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  • Written by Joni Daniels
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Power Tools for Women

Plugging into the Essential Skills for Work and Life

Written by Joni DanielsAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Joni Daniels

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Your Personal Tool Kit for Power—at the Office and at Home

In her popular “Power Tools for Women” workshop, management consultant Joni Daniels teaches women how to be more effective and efficient at work and at home. The key is to tap into the metaphor of the tool kit. Too few women grow up wielding power tools and enjoying the sense of accomplishment and self-sufficiency they impart. With her new book, Daniels equips you with eleven power tools—invaluable skills you can transport between work and home. With conviction and a dose of humor, she explains how and when to use them to be more successful in every part of your life. Your new tool kit includes:

* The Demolition Hammer: to break the rules
* The Electrical Sensor: to follow your intuition
* The Power Drill: to get the right information
* Safety Goggles: to create your vision of success . . . and more

Whether you’re juggling work/life responsibilities, reentering the employment market, or striving to achieve your goals, this book will give you the right tools for the job.


The Toolbox

Portable Power

Do you panic when you discover that you’ve left the house without your purse? I do. It contains my wallet that holds cash and credit cards, my driver’s license, and the required insurance information. It’s got my Palm Pilot ready with my schedule, every phone number I could ever need, and a list of the things I must remember to do.

These are my essentials, what I need to stay on track. Your essentials might include a cell phone, Filofax, or paperback. You might sling a small tote or a major briefcase. But no matter what you carry or how you carry it, you probably feel you’re packed and ready for whatever might come your way.

It’s also important to remember your toolbox. Your “toolbox”? Sure. It’s as vital to your success in business and at home as your other bag of tricks. Think I’m joking? No, I’m not suggesting you carry around thirty different screwdrivers or a fifty-pound steel sledgehammer. I’m talking about powerful interpersonal skills like a Power Saw to cut away the people and situations that drag you down, an Electrical Sensor to pick up the signals you miss from other people and the clues your internal voice wants you to hear, and nine other tools I’ll show you how to pack and use in this book. As it increases your effectiveness and efficiency, the right Power Tool can make a world of difference in your success both in the workplace and at home.

You Already Own a Toolbox

Whether you spend your days in the boardroom or the classroom, in the administrative office or on the sales road, in the skyscraper or the split-level, there are certain essential tools you need to build a structure for personal satisfaction and professional success. And, unlike those other gadgets that you shed with your panty hose when you arrive home, your toolbox, if you use it often and consciously enough, will stay with you wherever you go. The good news is that you probably already own a lot of Power Tools, but you haven’t learned how to apply them universally. In this book, I’ll show you how to use every Power Tool and how to exploit them to your best advantage. This book will allow you to view situations at work and at home with the same clarity, and to deal with your boss, coworkers, spouse, children, and friends more effectively using the Power Tools that you have at your fingertips.

Who Needs Another Gimmick?

Does the idea of the toolbox strike you as too gimmicky to be useful? Some women who attend my seminars are initially reluctant to embrace the metaphor. A few even admit to some not-so-gentle ribbing they’ve taken from men about my whole Power Tools concept. However, as I explain more about the concept, these same women are quickly converted to Power Tool owners and supporters, because the messages resonate with their own experiences. As girls, many were told they couldn’t handle real power tools, but today women are putting hammer to nail and plaster to wallboard in growing numbers. In the workplace, they receive both implicit and explicit messages about their inability to handle genuine authority and position, as well as the extended dues paying that’s required to qualify them for advancement and opportunities. They now see that the idea that women can’t handle authority is another work of fiction.

Some people may joke about the Power Tools concept, but it’s an efficient shorthand. There are lots of smart gimmicks serving as memorable attention-grabbing devices: chicken soup makes you feel better; you can understand just about anything explained for dummies; people from different planets, like Mars and Venus, need help communicating; and Power Tools are portable devices that make you more effective wherever you go.

Why Write Power Tools for Women?

For over twenty years, as a business and management consultant, I’ve talked about Power Tools to both men and women. Without fail, the men ask for validation that the solutions they already use are the best ones. But the women often hesitate and instead ask, “How can I become more powerful?” We don’t seem to know that we already hold powerful tools in our hands!

