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    Study Finds Few Differences Between Men and Women Business Leaders

    May 3rd, 2013

    Despite a long held myth to the contrary, Women business leaders are as successful as men in starting new high tech companies.

    Here’s why:

    The stereotypical entrepreneur – particularly the Silicon Valley version – is a 20-something, single white male who dropped out of college to work 24/7 and take enormous risks for a shot at becoming the next Mark Zuckerberg.

    Women entrepreneurs, on the other hand, are thought to be overrepresented in “lifestyle” industries and more focused on raising families than founding the next Facebook.

    A study of more than 600 start-up founders and 500+ fast-growth companies published in TechCrunch deflates these myths. Entrepreneur-turned-academic Vivek Wadhwa and his team studied both men and women business leaders and their companies and found the following:

    • Men and women start-up founders are motivated by the same goals: Both men and women business leaders are driven by a desire to build wealth, chart their own destinies and capitalize on their business ideas.
    • Men and women business leaders largely share life circumstances: Wadhwa found that most entrepreneurs are closer to 40 than 20 when founding their companies and that most are married with children. Men were slightly more likely than women to be married.

    However, Wadhwa’s team did discover some interesting differences about the business climate in which male and female entrepreneurs operate:

    • Women business leaders receive more encouragement from co-founders: According to the research, women entrepreneurs were significantly more likely than men to report that their co-founders urged them to enter into a partnership to launch a new business.
    • Women start-up founders are more likely to cite a role model: Women entrepreneurs more often reported being inspired by an entrepreneurial friend or family member than their male counterparts.

    Much of Wadhwa’s research focused on high-tech fields, and he found that the academic representation of women in the computer sciences is low and falling:

    It decreased from 37% in 1985 to 19% today, largely because girls do not receive the same levels of encouragement in math and science, and this carries over into higher education and career choices. Wadhwa believes this imbalance should be remedied.

    However, a key takeaway from the study is that men and women business leaders have much more in common than is generally believed – both sexes are motivated by the same factors and largely share life circumstances.

    Women business leaders and those who aspire to launch an enterprise can therefore take encouragement from the fact that men don’t have an inherent advantage.


    Women Business Leaders: 6 Traits That Make a Successful Entrepreneur

    March 7th, 2013

    If you have ever wondered if you had what it takes to successfully grow a business, you should know that certain personal characteristics are needed.

    Entrepreneurs come from all walks of life – including women business leaders, self-made men, young idealists and retirees reentering the workforce. While there’s no one-size-fits-all description of entrepreneurs, successful business leaders do have certain characteristics in common.

    So what does it take to start and grow a thriving business? In a recent Washington Post article, University of Maryland entrepreneurship guru Rudolph P. Lamone outlined 6 character traits that may be the secret of entrepreneurial success:

    1. Passion: A successful entrepreneur has a strong belief in her ideas – Lamone calls it “fire in the belly.” This intensity makes the passionate entrepreneur willing to do whatever it takes to succeed.
    2. Persistence: Entrepreneurs don’t take “no” for an answer. This means they aren’t discouraged by naysayers and maintain a strong belief that their ideas will work.
    3. Ability to deal with pain: Entrepreneurs accept that building a business takes great sacrifice. They are undeterred by the incredible amount of hard work and assets launching an enterprise requires.
    4. Calculated risk-taking: In the typical Hollywood portrayal, entrepreneurs take wild gambles. The real-life portrait is more balanced: Entrepreneurs are not risk-averse, but they thoroughly assess the odds and take measured risks.
    5. Strong relationships: Because launching a business requires a great deal of time and personal sacrifice, a strong support system is key. An entrepreneur needs the commitment and backing of her spouse or partner so she can devote the time and resources it takes to succeed.
    6. Team Leadership: While entrepreneurs are often thought of as lone dreamers taking on the business world in solitary fashion, success usually takes teamwork. Most successful entrepreneurs don’t go it alone – they build and lead strong teams, harnessing group synergies to achieve goals.

