Friday, February 17, 2012

Please come visit me at

After over 500 blog entries since 2008 I am saying good-bye to PURSEPUNDIT and hello to My new web-site offers a more robust platform to share resources, events, videos, and more. Please come visit me there.

Yours very truly,

You can also join me on TWITTER at @JackiZehner

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Why No Wonder Woman?

Published to on January 1, 2012

I am starting 2012 with a question that has been haunting me for the past 10 years. It was in 2001 that I began somewhat obsessively thinking about why there was no Wonder Woman feature film. I shared the whole story with a group of friends we had over for dinner last night but the punch line was that it was Wonder Woman, or lack thereof, that convinced me to leave my role as a partner of Goldman Sachs. I quit to write the screenplay! I took a screen writing course, accumulated stacks of notes, and sought out people in the industry to help. The product of all that labor has it’s own special box and I keep on adding to it. It is not that I ever gave up on the idea, but rather it is like the red wine I am sipping on this New Years Eve, the idea, my participation, needed time to age. Now, on the 70th Anniversary of WW ( first issue appeared December 1941), I figured it was finally time to try to make it happen!

Here is the freaky thing. So much of what is scribbled down on those pieces of paper I recently started leafing through again has come to be in my life. My story line was not just about a single woman with super powers saving lives and fighting for justice. Yes my WW, my superhero, had those powers, but she quickly realized that one woman could never save the world on her own. She tried it for a while but became frustrated and exhausted. Over one too many cocktails pouring her heart out to the bartender she helped her figure it out. She needed a gang, a tribe, to do it with her. So she began to recruit the best of – the best in each discipline – sports, business, politics - and taught them how to tap in to their full power and potential. They were already leaders, she just enhanced them.

In the alternate world she came from everyone was capable of greatness, they just had to tap in to it and the ticket was using that power for good. When she came to our world she was shocked that women were vastly underrepresented in positions of leadership, suffered from so much violence and when she experienced our media which portrayed women primarily as victims or sex objects, she was outraged. “Where is girl power?” she asked. “Why does this world not value human life and not fully value women and girls?”

I have been asking myself these same questions for over a decade and like Wonder Woman, I am trying to use my power to change it. Championing for the rights and potential of women and girls is my calling, my life’s purpose, and I know this with certainty. On this journey I have come to know countless women with incredible passion, skills, creativity and resources and are putting all of it to work for a more just and equitable world. They are Wonder Women. What I see happening now is that this community, this tribe is growing. These women champions of change are finding each other, nourishing each other, and more fully coming in to their power to use all their resources to make a difference. They too are shocked and outraged and are saying enough, things have to change! We may not have a true super hero as our leader helping us tap in to our inhuman superpowers, but we have each other.

The Wonder Woman in my screenplay knew that the world would only shift for the better if many people, but particularly those with power and shared values worked together and fully employed all the resources at their disposal. She knew that money, big money, was needed. At the time I wrote this in my notes there was no such thing as Women Moving Millions ( WMM). WMM was birthed in 2006 by two visionary sisters Helen LaKelly and Swanee Hunt, women I did not come to know until 2008. In phase one, which ended in 2009, WMM raised over $180 mm for women’s foundations around the world. Perhaps more important than that was that a community, a tribe, was formed. We are sisters ( and a few brothers) united with a common purpose. This year we will launch as a global movement to encourage and support not only large financial gifts to organizations and initiatives that work for the advancement of women and girls, but the thinking that a world that fully values women and girls is a better and more just world. We aspire to mobilize billions!

My WW sought to balance the masculine energy that had dominated for so long with the feminine energy that supported a different kind of power - “power to, not power over“. She knew that a world so out of balance was a world that would blow itself up. Her job in coming to our world was to help elevate the feminine and in doing so change the course of history. From her experience she knew that too much of one, or the other, had negative consequences. ( ok there is a heck of a lot more to it, but I can’t give the plot away now can I?)

So this is the year that not only will I continue to be a player in my real life Wonder Women story as Co Chair of Women Moving Millions, but also try to finally get a GREAT screenplay for the film in to development. Here is my plan on how to do it!

1) Produce a white paper of sorts, that poses the question “Why no Wonder Woman?” ( see below) that details the history of the character, why other attempts to bring her to the big screen have failed, numbers that show the power of the superhero franchises, who the players are and issue a call to action for fans of WW to contribute ideas. This paper is almost finished and together with my collaborator in this work, Laura Moore, we will begin sending the 30 page report to others for feedback.

2) Convene a meeting with women I know, many of which also happen to be iconic feminist leaders with a passion for Wonder Woman, to get their ideas about history, character, potential screenwriters and more. On the top of that list is Gloria Steinem, who I am blessed to know and is one of the world’s experts on Wonder Woman.

3) Meet with the Executive team at Warner Brothers who own the rights to Wonder Woman.

When I look back on my life, which I tend to do every year on January 1st, I want to know this. Did I do ‘what I could, with what I had’ to try to make the world a better place? I believe the universe, God, speaks to us all. If we are willing to both listen and work our passions will be revealed to us and in that we will find what it is we are uniquely called to do. It may become our jobs, it may be what we do in our spare time, it may be just how we affect the lives of a few, or the lives of countless we don’t even know. From the time I was a little girl I loved Wonder Woman, I loved superheros, and perhaps helping to show the world the Wonder Women who are among us every day, is just one of the many things I am supposed to be doing.

Why No Wonder Woman? ( from the white paper..)

Wonder Woman was created as a distinctly feminist role model whose mission was to bring the Amazon ideals of love, peace, and sexual equality to ʻa world torn by the hatred of men.ʼ” For 70 years, Wonder Woman has stood as an icon of female empowerment, the embodiment of feminine strength, and ultimately, a hard core superhero who fights side by side with Superman and Batman, superhero icons in their own right. With the release of Superman in 1978, superheroes emerged from the back shelves of dusty comic book stores and burst onto the mainstream. Today, half a dozen comic book films are released a year, with budgets reaching up to $300,000,000 and bringing in billions of dollars at the box office. Batman is on his second franchise reboot, as is Spiderman, while Superman is currently enjoying his third. Even second tier or little known comic book heroes such as The Hulk or Hellboy have managed to rack up a pair of sequels between them. Yet in spite of all this, Wonder Woman remains conspicuously absent. Where is Diana, princess of the Amazons?

Continually published since 1942, her popularity and place in pop culture can not be disputed, yet for all that she has achieved, Wonder Woman remains in that most hated of industry spaces: development hell. Created by William Moulton Marston in 1941, Wonder Woman has come to represent the best of the feminist movement. She is a strong, independent, and intelligent warrior of the Amazons; someone who fights for truth, justice, and peace. Wonder Woman is loyal, honest, and courageous, and seeks to improve the world of humans; leading by example as she teaches the values of her Amazon sisters.