I also realized that men can turn to their dads, mentors, friends, or bosses (aka the “old-boy network”) to learn about Power Tools, but women can’t ask their mothers about Soldering Irons to forge stronger interpersonal connections on the job. We can’t question our book club sisters about Batteries and Rechargers to get the energy we require to struggle through an upcoming ordeal. And if we don’t get a grip on our own toolbox, we won’t ever be able to equip our own daughters with such fundamentals as Safety Goggles, which allow us to picture a clear goal and share it with those who will help it become a reality.

That’s why you have this book: to level the floor and learn the secrets that men already know and women are longing to learn.

Baby boys and baby girls start life with identical Power Tools and equal potential for their use. Traditionally, Industrial Arts class was the boys’ domain. Girls were encouraged to become adept at developing expertise with the tools of the kitchen and sewing nook. We became masters of the pinking shears and the electric mixer. Consciously and unconsciously, girls learn a discrete set of “girl skills” and are encouraged to forget some of our more universal tools completely.

The women in my seminars give me the same examples of this compartmentalization of skills over and over. Lisa’s mother told her to “hide her brain” to attract boys. Sheila figured out in class that she should never show her real feelings. Meg’s boss told her that arguing would alienate managers. Sandy learned from TV and magazines that she should focus on her appearance. Lila, who is single with three children, once declined a promotion because she felt her male colleague, the primary breadwinner in his family, “deserved” it more. Today, they’re amazed by their willingness to accept such limitations. But at the time, they behaved according to the loudest voice in their brains, the voice that pushed for them to relinquish their power.

When we were boxed out of shop class, we were also boxed out of the power and autonomy it would have provided us. Those messages didn’t disappear when we became women. They were stored away in our brains for later use. Now, when we are asked to pick up a drill, it feels unfamiliar and cumbersome in our hands. We don’t think of power tools as instruments for women. Do you want something done that requires a power tool? Call your dad, brother, husband, or son, or hire a handyman.

Times have changed. Shop class is encouraged for the entire student body, but it’s still not a place where the girls outnumber the boys. The corporate doors have opened wider for women, with business schools and law schools touting their highest percentage of women graduates ever. But managing partners and CEOs are still predominantly male, even after years of women filling the pipeline for the top slots.

Women reflect their discomfort with Power Tools even in the way we speak. Men use the declarative voice. Their sentences are strong statements that end with a period or an exclamation point.

“I have an idea that you’ll like.”

“I’m going to the meeting.”

“I’m not interested right now.”

“This will be great!”

Women use other punctuation. Their sentences are generally more tentative and end with dashes, commas, hyphens, or question marks.

“I think I have an idea that you’ll like--”

“I’ll be going to the meeting?”

“I’m don’t think I’m interested right now . . .”

“This could be great?”

Women need to embrace not only all kinds of punctuation but also every skill that can be used to our advantage, setting aside gender bias. We can speak in the declarative voice. We can acquire new skills with each of our Power Tools and add to our current proficiency. We need to use our tools, not trade them.

You possess the skills required for success in any shop class. Imagination, dexterity, and persistence are abilities you use, though maybe not at a workbench. Remove the gender-laden smoke screen from the hardware store, and you can plug in a Power Saw and eliminate unnecessary barriers. With preparation and practice, it’s fun to have power in your hands and use it with precision to accomplish your goals. It’s easier to use Power Tools than you thought. You’ll wonder what the big deal was, and you’ll want to use your Power Tools more often.

What Holds Us Back

Patty had been employed with a local college for many years when a dean’s position became available. As she reviewed the requirements, she recognized that her previous positions had provided her with the experiences needed to qualify for the job, yet she didn’t think she had much of a chance at being considered for it. Patty assumed that this position would go to someone who had a Ph.D., but at the prodding of her counterpart at another college, she submitted her application. She was astonished when she was offered the job. Patty had been paying attention to the voice in her head that was whispering, “You aren’t a dean.”

Given Patty’s wealth of experience and great employment history, where did that voice come from? She told me that when she was in the fifth grade, she struggled with math. When her math wizard brother would tutor her, he was amazed at how much trouble she had with the subject matter. “How stupid can you be?” he would ask, annoyed with her inability to replicate his success. Patty learned quickly that in order to avoid that terrible sinking feeling when a poor test grade was returned, she would have to work harder to get the same grades as her classmates. Even then, she inevitably fell short of her brother’s success. At fifty-six, she still feels driven to work twice as hard to be considered for the same positions as her male colleagues. The excessive efforts she makes to bolster her confidence sufficiently have become a burden. The voice in her head was created for a struggling fifth-grade math student, not a grown woman with an impressive work history. Patty is ready to bring her toolbox with her to the office.