    Lamone, who founded the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurs, describes successful entrepreneurs as passionate, persistent and tough-minded individuals who know how to assess risk, sustain relationships and lead teams. Women business leaders who display these traits may be well on their way to success.


    9 Tips to Get Speaking Opportunities for Women Business Leaders

    February 12th, 2013

    Women Business Leaders Should Look For Speaking Opportunities

    Having the opportunity to speak in front of a highly targeted, interested group of prospects is a very effective way to grow your personal brand and business. Even if you are speaking for free, the opportunity oftentimes outweighs a fee when it comes to the potential for new business and establishing yourself as a thought leader.

    Here are 9 personal tips to generate speaking opportunities:

    1. Start with blog

    Your  blog can become a great tool to open doors to speak. It provides a the platform to hone your subject matter, draw interest and appeal from your best agency prospects.

    People want to work with people that they know, trust and like. Your blog can become the face of your business, the gateway for  new business opportunities. It can also be a springboard for speaking opportunities.

    2. Create a Speaking Page

    Roxanne Joffe speaks on topics related to leadership, business development, and social media. She has been speaking publicly for more than 10 years and has keynoted more than 50 events.

    A few suggestions on what to include on your blog’s Speakers Page

    • Clearly define your expertise and your niche
    • Provide a description of topics and presentations you can speak on
    • Create your “speakers bio”
    • Speaking Engagement.  List events where you will be speaking, no matter how small (I would also suggest adding your speaking engagements to your blog’s side bar) Speaking Engagements
    • Provide testimonials.  I’ve discovered that LinkedIn is an excellent way to generate testimonials
    • Be sure and provide your contact information
    • Educate and you won’t have to sell

    3. Shoot Video

    Video is easily shot, embedded and/or linked through your blog.  It’s not that difficult create, and make a big difference in generating new speaking engagements.

    4. Record Audio

    You can also record video through a number of different programs to upload or link to your blog. Someone recently introduced me to a program that easily records interviews called wetoku. You can also use a service as simple as FreeConferenceCall.com.

    5. About Page

    I would suggest creating an About Page for your blog that would provide a fuller profile of your experience beyond your speakers bio.

    In addition to these tips …

    6. Make the Most of Your Presentation Time

    Success breeds success

    It goes without saying, you need to make a good presentation. Here are a few presentation tips to think about:

    • Focus on your audience. Don’t sell. Help them, entertain them, inform them and inspire them.
    • Prepare and rehearse your presentation.
    • Make eye contact and be engaging.
    • Use listening notes. Facilitate questions.
    • Make your session interactive with your audience.
    • Get a look at the presentation room as soon after you arrive as possible. It always helps to be aware of your surroundings and adjust your presentation accordingly.
    • Set-up your equipment as early as possible before your presentation time.
    • Have a back-up plan if you have technical issues. I always upload a copy of my presentation to an online source, have downloaded it also to a thumb-drive, make sure I have all my adapters, pluggins, etc.
    • If at all possible spend time in other conference sessions. Be part of the conference community.
    • Provide enlightening personal stories and illustrations.
    • If you use PowerPoint or Keynote, don’t read the slides! Instead use them illustrate your points. Nice photos/graphics.
    • Bring plenty of business cards.
    • Provide your contact info at the end of any slide or video presentations.

    7. Use Social Tools

    In addition to your blog, use social media tools such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to help promote the event at which you are speaking. This will be a huge help to the event organizers, will make them even more appreciative for your participation and will be a benefit to you by the positive referrals.

    Often event organizers will also provide you with a discount for your readers.

    Also use social media, prior to the event, to meet and engage with those who will be attending.

    8. Don’t Forget to Follow-up

    Taking the time to follow-up with attendees is an important part of process of gaining additional speaking and new business opportunities. Providing a personal email to those you collected business cards from and providing a link to your presentation in SlideShare would be helpful tactic to use as a follow-up.

