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Brave Women Excel Other Women’s Bravery

August 6, 2020

A 6-minute inspirational recording for women or women entrepreneurs looking for motivation to excel better in their lives or businesses. 

Tracy Chamberlain Higginbotham
Author, Under the Rose-Colored Hat

Brave Women Excel Other Women to Bravery – A True Story

August 6, 2020

Thursday Thoughts, Wisdom, Success Strategies for Women, Female Entrepreneurs, Women in Business

After revealing my bald head to the world in April 2019, through a front page story in our city’s newspaper, I worried my two-decade entrepreneurial image had been shattered by the decision. Knowing the reveal was to help others, not myself, I tried my best to remember the reason for the decision. What happened next changed my life at the time and did again this morning as I read another article in the same newspaper.

Shortly after the April reveal I was approached by a father of a daughter with Alopecia who invited me to meet him, his daughter and two other women with connections to the auto-immune disease at a local restaurant. When the two women joined us at the table, both had hair, so I assumed they had family members with Alopecia. Only after getting comfortable with each other did they announce they were bald but wearing wigs. In fact, one of them owned the restaurant – a sister entrepreneur. There I sat with my pink hat on without a wig on – brave they told me. Comfortable, I told them.

Both women explained that they don’t tell others about their condition and go on with their lives and work. In fact the restaurant owner had just opened a second cafe to expand her enterprise, and there I sat wondering if I could return to work successfully having revealed my truth to my community. I wasn’t throwing a pity party for myself but I hadn’t come to grips with my new self-image. The four of us agreed to meet again at two local Senator’s offices to pitch the need for insurance to cover wig expenses for people with Alopecia and cancer patients who lose their hair from chemo treatments. We left for the Senator’s office, had our meeting and parted ways that snowy afternoon feeling good about our efforts.

It’s been a year since I’ve seen these women in person but one of them appeared in today’s paper with a brilliant story on her desire to reopen a popular restaurant closed by the pandemic. Not only is she reopening this favorite tavern, she is hiring back all the same staff, upgrading it a bit, and committing to finance the deal in the middle of a pandemic. To say I was overwhelmed seeing her stand in front of her new restaurant with a smile on her face, a beautiful wig, and confidence, is an understatement. If I ever need a “Wonder Woman” role model from this point forward, it is this woman who lives her life to the fullest even with Alopecia.

Women truly need the inspiration of other women to move on or up in their lives. I’ve known this for two decades as a woman entrepreneur planning events with only females as speakers to motivate the other female business owners in the room, but I never realized how much I needed to see the bravery of this woman I met to kick me in the seat a bit and get me going again. Granted living with my baldness is only two years old, and they have lived with theirs much longer, most likely adjusting over time, but gosh darn it, I want to be that woman standing in front of her third business helping others, my community, and proving to myself hair or no hair doesn’t make the woman.

I hope this blog post reminds you that sometimes we need to witness the bravery of women to reveal a part of ourselves that needs to take more action. Don’t ever be jealous of other women’s successes, realize they can teach and motivate you to higher levels of your own success.

Keeping Your Options Open

August 5, 2020

A 5-minute inspirational Wednesday Wisdom to inspire you to check out different business and personal options when making a decision. Be inspired today! 

Tracy Higginbotham
Women TIES, LLC 

Wednesday Wisdom: Keeping Your Options Open

August 5, 2020

Wednesday Wisdom, Business Success Strategies, Wisdom for Women Entrepreneurs, Female Entrepreneurs, Small Business Owners

A second viewing of the horror movie “It” coincided with a visit by my 18-year-old niece before she heads off to college as a freshman in two weeks. In case you never saw the movie, at one suspenseful part, two teenagers are being chased by an evil clown as they reach a dead end at the end of a long hall only to find 3 doors to choose from to allow their escape. Not knowing which one to select, they opened one door at a time slamming them shut since nothing helpful was behind them. Only the last door appeared to offer an option they could live through.

