RAISING SUCCESSFUL CHILDREN

RAISING SUCCESSFUL CHILDREN

 

When I spoke about popularity and sales I was invariably surrounded by people at the end of my presentation and half of them asked questions about their children. Since popularity was a central theme of my presentation, they usually wanted  to know what they could do to make their children more popular.  So I started researching popularity and children. One of the ways I conducted my research was I piggybacked it on corporate jobs. Often when a corporation had me research a topic they did not want the people answering the questions to know what they were looking for, so they had me add questions which would disguise the object of the research.  Since my books were based on research I used this opportunity to research  subjects which I might turn into a book. I would like to point out I never negatively impacted the primary goal of the research to collect information for myself.

 

Since I was being asked almost on a weekly basis about children and I understood as an ex-teacher that our educational system is going down the tubes  I decided to  write about educating children, so I started to research the subject.

 

I began by looking up educational theorist. There were a few who were considered  influential by most  leaders in the field. In my opinion, a number made their reputations by giving pseudo-scientific terms to practices that every school teacher and parent  already knew.  For example, Lev Vygotsky used “The Zone of Proximal Development”  to describe subject matter that was just beyond the reach of the children. If you are teaching them to read give them a book that they cannot fly through.  If they are assigned a text with a few words they have to look up and others they find difficult to pronounce  they will learn more quickly. Bloom does something similar when he refers to “Bloom’s Taxonomy” to describe the hierarchy of learning skills with creativity at the top of the list.  Since the study of creativity has been my hobby for most of my life and I’ve taught courses on creativity to working engineers with positive results, I think he misses the point. Most teachers are not creative and are not capable of teaching creativity. While most of their information was useful it was not presented in the correct manner. The first rule in teaching anything is keep it simple stupid. The best example of this of this is  EJ Skinner the behaviorist, who is my personal favorite.  He says if you want good behavior, praise it and if you wish to stop bad behavior, punish it. Which is the simple truth, he states in a simple and unambiguous way. Of course, he is absolutely right.

 

Which brings us to the subject of punishment. I spoke to parents when doing this research who said that children actually said they would turn them into the police if they struck them. Believe it or not several parents said they never struck their children and that was one of the reasons.  They expected if they did they would be in serious trouble.  I was amazed.  However, in a politically correct world I feel obliged to start by telling you that physical punishment is not something that I believe in or practiced.  I think at this point I should tell you  I struck my son only once when he was a child. I did it when I looked over and he was going to place his fingers in an electrical outlet.  I said don’t do that but he proceeded to go closer to the outlet and I moved over and slapped his hand. Since he had never been struck before he was surprised and I think angry and he walked away with his head down. The next morning he walked up to the same outlet with a smile on his face, took his two fingers and started moving them slowly toward that outlet. When I saw him do that I raise my hand again. He smiled and walked away with a grin on his face.  At that point I knew two things, he had gotten my message and I certainly hadn’t destroyed his ego.

 

I’m going to tell you now that you should work with your child at the kitchen table. If you  monitor him his marks will most often go up a full grade. If you sit with him and work with him they will go up a grade and a half or more. If at some point your child defies you and tells you he’s not going to work the way you want him to work, and you give him a SWAT it won’t do him any real harm and he will learn.  I did volunteer work in Harlem and I assure you almost every kid in my fifth grade class could read better than 3/4 of the kids in high school  in Harlem.  The reason they did so well is the nuns would give them a SWAT or two if they didn’t do what they were told and it worked. They became doctors, lawyers, policeman, plumbers and everything else under the sun because the nuns taught them to work  and they worked all their lives. The second politically correct myth is you mustn’t tell your child he or she has done anything wrong.  Praise them no matter what they do.  If you praise him for doing the wrong thing he will continue to do it.  The third myth is whatever you do don’t make them feel guilty for doing less than expected, it will hurt their self-esteem. That’s nonsense.

 

Oriental mothers, many of whom were raised in houses with dirt floor, in one generation put their sons and daughters into the best schools in America by working with them, created the formula for raising successful children . If that child came home with a B they were disappointed because he didn’t get an A, their children as adults  said they were made to feel guilty so the next time they got an A. That created high expectations and those high expectations extended to the schools they were going to get into and the positions they would hold in the future. They also insisted that they go to schools where they taught only English and that the children read, read and read some more.

When you ask kids in the neighborhood where I grew up who was there, some would tell you it was half Irish, half-Jewish and half everyone else.  Their math was not good but you knew who was there, so I knew a lot of Jewish kids.  Some of their parents referred to  their children not as students but scholars and they were expected to work longer and harder than everyone else and most did. I remember a phrase that Jewish parents often used, ‘That is not a job for a nice Jewish boy.”  Translated  loosely it meant you are better than that, so they gave their children high expectations. I also saw Jewish kids reading books while waiting to be chosen for games  so I knew they were readers.  As a group they were far more successful academically and in life then the other two groups in the neighborhood.

 

If you see a similarity between their approaches to education you’re right. Copy that approach, it works.

 

Next week, I will cover the specifics of early childhood education, particularly how to make your child a  reader.

 

In the meantime, I suggest you read my earlier blog on stopping  bullying especially if your child has never been bullied. If you are interested in your child’s success, it is probably the most important article you will ever read because if your child  applies to most colleges, their application will not even be read if it states anywhere on their record  that he  or she was a bully.

