Author Archives: Barbara Dab

About Barbara Dab

Barbara Dab is a journalist, broadcast radio personality, producer and award-winning public relations consultant. She is the creator of The Peretz Project: Stories from the Holocaust: Next Generation. The Peretz Project, named for her late father-in-law who was a Holocaust survivor, is collecting testimony from children of survivors. Check it out at www.theperetzproject.com If you, or someone you know, is the child of survivors of the Shoah, The Holocaust, and would like to tell your story please leave a comment and Barbara will contact you.

Havana: A City Caught in The Past But Looking Toward the Future

We recently spent two days in Havana, Cuba as part of a Caribbean cruise. As children who grew up in the 1960s and 70s, my husband and I know nothing of a world in which the tiny island was a hub of glamour, music, beauty, and of course, The Mob. So we were intrigued, and yet a little uneasy, to visit what is today a Communist country that is a mere shadow of it’s former self.

We began our visit with a lengthy wait on the ship to disembark. The line of cruise passengers snaked through the ship, down the gangplank and into the terminal. After making our way through immigration, passport control and security, we stepped out into the blazing sun, unsure of where to head first. We had scheduled our guided tour for the next day and planned to spend this first day exploring on our own.  IMG_3852

We crossed to the square across from the terminal, narrow streets falling away in different directions. We headed off down one of them, following the crowd. As we wandered some people checked us out, some ignored us, several people approached as we walked asking if we needed directions or wanted to book a tour or hire a taxi. Skeptical American tourists that we are, we tried to put them off and keep walking. After awhile it became clear that for these folks, cut off for decades from the U.S., seeing Americans on their streets is a curiosity. They want to engage in conversation, to learn about the world beyond their island.

During this first day, the sights, sounds, smells, were overwhelming. We’ve traveled to many countries, but nothing prepared us for this. Havana’s decay is stunning. Once beautiful colonial buildings barely hang onto life as makeshift homes and shops. The cobblestone streets can rise up at any time, so it’s important to have a steady foot and sturdy shoes.  IMG_3855

The most famous attraction of Havana is, of course, the cars. Those relics from the 1950s are everywhere! Some have been beautifully restored and serve as government run taxicabs and cars for hire. Some are simply held together by screw drivers and duct tape and are privately owned cars that also serve as makeshift taxis.  IMG_3871

As we explored, the sky turned dark, the air thick with humidity and of course, it began to rain. We saw cabbies run to cover their cars, scrambling to put the tops up on the convertibles. We ran for a local hotel and headed for the bar. This particular hotel is part of a European chain, part of the burgeoning partnerships between the government and the private sector. After enjoying a Cuban beer and listening to some music, the rain finally let up and we headed back to the ship to get ready for our evening.

After freshening up and relaxing a bit, we made our way off the ship, again through immigrations, passport control and security; though this time it didn’t take but a few minutes. We found a cab, a more modern car, which took us speeding along the coast to the Hotel Nacional de Cuba, where we had reservations to see the Cabaret Parisien show. During the drive, we were surprised to see hoards of people hanging out along the sea wall, relaxing, talking, drinking.

The hotel sits atop a hill overlooking the ocean. It is one of the few buildings we saw that first day that has been restored and maintained. After we were dropped off, we entered the lobby and walked through the doors to the outside grounds. The patio was alive with people having a drink at the outside bar, wandering the gardens and listening to a strolling mariachi-style band. Overlooking the cliffs, off in the distance, a rainbow began appearing, creating a beautiful photo op.  IMG_3896

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That evening’s cabaret show was a feast of sights and sounds as performers wove a story of Cuba’s cultural history. Our small table was right next to the stage so we didn’t miss a thing. It is worth noting that the food, although adequate, was pretty much what we had heard about government-run restaurants: bland and uninteresting. This is due to a lack of spices, herbs and fresh vegetables, which are expensive and in short supply. But the Mojitos were great!  IMG_3911

Day two, we were up and out early and made our way to the hotel where we were to meet our tour. Our guide was a young woman named Sady. She explained the day’s events, which would include a walking tour of Old Havana while she educated us on the city’s history and architecture. Of course no tour of Havana is complete without stopping at La Floridita, the bar frequented by Ernest Hemingway where he would enjoy the traditional Daiquiri.

