I never burned a bra, the underwires were so hard to light with a Bic but I have quietly fought against the glass ceiling for all of my adult life.  I remember in my early career complaining to management that the other executive at my level was male and made 40% more than I.  The boss looked stunned at my ignorance when he responded flippantly, “Well of course he does, he’s a guy”.  Laws were there to protect me at the time.  But I feared losing my job and being tainted for future opportunities.  I stayed on and I’ve done OK. 

I’m not a rabid Hillary Clinton fan.  She angered me when she tried to make health care mandatory for all part-time employees back in the 90’s and I was a struggling business owner.   Her plan would have put me out of business.  But I found the March 14th Newsweek article, The Hillary Doctrine most compelling particularly side-bar Gender Matrix.

Here are some of the facts assembled by or extrapolated from the data collected by the World Economic Forum: 

  1. Educating a girl one year beyond the national average boosts her earning power between 10 and 20 percent
  2.  Countries with higher levels of female secondary-school enrollment have lower infant mortality, lower rates of HIV and AIDS infection, and better child nutrition.
  3. The WEF 2011 Gender Gap Index shows that a nation’s prosperity correlates with the level of parity between women and men (in education, health, economic opportunity, and political empowerment).   Countries with the smallest gaps in 2010 were Iceland, Norway and Finland.  Pakistan, Chad and Yeman had the largest.
  4. According to the WEF, the U.S. could boost its GDP by as much as 9 percent by putting more women in leadership positions in business and government and working harder to correct pay inequities.
  5. Women still only earn 77% of their male counterparts for equal work.
  6. In the Asia-Pacific region, countries are losing between $42 billion and $46 billion a year, according to the WEF by restricting women’s access to the workforce.
  7. When women earn their own money, they spend on their families at more than twice the rate of men.
  8. Worldwide, companies perform better and produce better ideas when their highest ranks have gender diversity.
  9. And from another source:  The first woman to rule a country as an elected leader in the modern era was   Bandaranaike of Sri Lanka, who was elected as prime minister of the island nation in 1960 and later re-elected in 1970.    It is interesting that Sri Lanka ranked ahead of the U.S. in the 2010 WEF analysis.
  10. And from my own personal experience:  Women with whom I have worked are frequently more tactile (feelers), men more visual or auditory.  Decisions that are made with the input of both genders and several generations tend to be more thoughtful, fair and enduring.

Please share your thoughts with me..

I just spent the last three days unnerved–actually, really frightened– locking my doors and windows, hiding in my home and office, and worrying about “what ifs.”  The source of my anxiety was an e-mail that arrived in my husband’s office  e-mail,  initiated by someone who called himself “The Contractor.”   He claimed that a “friend” had contracted to pay $50K to assassinate my husband in a way that no one would suspect. 

Having had an attack of conscience, he
offered to call off the “hit” for the sum of $70,000.  Unlike the typical scam, the English was perfect, the writer seemed to know details about us and it did not require us to respond.  It forbad contact with police, FBI or any authority and promised the assassination would be carried out if my husband did not follow the instructions explicitly.   

It closed with the caution that we should do as we were told or spend the rest of our lives looking over our shoulders wondering when it would happen. The Contractor wrote, “I’ll be in touch within 72 hours and I expect the first $20,000 at that time.”  We’re good Internet researchers, but we couldn’t find any references to this type of scam.  The anxiety rolled over us.

We called our local police department, and the chief responded to the call.  At the time, he believed there wasn’t anything they could do; the next day, though, he requested that my husband file a police report that they would use to execute a search warrant on Google.  The website.  A search warrant on Google!  

I didn’t sleep well the first night but moved the next morning to DEFCOM 1, which means “Defense Readiness Commission,” if you  haven’t seen a recent sci-fi movie where aliens attack the White House.  Just as a point of reference, 911 put the U.S. at DEFCOM 3 and the Cuban Missile Crisis at DEFCOM 2.  As a nation, we have never been at DEFCOM1, but I’m personally there now.

For starters, I’m angry at myself for worrying about this nonsense and being unable to shed that inner voice that says, “But what if this is real?"  My husband jokes that he feels slighted that The Contractor would get only a lousy $50,000 for putting him down.  But what kind of person gets their jollies at this level?  Then I remembered all of the “greed” scams that sit in my junk/deleted box and a cold chill ran down my back.  If there are thousands of people taken in by the Nigerian Scam, how much more powerful would this approach be to that same target market?


I know my mother.  I am surrounded by people who love their families deeply and without reservation.  If my mother were to receive this type of message and it threatened her life she would share it with me and I could easily dissuade her.  BUT, if the message threatened me, my sisters or any one of her grandchildren, she would empty her bank accounts, sell all that she owns and tell no one for fear that harm would befall a loved one.  The prospect is terrifying. 


I have a college degree.  My husband graduated from Stanford Law School with honors, and yet we bought into this scam emotionally.  Our web-savvy intellects couldn’t control our fears.  Tyler Clementi is dead after being humiliated by web postings of his intimate relationship with another man and the students responsible are being charged with invasion of privacy.  Senator Lautenberg, D-NJ suggested that “Colleges should adopt a code of conduct that prohibits bullying and harassment…”   Will a threat of expulsion fix this problem?  Our children are committing suicide because of the powerful emotional stigma imposed on them by their social networks—Facebook, Twitter, and the rest.  Seniors’ savings are being drained by scammers who promise windfalls.  And now the web has become the grim reaper.


