Monthly Archives: August 2013

How To Stump A Grandmother With A Simple Question…

“What is your favorite movie?”

My 11 year old granddaughter Ella caught me off guard with that question. She seemed quite serious about getting an answer, but I couldn’t come up with one.  “Let me think about it”, I told her.

Actually, what she really wanted to do was to tell me about her favorite movie. She had no hesitation at all. The Hunger Games.  And, she was glad to tell me why.

Katniss, the main character, is “awesome”. She is pretty, strong and smart.  Finnick Odair, one of the boys in the movie, is awesome too. In fact, Ella plans to marry someone exactly like him, right down to the British accent (which she has been practicing). The next movie in the series, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, is premiering on November 22 and she is counting down the days. The first movie was shot in the mountains of North Carolina, not far from Asheville, so she wants me and her Papa to take her there on her next visit. The books are great, she said, and you “must” read them before you see the movies.


Fortunately, she didn’t ask me about my favorite movie again. I felt bad not having an answer. Why couldn’t I come up with the name of my favorite movie?

Then it hit me.  Ella has just a few short years of movies to choose from. I have …. get ready for it … over 50 years of choices!  No wonder an answer doesn’t roll easily off my tongue.

I didn’t see movies when I was young like Ella.  The movie theater (the only one around) was about 20 minutes away. My dad didn’t care for movies (or, more specifically, he didn’t like movie theaters) and my mom didn’t drive.  It was only when I could drive myself or date someone with a car that I began to go to the theater. One of the first movies was Rosemary’s Baby … not a great choice since it scared me to death.

As I think back on the “decades” of movies I’ve seen … first in theaters, then on DVD’s and TV, and now on Netflix streaming and pay-per-view, I realize that the word favorite is tricky.  Favorite comedy? Favorite drama?  Favorite romance? Favorite futuristic flick? Favorite monster movie? Favorite psychological drama? Favorite documentary?  Favorite adventure movie?

Now that I think about it, I could have mentioned West Side Story from the 60’s; Star Wars, Rocky, Saturday Night Fever and The Sting in the 70’s; Top Gun, Ghostbusters and Indiana Jones in the 80’s; Forrest Gump, Pretty Woman and Sleepless in Seattle in the 90’s; Slumdog Millionaire, Seabiscuit and Million Dollar Baby in the 00’s; and The King’s Speech, Life of Pi and The Social Network since 2010. She probably wouldn’t have known any of these, of course.

So, maybe I should have told her that I have a lot of favorite movies, but not one all-time, overall favorite.

Or even better, maybe I should have told her that my favorite movie is The Hunger Games. She would have been skeptical, but pleased. And the truth is that I actually liked the movie a lot and plan to watch the sequel.

86 days and counting!

Cathy Green

p.s. You may want to start thinking about the answer to the favorite movie question before it stumps you. Or, maybe you really have one all-time favorite movie? Let me know!

Not Being Liked: A Woman’s Penalty For Success?

Recent research suggests that some of the analysis mentioned by Sheryl Sandberg in her efforts to get women more focused on their own professional success is no longer quite accurate. The recent Zenger Folkman’s research seems to indicate that likability and success go together with both male and female leaders.

Courtesy Forbes

Courtesy Forbes

During my career that began in the 70s, considering what others thought of me was an obvious goal. Competence always mattered — but colleagues and clients had to like me and be comfortable with me first — especially since I was a woman. Most working people valued and worked hard to achieve being liked and respected. In the age before social media, that meant either externally conforming to the aspired-to group, or working to demonstrate some widely regarded behavior of a good and/or successful person. Great leaders inspire respect — a little fear would be an example — and given the times, that meant mainly men. Or, to put it differently, there weren’t many women leaders period — to like or not like.
It’s not that I don’t hope the Zenger Folkman research isn’t correct — I believe that it is correct and changing all the time. Changing in the direction of men and women being “liked” for similar reasons of ethical, successful, competent behavior.
What had me worried for a while was the raging narcissism and undeserved self-love that workplace professionals developed in the last 10 years (did the recession make us nuts? My initial take is that it sure didn’t help!). People no longer seemed to care if people in general liked or respected them. Many people started wanting “likes” on Facebook more than the respect of others in the workplace–not bad of course, but little to do with liking, respecting or thinking well of people because they were seriously deserving of it.
I am certain now, that in retrospect, needing to be liked as much as we thought it mattered didn’t really matter as much as we thought. And that our own ‘over 60’ view of caring less and less about others’ opinions is due to age making us feel more entitled. Also because the culture overall has been saying over the last 10 years: “who gives a damn what anyone else thinks?” Neither is particularly admirable. You don’t have to have the respect of everyone… but no one?
But there does seem to be a limit to how disconnected and crazy self-involved people can become before a reality check happens. As more people seek to have lives of balance both professionally and personally, research on how to do that continues to circle back to the wisdom of the ages — albeit in new clothes. Being a person who is authentic, focused on achieving good for both themselves and others, who is healthy and happy and strong is returning as a definition of success. And that now pertains to BOTH men and women.
Maybe we could produce a new 2013 version of “It’s A Wonderful Life” with fewer core character changes than we thought would be needed just 10 years ago. People are learning what other smart people before them have — man or woman, being liked for reasons of character and substance is something worth striving for and this is, thankfully, actually what is happening for both sexes.