Patty, like many women in my seminars, works hard to avoid appearing “less than” in any way. To avoid that feeling of discomfort, and to reduce our feelings of inadequacy, many of us overcompensate with overkill. Cautioned to be careful while our brothers are encouraged to take risks, we work vigilantly to insure our safety, supporting ourselves with a long list of accomplishments, even better if it’s a longer list than a male counterpart’s. We need the confidence of Power Tools to enjoy our accomplishments; not hide behind them.

Nothing to Fear but Fear

You may not always feel like using your Power Tools. Not everyone is interested in doing home-improvement projects over the weekend. You may be more inclined to delegate or decline some tasks. But having the ability to grab your Power Tools and use them with skill means you have the advantage of determining if and when you will use them.

The factors that make women disinclined to use Power Tools are many: society, mothers, fathers, school, religion, corporate America, the media, and history all play a part. But while the other factors may be out of your control, you can control your thoughts and your actions. When it comes to using Power Tools, the biggest problem is your own behavior.

Logic alone is not persuasive. If it were, we’d read the warning on a pack of cigarettes that smoking causes cancer and toss it in the trash. You’d read this book and determine that using Power Tools in all domains of your life is the obvious choice. The logic would be linear, pure, and simple:

I own a set of Power Tools. ? When I use them, I can accomplish my goals. ? My goals are important. ? Doing important things makes me happy. ? I want to be happy. ? I’ll use my Power Tools.

If it’s so reasonable, what’s the problem? Well, logic is one thing, and fear is quite another. Logic doesn’t address the emotional component that makes up a big part of our fear.

Fear of consequences

What happens if I don’t use a tool well?

What will people think if I use this tool?

What happens if I look foolish?

What happens if the tool doesn’t work?

Fear of using power

When other people use power, I lose out. Therefore, if I use power, someone will lose out.

It isn’t ladylike to be powerful.

A woman who uses power is a bitch.

If I don’t use power, someone will come along and help me.

Fear of appearing disingenuous

I don’t want to be someone I’m not.

Using tools should come naturally.

I don’t want to manipulate others.

Fear of failing

If I can’t use my Power Tools, things really are hopeless.

If I don’t do this well, I’m a failure.

If I can’t improve in my use of tools, I’ll disappoint others and myself.

I’ll feel worse if others can use Power Tools and I can’t.

How can we handle our fear of consequences?

* What happens if I don’t use a tool well? Since you already have some experience with this tool, you have the potential to get better at using it.

* What will people think if I use this tool? They’ll be impressed that you are seizing your own power.

* What happens if I look foolish? You will look like you’re learning. (And after some time has passed, you may be able to laugh at yourself.)

* What happens if the tool doesn’t work? Then something else will.

How can we reduce our fear of using power?

* When other people use their power, I lose out. Therefore, if I use my power, someone will lose out. Just because other people abuse their power doesn’t mean you have to do the same or that you will. You can also choose to use your power to help others.

* It isn’t ladylike to be powerful. Power is a noun, not a gender.

* Power = Aggressive = Bitch. The B-word is a strategy used by others to keep you from using your power. A bitch uses power without respect. You can choose to be powerful and respectful.

* If I don’t use power, someone will come along and help me. Don’t bet on it. You don’t need to wait for someone else in order to be more effective. You shouldn’t wait.

how can we reduce our fear of appearing disingenuous?

* I don’t want to be someone I’m not. You’re not pretending to be someone else when you use Power Tools. You are just behaving in new ways.

* Using tools should come naturally. Some of them do come naturally. Some will require a bit more effort. Driving your car is an acquired skill.

* I don’t want to manipulate others. Power Tools are used to exercise more control over yourself, not others.

How can we reduce the fear of failing?

* If I can’t use my Power Tools, things really are hopeless. You can use them and you already have used them.

* If I don’t do this well, I’m a failure. As long as you’re working on using your Power Tools, you aren’t failing.

* If I can’t improve in my use of tools, I’ll disappoint others and myself. Realistic expectations will buoy your spirits. Improvement comes in small increments as well as larger ones.