Midday, we stopped for lunch at the home of one of Sady’s friends. This is a privately owned Palidore. These establishments are popping up throughout Havana as families try to supplement their meager government incomes. Some families, as was the case here, also rent rooms in their homes. We made our way up four rickety flights of stairs to the rooftop. There, under a gazebo and surrounded by mint bushes, was a table set for our group. We happily gathered around the table to relax, drink some ice-cold water and relax. We watched as our hosts snipped sprigs of fresh mint to make mojitos, while enjoying a 360 degree view of Havana.  IMG_3974

Lunch that day was a delicious feast of chicken, fish, fresh vegetables, fruit, potatoes and flan for dessert. Although government run restaurants offer up bland, colorless food, this family-run establishment featured the best of traditional Cuban cooking. The herbs are all grown in their garden and there was no lacking for spice and flavor. The meal was prepared and served by the family.  IMG_3973

Following lunch, we headed out for a ride in the cars! We chose the 1956 Chevy Bel Air convertible, newly restored, red with white leather interior. Off we went, with our driver winding us down the coast away from Old Havana, toward memorials to Che Guevara and Fidel Castro, through the neighborhoods where stately old homes abandoned by their owners during the revolution now stand as embassies, and through the Havana Forest.   IMG_3985

Our driving tour ended back at the Hotel Nacional where we gathered in the Mob Bar to relax and enjoy more Mojitos!  IMG_3998

During the course of our tour, I had the opportunity to talk to our guide about her life, her political views and her plans for the future. She lives with her mother and her boyfriend, has a Bachelor’s degree in psychology and is currently studying for her MA in Sexology and Emotional IQ. When I asked what she plans to do once she finishes her degree she told me she wasn’t sure, but since the education is free, she wanted to study what was interesting to her. She also explained that the banks do not extend credit so people generally don’t have bank accounts and cannot own a home or a car since everything must be purchased in cash. I asked if she is able to travel beyond Cuba. She explained that while Cubans are technically allowed to travel, they must pay hefty fees to apply for a visa with no assurance they will be granted one. Most people don’t even bother since those fees are nonrefundable. We discussed the current American political scene and she said people in Cuba are worried about the new administration’s plans to roll back the advances made by the Obama administration to encourage tourism.

As we approached the memorial to Che Guevara and Fidel Castro I asked her what people in her generation think about the future. She said most are not members of the Communist party and believe things will change. “Communism is an interesting philosophy,” she said, “but it doesn’t work in the real world.” It has been reported that Raul Castro will retire in two years and, with no immediate successor from his family, it’s unclear who or what is on the horizon for the Cuban people.  IMG_3982

My visit to Havana has stayed with me and I hope someday to return and see more of the countryside. I am still processing the trip, though it’s been several weeks since our return. With an uncertain future, both inside the country and between our two governments, one thing is sure: the basic curiosity to know about those different from ourselves, and the desire to find common ground. Even those living under a regime, effectively captive on their island, have dreams, thirst for knowledge, the desire to improve the world around them, hope and love for their families.  IMG_3843

About Barbara Dab

Barbara Dab is a journalist, broadcast radio personality, producer and award-winning public relations consultant.  She is the proud owner of Nashville Pilates Company, a boutique Pilates studio in Nashville’s Wedgewood/Houston neighborhood.  Check it out at  www.nashvillepilatescompany.com.  She is also the creator of The Peretz Project: Stories from the Shoah: Next Generation.  The Peretz Project, named for her late father-in-law who was a Holocaust survivor, is collecting testimony from children of survivors.  Visit http://www.theperetzproject.com.  If you are, or someone you know is, the child of survivors of the Shoah, The Holocaust, and you would like to tell your story please leave a comment and Barbara will contact you.

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Independence Day!

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Independent:   a (1) :  not subject to control by others :  self-governing (2) :  not affiliated with a larger controlling unit an independent bookstore b (1) :  not requiring or relying on something else :  not contingent an independent conclusion (2) :  not looking to others for one’s opinions or for guidance in conduct (3) :  not bound by or committed to a political party. Merriam-webster.com

Hmmm…so, based on that, are we ever really completely independent? I suppose when it comes to the notion of being self-governing, then I would say as a nation, we are independent. And while some may argue that, given recent election events, we have been the victims of outside influences, we are theoretically still an independent democracy.

