Bitches in the Boardroom

Business Women with Assertive Communication Skills

Assertive business women who are confident, calm, and educated in the working world mean one thing . . . TROUBLE.  These self-assured women are sometimes parents who are often organized and don’t have time for the business politics.  They tell you like it is focusing on the business of business, forgo the office gossip, and obsess over the bottom line and not the grapevine.  They just get shit done at work and have the communication and business skills  while juggling soccer practice, sick kids, and are the masters of the multi-task.  Thank God for the working business woman.

Supporting Female Leadership

At least that’s the opinion of a number of senior leaders and managers in the workforce.  Professional colleagues and peers too.  For a long time I didn’t realize I was being assertive, and that speaking my mind was a bad thing.  For the record, I refuse to change my brutal honesty.  It’s a gift, and I always thought it was a quality that others admired.  Because it is, but for some of my bosses and colleagues it was a welcome change and they appreciated my brutal honesty, but most did not.  Because of my assertive leadership, I was labeled a female bitch and a person who was full of themselves and difficult to work with, and the really sad and cruel thing was it was by women.

I never have been or ever will be a woman filled with rainbows, sunshine, and pretty pink bows.  Those that are live in denial refusing to see the business and working world for what it really is.  It’s called hard fucking work, determination, and focus.  To be good in business, you must work harder and be better than everyone else.  And apparently reality is a very masculine quality.

Assertive, competitive personalities, and qualities are often associated with men.  And women who display these qualities are often penalized, ostracized by their female peers and not their male counter parts.  They are labeled a bitch who is unliked and unwelcomed in certain female circles.  I, myself can attest that women are their own worst enemies instead of supporting each other they backstab, spread hurtful rumors, and stagnate the growth of other women.  Is it out of fear, jealousy, or just plain childish tendencies I don’t know, but it has to stop.

Women Who are CEO’s and What It Takes

The reality is that less than 5% of Fortune 500 CEO’s are female, and I believe that this number will not increase dramatically especially if other women have their say.  The head cheese role is demanding and for most requires a specific career path, focused dedication, determination, and the support of good partners meaning friends, colleagues, and spouses. Instead, I have chosen to take a different career path.  One where I make my own rules.  While I have and will continue to encounter these female career saboteurs, I have learned to grow thicker skin, worry less about my likability and more about business success while surrounding myself with my own personal board of directors of honest, career-minded, and focused female and male colleagues who continue to help and support me as I change the world.

Photo Credit.  

conversation culture, employee engagement, employee enchantment, HR leadership, human capital management

 

 

 

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Comments

  1. I just stumbled on this article and can’t agree with you more. I have, it would seem, been inundated with weak co-workers and managers who are threatened by the more assertive, usually more capable, good-looking female across the room (me). What I have found, sadly, is that my assertiveness has been the downfall of any hope of continuing on in said company. I could cite individual examples/justifications, but they’re not worth the time wasted. In experiencing these negative reactions first-hand I have learned a few things. One.. women are (generally) threatened easily and hold themselves in low self-esteem. When they are sentenced to work with a more assertive (god forbid good looking) female, they tend towards kindergarten behaviors they hope might help them advance beyond, or merely maintain, their (perceived) threatened position with the company due to the more assertive person’s presence. What they clearly don’t understand is that IT IS WHAT IT IS and trying to manipulate the situation will typically backfire and rain shit down on them. And two.. keeping quiet, in retrospect, would have saved the job (maybe). In one scenario, that would have meant the enabling of my boss to further abuse me, as well as my co-workers, hardly something I would change in my past, assuming the desire was there to do so. And three.. Men are just as insecure as women. Most of the time. I have only encountered one individual, a male general contractor, who actually appreciated my knowledge and ability. If the workplace is supposed to be like elementary school in its behavioral challenges, then it’s lived up to being a perfect continuation of the environment nurtured to get us all there in the first place. Changes need to happen in the educational system. The future employees of America need to learn that, as employees, we are all members of the same TEAM, striving to do the COMPANY right. When it becomes a one-on-one competition we lose sight of the company’s goals. Managers would do well to pay more attention to this behavior that is (or at least SHOULD BE) happening in the ranks below them, but they tend to be stuck in the same grade as the rest of the staff.

