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Committing to Change for the New Year

December 27, 2018

Inspiration, Wisdom and Advice for women entrepreneurs, women in business, women in sports, small business

The quote, “The hardest part about making a decision is the time leading up to the decision,” has always been something I’ve said to those I’ve loved or counseled when they had a big decision in front of them. The “knowing” of needing to make a change festers in our soul ready to escape the moment we give in to a resolution. Whether in life or in business, decisions can be difficult.

For a couple months I have pondered making some changes within my business. When the uneasiness or the “knowing” struck me late autumn, I knew I needed to give myself enough time to ruminate about it, speak with a few trusted people and then when the time was right to begin the change. I think we all wish change could occur at the snap of our fingers but meaningful change takes introspection, time, and commitment.

So yesterday when I finally committed to doing something concrete about a positive move forward, I felt extremely confident about the decision. The months of wavering dissipated and a sense of calm took its place. A confident “I have a lot of work to do” kind-of-calm enveloped me. Change is always going to keep happening so we have to decide if we want a “say” in what’s changing.

Entrepreneurship is always about change. Nothing about running a business ever stays the same. It isn’t a permanent, concrete structure that doesn’t bend because to be successful we must be flexible over time to thrive. Sometimes we need to change our brand look, mission, business plan, target market, pricing or policies. Other times we need to be innovative or decisive about ridding our company of wasted resources. Periodically we need education and inspiration to change our own minds to take things to a higher level.

Today’s post is to remind you that you must be willing to keep changing to survive happily in business. Ask yourself “What have I been stubbornly holding onto for too long that needs a change – my sales skills, my pricing strategy, my staff, or maybe my own attitude?” Get help if you need help. We can stay stuck spinning our wheels in the same place for too long and waste valuable time we can’t retrieve. Move forward. Decide. Commit. Feel better.

Remember in the end any decision you make that doesn’t work out, can always be changed again. You are never permanently wed to anything you do; but you must constantly try to transform and revolutionize your business and at times your life.

Wisdom on the “Entrepreneurial Survivor Game”

December 20, 2018

Inspiration, Thursday Thoughts and Motivation for Women Entrepreneurs, Female Business Owners, women in sports and Small Businesses

There is something intriguing about the social game played on the popular television show “Survivor.” This year’s theme made it even more captivating when the contestants were put in the categories of “David” or “Goliath.” The Davids were contestants who were underdogs in life who were always overcoming obstacles. The Goliaths were contestants who used their advantages in life – such as good looks, athleticism, etc. to succeed. I think most people watching the season could put themselves in either of the categories.

In last night’s finale, it was down to three contestants remaining – 1 David and 2 Goliaths. Each pitching the reason they should receive votes from a jury of peers. The most amazing twist of events is the majority of the Goliaths voted for the one David to win the show. How did a David win over the big, burly men and confident, beautiful women of the Goliaths to vote for him? It came from respect. Respect on how the winner Nick played the game respecting people individually and forming personal relationships with many people.

He also won by sweeping the last three physical challenges by using his patience, brains and fortitude to win – traits any person labeled a David or Goliath can possess. Nick had the winning combination of brains and brawn as well as human characteristics that attracted him to many friends who trusted him to go to the end of the game with him. Most likely his giving spirit in real life work as a lawyer in Southeast Tennessee shined a light on his goodness.

The take-away for me as a 23 woman entrepreneur is the fact that women in business can only survive if they also blend respect, wits, fortitude and trust by others. Honestly our physical appearance or IQ doesn’t make us the perfect vendor for a customer, it’s the emotional factor. If we can be authentic, great human beings using our intelligence, strengthen and dependence with others, we win the “Entrepreneurial Survivor Game” by outwitting, outplaying and outlasting our competition that don’t operate the way we do. I believe being a really good person who treats others well while playing at the height of their instincts, background and wisdom can win any game in life – especially the business one.