But what about the concept of not looking for outside opinions or guidance? I’m not sure I agree that independence means not being open to ideas or opinions different from my own. In fact, I would argue that true independence requires research, information gathering and an exchange of ideas. In the absence of such, aren’t we just living in a vacuum? In order to make informed decisions, to exercise my independence, I must understand the context of the world around me. And, I must filter the information in light of my own values and experiences. Indeed, my natural curiosity drives me to seek input from a variety of sources.

When it comes to my business, I am constantly seeking advice, gathering input from experts, researching new concepts and ideas, conferring with my partner. Am I independent? Well, in the Merriam-Webster sense I guess I am. I’m not subject to the control of other, larger entities. And yet, decisions are made based on all of the above. And the demands and responsibilities of business ownership often leave me feeling less independent than I’d like. But in the end, this form of servitude and endless engagement are of my choosing. I can stay and fight the good fight, or I can walk away.

So I suppose that is my true independence. The opportunity to chose my path, using the knowledge gained through hard work and research, integrated with my personal values and instincts and viewed through the lens of my life experiences. And while I may agree with certain elements of the dictionary’s definition, I believe independence comes from within.   Our nation’s history is filled with those with the drive to discover and innovate, and with the confidence to raise their voice against all odds to speak truth to power. Today, on this Independence Day, let us all remember those Americans, and pledge to do our part to exercise our own independence to further both our individual goals and the to fulfill the promise of our country. Happy Fourth, everyone!

About Barbara Dab

Barbara Dab is a journalist, broadcast radio personality, producer and award-winning public relations consultant.  She is the proud owner of Nashville Pilates Company,a boutique Pilates studio in Nashville’s Wedgewood/Houston neighborhood.  Check it out at  www.nashvillepilatescompany.com.  She is also the creator of The Peretz Project: Stories from the Shoah: Next Generation.  The Peretz Project, named for her late father-in-law who was a Holocaust survivor, is collecting testimony from children of survivors.  Visit http://www.theperetzproject.com.  If you are, or someone you know is, the child of survivors of the Shoah, The Holocaust, and you would like to tell your story please leave a comment and Barbara will contact you.

Like what you’ve read? Feel free to share, but please… Give HerSavvy credit. Thanks!

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Finding Hope and Inspiration in a Life Well Lived

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These days it’s hard to feel inspired.  I wake up each morning worried and anxious about what new, manufactured, crisis was created while I slept.  I check the news outlets I believe are reliable so that I can try and anticipate what will come today, and I struggle not to panic and to keep focused on my personal goals.  It’s a challenge I’ve never faced, this difficulty feeling optimistic and inspired.

Last week’s New York Times published an Op-ed by David Leonhardt.  It was a eulogy of sorts for former PepsiCo executive Brenda Barnes.  Barnes made news 20 years ago when she quit her job to become a stay-at-home mom.  She died a couple of weeks ago, at the young age of 63, following a stroke.  After reading her story, I felt a spark of inspiration mixed with some hope.  You see, Barnes started the dialogue about work/life balance.  She was proof that it is possible to craft a meaningful life filled with work, parenting and personal growth.  She paved the way and while there is still much work to be done in the area of equal pay and workplace supported parenting, she elevated the topic.

To be fair, Barnes’ path was incredibly atypical.  After raising her kids, she was able to move back into the workforce as chief executive of Sara Lee.  Her legacy is carried through her middle child, 28-year-old daughter Erin.  She herself left a lucrative job a few years ago, so she could care for her ailing mother and today is pursuing a nursing career, one she finds more meaningful and adaptive to family life.  Erin acknowledges her mother’s unique opportunities, but the message remains the same.  At a family memorial for her mother, she implored everyone to remember her mother’s insistence that we not work too hard.

