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Wednesday Wisdom: High on Life Again

June 23, 2021

Wednesday Wisdom and Inspiration for Women Entrepreneurs, Female Business Owners, Entrepreneurs

There wasn’t a literal bucket in Section 228, Seat 22, in the Bronx but there should have been one. High above the sights and sounds of a New York City suburb, clouds stretched down from above touching my shoulders on a hot and humid day. It made no sense chills would run up my arms at the same time ignoring the 90-degree temperatures in this American institution, but I knew why. Proudly wearing blue and white with a new pink hat, my son bought me for the occasion, we linked arms, exchanged smiles, and sat down for my bucket list adventure of seeing the New York Yankees on Father’s Day Weekend fifteen years after I promised my father, I would take him there, but didn’t because he passed away suddenly one beautiful July day.

There are some things in life that put a smile on your face and this weekend’s experience was one of them. Everywhere you looked the blue and white stripped brand colors of the Yankees appeared on everything – jerseys, hats, foam fingers, and even beer cans. My “Pinstripe Pilsner” was my favorite beverage of the day because it was branded. When an unexpected emergency of a woman fainting as I passed her going to the bathroom, even the cold, water bottle I used to cool her down with alongside her husband had pinstripes on it. “I’m so embarrassed, thank you,” she said to me as I got down on the ground to talk to her until the emergency staff came with a wheelchair. “It’s okay these things happen once in awhile and I’m happy to help.” She whispered, “You’re an angel.” I figured it was another sign from my father that he was there.

Always known in my family for leaving any highly attended event before the crowd, we stayed to the very last pitch that sealed the Yankees come back win. I didn’t want to leave early because the dream was real and couldn’t be replaced even if I returned one day. I likened the experience to last week’s first live Women TIES event, since the pandemic, when some of my favorite Rochester women entrepreneurs embraced each other for the first time in a year, exchanged business cards, drank coffee, and listened to wisdom from another female business owner. The event stretched longer than scheduled including an impromptu lunch with a few members because I didn’t want to leave.

What I want you to feel in today’s Wednesday Wisdom is the excitement of life opening up again, the realization of long-time dreams, how your brand may make people smile, and how the company of people around, and maybe even above you, can make you happy. We’ve been serious for so long that new, fun, exhilarating adventures and dreams can feel more intense and gratifying than before. Give it a try. Say “yes” to a new networking event. Launch a new phase of your business. Double down on your branding. Go meet friends or clients for lunch. Live. Enjoy. Relate again.

You don’t have to be seated above a baseball field to experience the “high” of life and business connections again, you just have to put yourself in the game. 

Pay Equality Doesn’t Get Better For Women in June

June 11, 2021

Every June I cringe as I walk out of a local store after spotting Syracuse Woman’s Magazine (aka Syracuse Man’s Magazine in June) with a man on the cover. Why, a man you ask? Because it’s June which contains Father’s Day. Well excuse my feminist mindset, but once committed as a woman’s only magazine, including the name on the magazine’s cover, don’t shrink to not featuring women during one month out of the year because it has a man’s holiday within it. Pay equality doesn’t get better for women in June.

Women entrepreneurs are still struggling during the post-pandemic economy to recover financially from an unexpected twelve month hit. The government and lawmakers have not ratified the Equal Rights Amendment now that Covid-19 is past to help women’s equality either. Life has gone on and will continue as it’s been when it comes to highlighting, and paying men first at a higher rate.

Syracuse Woman Magazine’s new publisher is also a man and the face you see early into the edition. Why is a man publishing a “woman’s magazine?” It used to be the place you found a woman writing the editorial. I could see if the world was suddenly 50/50 in all aspects of business, sports, equality, and life issues then I wouldn’t care if a man was running a woman’s magazine, but we aren’t even close. Not by a long shot.

I have become known as a “feminist business leader” because I believe and promote loudly that until there is a pay equality law women should buy from women first and foremost or give their business to a female sales representative who gets a commission or share referrals about other women entrepreneurs. I’ve been married to a wonderful man for 33 years. I have two grown sons who I adore. I love men; but I hate that women aren’t equal in all aspects of life.  

When I was running a local women’s business group for 9 years, a couple women on our leadership team wanted to have male speakers, thinking we had run out of good options for female speakers. I refused saying, “As President of this all-woman’s organization, with the word ‘woman’ in the title, it’s not allowed unless we cannot find a woman to speak on the subject we want, and I’m positive we can” – and we always did. A few years later, I stepped down from that leadership role to create my company Women TIES dedicated to woman-focused everything.   