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STOP BULLYING. EVEN IF YOUR CHILD HAS NEVER BEEN BULLIED IT CAN RUIN THEIR LIFE

If your child and his  or her friends  ever speak about nerds and others who are not in the In Crowd in their school in a disparaging way you have a major problem. The chances are  that they and  or their friends give these kids a hard time.  If anyone complains about that or interprets their actions as bullying and it becomes part of their  academic record, they will find it difficult if not impossible to get into  most colleges.  In today’s politically correct world some college admissions people will not even read their application or look at their grades, If you don’t want your child’s life  ruined before he or she starts read the next two sections.

 

BULLYING

 

If your youngster is being bullied in school often there is very little he or she can do about it.   It is your job as a parent to put a stop to it. Your first step should be to visit the principal and insist that he stop it immediately. If he ignores you I suggest you ask your child and other children at his school to name other children who are being bullied. Believe me they will know. Once you find out who they are contact their parents and then arrange to visit the principal as a group.  That should solve your problem, if not you have to do whatever it takes to make your child feel safe and secure in school.

Believe it or not the real victims of bullying are the bullies. If a bully is accused and the accusation becomes part of his or her school record few colleges will accept them.  Because most parents do not believe their children are or even could be bullies, they don’t warn them about the possibility they can ruin their lives if they become directly or indirectly involved in bullying.  There’s a real possibility your son’s or daughter’s life can be destroyed just because they want to go  along with the in crowd.  A substantial percentage of schools today have zero tolerance for bullying and that’s a good thing but it’s also a trap.  I looked into a number of cases where youngsters who did not personally do the bullying encouraged others to become part of a crowd that was bullying someone.  Before your youngster goes to middle school explain to them that being bullied can ruin the lives of those being bullied but it’s more likely to ruin the lives of those doing the bullying.  Sit them down and in no uncertain terms tell them that if they’re ever involved in that kind of activity you will punish them severely, take away their computer, cell phone and anything else that means anything to them.  Make sure they understand you are deadly serious.  I repeat bullying can and does ruin lives. However, if your youngster works at improving his or her popularity skills they will never bully anyone, it’s not the way to become popular.

 

GET YOUR CHILD’S PASSWORD

 

If you’re a parent and you do not have the password to your child’s cell phone you’re not doing your job. Teenagers today cannot have a right to privacy. If you do not have the password to son’s or daughter’s cell phone etc. you are making a  dangerous mistake.  If you have a son you should know his password because if he is being bullied he probably will not tell you and if he’s doing the bullying that’s even worse. I also ran across several cases where young men went to meet young girls and found they were 45 year old perverts and although that doesn’t happen very often, it does happen.  Of course you want to know if your daughter is being bullied and believe it or not a majority of them do not tell their parents  And if your sweet little girl is part of a group that is doing the bullying, it will come as a shock to you but by that time it will be too late.  In today’s politically correct colleges her application will not even be read.  In addition, today young girls often send pictures to their boyfriends that no one would want made public.  When they break up with that boy some of the boys will send those pictures to their friends and once they’re out there it’s almost impossible to get them back. They can embarrass your daughter even as an adult.  However, that’s not the main reason you must have your daughters password without going into details there are literally thousands of cases of young girls who thought they were communicating with people their age and found out later they will not.  Horrible things happen to those young girls and some of their bodies are never found. Don’t be a daughter’s friend, be her parent.  Protect her online, it’s a very dangerous place.

THE SOLUTION

The only way to stop bullying is to have a national organization dedicated to ending bullying similar to  Mothers Against Drunk Driving.   My best effort is Mothers Against Bullying but if someone come up with a better title I will be happy to use it.  There is a government organization against bullying but it does nothing and most schools have a non bullying policy but what that means is they  pretend to stop bullying.  In fact what most of them do is next to nothing. A majority of high school principals simply want to ignore it because if they punish bullies they’re afraid they’ll be sued or harassed. Most principles I have talked to said if they took steps to stop bullying no one would stand behind them I think most mothers would like to change that.

I became interested in this cause when I speaking on  “Popularity and Sales”.  Invariably at the end of my speech I was surrounded by adults and half of them were asking questions about what they could do for their children  who were being harassed in school.  To answer those questions I started researching the problem and discovered that most bullies were unsure of themselves and picked on others in attempt to be accepted. My researchers found while researching information for my new book “The Popularity Game’, if they trained bullies to be popular most stopped bullying. They also discovered if they trained those being bullied, once they became popular they were less likely to be bullied. So my book is one part of the solution but certainly not the total solution and a real solution is needed.

If you think such an organization is needed and you would like to be part of it write to this blog and if  you would like to start it or help run it please let us know. I hope we can start a great organization that will be run by mothers dedicated to this cause.

If you believe a national anti-bullying organization would do the job please make a dozen copies of this blog. Pass them on not only those in your neighborhood but to those in other sections of town and in other sections of the country. If they do the same we will have a National Organization in no time.

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CASUAL DRESS CODES

Dear Mr. Molloy:

 

I am a corporate consultant who works on a  computer from 8 to 14 hours a day six and when necessary seven days a week. I manage seven corporate consultants but it’s not always the same seven. I love my job but the company has just been taken over by a  corporate giant and their management really doesn’t understand what we do or how we operate.  My base pay is $142,000 and last year I earned $32,000 in bonuses. In addition I often get what we refer to as goodies.  For example last month I had a client in San Francisco that I visited for three days. I was given a first class round trip ticket and the company didn’t care if I traded that ticket in to help pay for 3 coach tickets. I took my wife and my daughter with me to San Francisco and although my job ended on Friday the company paid for my hotel over the weekend and Monday night. We spent four days enjoying San Francisco.The company let me use two vacation days so I returned to work on Wednesday.

