The realities of women in management

When Cassia ventures out into the executive ranks of high-stakes corporate intrigue, as she does in What’s Left, she sometimes resembles Jaya in my tale Nearly Canaan.

What does it mean to be a woman in the world of management? Are there any advantages?

~*~

My novels are vailable at the Apple Store, Barnes & Noble’s Nook, Scribd, Smashwords, Sony’s Kobo, and other fine ebook distributors and at Amazon in both Kindle and paperback.

Within a daughter’s own living Greek drama

Venturing out on her own

In my novel, What’s Left, Cassia becomes a rising executive with half of the country as her territory. The experience of growing up in the family restaurant gives her a head start over her colleagues, but she’s also much more vulnerable in a highly competitive, often hostile, financial world, than she’d ever been back home.

What are the biggest threats in being a woman in management? How would you avoid them?

~*~

Maybe she’s playing her own tune.

What if there were a sequel?

Let me repeat, What’s Left is my final novel, even though it’s appeared before several earlier ones — or their later revisions. That doesn’t mean I might not rework some more of my earlier books, but I have no intention (at this point, ahem) of undertaking such an ambitious project.

Still, if it’s ever successful, there can be a demand for a sequel. There are many possibilities that point to further development.

One plot twist I considered was this:

A handful of the Erinyes’ grandchildren rebel by returning to attend college across the street from Carmichael’s. Perhaps it’s inevitable that they apply for jobs in the restaurant.

Can they work? We’ll let them decide about becoming cousins.

This could have opened considerations about rebalancing the ownership, for one thing. Or more dimensions to our understanding of what it means to be a family. Or even their own reasons that parallel those of Cassia’s father in moving way back in the early ’70s.

~*~

It’s a big book, admittedly. But it could be a lot bigger.

Where would you take the story of What’s Left from what’s already there? What would you like to have answered?

~*~

I wonder where Cassia’s generation of her extended family or even their children go from here as they face today’s big challenges.

How tightly are they bound together?

Cassia and her brothers and cousins face a crucial decision. Do they continue to jointly hold the family business as a resource for future generations, requiring them to keep working for a living, or do they divvy up their shares and then live independently wherever and however they desire?

Put yourself in Cassia’s shoes.

How would your life be different if you didn’t have to worry about how you’d make ends meet? What would you dream of doing?

~*~

The family enterprise extends beyond the restaurant itself, as they demonstrate when they buy an old church something like this and convert it into a late-night hotspot.

No more Comcast!

Or Xfinity, as they also say.

I was perplexed that they kept raising the price on our broadband service, seemingly monthly, and then privately complained about monopoly abuse. We haven’t had a TV for years, but for some reason, that didn’t affect the pricing, however they tried to justify that.

Canceling when we moved, though, was a great pleasure. Besides, our new provider is $720 a year cheaper for the same service, perhaps because there’s some competition.

Not everybody’s sticking to broadband for digital access, either.

As a blogger and author, though, I’m just not ready to do all my online stuff on a smart phone. Not that the option couldn’t be tempting.

 

 

An aside for karma yoga

In one of the early drafts of my novel What’s Left, I tried this perspective — which I removed from the final version of the book, feeling it was too preachy:

If our workroom was where we could act honorably under the eye of God, it was still no substitute for times of celebration and worship! No, we need to take time every day for prayer and the study of scripture. Just remember: work spent in activities that help our neighbors and enable us to come together for periods of common delight is quite different from anything I see in the realm of time cards or the Harvard Business School.

~*~

Whew! Let’s try to bring this back to everyday experience.

Is there somebody you encounter someplace during the day who makes you feel special? A coworker, cafe wait person, bus driver, teacher, friend? Do tell us!

Karma yoga, by the way, is explained in my novel Yoga Bootcamp. Work itself gets complicated, no?

~*~

The old church Cassia’s family buys in my novel might have looked like this … before the wild rock concerts begin.

A family obligation to pitch in

Maybe the family restaurant was oppressive? In my novel What’s Left, there’s no question the kids won’t be working shifts in Carmichael’s as they grow up. Do they ever want to rebel? Or does peer pressure and pride keep them in line?

As one of them said in an earlier draft:

So it was off to serve more Streetcars and slaw.

~*~

Well, they knew what was expected. And they knew how to pitch in and be effective.

What were you expected to do in your family? How did you help? Were you compensated in return? Should you have been?

Now, make all that present tense!

~*~

Finikia. A whole tray!

More than the bottom line

Even though I cut this from the final version of my novel What’s Left, it’s still true:

What people need, and this is essential to a proper approach to labor, is balance.

~*~

Two things are going on here, one inside the other, but I’d like to be less confusing.

The first, quite simply, is my belief in what we Quakers call centering. We find our stopping all outwork activity for a time of deep meditation and reflection helps bring us perspective on the other parts of our lives. Add to that moderation and simplicity or focus all leading to a healthy balance of individuality, home, career, community, faith, and so on.

The second touches on attitudes toward labor itself, which quite frankly has been demeaned in modern society. What makes the concept of leisure so exalted? The danger, I suspect, is in overworking — often sucking any joy out of the project at hand.

Think of your job. What could management do to make it more human?

~*~

Classic. Somerville, Massachusetts, just outside Boston.

Bringing the price per serving down

What do asparagus stems and lobster shells have in common?

They typically go in the trash, while the tender asparagus heads and the claw and tail meat go on the plate, maybe accompanied by melted butter.

I our household, though, we freeze the stems and turn them into cream of asparagus soup later.

And the shells, often roasted, though it’s not necessary, are simmered down into a lobster stock, which can hold its flavor for up to three months if frozen.

The stock makes for a great lobster bisque or lobster butter or fish chowder.

In essence, we wind up with more meals than one out of each ingredient – and thus getting more for our money.

What strategies like this can you share?