Wonder Woman has allies, allegiances, villains, and some impressive gadgets in the form of an invisible airplane and bullet deflecting bracelets. Yet in spite of this treasure trove of rich material from which to draw inspiration, Hollywood claims to be unable to come up with a good script for the big screen. At this point, this is simply unacceptable. It is time for Wonder Woman to emerge out of the depths of development hell and take her rightful place on celluloid alongside her male counterparts. Whether it is studio indifference, sexual discrimination, or a simple but widespread case of writer’s block that is causing Wonder Woman’s delay, it is time for the excuses to stop. Superheros represent the very best of peoplekind; what we are capable of when we are held accountable to a higher cause. What better cause then to ensure that every superhero’s voice has equal opportunity to be heard?

( by Laura Moore)

I would add this… In a world that continues to be plagued by violence, economic hardship and environmental destruction, and a media landscape that continues to underrepresent women, particularly in empowering leadership roles, we need a GREAT Wonder Woman film in hopes that it could prove a turning point not only for media, but for our societies in general. We need superheros, but we desperately need female superheros. It is time to make the reasons for, the results of, and the solutions to gender inequality visible and actionable. The long term outcome will most certainly be a more just and equitable world for all.

Sending you all my best wishes for a great 2012 and beyond.

Jacki Zehner

* to read all my entries on Wonder Woman use the search function.

other articles/sites

Wonder Woman: The Missing Superhero

The History of the Universe as told by Wonder Woman - a documentary film in process visual history of WW on YOUTUBE

A FACEBOOK group – Share the Wonder: The Marston Wonder Woman Message Project

Friday, December 16, 2011

2011 - Not a great year in many respects - continued economic crisis, the big fat mess in Europe… nope, not going there. For me 2011 was a GREAT year! Why? Because I made some amazing friends in my new home town of Park City, my family has been healthy and happy, and I have been given the work opportunity of life time with a dream team of girl power at my side. ( you know who you are! H, M, N, J, J and Amanda) So coming from the space of abundance and gratitude I share with you “a few of my favorite things for 2011. ” Move over Oprah, Jacki’s list is here!!

Funniest Youtube Video- I hate to say that it’s true, but how often have you said these things to your friends, spouse, or boyfriend?

My favorite song- We Found Love by Rihanna . I got hooked when it become the opening song for one of my other new favorite things – Zumba!

Zumba is an exciting and energetic way to get in a great cardo workout and have fun while doing it. I have been going to The Law of Fitness in Park City, Utah with an amazing teacher Patrice Martin. She teaches everything from Pilates to Zumba to Funk and every class is like a party! She is so energetic and excited to whip you into the best shape of your life. It is my goal Patrice to help make you the next Tracy Anderson. My 11 ydar old daughter Allie goes with me and that makes it even that much better.

Favorite Beauty Product- In spring of 2011 Mac came out with fun new line from Wonder Woman! M∙A∙C Spring Colour 2011 is, “the feminine force that saves the day! No nemesis can match her super-sized Mineralize Skinfinish, Eye Shadows, Lipsticks and Powder Blush for this transformation!” It is a great collectors item and I love collecting anything Wonder Woman!

My Wonder Woman T-Shirt – Ok not a new favorite thing, but a classic! I order this tshirt by the dozens and give them to my favorite people. It you receive one you know the rule, you must take a picture of yourself in it and send it to me. I you have not received one for me send me an email telling be why you deserve one and I will send to the top 5 requests! ( include your mailing address)

My Favorite New website for buying great gifts and all things handmade and Vintage: Etsy. My fav thing to buy as a gift are PeaceCords – a new product by the company ARZU, founded by my friend and former Goldman Collegue Connie Duckworth. Buy one for everybody and help the women of Afghanistan.

As I have taken on a new role as Co Chair of Women Moving Millions I have obsessively been reading books about philanthropy. Here are two, new, sure to be classics by authors I met this year, alongside by two other favs by women who are also my fav people!
Do More that Give - Leslie Crutchfield, John Kania and Mark Kramer. new
Giving $mart by Thomas Tierney and Joel Fleishman. new
Inspired Philanthropy: Creating a Giving Plan and Leaving a Legacy by Tracy Gary
The Generosity Plan: Sharing Your Time, Treasures, and Talent to Shape the World by Kathy LeMay

My favorite thing to watch this year are TED videos, especially the women. Hard to pick one out of the crowd by I really loved this one by Sheryl Sandburg of FACEBOOK at the inaugural TED Women Conference. (Why we have too few women leaders)

My favorite article – Do you sometimes read an article that literally gives you the chills because it speaks directly to something you have been thinking about? This is how I felt when I read the article called “Collective Impact” by John Kania and Mark Kramer appearing in the Stanford Social Innovation Review. The article frames how ‘large-scale social change requires broad cross-sector coordination.” Since reading it I have adopted a “collective impact mind-set” with all the social change work I am doing.

My favorite drink – Ok it is a toss up between an alcoholic drink called “The Love Potion” and Vitamin Water Zero. Perhaps they balance each other out? One for the night and one for the morning after? The recipe for this fabulous drink – 2.5 shots citron vodka, 2 shorts Lillet (white), 2 shorts St. Germaine, and 1 cup grapefruit juice. YUM.

Lastly I am ending with my new fav joke. Always gotta have one to pull out in times of emergency.

What Religion is Your Bra?

A man walked into the ladies department of a Macy’s And shyly walked up to the woman behind the counter and said, “I’d like to buy a bra for my wife.” “What type of bra?” Asked the clerk. “Type?” inquires the man, “There’s more than one type?” “Look around,” Said the saleslady, As she showed a sea of bras in every shape, size, color And material imaginable. “Actually, Even with all of this variety, There are really only Four types of bras to choose from.” Relieved, the man asked About the types. The saleslady replied:

“There are the Catholic, The Salvation Army, The Presbyterian, And the Baptist types. Which one would you prefer?”

Now totally befuddled, The man asked about The differences between them. The Saleslady responded, “It is all really quite simple. ..

The Catholic type Supports the masses; The Salvation Army type lifts the fallen; The Presbyterian type keeps them staunch and upright; and The Baptist makes mountains out of mole hills.”

Have you ever wondered why A, B, C, D, DD, E, F, G, and H are the letters used To define bra sizes? If you have wondered why, But couldn’t figure out What the letters stood for, It is about time You became informed!

(A} Almost Boobs…

{B} Barely there…

{C} Can’t Complain!…

{D} Dang!…

{DD} Double dang!……

{E} Enormous!…

{F} Fake…

{G} Get a Reduction…

{H} Help me, I’ve fallen And I can’t get up!…

Once again have a Very Happy Holiday and a Gorgeous 2012! Jacki

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A "Modern Miracle"

“A Modern Miracle” was a top headline in the Financial Times yesterday. Your mind may be wandering to thoughts of a soldier coming home to his family, a lost child being found unharmed, a life saving surgery or other such heart-warming human stories. However, the article was referring to a violent video game, “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3," which has recently shattered video and movie game records. It is a "Modern (sales) Miracle." It was reported by Activision Blizzard Inc., the games distributor, that Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 rang up $1 billion in sales just 16 days after it launched in stores Nov. 8. 2011. (NY Times 2011).

Activision, in a statement released Monday morning, placed Call of Duty in the same pantheon of other mega-entertainment franchises such as "Star Wars," "Harry Potter" and the "National Football League" (LA Times, Dec. 13, 2011). Unlike those ones this came is rated M for Mature and is about killing people. The Entertainment Software Rating Board defines M rating as, “Titles rated M (Mature) have content that may be suitable for persons ages 17 and older. Titles in this category may contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.”

