Nancy Lyons

Podcast #42: Checking In

Location-aware technology is blowin’ up these days, which will inevitably lead to another wave of privacy concerns. As a user, it’s up to you to learn what messages each of them will send out to the world. Don’t be surprised when you go out for the night and your phone finds your friends before you do.

P.S. What are you doing the morning of Friday, March 30th? Join us for some bacon and coffee while we discuss our new book, Interactive Project Management at Social Media Breakfast MSP! Buy tickets here. UPDATE: The event is sold out, but you can still get on the waiting list!

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Pinterest & Legal Concerns



Foursquare and the Mystery of Meghan’s 5k Badge

  • OMG, I ran a 5k!: Ms. Whitney Shaw, one of our Geek Girls Guide crew members, kicked ass at a 5k. Give her some love!
  • Foursquare 5k badge: Meghan wondered about a mysterious 5k badge she earned. This article cleared up the mystery: she apparently hooked up RunKeeper with Foursquare and then forgot about it. See, kids?! You gotta keep track of what you’re sharing.



Podcast #41: Pinsanity

It’s been a hectic 2012 so far. We finished our book, Interactive Project Management: Pixels, People, and Process, and it’s now available for pre-order from Amazon! Or, add it to your Goodreads list so you remember to read it later!

This is also our first podcast of the year (sorry!), so allow us to be the last people to say Happy New Year to you. We hope it’s been great.

In this podcast, we’re talking about Pinterest (hey, who isn’t?!) and the idea of anonymity and privacy online.

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Our e-book is here!

For the last few years we’ve been doing a lot of public speaking for a wide variety of audiences.  We’ve talked about everything from traditional vs. interactive design, to privacy and security in the digital age, to work culture and user experience.  But the one topic that we get the most requests for is still social media — for both business and personal use.  But Meghan and I don’t try to teach people how to use social media tools. Instead, we spend our time talking about how to think about social as it relates to telling our stories; telling our personal and professional stories, and our company stories.  We talk about being deliberate and thoughtful about the creation of those stories, and that approach seems to resonate with so many people.  And it’s surprising because you’d think that the subject of social media would be worn out and over by now.  I mean it’s been the topic du jour for the last couple of years.  How can there possibly be anything more to be said? 

At every one of our speaking engagements, we met people who’d ask us where they could buy our book.  We actually pitched a book about social media to Peachpit, but the feedback was what we expected: there couldn’t possibly be any interest in our book because the subject of social media was exhausted.  Still, people asked for it.  Last year we did a series in-depth workshops for the Minnesota Regional Arts Council.  We didn’t just want to talk to these folks about how to think about building and supporting their arts organizations with social, we wanted to create some useful tools to guide them through the process.  So we assembled a workbook to accompany the presentation and it was pretty well received.  From there we realized that this was the point of difference: we could provide value in the steps to thinking about social, along with instructional context to illuminate the kinds of possibilities that existed there.

For the last six months we’ve been refining that approach, and the content, and we’re proud to announce our first e-book, Social Media For Humans: Minding and Managing Your Personal Brand Online is now available to download.  Publishers may not have seen the value of another social media book, but people were asking for it.  We couldn’t ignore the pretty constant demand for an easy, digestible, overview of social media and personal branding.

In recent weeks I’ve seen some pushback around the concept of people being brands.  I get that.  We live in a culture where we tend to commercialize everything and the idea that people could be deliberate about their brand stories suggests a lack of authenticity.  That’s not at all what our book encourages.  It’s not about over-promoting yourself as an individual, or being contrived or less than genuine about the stories you tell.  Instead, what we hope our e-book does accomplish has more to do with encouraging people to be thoughtful about how they are represented with content online.  We take time to think about how big companies and brands should be perceived.  Yet when it comes to ourselves — we just jump in blindly with no rhyme or reason, and then we act surprised when privacy settings change or our friends post content and we are somehow misrepresented.  If businesses have social media strategies and plans why can’t individuals be at least sort of mindful?  We think they can be.  And they should be.  That’s why we put together our workbook and called it Social Media For Humans.  (You can also read a related blog post that Meghan wrote in 2010 to help explain our approach to social media for individuals.)

