Archive for July, 2010

Note from Martha: Last week I wrote an article on Diversity and it provoked some pretty strong reactions (particularly from 2 white men). I answered each as best I could and encourage you all to go to my blog  click here and read the different opinions. Diversity is a volatile subject, but I believe it needs to be addressed and we need to continually be attentive to the role we play in perpetuating or undermining equal rights. Please register your opinions, too, by clicking here. It is through dialog that we can begin to understand ourselves and others.

I thought I’d devote one more WOW to this topic.

Just out of curiosity, why not take the following quiz to see what it might be like to establish diversity in one particular place of work – the newsroom – a place that generates what we read and see and influences the thinking of a society . . .

Diversity Game


“It matters that those who lead the newsroom understand every facet of the community they cover. It is in seeing ourselves whole that we can begin to see ways of working out our differences, of understanding our similarities.”
Robert C. Maynard, 1978






Are You Up for the Challenge?

Welcome to the online interactive game that challenges players to diversify a typical newsroom, while testing their basic knowledge of cultures.

You’ve just been appointed editor of a mid-size newspaper, and the publisher has asked you to move aggressively to diversify newsroom staffing and the paper’s content. You must set policy and make strategic decisions that will bring the racial makeup of your newsroom into parity with the surrounding community within four years.

There are 3 levels of difficulty to choose from. See how well you would do in such a situation. Then let me know your thoughts!


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“There never were in the world two opinions alike, no more than two hairs or two grains; the most universal quality is diversity.”

Michel de Montaigne


What does diversity mean?

It means variety.  It is the quality or state of being different.  It means a grouping of different entities, and for you and I, it would be people.

When you get a group of people who set themselves apart by socially defined boundaries such as race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, age, ethnicity, ability, appearance or socio-economic class, then you do not have diversity.  Creating a successful diverse environment occurs when you bring all types of people together without any kind of preconditioned discrimination that excludes anyone.  When the workplace embraces diversity, it gives everyone a level playing field on which to prove his/her qualities and commitment to excellence. 

What steps can we personally take each day to further diversity in the workplace?

  • First of all, we need to educate ourselves. 
  • We can read books written by and about people from other social groups. 
  • We can expose ourselves to as many people as we can who are from other groups. 
  • We can do our best to learn and understand their history, thinking, fears, humor and cultures. 
  • We must remain ever vigilant of our own internal fears, judgments and prejudices that we have unconsciously absorbed. 
  • When we become aware of them, it’s important to do our best to remove them. 
  • Make a point of connecting with all people in the workplace regardless of their role or position and constantly remind yourself you alone can make a difference in creating a world that works for everyone.  Every person matters and is valuable. 
  • Make certain that your desire to connect is genuine and not patronizing and remember that it is you who has something to learn. 

In the work place, society tends to give white men power and privilege. For the most part, they are not consciously placing themselves in that position, society is. So if you are a white male, be conscious of this and be sure to initiate inclusion. If you are a person from a diverse group, make certain you will not allow your diversity to diminish your personal power and purposefully include yourself in conversations with white men. When I hold myself as equal, then I notice that people tend to treat me that way. I believe it is up to each of us to make sure that we are treated with equality.  Eventually, you will rarely think of it. You’ll just KNOW you are equal and it won’t be an issue for you.  If it’s not an issue for you, it may not be for a majority of those who unconsciously hold power. It is also a good idea to be conscious of avoiding cliques of people who are from your same diverse group

  • Mentor people from other social groups and share some of the “tricks of the trade”. 
  • Do your best to seek out, develop and advance others who might normally be overlooked because they are “different” from the dominant group. In short, rigorously monitor yourself, your thinking, your actions and your results in order to make certain that you are never excluding anyone because of any prejudice or preconceived judgment.

As our world gets smaller and smaller perhaps we will someday come to realize that at the core we are all equal.


“Human diversity makes tolerance more than a virtue; it makes it a requirement for survival.”

Rene Dubos

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Your Vote Counts!

“It’s not what you have, it’s what you do with what you have that makes a difference.”

This week’s WOW is a little different. It’s about my friend Dennis Woldum who decided to make a difference . . .

