HerSpectives® on Careers


Big Bad Bullies – Part I

Most of us have to deal with bullies at some points in our lives and careers. More often than not, the bullies we face tend to be male, but sometimes they are female, too. Bullies can range in age from toddlers to retirees, and every age in between.

Some of us try to give beastly people the benefit of the doubt, assuming they are just having a bad day or are in a uniquely bad situation. Then there are some people who simply seem to get their kicks from being a bully.

Even at my age, and as practiced as I am, it can sometimes still be a challenge for me when I’m confronted by a bully. Yes, it still happens, but over the years I’ve gotten a lot better at dealing with most of them fairly effectively. Guess you could say “Practice Makes Perfect”, but I must admit, I’m far from perfect at dealing with some bullies. Sometimes I still get surprised. Maybe it’s because bullies don’t come in “One Size Fits All” packages and canned solutions don’t work in every case. 

What is a bully anyway? According to Webster’s Unabridged New International Dictionary, as a noun, a bully is:

- “A blustering fellow, more insolent than courageous; one given to hectoring, browbeating and threatening; one habitually threatening, harsh or cruel to others weaker or smaller than himself”

As a verb, to bully is:

-  “to intimidate by an overbearing swaggering demeanor or by threats; to domineer”.

No doubt you can think of more than one person in your life or your career who fits these descriptions.

One of the first times in my life I remember being bullied was in the first grade.  Being of Irish and Welsh descent, I come from a long line of small statured people (to this day, I tell my sons we were descended from leprechauns). With a birthday in late October, I was always one of the youngest kids in my class. That fact, confounded by my heritage, meant I was usually the smallest kid in my class. I was always the last one to get selected for any field sport team, and I was an easy mark for the bigger kids, especially boys, to tease or make fun of.     

My first recollection of being bullied (by a boy) was on the elementary school play yard at recess. I can remember exactly what I was wearing because my attire had something to do with the incident. I was wearing my very favorite pink dress decorated with pretty red printed roses around the bottom of my poofy “Betsy McCall” skirt (those of you over 50 certainly remember the days when school dress codes required girls to wear skirts or dresses). My dress had a matching pink cardigan sweater with a red rose embroidered on the left front shoulder, to match those on the skirt. Even better, I also had a beautiful artificial red silk rose pinned on the other side of my sweater, of which I was so proud. I thought I looked great. Even way back then, dressing for success was important to me.

At recess this one morning, I remember two boys from another class, who I did not know, coming up and asking me to give them my beautiful red silk rose pin (who knows why).  I refused. One boy got a bit huffy and threatened to take it from me. As he reached for my rose pin, I spun around and ran away as fast as I could.

Being a small, skinny girl, I was no match racing against two taller boys. They caught up with me in no time and I was scared to death about what might happen. Not having any better ideas, I quickly took off my sweater, but rather than handing it over, I held onto one of the sleeves and swung the sweater at them with all my might, like a baseball bat, hitting one grabby boy in the face with it, in attempts to defend myself. He immediately cried out at the top of his lungs.

With this, the teacher overseeing the school yard blew her whistle long and loud, like a policeman. All the kids on the playground froze in place, as we had all been taught to do. The teacher briskly marched straight over to us and grabbed me by the shoulders. Surprising, I was the identified criminal. The schoolyard “cop” gave me a stern lecture about the seriousness and inappropriateness of hitting other children. I was then made to stand against the schoolhouse wall, in solitary confinement for the rest of the recess period, on display for all the other kids to ridicule, for having been a “bad girl”. I was humiliated.

It sure didn’t seem fair to me to be the one who got in trouble. I didn’t start it, but looking back on it later, I realized I had reacted wrongly which escalated the situation. While I didn’t see it that way at the time, it was actually a good thing that the teacher intervened. Who knows, with our childish minds and behaviors, how the situation might have turned out otherwise. From where I stand today, I now know that escalation usually begets further escalation from the other side, and on it goes until someone (or both parties) ends up as the clear loser.

One thing I learned that day was that lashing out and fighting back with a bully didn’t pay. As I stood against the wall, waiting for recess to end, I figured out I would have to find another way to defend myself in the future. I’d have to find a way to use whatever power I possessed… and it wasn’t going to be my size or my physical prowess. I’d have to resort to something more cerebral.

