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    10 Ways Women Business Leaders Can Ensure They Are Working Smarter

    April 15th, 2012

    Over the past few months, I have been fighting and conquering breast cancer, an event that has thrown me into a retrospective state of evaluating my life. And while I travel this journey as a woman business leader and breast cancer survivor, I keep coming back to authenticity, facing fear, trusting my intuition and accepting my weaknesses while embracing my strengths. If you have been reading my blog, you know that these are subjects that we keep coming back to. So, in our continual journey to find our core and make meaning of what we do, I offer you some of my observations :

    1. Maximize dreams and aspirations – As you imagine “what can be” open your mind a little wider and imagine the path to get there.

    2. Seize opportunities — Stay open and tuned in to opportunities by focusing on the outcomes rather than fear the unknown.

    3. Accentuate your strengths — Don’t put energy into working on your weaknesses, rather use and cultivate your strengths, which will override your perceived weaknesses.

    4. Cultivate a culture of care and service — This notion extends to everyone who you come in contact with from your customers to your co-workers and everyone in between.

    5. Focus and commitment — Once you have set your goals stay committed and focused on where you are going and articulate this to your team.

    6. Innovate –Continually look for new ways to solve problems and come up with solutions that meet your needs and your principles. Look beyond the norm and expected with creative ideas that can be put into action.

    7. Develop win-win strategies to benefit all– I know that the notion of win-win sounds like a cliché but it’s all about balance. Make sure that your partners, co-workers and associates feel comfortable with outcomes.

    8. Lead & brand — Be a leader in your field and stay true to your value proposition.

    9. Listen to & reward your team -Believe that people on the front lines are literally your most important people. Ensure that every team member feels valued and is essential to the overall health of the company.

    10. Stick to principles & core competencies – Markets change. Competitors appear. Do not compromise the essence of what your business is and the principles for which it stands. Stay passionate and true to your beliefs.

    I hope my suggestions give you some inspiration. Here are a few more of my of my favorite blogs: “5 Qualities Women Business Leaders can Cultivate to Become Remarkable,” and “7 Ways Women Business Leaders Can Encourage their Team’s Creativity.”

    6 Blogging Don’ts Women Business Leaders Should Avoid

    April 12th, 2012

    I have been blogging for about 18 months now and while I have enjoyed the writing,  I’ve also had an unexpected bonus.  I started blogging from my perspective of feminism vs. femininity in order to share my thoughts with other women business leaders and entrepreneurs – but soon learned that I really had to dig into my soul to make an impact. In doing this, I learned about myself and how to take those experiences and ask,”What does this teach me?” Needless to say, this had an enormous impact on how I am dealing with my recent diagnosis and treatment for breast cancer. Blogging can be a wonderful experience and I thought I’d share these blogging tips from Jeff Hayden with you.

    Jeff  wrote the following list to help you avoid some typical business blog mistakes, and I think you’ll appreciate his tips along with his humor:

    1. Don’t write in the dead zone
      Commenting on breaking news is smart since timely relevance attracts interest. But there’s a definite timeliness window; fall outside it and you always lose. Either immediately post your thoughts on breaking news or wait months or years to let time and hindsight provide the spark for re-imagining the topic.
    2. Don’t play the catchy headline game
      Headlines need to spark interest, but misleading or over-selling is the blog kiss of death. Never write a post based solely on a catchy headline, and never tack on a click-generating headline unless those are the last clicks you actually want to generate. Be clear, straightforward, and whenever possible, include the benefit to the reader.
    3. Don’t write because it’s on your calendar
      Lots of experts say publishing on a schedule is necessary to establish predictability and build an audience. They’re probably right, but schedule or not, writing a throwaway post just to maintain a schedule is a waste of your reader’s time—and your time.
    4. Don’t try to be Bill Simmons
      ESPN’s Bill Simmons’s Sports Guy columns are a cool blend of sports, movies, TV, and pop culture, written without pretense of neutrality.  He’s arguably the most popular sports columnist in America—and one of the most imitated. If you’re struggling to find your style, just write like you speak. You may not build a huge audience … but you will build a long-term audience.
    5. Avoid writing “I Think” posts
      Qualifying words make sense if you’re a lawyer or working in compliance for a financial services firm and need to make sure you don’t make promises you have to keep. Otherwise, be bold and direct. Take a stand. Don’t share rambling, unfocused thoughts; provide solutions.
    6. Don’t preach to your choir
      Readers want to learn new things and take new perspectives. While you should never be contrary just for the sake of contrariness, write and respond thoughtfully and your readers will too, and they’ll gain respect for your opinions even when—sometimes especially when—they don’t agree.

