Hey all you women! Looking for a way to look good at a party? Forget bragging rights to house with a picket fence. Forget a plastic-surgeried body that defies gravity. Here are the status symbols for a new generation:
1. A flexible job. This is practically a pre-requisite for being able to successfully balance work and personal life. Ironically, most of these jobs come from years of conniving and strategizing under the guise of being a power-mongering ladder climber. After all, most companies do not capitulate to flexibility until they have fallen in love with you for your performance and ambition.
2. An awesome nanny. Everyone brags about their nanny because if you don't think your nanny is great then how can you leave her with your kids?
But most nannies are not that great. Here is what a status-symbol nanny looks like: She never calls in sick, she can plan and execute a dinner without your input, she doesn't berate you when your kid has a cut from falling off the bed under your care. And longevity counts — if you can keep a nanny for more than two years, the implication is that you are a great manager.
3. A competent husband. Household competence, that is. Delegate everything you can to your assistant. But there are some things that would be heartless to delegate, like choosing a birthday present for your nine-year-old son. This is where a husband comes in. What if your husband knows so much about your kids that he remembers the birthday and decides what to buy, but also makes time to forage for it in the stores? That is real competence.
When it comes to a status symbol husband, you do not delegate to him so much as confer, and you make a similar amount of time in your lives for taking care of your home life. If you find this kind of husband, women will drool over him as if he were the captain of the high school football team.
4. A caffeine-free life. Sure, a lot of women do this during pregnancy, but as soon as the baby pops out, the caffeine ramps up. I don't know any non-pregnant woman who works in business and has kids and abstains from caffeine. Except for Sallie Krawheck, chief financial officer of Citigroup. I don't know how she does it, but she seems so stable and organized to live without caffeine.
I tell this to myself every night at 9pm, which is when I have to get ready for bed in order to get eight hours of sleep and wake up with my son at 5:30 am. But there's always one more very important thing that I haven't done. Sallie must do her very important things first thing every day. Which is what we all should do.
5. A reputation for helping. The standards for women have changed. The status symbols have changed. But all that talk of women “playing like men” is nonsense to me. Women have been helping each other forever, and now is no exception. The women we look up to are those who have a track record for figuring out how to leverage their power and resources to help other women. Give advice freely, mentor someone, share your experience at the glass ceiling so another woman can go higher. A fulfilling career requires that you give as well as receive.
There's a good reason that women brag about the stuff on this list: It's the stuff that really does impact one's happiness. This is a list of things that will improve your life more than a raise or a top-tier vacation. These are things that will pave the way for you to have fun during the day and rest well at night.