 

This new company gathered all the consultants together and announced things had to change.  The way the old company ran things was inefficient and unfair in fact that’s why they had to  sell their company.  Everyone sitting there knew that the owners made a  fortune and while they were by contract forbidden to open a competing company for a year we know one day after that they intend to start a new  consulting firm using the same type of people they use today and rewarding them as they rewarded us. The new firm said that bonuses were out and they had many corporate consultants working for them and those incentives were never used and their consultants were very effective.

 

Right after the meeting I was called in to speak to the executive of the new company and they said they were doing me a favor that I would be able to keep my base salary but I would be put in charge of handling their consultants in India,  who do 80% of their work. My job when dealing with Indian computer people was to watch them very carefully because they weren’t that good and I  had to check their work.  I didn’t say anything but I intend to start looking  for a new position tomorrow and I’m sure most  consultants in my position are  going to do the same.  I have two master’s degrees and I’m sure I will not find it difficult to find a new position. Over the years half-a-dozen client companies have tried to steal me away, as my boss said on many occasions, so that’s not my problem. Although I put on a suit, shirt and tie when I’m visiting a  client most of the time I dress very casually  as do most in my field.

I’ve already contacted two companies and set up interviews for next  month and because I read your blog I asked them how I should dress for the interview. They gave the same answer, they said they had a business casual dress code. When I went to buy business casual they  wanted to sell me everything from sausage suits to jeans. That’s a term I read in this  blog six months ago.  Most men  look as if they have just gained 20 pounds and  their suit no longer fits.  I understand that if I fit in I’m  likely to receive a good offer but I also understand that I must look professional. My problem is both companies said business casual was what was expected of men at my level.  When I read about business casual  I discovered there was a variety of definitions.  Since I remember you discussing business casual, I would appreciate if you could  tell me  how to dress for an interview with a company whose dress code is business casual.

 

                                                                                    Name and Address Withheld

Dear Sir:

 

When I coined the term business casual about 40 years ago I was talking about the dress codes in high tech industries mainly in California. The reason I became involved in the subject was many of my clients found that some of their employees were not dressing casually but sloppily. While dressing casually does not make one more creative many creative people had been convinced that dressing casually created an environment in which creativity was more likely and as a result it was much easier to get them to work for a company that has a casual environment.  To attract  creative people many hi-tech companies In which creativity was essential to success,  adopted casual dress codes.

 

At the time, I suggested that the managers who worked with the very casually dressed employees dress better than their subordinates. It has been well-established that  when people in authority are easily identified large organizations run more smoothly.  This lesson was learned by the Chinese when officers were ordered to wear the same outfits as the enlisted men, that created real problems not only for the officers but the enlisted men. If a sergeant told a general to go to hell, even though he didn’t know he was a general, he was in trouble.  So even though they wore the same outfits officers put pens in their pockets and  everyone could tell their rank by the number of pens. To solve this problem for companies I suggested that those in charge of technical people dress slightly better than the people who work for them.  In companies where everybody wore jeans Including many of the executives, our research found that if a  manager wore a nice pair of pressed jeans with a conservative belt and loafers with a blue shirt and a solid tie he would not be looked upon as an outsider and at the same time command the respect of his subordinates.

 

Today all that has changed, business casual has become far more traditional and conservative but not everywhere. There are some workplaces where people still wear ripped jeans although in most  casual dress means wearing a decent pair of slacks and a golf shirt or a business shirt. My original advice to managers to keep a sports jacket, a shirt and a tie at the office Is found in most casual dress codes. While there are dress codes for almost all casual environments, as I suggested to my clients years ago, they are not written they are unofficial but understood by everyone. Written dress codes invite lawsuits. If you have to visit a company where you don’t know what the casual dress code is wear a nice pair of beige, blue or gray slacks, a blue shirt,  a solid tie, polished dressy loafers with a traditional sports jacket.   If when you arrive you decide you’re too formally dressed, take off your jacket and loosen or take off your tie. If you  take off your  jacket before the meeting starts, you’ll fit right in. However, my original advice to ask about the dress code still goes, only today you have to ask for details  because casual dress codes vary.  Ask specifically what the people you’re going to be dealing with will be wearing and take your cue from them.

Good luck!

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COMPANY UNIFORMS AND SIZE

Dear Mr. Molloy:

 

A week ago I started working for a company where everyone wears suits all the time.  The company I came from  those in management wore both suits and sport jackets. As a result, I own four suits and five  conservative sport jackets. I think the management team looked more professional in my last company because everyone wore good suits and by good I mean that cost at least $500 apiece and equally expensive sport  jackets.

 

I purchased one of those $200 suits just so I can wear a new suit every day of the week but in three or four weeks I will be  working with clients and will be required to visit their offices.  Since the purpose of a company dress code is or should be to send the right message to clients I’m wondering if when I’m on the road I can wear sports jackets in fact I’m wondering if I can wear them in the office.

 

                                                                                         Name and Address Withheld

Dear Sir:

 

I do not think you would have purchased that $200 suit unless you already knew the answer to your question,  Company dress codes perform various functions and their primary function is they create a team uniform. What would have happened if in your last company you showed up in a very conservative pair of high-quality slacks, a good dress shirt and a nice tie but left your  sports coat at home. You would have been out of place and sent the message you were not a member of the team,  Wearing sports jackets at your new company will send the same message and if you wear them when you visit clients I assure you word will get back to your company. You joined a new team with a new uniform, wear it,

Dear Mr. Molloy:

I am a large woman, 5 feet 11 and weigh 203 lbs. I just lost the job I never thought I would get but the reason I  lost it is  worrying me.  The secretary to one of the top executives worked for me when she first came here and we became friends.  She told me that the reason I was not considered for that position is they didn’t want someone who looked like me representing the company.  In their opinion I didn’t have the proper image.

