and values that enable modern society to understand and appreciate the evolving roles of women. We’ve always had, and still have, Demeter-style nurturers, the Aphrodite-like lovers as well as Artemis huntresses. I view archetypes as powerful forces and energies that operate within us, versus cultures and stereotypes that are forces operating and acting upon us. Culture is a way of life, collective learned behaviors reflecting shared values and beliefs. As history and environment change, culture evolves by adapting to those changes.
Although more than half of prehistorical pieces have been destroyed and lost, there is overwhelming archeological and historical evidence that proves both men and women worshiped the Goddess-Mother. Property was passed through the mother’s lineage. Goddess worship was equated to responsibility, nurture, give and love – rather than domination, destruction, oppression, privilege and fear. Her powers were oneness with nature – humans, animals, plants, water, sky and earth – a popular theme that is emerging in ecological survival in modern times. Why and how we shifted to a Patriarch society and whether there is a correlation between return to the “Mother” values and rise of women is a whole chapter in my book. But the question remains would gender balance in the top 1% change the infrastructure of our social and financial model. I started thinking about the old 70s movie Planet of Apes. Didn’t the Apes do the same thing to humans when the power was shifted? Would any of us do anything different if we were billionaires facing threats of loosing some of the billions that we own?
These are the questions that each of us should be asking ourselves if we truly want to experience a cultural transformation where performance and prosperity meet ethical values in leadership. Power, lust and greed can be very gender neutral. I for one like to believe that women will do it differently. We do have the “natural” capabilities of nurturing and giving. The key is not to loose those qualities in positions of wealth and power. Because that’s easy to do, specially given our history and social model. There is much talk about soft (feminine) versus hard (masculine) powers. I’d like to call it smart, ethical powers that is very androgynous. Think of Gandhi and Nelson Mandela as male role models. Think of Shirin Ebadi and Kavita Ramdas as female activists who integrate aspects of tradition and community to overturn oppression, challenging the very notion of western models of development.
I am working on defining a modern woman archetype, and would love to hear your thoughts.
This is not just a woo-woo statement. It’s really true and proven over and over again. I hear people say they want a relationship, want to be married, have children…or stay single and enjoy the freedom…but when they get what they want, they are not happy or satisfied. I hear, see and experience companies and CEOs with aggressive growth plans wanting a strong candidate for a radical change, but when they see or get one, they are intimidated and revert back into protecting the traditional orthodoxies. We say we want this or that, but do we really understand the trade-offs for the benefits we desire? Are we ready for it?
Beliefs are important; they behoove us to guard our thoughts and actions. And they can change by the things we observe, experience and pay attention to. I read a study by Time magazine a while back which indicated that as women have gained more freedom, more education, more economic power, they have become less happy. Integrating the modern lifestyle with traditional visions of family life and relationships – something has to give, right? Women’s movement say it’s no longer a man’s world, but should it be a woman’s world? This study reported that more than two-thirds of women still think men resent powerful women, yet women are more likely than men to say female bosses are harder to work for than male ones (45%W, 29%M). What type of women’s movement are we having?
Men & women of all races and ages largely agree on life goals. Perhaps it’s a shared reality that should be under constant evaluation, and is gender and color neutral. We can’t always try to fit into social and cultural norms, because the template of happiness and success is constantly changing – and it is very unique and personal to each individual.
Heidi Grant points out to studies showing that when people “feel” they were rushed while deciding, they regret the decisions they make even when they turn out well. I agree, but also think cultures create and drive behavior, then habits, then results. When we say we “want” something that is in conflict with the culture and behavior that is deeply rooted in our subconscious minds, we don’t generate the results we so desire. Mind is two-dimensional. Life is not. Can you really draw the footprint of the house from the inside? Be careful what to wish for, you will just get it. And then what??
For my loyal readers, I’ve posted a press release and a TV interview I had with a local Atlanta TV station last month. Click here to watch. It was fun!