Olivia. Male and Female Experience, Working Mothers

posted November 5th, 2009 by Janet Graham - Leave a Comment

Male and Female Experience


I asked Olivia to offer her impression of the difference between her experience and the experience of a male colleague. And she said:  “Well it’s sort of like when I was younger and working at the grocery store. When a woman doesn’t have any time for herself, it means that she has a job.  You know guys go out and have their golf games and they go to the Super Bowl and they go to the hockey game at night and do all that and that actually is a social time for them.  For me, that’s just an obligation, having to go out.  When I want to have time for myself I don’t want to do that. Men come home and they golf on the weekends and, you know, again I want to be with my kids because I miss my kid time.  Men generally delegate that to their wives and others.  So I think women always have a job.  It just doesn’t stop.  So it’s just different. And men only do one thing at a time.  Women are doing eight things all the time.  We’re doing it all the time.  I never do one thing at a time”. 


She continued saying: “So I think that’s the difference.  I think that’s why so many women quit.  They just get tired.  It’s really tiring, you know, you get up and go to the gym at six in the morning and do an exercise class because you don’t have time at lunch.  And I think women are way more loyal. In Warren Buffet’s book… if you get a chance to read Snowball it’s a fabulous book… he talked about women and he said, you know, always hire a woman.  He said they’re more loyal and they work harder.  Doesn’t that just sum it up?  Doesn’t that just sum it up?  They’re not trying to eat your lunch.  They’re more loyal, they work harder; that’s it”.


Working Mothers


Olivia said she thought young women would be very interested in the interplay between home life and work and how it looks from the lens at the back end of your career.  And I asked Olivia whether she had any regrets about being a working mother and she said: “None.  None.  Zero.”


She said she thought we should focus a little on: “the part about the overlay of your personal life and business life because it’s a big thing for women, balancing it out, figuring out if you’re kids are fine and trying to figure all that out and it’s a hard thing to answer but it’s an important thing for young women.  I know the young women we hire, they question whether to start in this business, work all those years, and then go to have a family and discover it’s over for them.  You know that fear of whether your kids will turn out alright.  I don’t know, they seem to be pretty good kids but would they have been better off if I was at home.  I took a sabbatical about five years ago, I took three months off. I thought three months was better than nothing.  I was the only one on the executive team to ever do it and then a number of the guys did it after me which was interesting, I did it just to see if everything was okay because you’re so busy you don’t even know really.  So I spent the summer basically golfing with a bunch of 13 year-old boys and by the end of it the boys said to me, mum, go back to work”. 


She says: “I think I’m a better mother for having been at work, for me, not for anybody else, but for me because like the girl that went to work when she was 13, I would never have been happy at home… it wouldn’t have worked for me to stay home.  I did the little trial thing in Vancouver for a year.  I discovered I wasn’t done working yet and here I am.  People say you’ve been saying every year since you were 40 that you’ll retire in five years and I will eventually.  I’m at that stage now where I sort of see it, I get it, but I wouldn’t have traded it for anything and I think my husband… certainly for my marriage, I’m a better wife being a working wife.  I think I’m a better mother for being a working mother.  If I’d had a job that was a little less demanding, that would have been nice, but I like this job so I think it was worth it”.


Olivia credited her husband for introducing her to other mums. She says they are her good friends today. They do a golf trip every year and other things together. She says: “a couple of them have said to me, and they’re a little younger than me, they’re questioning staying at home and they look and say you’ve got the perfect life.  No.  It’s funny you know, it really does boil down to you and you should pay attention to who you are and what you like when you’re younger because it doesn’t change as you get older, it just redefines itself in different ways, but if you’re a person at 31 who has to have their independence that’s who you are.  You’re not going to change that.  Same as when you are 45 or 50, you’re going to feel the same way so you have to pay attention to that”.


What’s Next?


I asked Olivia what’s next for her and she said: “Well I’m going to finish up what I’m working on.  I was going to be pretty much done with working but I am probably going to take on a little bigger job for the next couple of years because it’s the right thing to do. After that, I want a clean break. I don’t want to work like this anymore and you can’t slow down there.  I’d love to do something completely different.  I don’t know whether I would go back to university or go back to art school.  I still have all my painting stuff which I like to do but I never have time to do and I find the right brain/left brain switch too hard.  Maybe I would do some Board work because I find that interesting, for big companies. I would do a little bit of that, commit myself to a couple of those things and then use the other side of my brain and lie on the couch and read a book.”


What Strikes Me?


Knowing yourself and being honest with yourself are critical


Pay attention to who you are and what you like when you are younger because it doesn’t change as you get older, it just redefines itself


Men do one thing at a time; women do eight


Warren Buffet thinks women are more loyal and they work harder… he is a really smart guy!!



What Strikes You?


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