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Kindness is a Special Key in Business

July 17, 2019

Inspiration, Motivation, Wisdom for Women Entrepreneurs, Solo Entrepreneurs, Women in Business

In a warm bustling Italian café sitting across from a friend, who is also one of my board members, we talked about challenging teenage life faced by our children. My friend laughed as I recounted my own shenanigans in an attempt to make her daughter’s current experiences seem normal since my friend admitted to being a straight A student who never rebelled. She acknowledges she was a nerd as I giggle with her.

As we walked out the door in a lighthearted mood, a woman near the door looked at me with my pink hat and lack of hair and said, “I’ve just been diagnosed myself.” I knew she thought I had cancer since I get that comment a lot by my appearance. I responded, “Oh, I’m sorry to hear your news. What were you diagnosed with?” She told me about her recent bile duct cancer diagnosis and admitted she was having a hard time. Then she said, “What do you have?” I responded, “It is not cancer, it is alopecia.” Then I said, “But I love giving hugs to women who need support,” and I reached out and hugged her.

My friend was witnessing the exchange and said to me, “Tracy, it must be hard every time someone thinks you have cancer.” I admit I typically feel guilty but realize it is okay because it is about the other person needing to acknowledge and share their own story, more than it is about me or my appearance. “If I can give someone a hug and it makes them feel better, I’m glad. If I could hug every woman who has cancer, illness or a health condition, I would if it made them feel better,” I announced. “You are kind Tracy,” my friend says.

In the current American state of affairs and throughout social media, kindness isn’t often talked about. In fact, it’s ignored. Kindness isn’t talked about either in customer service policies. Kindness is typically a word reserved for young children making friends or helping someone who is in need. It is not part of business vocabulary as much as it should be. Perhaps because I learned to be kind from my two grandmothers, I am.

I believe in delivering kindness as a woman entrepreneur working with other women. Entrepreneurship can be a tough, solo journey and who better than another woman to soften the hard times by lending an ear or shoulder. The genuine act of touch is needed in today’s world. It might not be what we want from men in the #metoo age but it is a natural gift women can give each other. I often apologize for hugging everyone I meet by saying, “I’m sorry I’m a hugger!” It might not be what gets me to the top of the most accomplished women in business charts but it’s the essence of relationships and how I care for people. At the core, kindness is simple and underrated.

Today’s Wednesday Wisdom is to have you think of kind people who have been in your life and then infusing their gentle, affirming spirit into yours. Could your business use more kindness as a principle customer service policy? Could you do more kind acts for your clients or staff? What type of difference could weaving kindness into your business principles do to change customer loyalty or office attitude?

I think life’s too short not to be kind. It is so easy to give and costs nothing but delivers big rewards that reverberate in the relationships and business atmosphere. Just like the gentle warm summer breeze sweeps us up in its arms, let’s introduce kindness in business more often to lift the people we meet and surround us.

Number One Priority for Women Entrepreneurs: Essential Self Care

July 10, 2019

Inspiration, Wednesday Wisdom, Motivation for Women Entrepreneurs, Women in Business, Women in Sports

Under an aqua blue umbrella, in the shade of a half century old maple tree, two women sat sipping ice cold water to stay comfortable. It was a warm July Monday with cardinals tweeting and sun glowing. The setting was perfect for a discussion on self-care for working women. A typical work place setting it was not; yet ideal for the honest conversation unfolding.

Adam, Tracy and Thomas Higginbotham

They both recognized how women typically spend the first twenty-five years of their lives following a similar trajectory of school, college, marriage, bearing children and working until they become empty-nesters finally realizing their unique passions become side-tracked or forgotten. Women are naturally consumed with taking care of others before realizing they haven’t taken care of themselves. This recognition comes when health, loneliness or even despair often finds them mid-life.

Some women are fortunate with careers reignited by the fuel of freedom when post-college sons or daughters find careers; but others struggle to fill their time with something more meaningful when the duties of motherhood are done. If a woman spends all her time paying attention to everyone else’s needs, she can find herself depleted of direction and passion. It is essential women take self-care seriously during all stages of life, but especially when they are exhausted putting everyone else first.