* I’ll feel worse if others can use Power Tools and I can’t. You can use every single Power Tool. The degree to which you excel in ability is unique to you. Using your Power Tools is not a competition.

We Are Ready and Willing, But Something Holds Us Back

There are times when the idea of taking hold of our Power Tools is appealing but something holds us back. We compare ourselves to others and feel inadequate.

Grace was very eager to start working with Power Tools. She was earning a great income, owned her own home, and was raising a daughter from her first marriage when she met John. Remarried at the age of twenty-nine, she found herself quite willing to hand her hard-earned independence and power over to her new husband. She quit her job and became a stay-at-home mom. Grace felt that she had already proved to herself that she could accomplish a great deal and was eager to live a life of relative leisure.

However, when Grace was forty-one, a new clarity about her life emerged. She now wanted to reclaim her power, return to school, keep her marriage strong, and determine what she wanted from the next phase of her life. She said it wasn’t always easy to figure that out.

“I can take something simple, like having people over for dinner, and what was a barbecue with hot dogs and burgers on the grill rapidly becomes lobster and caviar with a band,” she told me. “Being a perfectionist, I can’t seem to do things minimally. I need to take some pressure off myself. Take, for example, something simple like meals. People don’t come to eat a gourmet repast; they come to be with me. I try to remember what someone once told me: ‘Never compare your insides with other people’s outsides!’ I look at others, like my stepmother, and think that they’re doing it right: the perfect job, a wonderful house, and an ideal life. I assume they have it all together. It makes me feel like I’m in a competition--one that I’m losing. But I’ve learned that we all have our own stuff. I remember that when I start practicing with my Power Tools. It helps me keep my focus on myself.”

Grace needs to grab a Power Tool, like her Safety Goggles, and set some well-defined goals of her own. Envisioning an enjoyable, low-stress dinner with guests, a return to school, or a smaller house can help her get the self-focus she needs to move forward.

We Are Stuck

If you have strength and don’t realize it, then that strength has little value for you. If you appreciate your strength but fail to exercise it, others won’t be aware of it and will act as if it doesn’t exist. Your history with Power Tools is no indication of how successful you will be with them in the future. Every single opportunity to use a Power Tool is a chance to succeed.

Maggie was at a crossroads in her career. She needed to decide if she wanted to stay on the management track in her firm or become an individual contributor. The pressure she felt about her situation was consuming her, making her unable to go forward.

As long as you are consciously using your Power Tools, you are taking action. And taking action enables you to move forward. The choice between a management track and a nonmanagement track should certainly be considered carefully. Discovering the answers to the following questions will allow Maggie to decide which Power Tools to use when she is ready to proceed.

* If I do this job for three years, how will I talk about it?

* How will I present this position to others?

* Will I be okay presenting this position that way?

* If I continue my professional pace, how will I talk about it?

* How will I present it to others?

* Will I be okay presenting myself that way?

* Which choice feels most like me right now?

* Can I make this decision and move forward without too many backward glances and what-might-have-beens?

Maggie’s Power Tools will allow her to think ahead, to anticipate not only how others will view her actions but also how she will deal with that situation. She can use the necessary Power Tools to develop her confidence. The more confidence she has, the more she will use her Power Tools. It’s a lot like the old chicken-or-egg argument. It’s hard to know what comes first, but your confidence and your Power Tools go hand-in-hand. If you have one, you can have the other.

We must remember why we’re using these skills in the first place. It’s important to keep the goal in view if we want to overcome the fear of what others might think and to quiet that voice in our head telling us to forget what we want and just be happy with whatever we can get.

Sticks and Stones

Not only might other people harbor negative thoughts about our behavior, they might even say what they are thinking. While a man may feel a certain male pride if he is referred to as a “tough bastard,” a woman feels cut to the core when she is called a “bitch.” When you’re using the Power Tool designed to help you hold your ground and fight for what you want, being called a bitch is actually a sign of progress! You’ll learn to use your Power Tools to give up the fear of being labeled as someone who knows how to use power. You might even learn to laugh about it, finding humor in a situation where a well-paid adult is resorting to childish name-calling.

Your personal power is the only type of power that matters. Job titles come and go. Personal power comes with you. You own it and you choose how, when, and where to use it. When you are the source of your own power, you fuel it with your confidence--a precious creation built with your Power Tools.