While the Call of Duty website requires visitors to enter their birthday (17 years and older are allowed to enter the site) it is hardly a practical form of parental control over such a violent site. Most recently, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 has recruited popular actors like Sam Worthington (from Avatar), Jonah Hill (from Moneyball and Superbad) and Dwight Howard (NBA basketball star for the Orlando Magic), to star in a live-action trailer for the video game. In the Minute and a half long trailer guns and weapons of all types are constant reminders of the violent and crude nature of the game. If you want to take a look, click here.

Perhaps the most alarming statistics are for the trailer and the overall sales of the game. The trailer alone has received 17,640,028 million views and 31,775 comments since its November 8, 2011 release date. Many hit TV shows and movies will never see that kind of viewing. To put things into perspective, it took James Cameron's "Avatar," a record breaking 17 days to reap $1 billion after its release in 2009. It also went on to break multiple North American and worldwide box office records, including becoming the highest grossing movie of all time worldwide. Meanwhile, it only took 16 days for Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3 to reach $1 billion in sales. Of the top 10 titles sold on in 2011, six are violent and rated for mature audiences.

Top 10 titles sold on in 2011*
1. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (Activision Blizzard) (Rated M for Mature)
2. Just Dance 3 (Ubisoft Entertainment) (Rated E 10+ for Everyone over 10)
3. Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Bethesda Softworks) (Rated M for Mature)
4. Battlefield 3 (Electronic Arts) (Rated M for Mature)
5. Portal 2 (Electronic Arts) (Rated E 10+ for Everyone over 10)
6. Batman: Arkham City (Warner Bros. Interactive) (Rated T for Teen)
7. Just Dance 2 (Ubisoft) (Rated E 10+ for Everyone over 10)
8. Madden NFL 12 (Electronic Arts) (Rated E for Everyone)
9. Gears of War 3 (Microsoft) (Rated M for Mature)
10. Call of Duty: Black Ops (Activision) (Rated M for Mature) (LA Times 2011)

So is this the kind of "Modern Miracle" we should be celebrating? Further what is this saying about our culture? What is this saying about what our sons, our young men ( primarily) want to do with their spare time? Their downtime is spent killing people in more and more realistic ways. An amazing film which premiered at Sundance last year and likely to be an Academy Award Nominee is called "Hell and Back Again." This Film follows the US Marines Echo Company in Afghanistan, and one particular solider back to the US after an injury. What did he like to do in his spare time at home while in recovery? Play violent video games because they were so 'realistic' and gave him that rush which he so missed. I honor those serving our country but I also believe that violence is a drug. You can come to need it, even be addicted to it, and it can have horrible and devastating consequences for the individual, our families, our communities and our world.

My 11 year old daughter just started debate in school and her first assignment was on whether violent video games led to more violent behavior amongst school age children. Without citing all the compelling evidence the answer is yes. Do violent video games have anything to do with the increased level of random acts of violence that we seem to be witnessing more and more? I don't know, but doesn't common sense say perhaps?

My almost 15 year old son had 6 video games on his Christmas list, almost all of them violent M rated games. I stood in front of the rack at BESTBUY talking about them with him and the young male sales rep. The salesperson gave me a run down on them all - which ones involved killing real people ( women and children) versus aliens, how much blood generally spurted out when victims were shot, and so forth. I asked him if there were any games that were about solving world problems, helping people, and they both just laughed. He suggested I go over the Disney section.

Standing there I was reminded of a conversation I overheard two weeks ago on a plane. I was sitting beside a 13 year old boy and two younger boys across the aisle started talking about "Call Of Duty." There were no more than 8 years old. They were all talking about how awesome the video was, how they could not wait to get the game, how 'everyone' plays it. At the time I did not know much about the game but now I wish I would have ask that parent, 'what the heck was he thinking?"I am not perfect. My son has a couple of fighter games, but not the worse ones. I admit to cowering under the pressure of "come on mom, all my friends have these games and it's just not fair. They are not that bad. " He works so hard at school and a couple of hours of video games over the weekend truly seem to be his downtime, but it is breaking my heart.
The Christmas season is a time to take stock. It is a time to think about our family values and what messages we send our children by what we buy for them. Perhaps next year the "Modern Miracle" will be that violent video game sales are down, way down, and donations to charities that help people are way up. I know. Dream on.

Wishing you all the most joyful holiday season. Looking forward to sharing more in 2012.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Ted Women – part two

Published to on December 2, 2011
Yes can you believe it. An unannounced speaker to TEDxWomen was none other than THE Barbara Streisand. Sure I think it is cool meeting celebrities, but Barbara is beyond a celebrity to me. When I was a young girl I used to play her music, cradling the album cover in my hands, and sing to her. “The Way We Were” could possibly be my fav film. Her and Robert Redford. Remember that scene where he fell asleep at the bar and with those long fingers she pushed his hair aside. Magical.

She was at TED to talk about “Women and Heart Disease” and introduce Dr. Noel BaireyMerzis, the director of the Cedars-Sinair Women’s Heart Center. That will be the topic of a future blog entry but suffice it to say it is the leading cause of death for women. Let’s imagine for a minute that heart disease gets the attention and funding it deserves. Imagine.

My hat is off to Pat Mitchell for a truly spectacular day. Spectacular. Last year in Washington was amazing but I have to say, this was better. The diversity of the speakers and performers was off the charts. It ranged from the three girls who recently won the GOOGLE science awards, to the legendary Jane Fonda. Al told there were over 30 speakers and my head is exploding with after thoughts. If that were not enough Debbie Reynolds was at the Paley Center giving an intimate tour of her costume collection that was there for display and auction. She is almost 80 years old and so charming, and funny, and well, just delightful. It was indeed a very special day.

TED Women LA – The Conversation Continues

Published to on December 1, 2011

I am here in LA for TED x Women – The Conversation continues. The first session – Resilience- was great. All the speakers were amazing but I truly connected with the words of Gayle Tzemach Lemmonis, a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and a contributing editor-at-large for Newsweek Daily Beast. I have had met Gayle and she is truly, the real deal.

Gayle has interviewed women that are economic and social agents of change around the world. A few quotes from her remarks in somewhat freeform…

We do not invest in victimes we invest in survivors. We must move beyond micro thinking for women. Women are an emerging market in emerging markets. We need to replace lofty words with the power of our wallets. Investing in women is not about doing good but about economic growth. We are 50% of the population and not a special interest group. Never import other people’s limitations. Women are not exceptions. We need to think Bigger.

Check out Gayle’s book – The Dressmaker of Khair Khana: Five Sisters, One Remarkable Family, and the Women Who Risked Everything to Keep Them Safe

For the full TED Women Schedule – click here

A shout out to the most incredible Pat Mitchell President and CEO of the Paley Center for Media. She is hosting this event and is a co founder of TED Women. I am so blessed to know some of the world’s most incredible women and Pat is most certainly at the top of that list. She is a tireless supporter of women. Tireless. Let us never lose hope in our goal to creating a more gender balanced world.