So why does Brenda Barnes’ life give me some hope and inspiration?  I also made life choices based on spending time with my children.  Sometimes I wonder, “what if,” but most of the time I’m happy with my choices.  Of course I’m just a few years younger than Barnes, so perhaps the path wasn’t as clear for me as it is for my daughter.  But therein lies my hope and inspiration.  I am hopeful that, thanks to women like Brenda Barnes, this next generation will move the needle farther.  Although women continue to pay a higher price for parenthood and making choices, I’m hopeful our voices are stronger and that we will continue to push harder.  I am inspired by Barnes’ story and of her lasting message that work isn’t everything, that life is precious and often too short, so it’s important to find meaning and purpose and, ultimately, love.

About Barbara Dab

Barbara Dab is a journalist, broadcast radio personality, producer and award-winning public relations consultant.  She is the creator of The Peretz Project: Stories from the Shoah: Next Generation.  The Peretz Project, named for her late father-in-law who was a Holocaust survivor, is collecting testimony from children of survivors.  Check it out at http://www.theperetzproject.com.  If you are, or someone you know is, the child of survivors of the Shoah, The Holocaust, and you would like to tell your story please leave a comment and Barbara will contact you.

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Thoughts for a Savvy New Year

new-year-2017Lucky me, I get to write the very first post of 2017! Most years I find it pretty easy to anticipate the New Year with excitement and optimism. I confess, this time it’s been much tougher. In many ways I feel worn out and beaten down. My usual sunny outlook has been dimmed by disappointment and shock at the anger and pain that bubbled just under the surface of our American psyche.

I’m trying to remember how I felt exactly one year ago. Was I excited? Optimistic? Joyful? Yes, yes and yes. Why? A new year is an unwritten story, a chance to start fresh, blah, blah, blah. No! Last year I was excited to usher in a new era in our history. There was the promise of more progress for women, minorities, LGBT, the differently abled, indeed for all of us. Because when one of us rises, we all rise together.

Today I feel afraid that the progress made in my lifetime could be pushed back and that my children and grandchildren will have to fight all over again. Irrational fears? Perhaps. But since there is only one way to go, forward, I am mustering my powers of optimism and hope. I’m practicing gratitude for my life, my good health, my family and friends and for all of the Savvy women who paved the way for me. Their fight was not in vain. I, and the women of my generation, will not forget and we will share the stories of those struggles with our daughters and granddaughters, and with our sons and grandsons. And the time will pass, and we will all be watching, working, safeguarding and remembering so that we can write the next chapter in our American history.

This is a new era, perhaps not the one we anticipated, but it is here nonetheless. Be vigilant, savvy readers, be hopeful, be joyful and most of all, love one another. Happy 2017 to all!

About Barbara Dab

Barbara Dab is a journalist, broadcast radio personality, producer and award-winning public relations consultant.  She is the creator of The Peretz Project: Stories from the Shoah: Next Generation.  The Peretz Project, named for her late father-in-law who was a Holocaust survivor, is collecting testimony from children of survivors.  Check it out at http://www.theperetzproject.com.  If you are, or someone you know is, the child of survivors of the Shoah, The Holocaust, and you would like to tell your story please leave a comment and Barbara will contact you.

Like what you’ve read? Feel free to share, but please… Give HerSavvy credit. Thanks!

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The Women’s Movement:  Still Work To Be Done

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My greatest role model was my mother, a true woman of the 1950s.  She was, and remains for me, the smartest person I’ve ever known.  She was college educated, well traveled, cultured, the only child of a high profile, socially and politically active local power couple.  But when she expressed her desire to become a lawyer, her father, the judge, encouraged her to become a teacher.  Much more appropriate for a woman, he told her.  Women lawyers at the time were considered, in her words,  “mannish,” and not attractive as wives and mothers.  And so she became a teacher, married, raised a family, cared for elderly parents, volunteered and eventually, re-entered her profession.  She was a voracious reader and encouraged discourse during family dinners.  No topic was off limits.

During my childhood in the 1960s and ‘70s I had a front row seat to watch the women’s movement unfold, although I was too young to be an active participant.  Sometimes I feel like I fell between the cracks; too young to claim the struggle and too old to be a real beneficiary of my older sisters’ fight.  And so I began my adult life without a template, my bra a bit singed but still intact, my mother’s encouragement that I could be anything I wanted ringing in my ears, but still unsure of how to carve out a path.

