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    6 Tips for Women Business Leaders to Manage Work-Life Balance

    March 18th, 2012

    As a woman business leader and business owner, my breast cancer diagnosis and treatment has plummeted me into a situation where a work-life balance has become essential. Now, I’m not endorsing waiting for an extreme situation to evaluate how you are spending your time, but if you subscribe to the belief that time is our ultimate commodity – then spend it wisely.

    Here are some tips from writer Jeff Doubeck. Try to follow these important steps and ensure you’re committing yourself to achieve your own work-life balance:

    1. Include personal tasks in your daily priorities – don’t be reactive with your personal time
    2. Set and pursue three to five personal goals at the beginning of each month
    3. Track how you spend your time – finish each day by recording personal activities in your planner or journal
    4. Increase your personal time by cutting back mindless TV and Internet browsing
    5. Minimize your commitments to others
    6. Eat well, sleep well – live healthier and increase your energy levels during off-work hours

    I am passionate about my work so I do not segregate my work from my personal life — but rather strive for a seamless integration. For me,  incorporating my belief system into my work is part of who I am. How do you, as a woman business leader, manage your work-life balance?

     


    Women Business Leaders: Motivate your Team with Authenticity

    March 15th, 2012

    A colleague once asked me, “When did you decide that you wanted to be a leader?” I was quite taken aback by that question because in the first place, I did not think of myself as a leader; and in the second place, I don’t believe that leadership should be self proclaimed but rather earned.

    Carol Rice outlines some great ways to lead your team in business by employing the underlying principle of authenticity.

    1. Listen
      Tune in to what workers and customers are saying, and you’ll find great ideas for how to move forward.
    2. Give credit
      Workers love leaders who acknowledge their ideas.
    3. Be yourself
      In our age of sound bites and phony smiles, tell your story honestly. It’s rare and refreshing, and makes workers feel like they know you — and want to help you succeed.
    4. Communicate
      So much company dysfunction can be prevented with clear communication. Otherwise, workers are in the dark. And soon, they won’t care.
    5. Don’t be trendy
      Avoid the “strategy du jour” problem. Choose a course and stick to it.
    6. Beat anxiety
      Stop worrying and turn your negative emotions — regret, fear, sadness — into teachers that help shape your character.
    7. Be service-oriented
      Leaders can be sort of self-involved, forgetting that they are in a position of leadership. To serve customers, shareholders and workers stay focused on others.
    8. Be accountable
      Define the results you want, and acknowledge when a screw-up is your fault.
    9. Use empathy
      Demographic changes have foisted more and more women into the workplace. Make sure your communication and leadership style is a fit for today’s workforce.
    10. Share the big picture
      If your workers don’t know the company’s overall goals, it can be hard for them to solve problems. That leaves you having to micromanage every problem instead of being able to delegate and offer guidance.
    11. Keep your cool
      The days when being a screamer worked are long gone. If workers are worried about whether you’re in a good mood today or not, little gets done.
    12. Think like an immigrant
      When you arrive on new shores, you often see the business world with fresh eyes. Use your unique perspective to spot opportunities others are missing.

    What leadership traits do you think are the most important? Leave a comment and share your suggestions with us here.


    5 Qualities Women Business Leaders can Cultivate to Become Remarkable

    March 13th, 2012

    In my career as a woman business leader and entrepreneur, I have been recognized by my peers with various awards and accolades. But one of my greatest pleasures is hearing from the people who I have worked with and mentored over the years. It is very rewarding to re-connect  as they share their personal and professional progress with me. From a note about a promotion, a picture from a wedding album, a Facebook request to be a “friend,” or a picture of a first baby – making a difference in someone’s life is quite a thrill!

    Making a difference has become even more important to me after my recent breast cancer “wake-up call.” It has given me the chance to look back on my life and to focus on what is really important.  So, as I think about  my greatest accomplishments,  I am proud that I have always encouraged my team to have a  socially-responsible mindset where each individual feels they are contributing not only to the success of the company but to the overall success of our clients and their causes.

