Sunday, February 1, 2009

The Discrimination that is Still Quietly Accepted

Do you know which one I am referring to?

• No, not racial
• No, not religion
• No, not weight
• No, not sexual orientation
• No, not physical disabilities

It is ageism. Once you cross the age of 40, your odds of getting a job decrease dramatically. When and IF you get the call for an interview, there is nothing worse than seeing the look on the twenty-something’s face. And during the conversation getting compared to the interviewer’s parent. I’ve heard the following:

• Your earrings are so nice. My mom has a pair just like them.
• How did you do all your research in the ‘old days’ before the Internet?
• Can you keep up with a fast paced office?
• What was your GPA in college?

I won’t name the companies whose HR reps asked those questions, but they were NOT small organizations. One of them was Google.

So, you know you have the experience. You know you have the expertise, the stamina, the enthusiasm that would make for a great employee, but you are judged by your age because even if you are the best candidate for the position, the thought that you might not fit in with the “just out of school” crowd. That would make for a bad hire.

I did a consulting gig for a very hip entertainment company not long ago and when I moved a cabinet, all the much younger boys and girls looked horrified saying “I would have done that.” Or “Why didn’t you ask me; I would have moved that for you.” I thought, “Dear God, I am 49; I’m in good shape; I look a little younger but clearly this staff thinks I’m a relic.”

To me, I’m 21…..I don’t feel “49”….although I am unsure as to what that is. I eat well, work out, watch “Family Guy” and “Celebrity Rehab” and I listen to Howard Stern. I’m married with three dogs (the kids), drive a sports car…I keep up with marketing trends, the economy, world news, business strategies….Oh, and my favorite singer is Lady GaGa.

But let’s get back to the core issue: Ageism is wrong and should not be tolerated…but if you become a victim of it, the biggest issue is PROVING IT.

The Age Discrimination Employment Act (ADEA) was passed in 1967. The law promotes employment based on ABILITY not AGE. It prohibits hiring and firing decisions based on age. The ADEA also forbids mandatory retirement at a certain age for nearly ALL employees. Further, many state laws forbid mandatory retirement for small employers not covered by the ADEA. Finally, you should know that the ADEA is an extension of the Civil Rights law of 1964.

OK, so now you know the basic facts of what the ADEA is but does it get enforced? Check the Las Vegas section of for marketing and promotions jobs. Most not only want your resume, they want a picture. A Picture!! Why? Because they don’t want someone who they perceive is less than perky, youthful and sexy to represent their clubs, restaurants, hotels or casinos. Most are publicly owned and should adhere to the law. But they have these huge legal departments….

There is a reason that both men and women -- in far greater numbers than in previous years -- are coloring their hair, working out with weights, injecting their faces with fillers, getting eyelash extensions and permanent make up not to mention getting the fat sucked out of pretty good bodies. The competition out there is brutal and even if you’ve got the best “pedigree”, if you don’t look the part, you don’t even get considered. “Next!”

For the record, I admit to doing a few of the items mentioned above because I felt pressured in our youth crazed culture….especially after a “lay off” at a major beverage company. I was over 40….didn’t fit the demographic they were after nor match the one internally.

One has to wonder that if some of the companies – going back to the bust – had had more senior, experienced executives, maybe, just maybe millions of dollars would not have been wasted on corporate retreats, foosball tables and Herman Miller chairs. Instead a little grey hair coupled with about 15 years experience could have saved some of the great ideas that went the way of the 8-track tape.

Bottom line: If you think you are being discriminated against, you CAN take it to the EEOC. Be prepared to fight and get legal counsel. If you are a “boomer”, if it hasn’t happened to you in this economy, it likely will.

Forty; Fifty; Sixty or Seventy is NOT old and NOT irrelevant. You have value, smarts, savvy, experience and substance to ride out the hard times. That’s what the world’s economy needs right now more than ever. Employers: Are you listening?

Mary Ann McQueen Butcher

Thursday, January 8, 2009

The Serious Business of Being a Woman in Business

Gender stereotyping, one of the key barriers to women’s advancement in corporate leadership, leaves women with limited, conflicting and often unfavorable options no matter how they choose to lead, according to a recent study. This report, the third in an in-depth series examining the pervasive and damaging effects of gender stereotyping in the workplace, focuses on the consequences of gender bias and three specific “double-bind dilemmas” frequently experienced by women business leaders. The study also suggests organizational solutions to counter the persistent effects of gender stereotyping.