    I have certainly learned a lot during my blogging career so far. And I have appreciated to advice from industry experts like Jeff. If you’d like more tips on blogging, here are a few of my favorites, “10 Questions Women Business Leaders Should Ask Before Starting to Blog,” and “Women Business Leaders: 3 Tactics for a Better Business Blog.”

    Women Business Leaders: Does Your Social Media Voice Match Your Brand?

    April 8th, 2012

    As a woman business leader and business owner, I am often asked if I “do social media.” I could liken this question to, “Do you do in-person meetings?” Social media is merely a communications channel that should sync with your overall branding efforts. A company is like a living thing in that it has a “persona” or personality that should be understood by the entire team in order to be effective across all channels. This brand personality should be extended through the voice both on and off line.

    Here are some things to think about when planning your brand’s social media strategy I’ve condensed from an article by public relations professional Mickie Kennedy:

    Whether you realize it or not, your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social media profiles all play a key role in your branding efforts. Unfortunately, too many companies have a social media voice that doesn’t fit with their brand.

    Here’s an example. Recently, 7-Eleven posted a Facebook update (they’ve since deleted it) that was seemingly poking fun at mentally ill people. Obviously, the person who made this update on behalf of 7-Eleven didn’t understand that this type of humor didn’t fit with the brand’s voice.  It was a clear example of the company’s social media voice not matching the brand.

    There’s nothing wrong with showing some personality with your social networking. It’s a good thing, but it also has to make sense within the structure of your brand. If you’ve created a brand that’s seen as serious and thoughtful and you have a silly, funny social media voice, it just won’t ring true with your customers. It will confuse them and undermine your branding efforts.

    How can you make sure your social media marketing meshes with the rest of your branding efforts?

    It all comes down to training the person who is managing your social media accounts on the voice of your brand. That person needs to understand what your brand is about, what kind of image you’re trying to create, who your target audience is, and how you want them to interact with and perceive your brand.

    I’m not saying you need to run every Tweet and status update through a committee for approval, but you do need to remember that everything you post influences how others see your brand. Consistency is the key to building brands customers trust and connect with. Maintain that consistency in everything you do.

    I agree with Mickie’s thoughts on maintaining a cohesive “brand” throughout your marketing and social efforts. Does it make you wonder about a brand when its social voice is disconnected  from its overall brand voice?

    Women Business Leaders: Are You Really Present in Your Own Reality?

    January 31st, 2012


    Meditation for the present

    As I recuperate from identity-altering surgery wearing my pink boxing gloves to fight breast cancer, I have had much time to ponder and imagine how my days in recovery are removed from my usual routine. My sensitivity and consciousness has been heightened as I catapult into reality. As I explore this new space,  I really have no choice but to live in the present by feeling and experiencing every moment.

    In a recent article, Dan Pallotta makes some good points on how to stay present with the following tips:

    * Make consciousness a business priority. Offer regular training on it. I say regular because virtual reality isn’t going away. It’s a chronic illness like Type-1 diabetes, and it requires regular, unending treatment. I love Eckhart Tolle’s statement, “To be unable to stop thinking is a terrible affliction.” Most of us have it. To pay it short shrift is the same as ignoring it.