Over the years, I’ve managed to raise kids, own a business, return to grad school twice and become a community leader.  I’ve watched my daughter grow into a strong, independent, free thinker whose life choices so far are very different from my own.  She and her generation are the real legacy of those that fought the good fight.

And yet, there is still work to be done.  A few years ago we were shopping for a family car.  At the time, I was a stay-at-home mom and the car was for me to drive while schlepping kids around.  At the dealership, the salesman continually addressed my husband with details about the car, despite the fact that I was the one asking the questions.  At one point my husband, God love him, looked the salesman straight in the eye and said, “You should talk to her.  She’s the one who will be driving the car and she’s making the decision.”

I am now about to open a new business and on a recent afternoon, meeting with a leasing agent for a space, my business partner and I were encouraged to “work our feminine wiles,” to get a good deal.  My partner, who is much younger than I am, blew it off.  I, however, am still seething.  This man, about my own age, objectified us and when I called him out for his sexist stereotyping of us, he defaulted to the old, “I’m just kidding,” response.  It was not funny to me.

So what’s next?  At this time in our nation’s history, I fear the progress my older sisters fought for will be rolled back.  A journalism professor of mine, who’d been a wartime reporter in Vietnam, wrote about the influence of birth control on women entering the workforce.  Armed with the ability to choose when, and if, to start a family, women had more control over their lives.  So, too, with Roe v. Wade, women can control their own health care decisions.  Will this all disappear?  The public discourse today sounds to me like an old newsreel from my childhood.  Sadly, it’s not.

The Spanish philosopher George Santayana wrote in 1905, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”  And while it’s easy these days to give in to despair and fear, I am determined to remain hopeful and heartened.  I remind myself that everything changes and I can be a catalyst for positive change.  I also take heart as I watch my daughter embark on a career once reserved only for men, in the world of sports.  She has found a place in which to express her passion and talents and I hope she will also reach back into her history and know she stands on some very strong shoulders.

About Barbara Dab

Barbara Dab is a journalist, broadcast radio personality, producer and award-winning public relations consultant.  She is the creator of The Peretz Project: Stories from the Shoah: Next Generation.  The Peretz Project, named for her late father-in-law who was a Holocaust survivor, is collecting testimony from children of survivors.  Check it out at http://www.theperetzproject.com.  If you are, or someone you know is, the child of survivors of the Shoah, The Holocaust, and you would like to tell your story please leave a comment and Barbara will contact you.

Like what you’ve read? Feel free to share, but please… Give HerSavvy credit. Thanks!

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To Partner, or Not to Partner:  That is the Question

partnership

Although the calendar year is winding down, for me it is also the beginning of the year 5777, the Jewish New Year.  This means I get a second crack at New Year’s resolutions, a head start on planning for 2017 and also, thanks to several weeks of holidays, a renewed spiritual energy.  And it’s a good thing, too, because I have a feeling 2017 is going to be filled with change.

But I’m getting a little ahead of myself, so let me explain.  I am in the process of developing three different major professional projects.  Two of them are solely my own, but one of them involves a potential partner.  That is perhaps the project that is the most daunting and also the one that is currently the most fun.

I have never had a business partner before.  Many years ago I owned a small franchise business and although I was part of a supportive network of owners, I was pretty much on my own.  I enjoyed all of the success, but also shouldered all of the burdens.  This time around, I’m planning to partner with a friend, something most people run from.  But I am confident we have a very specific division of responsibilities and a very clear vision for what we want to create.  And while I have some anxiety over sharing control, I believe for now that it’s a worthwhile trade off.

I want to offer some tips for partnering because whether it’s with a friend or someone who is just a business associate, there are some things that are universal.