As my freshman niece told me about her South Carolina college’s choice to postpone the opening of school from August 20th to September 15th, leaving her disappointed, I asked what options she was considering knowing she did not want to begin her freshman year in the same bedroom she grew up in. She presented three options including applying for an exemption to be considered to arrive early staying in the only dorm they have open, trying to afford a 3-week expensive temporary apartment or hotel room in Charlestown, or starting her online courses somewhere else – like Lake Tahoe where a friend invited her to stay and start her courses from afar.

Like any decisions ever made, I suggested she do a gut and brain check to see what works best. Sometimes when you are in a scary situation, you don’t have much time to ponder your options. At other times, your option may be limited by others decisions leaving you hanging. But most times, we control multiple resolutions to small or big problems. The pandemic has made small businesses, like the ones renting in major malls or in the hospitality industry, realize they are at the mercy of the disease, health regulations or government mandates, making them hopeless for economic prosperity or recovery. But entrepreneurs always have options no matter the circumstances, even though we don’t love them all. It’s essential to remember we have more control then we think we have to find viable solutions once we view our situation realistically.

Today’s Wednesday Wisdom should make you consider your current economic or personal situation and see if you are stuck feeling void of options. If you are, muster up the energy to create a list of solutions. Write them down until you can’t write anymore. Then, rank the solutions based on complexity, timing, money, and how much the solution will improve your business, and numerically figure out the best next steps or solutions to take. Strategic planning tools can help with this process if your options are complex.

We can get paralyzed like the boys facing the three doors or unable to do what we truly desire like my niece, but we also are smart and creative enough to construct alternative plans and survive – if not thrive. We must get to work figuring out our situation and potential solutions. Keep in mind sometimes we discover options better suited for us than we could have imagined.

Strategic Planning and Biking Involve the Same Viewpoints

July 31, 2020

Friday Feelings, Business Success Strategies, Entrepreneurial Advice for Women Entrepreneurs, Female Business Owners, Small Businesses

After a good, long week of learning, Friday morning was free from technical education and my bike was calling me so off I went for a ten-mile ride under the rich green canopy, paved path, and winding forest around a lake. Fitness always makes me think of business lessons and today was no different, especially with a head full of new knowledge.

The first mile of the ride, I looked down past the handlebars and tires to check out the path’s condition. Fully focused on what was right below and in front of me to avoid any creepy dead animals from the lake, tree limbs, or resting water, my only attention was on the view immediately below my feet.

After the first mile, my eyes focused forward to avoid runners, roller-bladders, elderly people holding hands, and young parents walking children in strollers with pets in tow. I also needed to look forward because the path curves and bends wildly at times in the dark green foliage. Without peering forward to see where I was going in the short term, meant I might veer off path or run into someone. This secondary focus was essential for my biking safety and others.

The last mile of the bike ride, having lost the crowds of people and winding way, I looked up to the sky to take in the tops of the trees that kept me cool, the blue sky and white clouds floating by, with birds soaring – much like my own spirit. This long range, upward focused vision is what touched my heart biking.

After three days of strategic planning education, I quickly realized the analogy of biking and bicycle riding. A majority of business owners spend their time on the tasks immediately in front of them – those short term duties and responsibilities. At some point in their yearly entrepreneurial journey, they take their eyes off the short term tasks to gaze out to see where the “business road” is going due to market changes, Covid-19, competition, budget adjustments, and client requests.

Once a quarter, semi-annually, or annually, entrepreneurs should lift their eyes way above frequent responsibilities to touch base with their overall mission and vision, to feel the sweet air of success, and embrace some joy because before long they’ll be back at the practical, logical parts of planning and managing. If I never raised my chin, head ,and eyes to look above the tree tops towards the end of my bike ride, I wouldn’t have enjoyed it as much. It takes keen awareness after partaking in hard work in your business or on a bike ride, to glance at a vista to soak in the benefits and remind you why you work (aka bike) so hard.