Millions of women have been unable to push past the fear and grab the tools they already possess and desperately need. Do they just need someone to tell them that they can?

No. A simple, straightforward word of approval won’t move you to grab the tool that fits your hand, matches your strength, and is designed for the work you want to do. You need more than insight and awareness to change behavior. Knowing about Power Tools is only one step in the process. You also need to understand:

* What the tools are

* The purpose of each tool

* How to identify where and when you’ve used a tool successfully

* How to identify where and when you could use a tool but aren’t currently using it

* What’s stopping you from using the tool you want

* How to create strategies that will put the needed tool in your hand

* How to practice

* How to achieve mastery

You can start by eliminating two behaviors that add clutter to your toolbox: habit and speed. Do they sound familiar to you?

Habit. You don’t pick the right tool from your toolbox simply because you’ve never used it in a particular situation. Even though you are an interpersonal skill master on your job, you drop the toolbox at your front door. Maybe you have the family and home routine down pat, but your toolbox never gets through the office door. As a creature of routine, you tend to stick to your patterns, and when, like cement, they harden into habits, they’re tough to break. Just because you’ve gotten used to the way things are doesn’t mean that you don’t hunger for something that allows you to feel more competent. It can be hard to break an unproductive routine.

Speed. You’re the victim of your schedule, cramming as much as you can into a finite twenty-four hours. Any reflection is done on the fly, between errands or chores. You leave strategizing to those who have the luxury of spare time. You want more control but are too busy to take it, plan for it, or think about how you might attain it. You tell yourself that taking a break might make perfect sense for someone else, but they probably don’t have all of your activities, concerns, and responsibilities. You have too much to do and too little time in which to think about getting it all done.

I see women often caught up in chaotic routines that don’t really work well, unable to grab any Power Tool that might help. In this book, I will show you how to solve the time crunch and replace your bad habits with a good habit--using your Power Tools. Through practice and mastery of your Power Tools, you’ll connect with your good judgment and disconnect yourself from unproductive behaviors.

The Power Within

I’ll tell you a secret. This book is about real power and power is a tricky thing for women. We want to have it, but fear others knowing we do. We want the results that come with power, but in our dreams, the world gives them to us covertly. We’d like others to magically read our minds. That way, things would go our way, but we wouldn’t have to deal with any of the unpleasantness that might result if we had used our power!

The woman who wields too much power is resented or viewed as ruthless or controlling. Afraid of this image, we often give our power away. We let our tools fall from our capable hands and squander our most valuable resource.

Consider the women whose power and success are denigrated or unacknowledged:

* While many attest to the intelligence and acumen of Hillary Clinton, whenever she asserts herself, her popularity rating goes down in the polls.

* When Dr. Laura Schlessinger, radio talk show host and advice columnist, tried to advance her visibility to the next level with a television show, there was a backlash and her show was canceled, even though her message had stayed the same.

* Newspaper articles trumpet that 50 percent of MBA graduates are women; yet only a small number of women are in senior management positions.

* Martha Stewart is perhaps the most successful entrepreneurial businesswoman in the United States. Financial records were set when her self-named company went public. Yet she is the object of much public scorn and parody for her message of empowerment for homemakers.

* Oprah Winfrey’s highly visible conglomerate Harpo is successful in television, movies, publishing, the Internet, and media production, and her personal worth is routinely touted on the financial news. Yet the media often focus on her marital status and weight instead of her philanthropic work and financial success.

While these successful women may be given their due begrudgingly, it comes with a personal zinger aimed to hurt. Small wonder women are reluctant to claim their own power.

The Home/Work Dilemma

When I talk to women at corporate and professional development seminars about using all their skills, they tell me, “I can do this at work but not at home.” “I can do this at home but not with my church group.” “I can do this with my sisters but not with my mentor.” “I can do this with my IT director but not my child’s teacher.” I listen to them and focus on the first half of each of these statements: “I can do this. . . .” They’ve said it themselves! All they have to do is figure out how to transfer that success to a new relationship in a different place. You can do it, too. You’ve got the tools.

Emma recently purchased her first house at the age of forty-three. She felt overwhelmed with all the things that she now had to do to manage the logistics of home ownership. A psychologist with a successful practice, a fulfilling social life, and a book about to be published, she was pretty accomplished in many other areas of her life. It dawned on her that she could probably figure out how to use a power drill. Learning how to use this real tool felt wonderfully empowering. Using the same drill metaphorically at work provides the same fulfillment.