We all have the power to deal with bullies and the situations they can throw at us. We just need to understand the power we have and how to effectively use it. I’ll talk more about that in Part II. Stay tuned. 


Calling ALL Leaders: Houston, we have a problem

I’m writing to you today, ladies and gentlemen, because you are bright leaders and because this nation needs you. Our nation has a serious problem and WE need to address it before this problem becomes irreversible.

What problem am I talking about?

To answer this, I’m going to share a little dialog I’ve had on Facebook over the past few weeks with a business colleague. It all started when this colleague posted a chart on her Facebook wall, credited to WHUR 96.3 Howard University Radio, entitled "5 YEARS OF OBAMA", comparing statistics from January 2009 to today:

  • The Dow: was 7,949, is now 16,459
  • Unemployment: was 7.8%, is now 6.7%
  • GDP Growth: was -5.4%, is now 4.1%
  • Deficit GDP: was 9.8%, is now 3.3%
  • Consumer Confidence: was 37.7, is now 78.1

At the bottom, below these figures, the chart said, "Oh those pesky facts. Well done, Mr. President!"

Beneath this chart, my colleague posted, "Tell the truth and shame....the tea party. If you agree, like this and share this post. And maybe we can spread a little truth about the accomplishments of President Obama."


Here is the ensuring dialog:

Me: This kind of ignores a lot of trauma that most of the country has not recovered from. How about showing some of those facts?

My Colleague: Please share more.

Me: OK...

Me: The Economic Policy Institute indicates, as of January 2014, the following number of women have "stopped looking for work" and are no longer counted as "unemployed": 390,000 under age 25; 1,180,000 between 25 and 54; 1,040,000 age 55+; For men, the numbers are 970,000 under 25; 1,617,000 age 25 -54; 600,000 aged 55+. Since they aren't working, aren't they unemployed? The US Bureau of Labor Statistics calls these "Discouraged Workers".

Me: On July 3, 2014, The US Bureau of Labor Statistics published that the number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as "involuntary part time workers"...these individuals were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find full-time jobs) increased by 275,000 in June 2014, to 7.5M.

Me: On July 3, 2014, The US Bureau of Labor Statistics published: In June 2014, 2.0M persons were "marginally attached to the labor force". These individuals were not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work, and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months. They were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work in the four weeks preceding the survey.

Me: On July 3, 2014, The US Bureau of Labor Statistics published: In June 2014, the average workweek for all employees on private, non-farm payrolls was 34.5 hours for the fourth straight month.

Me: In September 2013, Bloomberg Businessweek published: "The unemployment rate fell in August (2013) but for the worst of reasons: Many American's stopped looking for work, so they weren't counted among the unemployed. The size of the workforce declined by 300,000 and the participation rate fell to 63.2% from 63.4 percent - the lowest since August 1978. It rose steadily over the years as more women entered the workforce before falling sharply in the 2007-2009 recession, and has not recovered since."

Me: In April 2014, the labor force participation rate, a key gauge of the percentage of working-age Americans currently employed or actively seeking a job, fell to 62.8%, matching lows hit in December and October, which had not been seen since March 1978. This means the labor force participation rate is increasingly getting worse.

Me:  In response to the referenced Bloomberg Businessweek article, John Silvia, a Wells Fargo economist, noted that declining participation in the labor force is “bad for financing entitlements”—fewer workers to support recipients of Social Security and Medicare.

Me: The National Employment Law Project, which represents low-wage workers, noted that much of the August (2013) job growth was in retail and food services, which typically offer low-paying and part-time jobs.

Me: Some estimates indicate the real unemployment rate is 23%.

Me: US government debt was $1 trillion in 1980, $8 trillion in 2006 and is now $17 trillion and growing by at least one trillion a year. It took 230 years from 1776 to 2006 for the US to reach $8 trillion and now we have beaten THAT in 7 years. An astonishing achievement. And this debt excludes unfunded government liabilities of around $220 trillion.

Me: Just this past Tuesday, the Congressional Budget Office said US Debt is now about 74 percent of total gross domestic product. The only other time it was this high was during World War II. During the financial crisis of 2008, it was only half of what it is now.