  1. Before deciding to partner, figure out if it’s really necessary. That sounds obvious, but many people get carried away with the idea of going into business with their BFF and before you know it, things are out of control.  Conversely, some people lack the confidence to go it alone and default to having a partner.  So ask yourself, “What do I bring to the table, and what is missing?”  If the missing skills and talents are things you can learn on your own, by all means try it.  If there are specific skills you lack that cannot be readily acquired, consider a partner.  Also consider your financial resources.  Do you need to invest with someone, or can you take the risk yourself?
  1. Once you decide you require a partner, work on developing your business plan together. TAKE. YOUR. TIME.  Do not rush this part of the process.  It is critical to the success of the partnership that you learn how to communicate and get to know each other’s quirks, strengths and weaknesses.  Even if you are friends, this is a new context for your relationship and it will take time to develop.
  1. Figure out how you will divide your responsibilities and financial resources. It is critical that you both have a clear sense of who is doing what.  Again, obvious maybe, but it’s amazing how quickly things can unravel in all the excitement and stress of setting up a new business.  This is a good time to consider consulting an attorney who can help you define the parameters of the partnership and it’s dissolution.  Kind of like a business pre-nup!
  1. Be patient! Setting up a business takes time.  Patience is definitely not one of my virtues, but I’ve been working at it.  It helps to make realistic goals and expectations.  Having a partner is beneficial for me because we keep each other in check and commiserate when things don’t go as planned.
  1. HAVE FUN! I know it’s business but really, why take the risk if you don’t believe in what you’re doing and it isn’t fun. Try to stay focused on your goals and find pleasure in the little things.  Finally getting a call back from a potential landlord after several attempts to connect, hearing potential clients tell you they can’t wait for your business to get going, finding out you can get a discount on some of your necessary materials.  Things like these add fuel to your dream.  Keep going, it’s worth it!

About Barbara Dab

Barbara Dab is a journalist, broadcast radio personality, producer and award-winning public relations consultant.  She is the creator of The Peretz Project: Stories from the Shoah: Next Generation.  The Peretz Project, named for her late father-in-law who was a Holocaust survivor, is collecting testimony from children of survivors.  Check it out at http://www.theperetzproject.com.  If you are, or someone you know is, the child of survivors of the Shoah, The Holocaust, and you would like to tell your story please leave a comment and Barbara will contact you.

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GETTING UNSTUCK

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A couple of wise and savvy women gave me some advice not too long ago that has proven invaluable and I’d like to share it with all of you.  I presented the notion that, for me, it’s tough to decide on a path because choosing one direction always means saying “no,” to another.  And since I have many interests, I often feel stuck deciding which to pursue at any given moment.  But the advice these fab friends gave me has really helped me get “unstuck.”

The first piece of advice was very concrete, maybe a bit obvious but it had eluded me.  Make a list of choices and then just pick one.  The key is to give myself a timeline, six months, a year, whatever, to try something and see how it goes. The timeline helps me feel less panicky that I have to live with my plan forever and never have the chance to move on.  It also helps to alleviate the guilt I feel when I don’t complete something and gives me permission to change the plan.

The second piece of advice was more introspective, but nonetheless helpful.  For a creative type like myself, or for someone with lots of interests, choosing one thing (or two, or more) means living with loss.  Loss of the path not taken, of the possibilities not pursued.  Most people are okay with that type of loss, or just don’t see it as such.  For me, the fear of leaving something behind is paralyzing.  But allowing myself to feel the loss, to grieve the interests not pursued, actually helps keep my life in perspective.  Nobody can do everything she wants.  Whether because of lack of skill, talent, resources or opportunity, some dreams are just that: dreams that fuel our imagination and keep us excited about living.

So, how have I applied all of this sage advice?  As always, I am constantly bombarded by new and exciting ideas, new paths to consider.  Should I stay home and write?  Should I partner with a friend in a new business venture?  Should I find a more secure, stable job?  The list goes on.  But these days when my mind starts to whirl, I remember my muses and stop for a minute.  I put pen to paper to create my list of priorities, think about a timeline for each and contemplate what is a real possibility and what is merely a dream that fuels me.  I can give myself permission to take a chance, the time to keep some options open and also allow myself space to grieve the losses.

For now, I have chosen to both pursue a new business venture and continue my writing career.  For now.  Because as surely as the seasons are starting to change, so too will my interests change, and now I have some tools to work that through.  And by the way, I think my dream of singing on Broadway may just be a dream.  But…you never know…

About Barbara Dab

Barbara Dab is a journalist, broadcast radio personality, producer and award-winning public relations consultant.  She is the creator of The Peretz Project: Stories from the Shoah: Next Generation.  The Peretz Project, named for her late father-in-law who was a Holocaust survivor, is collecting testimony from children of survivors.  Check it out at http://www.theperetzproject.com.  If you are, or someone you know is, the child of survivors of the Shoah, The Holocaust, and you would like to tell your story please leave a comment and Barbara will contact you.