Twice in my two-decade career I found myself in need of medical sabbaticals necessitating a break from the typical hours of my busy work life as a solo entrepreneur. Throughout this time period, I witnessed other women needing to do the same due to health, marriage or family issues. In the American way of life, its hard to admit to needing time away from work to concentrate on personal issues. It may be seen as weakness or lack of passion when it’s really about survival or obligation.

Since solo women entrepreneurs represent a majority of my organization, I try to lead by example with honesty about my needs to take a break while being treated with new medicines, stepping away to attend to a dying father or happily spending time with my sons before leaving for college. We forget we become women entrepreneurs for the freedom and flexibility of career life. We are in charge. We choose our path, time and efforts.

Today’s Wednesday Wisdom is meant to remind you that you are a “woman” first and “entrepreneur” second. If you want to spend time with a high school friend, take two weeks off work to enjoy the weather or seek respite for self-care, you can! You have control over your life. If you have a good communications plan to announce a short respite, then send it knowing your clients will understand and will be there when you return. Turn off your electronic devices and attend to yourself first.

Summer is the best time to depart your typical office structure, spend mornings in nature, have lunch lakeside, sign up for an autumn retreat, seek additional medical or mental health options or reprioritize your life. Self-care is essential for your current and future success.

Wednesday Wisdom Independence Day Edition: True Freedom for Women

July 3, 2019

Inspiration, Wednesday Wisdom, Motivation for Women, Women Entrepreneurs, Women in Sports, Women in Business

On July 4, 2016, Secretary Hillary Clinton‘s staff released their draft of the Democratic National Convention platform which included passing the Equal Rights Amendment including Equal Pay, Paid Leave and Caregiving (according to an article on the National Women’s Political Caucus website). The NWPC’s stance, similar to Clinton’s, was about the “plight of women and focusing solutions to make the United States of America better and equal for women.”

I think it is important this year to share some herstory behind the ERA as we celebrate our country’s 243 years of independence tomorrow because we need to continue to push for and support efforts to pass it. If you don’t know much about the ERA’s history, be inspired today:

Growing more frustrated with the Legislature’s failure to adopt the Equal Rights Amendment, in July, 1971 Bella Abzug, Gloria Steinem, Shirley Chisholm, Betty Friedan and others, organized a conference in Washington, DC. Over 320 women attended from twenty-six states and the National Women’s Political Caucus (NWPC), a national, bipartisan, grassroots membership organization was born. In 1971, women represented just 1 percent of elected officials nationwide. The Equal Rights Amendment was passed by Congress on March 22, 1972 and sent to the states for ratification. In order to be added to the Constitution, it needed approval by legislatures in three-fourths (38) of the 50 states. It never passed. We are one state short of its passage.”

The current call of action is “Just One More State” which is needed to finally pass the ERA. Activists are trying to conclude the campaign that began more than 86 years ago, when the first proposed ERA was introduced in Congress. The Virginia Slims’ motto, “We’ve come a long way baby” isn’t true as we celebrate another Fourth of July without equal rights for women.

Lisa Liddle March 26, 2017, at Rinconada Park in Palo Alto.

Today’s July 3rd Wednesday Wisdom is to remind you as we celebrate our country’s independence from Britain, women still don’t have equal protection as men under law. As you place your hand on your heart and sing the national anthem, sense how ultimately amazing the feeling will be one day when the ERA is passed and women have equal rights under law including equal pay, paid leave and more.

We are proud Americans, but it would be better to be proud, independent female Americans with every single right that men have bestowed on them. Let’s keep up the work so in 2020 we can finally be equal in all respects. Happy Independence Day!

Business Wisdom: Reconnecting With Old Clients, Staff and Friends

June 26, 2019

Inspiration, Wednesday Wisdom, Motivation for Women Entrepreneurs, Women in Business, Female Athletes

Unless we have children or grandchildren in school, we forget another season of their lives have ended. They will never sit in the same classroom again, walk the locker-lined halls with the same classmates or study with the same teachers once they advance to a higher grade. I remember vividly receiving my yellow report card from grade school to see if I passed and to compare next year’s teacher’s name with my closest friends to see if we were going to be in the same classroom next year.

