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Horseback Riding, Women Entrepreneurs and Economic Connections

September 13, 2019

Inspiration, Motivation and Insight for Women Entrepreneurs and Women in Business

In the deep chill and white abyss of winter, today’s gallop through Highland Forest on the leather saddle of my horse Apollo will be remembered with fond memories. Past fields of goldenrod swaying in the wind, faces full of tree leaves every time my horse dropped his head suddenly to chew on grass and the amber light hitting deep green leaves making them reflect gold, I took in the adventure. As our horses swayed us back and forth upon their sturdy backs on dirt trails, they transformed us to a meditative state of mind.

Going horseback riding was a bucket-list item of mine for awhile since I haven’t been on a horse since childhood. Every day my office window faces a horse barn with these beautiful creatures munching on grass or sunning themselves in the light. By now I should have walked over to my neighbors and paid for a lesson but that would be too easy; instead I dreamed of riding horseback on a late summer day like today with other women.

What I’ve learned for six years producing quarterly athletic and outdoor adventures for women entrepreneurs is how easy it is for them to bond with each other. Remove them from a computer and office restraints and even a boring hotel venue and they become alive more willing to share their interests, needs and opinions. No matter if I take women white water rafting, zip lining, or supporting women basketball players at a game, they’re happy. We finally tapped into what men have been doing for years – doing business on the golf course and enjoying it.

At the end of riding, through stunning vistas upon majestic animals, we chatted over snacks and drinks sharing sales questions, management challenges and rebranding issues. These women didn’t know each other until the moment they got on the horses and voila an hour and a half later we could easily share thoughts about disappointments, fears and hardships in laughter and support.

In a business world that keeps changing from set office hours to 24/7 response time, and stale office settings to pool house office space, women are adapting, changing and contributing to the economy the way they like. Entrepreneurship offers freedom and flexibility so spending a Friday afternoon networking via horseback made perfect sense to the women who joined me.

With laughs, comes trust and with shared experience, comes faster more intense connections. Women are different from men in so many ways and one of them is allowing themselves time to not only be serious about their business, but fun-loving when an opportunity arises. My hope when an experience like today’s is over is that the women who attended feel relaxed, joyful, connected, and ready to do business in the future with the women they bond with on the adventure.

Wednesday Wisdom, Inspiration and Love on the Anniversary of 9/11

September 11, 2019

Inspiration and Love on 9/11

Flying into the beautiful blue sky this morning, just as blue as it was 18 years ago today, are new friends traveling to our nation’s capitol to lobby for wigs for alopecia sufferers to be accepted as medical prosthetics, not beauty adornments. After taking 120 women to the Women’s March in Washington in January 2017, I thought about the thrill of returning again to DC to stand up for something I believe in. Then the image of the second plane, piercing through one of the Twin Towers in New York City with my friend Dan Brandhorst in it, made me retreat from the invitation to stay safe at home.

In an early morning text message to my friends, I told them to fly safe and lobby well knowing I would be there in spirit. I hate the feeling of fear. I’ve hated it ever since 9/11/01 when flying became a dangerous, painful threat in my psyche. I often wonder if I’d be less fearful if I didn’t have a friend die in that plane. Fear has slowly loosened it grips on my life accepting the fact my sons live and work in New York City and when I reluctantly fly for vacations or work; but it is far from gone especially on today’s anniversary.

Being brave means having courageous behavior or character like the guys in United Airlines 93 plane that attacked the hijackers crashing the plane and ending their lives in a Pennsylvania field or like Welles Crowther, an American equities trader and volunteer firefighter known for saving 18 lives and losing his own on 9/11. I’ve been brave many times in my life like running in the 2017 Boston Marathon, starting two businesses, and standing up for women’s rights. Overcoming fear is exhilarating; but bravery doesn’t appear when I decide to fly. I just do it praying to God he has the plane in the palm of his hand. It’s the only visualization I use to board.

When fear moves to freedom it means we claim the power to act, speak or think again without hindrance or restraint. Most days I’m free of 9/11 memories and fears except for today when the images and thoughts of my friend overwhelm me. I pray we never experience another day like that just like I continue to pray for the people who were killed that day and their families and friends.

My friend Dan was a risk taking guy and he would never be afraid to fly again after an incident like 9/11. He would move on with his life traveling coast to coast as a tax accountant enjoying his life with his partner and son. Because of this thought, I continue to push past my fear into a new light where he would want me to be and live.

Monday Motivation – Let Love Rule Your Week

September 9, 2019

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

The last time I felt this loved on a Monday was in 2017 as I ran through the iconic 26.2 Boston Marathon route from Hopkinton to Boston. The entire Boston community cheered on runners of all abilities, at every single running spot along the route and stayed for the last of the runners. They offered hugs, ice, orange slices, cheers, and encouragement every single step of the way. I felt the love of the crowd which has stayed with me for two years.

