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    Top 6 Ways Women Business Leaders can Work with Friends

    April 25th, 2013

    Experts agree that if you can avoid working with friends it is usually for the best. But if you must, here are some ground rules and tips that will help prevent a work relationship from destroying a personal one.

    Susan Adams, recently shared this Forbes.com article, “When A Close Friend Becomes A Workmate.”  Insights from her article along with my own experience, here are 6 tips on how to hire or be hired by a friend and the company and relationships still flourish:

    1. Ditch the drama and shoot straight. Ambiguity is the root cause of all conflict. Anything left unclear will cause conflict. Before entering into a business relationship, friends should discuss their expectations, clarify their roles and set boundaries.
    2. Separate feelings from professional needs and goals. You have to learn to say, “I love you, and no.” One rule both friends must agree upon: Business comes first. Feelings and personal issues must be put to the side in order for your business relationship to function correctly.
    3. Listen to how they talk about others. A good gauge of whether a friend will work out as a colleague or employee is to look at how accountable for her actions that person has been in the past. When something goes wrong, do they spend time talking about the role they played, or do they try to get you to agree with them about how the world or other people were conspiring against them?
    4. Money heals all wounds. For an underperforming friend-employee, provide an extremely generous severance package. Or you can offer a reduced work schedule for the same pay, to then lead to a phase-out.
    5. Understand the pros and cons. Hiring friend is a double-edged sword. The things that make you good friends (trust, loyalty, compatibility) can also strengthen the business. Just remember, it’s easy to allow emotions, previous experiences together and jealously to tear your friendship apart—and in the process, destroy the business too.
    6. Use your strengths. Women are usually more relationally oriented than men. Use your ability to communicate and sense the needs of others to address issues before they have time to blow out of proportion.

    Read Susan’s complete article, When a Close Friend Becomes a Workmate


    5 Ways Women Business Leaders Can Control Technology Overload

    April 15th, 2013

    Women Business Leaders have two choices when it comes to technology: Control or be controlled.

    I had the luxury of meeting some women business leaders for lunch today to celebrate a birthday.

    A supposedly relaxing two-hour lunch on a patio overlooking the Gulf Coast became a harried flurry of confused energy. Cell phones rang with “urgent” calls, a conference call usurped one of the party attendees during the appetizer and mimosa course.

    Nearly everyone lamented how difficult it was to “get away “ on a Friday afternoon. Now lets face it, we were all disconnected from our desks, but none of us had escaped technology. We have entered the magnificent age of working remotely with the freedom of access, the joy of being any place and working any time. Did I say magnificent?

    As I watched this dysfunctional Coastal luncheon I wondered how to harness technology that has afforded us efficiency but perhaps taken away a sense of freedom.

    We all want to “super serve” our clients and customers but as one diner complained “my client wanted to know why, when he emailed me at 10pm on a Saturday evening, I didn’t call him back” I offer some basic rules on how to remain efficient but take control of technology:

    Be selective

    Don’t get sucked into small tasks; stay on track. Make sure that you are consistently aware of your big picture goals. This will ensure that you are spending your time wisely.

    Schedule time to check email

    Limit the times you check email. Try early, middle and end of day. Use this scheduled time to work without distraction, as the cost of context-switching is huge. While email is an essential and an efficient means of communication, evaluate and prioritize your responses.

    Schedule uninterrupted time to focus on important projects

    Besides getting out of email, it’s important to schedule time on our calendar where we focus on the projects that will bring us the most value. Sometimes that means being very clear to others about what you are and are not going to be paying attention to.

    Integrate mindfulness in the flow of your day

    Take a breather and recharge. The information will be there when you return and you will have built up mechanisms to efficiently shift through the clutter. Learn how to focus on one thing at a time. We can then learn to deal with many demands on our attention. For example, Twitter is a constant stream of information that can be diverting but we pop in and find moments that create meaning that couldn’t exist before.

    Deliberately deal with Social Media Platforms

    As business women leaders, we use compassion in our work. We apply this trait to our team as well as our customers. That same compassion is crucial for our own effectiveness in making a difference. Learn to set limits, develop boundaries and create a healthy balance in the use of technology to create meaning for yourself.

    In summary use technology but don’t let technology abuse you.


    Woman Business Leaders: What Message is Your Office Sending?

    April 11th, 2013

    If you want to successfully manage your career, start with your desk, the state of your workspace says something about you. You can also learn about others from how they treat their space.