    A personal handwritten note would also be a nice follow-up.

    9. Enroll in a Speakers Bureau

    Many Women Business Leaders have found that  enrolling in a speakers bureau has generated a good number of additional speaking opportunities in addition to their blog, writings, interviews and referrals.

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    4-Step Approach to a Social Media Plan for Women Business Leaders

    December 6th, 2012

    POST is one of the most effective acronyms since the four P’s of marketing. It’s a four-step approach that can help women marketers define a social media marketing plan for their business and/or clients.

    The POST method is the heart and soul of the book, Groundswell, written by Forrestter Research analysts, Charlene Li and Josh Bernoffand. It is  highlighted in Josh Bernoff’s Groundswell blog post, The POST Method: A systematic approach to social strategy. The POST Method serves as a guide to help you determine the right strategy for the right audience.

    Josh says, “Executives are going about social strategy backwards: picking technologies like blogs or communities first instead of focusing on what they want to accomplish.”

    Your purpose should dictate strategy and the tactics used for reaching desired goals. A few common outcomes for your social media marketing efforts should include:

    • Gain insight into your target audience – You can use all the qualitative data you want, but some of the most interesting and helpful market research can be found within the social communities where your prospective clients interact, share information and make recommendations.
    • Link building for traffic and SEO - According to Marketing Sherpa, 80-90% of business to business transactions begin with a search on the web. Creating linkbait and promoting it to social media news and bookmarking sites can attract a slew of links from bloggers that read them. Creating value for the community is not the only rule, creating value and behaving according to formal and unwritten rules is what sustains social media sourced link building.
    • Build brand visibility and authority - You’ve heard it before,“Conversations are happening online about your company’s brand, with or without you.” You might as well participate and do so in a way that pays close attention to the interests and needs of your prospective clients – providing them with information and interactions that further support your company’s brand.

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    9 Simple Ways Women Business Leaders can Reach Their Goals

    September 26th, 2012

    As women business leaders, we have all achieved some kind of goal, but I have been wondering how intentional these milestones really are. For instance, I had never been a runner, but I was inspired by the New York City Marathon while living in New York. Watching the ecstatic runners cross the finish line, I decided that it was going to be me the following year. Having set this goal I was able to plan, train, visualize myself finishing, create milestones while training, make friends with other runners, track my progress and have real clarity about the outcome. I wanted my identity to be a “marathon runner.”

    Reading these tips from Celestine Chua on Dumblittleman.com really made sense when I compared them to how I achieved a random goal – becoming a marathon runner. Think about your own goals and try some of these tips to help make your own goals become reality.

    1. Concentrate on 1-3 goals
      If you constantly have trouble keeping to your goals, maybe you’re spreading yourself too thin. Pick 1-3 goals that are most important to you, and stick to them.
    2. Create a vision board
      A vision board is a collage of pictures and images that represent your goals and dreams. Creating a vision board helps you to visualize your end goals more clearly, which inevitably inspires you to take consistent action.
    3. Create milestones
      If you just set one huge goal, it can be discouraging – especially when you don’t achieve it after a short while. I find it’s helpful to break a big goal into smaller goals.
    4. Create a plan
      The best time to work out your plan is when you set the goal, because that’s when your motivation is the highest.
    5. Track your results
      It’s important for me to track the results of what I do. Otherwise it feels like my actions are not making a difference. Every time I work on a goal, I will identify 1-2 performance metrics, and then track those metrics daily/weekly.
    6. Have goal buddies
      Goal buddies are people who share similar goals with you. They help to remind you about your goal, cheer you on when you feel unmotivated, give you new ideas on how to achieve your goal and keep you on track.
    7. Start documenting your goal pursuit
      Having a blog or private diary to document your goal pursuit can be a therapeutic experience. When we write out our thoughts, it helps us to get clarity on our issues and renews our interest in the goal.
    8. Be clear on why you’re pursuing the goals
      For me, if I’m really serious about a goal, I keep hammering away at it, regardless of the obstacles, until they give way and I’m enjoying the fruits of my labor.
    9. Learn to say no
      Do you often put your goals aside for other people? You can’t put your life on hold for others! Learn how to say no and you may find a bigger pot of gold at the end of this rainbow.