    And Jessica.. I would like to include this just as food for thought (no pun intended). I stumbled on your site as I was searching for images of women leaders. As a 5’9″ blonde, blue-eyed, 140 pound female with long hair and glasses, I have often considered my appearance to be one of the limiting factors in my obtaining employment. A shorter cut and the use of contacts are among the changes I am considering. Your picture conveys a confident woman. However, my first impression, based solely on you being overweight, is one of a person who would like to be in charge but is unable. My impression, however distorted based totally on your picture, is basically that you would not be a good candidate to run and control my company as you are unable to control your weight. I’m very sorry if this is hurtful as it is not meant to be. I’m just being brutally honest. Take care and best regards. Karen

    Reply
    • Karen,

      My first reaction to your comment is to tell you to fuck off. The fact that I am overweight is not new news. It is one that I am well aware, and struggle with on a daily basis. I go to the gym regularly and unlike your haircut and contacts is not a change that can happen overnight. My transformation is a year in the making unlike your 30 minute haircut and new glasses purchase. Being overweight is problem a number of women as well as men have in this country. And being overweight does not make me less qualified to do a job. I am well aware of appearances, but I will not idly stand by and wait until I am thin to be myself. I think many people take this approach and miss out on opportunities, conversations, and are treated as second class citizens. I waited for seven years during my first marriage for something to change as my husband abused me emotionally and physically. I will wait no more, but I do admit that I am a work in progress. Here’s my take on waiting in general. I’m not going to do it: http://www.blogging4jobs.com/social-media/i-kan-spel-gud-a-story-about-blogging-life-living/

      Your comment is the exact reason I wrote this blog post. Women tearing down other women and hurting others to feel better or more important for themselves. This needs to stop. Why do we have to hurt people in business stepping on them as we climb up the ladder of success. We should be supporting each other and helping bring the rest of those strong and powerful women along for the ride. I’ve surrounded myself with strong women who support one another for this very reason because of people like you. I will not stop being a strong women because of my personality and physical appearance. I will not wait for the day, moment, or second when I am perfect physically or emotionally to feel like I am qualified or deserve to be respected by a woman like you.

      I will however, keep working towards a better me. If that’s a better me that’s 30 pounds lighter than so be it. If it’s not, I’m okay with being just the way I am. Maybe it’s you that is uncomfortable and has a problem with me.

      JMM

      Reply
      • Jessica, I agree completely with your blog! That being said, I really decided to comment based on the comment left by Karen. She says she is being brutally honest, but why did she need to attack you personally? I myself am brutally honest, always have been, but I know that doesn’t give me an excuse to NOT follow the golden rule.

        Since I follow you in most areas of social media, I have watched you struggle, but ultimately win the battle of the bulge. You have worked really hard to stay on track and be in a healthier mindset. It really burns me up to have someone like Karen try to tear your hard work down with stupid comments like that. I know you are tougher than that and your response to her was very well said.

        I also struggle with weight and I feel that some of us have to battle it longer than others, just based on genetics – I have the same body type as all of the women in my family. I surely don’t think that my weight has held me back – some of the strongest, capable women I know are in CEO positions and not all are barbie doll proportions.

        I hope Karen reads these comments and learns from them and maybe reconsiders how to treat people.

        I, for one am a big fan, Jessica – as I know the others that have commented on this are as well. I value your input and suggestions and consider you TOP in your field. Keep doing what you are doing!

        Laura Wheeler |
        Reply
        • Thank you Laura. Yes, those that follow me on Twitter know that I have been working out and doing #operationskinnybum. I’ve tweeted weekly pictures of me sharing my progress and challenges. Working out regularly is damn hard. I have a personal trainer. I lift weights, and the weight doesn’t come off easily. I’m not lucky in that regard, but the commenter wouldn’t know that because all she saw was an overweight girl in a photo on the internet. We all have a struggle and a story. We all have our battles and demons that we deal with.

          Sometimes I wish that I could make the weight magically disappear but I wouldn’t learn from the process. I wouldn’t grow, appreciate, and learn the lessons I need to learn. So I’ll get my fat butt to the gym like I do. I guess I have to thank Karen because being a bully just might be the motivation I need.

          JMM

          Reply
    • I’m not even sure how to respond.

      I think Karen has her face smashed against the glass ceiling -it is NOT going to break for you, Karen – ever. The rest of us will stand on it, so you have no chance of busting through.

      Picture this: All of our overweight assess standing ON the glass ceiling, keeping your short-haired, glassless and classless face from ever sitting in the board room.

      The discrimination you describe is the basis for many a lawsuit. Why don’t you grab Jessica’s boobs, while you’re at it?

      Reply
      • @Rayanne,

        There is another book I read several years ago that I can’t find and can’t for the life of me remember the title, but it was co-authored by a man and a woman talking about the steel wall women have to climb before they ever even reach the glass ceiling. It was great to get the objective opinion from both genders and to speak frankly about how women are conditioned to be the superstar (above everyone) throughout their entire careers and then don’t know how to “sit down, shut up and be one of the boys” once they get to the board room and are in essence, penalized for it… and speaks heavily to the trend of women who bail at middle management to start their own companies (and makes it even harder for women to break into the c-level because those who can, choose not to). This was well before there were the studies showing how much more successful and profitable so many businesses are once they have women leadership, and yet…. we are still talking about it and doing very little besides checking off the box in most org’s.