Today I am basking in the same kind of compassion and love after yesterday’s The Barber Shack’s “Cuts for a Cure” when 4 talented twenty year old barbers cut 66 men’s hair for a donation instead of being paid on their day off. The entire family of Ryley Shackleton, the owner of The Barber Shack, ran the event seeking donations from local businesses, cooking food, selling raffle tickets and greeting anyone who stopped by to support me and raise money to find a cure for Alopecia. Overwhelmed by the generosity, I remain speechless this morning.

When it was time to announce the grand total amount raised inside this quaint, yet manly barber shop, Ryley came and got me to make sure I was there to hear the donation total. His gentle disposition and caring eyes were beaming a bit so I knew the total touched his heart. “We raised $3,667 dollars today!” I added, “We also raised another $557 online through GoFundMe.” The crowd applauded realizing $4,214 was the total amount donated for the entire event.

Every day I watch the news trying to search for a piece of love, warmth and charity in it. All I need is one journalist to focus on the good in America not the guns, prejudice or discrimination because I know from my own human story there is so much more good in the world than bad. I saw it in the streets of Boston. I saw it yesterday and I know I’ll see it today. Why, because it’s true and I take time to notice it.

Human beings crave love and affection from their closest friends, family and even from strangers in their community. It can come in the form of a hug, holding a door open, donating to charity, lending an ear, offering friendship, being compassionate and even envisioning someone else’s life of pain before making a judgment. Sure there are crappy people in this world who want to harm others but I don’t believe it’s nearly as many people as the media showcases.

As you start another work or school week, I hope you find in your heart and community the kind of compassion, love and charity I found yesterday at our small fundraising event in a quiet village in the heart of New York State where neighbors help neighbors, hugs are given for free, people open up their pocketbooks and hearts to give and joy fills the air. Love is everywhere, you just have to look for it…or be it.

A special thank you to Liz Doran of Syracuse.com and the Syracuse Post Standard, for being the type of reporter and media that share what’s happening good in our community.

Life is a Series of Passages

September 4, 2019

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

Brick steps, oak trees, front porches, flowering plants, and driveways set the scene of early morning passages from summer to fall, beaches to classrooms, and loud houses to peaceful havens. Images are taken and instantly displayed to proudly share the start of another journey. Today’s social media images beam of smiling children dressed in their best, wide-eyed and joyful, passing from freedom’s end to scheduled beginnings – anew, fresh, ready and excited to see what is behind a new classroom door.

In 1976, Gail Sheehy, an American author, journalist and lecturer, wrote one of the ten most influential books of our times called Passages. Although I was at the beginning of my teen years, the soft covered book was in our house bought during a Cape Cod vacation. Some of my earliest “wisdom” years came from reading books from self-help authors such as Sheehy’s Passages, Norman Vincent Peale’s Positive Thinking Every Day, and Wayne Dyer’s The Sky’s the Limit while sitting on my dock on the lake. I assume I liked reading these self-help books as I transitioned from elementary school to junior high school when so many changes occur.

As I witnessed these beautiful smiling images of school kids today, I took a photo standing exactly where my now, 27 and 24 year old sons, used to stand annually for their first day of school photos. The selfie shows my bald head covered by a rose-colored hat with three fingers raised up to form the letter W, for women of course. Instead of celebrating the passage of my sons into a new year, I’d celebrate my passage from an alopecia diagnosis to living, dreaming and working fully again. The truth is time doesn’t stop, our kids grow up, we morph into mature women, we face illness followed by recovery, and pass through another year of time into a new place whether we like it or not.

One definition of passage is “the act of going from one place to another or changing from one condition to another.” Women entrepreneurs pass through doors to establish their companies, entering unfamiliar venue rooms to learn and network with other women and even travel through changing marketing platforms to stay relevant. Entrepreneurship is always about a passage but we don’t stop to think about it that way unless it’s a new year or a day like today when we all start again in a hushed office or house.

Today’s blog post is a gentle reminder that transitions, passages, alterations of oneself, home, business and life is okay. Life is for the living correct? If so, then we know life is ever-changing and ever-flowing moving us from one porch, driveway, and beach or office space to another one. The textures of our lives change too as we adjust to adding staff or family, losing people we love, maturing in our personal life or business entity or even gaining wisdom from every day readings. Rejoice that your journey is a positive one gently moving you forward in life.

At the end of the school day, no matter if you have children greeting you at the same place they left this morning or if you are working longer hours because there isn’t a reason to cook a large dinner anymore, realize today’s passage is a simple transition from one day to the next giving you freedom of choice to embrace and accept it the way you choose.

