What the Women in Business Report Means to Me As a Woman & HR Professional

Women in Tech are coming together in a big way to make a difference in the local Tech scene. Several of us met down at the @DigitalHealth space last month to discuss what resources currently existed and what resources were needed to advance education, mentoring and funding for continued programs for women and girls in technology. The big takeaway from the meeting was that we needed to create a #Community of resources that could band together and pool what resources we did have to be more effectual and impactful as a larger group.

The goal of HoCo BeYou has always been similar. It has been to create a safe, inclusive environment where individuals feel safe, empowered and encouraged to be their authentic selves. To express themselves openly and creatively in a space that offers kindness and empathy to all and which focuses on making things that make a difference.

Mentorship is a huge part of the BeYou model. It is so essential that we provide role models or young people who look like them so they can see that careers exist for them in the fields they aim to shoot for. And not just jobs, but creative opportunities to impact the world and effect real change. Because that’s what is really driving the next generation. A young girls in particular. We are so encouraged by this direction.

The next event for this initiative is a Meetup on March 23rd at the Baltimore Robotics Center where we will be speaking on the topic of Mentoring. This is an open forum. All are welcome. http://www.meetup.com/Baltimore-Women-in-Computing-Meetup/events/220806190/

In the meantime, please check out my perspective on the Women in Business Report: What the Women in Business Report Means to Me As a Woman & HR Professional.

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A Culture of Caring

Conscious Capitalism – A Culture of Caring

Written by Jonathan E. Johnson III on 16 December 2014.

Editor’s note: Overstock.com chairman Jonathan Johnson delivered the following speech at the Salvation Army’s Annual Silver Bells Gala held in the rotunda of the Utah State Capitol on Dec. 4.  He was asked to talk about Overstock’s leadership philosophy.


We all know Dr. Suess’s dreadful holiday story “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.”  The Grinch hated Christmas.  So, he dressed as Santa and slinked through Whoville stealing every package, tree, ornament and stocking.  He then leaves the city, delighted over the pain he will cause children like “Little Cindy-Lou Who, who was not more than two.”

He drives his dog-driven sleigh full of stolen Christmas to the top of Mt. Crumpit.  There he pauses … and puts his hand to his ear.  But, he is shocked at what he hears.

Every Who down in Whoville, the tall and the small,

Was singing!

Without any presents at all!

He HADN‘T stopped Christmas from coming! IT CAME!

Somehow or other, it came just the same!

And he puzzled three hours, till his puzzler was sore.

Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before!

“Maybe Christmas,” he thought, “doesn’t come from a store.

Maybe Christmas … perhaps … means a little bit more!”

Tonight, less than a week after Black Friday and just days on the heels of Cyber Monday, I would excuse you if you think that you’ve come to hear the modern equivalent of the Grinch.  After all, as the Chairman of Overstock, I spend nearly ten months of the year … starting about the day after Valentine’s Day … figuring out how to make sure that your Christmas comes from a store … specifically, Overstock.com.

On top of that, there is a common refrain in the press that corporations are evil and their executives do all they can to exploit and underpay workers.  It is as if all businesses are run by the Ebenezer Scrooge before his sleepless night of visitors.

I’d like to talk tonight about why that should not be and why, in many cases, it isn’t really so.

Conscious Capitalism

In his book “Conscious Capitalism: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business,” Whole Foods CEO John Mackey callson business leaders to open their eyes, hearts, and minds to realize “the truth, beauty, goodness, and heroism of free-enterprise capitalism.”   He asserts that caring for workers and communities is not a distraction from fiduciary duty, but actually “the best way to optimize long-term profits and long-term shareholder value.”

I wholly agree!

Overstock’s Efforts at Conscious Capitalism

Now, I don’t think it appropriate to lecture in a “you should” manner.  So, at the risk of bragging, I’d like to share some examples of what “Overstock does” to try to be a responsible corporate citizen – a leader in the practice of conscious capitalism, a company with a soul.  I know that many other companies, including those represented here tonight, do just the same.

Valuing and Empowering Employees

First, I have great executive colleagues at Overstock who value and empower Overstock employees.  Let me give two examples.