        It’s comforting to know that, thanks to social media and the people in our industry – that we have found angels in each other across the country, and I very much appreciate the friendship, love, lack of judgment and unconditional support that I have in you both and with so many other women in our industry.

        And @Karen – if you’ve seen Rayanne’s assets , you’d know that many people have a reason to be intimidated by this woman’s looks, but she is one of the most genuine and remarkable women I’ve ever met – and she’s pretty damn successful as well. I hope, for your sake, that you likewise have some strong women in your corner and that your comments were said in haste and aren’t a true reflection of your personality.

        Cheers to the strong women in all of our lives and may we use this as yet another stepping stone to remind us to be loving, accepting, kind, encouraging and supportive of one another…

        Reply
      • @ray_anne,

        This chick was definitely not the one who grabbed my boobs at the SHRM conference. And that is something I will blog about very soon. I get a little bit of everything boob and ass grabbing along random groupies while also being told I’m overweight. This girl has great blog content out of all the experiences described above.

        Thanks for the comment and friendship as always.

        JMM

        Reply
    • Oh wow. @Karen – I will preface my reply with the fact that Jessica is a personal friend of mine and she wrote this blog after I posted something on my personal Facebook about this very subject.

      As a successful woman in business myself, it’s my hope that we all learn the valuable concept of assessing your audience before you open your mouth – or in this case post something forever on the internet? Did you take the time to research anything else about Jessica before drawing such a conclusion? Or to realize that by ending your, what would have been an otherwise relational comment with such negative brutal honesty, that you would in effect, strip away the power or credibility of anything you said prior to unleashing your own inner bitch?

      Jessica may not be so arrogant as to say, “do you know who I am?” but clearly, you don’t know who she is. This is a woman who I, along with thousands of people inside and outside of the HR industry (and many just in general business) deeply admire. I have watched her grow up in this space we call social media and the internet – to have come from her role as a regional corporate HR manager to becoming a successful author, writer, business owner, and one of THE MOST INFLUENTIAL PEOPLE ONLINE & in our industry.

      And she did it with a little fat on her ass… who’da thunk it?

      She’s also married, but her husband travels a lot – as she does, and yet, she’s done all of this as a new mother. This woman has my deepest respect… and she’s done it, quite frankly, without tearing others down in our industry. She is a highly sought-after speaker, so people want to see her ass ON STAGE. They pay her to speak in front of crowds at conferences that have have 10-20K people in attendance. Surely they wouldn’t ask someone who is overweight, least of all a female, to speak at conferences of that caliber if this were really the issue you seem to think it is?

      As a sidebar, my undergrad is in business, but has a strong emphasis on social psychology for a variety of reasons – one of which is because I started down the business track well before my degree was completed, as a young married, then young divorced single mom. I realized very quickly that I had many of the same tendencies Jess does in being a strong, confident, cerebral, ambitious, get shit done… and yes good looking female.

      I didn’t understand for the longest time why others in my organizations didn’t have the same penchant I did for looking for the most efficient, effective, innovative, budget conscious ways to get things done, and to do the right thing. I’ve since learned many of the same life lessons Jessica has, along with learning that while *we* as women have been conditioned to have to be better than everyone (men and women) to be considered equal (and hence, is partly why so many women are tearing down others because they have to be the ONE that gets ahead), that men are actually much better at bonding, at being each others cheerleaders, at mentoring and in general, giving each other a slap on the ass and quickly making a recommendation on behalf of an up and comer to a more experienced person. In short, where women push each other down – men are much better at bending over, lending a hand and pulling other (men) up.

      And you know what, I’ve seen many a fat man at the top. I bet if you stop and think for a second, you have too…

      I’m saddened to see you use a platform such as this and to utterly and completely miss the irony of your statements. You don’t get a get out of jail free card to come on here and complain about people seeing you as the bitch because of all of these other traits of being a strong woman, and then blatantly throw down with the very bitch card that is the subject of this post – women tearing down other women.

      You didn’t do it for the sake of honesty. When Jessica (and I) speak of brutal honesty, we do it with a purpose of progress; for the sake of betterment of a person or a cause or business reason. Honesty that is hurtful, especially in the context you offer it as if you are going to help her career, was a very clear sign that you actually don’t get it. You are quite simply being mean and to do it to someone you don’t know, who is putting herself out here to encourage women to come together and be supportive? I mean, my jaw is still hanging open as I write this.