As I skipped home from school, because I lived across from my elementary school, I was excited for summer vacations, relaxed schedules and relief from homework. I didn’t miss my friends because we grew up on a lake, in a close community, where I could bike to my friends’ houses, swim with them lakeside or ride in our sail and motor boats all summer long. I didn’t have to give up seeing them just because school ended and summer arrived.

An unknown author said, “Sometimes people come into your life for a moment, a day, or a lifetime. It matters not the time they spend with you but how they impacted your life in that time.” Last week as business women joined me at the “Party in the Garden,” I was thrilled to see women from my past as leader of WBOC in Syracuse and professional friends from SUNY Oswego. I also hugged women who came to the Women’s March on Washington with me and members I hadn’t seen in awhile. It was special having some time with them to reminisce and catch up on their news.

Women entrepreneurs are often so forward-focused in business, they forget connections from the past. We are quickly on to the next new customer, the bright new sales deal or claiming a bigger share of the current market that we forget to look back at the people we shared special business times with once in our lives. If they live in our region, there isn’t a reason to forget them. Just like our elementary school selves, we can be excited for new friends in new times while still holding on to old ones. It makes the tapestry of our relationships more brilliant.

Today’s Wednesday Wisdom during this first full week of the summer season is to motivate you to think of past clients, friends, associates, interns or staff who use to be a large part of your life. Once you see their faces and remember their names, make a list and reach out to a new person once a week to see if you can reconnect over refreshing lemonade, a hot latte or salad. You might find the one time visit is enough or you might rekindle a relationship bringing more business or fun into your future. If you don’t know where to start, consider the authentic relationships that were natural and easy but time just got in the way. Reach out to them first and set a ‘play date’ before September arrives.

We might not be ten year old girls rejoicing class is over but we are still joyful girls inside who cherish having friends – both new and old.

Living Optimistically

June 20, 2019

Inspiration for women entrepreneurs, women in business, women in sports

As the rain continues to plague our region, even coming down in buckets today, I can’t help but feel cheerful about challenging this weather related darkness into bright inspiration. The color green has never been as deep as it is right now; making me think this is how the rain forests must radiate all the time. The only thing different from the rain forests of Brazil and New York State is their very hot and humid temperatures.

A smart event planner is always an optimistic person but proceeds cautiously with back-up plans in case of weather related emergencies. They insist outside events have alternative locations if the heavens pour, lightening strikes or grounds puddle. Any customer with a weak stomach or nervous attitude about planning and hosting events must plan for inside locales.

Weather is the one factor event planners don’t have control over. We can plan around the weather but can’t forecast it months in advance when plans are finalized and marketing is set. Just like marathon runners training for six months before a large race, they prepare in every weather element to be ready. They say some prayers for race day conditions and acknowledge they are equipped as they can be controlling only the elements they have power over – themselves. Preparation never goes to waste, just like marketing for a wash-out event is never squandered.

The whiff of inspiration that made me feel today’s special event to benefit Women TIES would be a success, whether it rains or not, came from 71 year old running icon Kathrine Switzer’s newspaper article in the Albuquerque Journal sports section announcing her attempt to win tomorrow’s 5K Senior Games race. Kathrine rose to fame running in the 1967 rainy, cold Boston Marathon when women weren’t allowed to run in it. K.V. Switzer completed the 26.2 miles only to be disqualified because she was a woman. 50 years later she runs on in the Senior Games and I bet she wins that 5K race!

Today when the weather has you feeling blue, think of how much you have to gain mentally and spiritually by accepting the “rainy conditions” of your life, business or even today’s weather and get in the game. We can sit on the couch discussing poor conditions and wallowing in pity or we can put on our sneakers, rain gear and optimistic attitude and keep living on living or running. It’s all based on your perspective and will.

Joyful Collaborative Partnerships

June 19, 2019

Inspiration, Wednesday Wisdom, Advice for Women Entrepreneurs, Women in Business, Small Businesses

Deep pink petunias, red maple tree saplings and stone bird baths adorned the grass walk way under the wooden trellis past the carved stone outside cooking counters in the thirty year old landscaping business purchased seven years ago by a young couple. Pelican water fountains and nostalgic bird baths welcome both humans and creatures into their midst when summer heat is scorching. Strawberry plants dangle with fresh fruit and wild beach grasses sway in the gentle wind waiting to inhabit someone else’s home. As the owners and I walked through this vista talking about their business, I was enveloped in beauty.