The company findings strongly suggest that gender stereotypes lead organizations to routinely underestimate and underutilize women’s leadership talent. The 2006 report shows that, even though women make up over 50 percent of the management, professional and related occupations, only 15.6 percent of Fortune 500 corporate officers and 14.6 percent of Fortune 500 board directors are women. When companies fail to acknowledge and address the impact of gender stereotypic bias, they lose out on top female talent,

Although multiple research studies show that men and women exhibit similar leadership styles, prior research indicates that men do not face the persistent gender stereotyping that frequently place women business leaders in “double-bind, no-win dilemmas.” According to the study, which interviewed senior business executives from the United States and Europe, men are still viewed as “default leaders” and women as “atypical leaders,” with the perception that they violate accepted norms of leadership, no matter what the leadership behavior. Thus, the studies say, the masculine leadership norm creates three connected, but distinct, “double-bind dilemmas” facing women leaders today.

Extreme perceptions: Women leaders are perceived as “never just right.” If women business leaders act in a manner consistent with gender stereotypes, they are considered too soft. If they go against gender stereotypes, they are considered too tough. Observations show executive women to be at either end of the spectrum, drivers that do it themselves (even though they might have given it to someone). This type tends to give little recognition and is a perfectionist. The others are very effective delegators, giving lots of recognition and building loyal teams, but can be perceived as ‘not tough enough’"

The high competence threshold/lower rewards: Women leaders face higher standards than men leaders and are rewarded with less. Often they must work doubly hard to achieve the same level of recognition as men leaders for the same level of work and “prove” they can lead. Men and women are seen differently, and the difference in my experience and observation is that we (women) need to show it more times before they believe it. With a woman, they will want to see the behavior repeated more frequently before they will say that this is really part of the women and her capabilities".

Competent but disliked: When women exhibit traditionally valued leadership behaviors such as assertiveness, they tend to be seen as competent but not personable or well liked. Yet those who do adopt a more stereotypically feminine style are liked but not seen as having valued leadership skills. It may just be that people are more sensitive to how women behave in that regard. There does seem to be a little more tolerance for harsh behavior from men rather than women. Women are quicker to get labeled and, with men, it’s easier to brush it off." (High-potential woman, U.S.-based manager). I have experienced in the past that women can be distrusted in leadership roles, especially when they use a dominant style of communication. On the contrary, if they use a collaborative style serving their organization and empowering people, they get more recognition and sincere appreciation from their male equals.

Let me just say that as a very assertive female, I have intimidated many a man (NOT intentionally) and put off just as many women (NOT intentionally). Whether we like to believe it or not, it is STILL a man’s world. Until women support, mentor and help each other, we will never come close to making what a man makes or have the power that men do. That said, be prepared to be talked to in what could be a RAW manner… because you cannot have it both ways.

Don't be the Best Kept Secret!

Mary Ann McQueen Butcher
Red Carpet Marketing, LLC
702 994-7282

Red Carpet Marketing, LLC is a full service media, marketing, advertising, public relations and promotional services company. It targets small to medium sized companies in need of marketing expertise; specifically the companies that cannot afford a marketing department, a publicist or an agency.

Stand Out Above The Crowd: A Guide to Job Hunting in a Brutal Economy

No one has to tell you it’s an atrocious market out there…. Banks having to merge, mortgage companies folding, casino profits down and the government bailing out Wall Street. But at the center of it all are people; People with families, mortgages, car payments, credit card debt living week-to-week trying to live the American Dream.

These people are our neighbors. Everything is normal until one day “Mom” or “Dad” loses his/her job. That scenario is becoming more common with hundreds of businesses closing. The unemployment rate is over 7%. Countless people are pounding the pavement looking for work in our city. If the rumors are true, more casino employees’ jobs are about to be cut.

That’s the bad news. But I am going to share some ways to WIN even in a poor economy in your job search I’m going to show you how to separate you and your resume from the thousands of other resumes floating around town for the hundreds of jobs that are open. Just like companies brand products (i.e., Pepsico branded Mountain Dew and Adrenaline Rush or Procter & Gamble have products like Noxzema, Cover Girl, Bounty and Braun), you too must BRAND YOURSELF!

It’s a dog eat dog world out there, folks. You have to make sure your resume gets to the top of the heap and your potential employer knows who you are before the interview. One of the best ways to get yourself out there is branding yourself. 