Deepak Chopra – The Soul Of Leadership

Published to on November 29, 2011
It was a pleasure and honor today to be interviewed by Deepak Chopra, the author of more than fifty-five books, including his latest one “The Soul of Leadership.” This book, this interview, could not have come at a more important moment for me and is a perfect example of “Synchronicity.” In the book Mr. Chopra uses the acronym L-E-A-D-E-R-S to provide us with a very practical guide to the development of these crucial skills. S is my favorite – Synchronicity. He defines it as “the unseen intelligence that puts you in the right place at the right time.” That has been the story of my life….

I chose to go the finance route in college because of a party I went to while visiting the school that was filled with commerce students. They convinced me that a business undergrad would be much more practical then a liberal arts one en route to law school.

In my junior year three amazing men decided to create a portfolio management program at the University of British Columbia to give students the real life experience of running money. Their generosity led to some incredible work experience, which contributed greatly to me being hired to Goldman Sachs as an analyst in 1988.

Of all the possible positions I could have been chosen for at Goldman I ended up in mortgage-backed trading where I became the youngest woman and first female trader. People left at the right time to open up opportunities for me and thanks to amazing mentors my track was very short.

I became passionate about working on diversity and other human captial issues within the firm and the right people were there to make it happen. I truly loved that work and contributed greatly to know my second career, working for the advancement of women and girls around the world.

At the moment I was truly searching for a way to make a difference along came Women Moving Millions. This initiative to encourage women to make gifts of a million helped me step in to my capacity, not only as a donor, but as a leader.

Now as Co-Chair of this brand new organization I will need all the crucial skills Mr. Chopra so beautifully lays out in his book. He is encouraging us to be leaders that look and listen, that forge emotional bonds, that have a deep sense of awareness, that do, that empower others, and that accept responsibility. Imagine our world if these were the characteristics of the leaders in government and business today.

I take this invitation to be on his show as a sign. A sign that I am on the right path. A sign that working full-out on the advancement of women and girls is indeed my calling.

The show will air tomorrow and you can find it via this link.

For those visiting because of the radio show please find below the links mentioned:

Women Moving Millions - Our new web-site is coming soon but this will provide an overview of who we are and what we do.

Women’s Funding Network - A Global Network of over 160 women’s foundations around the world. Please consider supporting a local foundation of one that shares your interests and passions.

A Future Not a Past - To Stop the Child Prostitution of Children in Atlanta

Blessings and Peace.

* Sorry for the dated information – I am a former Vice Chair and current board member of the Women’s Funding Network.

Evelyn H. Lauder – Honoring an Incredible Wonder Woman

Published to on November 20, 2011

On November 12th the world lost a very special woman and one of the leading philanthropists of our time. The cause of her death, at the age of 75, were complications of non-genetic ovarian cancer. She is survived by her beloved family: husband Leonard A. Lauder, her two sons William and Gary and five grandchildren. Though I could not attend the funeral as I was at a Women Moving Millions event in Washington, my thoughts and prayers were with her family. This week, while in New York City, I did have the opportunity to meet with Myra Biblowit, the magnificent President of the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. I left the BCRF board last year when I moved to Park City, but what an honor and a privilege it was to serve on it alongside Myra and Mrs. Lauder.

Mrs. Lauder’s life is a remarkable American success story. Born in Vienna, Austria, her parents fled from Europe with her during the Nazi occupation, eventually settling in New York City. Asleep when the ship bringing them to the United States arrived in New York Harbor, she awoke to see the Statue of Liberty. Mrs. Lauder would remember, and be inspired by, that symbol of hope for the rest of her life.

Mrs. Lauder was a philanthropic leader in New York City. She served on the Board of Overseers at
Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and on the boards of the Central Park Conservancy and the Evelyn and Leonard Lauder Foundation. Many other charities also benefited from Mrs. Lauder’s thoughtful guidance and renowned generosity, including nonprofits devoted to health and human services, education and inner-city schools, the environment, women’s causes, and the arts.

The public perhaps best knew Mrs. Lauder for her work in bringing global awareness to women’s health, a passion that stemmed from a personal experience with early stage breast cancer. In 1992, she co-created the Pink Ribbon, now recognized as the worldwide symbol of breast health, and launched the Estée Lauder Companies Breast Cancer Awareness (BCA) Campaign ( Each year, the BCA Campaign raises funds through its brands, employees, and retail partners around the world to help support breast cancer research. Mrs. Lauder founded The Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF) in 1993 to provide crucial funds to breast cancer medical and scientific researchers around the world. BCRF ( has raised more than $350 million and supports 186 researchers globally. She believed wholeheartedly the the prevention and cure for breast cancer resides in funding innovative research.

I would be hard pressed to name a woman who more fully used her resources – her money, her heart, her corporate affiliation, her business savvy, her network, her time – to make a difference in the lives of others. She boldly stepped out in front to be a leader in this movement to find a cure for all kinds of cancers. After sharing many stories about Mrs. Lauder over coffee at the Palace Diner on 57th street with Myra we ended thinking that “so many have great ideas, but only a small percent act on them, and an even smaller percentage result in sustainable action.” Without Mrs. Lauder there would be no pink ribbon, their would be no BCRF, and the movement to end breast cancer would not be one of the most well funded movements of our time.

In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that contributions be made to The Breast Cancer Research Foundation, Evelyn Lauder Founder’s Fund, 60 E. 56 St., 8th floor, New York, NY 10022, or . Please consider a donation. Blessings……………

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Frank Coulson - A Man Who Truly Made A Difference

Last Friday I was travelling home from New York City and started a conversation with the man sitting next to me. In short order we figured out that he was a good friend of the daughter of a dear friend of ours. A few minutes later another connection was made. A colleague travelling with him used to work at Goldman Sachs in the Philadelphia office. In chatting with this gentleman the conversation quickly went to someone I knew we both knew well from that office, Frank Coulson.

Frank was a partner in the fixed income division and a truly legendary bond salesman. I told my new friend that I would very likely not be on this plane, not be doing what I am doing now, if it were not for Frank Coulson. I went on to tell him the story about the largest single trade I ever did as a mortgage backed bond trader at Goldman, and that trade was with Frank. The story of that trade is forever captured in the book “More Than 85 Broads: Women Making Career Choices, Taking Risks, and Defining Success on Their Own Terms.”

The story contrasts how two men treated a young woman (me) on the trading floor one particular day, doing her best to be the best trader she could be. Frank was the hero of the story. Frank was the hero because on that day he trusted me, despite my inexperience, to execute a huge trade for his best client when he could have easily gone over my head. That day, that trade, that TRUST truly changed my life. It was that day I realized I could survive and maybe even thrive as a Wall Street Trader.

After sharing that story I went back to my seat, grabbed my journal and started writing about Frank. Today I heard that Frank Coulson passed away. My deepest condolences go to Frank’s family. He was a spectacular man and I am grateful to have known and worked with him. He really did change my life.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Jennifer Buffet and Women Moving Millions

(From November 13th)

I have the honor and pleasure of knowing and working with one of the most noteable women philanthropists of our time, Jennifer Buffet, President of the Novo Foundation. Today I am off to Washington, DC, where I am Co Chairing a Women Moving Millions event with her and the equally fabulous Ambassador Swanee Hunt, President of The Hunt Alternatives Fund. This is our final event of the year and it promised to be amazing. Guest speakers include Former Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Congresswoman Nan Hayworth, Treasure of the United States Rosie Rios, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Congresswoman Donna Edwards, Barbara Lee - Founder and President of the Barbara Lee Family Foundation and many more.