Collaboration in a competitive marketplace might not be the first thing a business owner contemplates when trying to improve their traffic flow. Every business wants a big piece of the sales pie. Opening avenues with other businesses isn’t for the faint of heart if paranoia and competition is an entrepreneur’s mindset especially in a smaller market. Just like salmon swimming up river in the height of the river’s forceful downward flow, there can be success in going against the norm.

I’ve always believed the more open you are in sharing another’s business with your own customers, the more benefits you receive back. This attitude requires a trusting, giving and reciprocating outlook. Strong business relationships need trust as the first building block and a willingness to both give and receive. Cross promotion of two businesses services, products, and special events are an excellent way to collaborate in today’s economy lending valuable marketing exposure to both companies.

Monday the owners of Evergreen Landscaping and Design Center gave me a tour of their beautiful business grounds, showcasing their lovely vista for a simple free “party in the garden” for my members and other women entrepreneurs and women in business tomorrow at their business. As they salute the strawberry season in food and drink provided by Diamond Catering with live music for all of us, they reminded me that business owners can work in joyful harmony providing valuable resources to each other.

Today’s Wednesday Wisdom is to remind you cross promotion and collaboration with another business is an excellent way to share contacts, marketing expenses and promotion for mutual benefit. Small businesses will find powerful results when they connect and co-share events and advertising to similar, but different audiences, to attract more customers and sales revenue. Ease your worries and start working together with like-minded entrepreneurs to share the wealth.

As the relaxed days of summer start this week, remember you can relax your worries about competitive businesses by embracing collaboration and cross promotion.

P.S. Come to the “Party in the Garden” tomorrow too!

Increasing Creativity Influences Women in Business

June 12, 2019

Wednesday Wisdom and Success Strategies for Women in Business, Women Entrepreneurs, Women in Sports

A popular country band was headlining at the St. Joseph’s Amphitheater, on the shores of Onondaga Lake Sunday night, so I decided to paddle towards the venue in my bright pink kayak, wondering how fun it would be to listen to the band later that night by kayak. I thought to myself, “I could actually create an Uber-like water taxi to take someone with me.”

As I shouted the idea to my husband, we hitched our kayaks next to each other in the middle of the lake jokingly discussing the concept. Joy filled my spirit. We sat for awhile in great conversation about his work and my business in yellow sunlight with calm breezes blowing us gently back and forth. I wondered out loud how I could share this two hour experience with women entrepreneurs without access to kayaks and lakeside conversations.

Remembering I was trying to share my beautiful pool house and pool with women this summer, I thought why not add kayaking chats to the new business service lineup? For two hours a woman entrepreneur could join me in on the lake, taking in the serenity and fitness, while chatting about her business and life from time-to-time as we drifted, while I offer an ear or advice based on my 24 years as a woman entrepreneur. Boom!

Boom!? Yes, Boom!

Sometimes that is how women entrepreneurs use their creativity to dream up new or expanded business services and products. It can come as easily as a serene moment on a lake when peace envelops us allowing insights to surface, just like fish coming to a lake’s upper level. Ideas can also be generated by sitting behind a desk in an office but most times it is a restricted flow because social media bings, telephone calls and noise takes over our mental airwaves.

Am I serious about this offer, well yes I am! How would it work? How will I get customers? What insurance do I need? What is the price? Well, that’s the excitement of being a small business owner, I have time to create a small business plan and add it to my existing website and start promoting it on social media. Isn’t that one thing we love about being women entrepreneurs; the freedom to innovate, create, sell and service new ideas whenever we want?

Today’s Wednesday Wisdom hopefully inspires you to either join me for a two hour kayak trip to stir up your own longings or to motivate you to find a different, peaceful environment to allow deep ideas to surface. You might be thinking you just need to come up for air instead of adding something new; well that’s okay because you can! Permitting yourself time to enjoy and relish a new environment might be the catalyst to spur on your next business idea or even give you time to relax to get your workload done.

You know where you can find me if you need advice or help – poolside or kayaking – ready to listen, converse and help you think about new offerings for your business.

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