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Wednesday Wisdom: Our Crystal Ball

April 27, 2022

A boisterous voice bellowed from a woman at the end of the table as she started introducing herself at my first ever entrepreneurial networking event in 1995. She had white hair, red painted lips, an aqua blue shirt and a killer smile. “My name is Marlyn and I’m a hypnotherapist,” she exclaimed standing up so everyone could see her. It would have been hard to miss her with that buoyant, hippie-like vibe in what seemed like a very professional female business owners’ group.

Nervous as all heck to stand up and announce myself the way Marlyn did, I stayed sitting barely spitting out my business tagline totally not confident in myself or words. I was not a public speaker by any stretch of the imagination at that point in my career. My predictable, newbie introduction was applauded by this wonderous 60-year woman, 30 years my senior. From that point forward she became one of my biggest business cheerleaders.

Marlyn Krch

I had come to love older woman who tucked me under their wing as I grew up. Olive Spargo, one of the most respected business women in my hometown, eyed me in high school and launched me into leadership positions young which opened up college and post college careers. Linda Kimball, a neighbor up our road, invited me to hostess and waitress at her private home parties as a teenager, paying me handsomely at the end and honing my love for party planning.

These older women were just a few instrumental females raising me in my business career before I even knew what career I’d choose, as if they had a crystal ball able to see my future.

So, when I saw Marlyn’s obituary in the paper last week, I cringed noticing I missed her funeral because she had private services. Gone forever was this sparkling woman who once inspired me more than she knew to keep the course in my entrepreneurial career even if the road got bumpy, changed, or went around large curves. She was a spitfire and someone I will never forget, not only because of her enormous amount of positive energy, but for encouraging me as a young woman entrepreneur.

Today’s Wednesday Wisdom is meant to have you drift back in time to one or two women who really made their mark on you and who in doing so guided you unintentionally or perhaps with purpose into your chosen entrepreneurial career. You might not think of them as often as you should, but every person influences our lives in some way.

Take time to meander back through memories remembering the faces, advice, and evidence of some of those special women in your career, and thank them silently, or if they are still alive, with a call or note reminding them of their influence in your life. I wish I had done that with Marlyn but I have a distinct feeling she is still cheerleading for me beyond the grave. 

Stuck in Old Money Habits

April 26, 2022

Tuesday Thoughts for Women Entrepreneurs, Female Business Owners, Small Businesses

When we were young most of us performed odd jobs around the house for our relatives and neighbors in hopes of making a couple dollars. I remember being paid $5 to pull weeds from my neighbor’s brick walkway on a hot summer day and $5 to polish my Aunt’s extensive silver collection. It was pretty exciting to make .50 cents for a cup of lemonade at a summer stand. The more expensive jobs like babysitting brought in the big bucks – $25 if the parents whose children I watched had a really fun evening.  The truth is if we were industrious children or teenagers, we were happy to be paid whatever our “customers” wanted to pay us.

I also remember working summer nights at Friendly’s and turning over as many tables as I could to earn more tips to go with my $3.35 basic wage.  On a good night, I’d finish my shift with a red raspberry sherbet cooler, count my change,  divide the money by the number of hours I worked and add it to my basic wage to get my daily hourly rate.  I loved when I made more money than the day before. I felt successful if I made twenty five cents more an hour.

Once I became an entrepreneur it was hard to convert my habit of working hard for little pay into working hard for more pay.  Lately I’ve listened to a few money coaches explain how women entrepreneurs can get stuck in old money beliefs and never earn what they want. But to be more financially successful, we need to acknowledge and get rid of old money beliefs.

Today’s blog is to make you stop and consider whether old money habits are holding you back from earning the revenue you need and deserve based on your experience and expertise. Are you still stuck in an old belief system? Have you been struggling to let go of old money habits to embrace new ones? Is it time to find guidance from a money coach or other women business owners to move you along?

Being industrious is an admirable attribute. Being paid less than you are worth is not.  Do something about any poor money concepts that exist and start earning the salary you know you deserve starting today.

Monday Motivation: Updating Your Look

April 25, 2022

Monday Motivation, Inspiration for Women Entrepreneurs Female Business Owners

Tracy Chamberlain Higginbotham – 2017

“I need to see your driver’s license,” the person the checkout counter said. “Really, I’m 57 years old, are you sure you need it for this purchase?” I replied.  As I dug through the cards in my wallet, I saw my favorite driver’s license headshot, the one from the early 2000s, when I was the thinnest, I’ve ever been with shoulder length curly dark brown hair, my favorite style. I smiled at the photo remembering my younger self, than pulled out the one with my steroid bloated face with uncomfortable wig on taken because the DMV made me replace my license in the middle of an illness.

