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Combining prosperous work lives and balanced personal lives
Summer 2008

Welcome to the Summer 2008 edition of Susan Robison's free e-mail newsletter for women business owners, executives, and professionals. Our goal is to bring you news, insights, and information about leading a balanced and prosperous life while making a difference.

In this issue, you'll find:

  1. Life Lessons from Nancy Drew
  2. BossWoman coaching
  3. Up and coming workshops

1. Life Lessons from Nancy Drew

One of my fondest childhood memories is of stretching out in the backyard hammock with a glass of lemonade and a Nancy Drew mystery story. That was time well-spent; Nancy’s life lessons have served me well.

Nancy Drew has been the role model and heroine of four generations of women. Created in 1930 by publisher Edward Stratemeyer, the character appeared in a series of thirty books ghostwritten by several writers with the pseudonym, Carolyn Keene, the two most prolific being Mildred A. Wirt Benson and Stratemeyer’s daughter, Harriet Stratemeyer-Adams. The books were way ahead of their time in their portrayal of an independent minded woman making her way through the life transition from adolescence to adulthood while solving mysteries. I have often thought that someone should write a book studying some of the themes related to Nancy’s philosophy of life. When a friend loaned me a copy of the tiny collection of advice, “Nancy Drew’s Guide to Life” by Jennifer Worick, I was excited to find out that someone has and that it didn’t have to be me. However, I was disappointed with the topical structure of “Etiquette,” “Sleuthing” etc. so I am taking a stab at regrouping Nancy’s advice into principles about life. I know that this category system is scientifically sound because while I was getting my hair cut, I conducted a short field by asking other customers and a few cosmetologists study about the influence of Nancy Drew on their lives. Here are the five principles of Nancy’s advice that we came up with:

  1. Prepare for everything.

    “A young lady with some judo skills can take care of unwanted advances in short order.”
    The Whispering Statue

    I was a junior at a college with no physical education requirements when I saw the notice about a non-credit judo course offered by a senior pre-med student with a black belt in judo. It was his philosophy that women with self-defense skills increased their confidence even if they never had to use the skills to avert danger. Turns out he was very right; studies on women and self-defense show that women with self-defense training encounter fewer dangerous situations in their lives. Researchers don’t know whether the self-defense students exercised more caution in taking risks with their personal safety or if the confidence gained in understanding the physics and philosophy of the martial arts caused them to send signals about clear boundaries.

    After taking the course, I was ready to ward off unwanted advances. None came along. Neither did wanted advances. But I was prepared, just in case. I must have overdone the confidence and the boundaries.

    Conclusion: Preparation is worth the time and money.

  2. Plan ahead.

    “When choosing between two men, take into consideration the different paths your life would take should you go with either of them.”

    The Sky Phantom

    Nancy Drew was way ahead of her time on this one; different relationships will follow different tracks. Marriage researcher, John Gottman and associates at the University of Washington who have studied the marital outcomes of couples from courtship to 20 years into their marriages found that marital outcomes (divorce, happiness or unhappiness) can be predicted with about 90% accuracy. Researchers now know which variables are important to observe as the couples discuss a major conflicts while being filmed. For example, it is not the amount of conflict or types of conflicts that a couple experiences but how they deal with their conflicts that matter. If a partner talks to you disrespectfully during conflict in courtship, run the other way. Contempt in courtship predicts eventual negative outcomes in the relationship’s future.

    Conclusion: If you have two suitors, pick the one who treats you the best. That’s what I did and have never regretted that decision although I do wish marriage would have paid better.

  3. Catch flies with honey not vinegar.

    “A soft, kindly approach to questioning prisoners can make them squeal.”

    Mystery of Crocodile Island

    While I’m not sure what the criminal justice research recommends for interrogation techniques, Nancy was right that in other spheres of life, social finesse accounts for a large part of success in every occupational category. Studies by Daniel Goleman and others have found that people with high social intelligence are rated as better leaders than those who are rated lower on Social I.Q. They produce more, perform at a higher level and are paid more.

    Conclusion: Take a soft, kindly approach but ask tough questions.

  4. Take good care of yourself.

    “Never sleuth on an empty stomach.”