We are pretty proud of this book.  We hope you enjoy it.  Tell your friends.  Send them our way.  Download the book.  It makes a great holiday gift!  As always, any questions, comments or feedback are more than welcome.  And thanks for spending time with the Geek Girls Guide.

Podcast #39: Divas

When you do a Google search for “Celine Dion”+”Steve Jobs”+”Pop Tarts”, 1,630 sites pop up. Here’s number 1,631.

Wondering how our book is coming along? Interested in hearing about our weekend at AIGA Design Camp? Curious as to why Steve Jobs, Celine Dion and Pop Tarts are somehow all mentioned in a 30 minute podcast? Well then, this podcast is for YOU!

Our e-book, Social Media for Humans: Minding & Managing Your Personal Brand Online, is seriously going to be available like, really soon. IF ONLY WE KNEW SOMEONE WHO COULD BUILD WEBSITES.

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The New Facebook, Security and You

On Friday night I appeared in a very short segment on KARE11 — the local NBC affiliate — to discuss the most recent Facebook changes – most specifically ‘The Timeline’. It’s funny because that was the second time this week Clockworkers made the news for Facebook, and the third time total (Netflix made for some interesting chatter this week too. But that’s another story). We sure are grateful to our friends at KARE11 for looking to us for some commentary about Facebook.

And it got me to thinking. The reason Facebook changes keep making the news is because Facebook has managed to work its way into the most fundamental elements of our culture: it’s become a primary way in which we connect with other people. We conduct whole parts of our life online now, and Facebook is really trying to capture that. That’s what this Timeline thing is all about really—it’s allowing us to tell our “whole” life story as we see it.

But then that gets broadcast to a pretty broad channel of consumers, while all the details of the story (data, really) are being aggregated to tell new stories about us to brands and marketers. I’ve read that this has been Mark Zuckerberg’s vision all along: as people share more and more data about themselves online, Facebook grows in value. It makes perfect sense that his strategy would also include forcing people to share more—however intentionally or unintentionally—by making our privacy options around each piece of data less obvious. Because that’s really what happened here, right? People are freaking out because instead of being able to specify, in a very general way, what (like photos and status updates, etc.) we share with whom, now it seems like we have to specify who we’re sharing with every single time we update our status or share anything.

As infuriating as it is, it’s sort of genius isn’t it? Influence how we behave and then mess with the most subtle aspects of that behavior to get more information from us. Genius. Because the assumption has to be that the majority of us are too lazy to spend any time figuring it out. And there’s such an overwhelming amount of information that even if we aren’t too lazy—we won’t know what’s real and what isn’t anyway.

How can we possibly protect ourselves?
A couple of weeks ago the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Advance IT Minnesota and Saint Paul College hosted a cyber security awareness forum focusing on online safety and security. I was fortunate enough to be part of a panel along with Dr. Christophe Veltsos, Faculty member in the Department of Computer Information Science at Minnesota State University, Mankato and president of PrudentSecurity LLC, an information security and privacy consulting company and Tim Fraser, Director of the Department of Homeland Security’s Stop. Think. Connect.TM campaign. (There will be video available from this forum and I’ll be sure to post it when that happens.)

You may or may not know that October is National Cyber Security Month.
President Obama called Cyber Security a critical issue and “Stop. Think. Connect.” is an important message and informational campaign presented by the Department of Homeland Security and sponsored by a large coalition of companies and brands hoping to contribute to increased awareness and education of cyber safety in America.

My contribution to the forum was really around behavior and the psychology of online behavior. We (and I’m using the collective we—a pretty broad generalization, but I’m comfortable with it) have this tendency to act victimized by what happens online. We have this weird sense of entitlement around how our information should be handled. And because of the technology layer—or, what I like to call, the layer of mysticism—we seem to want to believe it’s too complicated and the real responsibility belongs to the owners of the technology.