When you think women are equal to men, and men deserve to take women’s places as coaches of women’s sports teams, profiles on women’s magazines, and presenting at women’s events, think again about how much money women have lost playing second fiddle to tradition.  #BuyfromWomen #HireWomen

Wednesday Wisdom: How’s Your Patience Level?

June 9, 2021

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

If there was one thing yoga taught me years ago, it was to hold in place long enough to focus patiently on a perfect stance in an awkward position. Over time, I learned to slow down my Italian and runner’s energy to just be and stop. Composure was formulated during these practices. I took that calm with me to supermarket lines, race start lines, and stop lights. “Breathe, slow down, be patient,” I’d say to myself.

I had a feeling a year ago that when everyone emerged from their safe reclusive homes and work havens at the end of the pandemic, people wouldn’t know how to respond to an abundance of other people’s actions, traffic jams, or long grocery lines even though we craved them during solitude. As proof my husband, a Corporate Operations Director for a building materials company, comes home every night from work frustrated on how long the wait times are for building materials and products for their company’s clients even though it isn’t their fault; it’s backlogs, shutdowns, and lack of employees in their wholesale partners companies.

Next week when we host our first LIVE event at Union Place Coffee Roasters, a business that expanded, not shrank, during the pandemic, owner Laurie DiProspero will share wisdom on handling a slowdown in the supply chain, pricing increases, and staff shortages to keep your business successful. We’ll enjoy fresh roasted coffee and network for the first time with other women in business checking in to see how they survived, thrived, and are reigniting their businesses.

When I interviewed Sue Beebe, a former 20-year business owner and long-time member, about how she “ramped down” her company to retire in 2019, she gave insight that most of us might understand after trying to run our companies during the pandemic. We each had to face our situation, plan for an exit or re-emergence strategy, set new goals with timelines, and put it in action. Sue’s retirement plan wasn’t so different from where we all stand right now re-examining our lives and companies.

Today’s Wednesday Wisdom is to encourage you to listen to Sue’s interview and sign up for our event at Laurie’s new expanded location for inspiration, and then wipe away any cobwebs hanging in your company that have been there for a year and set course. It’s okay if you decide to ramp back up or ramp down based on your future plans. We aren’t meant to be business owners forever, there are other parts of our lives to enjoy which you might have realized in 2020. It is okay to switch directions, begin anew, or go-for-it with new found gusto.

You might also need to stay still in a yoga stance, breathing in and out, to take that first step or to gear up energy. It’s all good. It’s all up to you. 

Rethinking What We Want To Do Less

June 3, 2021

Thursday Thoughts, Wisdom and Advice for Women Entrepreneurs and Female Business Owners

As I listened intently to a webinar produced by Andi Simon, PHD called “Rethink Your Journey,” my mind washed over 26 years of entrepreneurial life. When prompted, we wrote down what we wanted more of, less of, and would never change in our lives. Selling was the immediate response I answered to what I wanted less of – adding it to the top of my list. I’ve loved 26 years of running my own companies, but five years ago, after two decades of sales, I couldn’t do it anymore – direct phone call sales, that is.

Revenue totals dropped the moment I gave up making direct phone calls or asks. It was like hitting a wall where you simply can’t get through it or around it, and as noticeable as trying to run with a torn hip muscle. You just don’t move. You stop. It’s that simple.

Budding women entrepreneurs can’t imagine how much time will be spent on selling, especially as they start out. Sales efforts have to be consistent activities that almost supersede other duties. Pushing off sales responsibilities to an assistant never works either because the founder of the company has more urgency and knowledge of what they are selling – especially the first three years.

When I discovered a love for writing and social media marketing became an inadvertent sales tool, it became my substitute to direct phone calls. It felt easy and breezy. As customers became more comfortable communicating via email and text, limiting the need to talk to some on the phone, direct sales took a back burner to the old fashion way of securing clients or renewals. This was not the case when I launched my first company in 1995.

So, what do you do if you are tired of doing sales and your business model relies on it? As Andi implied today, we must identify the issue and rethink how we’ll continue working in the future or even rethink our business model. How do you begin to change such a big part of entrepreneurial life? Andi says, “Craft a new story for your future and remember even the smallest changes make a difference – the small wins, win!”

Business planning, here I come.

P.S. If you need help rethinking your journey, check out Andi Simon’s business opportunities to assist you called “Rethink Your Journey Online”, check it out by clicking on the title.