    To encourage your team to be socially responsible, consistently do the five things Jeff Hayden suggests below and everything else will follow. You and your business will benefit greatly and  so will your employees.

    1. Develop every employee
      Sure, you can put your primary focus on reaching targets, achieving results, and accomplishing concrete goals—but do that and you put your leadership cart before your achievement horse. Employees can only achieve what they are capable of achieving, so it’s your job to help all your employees be more capable so they—and your business—can achieve more.
    2. Deal with problems immediately
      Nothing kills team morale more quickly than problems that don’t get addressed. Interpersonal squabbles, performance issues, feuds between departments … all negatively impact employee motivation and enthusiasm.  Plus, when you ignore a problem your employees immediately lose respect for you, and without respect, you can’t lead.
    3. Rescue your worst employee
      Almost every business has at least one employee who just can’t seem to keep up. Before you remove your weak link from the chain, put your full effort into trying to rescue that person instead. Say, “John, I know you’ve been struggling but I also know you’re trying. Let’s find ways together that can get you where you need to be.” Express confidence. Be reassuring. Most of all, tell him you’ll be there every step of the way.
    4. Serve others, not yourself
      You can get away with being selfish or self-serving once or twice … but that’s it. When employees excel, you and your business excel. When your team succeeds, you and your business succeed. When you rescue a struggling employee and they become remarkable, remember they should be congratulated, not you. You were just doing your job the way a remarkable boss should.
    5. Always remember where you came from
      See an autograph seeker blown off by a famous athlete and you might think, “If I was in a similar position I would never do that.” Oops. Actually, you do. To some of your employees, especially new employees, you are at least slightly famous. You’re the boss.

    That’s why an employee who wants to talk about something that seems inconsequential may just want to spend a few moments with you. When that happens, you have a choice. You can blow the employee off … or you can see the moment for its true importance: A chance to inspire, reassure, motivate, and even give someone hope for greater things in their life.

    Do you think the tips above will help you be more aware of how you manage? Let us know what you think in the comments and it might lead to another post with tips on being an inspiring boss from a reader’s perspective.


    3 Ways Women Business Leaders can Embrace Corporate Social Responsibility

    March 9th, 2012

    There is much discussion about  life/work balance for women business leaders. I have found that incorporating personal principles and beliefs into my professional life has been most rewarding. I believe that business entities will benefit from incorporating  and maximizing the opportunity they have to “do good” by taking a strategic approach to social responsibility. I would suggest that women business leaders can lead the way in ensuring that social responsibility is integrated into the very core of the business that you operate  — from your team to your clients – what a great opportunity to lead by example.

    So how can your growing company do good in ways that are also good for business?  Here are some easy-to-incorporate tips from  an article by Lynley Sides:

    1. Tie your brand to your social mission as early as possible
    Start now.  Create a brand that makes people feel good about affiliating with it.

    Cause-conscious consumers and employees see themselves as investing in you, not just exchanging money for products or time for a paycheck. If buying your product makes customers feel good and enhances their identity, you’ll be able to command a price that includes that value. You’ll also set the bar higher for your competitors.

    2. Spread the word
    There are lots of ways to give back. You can:

    • operate sustainably
    • treat people well
    • make environmentally friendly products
    • give to worthy causes

    No matter how you integrate social responsibility into your business, it’s important that you let people know right away. The earlier you communicate social responsibility as important parts of your value proposition, the better job they will do at differentiating your company, and the more value you will build as a result

    3.     Make your customers your partners
    Perhaps the easiest way for most growing companies to be socially responsible is through giving.  And if it’s done right, giving can do more than help good causes and create goodwill. It can drive real value for your business. Consumers are nearly twice as likely to buy or recommend a product if it’s affiliated with a cause they care about. And when they’re empowered and engaged by your brand, they will purchase and become advocates for it, sending their friends and colleagues to buy from you too.

