Advice for juggling work and family

November 6, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
A personal story of wisdom, leadership, ambition and balance. Inspirational advice for women trying to have it all from Marilyn Carlson Nelson, one of Forbes Magazine's "The World's 100 Most Powerful Women." She is also the author of "How We Lead Matters."

Tips for women:

Be available to your children: Marilyn promised her daughter Wendy that no matter what, she'd pick up the phone when Wendy called, even if it interrupted an important meeting at work. One day, during a high priority meeting, the receptionist came in and told Marilyn that Wendy was on the phone. Her heart pounding with worry, Marilyn left the room to take the call. When Marilyn picked up, Wendy said cheerfully, "Just checking."

Be an athlete: Marilyn makes the point that you don't hear Olympic athletes talking about balance. They simply work very hard. These days, we all have to be Olympic athletes in one way or another. Thinking about this helps her through some of her busier times.

Be realistic: While sometimes we all have to take the "athlete approach," we also have to choose what's most important. A man who worked for Carlson very successfully for several years turned down a promotion because it required travel which would have meant that he would have to give up coaching his kid's team. He made the right sacrifice for his family. Marilyn believe it's possible to have it all, but not all at once.

Buy the book on Amazon: How We Lead Matters

Speaking event:

December 2: Marilyn will be in the city to speak to the local chapter of Women Presidents Organization (WPO) and to the Commonwealth Club about her new book, "How We Lead Matters: Reflections on a Life of Leadership."

About Marilyn Carlson Nelson:
Marilyn is chairman and former CEO of Carlson, parent company of Radisson, Regent, Country Inns & Suites, and T.G.I Friday's. At the start of her career, Marilyn had to sign her name M.C. Nelson to disguise her identity as a woman. She later became the first female CEO of Carlson. When she was pregnant early in her career, she was asked to move her desk to an enclosed office to hide her "condition." Now 40% plus of senior executives at Carlson are women. During Marilyn's 10 years as CEO of Carlson, she initiated some of the following programs for parents and women within the company:

  • State-of-art early childhood education center.
  • Alternative work arrangements.
  • Adoption assistance.
  • ErgoMOMics - workstation changes for pregnant women.
  • Onsite fitness center.
  • A health care plan that covers in-vitro fertilization.


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