    * Make time at the beginning of your day to be present. In whatever way works for you — prayer, stillness, a brisk walk outdoors, insight meditation, or whatever gets you out of the trance and into present.

    * Make time during the day to break the trance. Schedule five minutes at the top of each hour to become conscious of all the chatter and separate yourself from it. Schedule five minutes of stillness before you get on the phone with anyone, so that you are present during the call or the meeting.

    Instead of spending your waking hours in a sort of “virtual” reality … try to turn off the background noise and make a real effort to be present in your own life. This has been forced upon me by my own body.

    What has been the wake-up call that helped you to refocus on your true reality?

    Women Business Leaders Need to Think Clearly to be Truly Great

    November 29th, 2011

    As women business leaders, our value lies in working “on” the business, not “in” the business.  So, in order to produce my best strategic work,  I try to remove myself from the day-to-day frenzy whenever possible! I admit I need constant reminders to do this, but I think it’s vitally important to reduce the clutter to get a clear view of where you want your business to go.

    Joshua Ehrlich outlines some excellent ways to achieve optimal strategic thinking in his recent article, “For Great Leadership, Clear Your Head.” I’ve condensed the highlights for you below:

    • Remove the obstacles
      For many managers, the biggest obstacle is trying to do it all. Learn to say “no” to administrative tasks and unnecessary meetings, and start asking for help from your team when needed. By freeing yourself from the allure of details, you can start zooming out — that is, looking up ahead and out wide at your team’s strategy.
    • Quiet the noise
      When you begin to carve out quiet time, your focus becomes clearer. Mindful breathing can help quiet internal distractions. Each morning, sit for five minutes with the intent of focusing on your breathing. Mindfulness helps leaders solve problems more creatively and learn more quickly and flexibly.
    • Percolate
      Think of the last time you had a great idea. Did it come when you were under pressure? Most likely it came when you gave it time to gel.  Engage a diverse group of senior mentors and peers to help direct and develop your ideas.
    • Clarify your message
      Half the battle with strategic thinking is conveying your vision — where you want to take your business — and conveying it clearly. It doesn’t have to be grand, just compelling enough to align your team’s energy and attention.
    • Keep reflecting and adjusting
      Besides being clear, a strategy must be effective. If your strategy is off the mark, don’t be afraid to change course. Reframe failure as an opportunity to learn.

    Although not every tip will work for everyone, I think there are a few tips I personally will try to use more often. Let me know what worked for you, or share your tips with us in the comments section.

    12 Ways Women Business Leaders Can Become Recognized Experts

    November 27th, 2011

    Have you ever read a blog or website article authored by an “industry expert,” and wondered how they became an expert? While being a woman business leader and entrepreneur have certainly helped me in my networking and business connections, it wasn’t until I started my blog, became a speaker and joined several select and respected industry trade groups that my “expert” status started to take off.

    While I achieved my status as an after-effect of my business activities, the tips below, from an article by Donald Todrin, will guide you toward becoming an expert using a methodical, step-by-step approach:

    1. Learn about what’s important in your industry today and become current. Every commercial niche has one or more trade magazines. Obtain a few back copies, three at least, and read them cover to cover.
    2. Note the advertisements. These will also tell you what’s new and important to the industry, as well as what the leading businesses are talking about and selling.
    3. Write an article and submit it for publication in one of the industry magazines. This often isn’t as hard as it seems. Once done, you are a published writer in the industry.
    4. Create a website and a blog. Begin to communicate with your market, discussing industry issues and creating an open forum with you as an expert.
    5. Create podcasts (video or audio) based on your blog entries. Post the video on YouTube.
    6. Offer to speak at a local college. Offer a professor or department head the opportunity to have you speak at a forum on a subject relevant to you and the educator’s interest group—at no charge, of course.
    7. Offer a local club, association, or service organization the opportunity to have you speak on a relevant subject – at no charge.
    8. Run your own seminar. This is a smart way to continue to build your credentials.
    9. Become a corporate speaker. Being a public speaker at leading businesses and corporations adds to your credentials.
    10. Send out media releases to the local press. Repeat your credentials and promote your speaking, writing, seminar or whatever you have to promote.
    11. Join a national trade organization for your industry and offer to write a monthly column on interesting aspects of the industry for the organization’s newsletter or magazine.
    12. If you can afford it, give a seminar at your industry’s national trade show. Or have a booth, or get on the board or any committee for the organization.

