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TechMama Talks: Work, Family, Education and Mobile Tech

TechMamas talkIt may have been a month since I last posted, but that gave me some time to think. During that time I decided to channel my dear Grandmother in my writing, who as she got older decided to share her authentic voice. Of course, that involved some embarrassing moments such as when she met a new boyfriend of mine for the first time and asked “I look forward to seeing you walk down the isle together”. I joked and said “you mean at the grocery store?”. But my Grandmother must of been reading our body language because we did end up walking down the isle and are a happily married couple running after our adorable but energetic three boys. I feel privileged to have met an amazing community of bloggers online and share my insights on technology. Now I want to go back to sharing my musings on life and important initiatives.


Parents and Work: I am excited to see women developing initiatives to empower and promote career advancement for women at work.  But from what I experienced as a parent, the job market is very tricky these days so finding work that offers a salary to cover the costs of childcare and extra incidental costs is a challenge. Many parents also need some sort of offer flexible work environments, which can add to the challenge. The job market has changed, there are new job skills required including technology and social media. In addition, while online networking has created multiple channels for career advancement, choosing the right channels to create real business opportunities is an important consideration.


The childcare challenge is not just a mom problem – it is a “parenting” challenge. I started a lively discussion on Facebook about this topic and I was thrilled to see responses of parents that are overcoming all types of challenges to work and also parents making the choice to stay home. I made a comment that we all value time with our children, that their happiness is the most important goal of whatever arrangements are made. I look forward to share stories on my blog of women that have found creative solutions to adapt to the modern workplace. Including women that have taken time off for kids then not only ramped back up to work years later – they BLASTED OFF!


Family Technology: We are at a time where you can stream, automate, use voice, consume content and entertainment in many ways and multiple devices. But families are struggling with helping their kids set screen time limits, stay safe online, learn social networking etiquette, decide what devices they really NEED and HOW TO use them. To make matters more complicated, kids now grow up surrounded with technology so it is second nature. For example, I have an Internet connected TV and my kids are the ones that signed up and are power users of Netflix compared to me. I feel so old school watching shows on TV networks. I know how to stream everything on my PC’s but at night I still like to turn on the TV and watch a show. My kids hardly watch traditional TV networks anymore.


Luckily because of my business, I also consume information and social network online which allows me to talk my kids’ language. At the same time I realize the online world is a dangerous place for kids that require a new type of education. I have been writing online for years about the concept I describe as “Internet safety is the new sex talk”. I remember years ago when I first said that at a social media conference in New York there was silence (shock) then lots of tweeting to share. Now that mostly all devices have a web browsers, it is hard to lock our kids away from the online world.


My perspective is that parents need to first educate themselves, then their kids, then create regular conversations and family rules about Internet Safety (and logical consequences if they are not followed). For example, sitting down with teens “together” to look at the privacy controls for all the platforms they are on and “discuss” which should be set to remain safe. But open conversations are key, and it should include cyber etiquette and consequences for inappropriate cyber etiquette (including going to jail!). In our family discussions, I also share age appropriate news stories as examples.  I want to spend more time covering all the online platforms kid spend time on. Of course, I find new platforms cropping up it seems like every day! Automated internet safety controls such as web filters, monitoring apps and privacy control settings are also an effective supplement, but they won’t keep kids safe everywhere they go because as I said web browsers are everywhere! So parents need to do the balancing act of setting “relevant” automated controls, communication and education. That balance is not easy!


No matter what strategy parents have, new challenges come up. Like how I tell a bunch of 10 year olds during baseball practice last year that they “HAVE NO REASON TO BE ON INSTAGRAM.. SERIOUSLY!”. Or how do I tell a lovely teen girl (family friend) that the number of LIKES she receives on her Facebook photo does NOT reflect her TRUE BEAUTY. Or how smartphones have become a tool that can get kids arrested if they take the wrong picture or participate in the wrong social media exchange. Or how dangerous the online world is, so much so that I need to have a SCARED STRAIGHT strategy constantly updating the teens I know of the mistakes I read about hoping that they can learn from them. At the same time, I am regularly amazed at some of the positive ways teens are creating support online. When our beloved hamster died recently my son said he received comfort from a Reddit Hamster sub directory (created to memorialize Hamsters that had passed away).  My son received sympathies from around the world when he posted a picture of our Hamster.