Personal branding is nothing more than understanding what makes you interesting, compelling and differentiated and using that to stand out from your peers. It’s about building a solid professional reputation around your unique promise of value. It’s important because there are numerous others with your job title, many people who share your goals. The only way to succeed is to stand out from them and create demand for your services. If you want to get the compensation you deserve, you need to offer something that is only available from you! You MUST try to create a niche for yourself. What makes you different? What skills, traits or training do you have that most others do not. What awards or honors do you have?

Keep in mind; branding isn’t just about promoting yourself. It’s about creating a trusting relationship. It’s like buying a certain brand of jeans because you like the way they make your butt look. You go with that brand because you know what they’re all about. You want potential employers to feel the same way about you. 

So, how do you develop your brand? First, you have to determine what you love, what you hate, what you’re good at. And then you have to make it look good.

As a marketer, I can tell you one of the keys is creating a unique look. Whether it is your resume or your letterhead, or whatever you send, when someone opens it they need to know whom it’s coming from. Be sure your strengths and skills are clearly displayed along with your contact information. That includes: Home phone number, cell phone number, Email address and even IM screen names and the programs with which they are associated.

Other than your resume and cover letter, another great tool for branding yourself is having a Web site. Think of all the cool things you can do: videos, pictures, blogs, and links to projects you have contributed to, even a full bio. Try making a short video explaining yourself, your strengths, the jobs you have had, what you would like to do and why. It would be like a video resume. Keep up with the trends in your industry and blog about them.

You might also want to consider a MySpace, Face Book, LinkedIn or website of your own that features more about you and your work. This only works for some professions, but it’s another feature that can make you stand out from the crowd.

Be sure to include networking in your personal marketing mix. The old saying is true: “it’s not just what you know; it’s WHO you know.”

Branding is about advertising yourself. By creating an organized, professional image, you can have potential employers lining up to offer you jobs! 

Need some help branding yourself? Call Mary Ann McQueen Butcher, Goddess of Marketing. 702 994-7282 or go to

Don’t Be the Best Kept Secret!
Mary Ann McQueen Butcher

Red Carpet Marketing, LLC
702 994-7282

Red Carpet Marketing, LLC is a full service media, marketing, advertising, public relations and promotional services company. It targets small to medium sized companies in need of marketing expertise; specifically the companies that cannot afford a marketing department, a publicist or an agency.

Even in the Worst of Times, Sometimes You Gotta Fire a Client

Although we all know we are in the worst economic slump of our lives, sometimes it’s better to FIRE A CLIENT than deal with their unscrupulous business practices and lack of ethics. Although I run a smallish global marketing company that can always use a new client, my integrity is worth much much more than a few very dirty dollars.

Recently I fired a client. It is a women’s networking company that is actively selling chapters around the country. Their name includes a color. This organization’s leadership does NOT have the members’ best interest at heart; this company has repeatedly ticked off potential partners and with my 30 years of a spotless corporate record, I wasn’t going to sell my soul and soil my reputation for a few bucks. Most four year olds have more knowledge about life in their little pinky fingers than the “leadership” of this group. SHAME ON YOU for doing this to women — and men — during such terrible economic times.

OK, so let’s talk about how this applies to YOU, a small business. How do you just rid of a customer or partner who is simply not worth the headache? Here’s a few reasons why you might want to consider dropping the dead weight of a client:

Customers who are physically or verbally abusive
Customers who don’t pay their bills
Customers who expect you to throw in extra free work to keep their account
Customers who want you to undercut your standard rates
Customers who can’t supply specifications, design elements, or other materials on a timely basis
Customers who continuously express suspicion or distrust of your professional ethics
Ask yourself the question: is the money I make from this customer worth the effort it takes to serve them? Note that the answer to that question can change over time, as your client mix changes (or as your clients themselves change). It’s possible to outgrow a client, as well as to realize that you made a mistake in the first place.

No matter what the reason, actually going to someone who has been paying you for a service and telling them you can’t do business with them, even if it’s the right move for both of you, is tough.

The strategy that I find has worked best for me over the years is to simply go to the client and inform them that you are making significant changes in your business and they simply do not fit with the direction your company is heading.

Some people’s brains lock up at the very thought of firing a customer. This is a natural, but I think misguided, reaction that stems from two main sources. First, we’ve all had it drummed into us that “the customer is always right” - and if you truly take that to heart, it’s difficult to imagine that there could ever be a reason to get rid of a customer. Second, the customer is the one who keeps us eating. Playing with new technology and keeping up with the latest trends is fun, but if you don’t have invoices that someone else pays, it’s very difficult to buy groceries....