The Internet is where I spend my entire work day.  It’s where I shop, and it’s where I find virtually all of the information that I need for the articles, books, and seminars I write.  But there are corners of the web where evil thrives.  I do not believe in killing mosquitoes with cannons and I can think of no way that the web can be adequately monitored or controlled that does not also restrict freedom.


9/11 occurred while I was consulting out of town.  I watched the events unfold from my hotel room.  I couldn’t get a flight out so I rented a car and drove all night to get to the safety of my own home.  In the middle of the night, exhausted, driving on a dark, deserted road, the enormity of what had just happened hit me and I began to sob uncontrollably.  I’d lost my innocence.  That’s how I felt two nights ago:  My life had been invaded.

This scam is just as deadly and could have consequences equally tragic.  It makes people afraid and desperate; the stress, anxiety, depression, panic and fear could cause a stroke, heart attack or other serious illness.  It can literally frighten someone to death.  It will be the fear--not the hit man, not The Contractor--that pulls the trigger. 

I need you to help me alert those around you about the existence of this scam.  I did not include the actual e-mail because it is so chilling.  Please send this alert to everyone you know and ask them to do the same.  Just send this link www.greatplacesinc.com/KathyChat/.  And thank you!



Dear Kathleen,  (From my Mom)

I have been receiving telephone calls from people who claim they wish to give me millions of dollars because my phone number was drawn in a Vegas lottery.  I haven't been to Vegas in years.  I hung up on the first guy.  But a few hours later another fellow called and was more insistent.  He said he wanted to come over and bring me the money.  I asked if we could make the appointment for tomorrow so that we could give the police plenty of time to fit it in their schedule.  This guy hung up.

Good Job Mom,
I asked some friends to ask around about this kind of solicitation.  I was appalled to hear how ,many not only have been approached, but that two of their relatives were embarrassed to report they had fallen for it and lost at least several hundred dollars.

Just today, six offers to give me millions landed in my junk mailbox.  I deleted them. But more arrive every day.   A couple of years ago my beloved husband wasted most of a Saturday morning composing responses to one he'd received, a variation on the Nigerian Scam.

This particular letter was from a "highly placed" government ministry official in Gambia, claiming that he and a few of his fellow employees have managed to accrue some $18,500,000 from foreign investments.  He needed to find a "trusted silent partner" to get the money out of Gambia.  He couldn't do it himself because his country had some silly law about such things.  After an extensive search the group had picked my husband out of the billions of candidates as his guy.  Laurry was promised a 10% commission and parts of all the future deals the boys were planning to make with their stash.

Here is my hubby's reply:

Dear Nelson, 
What exciting news!  I am thrilled that you would think of me in this intriguing, exciting, remunerative--and, ultimately, criminal--assignment.  Needless to say, I am fascinated by the opportunity and totally committed to working cooperatively with you to bring about a successful outcome.  

I'm sure you are aware that I'm an attorney admitted to practice in the states of California, Oregon and Minnesota, as well as the U.S. Supreme Court.  Consequently, I realize that you intend to violate various federal and state wire fraud statutes, as well as the so-called "RICO" act. 

So, before we move forward, I have a couple of questions.  How are you planning to (a) camouflage your activities without getting indicted within the first, say, 15 minutes of your operation and (b) raise the necessary bail money and (c) hire the squadron of attorneys that will be required under the circumstances? 

I must tell you Nelson, that I have grave doubts that the eighteen five will even cover expenses.  On the plus side, the U. S. has some positively spa-like prisons where you are almost  guaranteed a sentence of 15 to 20 years hard time.  

I eagerly await your response, as do the Minnesota and United States Attorneys General to whom I have taken the liberty of sending your offer.  I know you asked that I be "discreet," but surely we can trust other attorneys. 

My best to you and the rest of the team,

We would all like to win the lottery or experience some windfall but those opportunities rarely come along.   Research shows that scams are mushrooming in this economy.  They are easy targets for both foreign and domestic scams (some from within their own families). 

Please e-mail friends and relatives or mention to neighbors over your backyard fence that none of these claims are legitimate.  Caution them to never give out a social security number, bank  or credit card numbers to anyone over the phone or on the web unless they are absolutely sure they are talking to a trusted source or are on a secure site.

Please write me at kathy@greatplacesinc.com.  I'd like to hear whether this is as wide spread as it appears and the stories of anyone who has been hurt by responding. 

Dear Kathy,
If you are your parents' health care surrogate, power of attorney or primary caregiver, consider keeping a diary of their medical exams, treatments, operations and prescription drugs.  Dates, doctors’ names and a line or two concerning the exam or procedure can turn out to be useful in case of insurance issues, the need for a second opinion, malpractice or cause of death. 

A case in point; my mother died eight months after breaking her leg in a fall.  She was 93 and had been walking, with a walker, until the fall but was bedridden thereafter.  The medical examiner asked me for the date of the fall and subsequent procedures to help him recover the official records and determine whether death was due to natural causes or accidental.  She had an accidental death insurance policy, so it turns out to be of financial interest.
Connie from Delaware

Dear Connie,
Thank you so much for giving our readers this sound advice.  Most adult children are ill prepared for the roles they will fulfill as their parents age. They have no idea what the ramifications might be for their actions, or lack thereof, until it is too late.   We will be sending your advice out to all who receive our newsletter, making it a blog topic and incorporate it into the Toolkit Legal revision due out next month. 

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