“Do I look okay in this photo,” I asked the blank faced DMV employee just trying to get to the next person in line? “Sure,” she said. I remember thinking I must look good since she said so. To this day, when I pull out the license, I dislike the image and always give an explanation about it since most times now as a bald woman, I only have a pink hat on my head and no hair, eyebrows, or eyelashes. “This is me but I have a wig on,” I am compelled to say every time I show it. Strange, I know.

Tracy Chamberlain Higginbotham – Wigged Up – 2020

These memories are bubbling up today because I have two photo shoots this week – I know – watch out Heidi Klum. One for the cover of a popular Central New York magazine were I’m the feature story about my 26-year commitment to women entrepreneurs, lessons on living with alopecia, and my new life goal of trying every sport once in my lifetime.

The second photo shoot is one I scheduled a couple months ago because my old professional headshots of having a full head of thick brown hair isn’t me anymore. As much as I wish, I could use those old photos for my consistent PR efforts to speak and lead, I can’t; I’ve outlived them. I didn’t need the DMV to tell me I needed to move on from my younger, healthier, more glorious-looking self. If we could all hold on to our favorite photos and images of ourselves forever, I think we would.

Tracy Chamberlain Higginbotham – 2022

So, today’s Monday Motivational post is for anyone that can’t let go of their youthful headshots, former images and logos, or past time ideals of themselves, to be your own DMV personnel and get a move on into the next century of your professional life with images that reflect you and your company’s current mission, services, products, or customers. We can’t hang on to the past forever, no matter how hard we want to, we must embrace change – in whatever form that takes – and realize we’ll look back someday on this day and say, “I looked pretty darn good then, why was I so doubtful?”

Friday Feeling: Restarting Can Be Perfect

April 22, 2022

Friday Feeling, Motivation for Women Entrepreneurs, Small Businesses, Female Owned Companies

If the two-year pandemic taught us anything, it is that restarting anything you began in the past is simply okay and necessary.

With the yearly and almost daily introductions of new social media options, women entrepreneurs ponder their value. They might tip their toe in the water creating a YouTube Channel, Tik Tok account, or try their hand at Instagram live or Twitter Chats. For me, starting a podcast reading my inspirational business words of wisdom was staple of my daily work life until I felt it just didn’t gain enough traction.

Now two years later from the last podcast, I was encouraged to try podcasting again with a rebrand and new vision in mind to begin sharing my experiences of trying every sport once in my lifetime and bringing other women along for the ride to inspire them to try more athletic and adventure feats. So I dug out my microphone, relearned how to tape a show and upload it and started sharing it on my more constant social media sources.

Like any habit forming task, it takes repeated attempts to remember to do something new and motivation to keep trying even if it takes awhile without apparent results (aka followers or downloads). If you want to communicate something important than you have to be willing to talk into silence for a while until the right audience finds you and likes you.

The moral of the lesson is to not start something purely for the outcome, but rather because you truly want to do it. It will take many more hours of not seeing results before you watch them pile up. Don’t look at your share and download or likes, but rather how you feel every time you’re done with a new episode. If you feel good about what you’ve said, then that is good enough until like everything in life, others find you and start listening to you habitually. It will happen. Keep on going if you love what you are doing.

Let’s Try Every Sport Once, Women!

April 21, 2022

Tracy Chamberlain Higginbotham shares why she is rebranding her podcast to focus on her love for sports, trying every sport once, and why she wants women to come along for the adventure. 

Wednesday Wisdom: Awareness Equals Change

April 20, 2022

Wednesday Wisdom, Inspiration, Hump Day Motivation for Women Entrepreneurs, Female Business Owners, Small Companies

The opening paragraph in a favorite book reads:

“Some parts of our lives appear like a long, paved highway. We can see exactly where to go; we have a panoramic view. Other times, it may feel like we’re driving in the dark with only one headlight on a winding road through the fog. We can only see a few feet in front of the car. Don’t worry if you can’t see that far ahead, if you only have a glimmer of light to guide your path. Slow down. Listen to your heart. Guidance will come. Trust what you hear. Do the small things. Take the one step. Go as far as you can see for now.”

Being an entrepreneur requires balance. There are times we move forward at warp speed launching new ideas, entering new domains and marketing our companies. We have abundant energy, time and money. Then there are times we stutter, stumble or stall. Making decisions, taking financial risks and pushing into new arenas are difficult. It’s like the fog that rolls in on a spring morning obstructing our vision, challenging our perspective and slowing our advancement. Surviving entrepreneurship means understanding the ebb and flow of our business progress and mindset.