 

I’m two to four years away from being considered for an executive position so I have time to change my image. I have been reading articles on what big women can wear to demphasize their size.So far what I’ve gotten from these articles is to draw attention to my face by wearing a  bright scarf, to keep my  patterns muted, to  avoid bulky materials, wear skirts that are smooth and fall below my knee. Can you add to this list?

 

                                                                                                  Confused

Dear Confused:

 

I can and will add to your list but I don’t know how helpful it will be. Most of the advice you have been given is very good. However, wearing a bright scarf that draws attention to your face or even a good piece of jewelry will only be effective if your face is attractive and while you should keep your patterns muted you must not use evenly spaced patterns because for some they will become a ruler they will use to measure your girth. While bulky material will add to your weight, material that clings will draw attention to bulges making you look fatter.

 

The reason I started my answer with “I don’t know how much it would help”  is I don’t think it will help. When it comes to weight women in business judge other women far more harshly than men.They see another woman who is overweight as being out of control.  They think of them for some reason as lesser beings and someone not worthy of an executive position. I’m afraid your only option is to lose weight.

 

There of course all those diet programs advertised on TV.   Most of them I am sure work. I think the  the best ones for a busy woman are those that send fully prepared meals.  If you don’t want to spend the money for fully prepared meals there are less expensive ones that send you supplements and ask you to eat one meal a day.  If you don’t want to spend for any diet become a vegan or count calories.  As someone who’s been on diets for the last 20 years I hate to tell you to do this because although it’s simple it’s not easy. So all I can do is wish you good luck!

 Dear Mr. Molloy:

 

I work in the world of high finance and have to sell my ideas to very sophisticated men and women on a regular basis. For the last 25 years I’ve been  6 feet 3 inches and weighed 280 pounds and believe it or not when selling to these very sophisticated individuals I found my size to be a great advantage.  Recently. I think that has changed and I’m wondering when did size stop being an advantage in business and why?

 

                                                                                      J.O. New York, N.Y.

 

Dear JO:

Size is still an advantage for most men in business.  What has undoubtedly changed is your age and probably your energetic image. There are two possible solutions to your problem,  exercise on a regular basis which might restore your  youthful and energetic appearance or lose weight  because when men get older they are most effective when they are tall and trim.

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DRESSING UP OR DRESSING DOWN

Dear Mr. Molloy:

 

Social workers throughout the United States are paid very  poorly.  Normally a social worker has to have a master’s degree in order to be employed. The salary for a social worker with a MSW is 1/3  lower than someone with an MBA.

 

I’m wondering if you’ve done any research on successful dress for social workers. As you know we have to work with the poor and are regularly required to visit homes that are often unkempt and sometimes dangerous. Is there any way for a social worker to dress successfully and still communicate effectively with their clients?  Are there any outfits that will make social workers look successful and  allow them to do their jobs?

                                                                                           H.G. Dallas, Texas

Dear HG:

 

Social workers are caught in a Catch-22 situation. If they dress in a style that says they are successful professionals, they will find it unsafe to work in many poor areas. Social workers dress as they do because their outfits are camouflage, their primary objective is to protect the wearer.The outfits worn by most social workers have  evolved over the years to increase their ability to communicate with their clients.  I don’t have to research what social workers should wear, they’ve done it themselves. Since that is the case I recommend that you stick with your present outfits when visiting  clients.

 

I think that social workers should have two uniforms; the first they will wear when they visit homes and a second one to wear when they’re working in the office. The first one to be effective must be low  status the second one must be high status. The second uniform would let them blend into a  typical office setting. The reason they must change their image  is they will never be paid a middle-class wage while dressing lower class. There is a direct correlation between the status of an office worker’s clothing and their salary.

I’m sure many of your colleagues will have difficulty with my suggestions because many of them come from blue collar backgrounds and they have been taught by their environment that image is not important, If you can get them to look at professions similar to theirs where advanced degrees are required but the pay is  low, they will find that the people in those professions usually do not dress like professionals.  A prime example of that is librarians who are required to earn one of the more difficult degrees  offered by most universities and yet are not paid well. The reason that is so is most people look at the library and think that everyone who works behind the desk is a librarian. Most are not, they are simply clerks. Unfortunately, most of the librarians dress in the same style as the clerks so the public does not see them as special or well educated.

I’m giving you the right answer but I don’t think I’ve changed anything. Twenty or so years ago I spoke to a meeting of the Library Association.  When I made the same statement to them that I’m making to you; if you want to be paid like a professional  look like a professional, the room split into two groups and they argued for at least an hour and a half  while I was present and I’m told four hours after I left.  Nothing changed.

Dear Mr. Molloy:

 

I am a  semi retired attorney and I specialize in negotiating high-tech contracts because before I became an attorney I was an electrical engineer.  Because of my reputation when I arrived I was offered a position with a local firm. I’ve been working about 2 to 3 days a week ever since and I  love the arrangement. If I were retired I would go crazy.  Before I retired, I spent most of my time in Virginia and worked most of my time in Washington DC.  There everyone wears suits and I of course did as well.