No Executive Bonuses

Several years ago, Overstock had a couple years where sales were lower than as expected and expenses higher than expected.  As anyone who keeps a budget knows, that’s not a good combination.  So at the end of each of those years, when the board of directors was determining annual bonuses, there wasn’t much to go around.  For two years running, my colleagues on the Overstock executive team voluntarily stepped forward to refuse their bonuses so there would be a larger bonus pool for the rest of the Overstock employees.  That’s selfless leadership and that’s conscious capitalism.

Employee Empowerment

The Overstock executive team also works to empower and entrust Overstock employees.  Let me give an example.

Prior to 2004, Overstock had a thick stack of complex and burdensome procedures that our customer care representatives were to follow.  In 2004, we put our most tenacious, customer-centric executive, Stormy Simon, over customer care.  We charged she with representing our customers at all times and throughout the company.  By the way, I think the most customer-centric executive will almost always be a woman.

Stormy immediately replaced these complex and burdensome procedures with one simple rule:  “The customer always deserves justice.”  This enunciation of “commander’s intent” (as the military refers to it) empowered our frontline employees to use their best judgment to solve problems.  They knew what hill they were supposed to take, but we entrusted them to do it in the way they deemed best.

With this simple change, Overstock went from an also ran customer care organization to number four on the annually released National Retail Federation and American Express customer care list.  We’ve remained in the top four ever since.   And Stormy Simon is now Overstock’s president.

Empowerment of the individual is conscious capitalism.

Helping Communities

Second, Overstock works to help communities.

Worldstock Fair Trade

Some of you know of Overstock’s Worldstock Fair Trade business that works with artisans from developing countries to sell their handmade products on our site.  Since launching Worldstock over a decade ago, Overstock has created jobs for artisans in over 60 countries and purchased over $110 million of product from these third world artisans.  Overstock uses any Worldstock profits to fund self-sustaining philanthropic projects such as schools in Guatemala, Kenya, Malawi and Nepal.  Worldstock is conscious capitalism making a world of difference.

The Main Street Revolution

Some of you may know of Overstock’s Main Street Revolution, our partnership with small and minority-owned business owners across the United States designed to increase the visibility of these businesses which lack exposure to national markets.  Since launching the Main Street Revolution nearly five years ago, we’ve helped Main Street American businesses in 42 states significantly increase their sales.  The Main Street Revolution is conscious capitalism providing a step up for small businesses.

Pet Adoptions by Overstock

How many of you know about Pet Adoptions by Overstock?  In March of this year, we launched a pet adoption service that uses our technology to match our customers with homeless and abandoned pets from thousands of animal shelters and rescues nationwide.  In just nine months, we’ve connected animal lovers with nearly 30,000 homeless and abandoned animals of all shapes and sizes.  Pet Adoptions by Overstock is conscious capitalism working to create a world without homelessness for pets.

Support of National and Local Charities

Each year, Overstock supports national and local charities.  Tonight, Overstock is pleased to be a sponsor of this Silver Bells Gala for The Salvation Army of Salt Lake City.

Valuing and empowering employees and helping communities creates a vital “culture of caring.”  Companies cannot fake this through empty words in a mission statement. To be authentic and felt from both within and outside a company, it has to be a foundational principle, firmly believed and regularly practiced, by those who own and run it.

The Salvation Army

This “culture of caring” has been the underpinnings of The Salvation Army since its inception and it continues today.

Let me mention a little about this great Christian organization.  Here is a list of just some of the impressive services it has provided last year in Salt Lake City:

  • Over 12,000 food boxes for families in need.
  • Over 33,000 hot meals to local families in need.
  • Over 750 Thanksgiving dinners to families and seniors in need.
  • School supplies, including backpacks and binders, for underprivileged children.
  • Support to individuals who are dealing with addiction and recovery.
  • In partnership with Rocky Mountain Power, Salt Lake City Water and Questar Gas, utility assistance to families in need.

These are impressive statistics, showing assistance given to thousands.  However, transformations are individual and occur one life at a time.