Wednesday Wisdom: The Biggest Blessings in Business

December 19, 2018

Inspiration, Wednesday Wisdom, Motivation for women entrepreneurs, women in sports, females in business

The front of our annual holiday family card has a warm brown background with light sparkles and the words, “The Biggest Blessings are in the Smallest Moments.” I bet if you stopped for a few minutes to reminisce about 2018 you would agree. Give yourself a couple moments right now to let your mind drift through January, March, June, September and November to catch a glimpse at the biggest blessings you received in the smallest moments of time. Do you have them framed in your mind?

When I think back at 2018 it is easy for me to focus on the negative life-altering changes in my life beginning with the loss of my beautiful stepmother of 40 years to Alzheimer’s and her unending love for me and my siblings. It was followed with the loss of my entire head of hair followed by a six month medical sabbatical to cope with new health plans and my “new” public relations persona. I discovered I had to be extremely dutiful to my health above all else to start moving forward again.

While personal life was happening, I was unable to hold onto the large number of women entrepreneurs coming to events and staying involved with the company but I didn’t have a choice because my health dictated otherwise. Ultimately the small moments that gave me the biggest blessings were from Women TIES members and friends who visited me poolside for two hour chats about their life and business and the women who remained members and sent words of encouragement knowing the shoe could easily be on the other foot. Every single personal touch to me was like receiving a million dollars.

Honestly my actual bank account shows a smaller amount than it was last year and my shining bald head has no hair left but my heart and spirit are so much larger and better because of the touches of love from women all over the state, country and even the world where some of my biggest supporters are. Would I turn the clock back to December 18, 2017 to have my stepmother by my side, hair flowing down my back and confidence in what God had for my plans? Yes in many ways I would; but not really because I have grown in the 365 days of 2018 to levels I could not have imagined if life and business stayed the same.

Sanibel Island, Florida photograph by Tracy C. Higginbotham

My hope for you on this second to last Wednesday Wisdom of the year is to ask yourself the same question. Would you change 2018 for better personal or business results? What lessons would you miss if you didn’t experience 2018 the exact way it rolled out? How much less wiser would you be if the beautiful moments didn’t take place in the midst of the anguish? Who wouldn’t have showed up in your life stronger if you weren’t tested with the pain and lost hope for a better tomorrow?

The word ‘rejoice’ means to be incredibly happy or to express your incredible happiness. I admit to you today that I rejoice every single day knowing the women in my life who allow me the blessed opportunity to know, promote and connect them. They are equally a source of incredible happiness for me today as when I began my mission of supporting other women in business 23 years ago.

My wish for you this holiday season, and into 2019, is to find incredible happiness in your personal and corporate mission to make the world better. I send you love, joy and health this Christmas and New Year.

Women Need to Pick a Pink Platform for 2019

December 18, 2018

Inspiration, motivation for women, women entrepreneurs and women in sports

As 2018 starts to wind down, it is time to consider the issues still relevant to women’s equality as women move forward into a New Year. I already see planning for another annual Women’s March on DC on January 19, 2019 and remember when I took 150 women with me to the 2017 Women’s March. Last year I stayed local and co-hosted a CNY Women’s Rising March in my city of Syracuse, New York. As 2019 approaches, I’m planning on supporting the Women’s March in Seneca Falls, New York, the birthplace of the Women’s Rights Movement. There is so much to still march for as we enter a new year.

In fact, I encourage any woman reading this blog post to commit to picking one “pink platform” to take up or continue in 2019 to make a difference. My platform for two decades has been encouraging women to buy from women entrepreneurs and women in business first and foremost to help eradicate pay inequality until congress passes an “Equal Pay Law” for women. Other women know me well by this pink platform and stutter when they tell me they are doing business with a man instead of working harder to find a female vendor to support. I’m glad I make women stop and think when they see me. My pink platform has been shared with thousands of women. I will continue into 2019-2020.