But our information is so widely distributed (think about how many sites on which you have profiles or where you’ve made purchases or connected with friends) and the web and online communication is so imbedded in how we function that we can no longer really think like that. We have to be less complacent and see ourselves not as victims—but as proactive citizens of digital space. The web has been mainstream for over 15 years, and still I hear people acting as if it just showed up yesterday and it is impossible to figure out. The thing is, it’s not going to slow down. We’re not going to revert back to the way things were. We can’t just throw our hands in the air and leave technology and social tools to our children, or take the word of so many “experts” to heart. Most of those “experts” are just there because they are rolling their sleeves up and diving in—not because they have any body of knowledge unavailable to the rest of us. Experts are people that play around with and think about technology and these tools. That’s all. And it’s something we all can do.

Back to Facebook
You might be asking yourself how all of this relates to the recent uproar over Facebook’s latest changes. Well, it relates plenty. See, complaining isn’t doing us any good. Facebook has proven time and time again that we are low on the list of priorities when they make changes to how the tool works. Yes it started out being a social network for the people, but our interest and willingness to share our information made the business opportunity for Facebook so much bigger than us, the users. And we’re not paying for the service. In this capitalistic society everybody knows a business needs a business model, and this one is grounded in our willingness to share information about ourselves in order for marketers to talk to us about things that are of relevance—to us.

It’s one-to-one marketing: they present us with products and services that matter to us. And they know they matter because we’ve said so, in roundabout ways. By the pictures we post, the brands we “like,” the people we associate with, the activities we enjoy, the causes we’re into. Alone these are just bits and bytes. But together they become a very rich profile—a whole story. A life story that is constantly changing.

The biggest threat to our privacy and our security is not Facebook, or viruses or hackers or any of that. The biggest threat to our privacy and security online is us. It’s how we react to all of this and everything that’s still coming at us. And the bottom line is this: if we have concerns about what we’re sharing or how our information is being used, then we owe it to ourselves to get as smart as we can about how we’re using Facebook, or any service, really. Think of it as agency instead of victimization. Then own it. I said that in the KARE11 piece and I stand by it.

On the surface the Timeline feature that Facebook is preparing to roll out is really cool. It’ll let you customize the story that you tell about yourself in ways you haven’t been able to before. A bigger, richer more expressive image can be seen on your profile page. It’s sounding like the data you share will include the things you update today and tomorrow, in addition to the pieces of your story that happened before Facebook even existed. What’s more, it’s looking like you’ll be able to share content from other networks and applications to which you subscribe. If you integrate your Hulu account and your Spotify account and your Goodreads account (there’s not a lot of information about exactly what additional apps/integrations will be available once the new Timeline launches, so I’m guessing here), then your story will include the TV shows you watch, the music you listen to and the books you read. Add your internet radio stations, your photosharing sites, your recipe exchanges and so forth and over time you’ve got an interesting story.

What will this look like?
If you do what Facebook hopes you’ll do, you’ll get your whole life working for them.

There’s Bob! He was born in 1977. He went to Catholic school. He hated his uniform. He played high school football. He went to this university. He majored in philosophy and art history. These are his friends. These are his girlfriends. Bob volunteers for this really awesome nonprofit. Bob teaches at this really amazing school. Bob married this fantastic lady. Bob reads nonfiction mostly. Bob likes ESPN and comedy central. Bob like action films. Are you with me here? Bob is more of a whole person. He reads something and maybe his friends will read it too. If Bob is into a cause and he elevates it on his Timeline, it’s likely that a few people that subscribe to Bob’s life will contribute money or volunteer themselves. Bob, this complicated, multi-dimensional guy isn’t just connecting with friends any more. Bob is now influencing people within his immediate community. But then, depending on how his privacy settings work, Bob’s sphere of influence might be bigger than even he’s aware. Beyond that though, Facebook advertisers are able to customize Bob’s ad experience so the ads speak to Bob. Furthermore, that sphere of influence that Bob may or may not be aware of interact with the info that they are privy to and that interaction turns into data points in their stories.