      And people who are able to control their weight who are then so self-righteous to make assumptions that someone else’s weight problem is purely about self-control is why discrimination laws exist and are as unfortunately as necessary as they are. Your assumption about someone’s ability to run a company based on her weight is what is known as faulty logic. I could likewise assume that because a dog has 4 legs and a zebra has 4 legs, that all dogs must be zebras – but when we dig a little deeper, we know that not to be the case. As a self-employed working mother with a husband who travels – she has demonstrated her absolute ability to build a profitable and sustainable business, while in a very public eye… I’d say that’s no small accomplishment…

      …and perhaps you should take a few moments to offer yourself the same deep reflection you are offering Jessica, and investigate if the reason why you can’t find a job has more to do with your arrogance (or something else) rather than your looks.

      Sincerely,

      ~a good looking, 5’8, long haired blonde, successful single mother and woman in business who has the ability to generate multiple streams of income and retain a job.

      P.S. Crucial Conversations would be excellent reading material for you. Kerry Patterson and a team of people researched the how and why of having the “crucial conversations” in business….effectively. What you’ve demonstrated above with your show of “brutal honesty” in a public forum of someone’s personal characteristics is certainly something that could use some finesse…

      Reply
      • ^ What she said….

        Proud to know these women and gain a greater understanding of what is real in this life. The relationships we make and maintain are key in surviving the brutal honesty that is so unnecessarily flung at the zoo where women like Karen reside.

        Reply
    • Karen…I would recommend re-considering the limiting factors you’ve identified in your employment search. It appears that when people have turned you away and recommended that you “take a hard look in the mirror” – you’ve taken them literally. Based on two paragraphs that even Charlie Sheen would call narcissistic, I’d just like to offer some clarification that “take a look in the mirror” is an expression – a nice way of pointing out gaping character flaws that need to be addressed in order to successfully be a part of any relationship – working or otherwise.

      Brandon Hill |
      Reply
    • Wow. Karen… I think you’re missing a critical point: you may be being judged harshly, but I don’t think it’s because of you being “attractive” (I’m just going to take you on your word on that one). My hunch is because it’s because you’re pretty ugly on the inside, and your co-workers are on to you. Try losing some of that inner baggage. It’s going to be a lot harder than losing physical weight, but you’ll be happier for it. Just a thought.

      Reply
    • Looks like Jessica has more class than me.. but your last paragraph.. would the same rules apply for a male? Steve Ballmer is fat, so is the governor of New Jersey. I personally know lots of overweight CEOs, or leaders, and I also know a lot of “not fat” CEOs..

      In terms of you being “brutally honest”.. how is that different than being “honest”?

      Reply
  2. My first reaction to Karen’s comment is OMG, what a bitch!! Upon reflection, I still think that. What you consider being assertive looks a lot like bullying, and chances are good that the reason you haven’t been able to get along with any of your colleagues is that you are a narcissist with delusions of grandeur. What are you going to blame when you get older, and your looks are no longer a factor, and still nobody likes you?

    Karen Siwak |
    Reply
  3. Karen, WTF! Really, girlfriend. You are living in an alternate reality. I am nearly 60, gray haired and tip the scales at above optimal. I’m a partner in a law firm, am the General Counsel of that firm, have been a board member of the bar association, acted as a judge pro tem, run my on online magazine and on and on. I am not threatened by a pretty girl (or pretty boy, for that matter). I’m more of a high tide floats all boats, promote my fellow worker type gal. If I met you IRL, you and I would quickly come to terms with what appears to be a discriminatory position toward your coworkers. Perhaps you should read my -and Jessica’s, Janine’s, Lorene’s, etc., blogs before you display such inexperience with work issues.

    Mary Wright |
    Reply
  4. So we all need to lose weight, get contacts and a good haircut to compete in the business world? Well, I guess that explains why I’m self-employed.

    I think someone is watching too many episodes of “Mad Men.” It’s not 1950 anymore. I recognize that good health and good grooming are important but I would hope I am judged much more strongly on my abilities than my appearance. My weight has absolutely nothing to do with my ability to be a successful professional. Nor does the fact that I occasionally have bad hair days and need to wear glasses sometimes.

    And why is that otherwise enlightened women in the 21st century still feel the need to resort to catfighting in the boardroom? Wouldn’t it all work so much better if we could stop tearing one another down and support one another as we rise to our potential? What is it that women are so afraid of? I agree. The ridiculous behavior needs to stop–from both women and men.

    Reply
  5. How nice of Karen to provide you with a real-life example to accompany your post!

    Reply
    • Exactly my thinking, Mari. This comment while hurtful is exactly what keeps driving me to do what I do. We need to work together to move past business leaders and human beings like this woman.

      Thanks for the comment.

      JMM

      Reply
      • I’ve had my qualifications questioned over my appearance before, and it was hurtful but proved the point that ignorance always reveals itself.

        Reply
  6. Jessica, being a woman that has worked at several companies, one of them being in a department with 120 women I can say “Women are petty and backstabbers, “as you said in your post and are intimated by other women that are go-getters. It is sad.