So remember strategic planning is an essential part of your joy ride through a year of entrepreneurship. It’s equally important to focus on daily tasks as it is to look or project ahead to avoid bumps in the road, and to end with a wider view and appreciation of the work you’ve completed. Make sure to re-energize yourself quarterly by going back to your original business vision so you can keep peddling forward the next quarter with a clear direction, purpose, and plan.

Wednesday Wisdom – Sizzling Business Thoughts

July 29, 2020

A five-minute inspirational podcast to motivate and uplift women entrepreneurs, female business owners, and small business leaders. 

In entrepreneurial spirit, 
Tracy Chamberlain Higginbotham

Wednesday Wisdom – Sizzling Thoughts For Small Business Owners

July 29, 2020

Wednesday Wisdom, Business Success Strategies for Women Entrepreneurs, Female Business Owners, Small Business Leaders

The heat wave scorching our region was nothing like the sizzle of my brain emitting waves of energy after a three-hour strategic planning course with an intellectual woman. It’s been awhile since I’ve contemplated and analyzed facts, figures, unknowns, and relevant data regarding my enterprise, competition, partners, marketplace, and future horizons. When the course was done, I slowly lifted myself off my chair, half stumbled out the door, and did a head first plunge into the cold waters of my pool to cool my mind.

It has been awhile since I’ve taken challenging business courses to advance as a business woman. In the late 1980s, I worked full time in higher education and attended night school two nights a week for multiple semesters trying to earn an advanced degree. After my oldest son was born in 1991, which added more juggling with a full time job, part time school, and business travel, my advanced degree was put on hold. Only after last week’s strategic planning course did I realize I haven’t pushed myself academically as much as I should have the past twenty-five years.

Having a sister with two Masters degrees and a brother almost done with his PhD, I have grappled with finishing the degree primarily to keep my brain infused with knowledge in order to share it with business women who listen to me. When I began my Master’s program there weren’t online courses to take. In-person learning was the only way to earn your degree, but technological advances have made it possible for us to learn more in non-traditional avenues. Part of my new strategic plan will consider adding coursework to finish my Masters degree along with advancing Women TIES nationally and internationally by inviting more women to join us via online events since that is the way of the world now.

This Wednesday Wisdom is to inspire you to contemplate ways you can advance your knowledge in your field of expertise through online courses and programs. As our sons, daughters, and grandchildren turn to online learning to learn this fall, why shouldn’t we? It doesn’t mean in-person events or classroom learning won’t happen again or that we are giving up on the way things once were; it is embracing change that provides new opportunities to live, learn, and conduct business successfully.

Here’s to the part of our brains that need that extra sizzle once in a while to advance our knowledge. I for one think that’s better than just sizzling in the heat for no good reason.

Success Strategies: Screen Time is a Silver Lining

July 28, 2020

A five-minute podcast to inspire you to consider increased screen time as a silver lining in your business and life. 

Tracy Chamberlain Higginbotham
Women TIES, LLC 

Monday Motivation: Screen Time is a Silver Lining

July 27, 2020

Monday Motivation, Inspiration, Wisdom for Women Entrepreneurs, Female Business Owners, Small Businesses

As daughters of a woman who didn’t want us watching television on beautiful summer days, my sister and I grew up finding lovely summer mornings our literal playground. A simmering lake with a sailfish, dock with inner tubes, and invitations to join others on motor boats were our way of summer living. The only place we watched TV was at my Aunt’s house where they had the very special “cable room” with access to a multitude of stations and programs. It was a unique treat to be able to watch so many different movies and shows after a long day of frolic on the lake.