Marie is a competent high school music teacher and director of the school musical, which is a huge success each year. She manages a technical crew, a musical score, a small orchestra, and teenage thespians--all on a school budget. She calls on volunteer parents, rounds up donated costumes, and works with a secondhand score. Yet when Marie plans the annual Thanksgiving feast for her family, she leaves her toolbox behind. She loses track of her objectives. The limits she’s set dissolve when she takes on the monumental task of feeding her finicky family: a macrobiotic daughter, traditional stuffing-and-cranberry-sauce in-laws, a junk-food-addicted son, and a low-salt, no-fat spouse. Marie is the same person. The situation is not. What’s the consequence for Marie when she forgets to use her Power Tools? A Thanksgiving dinner disaster.

Shelby needs a push to get her to grab her Power Tools, too, and the ability she taps into when coordinating her home life reveals her capacity for insight and delegation. Her family consists of four children in various stages of high school and college and a husband who has gone back to school full-time after a midlife career readjustment. Her parents, divorced for many years, live in a neighboring state and have a variety of physical ailments and concerns. Visits to her parents include a thorough check of financial and medical matters, a survey of foodstocks, and conversations with neighbors and physicians. Shelby leaves no detail to chance during her visits, knowing that her parents will give her only limited information over the phone. At home, Shelby has worked to build a family that is both independent and responsible. She makes sure family members handle meals, laundry, cleaning, and school assignments. She does it all with calm and focus.

Yet, when Shelby heads for her job as the director of marketing for a large financial services organization, her Power Tools are nowhere in sight. She appears scattered and unfocused at work. Her frantic staff and seemingly indifferent vendors appear to have no idea what to do without close direction and are unable to solve problems without her involvement. She finds herself scrambling to meet deadlines, seldom anticipates problems that occur, rarely clarifies goals for others, and seems to have no time to provide training and coaching so critical for people’s success. Usually, Shelby finds herself doing many jobs in addition to her own, often rushing to last-minute, out-of-town press checks. Shelby is the same woman, even though the situation is different. What’s the consequence for Shelby when she forgets to use her Power Tools? A marketing department debacle.

Marie should start by eliminating her bad habits. Even though she’s a master in the theater department at work, she drops her toolbox at her front door. A creature of routine, she tends to stick to those old patterns. Marie might be afraid of what her in-laws will say if she asks for their help. She might be anxious that her husband will think less of her for delegating tasks. She also spends so much time squiring her son to band practice or following her daughter through the aisles of the department store that she doesn’t have a spare moment to think about other solutions. Meanwhile, there are tools Marie might use to crack her ineffective habits of taking total responsibility for all aspects of a major holiday dinner and trying to meet the demands of all those picky eaters. She could measure, set limits, and try to see the humor in attempting to run her home like a four-star restaurant.

Shelby may have the family and home routine down pat, but her toolbox never gets through the office door. Certainly the culture of work can lend itself to a more reactive posture. But just because Shelby has gotten used to the chaos doesn’t mean that she, her staff, and her vendors don’t hunger for something that allows them to feel more competent. It’s hard to slow down or stop chaos, but there are Power Tools that Shelby might use to break the unproductive routine.

We Don’t Recognize the Fit

Sometimes the first step in getting ready to use your Power Tools is the awareness that you need them. Marie has to recognize that the same Power Tools she’s been using at work would make her dream of an enjoyable Thanksgiving dinner a reality. Shelby has to see the connection between her ability to organize in her personal life and her lack of the exact same skill in her professional life.

Many of the women in my seminars discover that the situation requiring a more effective strategy or behavior at work is not unlike a situation at home, and vice versa.

“My boss does this--and my husband does too!”

“My daughter creates the same emotional turmoil for me that this client does.”

“I have a friend who oversteps personal boundaries exactly like my coworker.”

Are you the woman who runs the errands, coordinates two Little League team schedules, and plans a vacation? Then you are already using the Power Tools you will need when the task force and the vice president from the London office both expect you to attend their presentations that are being held at the same time, which happens to be the same afternoon you must hand in the budget forecast for your department.