    Women usually don’t like me, because like you I am opinionated, assertive and don’t soft shoe it for anyone at anytime. Has this held me back? Yes. Should it have? No. Then again – I usually intimidate most men also. LOL!

    Life and business isn’t about being nice – it is about doing what is right! I have learned to be more tactful as I have gotten older, which is an important skill. I was a manager at 22 and hell on wheels. I would now apologize to those I managed and have.

    Sometimes someone has got to step up and speak their mind. Thank you for doing just that! I can always count on you for your two cents worth, which only pushes me to be better.

    As I have gotten older, I have formed friendships with many female and male friends that think I am just great and value my assertiveness. It comes in handy when they need me to tell them how to tell someone off. LOL!

    Jessica, I am proud for you and your success. Whether you are 30 lbs lighter or 30 lbs heavier I am going to respect you for your honesty, attitude, and intelligence. Nothing more – nothing less. Have a great day!

    Lissa

    Reply
    • Actually, there here is a thought. There is ANOTHER class of women who think they are hot shit and that everyone else is just jealous of them because of their looks, power, whatever. When reality is that no one really likes them because they ARE ACTUALLY completely unlikeable AND incompetent at their jobs. The only thing they have going for them is their looks. And while looks might get you in the door and might keep you around for a while, but they don’t get the job done or meet the bottom line.

      Reply
  7. Oh my lord. can’t believe that crap. All I can say is JMM is one of the most capable people, not just women, I know in our little HR world. I trust her judgment and thought process as much as anyone’s. I love how, once again, someone is using the shield of the internet to snipe at some who is making a statement and is not afraid to stand up, say and show who she it and stand behing.

    Karen, whoever you are, do the same.

    John Jorgensen |
    Reply
  8. Did that just happen?! Seriously?! Jessica, you should have just left your response to Karen to the first sentence. That’s all that is necessary.

    How ironic that someone (a stranger) took the time to come to your blog on women tearing each other down in the workplace, and choose to tear you down solely based on your physical appearance and not the clear success you’ve achieved and respect you hold within the community. And it’s more ironic that this apparently stunningly beautiful woman didn’t share her own picture for others to judge.

    This is just sad.

    It’s great to see that discrimination, lack of self-reflection and lack of emotional intelligence is alive and well in the workplace because it means that high-paid consultants and HR execs will always be in-demand as they have to deal with these kind of problems.

    Breanne |
    Reply
  9. As an HR Professional woman who has personally struggled being a confident leader AND losing over 75 lbs, Karen, you got it all wrong.

    What about overweight men? Can they be leaders? Cause lemme tell ya something, there are some seriously fat CEO guys out there. Why is it okay for them?

    From an HR standpoint – would you NOT hire (or recruit) an overweight woman based on that rationale? If so, guess what – you may have some potential liability on your hands. Unless you can PROVE that the skills necessary for “being thin” are translatable and NECESSARY for the role. Prove it.

    I won’t go into a long diatribe point by point but I’ll give you my favorite quote by Isaac Asimov: “And above all things, never think that you’re not good enough yourself. A person should never think that. My belief is that in life people will take you at your own reckoning.”

    Reply
    • Christine,

      I had no idea that you lost 75 lbs!!! Congrats!! Since being friends on Facebook I’ve enjoyed seeing your yoga posts as I love yoga. Weight loss is a process and it doesn’t happen overnight. I sent my personal trainer the comment to read and I’m certain he is going to use it as motivation.

      Love your quote. Thank you for the comment and great blog post this week.

      JMM

      Reply
  10. Karen, for a woman who exudes narcissism… where’s YOUR photo for the rest of us to judge?

    Reply
  11. Karen, speaking as a working woman who is both assertive and — according to some critics — attractive, I beg you: Pour yourself a nice, warm cup of shut-the-hell-up and suck it down as fast as you can. Catty women like you are the REASON people take one look at attractive women and think, “Oh, look — another hateful bitch. PULL!” If you honestly want your career to move up, try busting the stereotypes instead of pandering to them. That is absolutely the only way any of us can get ahead. As long as there are women out there who reinforce the stereotypes (fat = lazy, thin = high-maintenance, young = clueless, old = can’t learn new things, pretty = bitchy and/or stupid, homely = jealous, assertive = hateful, quiet = weak, etc., etc., etc., ad nauseum), the people who stand to benefit by keeping us back are going to use those women as Exhibit A in their campaign to pigeonhole all of us into categories that ensure we’re passed over for promotions and raises again and again. Quit being part of the problem. Outgrow the caricature and rise above the stereotype. The rest of us don’t have time to clean up your mess.

    Reply
    • I like your analogy, Emily. And, by reading this, Emily, I have concluded to become thin I need to be high-maintenance! Screw the diet! Someone bring me a drink with an umbrella. This bitch is high maintenance!