Alex is one such individual transformation.  When The Salvation Army of Salt Lake began its relationship with Alex, she was an off-the-wall hyper child who didn’t respond well to instruction or direction.  The Salvation Army met Alex when it conducted her grandmother’s funeral since the family knew no one in Salt Lake and had no church it called home.  It then connected her family to its meal program.  From the meal program, it connected Alex to its percussion club.

At first, Alex couldn’t sit still long enough to play a simple rudiment of single stroke or double stroke roll without climbing over or under the pews in the chapel of the building.  But it was clear Alex was a bright child.  After much patience and persistence from the staff and volunteers, The Salvation Army of Salt Lake has seen Alex through the death of her grandparents, homelessness, and extreme hyper activity.

This Christmas Eve, if all goes according to plan, Alex will be the featured piano player on a very short percussion piece arranged for her by the very instructor she couldn’t sit still for just a few short years ago.  Her life is being transformed and her joy is infectious!

As you pass the Red Kettles outside the stores this Christmas season, as you consider your end-of-the-year personal donations, and as you consider opportunities for your businesses to practice conscious capitalism, remember the words of Christ recorded in Matthew: “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these by brethren, ye have done it unto me” (Matthew 25:40).

And remember, for those who are hungry and without, sometimes we must make sure that they get Christmas both from the store and from our heart, so that means at least “a little bit more” – as the Grinch discovered.

The Salvation Army is all about selfless sacrifice, empowering the individual, offering a step up and getting people out of homelessness.   In the lives of individuals, it makes a world of difference each and every day.  Please help it continue to do so.

Regardless of whether, Grinch-like, your “shoes [are] too tight” or your head’s not “screwed on just right,” The Salvation Army gives all of us the much-needed opportunity to grow our hearts “three sizes” this Christmas.

Regardless of your situation or affiliation, you’ll find something on this list to feel good and do good with.

Girls Who Code Summer Immersion Program Information Session

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Girls Who Code will be coming to Columbia, MD this Thursday, 12/18 to talk about the exciting Summer Immersion program opportunities it will be offering in Summer 2015 for girls going into 11th or 12th grade the following Fall. This summer the Washington DC region has been added to the list of areas where summer immersion opportunities will be offered. To hear more about the program, Girls Who Code clubs (currently hosted at HCC & JHUAPL), and hear from last summer’s amazing alumnae, register to attend Thursday’s event at Howard Community College. Students, parents and educators are welcome!

Square-Code-Camp

Thursday, December 18th 4:30pm

Howard Community College

Health Sciences Building HS150

10901 Little Patuxent Parkway, Columbia, MD 21044

To join us, please RSVP HERE. (Please note that an RSVP is not necessary to attend.)

GWC Summer Immersion Program FAQ

Read more about the Summer Immersion Programs in this 12/15 article by NewTMSlogo.

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HCCMap

Creating a Youth Makerspace for Knowmads & Entreprenerds.

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Over the course of the past month I’ve been focusing more of my attention on the launch of two other programs I’m involved in, the Young Women’s Giving Circle of Howard County, and Girls Who Code. The YWGC is for girls in grades 9-12 who reside in Howard County and teaches them about philanthropy, fundraising, leadership, teamwork and local nonprofits. Girls Who Code is a new program launched at Howard Community College and JHU/APL that teaches computer programing to girls in grades 6-12. Part of my role in leading/advising these two groups is going out into the community and looking for partnerships to work with the girls. The YWGC partners with local non-profits that work to improve the lives of women and girls in #hocomd. GWC is looking to build relationships with local tech companies who will support GWC’s presence here in Howard County. We are so fortunate to have HCC and JHU/APL as our first sponsors providing us with the classroom space and computer facilities to put on the program here this fall. Their support so far has been incredible. But there is additional need for speakers, workshops, summer immersion programs and instructors for new club locations that will need local level help.