Get it? If they like something about Bob’s story, whether they know him or not, they are saying something about themselves. It’s a crazy, viral cycle of behavior. Or maybe it’s just physics. The law of physics on the social web—for every action there is an equal and/or opposite reaction. As cool as this is, remember: Facebook isn’t forcing you to add any information you’re not comfortable sharing.

Take back your cyberspace
What are some of the changes and what can you do?

Third-party apps
Knowledge and awareness are power. What can you do right now to ensure your Facebook experience is controlled by you? First of all, Facebook can’t force you to add information about your life prior to when you started to update your daily status in the network. That is purely voluntary. The network is also incapable of forcing you to integrate any other networks or apps—they must ask your permission. That means you do not have to approve your friends being able to see your Hulu or Spotify or Goodreads activity. You can avoid integrating third party sites and apps altogether. And you can go into your settings right now and deactivate apps that you’ve already allowed to interact with Facebook.

Be mindful of what you click on. “Read” doesn’t just mean “read” any more. You could be broadcasting information passively because you’ve given prior permission to tell the world every time you listen to or watch or read something. But again—you have to authorize these social apps before they can say anything about you. But once you do—be aware.

Everyone is futzing about the changes Facebook made to lists. Oddly, very few people ever really used them before because they were hard to find and pretty unclear. Now’s your chance. If you used them before and Facebook messed with your lists—it’s do-over time. Take advantage. If you never used lists before—welcome! Facebook wants you to use them and they’ve made them more obvious to encourage you to do it. Lists are one real way you have to control who sees what information that you share. It feels like a daunting task to start categorizing your contacts—but, honestly, it’s now or never. You might as well dive in and do it. Once you’ve segmented your friends list you can actually just share something with your family and no one else will see it. But remember—you need to specify how you share every single status update.

There’s a little fuss about the fact that you can see who “unfriends” you. I’ve got news for you: we’ve always been able to do this. Just not through Facebook. But there were a couple of third-party apps that already allowed this functionality. My advice: get over it. Honestly, if someone dumps you, that’s called life. If you dump someone, be prepared to deal with the reaction. Nine times out of ten there will be no reaction. But for that one time when someone might actually confront you, that’s called human interaction and you can choose not to talk about it. Or save them from themselves and tell them they are posting too many pics of their awesome hair. Or whatever.

Sharing Your Friends’ Comments/Likes
People seem bothered by the idea that when they Like something on a friend’s wall or worse, if they make a comment on a friend’s post, that will get shared with or seen by people they do not know.  This is true.  This can happen.  But I’m going back to my point about being proactive and encouraging Facebook users to find out how their friends share information.  I have my privacy settings set to only share my friends’ comments and Likes with my friends.  Not with everyone.  If that’s not good enough for you – then do not comment on other people’s posts.  Of course, that’s half the fun of Facebook.  And honestly, most comments are so benign, as yourself if it really matters  if they are shared.  If it does – then talk to the people who’s walls you interact with the most and ask them to get specific about who gets to see that kind of information.

Tracking your every move
There’ve been some articles about how Facebook will be able to track you when you are not on their website. Welcome to the internet. There are a couple of things to be aware of here, the first—and most obvious—is think before you sign into other websites with your Facebook login. When you do that, not only are they tracking your behavior outside of their website, but they are probably broadcasting back to all of your friends. There’s also concern that Facebook can track your activity on other sites when you are not even logged in to Facebook. Again, a lot of websites can, and probably are doing that. There is data that is collected in your browser that can track how you behave in lots of ways. But it’s not totally personal, it doesn’t necessarily identify you the individual. But let’s say Facebook can. Maybe you want to consider using another browser for your social media activity. Instead of being married to Internet Explorer, try downloading Google Chrome or Firefox or Safari and use this secondary browser for things like browsing the web, shopping and reading interesting articles. One browser cannot communicate your activity to another and that keeps your Facebook experience totally isolated and somewhat more secure.