We are focussing on three main topic and issue areas: Advocacy - what it is and how to do it, Women Stopping War and Economic Security Through a Gender Lens. I will be sure to report back.

A fabulous friend and philanthropic consultant Tuti Scott ( of Imagine Philantrhopy) shared this with me yesterday about Jennifer. Very much worth sharing. Jennifer we love you and appreciate all you do to make the world a better place.

Jennifer Buffett – 10 Concepts worth Sharing

By Tuti B. Scott ( Imagine Philanthropy)

Jennifer Buffett will change the world. You may not know her now, but when all is said and done I believe she will own the title, The First Lady of Women’s Social Change Philanthropy. Jennifer is the life size symbol of NoVo – to alter, invent. The NoVo Foundation she created with her husband Peter is based on the premise that if you give a girl an opportunity, she will become a successful woman who will in turn create successful communities, businesses, and families. Jennifer’s story is just that.

After deep examination of the focus of their philanthropy and a personal examination of her own expression of her values and influence, Jennifer is speaking around the world sharing her personal story and experiences. She and her husband Peter spent years examining the interrelation between systems, culture, and relationships to determine place of impact and opportunity for change before launching the largest foundation serving women and girls, the NoVo Foundation. Jennifer has incredible perspective to offer activists, social change drivers, and philanthropists and after hearing her recently, I distilled these ten concepts that are worth sharing;

1. Look at the roots of the problems, examine patterns and themes and find the programs and the stories that rule the world and which ones make sense.

2. Acknowledge two conflicting truths: 1. Girls and women are the primary drivers of change. 2. Cultural attitudes and systems put girls in a vicious cycle; blaming them and affirming that they are not valued. The girl effect demonstrates that if you invest in a girl, her family thrives, she contributes to her community, and eventually her country succeeds.

3. Invest in places where value is held and not yet recognized. Note: there are 600 million adolescent girls living in the developing world who are currently ‘undervalued assets’.

4. Value balance and partnership and affirm feminine values.

5. Encourage women to use their voice, say what is want and needed, take credit, and invite men to join as equal partners and co-creators.

6. As a woman, choose to be seen and heard and work to change the course of the boat named Earth Community.

7. Improve gender dynamics by recognizing that the qualities in the masculine ‘toolbox’ - force, hierarchy, punitive, and a focus on head not heart - are learned, normalized, and internalized.

8. Honor and showcase the characteristics found in the feminine toolbox; listening, connectedness, experiential learning, honoring innate cycles and rhythms, and wholeness.

9. Establish learning environments that allow for inquiry and participation.

10. As conduits of feminine energies, allow the most precious qualities of clarity, strength, knowing and vulnerability of yourself to come into full light.

Thank you Tuti. Well said.

( Pictured with Linda Basch - President of the National Council for Research on Women, Jennifer Buffet, Lisa Witter - Partner, Fenton Communications and author of "The She Spot", yours truly)

Evelyn Lauder - Honoring a True Wonder Woman

On November 12th the world lost a very special woman and one of the leading philanthropists of our time, Evelyn Lauder. The cause of her death, at the age of 75, were complications of non-genetic ovarian cancer. She is survived by her beloved family: husband Leonard A. Lauder, her two sons Willian and Gary and five grandchildren. Though I could not attend the funeral as I was at a Women Moving Millions event in Washington, my thoughts and prayers were with her family. This week, while in New York City, I did have the opportunity to meet with Myra Biblowit, the magnificent President of the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. I left the BCRF board last year when I moved to Park City, but what an honor and a privilege it was to serve on it alongside Myra and Mrs. Lauder.

Mrs. Lauder’s life is a remarkable American success story. Born in Vienna, Austria, her parents fled from Europe with her during the Nazi occupation, eventually settling in New York City. Asleep when the ship bringing them to the United States arrived in New York Harbor, she awoke to see the Statue of Liberty. Mrs. Lauder would remember, and be inspired by, that symbol of hope for the rest of her life.

Mrs. Lauder was a philanthropic leader in New York City. She served on the Board of Overseers atMemorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and on the boards of the Central Park Conservancy and the Evelyn and Leonard Lauder Foundation. Many other charities also benefited from Mrs. Lauder’s thoughtful guidance and renowned generosity, including nonprofits devoted to health and human services, education and inner-city schools, the environment, women’s causes, and the arts.

The public perhaps best knew Mrs. Lauder for her work in bringing global awareness to women’s health, a passion that stemmed from a personal experience with early stage breast cancer. In 1992, she co-created the Pink Ribbon, now recognized as the worldwide symbol of breast health, and launched the Estée Lauder Companies Breast Cancer Awareness (BCA) Campaign ( Each year, the BCA Campaign raises funds through its brands, employees, and retail partners around the world to help support breast cancer research. Mrs. Lauder founded The Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF) in 1993 to provide crucial funds to breast cancer medical and scientific researchers around the world. BCRF ( has raised more than $350 million and supports 186 researchers globally. She believed wholeheartedly the the prevention and cure for breast cancer resides in funding innovative research.

I would be hard pressed to name a woman who more fully used her resources - her money, her heart, her corporate affiliation, her business savvy, her network, her time - to make a difference in the lives of others. She boldly stepped out in front to be a leader in this movement to find a cure for all kinds of cancers. After sharing many stories about Mrs. Lauder over coffee at the Palace Diner on 57th street with Myra we ended thinking that "so many have great ideas, but only a small percent act on them, and an even smaller percentage result in sustainable action." Without Mrs. Lauder there would be no pink ribbon, their would be no BCRF, and the movement to end breast cancer would not be one of the most well funded movements of our time.

In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that contributions be made to The Breast Cancer Research Foundation, Evelyn Lauder Founder’s Fund, 60 E. 56 St., 8th floor, New York, NY 10022, or . Please consider a donation. Blessings...............

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Koinonia and a "Luv-o-lu-tion"

Koinonia. Up until this morning I had never heard of this word. It is a greek word that appears in the bible which in translation means deep fellowship. Not fellowship as in “let’s hang out at the bowling alley together,” but rather fellowship as in “I will lay down my life down for you.” It means caring so much about the relationship that it leads to a profound shift in both attitudes and behavior.

Who are you in Koinonia with? God? Your spouse? Your kids? Your friends? Think about what it would mean to our world if we were in Koinonia with everyone. The world is in deep need. People are in deep need. Maybe you are in deep need. The solution to need is easy in principle, but hard in action. The solution is generosity. The solution is a Luv-o-lu-tion. ( noun: A dramatic change in the way love works)

Needless to say I had myself a little church this morning, ( K2 in Salt Lake City to be exact), but this message goes beyond my church. This message goes beyond any church. In a world of injustice and pain and suffering and poverty and us versus them and war and terrorism and “Occupy Wall Street” this is a solution.