Me: The US Congressional Budget Office (CBO) also warned America’s public debt will rise to 106 percent of GDP in the next 25 years, a level seen just once in US history - just after World War II.

Me: The July 2014 report from the Congressional Budget Office also states increasing debt will put a squeeze on long-term economic growth, which will increase the risk of a fiscal crisis: “Unless substantial changes are made to the major health-care programs and Social Security, spending for those programs will equal a much larger percentage of GDP in the future than it has in the past."

My, Colleague: Deb, thanks for investing the time to share this wealth of information! It would be interesting to see an analysis of how much of this is the result of trickle - down impact from decisions made during the Bush-era.

Me: Good point….and how much is trickle down from the Clinton era, and we can go on and on. The fact is, here we are. It doesn't really matter who we want to blame.....It's up to us to fix it, or we may all suffer some horrible consequences.

My Colleague: I totally agree!

[A few days later]:

Me: Wow...more clarification from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In June 2014, the number of part-time jobs increased by 800,000 over the prior month, while full-time jobs plunged by 523,000. When it looked on the surface like the unemployment rate improved, it’s due to growth part time jobs, with lower pay and diminished benefits.

Me: Today's 7.5M part time jobs compares to just 4.4M working in part time jobs in 2007.

Me: According to the Census Bureau, since mid-2007, the US population has grown by 17.2M, yet we have 374,000 fewer jobs today than we had in November 2007.

Me: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, almost 91 million people over age 16 aren't working, a record high. When Barack Obama became president, that figure was nearly 10 million lower.

Me: Meanwhile, more and more companies, like Walgreens and Chrysler, are moving their corporate headquarters to other countries, taking the higher paying jobs with them, as more and more unemployed people are illegally crossing the border into the US.

Me: We have lots of work to do to turn this around.

My Colleague: Interesting…..



I ask you to think about this.

I personally find these statistics more disturbing than interesting. Those of us who earn our livelihood in corporate America should find this data utterly disturbing. And while our careers are certainly important, it doesn’t matter how we arrange the deck chairs in our daily lives if, like the Titanic, our nation sinks while we enjoy the party.

On the other hand, I truly believe it’s not too late for us to do something dramatic to reverse our direction and recover from this downward death spiral we are clearly in.

Alcoholics Anonymous is well-known for its 12-Step program to recovery. The first step in the process is to admit we have a problem: “Then, and only then, do we become as open-minded to conviction and as willing to listen as the dying can be“.

For over 25 years I was honored to serve in leadership roles in Fortune 100 and Global 500 companies in the High Tech industry. Much of that time was spent in California, the beautiful state where I was born and raised. Over the past decade or so, I watched as my “best-in-class” employers, one by one, moved more and more of our operations overseas, not simply to capture global market share, but to cut costs and remain competitive with the rest of the world.  The vast majority of my friends, colleagues and customers were laid-off or told they would be “retiring” as operations moved first out of state, and then  out of the states, altogether. Not only did these firms find labor costs far less in other regions of the world, companies like Walgreens and Chrysler found corporate tax laws much more favorable in other countries. It’s purely a business decision, based on economics. It has nothing to do with patriotism.

Five years ago I became an entrepreneur and established a California-based S-Corporation dedicated to advancing women in leadership. It didn’t take long before I even better understood why so many corporations, both large and small, were fleeing California: excessive governmental regulation, labor costs and the corporate tax situation. I was completely stunned when, in November 2012, the governor of California placed an initiative on the ballot and the majority of CA voters voted IN FAVOR of raising taxes. So, I made a fundamental business decision. I sold my house and moved my business to Florida, where the cost of living and tax base is more conducive to running a business.

Ladies and gentlemen, the American Dream, that set of ideals based on freedom, the opportunity for prosperity and success for all who work hard to achieve it, is vanishing. The heart of America is being ripped out of this nation as American companies choose bankruptcy or move their headquarters to other parts of the world.

To anyone who is fully awake to the new reality, it should be no surprise that we have fewer jobs in America today than we did in 2007. And we will have fewer still in the months and years ahead, if we don’t mitigate governmental regulation and change our Fiscal Policies.  

To prevent our own demise, we must acknowledge the reality of what’s happening, be open-minded and together find ways to address this unsustainable situation. As I told my colleague on Facebook, it doesn't really matter who we want to blame.....It's up to us to fix it, or we may all suffer some horrible consequences.