    Women Business Leaders: 10 Tips for Borrowing Authority From Social Experts

    November 22nd, 2011

    Given the choice of going to a cocktail party or staying home and networking, my inclination would be to socialize at home. Luckily, I am able to write and promote my blog for women business leaders no matter where I am. And now that I have been blogging regularly for over a year, I have penetrated several networks without the essential cocktail in hand!

    These tips from Vicki Flaugher effectively distill some excellent ways (both online and in person) to build, leverage and solidify your expertise and business reputation as well as your relationships.

    1. Write a blog post forwarding an opinion that either differs or supports or augments a well-respected figure in your industry.
    2. Get your picture taken with an industry celebrity at a live event you attend and post it on your social channels.
    3. Interview industry greats and post to YouTube (and your blog), with the correct tags that can add your video to the collective aggregate of videos about the interviewee.
    4. Make a valuable, community-sensitive comment on the blog of an industry heavy and link back to a specific, relevant post on your blog.
    5. Ask an industry heavy to write an endorsement or forward to your book or ebook. Ask behind closed doors and thank publicly when they say yes.
    6. Quote someone with higher street credibility than you have to show your alignment with his/her philosophy. You can do this on your blog, via retweets, or by sharing links from their blog.
    7. Participate in well-traveled niche hash tag Twitter chats where you can be seen with the top industry insiders.
    8. Go outside strictly professional events to connect yourself to industry heavies – philanthropy events, sporting events, and arts patronage events.
    9. Start a fan club (or LinkedIn group, or book club) that intertwines your interests with well-respected professionals who already have a digital platform
    10. Gain a speaking gig at the same event as industry greats so you can honestly say you shared a stage with them.

    Many of these activities will happen naturally, as they did for me. As you become more active in your industry, you’ll find the opportunities are endless. But it never hurts to be proactive!

    Why Women Business Leaders Need to Think Differently for their Businesses to Thrive

    November 20th, 2011

    Change is inevitable. It’s driven by external factors as well as deliberate decisions. My business, a creative communications firm, has been affected by the economy and has been drastically altered by the emergence and integration of technology. We have to continually make reactive and anticipatory decisions that ensure our ability to service our clients. We need to stay ahead of the curve and, in effect, forecast trends. In order to do this, we cannot operate in a vacuum – and as a woman business leader and business owner, I believe that we have to integrate ourselves on all levels to remain viable.

    This Harvard Business Review article brief by Rosabeth Moss Kanter sums up how companies need to think and act differently in order to excel.

    Traditional theories are dominated by the notion of opposition between capital and labor, disconnecting business from society and posing conflicts between them. According to this view, companies are nothing more than money-generating machines.

    • By contrast, great companies use a different operating logic. They believe that business is an intrinsic part of society, and like the family, government, and religion, has been one of its pillars for centuries.
    • Great companies work to make money, but in their choices of how to do so, they consider whether they are building enduring institutions. As a result, they invest in the future while being aware of the needs of people and society.
    • There are six facets of institutional logic, which radically alters leadership and corporate behavior: a common purpose; a long-term view; emotional engagement; community building; innovation; and self-organization.

    Does your organization or firm consider the six facets of institutional logic—listed above in the last bullet point—and integrate them as part of its business plan? What do you “wish” your company would do or change to be a better steward of the future?