    That’s a win for social good and a win for your business.

     


    How Women Business Leaders Can Maximize Productivity in Half the Time

    March 5th, 2012

    Time has become the ultimate commodity for me. The realization of this has been underscored by my recent “wake up call.” One of the results is that I have become aware of the activities that I truly enjoy as opposed to those I have to do. I am not about to shirk my responsibilities,  but I am interested in being more efficient  in order to maximize my productivity and relish the joys.

    In his recent blog post, Mike Michalowicz suggested some interesting ways to get things done. Here are Mike’s top three ways for doubling your productivity in half the time:

    1. Work in spurts
      This is something I learned from my daughter. It’s little, but the results are significant. Many kids try to cram studying for tests into a five- or six-hour intense, last-minute session. The problem with this is that, within 60 minutes, so much information gets jumbled up in their heads that the benefits of ongoing studying rapidly diminish. Long, sustained periods of pure work simply don’t work! So, as strange as it may sound, the biggest key to productivity is working on projects for short periods (60 minutes) and then taking a true break. Get up and go for a 20-minute walk or just close your eyes and chill. The key is to give yourself a long enough break for your mind to totally and completely stop thinking about work.
    2. Nap
      I’m serious about this one, so hear me out. You know that time in the early afternoon when you get snoozy and struggle to stay awake? Well, guess what? Your body is telling you to get some sleep! In fact, if you allow yourself a good 30- to 60-minute nap, you will be recharged and far more productive in the afternoon. Getting a nice afternoon nap will help you stay charged throughout the entire day!
    3. Task lists without due dates
      I’m sure you know all about task lists. And you probably know how easy it is to get one started. But that doesn’t mean you always get everything on it done, or even come close to it. The problem is the due dates. Having due dates makes you focus on the urgent stuff, but not necessarily the important stuff. So change the task list by ditching the dates. Then add a column so that you can put a little symbol next to each task. Put a smiley face next to tasks for clients. Put a dollar sign next to tasks that will bring in revenue.

    These are some great tips for busy women entrepreneurs and business owners. If you have some helpful tips on increasing productivity, please share them with us in the comments section below.


    5 Ways Women Business Leaders Can Reduce Their Regrets in Life

    February 28th, 2012

    Sometimes, one is given the gift of “wake up calls” in life. These may come at inconvenient times and in painful ways. This was made very clear to me when I received the news that I had breast cancer recently, and I have spent the last few weeks sharing my wake up call with other women business leaders here in my blog.

    I’ve been thinking that rather than live with regrets in life, wouldn’t it be really great to give yourself a pain-free license to mitigate regret? The added bonus is a life lived with purpose!

    These are some great tips from Haley Rene in her recent post on Dumblittleman.com about ways to prevent regret in your life:

    1-Really think through your goals and dreams

    Ask yourself what you want your life to be like 10 years, five years, one year, and six months from now.

    Make a list of all of the things you would likely regret not doing. Here are some examples for inspiration:

    • Be able to bike 50 miles in one day (one year)
    • Overcome fear of flying to travel more (one year)
    • Master Italian and move to Italy (five years)

    2-Audit your current life

    To get where you are going, you need to know where you are. What activities get in the way of your goals? If you really want no regrets, you may need to give up or limit non-forward moving activities, such as TV or games, in favor of practicing a new hobby or working on your goals.

    3-Get help where you need it

    Some goals are hard to do on your own, but easier if you get professional help with them. Professional help can minimize time and effort when facing big goals that may seem daunting. A professional can hold you accountable when you would normally let things slide.

    4-Find ways to remind yourself

    It is really easy to become complacent and fall back into your comfort zone. You can use songs, images of your goals, notes to yourself in well placed locations, or really anything that can act as a reminder of your goal or dream.

    5- Track your progress

    This step is a must if you want to reach your goals and have no regrets. Find some way to track progress on all of your active goals. I keep a daily log where I write down what I eat, how I feel, and any steps taken towards my goals.