“Awareness doesn’t make change possible. Awareness makes change inevitable,” is another quote sitting on my desk this morning. Being aware of whether we are in warp speed mode or take it slow mode is important for setting priorities. As a business owner for 27 years, I have allowed myself permission to move at the right speed at the right time and it’s served me well.

Today’s blog post is to tell you that moving as fast as lightening towards new goals is as important as slowing down to change course. The Ying and Yang of business means contrary forces and feelings are interconnected and naturally give rise to each other in turn. We can’t move forward without standing still sometimes; and a respite can sometimes be the only thing that shifts our focus and gives us an energetic new purpose. Trust and act on the guidance, vision and energy you have right now and more will come your way.

Blessed or Burdened: How Do You See Your Life?

April 19, 2022

Tuesday Vibes, Syracuse, Inspiration for Women Entrepreneurs, Female Business Owners

At the doors of an organization I volunteer at, people of all ages come hungry for food. Appreciative for both cold and warm entrees, they leave a bit happier. Today as a cold spring snow covered the sidewalk, porch, and small buds on the trees around the house, no one complained about waiting in the cold to get a hot meal. Their outlook was set on what they were receiving not what they were waiting in.

It amazes me that people who have so much in their lives, like a roof over their head, money in their bank accounts, and a warm meal at their fingertips, complain more than people who truly need support to survive. It is as if those with so much, forget what it is like to need something as basic as food, drink, and maybe an extra cookie in their lunch bag.

My favorite part of volunteering, where I am privileged to hand the food bags directly to the people in need, is to compliment them about something they are wearing, giving them a smile, wishing them a good afternoon, or just emitting a kindness I hope they feel. I have so many blessings in my life, I can’t imagine not trying to give a stranger a few seconds of compassion to add something positive to theirs.

Tracy Chamberlain Higginbotham with Alopecia

My Tuesday Thoughts today are simply to remind you how blessed you truly are. No, we don’t get everything we wish or hope for, or I would have a full head of hair, long eyelashes and brown eyebrows back on my alopecia-ridden body. I realize I’m blessed not to have cancer, which so many people think I have, and for gratitude my condition is not life-threatening, just life-altering. As long as alopecia doesn’t take my heart or compassion for others away from me, then I consider myself blessed to be happy with what I do have, not what is missing.

Living Fearless – In Life and Business

April 14, 2022

Thursday Thoughts, Inspiration, Fearless, Motivation for Women Entrepreneurs and Females in Sports

Women TIES & Women’s Athletic Network “Flying into Success” Group Photo

Fear comes in all shapes and sizes. We can be innately afraid of something that is unexplainable but part of our being like my distinct fear of frogs which my mother said I had since I was a toddler. Or life can make us afraid like my fear of flying in an airplane after losing a close friend in one of the 9/11 planes. It doesn’t matter where or when the fear is established, but rather that we don’t let it stop us from living our best life.

Today, when five brave women joined me at one of my new lifetime sport goal events – the flying trapeze – there was a spectrum of both excitement and fear as we prepared to fly. Giddy laughter, cold hands, resolute spirits, and even women not willing to try it, gathered around to witness the special occasion.  As typical in leadership style, I volunteered to be the first one to ascend up the wobbly, orange tall ladder that leads at least 2 stories high to the “board,” the small platform one stands on as you reach out with toes over the top of it as the instructor holds you back in place.

Mandy Ravelle, Co-Owner of RocCityCircus

With no fear of heights, I was not bothered by the very long distance from board to the net below, and then the floor below that. Trusting my friends at RocCityCircus and knowing there weren’t any frogs in the net, I was ready to launch. I knew I was safe. I hoped my hands wouldn’t slip off the handle and my hat stayed covering my bald, alopecia head. But other than that, I let go with unabandoned joy to fly in the air (with the greatest of ease) until I was told to drop. What a thrill!

Then I watched the women entrepreneurs who joined me take their turn. Most climbed the ladder quickly, positioned themselves properly and took off. A few of them, with more trepidation, needed some extra coaching and encouragement from our wonderful instructor Mandy Raville and the peanut gallery below. But just like the brave female business owners that they are, they finally jumped, flew, accomplished their flight, and landed safely. I ran to them to hug them as they flipped off the safety net to show them how proud I was of their bravery.

Mission Accomplished!