Where do you start if you don’t have a pink platform yet? Well here are some ideas listed in a June 2018 online article on Thoughtco.com entitled “8 Major Issues Facing Women Today” to help you:

1. Sexism and Gender Bias
2. The Power of Women’s Vote
3. Women in Powerful Positions
4. The Debate Over Reproductive Rights
5. Life Changing Realities of Teen Pregnancy
6. The Cycle of Domestic Abuse
7. The Betrayal of Cheating Partners
8. Female Genital Mutilation

With the rise of the #MeToo Movement and more women running for political office, women are speaking up and out about issues most important to them and other women to affect change. We need very woman to choose a platform and join established organizations like NOW or Planned Parenthood or create new organizations or alliances with groups like Women TIES or one of your own.

For your information, Women TIES is more interested in pay inequality issues and also supporting women in sports get more attention and support from other women. Reach out to us if you are interested in getting involved with us in 2019-2010 at http://www.womenties.com.

I hope today’s post inspires you to choose a pink platform and commit to it 100% moving forward.

Give Girls You Love the Gift of Sports

December 17, 2018

Inspiration and wisdom for women entrepreneurs, women in sports, females

I have a wish for you as 2018 comes to an end and it has to do with girls in your life – you know the ones that wish they could play sports or do play sports – it is for you to encourage them to get into the game or keep up in their sport more often!

As I watched my two nieces play sports last year, I was so excited to be there cheering them on. They know I am the aunt who can rattle off the names of all the NFL quarterbacks and who met Billie Jean King in October. They also know I have loved playing sports since I was young when technology wasn’t all there was to life and our television was thrown out for a couple years which forced my sister and I to play outside on the lake we grew up on or with neighborhood kids like us. Sports were much more compelling than anything on an electronic device.

I was lucky – really lucky – to have adults who gave me the love of sports simply by encouraging me to play them anytime the opportunity came up. I was in second grade when Title IX was passed in 1972 and didn’t know much about it at the time. But I was fortunate in 1979 to be on the boy’s swim team when they didn’t have enough funding for the girl’s team. Me and my three female teammates broke some school records that might still stand today because of our decision to swim with the guys.

Adam, Tracy and Thomas Higginbotham

Having sons who played sports was exhilarating especially seeing my first son grow to 6’4” tall and followed in his grandfather’s footsteps of playing basketball and my youngest son picked up a lacrosse stick in sixth grade to become a great player like my father did in college. I wasn’t blessed with girls to encourage so I turned my attention to my nieces who play basketball, cross country and lacrosse. Although they don’t live close to me, I get in my car to drive two or seven hours for one game each season to cheer them on.

As 2019 approaches, I hope you will encourage the young girls in your life to get involved with sports. It is a proven fact that girls that play sports become better leaders later in life. What more can you ask for than that since athletics provide them with confidence, peace of mind and health that comes along with playing and loving sports in their youth and even into adulthood.

Holiday Sales Inspiration For Entrepreneurs

December 12, 2018

Wednesday Wisdom, inspiration, sales strategies for women entrepreneurs, women owned businesses and small companies

If there is one place to be in the world during the holiday season, it is New York City. Whether it’s for a holiday show at the Radio City Music Hall with the Rockettes, ice skating in front of the grand Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Center or viewing the gorgeous Saks Fifth Avenue window displays, holiday spirit abounds in the largest city in the world! I remember skating on the glassy ice at Rockefeller Center one day in 1977 when my father brought me and my sister there to experience the wonder. It was just as fun returning this year with my husband who hadn’t seen the city dressed up for the holidays.

As a woman entrepreneur there were so many reminders of ways to approach sales during this time period when everyone is spending money during the highest grossing quarter of the year. Find inspiration today as you live my experience in staring at the elaborate window displays attracting the wealthy into Saks where an average winter scarf is on sale for $350 or from Tibetan men putting bracelets for $20 on spectator’s wrists, including mine, without warning as a way to collect fast money or perhaps like Union Square Holiday Market with a small merchant vendor booth lit at night under twirling white lights with the smell of evergreen and chestnuts in the air.

From high end department stores with lots of glitz and glamour to the small business owners in pop-up huts under the stars, shoppers had their choice of what to buy in every price range and every unique setting possible. We made purchases based on a combination of our holiday shopping list and a whim when we experienced a great salesperson or item that suited our fancy (like New Year’s Eve 2019 glasses for our sons).