      Reply
  12. There is an old saying: “You can put wings on a pig, but that doesn’t make it an eagle.” All the haircuts, contacts, and other superficial gimmickry in the world cannot mask the ugliness that lurks INSIDE of a person. Anyone who would write such a tactless, graceless, and classless response to such a thoughtful blog has a vertiable “chamber of horrors” for a heart. I certainly hope that you will not take Karen’s comments into your own heart, Jessica. Rather, I would be grateful to her for proving the very point of your original post!

    #serendipity
    #kismet

    Tom Amen |
    Reply
  13. My, my! Someone thinks highly of herself (Karen). Maybe you encounter so much politics, because people can give as well as they take. Sure, there are difficult people, my experience has been that people who rise, based on their looks, are the most difficult ones. Not to say there are not attractive people that enjoy a view from the top (like Jessica, and Mary above, to point out a couple) but they didn’t get there playing politics, they got there being good, and being people that other people WANT to have on their team. Someone already said, it seems that you ARE far below the glass ceiling”, if so, maybe it’s because people who go up, remember what it’s like to work with you. If you want a picture of women leaders, they are the ones on the next floor up, standing on that ceiling you’ve found. My current manager is a gorgeous woman, BUT she knows as much or more about my job as I do, and I’ve been doing it for 30 years. She’s just GOOD. I assure you, she didn’t get hired to be a vice president, as eye candy for the president. Your outlook is skewed.

    Reply
  14. Not much that can be added here, but I think it is infinitely ironic that your detractor actually became an example of women not supporting women… and for totally superficial reasons. Attitude counts. An intelligent person regardless of gender will not carry such a chip on their shoulder that others are glad when they leave the room. There may be a fine line between being self assured and being an asshole. It is so obvious when somebody crosses that line… except for the line crosser.

    I may have mentioned a personal story here before, but as a single parent trying to raise a teenage daughter pointed out the need for strong female role models in her life. I was very fortunate to be able to share her with powerful women who never backed down from a challenge. Due to nothing I have done but owing it all to her intelligence in following the right mentors and making good choices has made a strong young woman who will hopefully pay it forward to others and to her own daughter.

    Reply
    Tom Bolt
  15. Karen,

    I really hate girl drama but I dislike bullying more. So me, one of the kindest people on the planet, because of your insult to my friend, am prompted to jump in here. I’m 100% sure improving your “looks” by getting contacts and glasses is not what’s going to make you more attractive to an employer or in general.

    Mention being “good looking” way too much to psychoanalyze is not attractive.
    The tone of your comment as a whole is not attractive.
    Cowardly posting a mean spirited remark anonymously is not attractive.
    Telling people your attractive is not attractive.

    I’d rethink the weight you put on looks and reconsider what might be your limiting factors of obtaining employment.

    Amanda Hite |
    Reply
  16. It really bothers me that Karen is hiding behind the anonymity of the Internet to cyber-bully. It’s 100% unprofessional, unacceptable and juvenile.

    Shannon Smedstad |
    Reply
  17. It’s been interesting and amazing to read the comments in response to Karen’s “suggestions for self improvement”, and it occurred to me that some women, including women I’ve worked with and for, don’t understand the difference between smart assertive and toxic assertive. Here’s a general rule of thumb: if it’s about your business, your program, your performance, your results, your area of accountability, then it’s smart assertive. If it’s not about your business, or none of your business, then it’s toxic bitchiness. If you fall into the habit of toxic bitchiness, you will develop the reputation as a bitch, and not the kind that generates respect or a vast network of admirers and supporters. I hope Karen is using this opportunity to do some serious introspection.

    Reply
  18. Karen,
    Is this a joke? Or a prank? Or are you seriously that pathetic and insecure? I don’t know anyone on this blog or chain of comments, but was so gobsmacked by your comment that I felt that I had to add my own two cents. I think I’m being pretty objective here. I’m a woman in business who is not in the least bit overweight, so I know I’m not being oversensitive about the content of your comment. And, like I said, I don’t know a single person on this blog or comment chain.

    First of all, I’ve never come across anyone who is incompetent because of their weight. In fact, I know several extremely successful , well-respected, high-powered women who could possibly be defined as obese and their weight doesn’t seem to have impacted their successes in the least. But that’s completely beside the point. “I’m very sorry if this is hurtful as it is not meant to be. I’m just being brutally honest.” Wow. I’m shocked by the nastiness and meanness. If this is not a prank, I can think of only two other options: 1) Mental illness, or 2) Debilitating insecurity. I wish you the best in dealing with your issues – I assure you, you have a far more difficult road ahead of you than even someone needing to lose 100 pounds.

    Nathalie |
    Reply
  19. P.S. One more thing, Karen. Are you sure it’s the glasses and long hair that are limiting your obtaining employment? I think you might need to go deeper. Far deeper.