Many years ago in St. Louis, Dennis Woldum attended my personal development seminar called The Basic Course. When it came his time to share, he said, quite sincerely, “I really don’t know why I am here. I have been very successful in my business, I have a beautiful family life, my health is good and I don’t really know what I need to do differently.” Realizing that no matter how good our lives are, there is always a next step of growth for all of us, I suggested that he take his positive energy and generate it for others who are in need in the community. And that’s exactly what he did. He joined forces with Gateway Greening, an organization that teaches people on the fringes of society how to farm, garden and landscape. The new farmers who are either currently dealing with or have been at risk of chronic homelessness, substance abuse or mental illness, then receive compensation for their produce from St. Patrick Center. This is not a charity! Gateway Greening teaches men and women in need how to farm (turning abandoned city lots and ugly eyesore land parcels into productive gardens) and then the organization gets out of their way allowing them to earn their own way with the skills they have learned.

As a result of the extraordinary participation of many people, including the unrelenting commitment and guidance of Dennis Woldum who has served on the BOD for 11 years, 6 yrs. as the Board Chair and now as Chair Emeritus,  Gateway Greening is one of four non-profits across the nation in the running for What Do You Care About TODAY?, a contest sponsored by the NBC® TODAY Show and the Pepsi Refresh Project granting one winning organization $100,000.

The winning organization will be announced July 7 live on the TODAY Show.  If they win, the prize money it will help them do more at City Seeds Urban Farm: more farmers, more experience for more months of the year, and as a result, more jobs. A true win/win.

Will you please support this outstanding organization which is bringing pride, self worth and self reliance back to so many people who otherwise would have been neglected and sleeping in the streets?

Vote online at http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/38027143/ns/today-what_do_you_care_about_today? from July 1 at 8 a.m. to July 6 at 8 PM CST.  You can only vote once.   

PLEASE BE AWARE! Voting can be confusing. You must hit the GREENING GATEWAY video first and then the SUBMIT VOTE button. If you happen to look at another video right before submitting your vote, your vote will go to that contender so make sure it’s the Greening Gateway video you’re watching right before you vote. It only takes a few seconds. 

Thank you so much. I truly know this is a worthy cause and I appreciate the support of your vote. Would you then be willing to please pass this on to your network as well, email lists, Facebook, Twitter, etc? It is a very easy way to make a difference.

Dennis is an example of someone who didn’t simply sit back on the success he had created in his life. He made a huge difference in his community and now his organization is being nationally recognized. Now that’s a real WOW! And I consider it worthy of MY vote! I hope you feel the same.

“What would you do if you knew the whole world was watching?”

Winston Churchill


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“When you are faced with a decision, make the decision as wisely as possible. Then forget it. The moment of absolute certainty never arrives.”

The young entrepreneur, fearing making a mistake and failure, was caught up in analysis paralysis. He knew he needed to make some decisions to get his business off the ground but he couldn’t decide which decisions were the “right” ones. Rather than take a chance he simply continued on the track he was on, keeping the business alive but not really thriving. That was also how he felt everyday when he went to work.

How many of us sometimes feel the same way in life? Everything is going along ok (small o and small k) but not great. Rather than doing something new, taking on a new challenge or looking for a way to grow and learn something new, rather than run the risk of losing what I already have (my “comfort zone”), I reject the opportunity to expand my horizons and end up maintaining the status quo.

However, it is important to note that any living organism at any moment in time, is either in the process of growth and living or decay and dying.” Just to stay put – to keep going through the “grind” of everyday living – eventually begins to affect your mental, emotional, physical and spiritual well being. One day you wake up. You are a lot older and you are still doing the same thing, still complaining about the same problems, still facing the same issues, still wishing things were different.

One way we torture ourselves into a lifetime of discontent is to analyze things to death. We look at all the positives and negatives. Each choice of direction could be something great, but then again . . . and we take ourselves through another cycle of alternatives . . .

“You’ll never plow a field by turning it over in your mind.”
Chinese saying

I’m not advocating making irrational, impulsive choices. It’s wise to carefully think through important decisions. Explore the pluses, minuses and alternatives, but then, for the sake of your sanity and success, make a decision and act upon it! Successful people take calculated risks and then, they do whatever it takes to make their choices work. There’s a time to think and there’s a time to act. Thoughts without some kind of action are worthless. By endlessly churning around endless possibilities, you may be deluding yourself into believing you are doing something, but you aren’t. You’re stuck and can’t get out unless you take some kind of decisive action.

What decision have you been sitting on?
What have you always wanted to do/have/be and have not yet taken the steps to make it your reality?
How long will you wait?
What actions do you need to take today?


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