Maddy Dychtwald

Posts Tagged ‘Maddy Dychtwald’

Women and Leadership: How to Find a Mentor

In Influence on January 26, 2011 at 8:00 am

Now that 2011 is well under way, many of us are making and breaking resolutions — trying to figure out how we can be the best version of ourselves for 2011. The word “reinvention” keeps popping up, especially in conversations with women who want to move into leadership positions in their work. The economic meltdown has eliminated many jobs, ramped up the competition among qualified people and, in general, made it more urgent than ever to find that competitive edge. Both business and government would benefit from more women in leadership positions. Studies show us that profitability improves when women take on positions of leadership in companies. So what tools can best help women move ahead?

Enter the mentor

A mentor can show you how to ramp up your skill-sets, network effectively and work around or eliminate your weaknesses. They can even open some very important doors to leadership positions.

But how do you find that all-important mentor? Do you stay in your limited circle, hoping your parents, friends or co-workers might “know someone” and put in a good word for you? Or can you yourself have the audacity to reach out to someone you truly respect and admire and ask him or her (in some compelling way) to help you learn, improve and move forward?

In my experience as an entrepreneur, trend-spotter and author of several books (including “Influence: How Women’s Soaring Economic Power will Transform Our World for the Better“), I have had the good fortune to benefit from a number of incredible mentors, who have had great mentors themselves. The main reason they were willing to give me a boost up the ladder of success was simply this: I asked!

Of course, I also did my homework. I learned about their education, their path to success, their past work experience and even the nonprofits to which they contributed their time and/or money. In better understanding their interests, I could make my remarks and questions both respectful and authentic.

Aim high and don’t be intimidated

When searching for a mentor, the first thing you should keep in mind is that no leader is “too important” to be your mentor. Don’t put limits on your list of potential mentors by assuming someone is too busy, too high up or too inaccessible. Like the gorgeous model that no one asks out on a date because they assume she is not interested, often the leaders who are seemingly “too busy” do not get as many requests as you might expect. And they are often the very ones who want the opportunity to give back through helping someone just like you.

Keep in mind that mentoring comes in all sizes, shapes and durations. It doesn’t have to take the form of mentoring we often conjure up in our minds, in which we meet with someone for an hour each week, face-to-face. Maybe it’s a Skype video conference once a month with someone on the other side of the globe. Or perhaps it’s one potent walk-and-talk in the park, tagged onto a business trip or vacation to another city. Mentoring, really, is just learning what you can from someone more experienced and savvy who you admire and respect.

And remember that asking is a gift. I have learned firsthand that the knowledge and acumen that leaders have gained over the years is almost always something they want to share. It helps complete the circle and populate their profession and industry with new blood; it also leaves them feeling like they are making a purposeful contribution to the future of their profession, their company and even the world. In a nutshell, it helps them leave a legacy.

So while it is important to keep an open mind about who could be an excellent mentor, you should also consider these suggestions and tips as you begin your search:

  • Be bold, be gracious. After you figure out who you’d like to ask to be your mentor and do your due diligence on that individual, you’ve got to ask them. This can be scary, but you will never get your mentor without asking. Find a way to ask that person that appeals to their ego, intelligence and good will. Help them to know that you understand who they are and how they got to where they are. At the same time, provide them with a feel for who youare in a way that might draw them in and want to consider mentoring you.
  • Try different avenues. Emailing someone is relatively easy today, but a handwritten letter may make you stand out more. Once you know a lot about the person, consider the best method of contact — email, a letter or even, if appropriate, a direct message on Twitter or Facebook. Also, if you have something thoughtful you can send as a gift (e.g. a book you believe that person might like, a magazine article, etc.) include it as a gesture of respect.
  • If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, again. Like many things in life, you have to reach out to many to find the one. If one attempt doesn’t work out, don’t give up. The most successful professionals in the U.S. have or have had a mentor and many of them did exactly what you are attempting to do — so they may well want to “pay it forward.” Don’t let any negative self-talk discourage you and rob you of what could be a rich opportunity to take your career — and your life — to the next level.

Remember what the great Virgil said: “Fortune favors the bold.” What was true in 29 B.C. is just as relevant today.

Good luck!

What Makes Maddy Tweet?

In Guest Post on July 26, 2010 at 11:28 am

What if your new book had just been published by Hyperion’s prestigious Voice imprint? What if you were the co-founder of one of the most influential and respected research firms ever?


That (and a tad more) describes Maddy Dychtwald. She’s pretty well known, ridiculously successful and, dang, good looking to boot.

She’s the author of Influence: How Women’s Soaring Economic Power Will Transform Our World for the Better. She’s also the co-founder, along with her husband Ken, of Age Wave. Together they’ve been warning us for a long time now about the dangers of ignoring the demographics of aging and the talents of our senior citizens.

(Ken Dychtwald, by the way, is one of the very best speakers we’ve ever seen. He’s always understood intuitively what Seth Godin warns about in Really Bad PowerPoint – that bullet points slaughter audiences, but the right emotional images help deliver the message).


So, why in the world would someone like Maddy Dychtwald feel it necessary to tweet? She’s got it all, already.


Chris Brogan (one of the most knowledgeable social network experts on the planet) will tell you that online social networking is not about selling – but instead about contributing, mentoring and giving back.