It’s Almost My Birthday: Reflections on Aging and Insurance

“Dear Ms. Green:

In September, you’ll turn 63, an age when many life insurance companies will begin to look at you differently. From now on, when you need financial protection for your family, you may find the health questions will be a lot tougher… Getting accepted a lot more difficult … the coverage offered to you of lesser quality… In fact, rates are already set to go higher for you the moment you turn 63 in September. That’s only days from now.  Time may be running out on good life insurance offers available to you.”
OMG. Time is running out? Rates will go higher THE MOMENT I turn 63?


I didn’t feel so “fabulous” as I read this unsolicited letter that arrived in the mail yesterday.  I wasn’t looking forward to turning 63 … but I wasn’t dreading it either.  In fact, I didn’t think there was anything especially problematic about that age. I had a hard time when I turned 60 … and was looking ahead to the probability of having a hard time at 65 … and an even worse time at 70. But 63?
I needed some perspective, so I googled famous people who are 63 in an effort to feel better about myself. The good news is that the list of famous 63 year-olds who are still alive is longer than the list of those who checked out at that age. Among the women, there’s Twiggy, Morgan Fairchild, Victoria Principal, Bonnie Raitt, Natalie Cole, Sigourney Weaver and Cybill Shepherd – all of them looking pretty good and doing fine as far as I can tell. On the male side, there’s Richard Gere, Bruce Springsteen, Richard Branson, and Gene Simmons. Gene looks a little worse for the wear, but the others are looking pretty good and hanging in there, right?
Just for fun (and because I was pissed off at the life insurance company for making me feel old) I googled life expectancy in the US. What I learned is that just by making it to age 50, I have given myself a couple more possible years. Here are the numbers from the web site of the Social Security Administration:

SS table

So, it looks like I have a shot at living another 18.5 years beyond this birthday. The downside is that if I make it, I’ll have to deal with turning 75 and 80. Hopefully, no one will care by then about surprising me with birthday parties.
The thought of living to 81, however, made me think that it actually might be worthwhile to lose some weight and get a face lift. I’ll just skip the insurance and apply the money I would have spent on premiums to a personal trainer and a plastic surgeon instead.
Cathy Green

Brian Williams, Honey Boo-Boo and Me: A Rant About TV

Last night, I watched one of my recorded episodes of Rock Center with Brian Williams, which also happened to be the second to last episode of the show. It was cancelled.
Apparently, according to some news reports, the show “never found its audience”.
I enjoyed Rock Center. This episode, for example, had stories about Cesar Millan (The Dog Whisperer), a young boy genius who invented his own nuclear fusion reactor at age 14, robotic surgery innovations and a 1969 training film for “stewardesses”. What I liked about the program is that the stories were always interesting … educational, but generally fun and upbeat too.
Full disclosure: I would probably like anything that Brian Williams hosted. I think he is handsome, funny, sophisticated and a great dresser. He’s “on my list”, which means that Ray knows that if he calls, I’m out of here. Ha!


Now here comes my rant:
Rock Center, they say, never found its audience. But do you know which shows have apparently found theirs? Here’s a list of some of the top “reality” programs: Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, The Bachelorette, America’s Got Talent, Big Brother, Duck Dynasty, America’s Next Top Model and So You Think You Can Dance. These programs have big audiences!!!
OK, I know I’m being very, very judgmental here, and I’m sorry if one of these shows is your favorite. I admit that I haven’t watched any of them, except for the occasional remote control drive by. Maybe I just don’t get it. Maybe there are some socially redeeming qualities I just haven’t taken the time to find.
Anyway, what I do know is that I’m sad that Brian didn’t find his audience, while Honey Boo Boo found hers.

sad face

Cathy Green

Photo credit: NBC

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