And on and on
There is a lot more going on. And perhaps we’ll talk about more of the privacy options and concerns in the days and weeks to come. There are ways to manage your privacy. But it requires more engagement, not less. Deactivating your Facebook profile may not be the right answer. Here’s why: a couple of years back Mark Zuckerberg talked about his vision for this network of his and described Facebook as a global “utility.” What he wanted was for this social space to be as necessary as your telephone or the electricity that powers your business. With 750 Million users connecting to each other and brands and business and other cultures via Facebook, he is definitely making that vision a reality. I don’t know, and I don’t care, if Facebook will be around in 5 years. But right now there’s no denying there is a certain dependence on the network. We (again the collective ‘we’) might actually *need* it to feel connected.

Where Zuckerberg might be failing is in not recognizing the power of a network that really is for the people. But hey, maybe that’s a future roll out. And by “future” I mean next week.

Let’s celebrate National Cyber Security Month by thinking and learning about Facebook and online security, not complaining. Celebrate by taking action and being empowered, not detaching. You’ll benefit from it, we will all benefit from it. Then we go back to happily sharing photos and posts!

Podcast #38: The Private Island That Exists Only In Our Minds

After one final summer trip to the lovely Geek Girls private island, this week’s podcast focuses on ways to customize your online world for privacy or for fun. 


Pregnant but haven’t told the fam yet?: Turn your Facebook wall off so your dad doesn’t find out about his first grandchild via the son-in-law that he doesn’t really like posting a picture of Harley Davidson baby clothes.

On a friend’s computer and stumble upon a long article about some body abnormality that you’d rather not discuss?: Set up a Google+ circle with no friends, co-workers or relatives so you can share things with yourself for later. (Depending on what you search for, you might want to delete the browser’s history after you’ve successfully posted it to your page.) 

There are plenty of small ways to think outside the box when it comes to social media sites. Any other quick and easy suggestions for customizing your social media spaces?

We also prove, yet again, that despite our geeky status we have no idea what we’re doing when it comes to audio. NANCY IS VERY LOUD IN THIS POST DESPITE OUR ATTEMPTS TO FIX IT IN POST-PRODUCTION. You’ve been warned.

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Podcast #37: A Digital Walk Down Memory Lane

Have you heard?! Facebook is taking all of your contact numbers from your phone, posting them all over the internet and selling them to terrorist organizations around the world! Okay, so that’s not entirely true, but with all of the posts on Facebook the past few weeks, you’d think Gaddafi was about to call everyone in your phone to see if he could crash with them for a few days until things settle down at home while Mark Zuckerberg laughs maniacally in his giant bed that’s stuffed with $100 bills. (Psst, it’s not that big of a deal.) In this week’s podcast, we give you the lowdown on the newest wave of Facebook panic and try to calm your nerves a bit.

We also discuss a few ways to back up your Facebook profile and Memolane, a site that aggregates your social activity into a timeline.

Also, we sing.

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We referenced a lot of stuff this time around! We’ve tried to put links and videos in the order that we mentioned them.

  • The reason for this clip will make way more sense after you listen to the podcast. But, it’s a classic.

  • Geek Girls Guide Books!: We’ve got ’em! Soon, you can buy ’em. Totally up to you if you bother reading ’em.
  • She’s Geeky MSP:Sign up for a super awesome unconference for geeky women in Minnesota.
  • The Social Network. It’s a movie. In case you hadn’t heard. Also, it’s FICTION.
  • Mark Zuckerberg at Web2.0 2010. Long, but a really great (and interesting) interview. Also, it’s NON-FICTION:

Podcast #36: Big News and Google+ Redux

It’s the music episode and the request line is open, so give us a call and dedicate a song to that special someone in your life.