In Maddy Dychtwald’s case she contributes her expertise. She’s intimately involved with issues like the marketing power of women and the implications of demographic shifts. She uses that expertise to link her followers to news, resources, studies and articles on the topics she knows best.


Sure, she tweets about her own books and appearances. (we should be so lucky to have such success and such a schedule!).

But, she also uses her background to lead us to intriguing articles like a Christian Science Monitor article about the popular television show, The Closer; and an NPR story about Sarah McLachlan’s fight to keep her wonderful concert series, Lilith Fair, alive.


And, those are just a couple of examples. Follow her and you’ll see a lot more.

So, what makes Maddy tweet?

Well, it’s certainly not what makes Sammy run.

Nope, those who are already successful, accomplished and knowledgeable are in the best position to give back – and they’re the ones who most need to pick up their keyboard and tweet with us.

Maddy does. Now, we just need to work on her husband Ken.

From Hidden Business Treasures by Michael Benidt and Sheryl Kay

How J. Lo’s Screaming Orgasm Redefines ‘Family’

In Huffington Post Series on April 30, 2010 at 9:32 am

In J. Lo’s latest movie, The Back-up Plan, our intrepid, artificially inseminated heroine enjoys an onscreen orgasm sparked by a heady combo of some wet kissing and pregnancy hormones. As women with 27 combined months of pregnancy between us, we’re both a little skeptical (as is Mary Pols, the hilarious film reviewer).

But J. Lo’s spontaneous squealfest seems only slightly less plausible…and vastly less offensive…than her portrayal of the professional single mom by choice. J. Lo’s character quickly meets a man — phew! — but her single mom gal-pals are a parade of militant or earth-mother stereotypes. “Who wants to end up like that?” the movie seems to say.

Turns out, a growing number of moms in the U.S. do. The number of single moms by choice is expanding faster than a pair of maternity jeans. The number of babies born to single mothers by choice, like the one J. Lo plays, has grown a phenomenal 145 percent since 1980, according to journalist Emily Bazelon, writing in the New York Times Magazine. Today, a whopping 40 percent of U.S. babies are born to unmarried mothers. Plus, some 13,000 single women every year adopt children domestically, and that’s not counting international adoptions.

As we discuss in our new book, Influence: How Women’s Soaring Economic Power will Change Our World for the Better, the rise of the single mom is just one swell in the societal tsunami transforming families around the world. The shape of families is changing right before our eyes. In the US and elsewhere, the most basic unit of society — the traditional two parents plus 2.5 kids — has been replaced by a wide and colorful palette of choices: same sex couples, single parents, blended families, traditional families, four or even five generations living together — and every imaginable permutation of these options. And, like it or not, since 2007, American women are likely to spend more years of their lives single than married. Noah’s Ark, with its inhabitants paired up two-by-two, is sinking. And unless our workplaces, communities and governing bodies realize that, our ability to compete in a global economy will sink along with it.

Support for families — making sure that every family can afford high quality childcare, that every worker gets paid sick leave, that schools are safe and effective — is crucial if women and men are going to tap into our full economic potential. But we don’t have that kind of security in the U.S. Although family patterns have changed radically, most companies and legislatures act like every family is traditional — and that they all have a stay-at-home wife taking care of the kids, caring for ailing elders and doing the housework. This, in a country where 70 percent of children grow up live in a two-income household.

Other countries face the same challenges. But instead of ignoring these new challenges, they’re pioneering policies that support families even as they change. Compared to other industrialized nations, America falls flat on its face in terms of supporting families as they really exist. The United States ranks last in maternity leave, ranks 27th of 37 countries in public expenditures on childcare, and provides astonishingly little assistance for families caring for aging parents. Our nation has failed to recognize glaring truths: that hardly any kids today have a parent at home full-time, that affordable day care is as necessary and important as affordable health care, and that men and women in the workforce both have far more responsibilities outside work than ever before.

By failing to change our workplaces and policies in ways that help families, our country is threatening the well-being of kids in America. At the low end of the economic spectrum, hourly workers can lose their job if they take sick time with their kids. At the higher end, a corporate 24-7 work ethic forces parents — typically women — into more reasonable, but less prestigious, jobs. Saddest of all, without affordable, reliable childcare, single moms and their kids are far more likely to end up in poverty than any other group in America.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. In other industrialized nations, it’s not. In Sweden, about 55 percent of children are born to unmarried mothers, but these kids don’t end up poor. They’re just as likely as kids of married parents to live a decent life. That’s because Sweden supports ample, affordable, high quality childcare and provides strong social support for families of all kinds. So mothers and children who don’t fit the traditional mold can thrive just as well as those who do.

At home, we’re starting to see some bold communities and work-places adapt to the changing American families–making it easier for parents to be loving, caring parents and work to their full capacity. California is now the only state in the nation to offer paid parental leave when babies are born. Several states are offering universal preschool. More and more companies are offering at least a little paternity leave to dads…and gradually, brave and loving fathers are daring to take it, despite fears about derailing their careers.

We need more families, lawmakers and communities to stand up and fight for more family-friendly workplaces and policies. If more companies and communities catch on to the real economic payoff of supporting families–happier, more productive, more focused workers who can tap into their full potential–we’ll be more competitive in the global economy.

When more companies and communities finally come to their senses, we’ll all have something to get excited about.

This article originally appeared on the Huffington Post.