    I realize now that I instinctively used many of Celestine’s tips in planning and focusing on my personal goal to become a marathon runner. But these tips can easily transfer to your business goals, as well.


    How Women Business Leaders can Spot a Liar

    September 23rd, 2012

    While I hail from a rather dramatic, perhaps dysfunctional (as we all do in some ways) family, two values were etched in my character: Never break a promise and never tell a lie. As a woman business leader and business owner, these values have helped me stay grounded throughout my career. I have to admit, though, that the drama also comes with a license to exaggerate – but only for the purposes of a good story, of course!

    Consequently, spotting a liar has been very difficult for me. I think these tips I’ve condensed from an article by Bill Rosenthal and Carolyn M. Anderson are very helpful.

    When evaluating a potential liar, consider these three behavioral signals — that is, both what they say and how they say it:

    Discomfort
    Does the person seem uncomfortable about what she is saying? The visible anxiety may be caused by guilt or fear of getting caught, which leads liars to hurry to end the discussion and even look relieved when it’s over. Their feet might be pointing in the direction of their getaway — perhaps a doorway or a hallway. They may also put a barrier — such as a briefcase or purse — between themselves and you.

    Evasiveness
    Someone who withholds information or keeps the conversation vague when you ask for specifics might be lying, particularly if that person finds it hard to remember something that should easily be remembered.

    Manipulation
    Is the person using data that’s suspect? When you ask her a question, the liar may answer with much more detail than is needed. She may also use overly explicit language for emphasis: Adding lots of detail is a common trick of con artists, for example.

    New Research
    Aside from those three behavioral clues, you should also consider if the speaker is more likely to lie. You’ll find plenty of new research on this subject. For example, a person who is under pressure is more apt to stretch the truth than someone who is not.

    I hasten to add that these tips are just guidelines and to use them with careful consideration and thought. Just keep in mind – not everyone who exhibits some of these behaviors is lying. They just might be nervous or have to visit the ladies room!


    How Women Business Leaders Can Create Effective, Sustainable, Healthy Organizations

    September 21st, 2012

    These are the basic principles that will apply to any organization, whether it exists to make money or to fulfill its mission. As a woman business leader and entrepreneur, I am passionate about my business and the causes that I am involved in. I find these tips from Fredia Woolf extremely relevant to the health of either.

    I’ve summarized Fredia’s “7 Essentials for an Effective, Sustainable, Healthy Organization” and added my thoughts for you here:

    1. Leadership ability and commitment
      Fredia notes that, “At the heart of every successful organization lies the quality, competency, vision and drive of its leader or leaders.” I think most of us have experienced lackluster leadership, whether in businesses, schools or government. It shows in the lack of enthusiasm of employees, students and staff.
    2. Strategy
      Without clarity and direction, says Fredia, it’s difficult for employees and staff to feel as if they are part of the process. Leaders need to communicate the organization’s strategies so that team members can set goals that are aligned with the corporate goals, and work together to achieve them.
    3. Communication from and visibility of senior leaders
      According to Fredia, “Highly capable leaders who craft a brilliant strategy yet stay in their offices … will not create high performance or healthy organizations.”  Not only should good leaders be the voice of the organization to the outside world, they should communicate often and openly with their team. Keeping staff informed and updated helps them to feel part of the overall success of the business.
    4. Accountability
      Fredia makes a good point, noting that many times leaders either micromanage their team or don’t offer enough support or direction leaving employees to flounder. Finding balance between those two extremes makes sense not only from a productivity standpoint but also from an employee satisfaction standpoint. Empowering your team to make decisions but also holding them accountable for their work will create an engaged and purposeful team.
    5. Remove structural impediments
      Rather than referring to office walls and closed doors, Fredia is suggesting that there may be political, organizational or even personal agendas in a business that hamper it from growing and adapting. Healthy organizations will acknowledge internal impediments exist and work towards a goal of removing them.
    6. Creating a sense of team and trust
      While it is important to gather employees that have the technology and technical expertise to help your business stay profitable and current, Fredia cautions that companies cannot afford to forget about teamwork and trust. You can employ great technical minds, but if your team doesn’t communicate and trust one another, your organization will flounder.
    7. Focus on coaching and development
      Fredia’s last point is so important, and something I feel strongly about in my own business. Coaching and mentoring your team to help them reach their full potential not only helps your business by maximizing the talent your team already possesses, but it fosters team members who will go the extra mile for you when the going gets rough.