Like what you’ve read? Feel free to share, but please… Give HerSavvy credit. Thanks!

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Books That Changed My Life

Reading

Growing up, I spent most of my free time with my nose in a book.  I was not athletic, I was not particularly popular, and lived in a crowded duplex with three generations of my family.  Reading was always my escape and I read voraciously.  My parents, both teachers, had shelves of books and I loved looking at them, touching them, flipping through the pages.  I can still picture the battered shelves with titles from O. Henry, Edgar Allen Poe, William Shakespeare, Sinclair Lewis and many more.

When I was in grade school, I loved reading biographies, primarily those of women,  Clara Barton, Louisa May Alcott, Marie Curie, Maria Tallchief and Isadora Duncan, just to name a few.  It was through the lives of these pioneering women that I could imagine a world of possibilities for myself.

It was around this time, that I also entered the world of fantasy through one of my all time favorites, “A Wrinkle in Time.”  Even today I continue to love stories about time travel.  There’s something about the mind-bending nature of the genre that keeps me thinking about it long after I’ve finished the last page.  I even enjoy films about time travel, yes, “Back to the Future,” never ceases to entertain me, and the romance of “Somewhere in Time,” still haunts.

As I grew up, I fell in love with mysteries.  Yep, I had a small collection of Nancy Drew stories, but I quickly moved on to Agatha Christie, an interest that continues to this day.  I love nothing more than to curl up with a good “whodunit,” especially when I’m on an airplane or on vacation.  Then, I can enjoy the whole book in one sitting!  Mystery readers know there is nothing more frustrating than putting the book down, only to return days (or weeks) later and not remember what is going on!

As an adult, I fell in love with Harry Potter, and the writing of J. K. Rowling when my son wanted to read the books.  I felt I should take a read, first, to make sure it was age appropriate for him.  Of course, he moved on and I was hooked.  Her writing was surprising, evocative and rich and I could not get enough.  Eventually, my younger son found the books and together we explored the magical world of wizards.

In recalling these books that changed my life, it’s clear to me that there is no one book that defines me. I guess if there is a theme, it’s that I am drawn to stories that spark my imagination, make me dream about the fantastic, and open my mind to a world of possibilities.

About Barbara Dab

Barbara Dab is a journalist, broadcast radio personality, producer and award-winning public relations consultant.  She is the creator of The Peretz Project: Stories from the Shoah: Next Generation.  The Peretz Project, named for her late father-in-law who was a Holocaust survivor, is collecting testimony from children of survivors.  Check it out at http://www.theperetzproject.com.  If you are, or someone you know is, the child of survivors of the Shoah, The Holocaust, and you would like to tell your story please leave a comment and Barbara will contact you.

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Leadership Lessons:  Think Before You Hit “Send”

Undo Undo

In my personal life, I am an unabashed optimist and someone who barrels through situations with abandon.  I’m not dangerously impulsive, but particularly when it comes to communication, I just lay my feelings right out there.  I express my thoughts freely both verbally and in writing.  When I’m emailing or texting with friends and family, for me, it’s all part of an ongoing conversation and I can “hear” my loved ones’ voices through their words.

But when it comes to business, I’ve learned that as a leader it’s imperative to proceed with caution.  When I began my tenure as President of my organization, I was eager to be available and responsive to my team and my constituents.  When I received an email or text, I would jump to respond, usually without considering the consequences.  But unfortunately there is no “unsend,” button.  Early on, I received an email from a member of my leadership team asking for an opinion on a policy issue.  I instinctively responded with my usual cheery encouragement to just go for it.  BAD MOVE!  I casually mentioned my decision to my predecessor who informed me a decision had already been made, before my tenure, to move in the opposite direction.  Oy!