My 14 year old son is skeptical. Though he admits we should all try to do something good, to be good, he feels it will not collectively make a difference. I respectfully disagree. If we all “ do what we can with what we have where we are” it will make a huge difference. For me giving up on each other is really not an option. Feeling insignificant is not an option. I aspire to live a generous life which my pastor put this way:
- Take time to acknowledge all you have. Give thanks and live in that “attitude of gratitude.”
- Once you have given thanks, no matter how much or how little, but especially if how much, release your grip on it. We are stewards not owners.
- Try to live in “Koinonia.” Live in fellowship and love with one another and be as generous as you can be to each other. Respond to those in need. “Do what you can……

I am sharing this not as a teacher, but as a student. I am not as generous as I can be. I am not as kind as I can be. I am not alot of things I want to be but I can promise you I wake up every day and try. Greed and fear and privilege and entitlement are demons I reckon with ever day. For me, it will be my love and relationship with God that helps loosen their grip.

May you have a blessed day.

We sang the song “I Will Follow You” by Chris Tomlin at church today. It is one of my favorite gospel tunes. If you want to listen click here.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Women's Economic Empowerment

After previously serving in the House of Representatives since 2006, Kirsten Gillibrand was sworn in as Hillary Clinton’s replacement as New York State Senator in January 2009, and was later re-elected in November 2010 with 63% of the vote. Since her days as a lawyer taking on pro bono cases defending battered women, to working with Hillary Clinton to encourage women to enter politics and leadership, Gillibrand has always taken a strong stance towards the advancement of women and girls.

Gillibrand was formerly the leader of the Women’s Leadership Forum, and now as Senator, she has launched, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping women realize the potential impact they can have on our country. Whether it is through political office, advocacy, or by simply taking a more active role in their community, Off the Sidelines provides women with the resources needed to make their voices heard.

Yesterday, Gillibrand’s office released Women’s Economic Empowerment Summit, a research paper highlighting the economic plight of women in America, and how women can be utilized to help improve our nation’s economy. The full paper can be downloaded at and it is full of some very sobering statistics, reminding us all that there is still so much work to be done to level the economic playing field between women and men.

You can also find this research paper in the resources section of this website. We’ve recently expanded and updated this section to include literally hundreds of research papers, articles, books and websites, as well as fact sheets for various women’s issues. Check back to this section often, as we are continuously updating as new information becomes available.

written by Laura Moore (the incredible cousin of Jacki Zehner)

Philanthropy is commonly known as the act of giving away money to charitable causes. But for those who are lucky enough to pursue philanthropy full time, it is a well known fact that philanthropy is a much more involved process than simply writing a cheque. It is a deeply personal process that forces donors to ask themselves: “What cause am I most passionate about?” and “How can I make a difference?” To the uninitiated, this can be a daunting task, and that’s why The Bridgespan Group has launched, a website designed to help donors make the most of their philanthropic gifts.

In addition to the website, a supplementary book titled Give Smart: Philanthropy that Gets Results by Thomas J. Tierney and Joel L. Fleishman has been published to further help guide philanthropic donors in their endeavours. I had the honor of meeting Thomas last week while in San Fransisco. Something he said really resonated with me as it was what I have been feeling. He said that many donors feel that giving of their time and expertise is more important than money. This is not to say that the money is not important, it is very important, but to me money absent the connection to the heart, absent the connection to passion, absent the connection to purpose, risk being transactional and not transformational. Since I have made that connection of passion to purpose to expertise to money, it has made my giving so much more meaningful and I believe, impactful.

Give Smart asks six essential questions:

1) What Are My Values and Beliefs?

2) What is “Success” and How Can It Be Achieved?

3) What Am I Accountable for?

4) What Will It Take To Get The Job Done?

5) How Do I Work With Grantees?

6) Am I Getting Better?

In answering these questions, donors are given the tools needed to start their philanthropic journey, make a difference in the charitable interests about which they are passionate, and hopefully help them to change the world for the better.

Jacki Zehner and Laura Moore

Starting tomorrow, Tuesday October 11th, THIRTEEN, the most watched public television station in the United States, begins the five week series Women, War & Peace. This series comprises of five documentaries that examine the changing roles of women in wartime conflicts, both as casualties of war and as brokers of peace. War has traditionally been defined as a man’s domain, but the changing nature of modern warfare, and the unconventional and constantly evolving battlefields have allowed for women to take on unprecedented capacities in the operation of war.

Some truly inspirational and courageous women are taking the stand to fight for women’s rights in developing countries. From Bosnia to Columbia, Afghanistan to Liberia, women the world over are stepping up to demand justice in countries torn apart by years of insurgency. They are speaking out against the practice of using women as wartime weapons, and the cruelty and inhumane methods deployed against women on the battlefield for centuries.

Women, War & Peace promises to be a groundbreaking series on the topic of women in wartime, and is a television event you do not want to miss. Our foundation is a proud supporter of this and I thank fellow WMMer Abigail Disney and Fina Reticker for their incredible work. You are my SHEROS. Titles and airdates are below; please check your local listings for times.

Tuesday, October 11th – I Came to Testify, narrated by Matt Damon

Tuesday, October 18th – Pray the Devil Back to Hell

Tuesday, October 25th – Peace Unveiled, narrated by Tilda Swinton

Tuesday, November 1st – The War We Are Living, narrated by Alfre Woodard

Tuesday, November 8th – War Redefined, narrated by Geena Davis

For more info, please visit

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Girl Effect

There are currently 600 million adolescent girls in developing countries, and for many of them, their future looks bleak. Countless numbers of them face a life of early marriage and pregnancies, vulnerability to HIV, hunger, poverty, and no ability to provide for their families or even to control the circumstances of their lives.

Faced with this reality, the Nike Foundation and the Novo Foundation started The Girl Effect, a campaign to end the cycle of poverty for women in developing countries. They believe that when you invest in a girl through education, access to health care services, freedom from violence, and access to resources, she can grow into her potential and become an important member of her family, her community, and the world at large. I believe that too.

Today bloggers around the world are celebrating this important initiative. Please watch the video, go to to take action, and celebrate the power of our girls to change the world for the better.

Some facts: ( find more in my resource section)

-1.7 billion people in the world earn less than $1 per day
-60% of the working poor in the world are women
-7 out of 10 people going hungry are women and girls
-Two thirds of the world's unpaid work is being done by women, amounting to the equivalent of nearly 50% of the world GDP
-Women earn 5% of the world's income
-Women own 1% of the world's property
-Two thirds of the children who are denied primary education are girls
-75% of illiterate adults are women

Friday, September 30, 2011

A Thelma and Louise 20th Anniversary Celebration

2011 marks the 20th Anniversary of the release of Thelma and Louise, a film primarily filmed in Utah (my new home state). This past Wednesday Geena Davis came to back our state to participate in a celebration that marks the 10th anniversay of the Utah Film Center, and to also raise awareness around the work of her foundation, The Geena Davis Institute for Gender in the Media (I serve on it’s advisory board). We had a beautiful gathering for her in a private home and also a public screening and Q & A around the film.