Rose-Colored Compassion Needed Today

September 3, 2019

Inspiration and motivation for women, women entrepreneurs, people with Alopecia

Startled by an early morning phone call, I accepted it knowing the person on the other line had something to do with September being Alopecia Awareness Month. “We have good news,” I heard a Syracuse father tell me about breaking news that a local Congressman was co-sponsoring a bipartisan House of Representatives Bill #3332. I wasn’t sure the exact details of the bill except that the number three has always had a positive influence in my life and business.

Still humble and surprised by two long hugs, from a woman sitting behind me in church two days prior, the phone message was also uplifting. If my life-altering disease of Alopecia has been a difficulty in my life for 18 months, its effect on people who witness me with Alopecia is the opposite. Whether I stand in an ice cream line waiting to order, stand in front of someone in church before confession or grocery shop, caring people envelope me in their arms before I know it. I have been truly moved by people who don’t know me or my condition.

The wisdom in the hugs is the fact people need to give them to me. It is about them and their story, not mine. “My sister has breast cancer. What do you have?” says the lady in church. “My husband has stage four prostate cancer – see him sitting over there?” states another woman in an ice cream line waiting to order. “I have just been diagnosed with bile duct cancer and it’s difficult to accept. What about you?” This phenomenon of kindness, compassion and storytelling goes wherever I go when my bald head and lack of eyebrows or eyelashes appear under a rose-colored hat.

In a world where the American red hat has ultimately created division and lack of acceptance of others who are not like us, the rose-colored hat proves the opposite. The pink shaded hat attracts love and empathy towards me from strangers. Many think I have cancer and I understand why. In 2018, 17 million new cases of cancer were found. In 2019, 6.8 million people are living with alopecia. The statistics prove more people are touched by cancer than alopecia.

My typical response to anyone sharing their story is, “I’m sorry to hear about you or your family members’ situation. I will keep them in my prayers.” A hug is always exchanged. These short and sweet interactions have strengthened my resolve and belief that people are good. I’m also keen to people who are hurting, but go unnoticed in appearance, unless a conversation or hug is exchanged.

We don’t need to have relatives in the Bahamas as Hurricane Dorian creates massive destruction to send compassionate thoughts and prayers to them. Just like it isn’t hard to open our eyes and notice the person in front, behind or next to us, who might be struggling with their health or life circumstance, and share a compassionate word or embrace to feel better.

Today I hope you are inspired to take a second look at community members, family, friends or people you don’t know living or coping with hardship sending thoughts of love and support or even giving a hug. If you can share kindness and love to others, then you are seeing life through rose-colored glasses (or even a rose-colored hat) and creating an optimistic perception of people and life.

Special Note: If you live in Central New York, come visit me and get your hair cut at the “Cuts for a Cure – Alopecia Areata Awareness Event” to help us raise money for a cure. Thank you to Ryley Shackleton, Zach Lord and

Smooth Financial Sailing Strategies

August 28, 2019

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

As we stood on the pebbly river shore, Stacey Murphy, a woman entrepreneur from Ithaca, and I looked over our right shoulders to see waves crashing forward from the wild, open lake into the mouth of the river. To our left was smooth-as-glass water ready for us to choose it as we began a two hour kayak and paddle board business chat. We hadn’t seen each other in awhile so we decided to travel on the flat water first so we could catch up and hear each other talk.

We launched our boats on the calm river on our early morning trek with mostly blue herons accompanying us. Under bridges, around bends, through some weeds, we paddled and talked about life and business and how successful Stacey has been in her grant consulting business – even recently landing a multi-million dollar grant for a client.

In time, we turned around fully warmed up and ready to tackle the big waves. As the ocean-like waves rolled and rocked us back and forth to a point where we had to “ride” them, the adventure steered our conversation to a discussion on flow – cash flow actually. The topic seemed appropriate since we had experienced both smooth and rough flow on our ride.

In entrepreneurship, cash flow can steadily and gently flowing in when we book enough contracts and payments to carry us through the year just like the calm river’s surface. Business cash flow can also be unpredictable when we don’t pay enough attention to setting payment schedules or have enough business in the pipeline. This type of corporate difficulty sends us into the financial weeds tangled in payments without accessible cash.

Small businesses need access to consistent revenue flow to stay ahead of bills and keep credit strong with business flowing properly. It’s up to entrepreneurs to plan out revenue payments to keep them on smooth financial waters year round.

Today’s Wednesday Wisdom should inspire you to look at the upcoming last quarter of the year and evaluate revenue streams, payment schedules, billing deadlines and other financial plans to keep you away from the weeds. If you foresee a need for better cash flow and have a good banking relationship, speak to a female representative about a line of credit or other financial option. If you use an online banking service like Pay Pal, you can look at past years or quarters to evaluate how cash has been flowing and when you might need more. If you keep detailed books, they can also guide you in the right direction if business has been operating similarly the past few years.