    The Hidden Staircase

    Out of a dozen or so flights I have taken in the past year, three flight attendants have commented on my lunches of sandwich, fruit, and carrots sticks, as they passed out the junk food snacks, “You planned ahead. That was smart to bring real food to take care of yourself.” I thought to myself, “Well, I knew we were flying across the country when I left home this morning, didn’t you?” They seem to suddenly find themselves in the situation of flying across the country with no lunch. These are the same people who tell us to put our safety masks on first before we help our children or those around us acting like children. The principle is the same: we are no good to anyone else unless we eat well, exercise regularly, and sleep adequate amounts. Then we can sleuth, work, do laundry, or any other activity with greater efficiency and less crankiness.

    Conclusion: Eat well, exercise regularly, and sleep at least 8 hours a night.

  5. Think outside the box.

    “In a pinch, a vial of perfume can sterilize a scissors.”

    The Secret of Red Gate Farm

    Decades before MacGyver solved mysteries in the TV show by using objects for purposes other than what they were intended, Nancy Drew knew how to think outside the box. She was always using objects for purposes other than what they were intended and in the process, solving the case and getting out of tight spots. In “The Scarlet Slipper Mystery, she gave the advice, “Don’t overlook the tried and true.If caught in a housefire, don’t hesitate to tie sheets and blankets together to swing to safety.”

    Studies on creativity demonstrated that creativity can be taught by practicing looking at the world differently. Success depends on your ability to do this. For example, what if in the 1950s the train companies had thought of themselves as being in the transportation business instead of being in the train business? They could have added the services of airplane flights and linked travel and planes into a huge well-run system. Instead, well, you know what happened. The U.S. is the only industrialized country that has not kept current in repairing and improving our rail systems.

    Here is example of thinking outside the box about your career. Instead of thinking about yourself as an employee, think of yourself as self-employed - totally responsible for your wages, opportunities, and benefits. In these days of quick mergers and acquisitions, that kind of thinking outside the box will serve you well to make sure you advocate for yourself. No one but you can manage your career as you can.


Go to the basement, attic, or public library and grab a copy of your favorite Nancy Drew mystery and remind yourself how to be the independent confident adult you knew you would become.

Susan Robison

2. BossWoman coaching

About the publisher: Susan Robison, Ph.D. is a professional coach, speaker, author and seminar leader. She loves to coach women who want improvement in:

  • work-life balance,
  • career transitions,
  • building your business or practice,
  • time management,
  • increasing productivity.

If you are feeling stuck on the way to your ideal life, give Susan a call for a complementary half-hour coaching session.

She provides keynotes and seminars to business and organizations on the topics of:

  • leadership strategies for women,
  • relationships,
  • work-life balance,
  • change.

She offers her audiences a follow-up coaching session because she knows that workshops don’t work.

Contact Susan for your coaching, speaking, or seminar needs at Susan@BossWoman.org or at 410-465-5892.

3. Up and coming workshops

I am currently accepting speaking invitations for work/life balance workshops for the winter and spring of 2009. Contact me if your group needs a speaker on any of the topics listed above.

Title: “MAPping Your Career”
Date: October 12, 2008; 8-12
Place: AASHA annual conference; Philadelphia, PA

Title: “Renewal and Revitalization: Creating Lives of Joy, Hope and Grace”
Date: Wednesday, October 29 – Friday, October 31, 2008
Place: Province General Assembly; Sisters of Bon Secours; Bon Secours Spirituality Center, Marriottsville, MD.

To start receiving the BossWoman e-Newsletter send an email with “Please send BossWoman” in the Subject to: Susan@BossWoman.org. To stop receiving send an email with “Stop BossWoman” in the Subject to: Susan@BossWoman.org.

BossWoman e-Newsletter is intended for informational and educational purposes only. Coaching should not be construed as a form of, or substitute for, counseling, psychotherapy, legal, or financial services.

© Copyright 2008 Susan Robison. All rights reserved. The above material is copyrighted but you may retransmit or distribute it to whomever you wish as long as not a single word is changed, added or deleted, including the contact information. However, you may not copy it to a web site without the publisher’s permission.

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