In the midst of all this, I’ve discovered the concept of the “Maker”. Aol recently created a feature called Makers.com based on Women Who Make America. The idea is that there is a culture of DIY people out there, modern day inventors if you will, also referred to as Makers, Knowmads (knowledge seekers) or Entreprenerds (startup minded and technically oriented). These people are going out and doing it for themselves. Changing the landscape on their own. Not waiting for the formal systems & infrastructure to do it for them. All of this, especially in light of current election results, made me think that this is the model I want to encourage. These are the people, the youth and the youth at heart, who should be working together and inspiring each other. These are the individuals who could do great things and make a real difference in our community.

Wikipedia defines a Makerspace or Hakerspace as, “Centers for peer learning and knowledge sharing, in the form of workshops, presentations, and lectures. They usually also offer social activities for their members, such as game nights and parties”.

Lets create a Makerspace. A place for our community to come together to share ideas, tools, talents & resources with our youth and model leadership, community service and giving. It will be a place to conduct work, hold workshops, wood shops, art studios with volunteers from a wide variety of places and across all generations and cultures. We will promote the values of empathy, service to others and committing to a cause greater than our individual selves. It will be whatever we make it – a coop, community space, etc. With the caveat that all people are accepted, included and treated with kindness and empathy at all times.

If this sounds cool, nerdy and fun to you, send me an email me know you’d like to get involved or fill out the interest form on the how to get involved page. I’ll organize a meetup if enough people show interest.

Looking forward to a fun new adventure.

Kathy Barnett – BeYou Entreprenerd

So…The Ball’s in Our Court. What Now?

Last night’s Choose Civility Symposium, The Ball’s in Your Court: Can Civility and Sports Co-Exist was a fascinating discussion exploring teamwork, leadership, role models, sportsmanship, and competition. There was an amazing panel of individuals moderated by NPR’s All Things Considered, Morning Edition‘s Korva Coleman. Panel members included former NFL star (and Baltimore Colt) Joe Ehrmann, sports psychology expert Amanda Visek, Mt. Hebron High School Athletics and Activities Manager Jeannie Prevosto, and Winston DeLattiboudere III, a student athlete from Howard High School.

The combination of having a coach, athlete, administrator and sports psychologist really gave balance to the conversation and allowed congruence of vital messages to come forward that hopefully were good take aways for those who attended and those who watch the live stream.

Recent infractions like those that have occurred within the NFL to those happening in community locker rooms across the country are just more intolerable examples of why we don’t have a choice but to find a way for sports and civility to co-exist.  No wait, better put, we must find a way for sports and humanity to co-exist.

During the panel, Joe Ehrmann spoke about the need for competition to be redefined. He said we as a culture have become too focused on the concept of winning at all costs. If we are focusing on winning at all costs, then it is impossible to build strong character in our athletes at the same time. This ties in closely to the recent study by Harvard University’s Making Caring Common project, where they discovered that the majority of students they interviewed felt as though their parents were more concerned in their success and individual happiness than they worry about the fate or happiness of others.

Competition indeed does need to be redefined. And in doing so, as Ehrmann suggests, sports programs should be defined by a mutual quest for excellence, not an “I win, you lose” mentality. Basically think of the skills you need to collaborate, organize, coordinate and function in your tasks as an adult at work. Sports programs can be basic training for how you interact later in life. Hazing, being in it for yourself, lacking empathy for others – these are not skills that build character, develop a sense of teamwork or set you up for success later in life.

Coaches also need to to define themselves. They can either be transactional or transformational. Transactional coaches are in it for themselves. Its about their glory. The give and get. Transformational coaches have an empathic connection to those they coach. A true belief in empowerment. You’re either meeting the needs of your players or your using them to meet your own needs, Ehrmann said. Who would you rather have as a coach? Who would you rather be a role model for your child? Be an advocate for your kids, shoot, even for yourself.

Which brings us to parents and the role we play. Parents can be very enthusiastic, caring and supportive, however at times in the heat of the moment our behavior can cross the line. Kids have said that parents are sometimes too loud in the stands, or make obscene calls out to the umpire or coaches that can be embarrassing. Take some time to practice standing up to behaviors that are inappropriate and unsportsmanlike. Check yourself and think about how what your doing and saying is being received. Then hold your fellow bleacher seat mates accountable for it too.