    I actually do many of the things Haley has suggested, and I find them to be helpful. What would you add to the list above?


    Letter To Angie

    February 26th, 2012
    Angie and kids

    I wrote this letter to my daughter after hearing that she had a chest infection and that the doctor told her that she was “run down.” We are very close and the shock of my breast cancer diagnosis played havoc with her emotions and thus her health. After asking her permission I feel compelled to share my letter to her with you — as taking ownership of your situation helps not only you — but those around you to cope.
    A letter to Angie, my beloved daughter

    The minute you were born my body was drenched in love for you – as a mother now, you understand this feeling. This overwhelming love never really goes away – it may be doused in frustration at times or even sprinkled with a little anger as life invades, but the deep emotion is enduring.

    I watch how you protect and care for your daughters and I am awash with admiration and awe. You have embraced your role as a mother with passion and vigor swaddling and protecting your children, as a mother should.

    My wish for you is that you have the bond with Isabella and Sarah that I have with you. Every waking night, every chore, every runny nose, every time you are nagged – it will be wholly negated by the joy of a mother-daughter bond, even as “life” invades.

    When I heard that I had a suspicious mammogram, I called you. When I heard that I had to have a lumpectomy, I called you. But when I was diagnosed with breast cancer, my maternal protective instincts kept me from reaching for the phone. I knew that I had to protect you from the hurt that you would feel for me.

    Of course you came running and you brought the bundle of joy and the boisterous two-and-a-half-year-old. You cried with me, you shopped for loose blouses, you made me green smoothies and you laid with me on my bed. You stayed with me as I was wheeled away to have my surgery. You were there as I emerged with my new body – your caring support healed me.

    Angie – I thank you.  But it is now time for you to focus on yourself and your innocent, adorable girls. I am reclaiming my breast cancer – you do not own it. This is not your disease – it is mine, as my mother and grandmother owned theirs.  Your job, as a mother, is to protect and absorb your child’s pain. Your job as a daughter is as my support system, with love and understanding.

    It is now time for you to let the angst and stress go – time for you to focus on yourself. I will be fine. Thank you for your enduring love. Thank you for always being the go-to voice on the other end of the phone. Thank you for my granddaughters and thank you for taking care of my daughter!


    Digging Deep for Strength; A Woman Business Leader’s Continued Quest

    February 24th, 2012

    I have spent the past two weeks getting my body ready for radiation, the recommended treatment  following my breast cancer diagnosis.

    As I have opted for reconstruction, it means that I have to have my left breast fully expanded because after radiation the breast loses its elasticity. This has proved to be an incredibly painful process. At the same time I had the “good” breast deflated.

    So – what does all this mean emotionally? It means that if I ever doubted the horror of this disease, it was reinforced by showing me what a mastectomy really looks like while experiencing white light pain. But while I still do not want to sound like a victim, I have to say the past few weeks have been a difficult process for me — from a deeply personal perspective and also as a woman business leader and business owner.

    Through this I have had to dig deep for the lessons and take-aways. This is what I have come up with:

    • One’s inner strength is there; keep looking and maintain a positive awareness and it will surface
    • Being fully aware that you want to be strong catalyzes your strength
    • Take strength from those who care about you
    • It is a gift to let others “hover”

    Guest Blog: Entrepreneurial Women Needed to Share and Inspire

    February 17th, 2012

    I am very fortunate to have become involved with an organization called The Story Exchange. This group was created by Victoria Wang and Sue Williams to help create awareness of and support for women entrepreneurs world wide. Their website offers stories about women from all walks of life who have become successful entrepreneurs and inspires women to live their dreams and uncover their full potential. The following guest blog post was written for us by Victoria Wang.

    Entrepreneurial Women: We Need You!
    by Victoria Wang,

    One of the things I’ve heard from women everywhere is that women need more female role models. And after climbing the ranks of the financial world, it’s something I personally know all too well. Throughout my career, I often wished there were more women for me to share experiences with on issues both business and work/life related.