Nevertheless, if you take the time to think about it, you’ll realize that not all customers are created equal. We all know that some customers are a joy to work with: accommodating, enthusiastic, reasonable. Conversely, other customers make us dread the ringing phone. They’re demanding, annoying, downright manipulative and abusive. If you’re just starting out and scraping for every dime, you may not be in a position to be choosy. But if you’re even a barely established company, do a cost-benefit analysis and identify the clients that you would be better off without.

Follow this checklist to sever the relationship as easily as possible:

End things in writing, not over the phone. You don’t want to leave any room for misunderstanding, and you don’t want to be argued into changing your mind. No good will come of continuing to work for a customer after you’ve told them you are done with them.

Complete all work-in-progress, and have all work product ready to ship back to the customer.

Have a full invoice for work-to-date ready, and deliver it with the termination letter.
Offer a referral to other consultants who you think might be better suited to the customer, if possible. Ideally these should be firms who you know are actually hungry for the business. Some people suggest dumping unpleasant and abusive customers on competitors that you’d like to cause trouble for, but I personally prefer not to offer a referral at all in such cases.

Be honest. If you’re unhappy with the customer because of consistent late payment issues that you’ve been trying to address for months, don’t tell them that you’re moving to Alaska. It won’t do you any good to get a reputation for lying.

Conflict is rarely pleasant, and firing a customer is as unpleasant as firing an employee. But when you have to make the choice between living with a nagging pain for months and years, or quickly moving on in your career, you should do the right thing for your career.

If you have any questions on marketing, public relations, strategy or sponsorships, please contact the self-proclaimed “Goddess of Marketing”, Mary Ann McQueen Butcher at or 702 994-7282.

Don’t Be the Best Kept Secret!
Mary Ann McQueen Butcher

Red Carpet Marketing, LLC
702 994-7282

Red Carpet Marketing, LLC is a full service media, marketing, advertising, public relations and promotional services company. It targets small to medium sized companies in need of marketing expertise; specifically the companies that cannot afford a marketing department, a publicist or an agency.

So it's 2009....The Economy is Dreadful....Now What?

You are freshly into 2009, so first: HAPPY NEW YEAR. Now that you have put away the noisemakers, deleted those embarrassing pictures from your camera and gotten over the hangovers, you have to be ready to start the first quarter of the year. It’s time for you to get VERY serious about your business.

You’ve heard all the scary stories about what the future will bring for businesses in the most precarious economy of our time. Stop being afraid and DO SOMETHING. This is opportunity time and to use an old term, we’ll finally “separate the men from the boys” – in short, the pros from the hacks and wannabes.

The bottom line is the companies with the best value, service and name recognition will get new customers and retain their old ones. And it’s not just hotels, casinos, restaurants and clubs, it’s the “little guys”, the small businesses that make up this town: From the independent shops at the District to the stores at Sunset at Galleria to the ones at Fashion Show Mall….From the local Chinese restaurant to the local dry cleaners, nail salons, dentists, etc.

So, keep the following in mind: you absolutely don’t need to spend a lot of money. Forget almost EVERYTHING you’ve learned about needing to spend a percentage of your revenue on marketing. That is an old model (like Cheryl Tiegs, but I digress). With the variety of marketing methods available to you today, you can spend hundreds not thousands of dollars over the course of a year and STILL get a real return. But it is KEY to focus and decide what you want to accomplish:

Brand Awareness – Who are you and what does your company do?

New Customer Acquisition – Revenue Generation

Re-launching of Your Company – You’ve been in business but need to rework your name, your website, your strategies and more to reflect changes in your company’s direction

Launching a new product or service – You may be known for one particular product or service but have branched out

Staging an event that will draw attention to your company

In 2009, I want to answer YOUR questions to the challenges YOU face with your business. While reading about pop culture, the arts and celebrities is fun, it’s not going to put money in your bank account. And as hard as you worked in previous years, you’ll need to work harder still to survive and then THRIVE this year and next. Focus on the goal and not the process of how to get your sales up.

Send me your questions at and we’ll print your question and my response right here. You’ll also receive a crystal Red Carpet Marketing paperweight for your office.

Now more than ever: DON’T BE THE BEST KEPT SECRET! ®

Mary Ann McQueen Butcher

Red Carpet Marketing, LLC
702 994-7282

Red Carpet Marketing, LLC is a full service media, marketing, advertising, public relations and promotional services company. It targets small to medium sized companies in need of marketing expertise; specifically the companies that cannot afford a marketing department, a publicist or an agency.