Wednesday Wisdom: Influencer Marketing

June 2, 2021

Wednesday Wisdom, Inspiration, Motivation for Women EntrepreneursFemale Business Owners, Women

One of the most interesting programs we hosted in Albany was with a woman entrepreneur and public speaker who described how every piece of clothing on her body, her hairdo, and sparkling jewelry was sponsored by companies. Always intrigued by new ways to earn revenue or merchandise, she gave the audience suggestions on approaching their favorite companies for items in exchange for promotion. Ten years later, this concept the speaker was talking about is called influencer marketing.

According to financesonline.com, “Influencer marketing is like celebrity endorsement prevalent in the age of mass media. Instead of just gunning for movie stars or musical artists, marketers place their products on social media channels and other digital touchpoints in their given realm. And because of their relatively low cost and extensive market reach, 25% of small businesses use influencers for their social media marketing (Visual Objects, 2020). And this is why many SMBs are increasing their marketing budgets on Instagram.”

I’ve seen this happening in my own Instagram account where I find athletic clothing companies promoting an ad looking for “people like me” (aka bikers, runners, athletes) to take a survey to see if they fit their description to wear and endorse their brand. I am thinking of answering some because my friend Jo Moseley in England, who paddleboards across her country, reps a couple outdoor clothing lines and even has giveaways on her social media channels because of the companies she works with.

So, the next time you are flipping through your Instagram or other social media marketing channels quickly, why not stop and see if a national company is trying to persuade you to represent their line of favorite products, clothing or business items. Like any other partnerships in business, make sure the brand fits your ethics, image, and reputation. We want to always align with like-minded businesses.

Today’s Wednesday Wisdom is to entice you to think of the items you can’t live without on a personal or professional basis and consider researching whether you can represent your favorite brands by promoting them in exchange for some benefits. Look within your professional industry and in your personal realms to find matches. Make a list of your “favorites” and start researching the companies or Google to see if you can be their next model.

I, for one, love my Asics sneakers and wouldn’t wear any other brand, maybe Asics are looking for a middle-aged, bald, athletic woman like me with a social media following, to give $200 sneakers or a hat to in exchange for video messages of photos? You never know unless you ask, right? Become a marketing influencer and see what it gets you. 

Wednesday Wisdom: Always Ascending

May 26, 2021

Wednesday Wisdom, Inspiration, Motivation for Women Entrepreneurs, Female Business Owners, Women

Every single morning as I take my bike off the back of my car, I choose the path I’ll take. Some days when the wind is blowing hard, I know the West Lake Trail will be challenging on the way over the bridge that ascends slowly over time to the turnaround point five miles away. As I crest the hill there have been times my bike felt like it wasn’t moving no matter my strenuous efforts because the wind is a massive force of nature when it chooses. All I do is let my legs work as hard as they can with a mind of steel determination until the turnaround point allows me to catch my breath and enjoy the descend.

Until recently was there only one long ascent to master but alas the trail was extended down a long path on larger hill then it the trail flattens around the lake to another turnaround point going over a railroad bridge. What is a tenacious girl to do when there’s another challenge to behold – not take it? Come on, you have to take it. So down the larger hill I road one day, refusing to apply my brakes, knowing it was going to be the joyful part of the journey. On the way back as the steep hill approached, I promised myself not to stop my bike no matter how tough it got to peddle upwards. Again, I felt the bike not moving half way up the difficult hill until I crested it at a pace slower than a turtle.

As I received notice yesterday that SUNY Oswego President Deborah Stanley was retiring from her post after 26 years of superb leadership at the helm of my alma mater, I applauded her for the ascension she made at the time when few women were college presidents. Deborah was my one-time business law teacher in the 1980s and I watched her climb the ranks to a new position on top of her own hill overlooking windy Lake Ontario.

Riding my bike today, I took the double hard hill trail to salute her for her arduous climb and longevity in Oswego and for the many times she mentored me and saluted Women TIES at our 10th Anniversary celebration with a glass of champagne and words of wisdom. What you might not know about Deborah is how she has accelerated women to leadership roles in every position around her and was focused on diversity a long time ago. She is a power house of a petite, brilliant woman I have always respected and will miss.

Today’s Wednesday Wisdom is to encourage you to keep elevating your business and mind every chance you have. Remember you can follow in the footsteps of women today and yesterday who have shown us how to climb through the ranks. When you come to a fork in the road, as I do daily during my bike rides, choose the more difficult road in front of you because not only will it elevate your spirit, it teaches you a lesson about yourself every time you do and that taking the hard route eventually becomes the easy one until there is another hill. Keep ascending. 