Just as I launched my first company in the 1995, it made sense I didn’t have a computer at home. The only place I used a screen to process work was in my higher education job where the Internet, websites and screen life was changing from typewriters to personal computers. Laptops and iphones were not part of the screen scene yet. My only computer training occurred at that job. It wasn’t until I started my pioneering home-based business that I realized quickly I needed a computer to conduct work. Thanks to a gift from a ‘wealthy’ friend of my husband’s, I landed his college computer to work on. The new screen was all I needed to get working since my service business didn’t require much more technology at that time besides a $750 new website to promote my new business.

Fast forward 25 years – a quarter-century – to this week reviewing my calendar to see a Zoom Podcast interview today, my own Women TIES Zoom Program for women entrepreneurs tomorrow, two Zoom educational events for myself to learn strategic planning Wednesday and Thursday, and then a Zoom networking call with new ‘strategy buddies’ on Friday. My life as a woman entrepreneur in the new pandemic screams only of screen time. Even my enjoyment watching the Dave Matthews Band happens now every Wednesday night on my family television instead of in person. I laugh when my iphone tells me my “screen time has increased 14%” on any given week.

My 87-year-old aunt reminded me recently of popcorn nights with soda during her upbringing when an uncle was the only family member with a new black and white television. The entire family exuberantly gathered around to watch a show, enjoy time together, and be grateful for the new medium. Perhaps we should feel that way today learning and working from our screens instead of having “Zoom exhaustion?”

As one a member said to me recently, life is too short not to look for silver linings in situations, perhaps today is the day you realize the advancements in technology can keep you educated, connected, and even inspired in this social distancing situation for work and family. You can also have the best of both worlds by conducting business via screen time and then going dark, putting your phone down and turning your computer off and get outside to enjoy this beautiful season of life in Central New York.

Offering the Olive Branch to Wronged Customers

July 23, 2020

Thursday Thoughts, Wisdom, Inspiration for Women Entrepreneurs, Female Business Owners, Small Businesses

A decade ago an entrepreneurial client recounted a memory involving poor communication with me that I couldn’t recall. Sifting back through ten years of correspondence to trigger my recollection to assure myself and her it was an innocent mistake preoccupied my mind. Frustrated at the fact a customer held onto a negative experience without sharing it with me made me instantly want to right the wrong in her eyes and memory.

After finding some evidence to set the record straight, I decided to first take a long bike ride to consider my next move before sending it to her. Did I need to be right? Isn’t the customer always right? Why was it so important to show what I found? I was confused on how best to handle this apparent customer service snafu, so instead I jumped on my bike taking in nature’s beauty to gain wisdom and settle my conflicting emotions since customer service has always been a strong suit and priority.

As I returned to my office, I decided to share via email documents I had that answered questions she had hoping to make her feel better. Although it was old business, I still wanted to make it right even if it meant no future business between us would occur. When you are an authentic person, the best you can do is behave honestly hoping the other person sees your side of the situation clearer. Without hope she would, I still wanted to appease my mind. I saw this woman as a great business owner who had my respect. The situation made me think contemplate whether it is more important for us to like our customers more or for our customers to like us more. Should all client relationships be 50% propositions in all areas of business?

I would garner based on my recent experience that it is hard to tell if a business/client relationship is 50/50 in feelings, respect, and benefits. Like time, things change and if we, as women entrepreneurs, don’t pay enough attention to our clients, the relationship can get unbalanced, feelings hurt, the agreement strained, and misunderstandings lead to mistrust. In a world where technology replaces face-to-face, or even voice-to-voice communication, misunderstandings can go years unnoticed unintentionally.

Is today the day you should take inventory of your customer relationships? If you find or hear of someone disgruntled or dissatisfied with you or your business, are you a big enough person or strong enough leader to extend the olive branch even if you don’t believe you did anything wrong? How important is your reputation to your piece of mind and business?

We can’t possibly right every unintentional wrong we commit as business owners especially if we don’t know we caused an issue, but when we know we did, we need to set our egos aside, muster the right response, and make concessions to alleviate any unintentional hurt someone has experienced. Being the bigger person in the end, is always the right answer.

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