We can no longer afford the luxury of sitting back, waiting for someone else to do something. WE have a problem….WE have a BIG problem.   It’s going to take ALL of us working together, as a united team, to course correct and clear the iceberg we are all so perilously careening toward.  

Talk to your friends, your family, your neighbors, your co-workers. Send them the link to this article. Encourage them to open their minds to the facts versus the media spin. Brainstorm together.

Give this critical issue your best thinking. Your life, as you have come to know it, depends on it.  

Then, get Houston’s attention. Stand up and use your voice.

Write your Congress person, your Senator, our President. They need to hear from you. If you don’t work to fix it, you are part of the problem.  

I believe WE CAN fix this….together.

If you agree, share this post with everyone you know.


Women: It's up to us to define our success

This article was originally published on 1/24/13 in the Orange County Register. See the original posting at http://www.ocregister.com/news/women-409139-make-success.html

Victoria Mouroulis is a Managing Director of the Leadership Vistas program:


I often hear statistics about women being more than 50 percent of management ranks today, but less than 20 percent of the executive ranks in corporate America.

Yes, the numbers are discouraging, and yet I have come to understand that the staggering discrepancy is due in part to the fact that many women do not desire to be part of the executive suite.

Article Tab: Victoria Mouroulis
Victoria Mouroulis


That doesn't mean gender discrimination doesn't exist. It simply means that we cannot allow ourselves to be discouraged by statistics.

We must not allow others to define our success; we must define success for ourselves. What does success look like, and feel like for you? What will it take to be successful, and are you willing do whatever it takes?

For women who do want to move into the executive suite, here are a few simple tips:

• Stop making assumptions: Women often wait for managers and colleagues to recognize our contributions. The reality is that everyone is busy pursuing their own goals, and they may not even be aware of your specific accomplishments. It's up to you to make your colleagues and managers aware of your achievements and your value to the organization. It's imperative that you know and are able to articulate your value. I suggest you keep a portfolio of your accomplishments and share them often.

• Ask, listen, confirm and act: Simply ask your senior management, "What do I specifically need to accomplish or demonstrate to be promoted to my desiredposition?" We often make incorrect assumptions about what we need to do to be promoted. If you ask, listen, confirm and act, then you are more likely to achieve success.

• Be accountable; honor your word: People enjoy working with those whom they can count on and trust to do what they commit to doing. When you make commitments, honor them. It's critical to building trust. It's never out of style to be the person others can count on. Typically trusted colleagues will have access to more information and opportunities than their peers who simply make ex-cuses or lay blame in lieu of achieving results.

Having a plan, accepting responsibility for achievement, being a trusted colleague and recognizing others will make you a "high potential" candidate for advancement.

-Victoria Mouroulis is chairwoman of the Placentia Chamber of Commerce and a managing director for Business Women Rising, a leadership coaching organization that hosts local group meetings where women executives and managers help resolve each other's business issues. See businesswomenrising.com for more information. Mouroulis also owns Placentia's People's Choice Café.


Why women are the best — and maybe the only — chance for the world

Many thanks to best-selling author of my favorite leadership book, Just Listen, and Business Women Rising's "Resident Big Brother", Mark Goulston, MD,  for allowing us to re-post this wonderful blog, below. Very insightful! Deb Boelkes, CEO.


I think I have been coming close to a last straw for some time, but I think this picture taken after the shooting of Malala Yousafzai, the 14-year-old Pakistani schoolgirl who defied the Taliban and then was gunned down by them may have been it.

The world doesn’t need a revolution, it needs more evolution.  And the only ones capable of evolving to a place of caring collaboration are women.  Men are just too competitive, need to win (sometimes at all costs), unable to stand losing and too easily and readily seduced by power, personal ego and greed.

Don’t get me wrong, women are not perfect.  Far from it. In fact when I ask the women I speak to at women’s conferences about that, the majority will tell me that, “the best women are better than the best men in the world, but the worst women are worse than the worst men” (because of what those women will do to other other women). But my focus here in not on the worst women, but on the best ones and what they can bring to the world or more importantly bring the world to, that men — at least the modern version — do not seem capable of.

Why is it that women are more capable of we, while men seem to be too stuck in me?