    5 Leadership Essentials for Women Business Leaders

    November 15th, 2011

    When I was interviewed for membership in Leadership Florida, a statewide community of leaders dedicated to serving Florida, I was asked when I decided to be a leader. After pondering the question and realizing that I had no answer – it dawned on me that I have never declared myself a woman business leader. Rather, I have embraced the notion and confidence bestowed on me by others. If this makes me a leader – so be it –  but the path has not been intentional as much as it has been organic.

    However, if you are focusing on following the leadership trail, here are some good lessons from Jenna Goudreau, a journalist who has studied and written about some of the world’s most powerful women:

    1. Put Yourself In The Position To Win
      You may not know when an opportunity will arise, but if you’ve prepared and positioned yourself well, you can leverage the luck that comes your way.
    2. Ask For What You Need To Be Successful
      If you’re not going to champion your own career, who do you expect will do it for you? We know that women are less likely to negotiate their salaries, which hugely impacts their earnings, but fighting for your success should not be limited to a salary negotiation.
    3. Be Persistent
      I’ve learned that not only do you have to ask, but you also have to keep asking. In fact, sometimes I believe my primary role as a journalist is to be pleasantly annoying. Quite a few, if not most, of the story ideas I pitch to my editors are rejected.
    4. Have Courage
      I’ve met a lot of smart people. I’ve worked with plenty of talented people. But those who have the courage to walk straight through their fears for work they believe in are the ones who stand out. I now firmly believe that cultivating courage may be the best thing you do for your career.
    5. Aim For Consistency
      The media business is constantly evolving. For today’s journalist, it means becoming a Jane of all trades. I’ve learned that perfection is not the goal. I aim instead for consistency. If I miss a story, make a typo or have a bad hair day, I’m learning to forgive myself.

    For more leadership strategies, see my blogs: “Simple Steps to Becoming a Powerhouse Woman Business Leader,” and “Women Business Leaders: To Be Successful, Stop Worrying and Go with the Flow.”

    10 LinkedIn Tips for Women Business Leaders

    November 11th, 2011

    I am continually surprised – in a good way – by contacts reaching out to me on LinkedIn.  As a woman business leader and entrepreneur, LinkedIn is my professional “comfort zone.” Of all the social media platforms, LinkedIn gives you the ability to control and even manipulate your message. It is a “living brochure” for your personal brand.

    In this article, Guy Kawasaki provides some useful ways to maximize your exposure with some great LinkedIn tips:

    1. Acquire new customers through online recommendations and word of mouth
      Satisfied customers are the best source of new customers.
    2. Keep in touch with people who care most about your business
      Sites like LinkedIn help keep your business alive in the minds of the people who care most about your business
    3. Find the right vendors to outsource services you’re not an expert on
      LinkedIn makes it easy for you to find vendors through the network of your peers.
    4. Build your industry network—online and in person
      Search LinkedIn’s Groups directory to find industry associations and networks to take part in.
    5. Get answers to tough business questions with a little help from your real friends
      LinkedIn Answers and Groups let you find answers to vexing questions quickly by tapping into the wisdom of your network.
    6. Win new business by answering questions in your area of expertise
      Use the many forums on LinkedIn to share the knowledge you’ve gained in your area of expertise.
    7. Raise funding
      You can use LinkedIn to find mentors or potential investors for your startup.
    8. Network with peers in your industry for repeat business referrals
      With over 2000 groups dedicated to small business topics, you’re sure to find a relevant group to network.
    9. Convince potential customers of your expertise by sharing unique blog content
      Small businesses smart enough to create unique content on their expertise should link to it from their LinkedIn profiles.
    10. Keep your friends close and your competition closer
      Not only do company profiles give you unique insight into your competition, they also give you an opportunity to stumble upon potential hires.

    You hear a lot of “buzz” about other social media platforms, but I think it’s time LinkedIn got a little more respect. How have you used LinkedIn to grow your business connections?