    Although things have improved since I first started, in part due to the ability to share information more easily, there is still a serious shortage of stories that women can watch to see successful women entrepreneurs in action.

    If you turn on the television or browse the web, you might find a few clips here and there, but no one is telling the real stories about the real women—we’re not talking about the Kim Kardashians of this world—who are starting businesses.

    That’s why we started The Story Exchange: to bring the stories of successful women entrepreneurs who can be role models to other women, wherever they are. It’s all about women inspiring women through short, broadcast quality videos that are available to anyone on the web.

    Have a look at our video called WHY – on the reasons why women entrepreneurship needs to be fostered and supported not only in the U.S. but the world over.

    One of the inspiring stories we have on our site is that of Deborah Olivo, a New Jersey-based business owner. After losing her job in the great recession Deborah launched a business manufacturing and selling VidaAire, an organic sanitizer.  Today, you can find her products in Whole Foods and that’s just for starters.  Watch her video and you will see why we call her our “unstoppable entrepreneur.”

    We would love to hear your about your experiences starting a business as well. We’ve put together a brief survey where you can tell us your story, which will appear on our site. We use these submissions to write blog posts and to help us find compelling stories for future videos.
    http://thestoryexchange.org/category/yse/

    About Victoria Wang
    Victoria Wang is the co-founder of The Story Exchange. Wang is a former banker and marketing consultant with more than three decades of experience in the financial world.


    How Women Business Leaders can Reset Their “Factory Default Settings”

    February 16th, 2012

    I am sure many of you can only imagine how my breast cancer has permeated my life. And, many of you know only too well based on your own cancer experiences.

    For me, the doctor’s call at 10 p.m. bearing the “verdict” changed my life forever. The world stopped, my heart stopped, I clutched my husband’s arm and squeezed. Adrenaline rushed through my body and blind panic overcame me.

    Over the weeks, I have settled into my new identity. I have gained strength both physically and mentally and have had much reflection time. I don’t want to diminish the horror, but along with my diagnosis, I have received unprecedented gifts. I have received compassion, advice, the ability to help others and the opportunity to reflect.

    But in reading a recent article by Peter Bregman, I can see that there is a whole new way to look at my situation. I have condensed Peter’s blog below, and I think you’ll agree that he says it all.

    An “unplug-and-stop-everything-for-a-minute” strategy might be a pretty good solution for whenever things aren’t working in life.

    That point was reinforced for me in a recent cell phone call I had with Eleanor, my wife, while she was traveling. We were having a difficult conversation and each of us had the feeling that the other one wasn’t listening. Then the call was dropped. We tried calling each other back but only got voicemail. So we sat there for a minute, each of us in our respective places.

    Unplugged.

    When we eventually connected again, the tone of the conversation changed radically. We were softer with each other. More attentive. More forgiving and loving. Better at listening and rephrasing what we heard the other one saying. I never thought I’d say this but, for once, I was happy that my cellular network is unreliable. It gave us both a minute to breathe and get some perspective.

    Unplugging and waiting for a minute is an unexpected strategy because it appears passive. You aren’t actively developing new strategies, arguments, or viewpoints. In fact, you aren’t actively doing anything.

    When you unplug and wait for a minute, you restore yourself to your factory default settings, which for most of us tends to be generous, open-hearted, creative, connected, and hopeful. That makes us more likely to be effective when we plug back in.

    In a meeting that’s going nowhere? Take a break. Making no headway on that proposal you need to write? Stand up and take a walk. Fighting with your kids? Give yourself a time-out. Unplug for a minute and breathe.

    I have been given an opportunity to reset – to pause, evaluate and choose the manner in which I would like to emerge. I can shed the pieces of my lifestyle that we, as women business leaders, move into; rushing, harrowed, no time for ourselves. I recommend trying Peter’s suggestions whenever you feel overwhelmed.