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Mom, Dad and technology

Those of you who are, as I, generation-Xers (or generation-Y), will no doubt be able to relate to the following scenario:

It's 9:30pm on a cold monday night. You're snuggled up on the couch after a hard day at work, totally engrossed in the latest episode of Heroes, when suddenly, your mobile rings....

A little miffled to be disturbed just as the hero-guy is about to paint another future-predicting mindscape, you consider not picking up. But then you glance at the phone's display and see it's Mom you think that, Mom being almost 60, it must be urgent and decide to pick up.

Me: "Hey Mom" (one eye and ear focused on the TV)
Mom (with a stressed voice...bad sign nr 1): "Sabine, it's Mom"
Me: "Hi Mom......"
Mom: "Sabine, I have a problem." (no chit-chat to start...bad sign nr 2)
Me: "Hmmmm" (still watching the TV)
Mom: "I'm sitting infront of the computer..." (very bad sign...)
"and I can't send and receive mails. I've tried rebooting the pc, I've checked my connection to the internet....I've been to the hotmail website...I don't understand...I keep getting this message that says 'send and receive error'."
Me (very worried because I can sense this is going to mean the end of Heroes for me): "That's strange..."
Mom (in a very stressed voice now): "I urgently need to send an email (at 9:30pm????) and I don't know what to do. Can you please come over...I've tried everything and really can't solve this."

So much for Heroes tonight then.

I'm sure many of you will relate to this scenario. As our Boomer parents have discovered the wonderful, wonderful world of the world wide web, email and all things affiliated, we, their Gen-X and Y offspring, have become their personal IT departments. My mom and dad truely believe my brothers and I can answer all their internet/computer-related questions, fix all their problems (even at 10pm) and buy them the perfect computer. Without me knowing, my parents have promoted us to network specialists, hardware analysists/troubleshooters, not to mention software programmers or IT purchasers.

One thing's for sure: Boomers have discovered what technology can do for them in a big way and they are here to stay (and consume). According to Imago Creative's article
Boomers 2.0 "Baby Boomers currently account for one-third of the 195.3 million Web users in the U.S., making them the Web's largest constituency". I bet Europe's boomers aren't far behind...

According to the article "...despite their size, purchasing power, and experience with all things digital, Boomers remain one of the most underserved technology audiences when it comes to customized destinations, products and services."(I smell opportunities for many companies in many, many different sectors here...)

Suggestion from a gen-X daughter: 24-hour telephonic support hotlines.


Women don't ask - how to succeed at negotiating

It seems that we women have a problem negotiating...Apparently we're not as vocal or as demanding as men when it comes to asking...for a promotion, a raise, or even a 'golden handshake' (also read 'Get Fired like a Man').

According to a new book called 'Women don't ask - negotiating and the gender divide', women fall into one of three categories:

- "I don't knows" - women who unaware of opportunities and their rights
- "I don't asks" - women who think asking will jeopardize getting the job or promotion
- "I don't boasts" - women who feel it is impolite to spotlight their accomplishments

Most of us will recognize ourselves in one of these profiles. But that's not the point really. The question is: what are we going to do about it?

There are lessons to be learnt here:
- Know your market value before you negotiate a new job
- Ask while you still can. It is a well-known fact that you are in the strongest position to negotiate your pay-check, perks, etc BEFORE you sign on the dotted line. Once you're in, negotiation becomes even harder...
- Keep on knowing your market value...even after 2 or 3 or more years in a job. Experience and proven performance are worth money to companies. Know your evolved market value as well as your internal value!
- Sh*t happens. If you are retrenched, don't take it lying down. Don't take the first offer you are presented. Negotiate your severance package until you are happy with it too.

A well-known female executive puts it so well:
"We often take what we can get. We compromise instead of negotiating."

Compromise vs negotiating...that's a thought to ponder...

Surviving (and having fun) in the corporate jungle

Today I discovered an interesting blog that I can recommend to all professional women out there. It's called The Ladies Room and contains lots of funny and interesting information on the challenges we face as professional women today.

Also well worth a visit: 'Barrieremeter voor Vrouwen' - a simple 10 minute test that analyzes wether your work/life balance is still in the green...(yeah, right...sure!)


Children and advertising

I found some interesting statistics on advertising aimed at children and the influence it has, both on the child and on the economy.

As vehement McDonals opponent it is especially children's recognition of the company's logo that scares me...

Did you know?

  • The average American child may view as many as 40,000 television commercials every year (Strasburger, 2001).

  • Children as young as age three recognize brand logos (Fischer, 1991), with brand loyalty influence starting at age two (McNeal, 1992).

  • Young children are not able to distinguish between commercials and TV programs. They do not recognize that commercials are trying to sell something (Comstock, 1991).

  • In 2001, teenagers, ages twelve to nineteen spent $172 billion (an average of $104 per teen each week), up 11 percent from $155 billion in 2000 (Teen Research Unlimited, 2002).

  • In 2002, children ages four to twelve are expected to spend an estimated $40 billion (McNeal, 2002).

  • In 2000, children 12 years and under, directly and indirectly, influenced the household spending of over $600 billion (McNeal, 2001).

  • In 1997, $1.3 billion was spent on television advertisements directed at children. Counting all media, advertising and marketing budgets aimed at children approached $12 billion (McNeal, 1999).

  • Children who watch a lot of television, want more toys seen in advertisements and eat more advertised food than children who do not watch as much television (Strasburger, 2002).

  • The market sales of licensed products for infants increased 32% to a record 2.5 billion dollars in 1996 (Business Week, 6/30/97).