    Nathalie |
    Reply
  20. Excellent post…My first two Managers were women. For years I worked in a regional sales office as the lone male. Those women helped me become the business professional I am today. I learned a whole lot about compassion, conflict, trust, friendship, loyalty and commitment that I would not have otherwise.
    There are people that would seemingly benefit from some long, hard, introspection to move beyond superficial things that don’t count for much – especially in the world of work. When ready, they might begin to see that all of the change they are hoping for starts on the inside…. It’s hard work. Hope for them JMM and keep rocking down your own path! It isn’t the critic that counts…

    Ryan Estis |
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  21. Wow! What the fuck?! Are you ducking kidding me? Oh no she didn’t! And every other incredulous reaction to a statement. This “Karen”, if that is her real name (I certainly wouldn’t give mine if I were saying something so asinine), is the exact kind of person she bashes. Judging someone for being beautiful (cause yeah, that’s a real problem: eye roll) is just as damaging as judging someone for not being what one thinks is idealic. Notice I didn’t say “overweight?” And judging anyone for anything other than their performance is just stupid.

    What has happened to the sanctity of sisterhood?! I refuse to believe, for my daughters sake and your’s JMM, that it is gone. Lets all take sweet solace in the fact that the majority of women (and men, ya’ll rock) here are shocked and dismayed at this female on female bullying and banish miss Karen to her corner. Where no other woman cares to be, cause they are so jealous of her beauty and stupidity.

    Heidi Pancake |
    Reply
  22. Oh my word how shocking is this.
    1. You don’t look overweight on your picture
    2. Karen’s comments demonstrate a sociopathic lack of empathy and sistership
    3. She no doubt is fucking ugly with a massive chip on her shoulder
    4. @karen….confidence in who you are and the ability to instil confidence in others is the biggest strength a CEO can ever have. Read how to win friends and influence people and embrace life!

    Adele swift |
    Reply
    • Dale Carnegie… time tested truths… well said and Jessica absolutely does a phenomenal job of this!

      Reply
  23. Jess, great blog post… keep fighting the good fight…

    Btw, is Karen real? I mean… literally… could we have possibly missed her sarcasm or taken her out of context in some way? Dunno… but it would be really nice if she responded to some of the wonderful comments… I don’t want to hate her as I don’t think that really helps any of us… so, I’m asking for more dialogue…

    Also, is she real from the perspective of… LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, G+, Instagram… in a weird way, I want to know more about her… at the very least, maybe it will give us all some context.

    Lastly, this blog post, as well as, Laurie’s post a few weeks ago helps us all… even when we disagree or flat out make mistakes… imho, shit won’t get fixed unless we talk about it…

    Laurie’s link… http://thecynicalgirl.com/there-is-a-special-place-in-hell-for-hr-women-who-dont-help-other-hr-women/

    Reply
  24. Ladies (and dudes):

    There is no way I would have ever let this woman’s comments get under my skin. She’s touched a real nerve and perhaps was looking to get this very reaction. I would have never awarded it to her.

    Overweight? Is that her best shot regarding success in the workplace? Jessica we run successful career management firms. Always have and always will. You’re beautiful but that doesn’t even matter.. you’re successful cause you’re good! You’re a pioneer!

    Blow this person off next time..

    My response to those comments? One word.. “Yawn”

    Janice :o)

    Reply
  25. @karen- SERIOUSLY?

    that’s all for you- wasted space to type more.

    Jessica- the business world, HR world and world in general needs more assertive female leaders who display qualities of authentic humanity, ability to formulate an argument and back it up, and speak their mind.

    Your post resonated with me on several levels, thank you for this post and all your others which are filled with quality, thought provoking prose.
    :)
    C

    Reply
  26. Brutal honesty? Is brutality a virtue?

    No time for politics? For the grapevine v. the bottom line?

    Sounds like the same justifications aggressive, asshole males use when they just want to dominate and do what they like.

    Yes, it’s unfortunate that we have gender specific pejoratives for essentially the same behavior.

    Does it “work” ? Sometimes, for short periods, spectacularly. Steve Jobs was a renowned asshole, and he made billons. Of course, he also made the biggest mistake in the history of tech, and then went out and did it again. And behaved that way with his doctors….and died of it…. so I’m not sure of that lesson either…..

    Reply
  27. Seriously people? I said “Your picture conveys a confident woman. However, my first impression, based solely on you being overweight, is one of a person who would like to be in charge but is unable. My impression, however distorted based totally on your picture, is basically that you would not be a good candidate to run and control my company as you are unable to control your weight.”