So what can today’s Wednesday Wisdom inspire you to do as a woman entrepreneur selling holiday gifts and services with two weeks left until Christmas? Here are some suggestions:

* Get creative – deck your halls and attract customers with beauty and grace.
* Market, market, market – people must know you are selling and what you are selling.
* Get out where people are shopping – move to where you can be in the crowd to sell.
* Create the right atmosphere – light candles, set the stage with twinkle lights, offer hot cocoa.
* Be assertive with selling your products – even if it means placing a bracelet on someone’s wrist.
* Realize not everyone will buy from you – selling means you’ll get declined at times.

This is the time to also prepare your heart and spirit for giving and allowing your faith to be part of this shopping month, as we did visiting St. Patrick’s Cathedral to see the nativity and pray for our loved ones. You can be giving and mindful as well as assertive about selling fantastic products and services you know people will enjoy.

Don’t give up marketing until the clock strikes midnight on December 23rd and then rest and rejoice in the magic of season and also being a great saleswomen who deserves the peace to rejuvenate one’s spirit until the New Year begins!

Saying Farewell to a Strong Woman

December 7, 2018

Inspiration and wisdom for women entrepreneurs

Sometimes you just don’t throw away reminders of a period of your life because you think you’ll forget the memories, people and lessons. Four months ago, I was reorganizing a draw in my office when I came upon a July 9, 2003 Syracuse Post Standard Business Section newspaper. On the bottom of the full page of our city’s newspaper was an announcement of a new small business column called “Ask The Entrepreneurs” which would tackle small business questions. Next to the title was a photo of three local business women – Ann Marie Stonecypher, Julie Briggs and myself.

The column was an idea by two of us who approached our third woman business friend Ann Marie to join us in the endeavor. We were all tied into small business in Syracuse, New York and thought we had wisdom to share with others. The column would tackle business questions on diverse subjects with unique answers from the three of us. We never answered the question the same way. The column was written by women but addressed issues pertinent to men too although the three of us would have loved it to just relate to women’s issues in business.

It was a period in life when women really needed other women in business friends to succeed in their new entrepreneurial careers. There weren’t many of us at the time and local banks and colleges weren’t interested yet in supporting women entrepreneurs. The “women entrepreneurship market” wasn’t hot 15 years ago. It was just beginning. In those early days, women really needed and depended on other women experiencing the same career pros and cons and sharing the wisdom with each other. This is why the three of us were friends and why we felt the need to write a column in our local newspaper to help other small businesses – especially women running small businesses.

The morning the article appeared in the paper, I called Ann Marie to check on her and ask her if she saw the article since she was in the hospital. I remember her telling me she showed the photo of the three of us to the oncology nurses taking care of her in the hospital explaining, “This is what I really look like.” She was ready for a double mastectomy to rid her body of breast cancer. She had cut her long, signature beautiful, auburn curls from her head anticipating the reaction to chemotherapy after the surgery. Ann Marie was a brave and confident woman who wanted to survive, live and get back to her business and life. I remember being proud of her for the way she handled herself before and after her surgery.

She returned to work and wrote the column with us for many years. Eventually she left the column to focus on her growing business AMS Models. I respected her for being able to walk away from our column to take care of herself and her enterprise. We ran into each other once in awhile at women’s business events. Over the years I heard she battled more health issues but our paths had gone separate ways. I was fortunate to see her a year and a half ago at an event to benefit Maureen’s Hope Foundation, a foundation created by my friend Susan Bertrand, who lost her sister to ovarian cancer. I wished her well and told her I would pray for her.

The last six months since I’ve been battling Alopecia Areata and losing all my hair, I have often thought of Ann Marie and how strong she was shaving off her hair, wearing wigs and not letting anything stop her during her illness. It was difficult to learn this peaceful, cold morning she lost her life. Knowing her spirit, I am positive she fought to the end with the same resolve, strength and hope as she did back in 2003 when I had the chance to know her best. I hope she lays in peace now knowing she has touched the lives of many people, including mine.

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