Now that everyone (including commoners like Nancy) has access to G+, we look at it again to see what benefits it could have (who wants to meet us at a G+ Hangout?! Anyone? …Hello?).

We also have an announcement that we, uh, already announced, so it probably won’t come as much of a surprise, but we’re excited anyway so we’re going to announce it again. You have to listen to find out though, because we’re not going to type it here. Pretty sneaky, huh? 

As usual, we meander through a bunch of other topics including the iPhone photo app Instagram, Foursquare, and the fact that were are not, in fact, life partners. To each other.

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Podcast #35: Crying, and Google+

Remember that one time Nancy cried at work? In front of a client? Let’s talk about that.

And, is Google+ our new social media savior or just another place for us to bide our time until the next big thing comes along?

Also, we swear in this one. Be warned. Even more frightening: we sing.

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The Double-Bind of Women in Leadership

Note: Meghan misspoke in our podcast, this isn’t a Harvard Business Review article it was a study published by Catalyst.

xkcd’s take on Google+

NY Times article: Upending Anonymity, These Days the Web Unmasks Everyone

Gettin’ Techy

We’re Human. Get Over It.

Recently I learned something really surprising about myself.  I learned that I’m entirely human.  What?  You don’t think this realization warrants a blog post?  Well, friend, stick with me.  There’s more.  

A couple of weeks ago I was having a particularly stressful few days.  It was nothing out of the ordinary, just the regular stuff that makes life such a trip.  None of us are immune to the complexities of being human. We just think we are.  We put ourselves under enormous pressure and we try to balance work and home and hobbies and causes and commitments and kids and romance and taxes and other people.  It’s plate spinning, really.  We do our best to keep as many of them in the air as possible for as long as possible.  But eventually, I don’t care who you are, a plate, or two, comes crashing down.  Let’s face it, it’s never anything really catastrophic.  Although it may feel like it in the moment.  Plates are replaceable.  Even your best china.  But in the moment, life can get a little out of control and even the best of us get emotional. Turns out, I do too. And so, a couple of weeks ago, several weird, high pressure issues converged into the same day and, after losing some sleep over them, and letting my head swim around in it for a while, I had a decidedly human moment – completely out of my control.  

The details around what lead up to this moment aren’t important.  This was two weeks ago.  The problems I had then have long since been solved. And while they felt overwhelming at the time, I’m amazed at the relief and reason a little distance brings.  But on this particular day I came into work after a mostly sleepless night and I tried to just function.  Like you do.  I tried to operate with a business-as-usual attitude and it was probably a mistake.  I had meetings most of the day.  My first one came and went without incident.  But I can’t say I didn’t feel myself getting a little weaker with each passing hour.  And when I say ‘weaker’ I don’t mean so much physically as just energetically.  I was carrying myself through the day but I wasn’t feeling it.  My second meeting was with a client.  Which one is not important.  But let’s just say I like this person very much.  We have an excellent working relationship and I consider her a new friend.  The meeting was tense, but not something I normally couldn’t get through.  There were some unanswered questions that had caused confusion and we were processing through them.  Only right in the middle of our discussion I felt it happening.  That thing. The thing that can never happen at work.  I felt my chest tighten.  My throat followed.  Suddenly I was overcome with emotion and I was desperate to suppress it.  Tears welled up in my eyes and, shocked and sort of terrified of my client seeing tears, I quickly brushed them away.  My head was spinning and I was thinking about how I might escape.  But there was no comfortable way to get out of that room.  And then the tears came.  Rolling down my cheeks as I stared at my client.  Both of us in total disbelief.  She asked me what else was going on.  I responded honestly, ‘Nothing. I don’t know what this is about.’  I really didn’t.  I am not a weeper.  This is not something I do.  Those were the words that were screaming in my head too.  ‘What the hell are you doing?  What is happening.  OMG WHY AM I CRYING?’  I can’t say there wasn’t some momentary relief in those tears.  My client knew me well enough to know that this was a wild and rare occurrence.  I apologized.  We reached the end of our discussion.  My tears long gone, I escorted her out and that was that.  