None of us are made for the Circus, especially me as a Bearded Lady, since I have no hair to my name, but with some more practice I’m sure I could fly more gracefully on the flying trapeze. It is amazing what giving up something fearful can do for a woman. To be fearless and attempt something new empowers you to believe you can do anything else new, the next time, until you run out of new things to try.

Wednesday Wisdom: Basking In The Light

April 13, 2022

Wednesday Wisdom, Inspiration for Women Entrepreneurs, Female Business Owners, Small Businesses

Standing in a vacant parking lot in the southside of Syracuse, a RN spoke to me about how a volunteer role brought her to this spot on a sunny day speaking with me. She detailed the origins of her work and how it slowly, and at times rapidly, became a 501(C)3 non-profit organization. It began with a need in the community that grew over time, similar to so many enterprises started by women.

Because of the organization’s generous mission, members of the community kept donating their time, resources, and physical buildings to the service agency moved by their passion and mission. As we spoke in the brilliant, warm spring sunshine, her smile beaming as much as the sun, I felt her love for what she does and who she serves.

Emmaus Ministry, Syracuse, New York

Before joining her outside in her beautiful place in the sun, I worked in the kitchen of one of the buildings granted to them from a generous benefactor, only to walk outside to their old building recently remodeled to provide new medical and dental services to the disadvantaged starting in June. Gleefully she showed me what existed before the renovation, and then afterward as the freshly painted walls shined next to donated equipment, cabinets, and office supplies.

I’ve seen that joy before, and not on Easter Morning when gleeful girls adorned in pink ruffles with satin shoes and boys in blue pinstriped outfits arrive at their grandparent’s house for dinner and jelly beans. It was a joy I’ve seen in the eyes of every woman entrepreneur who started a company, expanded jubilantly, basked in their growing endeavors, and witnessed the happiness from the people they serve. It’s contagious, raw, and inspiring every single time.

Today’s Wednesday Wisdom is to make you remember that feeling when you stood in your own entrepreneurial corner of the world beaming with contentment mixed in with excitement for the next development. Sometimes we get so busy doing “the work,” that we forget “the feeling” our work brings to us and eventually to the people we serve. The lesson I received today from this woman was to bask in the pure joy of doing what we love, witnessing our dream become a reality, and recognizing we are always in the right place at the right time with more blessings than we can count to help us. Those blessings include funding, resources, people, and connections.

As we each anticipate the full arrival of spring with beautiful blossoms and abundant sunshine, let us remember we have blossomed our own corner of the business world providing light and joy to those we serve. 

Monday Motivation: The Principle of Reciprocity in Business – Especially for Women

April 11, 2022

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

There I was young, under 40-years-old, trying to make inroads in a pretty male-dominated government relationship in order to secure future business. I accepted a volunteer role for one year in hopes my work would shine and garner me referrals for paid work in the future. The year’s work wasn’t too hard and the men I reported to were really pleased with the outreach, attendance, and event missions.

I don’t think they knew I studied and understood the psychology of relationships called the Principle of Reciprocity. This principle defines the human need and tendency to want to give something back when something is received. This need is strongest when the gift is given without expectation of return. The strongest and longest lasting interpersonal relationships are based on the Principle of Reciprocity.

So, one year later when I sat down with two of the male leaders requesting bidding options for future events after proving myself they said, “Sorry Tracy, we aren’t sure we can do that, we work with a lot of people in town and have to keep our business ties a certain way,” Understanding completely they meant, they gave their business to old male work buddies was the distinct impression they made and I witnessed the following year.

Almost fifteen years since that busted attempt to gain work as a competent female event planner, one of the two men reached out to me to ask me for information to support a new event venue opening in town. What a surprise, it was for one of their clients. Hmm, I thought to myself, do I have the heart to tell them they lost the ability to ask me for any business support fifteen years ago? I sat on the request a while.

What I’ve learned since working with mostly men with my first business compared to working with females ever since in my second business, is the pure fact, women support other women better than men support women in the business world. I’m certain I’m not the only female who couldn’t break through the proverbial glass ceiling of men helping men first in order to get ahead. Honestly that experience might have in fact fueled my flames brighter to start a woman-owned company, only focused on hiring and supporting other women-owned businesses and encouraging them to hire women first in every endeavor.

I suppose I should be thanking this past client for his decision fifteen years ago to open my world to a more trusting, reciprocal, environment of women in business because of his and his partner’s decision making, but always one to be PR-focused, I will call him back, decline to help him and his client and suggest he try calling one of the male event planners in town for assistance. It makes sense, doesn’t it?

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