Oxytocin vs. Adrenaline, Estrogen vs. Testosterone 

Oxytocin is the hormone that underlies bonding and connecting.  It is what helps a mother to bond and be patient with a colicky baby instead of throwing it out the window.  Adrenaline is about winning and power.  An adrenaline rush brings with it a surge of power and that may explain why so many men are “adrenaline junkies.” And once they are hooked on it men will do some pretty crazy stuff to ward of an adrenaline crash. As such women’s identities seem to be more defined by bonding and connecting, while men’s seem to be more about winning and being powerful.

Estrogen is about building as in a nest or a home.  Testosterone is about aggression and may have its species useful place when protecting that home, but can also be about aggression just for the sake of aggression. Here once again, women’s identities seem to be more about building communities and creating connections between the people in them; men about being aggressive grabbing for something.

The Corpus Callosum – the “missing” link in men 

It is nearly common knowledge that we have a left/rational brain and a right/emotional brain.  Connecting the two is a fiber connection called the corpus callosum.  That network is thicker in women than it is in men.  What that means is that women’s left and right brains are more in connection and each can mitigate the effects of the other than is the case in men.

Although men tend to think of women as more emotional, because of the lesser connection between the left and right brain the intensity of either men’s emotions and men’s logic seems to be greater than women’s.  That may explain how men can become so “coldly” and mechanically logical and/or behaviorally explosive when their emotions are triggered.  This may also explain that although women may yell and scream more than men, men resort to violence and cause wars more often than women.  It is also why preschools do their best to fight the uphill battle of teaching boys to “use their words” instead of pushing and punching.

Tragedy in the Making

One of the most tragic things I find about the current state of male dominance in the world is that I believe women were put on earth to bring out the best — and to soften the beast — in men.  What seems to be happening, at least in Western countries, is that men are bringing out the worst in women.  The biggest casualty is that tenderness, warmth, patience and being loving has dropped out of the fabric of many relationships as has the relating.  And the kindness of men is a very distant second to the warmth of women.

I am guessing that this blog will not be welcomed by men and if I am willing to make the above assertions I know I am inviting the ire and scorn of many of my gender.  I am okay with that.  But if you must retaliate, please “use your words!”

Heartfelt Best Wishes,

Mark Goulston, MD


About the Author:

Mark Goulston, M.D. is the Resident Big Brother for Business Women Rising. His principal focus is empowering women to succeed in male dominated companies, organizations and industries and to reach the upper echelons in them. Mark is also the Co-Founder and Chairman of Heartfelt Leadership and he the best selling author of Just Listen and Get Out of Your Own Way at Work. Mark blogs for the Huffington Post, Fast Company and Psychology Today and he serves on the Board of Advisors to American Womens Veterans.



Top 3 Things Professionals Can Do To Promote From A Staff or Technical Position Into Management  

This week's blog post was inspired by a question one of our members asked. This may be something you have been wondering as well. What are some of the most important things professionals can do to make the transition from a staff or technical position to management:

There are a number of things anyone (man or woman) should do to help themselves make the transition from a staff/technical position into management, but I will focus on what I consider the three top items.  

1. Define: what success means to you.

2. Communicate: your career objectives to your manager and to other senior managers above and beyond your own manager, and together, develop a specific plan to get that next promotion.

3. Learn: to be a highly effective manager vs. an individual contributor. 

Each of these things apply equally to men and women. A great role model for this topic is Sheryl Sandberg. One thing she specifically says to women in most all of her speeches, is "don't leave before you leave" (for maternity leave). Keep your pedal to the medal right up until you must take time off. Taking maternity leave should really be no different than it is for a guy who has to take medical leave to have an operation. While you are at work, keep your mind focused on your career objectives, do a stellar job where you are, and take actions to advance to the next level as quickly as you can. It's a game...play to win and help those who are above, beside and below you do the same.  Working together, you can go far.  

Special thanks to Deb Boelkes for her insight on this topic.

About the Author:

Jacqueline Dandan is the social media coordinator at Business World Rising and a recent college graduate from Loyola Marymount University.  She majored in Business Marketing with a Minor in Spanish, and loves being back in Orange County!

For more information about Business World Rising or how great leaders are built and nurtured, please contact us today.