Education Tech: One of the challenges of our education system is that while more and more kids relate to visual, interactive and experiential learning, many curriculum’s are still based on inflexible models filled with worksheets. The shining stars are the Teachers and Schools trying to transition to experiential learning. Luckily, now there are so many ways to learn online that I could spend weeks covering all the websites and programs. After speaking at a few education tech events and meeting the edtech company founders, I decided that sharing the exciting opportunities that exist in digital learning is a passion of mine. I want to highlight the education tech innovators on my blog as a way to help support their important contributions they are making to the future of education.


Family Schedule Tech:  One of the main reasons I wrote the book “My Parent Plan” was to help families learn project planning skills. After years of professional project planning I know the concepts but at times still struggle with how to balance it all. With three boys now going THREE completely different directions, I decided to dive deeper into tech solutions to help me manage. Or at least keep my head above water..


Health Tech: Feeding my family a healthy diet is one of the biggest challenges I have each week. While I like the concept of eating plant based foods I am also balancing understanding what is best for my family that has different nutritional needs. I will be covering some of online websites and apps that can help parents struggling with healthy eating solutions. I will also be covering my comic adventures trying to convince my sons why healthy eating is important. Including how my teen is “dreaming” of going to a local burger restaurant someday again as a reward. And how at times he sneaks out with his friends to get junk food for dinner after looking in the fridge filled with “green” foods.


So while I am far away from being a Grandmom myself, I honor her voice by speaking my own. Whats on your mind?





Cancer Prevention Study-3 (CPS-3): A Gift To Future Generations


(See Disclosures at bottom of post)


When it comes to managing family health, being proactive and aggressive goes a long way. I frequently point out to my boys and my husband the importance of exercise, eating right and getting enough sleep using real examples of friends and family who role model healthy habits.


We also discuss additional health risks that are genetic and unfortunately immune to lifestyle choices. Like many families, mine has experienced recent battles with cancer. Unfortunately, several women in family have the BRCA mutation, which is a genetic Breast (and Ovarian) Cancer risk factor.  My Aunt had the BRCA mutation and recently passed away after a brave fight with Ovarian Cancer.


Because of this family medical history, my mother and I were tested and found that we did not have the BRCA mutation. We also began investigating other cancer risk factors that can be changed. When I heard of the Cancer Prevention Study-3 (CPS-3), I decided to both participate and spread the word. I view my participation in the Cancer Prevention Study-3 as a gift to future generations.


Here is the information I received from the American Cancer Society on the Cancer Prevention Study-3 (CPS-3) :

  • Cancer Prevention Study (CP-3)  is a long-term study that seeks to better understand the factors (lifestyle, environmental, genetic) that cause or prevent cancer and ultimately help eliminate cancer as a major health concern for future generations.


  • Past long-term ACS studies have played a major role in cancer prevention, as well as in other national and international efforts. Past studies have demonstrated: 1) link between smoking and lung cancer; 2) significant impact of being overweight or obese on cancer risk; 3) impact of hormones, physical activity, diet on cancer risk; 4) link between aspirin use and reduced risk of colon cancer.


  • Involvement in CPS-3 includes: Reading and signing a consent form, completing a survey, providing some physical measurements, giving a small blood sample, and responding to follow up questionnaires by mail every two years following (for at least 20 years). Participants must be between the ages of 30 and 65 years & have no personal history of cancer to join CPS-3.


  • CPS-3 is one of the most important factors in ACS finishing the fight against cancer in that it identifies trends between lifestyle patterns and incidence of cancer – trends that can limit, and in most cases prevent, cancer altogether.


  • CPS-3 offers an historic opportunity — a once in a generation opportunity — to be personally involved in research that will advance ACS’ understanding of the lifestyle, behavioral, environmental, and genetic factors that cause cancer.


  • The American Cancer Society has played a part in nearly every cancer research breakthrough in recent history and the next one could be found in this study.



  • Enrollment in the CPS-3 study is one of the most important and impactful things you can do to help finish the fight against cancer; you can change the course of cancer.  Here are the San Francisco Bay Area Recruitment Sites:
  1. Alameda (July 20-August 3)
  2. Marin County (July 24-August 7)
  3. San Francisco (July 17-August 10)
  4. San Mateo (July 24-August 10)
  5. Santa Clara (July 13-August 10)


Here is a link to the General CPS-3 landing page for participation across the US for those that want to find out details on recruitment sites in other cities. Join me for this historic opportunity  to be personally involved in research that will advance American Cancer Society’s understanding of the factors that cause cancer.