Monday Motivation: Passion Beats Age

May 24, 2021

There is much to be said about getting older whether it is embracing silver strands of hair once brilliantly black with shine, taking siestas when our once energetic bodies had boundless fuel, or considering exit plans for our companies when they age too. Aging isn’t for the soft-hearted but the bold people still looking for action, passion, and success as they “progress” through the years.

I’ve been fortunate to observe the women in my life age gracefully and with strength due to either their desire to stay fit, faithful practices based in their religion, and traveling to new countries abroad. A couple of them in their 80s actually still work everyday at their own businesses or their son’s practices. I dare say for them 80 is the new 30 which was the age when I opened my first company.

The talk of the weekend was about age if you follow golf – in this case men’s golf. Phil Mickelson became the first over-50-year-old to win a major PGA Championship. If you looked at how he played, you wouldn’t guess he was in his fifth decade of life. He rallied the entire day next to a 31-year-old Brooks Koepka taking the Wanamaker trophy in the end. The commentators spoke how Phil uses mantras, visualization and calm breathing now before he strikes the ball something he didn’t do earlier in his career.

In his case, “slowing down” was a key to success not a hindrance. Staying in shape and learning from failure were also factors. Twelve days before winning the PGA Championship Phil tweeted, “I’ve failed many times in my life and career and because of this I’ve learned a lot. Instead of feeling defeated countless times, I’ve used it as fuel to drive me to work harder. So today, join me in accepting our failures. Let’s use them to motivate us to work even harder.”

Although I typically find inspiration from women only, as a 56-year old woman who loves participating and watching sports, I tip my 2019 PGA Championship hat off to Phil for his wise words and tenacity for people still finding youth in their fifth decade. I also tip my pink hat and pink golf ball to the older women in my life who haven’t slowed down and showed me age is only a number, passion beats age in any situation.

Wednesday Wisdom: Fearless Decisions

May 19, 2021

When the sun shines over the eastern hills, breaking dawn on our backyard, a daily summer tradition has played out since 2000 when our beautiful pool was installed. The tradition doesn’t involve me but rather the men in my family. Slowly they walk down the glistening grassed hill to the wooden deck, around the pool corners until they get to the filter, then they raise the cover to ensure there aren’t any amphibians inside. Most people think its odd to have a fear of frogs but it is the only thing I’ve been petrified of since I was two years old, according to my mother. It’s never left me.

As much as I love to swim and sit near my pool, if there is any sign of what I’m scared of, I simply can’t and won’t go there. Fear is irrational, not logical. I hear this from women entrepreneurs who have difficulty standing up to introduce themselves during their 15second pitches or when they turn down public speaking opportunities. Fear of public speaking is real to those women. Flying is another popular fear which may prevent them from doing workshops across the country opening up new business opportunities.

The theme of overcoming fear as women entrepreneurs came up at the Rochester Women’s Network program last week. Here were a few wise quotes from some of their female speakers:

I was bored where I was so I decided to move and leave my two-decade career behind to start a new one. If you are too bored doing what you have been doing, take up a new challenge. Jump off!” Norma

Don’t be afraid people. Do it.” Elaine

“Believe in having better experiences with ‘experimentation’. Use the word experimentation instead of failure. Reframe your language and try.” Amanda

By now we all know the straight and narrow path of leading our own companies does not stay that way. We change, the environment changes, opportunities are presented, setbacks take us off track, and all along we try so hard to stay on course. What I heard from the speakers was the idea that acknowledging the need to follow a different path is perfectly normal and actually welcomed.

Today’s Wednesday Wisdom is to ask yourself what new challenge are you afraid of taking on? What would you do if fear wasn’t a factor? Can you check and see if emotions, more than logic, are stopping you from moving forward on something new. How could you look at what you are facing with a different mindset to eliminate the fear and focus on the positive?

I know when I’ve looked back on my career decisions, like starting Women TIES, when no one understood the concept of regional and statewide networking and feminist-only business “tie” building, that I was slightly fearful but more excited to try it. If it didn’t work, I’d try again at something else. If I hadn’t faced any fear, I would never walked through the door to new women, opportunities, or writing 16 years of Wednesday Wisdoms hopefully touching the minds and hearts of hundreds each week. Embrace the unknown.

Wednesday Wisdom: True Blue Customers

May 12, 2021

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

A vase of bleeding hearts in sight just off the corner of my computer screen depict feelings brewing inside me as Jet Blue’s one hour, 48-minute wait time music plays on my iPhone as I type this Wednesday Wisdom. After spending an entire Saturday rebooking an out-West trip due to a change in original air schedules, we receive a message less than 48 hours after booking the new flight that it has been altered again. I’m a fair person so trying to get someone on the phone to discuss the situation was my priority, but I couldn’t reach anyone without the long wait.