So…The Ball’s in Our Court. What Now?

We’ve heard from experts with advice on how our coaches, athletes and families can redefine their roles, develop positive relationships and hold each other accountable for our actions. We’ve heard how athletes can communicate better and have more sportsmanlike behavior with their teammates and other athletes. And we’ve heard from a sports psychologist about what the 3 top “Fun Factors”, or motivators, for kids playing sports are: being a good sport, trying hard and positive coaching.

These themes seem to be true for so many of life’s activities and experiences. Be nice, play nice, be positive, do your best. It’s so simple. How did we get from there to here? Where do we go now?

ICYMI: Last night’s symposium is available to watch via YouTube.

#HoCoCivil

More Upcoming Events on Sports by Choose Civility:

Conflict Resolutions on the Sidelines 2/3 7pm Miller

 Emotional Intelligence in Sports 2/10 7pm Miller

Good Sports: the Athletes Bill of Rights and Your Family, 4/29 7pm Miller

Building A Culture of Caring and Conscious Capitalism

HoCo BeYou is empowering individuals, companies & community organizations to embrace a Community of Caring. We envision a community where all individuals can enjoy a supported, inclusive & empathetic environment that is committed to the economic and social good of its citizens.

By building partnerships with community organizations, businesses and individuals, our goal is to encourage a community of caring where acceptance, respect, empathy & the importance of giving back are not only valued but expected. We believe corporations can play an integral part in solving social problems by impacting their employee cultures and the communities around them.

Earlier this week, 9/17/2014, Columbia, MD based Conscious Venture Lab‘s held it’s #DemoDay. CV Labs partnered with The Howard County Economic Development Authority to promote “consciously driven” start-ups. There were so many exciting pitches!!

It is so fantastic to see that #HoCoMD is on the leading the way in establishing communities based on a Culture of Caring. By encouraging start-up accelerators like Conscious Venture Lab and investing in more businesses making socially conscious decisions a part of their core values, Howard County can truly be the model for future.  Check out this great article about the CV Labs/HCEDA event in the Baltimore Sun by reporter Luke Lavoie.

Coffees & Conversations Create Community & Collaboration

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BeYou is working with these amazing community organizations to develop a community space for learning, making, building, doing, creating & growing together.

gwc    YWGC Logo 2013sml     HGCLogo

 HTCLogo      3d MD banner Blocks    SONY DSC   

HCCLogo  JHU_APL_logo  HCPSS

We will be planning opportunities for continued discussions and involvement. Stay tuned to our blog and follow us on our social media channels for relevant news, updates on events and ways to get involved.

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# Make Stuff #Make a Difference #BeAuthentic  #BeEngaged  #BeKind  #BeYou

Who and Why We Are

Can you Be YOU?

Can you Be YOU?

Often times we have to be someone else, play a different part or pretend to be tougher, smarter, funnier, cooler, stronger than we really are. Sometimes we have to play far more difficult roles to fit in or, when we don’t, face the judgement and ridicule that come from standing up for ourselves.

HoCo BeYou is a voice for anyone who can relate to those feelings above. We want to encourage ways to proactively eliminate negative and aggressive behavior. We want to bring children and adults, teens and tweens, educators and community members all together to discuss fostering empathy and kindness in our community.

Are you interested in getting involved? Perhaps you just have something you’d like to add to the conversation. We welcome your voice. Please join us. 

OUR Vision:  All individuals raised in Howard County can enjoy an environment emphasizing kindness, empathy, individuality & acceptance.

OUR Mission: HoCo BeYOU gives everyone the opportunity to celebrate their uniqueness, accept their differences and increase their awareness and empathy for others while working in the community to make a difference in the lives of others.

Who & Why We Are : HoCo BeYOU works with individuals and organziation to encourage collaboration and empower them to “Be You” – their most authentic selves. By working with community organizations and volunteers, individuals are encouraged to gain acceptance, respect individuality, develop empathy & build teamwork while supporting the people and organizations in our community.

We believe that the receipt of kindness and by extending kindness to others, individuals demonstrate reduced stress and develop greater empathy for their communities, which benefits the general community overall