Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Moms as Executives

The Obama administration has announced a new policy for financial firms receiving future federal bail-out money; no executive can receive more than $500,000 in total compensation, including bonuses and salary. Naturally, the executives are shocked, sputtering that bonuses and huge paychecks are a critical element to retaining good talent. Besides the obvious oxymoron (these firms have lost billions of dollars, so obviously the talent they’d paid so much for wasn’t worth it!), I’m also stunned that firms really think there are no competent prospective executives who wouldn’t be insulted by a paltry half-million.

Why don’t they start with moms? I for one could probably manage to scrape by on $500,000. (In fact, I'm terribly amused by the fact that some of these guys' complain about reduced bonuses which are more money than I've made in my entire life!) And moms all have developed, and utilized, most of the key skills executives need, as well as other critical skills that are unique to moms and could get us out of this financial melt-down, including:

Diplomatic people skills - moms can referee a play-date, talk a recalcitrant toddler into getting dressed, avert a fight between siblings who each want the last Eggo waffle, and listen tolerantly to a teenage girl’s hysteria about her horrible Facebook photo for the fourth day in a row, while simultaneously reassuring her husband that he really doesn’t have a beer belly.

Multi-tasking - oh, please, moms define multitasking, and we do it infinitely better than any overpaid CEO! (written as I’m feeding the dog, making a phone call about my teenage son’s driving lessons, and mentally calculating whether I have enough frozen chicken breasts to cobble something together for dinner so I don’t have to pay for takeout)

Leadership capability - Hello? Moms can get the carpool to agree on a radio station, keep order backstage during a children’s play, nudge a soccer team into agreeing on hair-ribbon colors, and convince 20 moms that they have nothing better to do on Saturday afternoon than assemble wrapping-paper orders. Managing well-paid subordinates is a piece of cake!

Financial Expertise - Even moms who share the family financial responsibilities with husbands usually take on the primary share of the budget-cutting, including reminding kids to turn out the lights and take shorter showers to cut the utility bills, scouring the sale racks at Target for out-of-season deals on clothes they’ll eventually grow into, we hope, and dealing with the inevitable melt-down when we veto stopping by Starbucks for a venti vanilla iced low-fat frappuchino, oh, please, please, please????

Creative Strategic Thinking - I challenge any CEO to look at my refrigerator and figure out a dinner for which I have the ingredients, that everyone will eat, that can be assembled in the 5 minutes I have between dropping off one kid after drum lessons and driving the other to rehearsal, and that won’t blow my Weight Watchers points. Then tell me moms don’t know how to think ‘outside the box’!

So Merrill Lynch, Wells Fargo, et al., if your reduced pay structure has you struggling to find skilled talent, you know where to find me!

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