Only it wasn’t.  The shame spiral that I threw myself into after she left was no less than unreasonable self torture.  I walked into my office, shut the door, and I died of embarrassment.  The tapes playing over and over in my head punished me that much more.  ‘How could I cry in a meeting?  There is nothing worse than crying!  I am weak.  God.  Weak!  Credible, tough business people DO NOT CRY!’  It went on like that for most of the rest of the day.  I called a friend and fellow business owner and confessed to her.  I was looking for redemption.  She was shocked.  But she understood.  Still, I didn’t find the forgiveness for which I was looking.  And I spent the rest of the day swirling in and out of this terrible shame.  

The thing is, I know I’m not alone.  I know other people have cried at work.  I’ve had both men and women come into my office and get emotional.  I’ve seen men and women cry from frustration or overwhelm or mistakes or fear.  I don’t recall ever judging anyone for their tears.  I only remember trying to help them see things clearly again so they could return to their centered selves.  So why was I so hard on myself?  I think it’s because there’s this unspoken (or maybe it’s spoken, loudly and unavoidably) rule in business that to cry makes you weak.  And if you’re a woman it’s a mortal sin.  If you’re a woman it identifies you as being ill equipped to be a leader, or a thinker, or to be rational.  I had committed the unthinkable.  In my mind, those few seconds of tears were negating everything I knew about myself and everything I thought I’d proven about myself over the years.  In MY mind.  My client had probably long since forgiven me.  Maybe even forgotten.  It’s my work, and the work of my cohorts, that proves my mettle in that relationship.  So why wasn’t I letting it go?

Men cry.  We all know it.  Many of us live with them and we work with them or we ARE them and we’ve seen them cry.  Maybe for some it’s rare.  But it does happen.  Men get emotional.  I have worked in a largely male dominated industry for a long time.  I know that men get emotional at work.  It looks like a lot of things.  They shut down.  They get aggressive.  They get mopey.  And, on some occasions, they cry.  But for whatever reason men who cry (and I’m not talking weepers who cry often, I am referring to the occasional tears from a rational person who just feels things) are not necessarily frowned upon.  They get a pass.  We call them ‘sensitive’ and that is an asset in the male of the species.  Those other responses to emotion are equally as forgivable.  Mopey is thoughtful.  Shut down is pensive.  Aggressive is tough.  But when a woman cries it doesn’t even matter what the rest of the world thinks.  Because what we do to ourselves is enough punishment to last a lifetime.  It’s probably the worst thing (in our own minds) we could do.  At work.  The worst thing.  

Well.  It’s two weeks later and I’m here to tell you I lived through it.  I am no less the business person or leader or professional I was three weeks ago.  Do I want to make a habit of it?  No.  Of course not.  But I’m human.  I had a human response to a day.  And I wish I would have forgiven myself.  A lot sooner.  I wish I could have saved that afternoon and just let myself have it.  I wish I didn’t feel like I had to apologize 13 times to that client.  I wish I didn’t feel shame at the very thought of other people EVER finding out.  Because this is who we are.  We are all the same.  We all have bad days.  We all deal with overwhelm.  And, on occasion, we all cry.  

I’ve written this post in the hopes that I can spare someone else the shame I felt.  It’s pointless, wasted energy.  My work and my attitude and my knowledge and my purpose are still all very intact.  My focus is the same.  My interests are the same.  I am the same professional I was before I cried.  Only now, I’ve admitted to the world that I cried in a meeting.  And I lived to tell about it.  And maybe we should all go just a little easier on each other.  Because as work culture changes and communication  changes and our expectations change we’re going to need a little more humanity in the work place.  We’re not making widgets any more.  And we’re not hiring robots for most jobs any time soon.  We’re hiring humans.  And humans are flawed.  All of them.  I ought to know.  I am one.

This post is also featured on the Clockwork Blog because it’s not just a lady issue, it’s an issue we all should be discussing.