    I said it was distorted. I said it from a position of honesty. If I had two, totally identical in every other aspect (management style, education, experience, confidence, etc) save one was 300 pounds and the other 150, I (me.. not everyone.. I speak just for myself) would likely choose the one who had the self-esteem and confidence in themselves and their abilities to control their weight. Believe me, I know that it’s not easy doing that. It’s downright impossible at times. But at some point a choice must be made.. stop stuffing my face, exercise more, when I do eat, eat RIGHT.. all difficult when hormones are raging or there’s a genetic issue underlying or things are really stressful.. or buy bigger clothes. It’s not easy controlling one’s weight. NOT EASY. But then neither is running a large company.

    If a candidate doesn’t have the self-esteem and control required to avoid the pitfalls of that never-ending cycle (oops.. gotta go buy clothes again cuz I gained another 10 pounds.. oh well) then they likely have issues that are preventing them from maintaining a healthier weight, and eventually, inevitably, those issues are going to come out at the office, resulting in power struggles, perceived personal attacks, and chips on shoulders that are going to get in the way of that person doing their job effectively.

    I am not alone.

    http://www.thestreet.com/story/11718742/1/fat-and-unemployed-is-there-a-connection.html

    http://www.foxbusiness.com/personal-finance/2013/03/04/how-being-overweight-can-hurt-your-career/

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2008/02/25/us-work-overweight-idUSSP21068820080225

    http://www.forbes.com/2008/05/21/health-weight-career-forbeslife-cx_avd_0521health.html

    And those are just a few you will find if you look. By ignoring this reality you are doing a disservice to your readership, and yourself. These perceptions are out there and they are real. They are others’ perceptions, and as such, you need to decide how you’re going to let them influence you. Are you going to slap the HR manager in the face and say “How dare you?” or are you going to respond in a more positive, effective, businesslike manner. That is the question you must ask yourself. Putting your head in the sand (or bowl of ice cream) and pretending you can eliminate that bias because you’re just that good is fooling yourself because, at first impression, nobody knows you or your abilities, yet. All they know is what you put out there. And because most people have a difficult time hiding obesity, you’re putting that aspect of yourself out there. Big time. Perhaps you’re looking for a more difficult challenge than the fit person applying for the job along side yourself. Perhaps you simply don’t want to work with people who might harbor such a bias. Regardless of the reasons, now is when you need to look beyond that bias and prove yourself the more worthy employee.

    I’m really sorry that so many of you took offense at my comment, as that was certainly not my intention. The fact that so many found that to be so egregious as to warrant long rants, simply proves my point.

    Brush it off. Pull yourself up by your XXL belt and prove me, and everyone else with this bias, wrong.

    Reply
  28. “stop stuffing my face, exercise more, when I do eat, eat RIGHT”
    This statement assume guilt of weight gain (or lack of loss) on the person. When in reality many studies show that weight gain (or lack of loss) can be completely out of the person’s power. You assume that those who are overweight stuff their face and don’t exercise. Where’s your statsitcs that prove that ever every. Overweight. Person. Until you can show the majority, it’s all heresay. Especially as it concerns Jessica.
    “Putting your head in the sand (or bowl of ice cream)”
    Wow… maybe you need to evaluate your own personal bias an ask yourself why you feel the need to downgrade or attack “overweight” people on the internet? Who died and made you Joan of Snark?

    “The fact that so many found that to be so egregious as to warrant long rants, simply proves my point”
    This statement is so illogical, it makes my brain hurt. That’s like saying “because everyone disliked my cooking that means it was great!” How they hell does everyone ranting mean your point is proven? If we were to go by statistic of one post equally either agree or disagree… you’d have ONE VOTE.
    “Pull yourself up by your XXL belt and prove me, and everyone else with this bias, wrong.”
    I’m a health and fitness blogger. I have a successful HR career. I’m “technically” obese. I’ve completed a half-marathon, triathlon, numerous 5Ks. Boom. Wrong.

    Reply
    • Well said…

      I think it’s someone we know and “love” – why else would “she” hide in the anonymity?

      The more I think about it, the more I think it might be a man who has lost many a job to a competent woman…

      Reply
  29. Dammit Rayanne!! Lol, you beat me to it. Was totally thinking of our buddy that Mr. Cole Fox hangs out with & thought – this is totally a man pretending to be a woman, because even the bitchiest of women know at some point when to back down & shut up after shoving a foot down their throat – and not since junior high have I seen a “woman” continue to dig into such a self – righteous blow hole trying to defend stupid, baseless, degrading & downright mean & attacking comments. Talk about self-esteem issues? Some powerful, over-weight chick obviously took “Karen’s” man card along the way & he/she has now taken to trolling the intewebs disguised as a woman. Seriously, that’s the only explanation. And if Karen is a real woman, I wouldn’t admit it to anyone & let the male troll story stick. Oh and Karen? The only thing left to say is, “bless your little black heart.”

    Reply

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