I was compensated for my participation in learning and sharing about CPS-3 through Women Online/The Mission List. All opinions stated here are my own.




Guest Post: Emotional Intelligence – The Difference That Makes the Difference

**I have doing research on educational environments for my own kids and found out about Six Their about page explained “Through 15 years of global experience and extensive research, we’ve found that the scientifically-based skills of emotional intelligence (EQ) are essential for change.  These skills are learnable, and predict stronger effectiveness, influence, decision making, health, relationships, and quality of life.” Especially in the age of technology as a key form of communication, I believe that emotional intelligence is an important skill. Better yet, I would like to see that incorporated into more classroom environments. is  working for the “development of emotional intelligence, a powerful toolset to support people to create positive change — everywhere, all the time.” Joshua Freedman is part of their Global Office Team. I asked him to write a guest post about an exciting upcoming event this June: NexusEQ Conference.



Guest blog by Joshua Freedman



In June, change makers from 12 countries will meet on the campus of Harvard University for a remarkable conference about using emotional intelligence to spark positive change.  It’s the 7th NexusEQ Conference; “nexus” means intersection, and the program is about the intersection of science and practice – head, heart, and hands.



Conference participants are leaders, educators, consultants, coaches, and individuals who see that emotional intelligence is the “difference that makes the difference.” The program features 80 experts including top neuroscientists and emotions researchers, business leaders, education advocates, and authors all sharing success stories of emotional intelligence creating positive change.



 Why it Matters



Emotions are part of all our human interactions – think of the last team meeting that went awry… or a great plussing session where ideas were flying?  How about a recent “discussion” about you kid finishing homework before Minecraft?



Neuroscience now shows that emotions are embedded in ALL our thinking – even something as “pure geek” as debugging code will be influenced by emotion:  “Are you in the mood?”



Research on emotional intelligence (see below for the “101” definition) shows that feeling smarts create a host of benefits, such as:



  • Greater profitability.  For example, an emotional intelligence project at a Sheraton increased market share by 24%.
  • Better people leaders.  In a recent study, 78% of the variation in employee engagement was predicted by the level of the manager’s EQ (a score of emotional intelligence).
  • More collaboration.  Numerous studies have shown that the leaders mood affects how team members work together.
  • Increased sales.  In one study, EQ-trained salespeople earned
  • Career success.  Several studies have shown that people with higher emotional intelligence are more promotable and reach higher positions.
  • Better grades, less drugs.  And for those of us with kids, dozens of studies show that these skills increase achievement AND wellbeing.



Emotional Intelligence 101


The first scientific definition of “emotional intelligence” was published by Peter Salovey and Jack Mayer in 1990, where they proposed a simple, surprising idea:  Instead of considering emotion as blocking clear thinking, is it possible that, when properly developed, emotions can actually assist thinking?


We’ve all experienced how emotion gets in the way, but what if that’s simply a lack of skill?  It turns out that emotions are data, and we can develop the intelligence to use that data effectively – or not.  Emotions are present in ALL of us, and they affect us even when we pretend otherwise.  So as leaders, teachers, parents, and people, rather than letting emotions “just happen,” it’s in our best interest to learn to use them in a way that’s smart.



Salovey, who is now the incoming President of Yale University, will provide the opening to the NexusEQ Conference where he’ll share the evolution of this science over the last two decades.


Time for Change



The theme of the conference, “Spark Positive Change,” refers to growing urgency to create change in many sectors of society.  It’s a sad paradox that the conference is in Boston after recent events there.  Around the world, we’re facing intractable challenges in society, between peoples – not to mention economic meltdowns and environmental disasters.  We must, absolutely must, get better at creating change.



The conference is organized by a not-for-profit called Six Seconds – which is a world-wide organization researching, advocating for, and teaching emotional intelligence.  The network is led by offices in 10 countries, and last year we supported 60,000 people to practice the skills of emotional intelligence.



Our experience and research with emotional intelligence over the last 15 years is that it’s the missing link.  We have tons of smart, skilled people in the world.  Change isn’t derailed due to a lack of technical knowledge.  The challenge is people.  Connecting.  Collaborating.  Getting on the same page.  And that’s all about emotion.



Conference Delegations are forming in 12 countries so far.  Following the conference, the delegations are charged with a small task:  Teach 10,000 people the key skills and concepts from this conference.  Put it into action.