    Rather than think of employees as expendable or as a business asset, grow a culture of trust, communication and mentoring to create a team culture that fosters healthy effective sustainable organizations. Here are a few of my favorite blogs on mentoring, “7 Way Women Business Leaders can Mentor and Motivate Others”, and “Itzhak Perlman Inspires Pointers on Perfection for Women Business Leaders.”


    5 Pointers, How Women Business Leaders can Avoid the Us vs. Them Syndrome

    July 26th, 2012

    Women should measure their success against other successes not against what successful men have done.

    In her response to “What Men Don’t Tell Women About Business,” by Chris Flett, Bridget Ayers gives women business leaders 5 pointers on how to avoid being an us vs. them victim:

    1. Don’t approach business like it’s war

    How like a man to think business is war. I do not treat business like a war, war is turmoil and casualties, and I’m not looking for either. I don’t need to know what men think, I need to know what successful entrepreneurs think, and then I need to incorporate that into who I am and how I do things.

    2. Create your own company through your own inspiration, not someone else’s terms

    One woman said that she couldn’t “get into the board room so she left to form her own company.” Having and using knowledge that IS only available in the board room is essential, but some women are so furious about past experiences that they disregard it and refuse to even listen to what is being offered.

    Flett makes this sound like a bad thing! A woman who chooses to create her own successful company as opposed to trying to do it on someone else’s terms is inspirational not weak. Work on your weaknesses but play to your strengths, that is the winning strategy. Did Flett have this same opinion of Steve Jobs when he wasn’t being listened to in the Apple boardroom and went his own way in 1986? I doubt it!

    3. Knowledge is power

    I agree with Chris Flett on this point. Keep yourself educated, informed, and never be afraid to learn from others; be they men or women.

    4. Choose talent based on multiple attributes

    Choosing people to learn from and business acumen to incorporate into your business should be done based on your industry, business style and, ultimately, your goals. Flett seems to spread his naivety beyond the female gender and into the corporate domain by insinuating that all boardrooms are equal.

    All men/women are not created the same, Warren Buffet and Donald Trump are two very successful men but I would wager they are very different in the boardroom. Martha Stewart, Susie Orman, and Oprah are all very successful women and how much alike do you think they are in the boardroom?

    I know I could learn from all five individuals, but what I would choose to take from each would be dependent upon who I am and what I want.

    5. Learn from mentors, don’t try to be their clone

    Business isn’t about conformity. Mentors are important, but they’re meant to be learned from not cloned. So by all means go out there and learn from others, there is no reason to recreate the wheel, but don’t forget who you are in the process.

    Summary:
    Be yourself using all your strengths including your femininity. Don’t feel as if you have to measure your self against what men have done in business before you.

    Read Bridget’s complete article, “Women in Business vs. Men”

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    5 Ways Women Business Leaders Can Embrace Their Femininity

    July 22nd, 2012

    Women who are running  businesses should detach from feminism and embrace their femininity.

    My daughter started her career in a high stress male dominated industry. We were reflecting on how a woman can succeed in this environment  without becoming masculinised. Women who are running  businesses should detach from feminism and embrace their femininity.