Having your Power Tools in tow means that if you can be candid with your boss, you can be candid with your sister-in-law. If you can share your vision of success with your employees, you can share it with the guests coming for a special occasion. And if you can ask a technician to walk you through the information systems problem at work, you can ask your mechanic about the details involved in the service he thinks your car requires.

These are tools that you can easily plug into any situation: a new business, a new friend, or a new problem. Women want the very thing they already possess: the ability to increase their effectiveness in situations that cry out for more power. As you carry your Power Tools into every phase of your life--from the bedroom to the boardroom--you’ll find that you begin to see the opportunities to plug in a Power Tool wherever you are. You’ll see how asking your husband to explain a complicated piece of technology requires the same Power Tool and interviewing agility you need when listening to your sales force. You’ll hone your expertise at using another Power Tool to help you pin down your boss on a due date for a project as well as get your disorganized girlfriend to commit to lunch.

At speaking engagements for corporations and conferences, there is always a woman who will tell me, “You don’t understand. My situation is different.” I agree, but always with a caveat. Although you may behave differently in one situation than in another, and all women are certainly not all alike, you are not two different women. No mystical metamorphosis takes place as you walk through the front door of your home. You need to stop compartmentalizing your skills at work and at home and use your Power Tools in every situation.

That’s what Marie did.

She grabbed her toolbox and plugged in the right tools for the job. Her Safety Goggles helped her imagine the goal and communicate it, and her Tape Measure calculated her limits. “This isn’t what I want” became “I can’t believe they are doing this to me.” Later it became “This is what I want,” which grew into “This is what I envision. What part of that would you like to take on?” Marie shared her vision with her family about an interesting variation on the classic traditions. Her happy ending was a dinner where family and in-laws cooked a range of foods, from traditional desserts to tofu side dishes. She used her Power Tools to attain her desire of hosting a holiday dinner in her own home and on her own terms.

That’s what Shelby did.

She reached into her toolbox and wrapped her hands around the best tools for quelling the marketing department chaos. Her Safety Goggles allowed her to create a picture of success and share it with others, her Electrical Sensor allowed her to gauge her reactions and those of others, and her Voltage Meter was instrumental in getting feedback. “This is a disaster” became “I need to create some order.” Later it became “What will a well-run, successful department look like?” which grew into “This is what I envision. People will need to understand the standards that are critical to our success, their role in accomplishing those goals, and my role as a coach and resource.” Shelby shared her vision with her employees, her vendors, and any other professional whose buy-in or help she would need to create a cohesive team. Her happy ending was a department with a clear definition of goals, an understanding of the standards for success, awareness of the part each internal and external person would play, and development plans that assured professional success. Shelby was able to focus on the things that only she could do and shifted her role from exhausted executive to available coach, trainer, and resource for her department. More delegation on her part also allowed Shelby to be more collaborative with the other senior staff members. Most important, she used her Power Tools to attain her desire of creating a professional role that was a genuine reflection of her capability.

Your Personal Merger: Work and Life

Today, our waking hours are filled to the brim with a wide variety of activities. Work outside the home and you deal with an organizational culture and the constraints and politics of the workplace. Live with another adult and you arrange your daily life in connection with someone else. Live with children and you oversee, worry, negotiate, and drive! Relatives who reside nearby can mean that your history follows you around in the present. Family that lives far away can mean a portion of your free time is spent in long-distance obligation, responsibility, and support.

As you develop your Power Tools, you will increase your ability to integrate home and work life more seamlessly. The stress you feel about living in what often seems like two different worlds will diminish. You will stop trying to behave like two different women and will see that work and home have more in common than you think. The most powerful commonality they have is you. With increased confidence in accessing your personal power, rather than trying to compartmentalize and “balance” your work with your home life, you will integrate them into a unified lifestyle.

Why I Wrote This Book

My presentations and training programs are conducted for groups as small as ten and as large as a thousand. For over twenty years, I’ve made presentations to a wide variety of industries, including business, nonprofit, private and public sectors in manufacturing, finance, energy, insurance, education, and social services. I’ve taught thousands of women the benefit of using Power Tools. The concept gradually becomes clear: If women don’t get better at recognizing the tools and the situations in which to use them, they’re limiting their own success.

I listen to their concerns:

* “My boss is threatened by the accomplishments of others, so I can’t be too successful.”

* “My husband is pressuring me to stay at my job, which pays really well, but I hate what I’m doing.”