I finally bent the rules a bit and called Jet Blue’s travel package line instead of the general flight line and got a human being on the phone within 5 minutes. After calmly explaining my situation, she only said, “I can’t help you, I have to transfer you to the general flight change number.” Explaining to her my conundrum about the length of time to get someone on the phone, that was the only thing she could do. I was excited to find out the new wait time was 1 hour, 30 minutes. I somehow lost 15 minutes of wait time. Amazing, right?

When you are a True Blue Customer and credit card holder of a company, you assume some priority when challenging situations arise, but alas Jet Blue doesn’t see it that way or the pandemic has automated everything so human beings don’t exist in customer service anymore. Jet Blue isn’t the only company where you can’t get a real person on the line for support. Could this realty be a secret advantage to small businesses if our customers actually reach us personally when they have an average or urgent matter?

Everything can’t become so automated that doing business with a long-standing company turns sour. I fly Jet Blue for many reasons, one of them is safety, but depending on how long this real wait time is and whether I get a person on the phone will decide if I look for other airline options. To expect business to return to normal after the pandemic is realistic to some degree. I think women owned businesses can stand out from corporate competition by offering the services people really want – humans to help them, not computers.

This Wednesday Wisdom, as I still listen to the music playing during my wait time, is to motivate you to seriously look at the way you are or will be conducting business with clients in this new-era. Will you only rely on automated systems to respond to problems? What is your average “wait time” responding to customer needs? Do premium clients know how to reach you if its really important or to satisfy an immediate issue? What is your primary way to hear from disgruntled clients – via text, phone calls or only emails within office hours? How do you handle after-hour calls? Make sure you set your policies, post and follow them.

“True blue” customers might not be there for you if you ignore them for too long. The secret to business success is answering and returning calls, emails and requests from loyal clients as soon as you can. Don’t keep them waiting. Do better. Be better.  

Note: It took 1 hour and 11 minutes on hold to talk to a Jet Blue representative finally.

We Can Move Mountains

May 11, 2021

Tuesday Vibes, Success Strategies, Inspiration for Women Entrepreneurs, Female Business Owners, Women in Sports

A number of years ago I witnessed a speaker approach a stage with a cane and Seeing Eye dog by his side accompanied by my friend Susan Bertrand of Maureen’s Hope Foundation. I watched in awe as he navigated the stairs, walked towards the podium and arrived at it with a big smile on his face. Ready to greet his audience, Tim Connors “America’s Ambassador of Hope,” is a sightless visionary who became blind at the age of 15 and has redefined what was possible in his life which included climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Africa.

“Going blind from cancer actually opened up my eyes to what was right in front of me,” Tim explained. He continued by saying, “I believe I can move mountains so remember no matter what barriers lie in your way, with the right mindset nothing can stop you.” Words I lived after finish the 26.2 mile run in Boston and raising $8,000 for Team 261Fearless two weeks prior to Tim’s speech. I knew what Tim was talking about because I had just spent 9 months believing I could move my own mountain and complete my goal. I also was blessed to witness a blind woman running in the marathon next to me on Heartbreak Hill.

Life lessons can produce parallel business lessons if we live within the place of possibility amid the right mindset and goals. Although we are not blind, we need to open our eyes to see what is right in front of us creating desire and opportunity. To run a successful business we know we need a business plan to guide us, similar to a blind person needing a cane and dog to lead them. Other times we need to lift our eyes away from the black and white plan, and see with our heart what is right in front of us and make a new decision to embark.

In 1995 when I started running to lose weight and then in 2005 when I started my second business to connect women across New York State and once again in 2017 when I took 110 women to the Women’s March on Washington to stand for equality, I listened to a voice within me, saw with my eyes a need, and trusted my wisdom to get me started and succeeding. As Tim said, it really does begin with the idea that we can ‘move mountains’ by our own will and focus.

Today be inspired to stop for a couple minutes and think about what is right in front of you – opportunities, people, ideas – that you need to grab a hold of and start experiencing. It could be something that repetitively shows up in your life, someone or a few people who you keep intersecting with by accident or a gut feeling you haven’t taken serious enough to investigate. Sometimes we need a leap of faith to get moving on a new path in entrepreneurship and life.

I’m not suggesting you start training to hike Mt. Kilimanjaro or run a marathon, but I want you to think about that inkling in your heart or hunch in your gut to do something new or different in your personal, business or community life. It just might be time to start climbing.

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