 

Once I arrived in Tampa I found the heat uncomfortable and in summer you can melt walking to and from your car.  Part of my image as a negotiator was I was always put together very precisely and I think my appearance impressed some people and  intimidated others,  so I’m not challenging Dress for Success. However, since I hate the heat I was going to call those I would be negotiating with and suggest that we all  leave our suits, shirts and ties home and dress very casually and comfortably .  I thought before I did that I would write to you and ask if I am making a mistake?

                                                                              Name  Withheld

Dear Attorney:

 

Your way of beating the heat is wonderful if you are a large man  preferably  with a deep voice. However, if you are below average in height or even average it may be one of the worst decisions you’ll ever make.  Our research indicates that size becomes the dominant nonverbal power signal when everyone is dressed casually. That is one of the reasons that I suggest women in casual environments wear suits or at least jackets, because they are usually shorter than men.

 

Height is not the only non  verbal power signal, in fact at times that is not the dominant one. What we’re talking about here is the power of intimidation.  Some men are just naturally intimidating not because they are tall but because they are large, muscular,  have a rough  look about them or their general demeanor is threatening. If you are none of these things stick with suits.

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MESSAGES SENT BY KID’S AND COMPANY UNIFORMS

 

Dear Mr. Molloy:

 

My husband is a  dentist and we live in a very nice area of town. Most of our friends are professionals or executives and my son’s friends are their children.  Three months ago my son dramatically changed the way he dresses, he went from looking like a neighborhood ktd to someone who lives in a poor area.  The other day he left the house wearing a hoodie up over his head even though it wasn’t cold. What worries my husband and I is he went from being a straight-A student to someone who gets B’s.

 

I realize that he’s just turned 15 and that’s an age when children often reject their parents values.  As an expert on clothes,  do you think we should continue to worry?

 

                                                                                          Worried  Parents

 

Dear Parents:

 

Being an expert on clothing hardly qualifies me to answer such a question but I taught high school many years ago and my first Instinct was to tell you there is little to worry about. When youngster’s hit that age they rebel.

 

However, I changed my mind after going to dinner with a few friends  two of whom were ex-teachers. I’m not sure how the subject came up but when it did both immediately responded to your question in the same way.  When I was teaching l could tell which group a youngster belonged to by the way he or  she dressed, apparently that’s true today. The dress you describe convinced both teachers, one who taught in New Hampshire and the other in Kentucky that your son might be taking drugs. Both said it’s a major problem today in high schools.  They suggested that you confront your son but before doing so purchase one of those kits sold at CVS  that lets you test to see if he is taking drugs.

 

From previous conversations I knew that they were against everything Trump did. However, both said if he could  end the drug epidemic that exists in their schools they might consider voting for him. They quickly added, they didn’t think he could do it. That was such a radical change from their normal position that it indicates that drugs are a very serious problem in our high schools and I think you should  take their advice.

 

They also said if he fights the idea being tested you should insist  and if you find he is taking drugs you should immediately seek professional help.

 

Dear Mr. Molloy:

 

I am writing to you for myself and two other women employees. I work at a manufacturing facility outside of Anaheim California and our company has decided to put  everyone in uniforms. These uniforms came about as a result of union negotiations and most employees like the idea.

 

I voted for the uniform along with the other two women managers. We voted for it because it gave us an outfit to wear to work that  will save a great deal of money. The other day we were at lunch discussing the uniform when a woman from another section of the plant said we were crazy to vote for it because it would make us less effective than our male counterparts. The uniform is going to be the same for men and women. It will consist of a pair of pants and a shirt in the company’s color with company logos on them. She explained that you said that most uniforms make men look efficient and woman  look inefficient.  Is that true?

 

                                                                                                 T.J, Anaheim, Ca.

Dear TJ:

 

I did say that  years ago but it is no longer true. If the uniform you described is neat, crisp, in traditional conservative colors and cut it will probably send a positive message for men in most blue collar settings. It will announce loudly and clearly that the wearer is hard-working and part of the team.  The same outfit on most women will send a message that they are sexy and ineffective.  Most trousers designed by uniform companies for women emphasize their feminine shape and are often almost skin tight  which emphasizes there very feminine rear ends which men find very sexy and attractive. Since our research shows that it is almost impossible for women to send a sexual and an authoritative message at the same time, wearing the uniform you described will make it far more difficult for a woman to succeed as a foreman.

 

I strongly suggest that before your company orders anymore uniforms, you and the other women foreman approach those making the decision and insist that the uniform company design a special version for women managers. The uniform should have a blouse that is full enough to accommodate a full busted women and designed to be worn tucked in or outside the pants. The pants should be in a dark color and tailored  not emphasize your figure rather than display it.

 

Before a company chooses a uniform it should test what effect it will have on its employees both male and female to perform their jobs.  Leaving the selection to the designer at a uniform company is dangerous because that decision can and often does affect not only the success of the employees but the success of the company. If the uniform manufacture knows what they’re doing they will immediately comply with your request.  But if they resist any suggestion for change, I suggest your company look for a new supplier.  There are a few uniform companies that specialize in designing effective uniforms for women and they won’t be too hard to find.  Simply ask  the uniform company’s representative if they already designed  uniforms for women managers. If their answer is yes hire them, if it’s no, look elsewhere.