* “My manager says one thing and does another.”

* “I don’t know what I want, but I don’t want this.”

* “I’m tired of being treated like I’m not serious about my career because I’m female.”

* “I want the promotion but am afraid of the impact it will have on my home life.”

* “My husband sulks if I don’t take his advice.”

* “I have a great opportunity but not the visibility/title/money that should go with it.”

* “I take a lot of heat from other mothers because I work full-time and can’t help out at the school during the day.”

I can’t stand to see women dropping their clout and losing out. I had to write this book.

As I was growing up, my parents made it very clear to all three of their children that we had the ability to accomplish our goals and dreams. I grew up thinking that all parents were like mine. If I had examined more closely the huge number of friends who flocked to our kitchen table for meals and discussions with my family, I would have known what a special home we had. Eventually, I got out into the world and discovered exactly that.

As I moved through college and graduate school, I was surprised to hear other women talk with such uncertainty about their strengths and abilities. It seemed so self-limiting to me. I simply plowed ahead with the enthusiasm of a kid at her own birthday party. My ability to be tactful was a bit underdeveloped, and when I talked about the transferability of personal power, I seemed to irritate rather than motivate. Being a problem-solver was my talent, but I needed the education graduate school provided to develop active listening skills and creative application of that skill.

My goal as a counselor and consultant developed clarity: to take my capacity to see the potential power and ability that people have and provide them with the support, coaching, guidance, and strategies they need to accomplish their goals. In every workplace, I come across people in the same situation: maddened managers, burned-out teachers, pessimistic parents, frustrated administrative assistants, eager camp counselors, fed-up shift workers, restricted supervisors, exasperated CEOs, all trying to figure out how to accomplish their goals. My role morphs into whatever makes sense: coach, costrategist, hand-holder, director, sounding board, counselor, or reality checker. I work with people to identify their goals and abilities, and help them apply new strategies and skills to the situation or system. Where or who it is doesn’t matter. It could be at a school, professional foundation, multinational company, manufacturing plant, or corporate campus. It could involve a boss, client, sibling, friend, employee, parent, doctor, or spouse. I teach them all how Power Tools create success in that environment, in that situation, and with that person.

I also understand the importance of role modeling and realize that providing guidance and support are one thing, and doing it myself is another. I developed Power Tools for Women to help others, but I use my toolbox all the time. As a professional woman, mother of a teenage son, and wife for over twenty-one years, I’ve had to break out the Duct Tape more than once, whether at a client’s office, with a friend at a large gathering, or at innumerable company holiday parties. I continue to fine-tune my own facility with Power Tools even as I teach other women about them.

From senior executive to administrative assistant, from part-time analyst to CEO, from the home-for-now housewife to the community advocate, women tell me that Power Tools

* Help them compete professionally. They are better at trusting the intuitive lurch in their gut when they meet with someone, more adept at asking for feedback, better able to remember the value of perspective and humor.

* Allow them to discover ways to parent more creatively by asking more questions before plowing ahead with only part of the information, creating opportunities to strengthen relationships, and reappraising outmoded rules.

* Teach them how to leverage all of their relationships more effectively and develop confidence in their own abilities. They tell me that when they determine a clear goal or think about the energy requirements a task will require, they feel more prepared to handle both the expected and the unexpected that life delivers.

Plan for Success

You will have it! How can I be so sure? Because you already have used a tool well in some previous experience. While you will be using your Power Tools in new and creative ways with situations that will be challenging and conditions that will call on your creativity, you can do this because you have done it before.

You possess everything you need to be more effective, more confident, and more empowered. Success is so close. Why wait? Plug in and power up!
Joni Daniels

About Joni Daniels

Joni Daniels - Power Tools for Women
Joni Daniels is the founder and principal of Daniels & Associates, a consulting group specializing in personal and professional development. Her clients include FannieMae, Educational Testing Services, Marriott International, Merck, the Department of Defense, AIG Life Companies, and more. She lives outside Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.


“This is an excellent book! As director of the Wharton Small Business Center, I know that self-awareness, along with confidence and abilities, are major keys to success. Having the ability to transform your life to achieve your goals is a precious gift. Thanks to Power Tools for Women, that vehicle now exists for women in any field.” —Leslie Mirabeau, director, Wharton Small Business Development Center

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