Next year, in March 2014, we’ll hold our third virtual emotional intelligence conference, and we’ll get to see the successes from delegations around the world.  Then in June 2014, we’ll go to the next step with 1000 meetings around the globe to fuel this movement for emotional intelligence.



Our vision is that 1 billion people PRACTICE the skills of emotional intelligence.  Whether you join us at the Harvard Medical School Conference Center or in one of the virtual programs, we hope you’ll be part of it.



DISCOUNT:  Early registration is available through May 11.  Here is a link to the registration page:   Above the big green “Order Now” button, click “Enter Promotional Code” and type in: EQNEWS



About the Author

Joshua Freedman is a change leader teaching the skills of emotional intelligence around the globe.  He is the Chief Operating Officer of Six Seconds, The Emotional Intelligence Network, and the Chair of the NexusEQ Conference.  His books include INSIDE CHANGE and At the Heart of Leadership, and he is coauthor of seven validated psychometric assessments measuring team and organizational climate, leadership, and emotional intelligence.




Secret to Social Media Curation – Goodbye Google Reader!

Among my little secrets I share to those looking to get more involved with social media is: being a social media influencer does not only mean that you only share your thoughts – you need to also share other relevant posts, tweets and social media updates that reflect your niche (the social sharing piece).


But how?


What I did to set up my system of social media and family tech curation was to chose 1,000 of the most relevant family and technology blogs and then add them to Google Reader (years ago). The way Google Reader works is that it was a place to add the “RSS” or subscription feeds from the sites you want updates on – then you can see the feeds listed together in one place. I compared this to gathering a list of all of my favorite websites in one place – then being able to search all current articles and posts together by subject.  I then went into my Google Reader,  searched for terms that matched my niche (family tech) and found my favorite posts of the day. The next step for me would be to share those posts over my social media streams. So my social media streams (such as Twitter) became not only places that I shared my updates, but relevant updates from social media and family tech space.


But as happens in the social media world, it was recently announced that Google is closing down Google Reader this summer. I had mixed feelings – it was time for a change but that meant I needed to find my new way to store my blog subscription feeds. Now that I use Windows 8 apps and Office 365, I also get lots of social updates from Windows 8 apps. One great Windows 8 app is called Nextgen Reader App.


Mashable created posts with not only information on how to export your RSS feeds from Google Reader, but also Google Reader alternatives such as Feedly, Fever, NetVibes, NewsBlur, The Old Reader, Managing News and Twitter Lists.


Listed below are some other posts that talk about alternatives. Do you use an RSS Feed reader? If so – which one? If you used Google Reader what are you switching to?


CNET: Google Reader is dying, but we have five worthy alternatives

Popular Science: The Best RSS Readers To Use Now That Google Reader Is Dead





Giveaway: Pledge Not To Text And Drive. It Can Wait!

Distracted driving is a serious problem. In my last post about the topic I discussed the AT&T “It Can Wait” website that has important information for families. The AT&T It Can wait website shows “Texting and Driving Crash – It Can Wait” and other videos that anyone with a phone and a car should watch (parents and teens included!):



Join me and pledge to never text and drive.  The It Can Wait website has a section where you can share your pledge. Here is another It Can Wait pledge I just did on the website and tweeted:Those who send txt messages while drivng are 23x more likely to be in a crash. Pledge @ #ITCANWAIT “.



I was thrilled to see my pledge retweeted by others – so by making a pledge you can inspire others to make their pledge not to text while driving.



AT&T also has a DriveMode™ (Android  and BlackBerry) app that has auto on/off to help increase safety on the road.

The DriveMode app “curbs the urge to text and drive by allowing you to temporarily limit the features of your mobile device so you stay focused on the road. You can set-up auto-replies to texts, emails and wireless phone calls to let people know you’re on the road and will get back to them. AT&T DriveMode is free to AT&T customers.


UPDATE:  Jeannine S  is our Winner (and she has been contacted). Thanks to all that entered!!

To help move this important issue forward, I am excited to host a “It Can Wait” (ICW) giveaway where ONE winner will get the following prize (fulfilled by AT&T):
One Samsung Galaxy S III
One ICW t-shirt
One ICW branded phone case (to fit the GSIII)
Two ICW decals (for your car)
Two ICW thumbbands
How do you enter? It is 2 easy steps:
1. Fill out the Rafflecopter entry below
2. Take the pledge at and comment that you took it .
a Rafflecopter giveaway