 

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STANDARD ENGLISH A MUST

 

Dear  Mr. Molloy:

 

I am a software engineer and I work for a company that creates  programs for the Fortune 500 and others.  Our company is only 9 years old but has a reputation as being Innovative and creative.  I believe the reason it has this reputation is it  pays people right out of school who are at the top of the class signing bonuses and excellent salaries. In addition It gives generous bonuses to engineers who make breakthroughs or contribute to solving major problems.  Although I’ve only been working here two years I’m already recognized as one of the best engineers in the company. I have already earned over $40,000 in bonuses.

 

I see a very bright future for myself at this company that is why I bought a copy of your book Dress for Success. I know it was written in 1975 but I visit corporate American headquarters all the time and believe if someone simply followed your instructions they would be dressed for success today.  The one line that caught my attention was dress for the job you want not the job you have and that’s my problem.  Everyone in my department including my boss and his boss wears jeans to work as do some of the executives. However, when the executives go to clients offices and I often accompany them, they wear suits.  The most informal executive in our company wears sports jackets when dealing with clients.

 

One day last week trying to follow your advice I wore a pair of beige slacks and a blue sports jacket to work. The minute I showed up I got kidded about how I was dressed.  One of the guys said I wanted to be the boss instantly,  another when I walked in held open the door and the third said the squirt is taking over.  He referred to me as a squirt because I’m 5’ 6’’ while most of my fellow engineers  are 6 feet tall,  that’s another reason I wore a sports jacket, I think I have to add authority anyway I can. My question is can I get away with wearing a sport jacket and slacks, do you think the other engineers will get used to my new look or should I stick with jeans.  If I do will I have to wear sneakers and boots like most of the others

 

                                                                                       A Confused Software Engineer

Dear Engineer:

 

Often I have men and women who work in very casual environments tell me that they have no dress code at their organization. They claim they can wear anything but that is not the case. All organizations have dress codes. If you  don’t look like a member of the team you will not be treated as well as those who do.  Our research shows if you wear anything but jeans it will be hard to get the cooperation of the other engineers.  It will also make it more difficult for you to socialize and make friends with your coworkers. When working on a project not only will you find it more difficult to get cooperation from some there are others who might sabotage your work.  They’re not going to admit that but our research shows it is an undeniable fact.  If you wear anything but the corporate uniform You will be looked upon and treated like an outsider by some of your coworkers.  Obviously you should continue to wear jeans.

 

That does not mean that you should give up on having a successful image. While you should continue to wear jeans they should be neat, pressed and of good quality.  Your appearance should be one notch above those of your coworkers. If a few of your co-workers wear  dress shirts you should as well.  In almost every casual office some wear golf shirts while others  t-shirts If you have that choice  where golf shirts. A successful image includes everything you wear, while putting wingtips with jeans with make you look silly wearing a nice pair of  loafers will upgrade your image.

 

Good grooming of course is an essential part of an effective image, your hair should be styled so that you look like an executive. If you decide because of your  height  you need to add power to your look you might try a neatly trimmed beard but only if facial hair is common among the executives. You can also add to your authority by using obviously expensive status items. Surround yourself by as many  of these items as possible, you can wear jeans and use an  obviously expensive pen eg. gold cross pen.  If you have a paperweight or a frame on your desk buy it at Tiffany’s  along with your keychain and so forth.

 

In addition I suggest you approach the executives you accompany to these meetings and ask them if they think you would be more effective if you wore a conservative shirt and a blue blazer when talking to the executives of client companies.  Even if they say  that they would rather you look like a techie, it will show you think in terms of image and make it more likely that they will move you into a position that requires that you’re dressed better.

 

However, your image is not your main problem. I edit most letters that are sent to me because I want them to fit into this blog and I want them to ask questions succinctly  and ask questions that are of interest to the readers of this blog.  I also  clean them up just a bit when needed. I do not wish to hurt your feelings but you letter indicated that you are not familiar with  standard American English.  If it was  read by someone who had no background teaching English they might think that you were ignorant and semi-literate and obviously that would dramatically affect your chances of moving  into the executive ranks.

 

I suspect that one of  three factors affects your ability to use standard English;  You were raised in a foreign country and English is not your first language, you were raised in the United States and you come from a home in which English is not the first language or you come from a very poor background where standard English was not used. For a short time I filled in for a friend and taught English to foreign speaking students. I was giving  lesson plans which I followed but I also added some touches of my own.   I was advised to have my students listen to the news everyday both on radio and TV.  I did that but I also insisted that they record  anchormen and anchorwomen.  I  not only wanted them to hear standard English I wanted them to be able to play back sections of the news broadcast over and over. Since news people invariably use correct pronunciation as well as the vocabulary and  phrasing of the upper middle class. They are wonderful models for those learning to speak standard English.There are no shortcuts, the only way to learn to speak standard English is to  imitate those who do speak standard English for an hour or two every night for at least a year.

 

I know I am recommending a difficult set of exercises but as I stated earlier there are no shortcuts, so  all I can do is wish you, good luck.

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DRESS LIKE AN EXECUTIVE & BLACK ENGLISH

 

Dear Mr. Molloy:

 

I have been very lucky.  I dropped out of high school  in my second year and went to work for this company 15 years later. I’ve worked here for 22 years and worked my way up to head of production online.  Last week I was told that I was going to be made an executive in the company and put in charge of production.

 

I think that most of the people in the company, especially those at the top, know that I have very little formal education and I worked my way up the hard way.

 

Most of the executives in my company wear suits everyday. I’ve  worn suits occasionally but not too often and I’m wondering when I go into my new job and get my new office should I  start wearing suits or should I maintain the look I’ve always had.

