Farnaz on Cultures and Archetypes, Negating Stereotypes, Redefining Archetypes, Women, Emerging Power

An Honest Discussion About Gender Gap – in Leadership and Politics

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.

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The Emerging Middle Class Culture In America

We are about to redefine the culture of middle class in the US, and most people and companies are not aware.  Some of us who are, ignore it or simply not happy about it.  Just the word “multicultural” draws in polarized reactions.  This is one of the three macro trends that I define as imperatives for business and social success in the future.  And it is shaping the emerging middle class in America.

I remember the marketing days when Latinos were primarily segmented into the lower income category.  But that is no longer the case, is it?  According to a new Nielsen report published last month, Latino’s income growth during the past decade has significantly surpassed the nation’s average.  Although 43% of Latino’s still earn below $35k/year (versus 35% total), 36% earn $35-75k (at par with 34% total) and growing at a higher rate.  What may be even more surprising to most is that 10% earn $75-100k, which is a 31% growth since 2000…. and 11% over $100k per year, which is a dramatic 71% increase.

Over 52 million strong, or 1 in 6, Latino buying power of $1 trillion in 2010 will change to $1.5 trillion by 2015.  You can expect Latino population and buying power to continue growing even with the decline in the immigration numbers.

Let’s put this into context… There are more Latinos in the US than Canadians in Canada, Malaysians in Malaysia, or South Africans in South Africa.  Latinos in the US represent second-largest Latino nation, right after Mexico, and before Spain, Columbia and Argentina.  If a standalone country, the buying power would be one of the top 20 economies in the world.

In my November blog, how to reach the fastest growing Asian market, I explained how the Asian market is over-indexing the US national average in just about every meaningful consumer category—specially in income, education and family size.  With this recent study showing Latino income on the rise, we can safely say that the landscape of American middle class is rapidly changing into a multicultural mosaic.  We are about to redefine the culture of middle class in America, which will in turn redefine every aspect of the pop culture, consumerism, politics, economy and business.  Just think of how branding strategies will have to shift for retail, residential buying, food, education, financial services, transportation, entertainment and media.

American marketers have never relied on a broad-stroke depiction of White consumers.  They should keep the same mindset when it comes to Latinos and other racial/ethnic groups.  Stereotyping the Latinos or Asians in the US will not be any different than stereotyping Caucasians.

According to Census, among US children, Hispanics are already 1 in 4 of all newborns.  Hispanics, Asians and multi-racial children accounted for all the US youth growth in the last decade.  Think of how this will define the next generation of our country.  The multi-racial children are clearly the result of inter-racial marriages.  Marriage across racial and ethnic lines has doubled since 1980, with 41% of all intermarriages in 2008 between Hispanics and whites, 15% between Asians and Whites, 11% between blacks and whites, and 16% in which both parties are non-white.

Contrary to the popular belief on language barrier, Neilsen particularly notes that Latino consumers’ usage rates of smartphones, TV, online video and social networking/entertainment makes this group one of the most engaged in the digital space.  During February 2012, Latinos increased their visits to social networks/blogs by 14% from a year ago.  This is also true for all multicultural population as Gen Y is the most racially and ethnically diverse generation in American history.  Unlike the ethnic groups in previous generations assimilating in the mainstream culture, the new and young multicultural populations take big pride in their ethnic and cultural backgrounds, and are considered acculturated.

This article is not intended to be an advertising campaign for Hispanic media and agencies.  For me, it is critical to add that older, white males are just as much part of the multicultural societies as any other ethnic groups.  I define Multiculturalism by a mosaic of different cultures in one platform, and a society that is ethnically and culturally diverse.  That does not mean excluding Caucasians or implying ethnic minorities only.

So, how are you defining or stereotyping your multicultural initiatives?

 

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50 is the new 30

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 18thClick here for the details.

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Happy Spring Equinox, Happy Norooz, Women Are Blooming

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.