Just like Stacey and I had to chart a course for our business chat trip, make sure you are charting your own financial course for the rest of the year so there is smooth sailing going forward.

Women’s Equality Day: Women Are Still Fighting for Equality

August 26, 2019

Inspiration and Monday Motivation for Women Entrepreneurs, Women in Business, Females in the USA

Today in the beautiful city of Saratoga Springs, women will gather from around the state to discuss women’s equality just like they did in 1869, 1870 and 1971 when this city hosted 3 New York State Suffrage Conventions. According to historians, without these vital conventions the Suffrage movement wouldn’t have gained momentum.

For some quick herstory: The 19th Amendment was first introduced in 1878 and eventually passed in the USA provided voting rights to women. In 1971 at the request of Representative Bella Abzug, the US Congress designated August 26th as Women’s Equality Day to commemorate this significant modification to the constitution. Now this date has become an international celebration and women across the world celebrate this day to call attention to women’s continuing efforts toward full equality.

Last year as I participated at a special event in Rochester produced by Sharon Nelson, Founder of Crewomen.org, I was inspired once again by our foremother’s work and hardship in gaining my right to vote today. It is part of our history that shouldn’t be forgotten or discussed because women still don’t have equality compared to men. One speaker encouraged the women in the room to rally for the passage of the ERA (Equal Rights Amendment). The ERA calls for absolute equality stating, “Men and women shall have equal rights throughout the United States and every place subject to its jurisdiction.”

I wanted to honor our foremothers by sharing information today about the ERA from http://www.AlicePaul.org about the progress and importance of getting it passed:

•There are two movements to pass the ERA. The traditional route would require the ERA to be voted on again, requiring the amendment’s passage by two-thirds of each house of Congress and then ratification by 38 states. An alternative strategy would maintain the legal viability of the existing 35 state ratifications and attempt to gain three more state ratifications to complete the process and make the ERA the 28th Amendment to the Constitution.

    Some points to consider:

•The 19th Amendment, granting women suffrage is the only mention of the word “woman” in the U.S. Constitution. Furthermore, the only right guaranteed to women by federal law is the right to vote.

•According to the American Association of University Women (AAUW), among full-time, year-round workers, women earn 77% of what men earn. This disparity increases even more for African American and Hispanic women. Additionally, women are half as likely to receive a pension, and those that do receive almost half as much. Social Security still defines women as dependents and therefore women who have been in the workforce for decades still receive lower payments.

•The most important effect of the ERA would be the clarification of the status of sex discrimination for the courts, the decisions of which still demonstrate confusion regarding such claims. For the first time, “sex” would be a suspect classification, like race, and would require the same level of “strict scrutiny” and have to meet the same high level of justification – a “necessary” relation to a “compelling” state interest – as the classification of race.

•The ERA would not make all single-sex institutions unconstitutional – only those whose aim is to perpetuate the historic dominance of one sex over the other. Single-sex institutions that work to overcome past discrimination are currently constitutional and are likely to remain so.

•The 14th Amendment, providing an equal protection clause to all U.S. citizens, was not originally intended to apply to women, as it predates the 19th Amendment. As proof of this, Susan B. Anthony voted in the 1872 presidential election, was arrested two weeks later, and was convicted the following year for illegal voting. At her trial, she attempted to use the 14th Amendment to defend her actions, but the judge ruled that the amendment did not apply to her because she was a woman.

•The Equal Rights Amendment would prevent a rollback of the legal advances women have gained. It is important to remember that as governments change from conservative to liberal, citizens, neither male nor female, should not be subject to lose their right to vote, their right to free speech, or any other of their constitutional rights due to a change of political opinion.

•The ERA does not add new laws to the U.S. Constitution; it only guarantees the rights currently within it. Issues like abortion, same-sex marriage, unisex bathrooms, and the female draft exist separately from the ERA and would not become law upon the ERA’s passage.

•The ERA is an amendment for both men and women – it is not just a woman’s issue. Issues of custody, employment, and fair wages are important to both sexes and an Equal Rights Amendment would guarantee equal legal rights without regard to sex.

•The ERA would affirm the purpose that began with the writing of the U.S. Constitution, the basic human right of constitutional protection.

For more information on the Equal Rights Amendment, visit www.equalrightsamendment.org. To learn more about CREWomen.org, visit their website.

I hope today’s blog post reminds you that women’s work is not done in securing total equality in America today. Women must continue to talk about and support the efforts of our foremothers and sisters today to get the ERA passed so women are equal to men under law. As actress Emma Watson said, “It is time we see gender as a spectrum instead of two sets of ideals.”

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