                                                                                  A New Executive

Dear New Executive:

 

You are not lucky, you’re talented  and I am sure very hard-working or you wouldn’t be where you are. Since you’ve earned your new job you deserve all the perks that go with it. Even if wearing a suit will not let you function more effectively but it probably will and even if a suit isn’t expected you have earned the right  to wear one. You stated that the suit is the uniform of the executives in your company so you should wear one  since you are an executive.

Dear Mr. Molloy:

I have almost unbelievable luck. I quit school after my second year in high school over 40 years ago and I’ve been working for the same company for almost 25 years. To my surprise I’ve been promoted and given an office in the Executive Suite

 

I also suggest that you stop telling everyone that you quit High School in your second year. It’s like graduating from Harvard, if it doesn’t show in your work, it’s not important.

 

Dear  Mr. Molloy:

I am a counselor in an inner-city, overwhelmingly black public high school .Less than 50% of the students last four years and those that do are usually trying very hard to succeed. Many of them are very bright and do well on tests but they are almost inarticulate when they’re asked to speak and they do very poorly when they’re interviewed for colleges or jobs.They tell me they’re overwhelmed by the experience. Is there anything I can do to help them do better at interviews?

 

I will be working with them over the summer in a job placement program.

                                                                            Name and Address Withheld

Dear Counselor:

 

Your letter brings back memories. When I first started teaching I was going for my Master’s at City College of New York.  One of the teachers told several students in no uncertain terms that if we didn’t volunteer  to do a little work in the neighborhood we would not do well in his class.  I of course volunteered.

 

When I went to the address he gave I found I would be working in a small storefront Church run by a short skinny black minister. When I told him I had experience teaching  black children how to read, he immediately put me to work. He gave me six students and said he would like me to make them better readers.  Although I was supposed to show up only one day a week I ended up showing up 2 or 3 days because I became interested in the kids and the job, and I began to see some progress,

When I showed up one day that skinny black Minister ran out in the street and said get the hell out of here.  When I asked why he said don’t you know they’re rioting.  I immediately headed for my car but my way was blocked by a black woman who introduced herself as a representative of some organization that was in favor of teaching Black  English.  I said I wouldn’t teach that, it was unemployment English and I wanted these kids to do well.  He push her out of the way then pushed me into my car and said get out of here.  I did at top speed.  I went south to get on the West Side Drive so I didn’t have to go up through Harlem.

 

The minister called to thank me for my work and said I was doing a good job but it would not be safe for me to return. I said I thought I could help those kids if I could teach them to speak standard English. I said  I would need some tapes that taught standard pronunciation.  He purchased two tapes, one on teaching English to  non-english students and a second on mastering Standard English.  When he said I couldn’t come to his church  I asked if they could come to me, I lived in Washington Heights.  At first I tried to run classes for the four who came in the library on 179th Street.  That didn’t work because we couldn’t play the tapes and have them practice.  So I ran classes for four months in my Ford  Fairlane parked south of Columbia Presbyterian Hospital on Riverside Drive. Two of the four quit after a few weeks but the other two, a brother and a sister, met me every Saturday morning for several months in my  Fairlane and we practiced.  At the end of that time the family moved so I didn’t see them again. While they didn’t sound like they graduated from Harvard they could speak Standard English.  I’m sure it helped them.

 

That is why I’m going to suggest you buy a number of tapes designed to teach Standard English  pronunciation and phrasing. Next find a quiet  space and have your students using those tapes practice, practice and practice some more. If you run classes  at least three days a week for a minimum of two hours at the end of the summer I don’t expect they will sound like college graduates but they will  almost speak standard English.  I think once they do they will able to handle interviews and interviewers with some confidence and ease.

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SUSPENDERS, BLAZERS AND 17 YEAR OLDS

 

Dear Mr. Molloy:

 

I just moved from our offices in the Midwest to our Boston, Massachusetts office.  I will be the night manager,which is more important than you think because we are available to our customers and the public around the clock. One of my fellow managers asked me the other day how I matched the color of my suspenders with my suit, shirt and tie. He was thinking of wearing suspenders so he was just asking for information. I had to admit I had no idea.  I looked in your dress for success book and found nothing..

 

                                                                                       A Manager

Dear Manager:

 

Suspenders do not have to match your suit, shirt or tie, but they probably shouldn’t clash.  However,  I doubt If there is any rule on that. Some of America’s most successful men today wear brightly colored braces ( the term used by some executives for suspenders.) In fact wearing  bright colors and designs seems to be one of the attractions of wearing suspenders.The only real rule is only wear them if your trousers have buttons designed to accommodate them.

 

There is only one drawback to wearing suspenders.  Several years ago I ran across a  gentleman at a conference who said that his problem was he slouched and that made him look lower class.  He said he’s been trying to correct the problem for years but it wouldn’t seem to go away. He thought suspenders pulled down his shoulders making the problem more difficult to solve and asked if I had any suggestions?  In fact he specifically asked if there was a device that could help him stand erect.I told him I didn’t know but I would check.

 

Luckily I found several because people from limited backgrounds often slouch which limits their  potential because in corporate America class counts.

Dear Mr. Molloy:

 

What is the main mistake made by women when they buy clothing?

                                                                               17 Year Old but Willing to Learn

 

Dear 17 Year Old:

 

The main mistake made by women when they buy clothing is they buy clothing that’s looks good on someone else usually a model who is very tall and very thin. Several years back I had a thin, chic relative who worked in a store that catered  to heavier women.  The store’s customers took  one look at her and wanted outfits similar to hers.The clothing that looked beautiful and chic on her would not be attractive or even appropriate for  the average woman and certainly didn’t  work on her customers   Nevertheless, she sold  more than most of her coworkers. If there’s one rule every woman should obey it is,  picture in your mind how any garment would look on you before you purchase it.