Networking: A look at Las Vegas Social Networking Old School Style

There was a time when a network was ABC, CBS or NBC. That’s long changed. Now we use “network” to describe social gatherings (in person and online) to get to know people who we THINK can further our businesses.

Networking is carried out for a variety of reasons whether it is to finding a strategic partner, meeting like-minded people, finding answers to questions, career networking to get a new job or simply to get hot leads. It is not a new phenomenon but is just a term given to the natural process of getting to know a person, which is not -- by any means -- new. What has changed though are the opportunities to expand our network of contacts.

With the web you can now build relationships with people on the opposite side of the earth and consequently make your business global. It does happen., MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, Digg, Fark, Newsvine are just a small sampling of places to socialize and market online FREE.

Now, in the REAL brick and mortar world, there have always been “clubs” and various “society” groups. But a quick glance at the most recent “In Business Las Vegas” publication, it’s clear that the Las Vegas Metro area is FLOODED with all kinds of special interest groups. The following is a subset of the “Meetings” section that include: meetings / lunches / events / breakfasts / dinners and so on. These include:

• BizPack Networks
• Business Network International
• CityCare Business Network
• Commercial Real Estate Women of Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce Elite
• Hot Pink Mamas/Red Hot Papa (aka Network with Women)
• International Association of Business Communicators
• International Training in Communication
• Italian American Club of Southern Nevada
• Kiwanis
• Knights of Columbus
• Las Vegas Commercial Group
• Leadership Networking Group
• Leads Club
• LeTip
• Lions Club
• Moms in Business
• National Association of Mortgage Women
• National Bar Association of Black Lawyers
• North Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce
• Savage Network
• Society for Marketing Professional Services
• Status Group
• Successful Women Actively Networking (SWAN)
• Toastmasters
• Women and Network
• Women in Networking
• Women in Successful Enterprises
• Women’s Council of Realtors

Now this is just a subset of the list….There are other groups not listed above including:

• Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce
• Women’s Chamber of Commerce
• Henderson Chamber of Commerce
• Las Vegas Social Registry
• Women in Communications
• Women in Film

Now here’s where it gets a little muddy. Who are the leaders of these groups? Are they qualified to lead? Do they have an education – either formal or from their many years of work in a particular field? Dues for many of the above are between $300 and $800 per year. But wait, there’s more: Most charge for each and every meeting, lunch and mixer. The minimum is typically $25 (if you’re lucky) to $75.

If case you do not know, most times, these are NOT non-profit organizations but companies that have figured out that the way to network is simply to open their own networking company. In short: Monetizing Meetings – for THEM. I mean, seriously, one “CEO” of a local group is a former time-share sales person and another a former beauty queen. Are these community “leaders” really interested in growing your business? Or is it simply a way to rake in the dough? You make the call.

In many cases, after you’ve been to 3-4 meetings, you see the same people again and again and again. Without fresh blood, you quickly realize that if the other meeting attendees haven’t bought your product or service yet, it is not going to happen. So now you’ve spent the yearly fee AND spent between $100 and $300 on meetings that have garnered you ZERO ROI.

No two networking groups are the same – some have less than 10 people, some have 100, some have many more. Each group has a different business model including but not limited to licensing chapters and/or geographies. – which is an additional and substantial revenue stream

Some of our local groups have a structured, rigid agenda while others are just an informal gathering. Different groups will have their own agendas and cultures. Even two groups under the same umbrella (Hot Pink Mamas, for example), can be different depending on who is leading a particular chapter. 

So here’s the bottom line:

• Do your research and choose wisely
• See what the offerings are
• Determine if the dues are worth it. (If you get one business deal in the course of a year and 6 luncheons, that’s not a very good ROI.)
• Are you reaching decision makers?
• Will this organization TRULY help you grow your business?
• Is the leadership strong?
• Do they have the credentials to lead and attract the best of the best?

Finally, remember, it’s not just the money you spend; it’s also the time you put in, the cost of the materials you give out at the meetings, etc. You do have choices. You CAN find the right group(s) for you and your business. Building that business requires an integrated approach: marketing, advertising, public relations, an online presence, etc. including networking.

Now get out there and mingle, collect those business cards and follow up!

OK, time to feed the dogs….

Mary Ann McQueen Butcher