Released in 1991, Thelma and Louise made an instant mark on pop culture, and was expected to open the floodgates for female driven films in the years to come. Ha Ha. Twenty years later, people are still waiting for those floodgates to open. This past summer yielded the success of Bridesmaids and The Help, but these successes were labelled unexpected, with many Hollywood insiders doubting the films’ bankability. It would appear that nothing has changed in the twenty years since Thelma and Louise drove off into the sunset in that ’66 Thunderbird convertible.

It is this inequality in Hollywood that caused Geena Davis to found the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media in 2004. Fueled by watching children’s programs with her kids, Davis realized that there was a substantial lack of female characters in children’s entertainment. In response, the Institute commissioned the largest research study at that point on gender in film and television, and came to the conclusion that only one out of every four characters in children’s entertainment were females. Furthermore, this statistic has remained virtually unchanged since 1946.

It is this fact that Geena Davis and her organization seek to change through advocacy, research, and the education of Hollywood on the need for more female characters in the media. It is their hope, that by 2016 when they repeat their research, the results will show a significant improvement. At the event in Salt Lake City, Davis spoke of the impact Thelma and Louise had on women at the time, and described how women would approach her and literally grab at her clothes in an effort to make sure she heard how much the film had effected their lives. Clearly there is a void in Hollywood where female voices need to be heard. Thankfully, there are people like Geena Davis coming in to fill it.

On a personal note, as I sat in the darkened theater watching that film I realized how much I have changed since I first saw the film in New York City in my mid- twenties. Then, I am sure I percieved it as a great story with two fantastic women characters who kicked some ass. It is likely I went to work the next day as a bond trader at Goldman Sachs and spoke to my all male trading desk about ‘girl power.’ Perhaps I even quoted that line in the middle of the film where Thelma asked the crying police officer to climb into the trunk of the car and warned him to “be nice to his wife or she could turn out just like me” (a gun wiedling fugitive wanted for murder and armed robbery). But then I left the movie behind and I don’t think I stopped to wonder why I never saw another film like it. I don’t remember asking myself why there were not more films like this, and why was it that almost everything I watched over the next decade had men as the heros and women as only the victims or arm candy.

Now I am 46 and have spent the last 10 years focussed on the advancement of women and girls. Now I see that the attempted rape was not just a scene in a movie, but in fact “1 in 6 American women have been the victims of an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime.” Now I see that that Louise’s courage to say enough is enough, and it is “not ok” perhaps opened the door for countless women to do so. Now I see that violence against women continues to be a pressing issue in our society and the only way we can ever hope to stop it is if women and men, together, say enough is enough, and work to end it.

What also struck me in the film this time, which I am sure I did not notice the first time around, is how much more beauitful the women became on their journey. They started out with barbie doll style make-up and hair, uptight clothing, and a car full of luggage. They were like actors in their own life play, dressed up for the parts of submissive wife, waitress, and more. By the end of the film all that had been stripped away, and their authentic beauty, inside and out, was all we could see. Their iconic journey was one of discovering their true selves and my oh my, isn’t that the universal journey we are all on?

Geena stated that women still come up to her today, telling her how empowering the film was and how it changed their lives. She joked at the irony that a film where the two lead characters commit suicide at the end would have that effect. Well it sure did. I want more films like Thelma and Louise, only this time, can we let them live?

Jacki Zehner with much help from Laura Moore

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Turn of the Tide? Women and Television

Guest Post by Laura Moore

Last Monday night the hotly anticipated ninth season premiere of Two and a Half Men aired on CBS. Normally, shows that are entering their ninth season have long since passed their creative peaks and are limping out one last season for syndication profits. However, this premiere was different because it was the first episode to air since Charlie Sheen’s spectacular public meltdown and subsequent firing last spring, and the debut episode of his replacement, Ashton Kutcher. Tuesday morning the overnight ratings came out, and they were HUGE. Over 28 million viewers, and a 10.7 ratings share in the 18-49 demographic. For those unfamiliar with ratings, those numbers are staggering, and larger than the past three seasons ofAmerican Idol, long the number one rated show on television. But for all the headlines Men’s ratings are generating, another story is getting shoved under the rug.

Airing immediately after Two and a Half Men, the new sitcom2 Broke Girls premiered to nearly 20 million viewers and a 7.1 share, easily becoming the second most watched show Monday night, and is on track to become the highest rated debut this television season. One could argue that 2 Broke Girls benefitted greatly from its lead in, but numbers are numbers, and those 20 million people could have easily changed the channel once Men rang in its final credits. Instead, they decided to stay tuned to what was reportedly CBS’s highest scoring pilot among test audiences, and what was listed by several critics as one of the best new shows of the season. More importantly, 2 Broke Girls is at the forefront of what industry insiders are calling the year of female domination on broadcast television.

Of the 24 new shows to debut this fall, 14 are centered on a female character, compared to 7 that are centered on male characters, and of those, the majority of these men are struggling to determine what it means to be a man in a television landscape dominated by strong women. Even more telling are the behind the scenes statistics: six out of the ten new sitcoms were created by women, and the creators of ABC’s Revenge only got the go ahead once they changed their lead character to a women. Furthermore, viewership statistics show that women account for up to 65% of primetime viewing, meaning that advertisers are starting to demand shows that will deliver large female audiences. Looking at this season’s line up of new shows, it would appear that the television industry is finally delivering.

Television isn’t the only industry getting on the female bandwagon; Hollywood is starting to take notice as well. The summer season of Hollywood blockbusters has just ended, and in a season dominated by male superheroes, Bridesmaids has emerged has the underdog winner of the summer. Made on a budget of $32 million, written by two women, and starring a pitch perfect ensemble of women, Bridesmaids has now pulled in over $280 million worldwide, beating out a lot of other blockbuster juggernauts at the box office in turns of profits vs. budget.

While Bridesmaids was the story of the beginning of the season, then The Help was the story of the end of the season. Debuting in August in second place behind Rise of the Planet of the Apes, The Help went on to win the next three weekends at the box office, eventually pulling in over $150 million on a $25 million budget. This is all the more impressive given that August is the month that has commonly been known as the wasteland of summer movies, where films go to die.

So do these successes signal a turn of the tide? Only time will tell, but the immediate future looks promising. What’s Your Number? another female driven and written R-rated comedy is set to be released next week, and reports are that in the wake of Bridesmaids’ success, Hollywood producers are being inundated with scripts both written by and featuring women. Moreover, it is telling that the highest rated comedy on TV has put a heartbroken computer geek in the place of TV’s ultimate womanizing manwhore. Although the history of television tells us that over half of all new shows to debut in any given season will eventually fail, the odds are for once squarely in favor of women. One can only hope that this trend will continue, so we can finally arrive at a point where characters of either sex have equal opportunity to flourish and a television season can be judged solely on its artistic merits instead of the gender behind it.

For more information on women’s progress in media, look into the following organizations; both offer weekly newsletter updates.

Poverty in the United States

This week we got some unsettling news on income, poverty, and education that should leave us all deeply concerned.

Here are the facts from the census bureau as reported by the Wall Street Journal.