 

However, being 17 there is a good possibility that you are  tall and thin and if that is so  you can  copy those models.  However, if  now or in the future you are not tall and thin avoid them like the plague.

Dear Mr. Molloy:

My husband just went into a discount store and bought a double-breasted blue blazer. He usually has two or three sports coats in his wardrobe which he wears all the time. He always buys very good jackets and keeps them for years.

 

I told him that the reason the double breasted model was for sale in an outlet is it is no longer fashionable.When I told him that he made a mistake purchasing it because when he wore it he would look dated, he disagreed. He said he didn’t know whether It would look up to date or not but it didn’t make any difference because It will once again be fashionable in a couple of years. And even if it doesn’t come back in style he’ll wear it anyway, men don’t pay attention to such things. Please tell him he’s wrong.

                                                                   A Concerned Wife

 

Dear Concerned Wife:

I can’t, traditional blazers may go out of fashion but they never go out of style.

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OUR LEADERSHIP IN SCIENCE IS COMING TO AN END

Dear Mr. Molloy:

 

I was one of those engineers you spoke to about how to become popular in Tampa four weeks ago. I enjoyed your presentation but I took strong objection to your  statement that America’s dominance in science was about to end .I was going to challenge you on it but I didn’t quite know how to go about doing it because the idea was new to me. I was busy at the time but I was laid up in bed for almost two weeks and could think of  little else. I am sure it’s untrue since we invented the internet, the cell phone and made  billionaires out of those who created Innovative ways of using either.

 

In addition you said engineers did not get the respect they deserved in Corporate America that may have been true years ago but it is not true today.  Most corporations could not survive without the input of well trained engineers and they know it.

                                                                                      A Creative Engineer

Dear Engineer:

 

In the first sentence in the above paragraph you state that Corporate America in the past undervalued engineers but today that is not the case.  In the second sentence you say that corporations could not survive without engineers but then you finish by admitting that engineers do not run corporations when you said “and they know it”.

 

The primary  reason we are going to lose our leadership in science Is today we produce 50,000 engineers a year while China produces 250,000.The same numerical disparity existed when we were competing with Russia but since our engineers were raised in a free society where free thought was encouraged  and were convinced they could do anything they out invented the World.  Today on college campuses everyone is told to think the same way and freethinkers  are punished  as they are in Russia and China. Second  our research shows creative people are extremely competitive. When we spoke to those who made breakthroughs they said they dreamed of inventing, and beating the other guy before they  invented anything.  Today we teach our children that winning  and losing are bad.  As result, in schools today there are no winners or losers, everyone gets a trophy.  In addition, today our schools are so bad that while we spend more money than any other country in the world on education  our students ranked 25th in the world in math and science. That was not always true, my mother went to the public schools in New York in the early 20th century when they were the best in the world.  Because she was bright and finished High School math in the first two years she was encouraged to take college classes.  She graduated from high school with a  special certificate in statistics, which was far more advanced then a junior college degree is today.

 

I know this because 32 years ago I was hired by a high-tech firm in California to study creativity. They hired me  after I spoke to them about dressing for success when they interacted with non-technical people and the results of my advice dramatically increased their business. They wanted me to apply the same research techniques to studying creativity.  Specifically they wanted me to compare their  most creative engineers to engineers who work as hard and were as well qualified academically but didn’t seem ever to produce or contribute to breakthroughs.I took the job because  I had been studying creativity for years on my own.  It almost became a fixation or at least it became a hobby. I read  every article and study I ran across on the subject and had already come to a few conclusions on my own.

 

Since this was going to be my first study of unquestionable creativity I asked for several weeks to design the project.I was very excited because I was going to be able to study people whose creativity was provable. Hollywood stars and many others claim they are creative when they may or may not be.  Some of them make the  claim because of the field  they are in. The creative artist isn’t necessarily creative because their paintings sell. I own a painting of a pale young doll like girl holding a doll painted by a  famous Mexican artist. It’s obviously a picture of a young girl who died, It isn’t worth much because once the artist died  his paintings were not sought by those who are in  control of the Art World. I own a number of paintings that are more valuable than that  one but I believe it is a masterpiece. So the creativity of an artist is a matter of personal opinion. I may be right I may be wrong.  That is why studying Engineers who had made breakthroughs  was so exciting.

When we questioned the most creative  engineers they told us that one of the motivating factors was they believed America was the finest country in the world and partially as a result we were special and more creative. Three months ago for the first time in 10 years I was hired  to speak to a group on creativity in which a  third  of my audience were engineers.  At the end of my presentation I opened the floor to questions which is my normal procedure.  I was shocked when most in the audience challenged my assertion that America is a wonderful country, they said we  were no better or worse than any other country. That is what is being taught in American schools today while in Germany, Japan, Russia, China, Great Britain, France and every other country I could check on teach their children that they should be proud of their country and very proud of  who they are.  Their textbooks ignore or de-emphasize or  put the best spin on embarrassing parts of their history  while emphasizing  those facts which makes them look best. That’s important because  when I interviewed people from other countries who had made breakthroughs in their field many of them said they did it to show that their country was great.  Our researchers and engineers without a belief in their country will not have the same motivation.  So  unfortunately our leadership in science is probably coming to an end.

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