 

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How to reach the fastest growing Asian market: 10 tips to get started

When you look for a new doctor these days, how many Asian doctors do you find?  How many engineers, professors, venture capitalists, entrepreneurs and CEOs?  Did you know South Asians generally over-index the US National Average in just about every meaningful consumer category?  Are businesses ignoring the marketer’s dream come true?  What are the prejudices and biases that are holding companies back from reaching this higher income, more educated, larger families and growing market?

Check out these Census facts:

  • With 14.5 million Asians in the US, up 43% from the last census, Asians are the fastest growing minority group, very affluent and high educated, with household income 26% above Whites.
  • Asian Americans have the highest educational attainment of any group, 49% have at least a bachelor’s degree (vs. 28% US avg).  They also have the highest household income levels of any racial demographic at $65,637 (vs $38,885 US avg) with 28% exceeding $100K.
  • South Asian population has doubled in the last decade.  Indian population, specifically, has grown 70%.  And 67% of all Indians have a bachelor’s or higher degree.  Almost 40% have a master’s, doctorate or other professional degree, which is five times the national average.  1 in every 9 Indians in the US is a millionaire, comprising 10% of all US millionaires.
  • South Asian households are 29% larger than the national average.  And 93.6% speak English.
  • Although Iran is not technically considered “Asia” by Census, I’ll include for my loyal Persian readers: 51% of Iranian-Americans have a bachelor’s or higher degree, and 1 in 4 hold Masters or PHD.  An NPR report recently put the Iranian population of Beverly Hills as high as 20%.  Almost 1 in 3 households have annual incomes of more than $100K (compared to 1 in 5 US Avg).  According to a study carried out by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Iranian scientists and engineers in the US own or control around $880 billion.

So when you think or speak of multicultural branding or strategy, are you ignoring this fastest growing group?  What marketer wouldn’t want to reach a more educated consumer with higher income and larger families without a re-deployment of marketing dollars?

The 2010 census data reported, of the 27.3 million added to US population in the last decade, only 2.3 million were Whites.  While Hispanics accounted for well over half our gains, Asians made the next biggest contribution.  There is an absolute decline of white population under 18, as well as somewhat smaller decline of black youths.  Hispanics, Asians, and multiracial children accounted for all of the net growth of nation’s youth.  And I believe the Asian numbers are under-reported through Census, since there is a big debate about race versus ethnicity.

The world “Multicultural” was intended to represent a mosaic of different cultures in one platform.  But somehow it became a buzzword limited to initiatives toward Hispanics, as “Diversity” did the same with African Americans.  That’s why I coined the phrase “New World Marketplace” to represent a new type of customer-influencing mainstream culture. It’s important to recognize that various multicultural values have now become part of the fabric and reality of American society.

Here are 10 easy tips to get started that will apply to all multicultural branding and positioning:

  • Learn how much of your current sales volume is being generated by multicultural customers.  It may be more than you think.
  • Then, learn exactly what demographic groups you could and should target for your products and services.  How much sales potential in each market?
  • Get to know your existing and new targets.  You can only do so by spending days in the life of your customers.
  • It all starts with the great product, which transcends all cultural differences.  Make sure you have the right product and services and you are speaking to the needs and values of the customers who are actually buying them.
  • Research and research more.  Not just about product attributes, but also about how your new customers want to feel and be treated as a part of the totality and oneness of the market.
  • Consult with experts.  I am one of so many.  Learn to use the right cultural symbols to avoid offending the very people you’re trying to attract.
  • Sharpen your sensitivity to cultural standards and taboos.  Dig deeper into the values and beliefs and leverage on “shared” values.
  • Avoid all stereotypes and clichés.  Design your marketing materials to depict multicultural customers in a wide variety of roles.
  • Include a multicultural budget in your 2012 budget.  Link compensation to multicultural performance for the sake of profit growth.
  • Be authentic, honest, respectful and consistent.  Once you open the doors to build the relationship, stay the course to maintain the relationship.

 

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Cultures, Archetypes & Movies: Would Women Do It Differently?

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.