After doing some damage control, I gave some thought to how I could better handle these types of situations.  First, and most obvious, is to control my urge to respond immediately.  While it’s important to be timely, it’s equally important to be thoughtful.  I need to take a breath and really consider the options, try to look at all sides of a situation and analyze the “what ifs.”  I also need to seek advice before issuing an opinion.  There are plenty of resources available to me and a good leader takes advantage of resources.  I can always give a quick, “I’ll get back to you on that,” response and then do my homework.  But it doesn’t serve anyone if I’m too eager.

So what’s the takeaway?  When you’re called upon for input, advice or to problem solve, especially when it’s via email or text, stop and think.  You have the luxury of taking some time to consider your answer, do your research, and consider your options.  I can’t count how many times recently I have started an email only to realize I wasn’t ready to answer, and hit the “delete,” button.  Don’t be afraid to take your time.  And remember: Think before you “send!”

About Barbara Dab

Barbara Dab is a journalist, broadcast radio personality, producer and award-winning public relations consultant.  She is the creator of The Peretz Project: Stories from the Shoah: Next Generation.  The Peretz Project, named for her late father-in-law who was a Holocaust survivor, is collecting testimony from children of survivors.  Check it out at http://www.theperetzproject.com.  If you are, or someone you know is, the child of survivors of the Shoah, The Holocaust, and you would like to tell your story please leave a comment and Barbara will contact you.

Like what you’ve read? Feel free to share, but please… Give HerSavvy credit. Thanks!

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Leadership Lessons:  It’s Not All Fun and Games

Fun and Games

 

I am, at heart, someone who loves to have fun and enjoy myself.  This does not mean I can’t be serious when the situation calls for it.  In fact my family members have been known to tell me to lighten up, take things easy, chill out.  But spending my time doing things that are meaningful and fulfilling, that add value to the world around me, brings me joy and pleasure.  I am also, by nature, an optimist and an extrovert.  This makes me, for better or worse, a natural cheerleader and people-pleaser.  Whether it’s encouraging my kids or spouse when they face challenges or telling a member of my leadership team that they should just “go for it,” when they have an idea for a program or fundraiser, I just can’t help myself.  The glass must always be half full, darn it!  Thankfully, I have a spouse and others in my support network who are realists and who can bring me down to earth when it’s time for some tough love.

This brings me to the hardest leadership lesson I’ve learned so far.  Sometimes it is out of my control to make things fun and joyful, for me and for those around me.  There are difficult decisions that must be made and not everyone will be happy with the outcome.  Being a leader means shouldering the burden and being willing to face criticism, and to answer for your actions or the actions of others.

I recently had to make such a decision, for the good of the organization.  I did my homework, consulted advisors both inside and outside.  I listened to opinions on both sides of the issue.  In the end, I made a decision that disappointed and hurt someone I care about.  I’m not going to lie, it sucks!  I do not like being that person who can’t please everyone.  And while I stand by my decision and feel confident I did the right thing, it has been tough going.

During the worst of it, someone whose opinion I trust and whose insights I value, said, “Being a leader is not all fun and games.”  An obvious thing, really, but that simple statement brought me comfort.  It gave me perspective and the permission to not please everyone all the time.  It also helped me to see that making a good decision, the right decision, can be satisfying on its own.  Even if I have to disappoint people, something I abhor, there is some pleasure to be had in taking the long view, in stepping up to lead an organization and knowing that this too shall pass.

This latest trial has left me with some scars and bruises, but I feel stronger and more confident as a leader.  I know that next time, and there most definitely will be a next time, I will be better prepared for the pain.  And while leadership isn’t all fun and games all the time, it is an experience I treasure and one I truly enjoy.

About Barbara Dab

Barbara Dab is a journalist, broadcast radio personality, producer and award-winning public relations consultant.  She is the creator of The Peretz Project: Stories from the Shoah: Next Generation.  The Peretz Project, named for her late father-in-law who was a Holocaust survivor, is collecting testimony from children of survivors.  Check it out at http://www.theperetzproject.com.  If you are, or someone you know is, the child of survivors of the Shoah, The Holocaust, and you would like to tell your story please leave a comment and Barbara will contact you.

Like what you’ve read? Feel free to share, but please… Give HerSavvy credit. Thanks!

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Filed under Business Savvy, Self Savvy