    The truth is that women have been liberated. We no longer need to spend our energies proving that we’re equal. We own our own companies, we assume leadership roles and we don’t have to wear ties to work.

    Here are 5 ways to create this balance while getting respect from both males and females:

    1. Don’t pretend that you’re one of the boys – you’re not. But at the same time don’t play the “us girls” game.  Work at your individuality as a person. Use your unique leadership strengths when dealing with an issue.
    2. You shouldn’t dress provocatively but you also don’t need to wear a burka.  You have a wonderful opportunity to express yourself  and your femininity.  Make sure that you are dignified and professional and let your gender work for you.
    3. It’s OK to talk about kids, make-up and hair but please consider your audience – these discussions may be boring to whomever is listening. Be yourself but remain sensitive to the situation.
    4. Respect both male and female employees. Disparaging remarks about men set a feminist tone and put a line in the sand when there may not have been an issue to begin with.
    5. Watch out for “womens only groups” why would you want to segregate ideas and talent. Position yourself as an entrepreneurial leader rather than a proponent of  “Women rule”

    You have a real advantage as a woman running a business – don’t blow it by  wearing workboots and snarling at men, rather walk around in your stilettos with strength and conviction.

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    How Women Business Leaders can Become Highly Respected Achievers

    June 26th, 2012

    photo by scott*eric

    I recently attended an International Woman’s Forum meeting with a small group of women business leaders. As I looked around the room, I realized that not only was I surrounded by women leaders, but they are all good people. I have never consciously thought of myself as a leader but rather organically moved into this role. Although I am not over burdened with self confidence, I find I do have a strong desire to lead — but with a focus on leading with authenticity.

    This article on becoming a respected leader from Forbes shows how leaders can combine good human characteristics with passion and leadership skills:

    1. Tempered Tenacity
      Respected achievers are incredibly tenacious. To a tenaciously driven person, there is never just one way to get there, and no one will convince them otherwise. However, the sort of achiever we’re talking about also keeps the well-being of others in mind, and if one of those alternate routes will result in unnecessarily harming someone else, then that route isn’t an option, period.
    2. Consistent Commitment
      While nurturing multiple visions is fine (assuming they are manageable), the respected achiever sets a high standard for her/himself that what they commit to do on a project, they fully intend to do and will make every reasonable effort to make it happen. The respected achievers’ standard of following through is consistently maintained whether or not adversity materializes, and others know that when they collaborate with a respected achiever it won’t be a waste of their time.
    3. Soulful Pragmatism
      Respected achievers are typically pragmatists – they focus on what works. But, implementing a pragmatic approach without being mindful of how changes will affect others isn’t commendable, it’s cruel. Respected achievers know this, so they balance an outcome focus with a situational awareness of the adjustments required by others, and they work with them to make those adjustments.
    4. Strategic Resolution
      Just like anyone else, respected achievers can become negative when things aren’t going well, and just like all of us, they may vent now and again about how crappy a situation is.  What they do not do, however, is drop anchor in that negative place and allow their negativity to feed itself and eventually seep into the perspectives of those around them. Instead, they experience the pain, recognize that whatever caused it (business or personal) is now part of their repertoire of experience, and then they resolve to strategically move on.
    5. Responsibility Ownership
      One less-than-admirable trait of many driven people is that they’re good at figuring out how to avoid taking responsibility for what went wrong. If that means throwing someone under the proverbial bus, so be it. Better him than me. But the respected achiever sees things differently in a couple of ways. First, if something went wrong due to a mistake made by the team, the respected achiever owns responsibility whether or not other team members do the same. Second, respected achievers are intuitively reciprocal people – they treat others in the manner they wish to be treated. Their embodiment of the “Golden Rule” is not situational; it’s a consistently applied maxim that guides their behavior.

    Have you worked with someone you feel fit the model above for a highly respected leader? Please share your story with us and tell us how this person influenced you in finding your own leadership style.