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Leadership when pinched: Redefining Power

We are living in a business world of downward forecasts, slipping GDP growth, shrinking middle class, declining consumer confidence and spending, erratic stock market, and…yes…financial earthquake.  And yet, behaviors and mindsets are all the same.  Most economists don’t forecast an improvement until 2018.  What should leaders do in a time when everyone is pinched so hard?  How do we shape the path forward?

I attended a leadership seminar earlier this year in Atlanta, and was amazed by how all speakers were saying the same things for years with slightly different terminologies.  The new buzz word in the business world is influential leadership.  While that’s good, it lacks the fundamental shift that we need in our thought process and actions.

A few thought leaders have touched on the high need for “feminine values” and “soft powers”, but none of them clearly defined these terms that seem to be loaded with polarizing reactions. That’s why I have developed emotional and cultural frameworks for my consulting business, to steer away from gender stereotyping of these critical business and leadership models.  This will be explained in details in my book, but I’d like to share a few highlights with my loyal readers.

Riane Eisler in her book “The Chalice & The Blade” explains a remarkable Cultural Transformation theory with two very different social models:  Dominator and Partnership.  The Dominator model is the ranking of one half of humanity over the other.  The Partnership model is based on the principle of linking rather than ranking.  Feminine values are associated with creation, life generating nurturing powers and giving – versus taking, conquest and domination that are often associated with masculine values.  This is not the battle of the sexes or genders, for we all know not even in our male dominated world not all women are peaceful, giving and nurturing and many men are.  I am referring to human values that have become a business and social imperative in our current economic climate.

As both technology and society have grown more complex, the survival has become increasingly dependant on the direction of cultural evolution. The virtual worldwide web reveals both possibilities and cultural shadows.  It reveals collaborations and alliances as well as exposing famine terror and epidemic greed leading to global financial collapse.  As a result, we’ve seen a step backward to our defensive needs (food, safety, basic living essentials) instead of shifting to higher needs of growth, actualization and our interconnectedness with all of humanity. It’s time to consciously and collectively choose our own cultural evolutionary path.

Sounds too woo woo or too soft?  Not really.  The need to control and dominate is a feeling of powerlessness…control or be controlled.  I believe it is time to redefine power as less need to limit or control other and define power as affiliation, linking and partnership. That means leaving behind the hard, conquest and domination oriented values.  Replacing conformity and uniformity with individuality and diversity.  Focusing more on relationships than on hierarchies.  Balancing of intuition with reason and logic.  Balancing competition and cooperation.  Making conflict productive rather than destructive.  Embracing equality, justice, freedom, openness, trust, honesty and integrity.  A New World leader ought to possess all this power, and must know that it is time for a partnership society where neither half of humanity is ranked over the other, nor inclusion equated with inferiority or superiority.

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Cultural Change Expert Explains How to Make Relationships Work in the Multicultural Present

Atlanta (June 29, 2011) – Walk through the mall, a school or a business office today, and in nearly any city in the country, it will be obvious that “we” is getting trickier to define in terms of race, ethnicity and collective identity. Within relationships, cross-cultural is becoming the norm rather than the exception. This shift from a similar-looking status quo to one that incorporates a plethora of faces, has been referred to as “multiculturalism,” and this typically means both celebrating the uniqueness of each culture and navigating relationships with cultural differences. That might sound nice in an employee handbook, but what does it mean at the bank, at a PTA meeting, on a date or even at a wedding?

Farnaz Wallace, Founder of Farnaz Global and expert in multiculturalism and social and cultural change, has developed strategies and frameworks to help people and organizations find success in forming relationships across all kinds of cultural boundaries. “Multiculturalism should neither be a demand for special rights for minorities, nor a threat to protecting one’s own cultural identity and safety,” she says. “It is a phenomenon of resolving differences and building on commonalities based on values of trust, freedom, respect, equality, justice, dignity, open mindedness and mutual happiness.” (more…)

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Be careful what to wish for, you may just get it

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!

 

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