- the income of the typical American family has dropped for the third year in a row, is at the same level as 1996 when adjusted for inflation and 7% below its peak in 1999

-income of a household considered to be at the statistical middle fell 2.3% to an inflation-adjusted $49,445 in 2010

-Earnings of a typical man who works full-time year round are lower than in 1978 when adjusted for inflation

-Women are making 77 cents for every dollar earned by comparably employed men and their median incomes rose in 2010

-22% of American children live below the poverty line, up from 20.7% in 2009, and the biggest percentage since 1993 ( thought this significantly overstates poverty my mission government transfers)

-US per capita net worth is $169,691, up from $147,889 in 2007

-14 million Americans remain unemployed

-16.3% of Americans do not have health insurance, or 49.9 million people.

-5.9 million Americans between 25 and 34 (14.2% of that group) lived with their parent in Spring 2011, compared to 4.7 million (11.8%) before the recession

- the results from the college entrance exam, taken by about 1.6 million students, revealed that only 43% of students posted a score high enough to indicate they were ready to succeed at college.

(for many more FACTS check out the resource section of this web-site)

Thursday, September 8, 2011

President Obama on Job Creation

Here is my recount of the speech tonight. Where possible, I quoted. Thoughts at the end.

“We meet at an urgent time in our country. We still face the impact of the Financial Crisis and Political Crisis that has made things worse.”The U.S. has thrived under the basic concept that if you worked hard, you could make it in this country. That has eroded.“There are steps we can take right now to make a difference.”“American Jobs Act” – pass it right away. (most repeated line of the night) “Everything in this bill will be paid for. Everything. Point to put more people back to work, and more money in the pockets of people who are working. Small businesses are where most jobs are created.” Payroll tax credits for small business. Next. Spend money on schools. We will spend money on infrastructure. Tax credits for hiring veterans. Tax credits for hiring young people. Tax people who have been looking for a job for longer than 6 months. Extend unemployment insurance. No tax increases on the middle class.

Now… how to fund.

I will release a more ambitious deficit reduction plan next week… which includes increasing taxes on families earning more, as well as corporations. Medicare reform needed. “We need a tax code where everyone pays their fair share.”

Says we can do this. Create jobs and pay for it. A question of priorities. We need to out innovate companies in other countries. We need to shorten the patent process. Make exporting easier and more cost effective. We need to strengthen American company’s competitiveness. “Made in America.” ( lots of cheers) Training. Internships. Ra Ra.

“We can’t afford wasteful spending. We can’t burden business. I ordered a review of all government regulations. What we can’t do is let this economic crisis be used to wipe out basic protections that Americans have counted on for decades.” He rejects a lot of ideas…. (all good) “America should be in a race to the top.” ( lots of cheers)

“We built America together.” Members of Congress we need to meet our responsibilities. Everything I laid out will be paid for. ( really????)

Ended with a huge and passionate call to action. We cannot wait to pass this jobs bill.

My commentary…

Overall a really great speech. Big picture he spoke well to the issue of job creation, but it is the actual policies and practices that matter. Sounded great. Problem is that based on what I have read there is not enough money in taxing the rich and closing loopholes for corporations to fund new programs and tax breaks, let alone narrow the deficit. This was a pep rally for all things American, and it was good. We do have to come together to solve problems. Many are in serious need and to help. Agree.

“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Debt. Debt. Debt.

Debt. Debt. Debt. That was all we heard about this summer and with good reason. The US is in horrible shape and the numbers below put it all in perspective.

Here is why S&P downgraded the US credit rating.

* U.S. Tax revenue: $2,170,000,000,000

* Fed budget: $3,820,000,000,000

* New debt: $ 1,650,000,000,000

* National debt: $14,271,000,000,000

* Recent budget cut: $ 38,500,000,000

Now let's remove 8 zeros and pretend it's a household budget.

* Annual family income: $21,700

* Money the family spent: $38,200

* New debt on the credit card: $16,500

* Outstanding balance on the credit card: $142,710

* Total budget cuts: $385

This Thursday the President is being called upon to explain how is going to get the economy going again. Unlike the last go around, his options are more limited. Because of the numbers above which we have all been living and breathing for the fast few months, he does not have the ability to keep spending, nor should he. The public is demanding jobs but the problem is that our economy was fueled by spending financed through debt, and that has all but dried up. It is time to get creative and provide incentives for the private sector to invest and thus create employment opportunites. We are likely going to be in this slow to no growth scenerio for a while. For those expecting miracles, you may have a long time to wait

Thursday, September 1, 2011


What a summer! For the first time in forever I gave myself permission to take some time off and it was wonderful. Honestly, I kept thinking about this blog ( especially after watching the film Julia and Julia with my daughter) wondering how my readers might get along without me. Well I trust you all got along just fine but it is good to be back.

I am soon going to make the big move from BLOGSPOT to so if you have not yet visited my web-site and signed up there, please do. Unlike blogspot you can elect to have my entries emailed directly to you. In addition I am populating the site with some great resources that I hope you might find interesting and useful including a robust library and events list.

So what to expect this fall? Lots more sharing about great people, ideas, organizations and more. Since kicking in to high gear this week I have already had some incredible calls with amazing women I will feature in upcoming entries - Abassador Swannee Hunt ( check out her latest Oped in the Boston Globe appearing today), Jensine Larson of World Pulse, Pat Mitchell of the Paley Center for Media and Lisa Witter of Fenton Communications.

It's good to be back.

Monday, August 1, 2011

The Debt Ceiling and the US Economy

Not a small topic for a short blog entry. For weeks the headlines have been all about the US hitting their debt ceiling and the possibility of a default on government debt. Now it seems like we have a 'deal' that will stop that from happening, a deal that likely no one really understands let alone buys in to. That said, thank goodness there is one. One could only imagine what the consequences of a default might have been, but it might well be the case that we begin to live them out due to lack of faith that the government of this great country of ours may be ever able to stop us from drowning in debt. Monika Mitchell of Good Business International gives a great overview of this crisis which you can access by clicking here.

Many have been asking my opinion about the economy, the equity markets, the bond market and more, so here it is in brief. I would continue to hold cash, gold, fundamentally strong global equities, commodities broadly speaking over the long run, and not much else right now. Further it is likely that the US dollar will continue on it's long term descent, so beware that if all you own are dollar denominated assets your purchasing power will be eroded away.

Why concern on US equities? I believe the fundamentals remain very poor. Yes corporate earnings and balance sheets are strong but because of cost cutting primarily, which is largely done. Without a robust domestic consumer how much hope can their be? Further the economic numbers have been horrible - employment, GDP, and more. I am particularly worried about the financials given that spreads (difference in yield between government bonds and corporate/mortgage/high yield debt ) in general are narrow, issuance is down, and the poor real estate market will work it's way in to write-offs.

US bonds. Rates are so low, artificially low due to the huge treasury buying program which cannot go on forever. You are simply not getting paid enough to go long duration. For more on this read the latest commentary by bond manager/guru Bill Gross of PIMCO.

Gold - protection against a depreciating dollar, financial insecurity, and the declining faith in the US dollar as the currency of choice. For so much more on gold check out this website - JSmineset.

Sorry wish I could be more positive on both the economic and market outlook but I really see little good news out there. Bottom line we have spent beyond on our means for some time now, at multiple levels, and sooner or later you have to pay the price.

I am officially taking a blogging vacation so wishing you all a fabulous August.