    As women business leaders, we’d like to think we are judged primarily by our actions rather than our appearance – or the degree of organization (or lack thereof) in our offices. But study after study proves otherwise.

    Impressions do matter, and that’s why many women business leaders give a lot of thought to their wardrobe and what messages their body language conveys. However, as workplace commentator Penelope Trunk noted in a recent BNET article, people make assumptions about us based on how our office looks too, even though that topic gets less attention.

    And according to an expert Trunk cites, the conclusions we draw about people from the state of their workspace are fairly accurate. The news isn’t good for those who maintain a messy space; they are perceived more negatively than those who keep their workplace tidy.

    But awareness about the messages we send via the stuff in our office provides an opportunity to control the image we’re conveying – and a way to pick up valuable clues about others:

    • Clean up your act: If you have a messy desk, you may be firmly convinced that the disorder doesn’t impede your productivity. But fair or not, it still sends the wrong message.
    • Learn about others by assessing their workspaces: Trunk notes that it’s easier to create a positive first impression with stylish clothing than to “fake” orderliness – even in the short term. Since research shows impressions gathered from office space tidiness tend to be accurate, use it as a tool.
    • Discover more about yourself by evaluating your office clutter: Self-knowledge is a key element of success. Think about what the state of your office may reveal about you, then accentuate the positive traits or work on improving the negative.
    • Use clues you pick up from office items as a communication tool: An ability to read people is a valuable business skill. Use your impressions to learn more about the person with whom you’re communicating, especially if you’ve just met.

    The bottom line? Whether unintentional or by design, the way we handle our workspace sends a message. By being aware of this, you can make sure your space sends the right message and use the knowledge gained by assessing others’ offices to your advantage.

    Read Penelope’s entire article, Managing Your Career By Managing the Stuff on Your Desk | BNET.


    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.


    3 Steps Women Business Leaders can Take to Make Your Vision Work for You

    January 28th, 2013

    Learn how women business leaders find success when they define their vision and connect with it every day.

    If you are like me you have probably written your vision and mission statements with conviction and passion. Now I ask you, what happens to those statements? When was the last time you read yours and really took it to heart?

    Losing track of your vision is like taking a detour that will get you lost in the woods. To achieve your dream, you must hold it in your head and heart at all times.

    Most entrepreneurs are visionaries, so a written statement may not always resonate with them. When I ask my new clients about their mission and vision statements, many of them either don’t know what their vision is, or can’t articulate it because they haven’t looked at it in “ages.”  This is because the written statement is almost meaningless to them.

    Visionaries see things that are invisible to most people; ideas far beyond the “norm” that sing with creativity. How could you effectively ever put something like that into words? It’s great to have written statements in your formal business plan for others to see, but you need a vision statement that resonates with YOU!

    Marla Tabaka is a life and business coach, in a recent article for Inc. she makes some very compelling points about how to take your vision to the next level and make it work for you:

    1. Define the REAL vision – We’re all in business to make money. But often entrepreneurs have a higher purpose in mind when they launch their business: they want to help others, have a community or global impact or help the environment for example. Certainly this isn’t true for everyone, but don’t negate the importance of your higher purpose if you have one.
    2. Connect with the picture – A picture speaks a thousand words. Images bring our imaginations to life, therefore our ideas to fruition. Think of a creative way to put your vision and mission into images and keep it in front of you as often as possible. Select visuals that have the power to raise your energy and optimism to the highest levels. Include meaningful symbols of the rewards you seek; money, travel, fame, respect, or whatever is important to you.
    3. Live your vision as reality. Take two or three minutes a day to study and reconnect with your vision. Allow your body and mind to feel and live your success! You will eventually act and think differently and people will connect with you at a higher level. Opportunities will reveal themselves more often and doubts (if you have them) will dissipate.

    Note that successful people are people magnets. That is because no one and nothing can squelch their vision and dreams. They believe with all their heart and soul. Doing so is the first step to achieving success in your life and business!

    Summary

    If you don’t have a vision or mission statement for your company, you absolutely need one. Make passion and conviction the driving force of your vision. Make it something visual that you can look at and connect with every day. Live in your vision as though it were reality. Successful people are magnets. Live your dream and opportunities will open up to you.

    I would encourage you to read Marla’s entire article, 3 Steps to Make Your Vision Work for You

    Share your stories with us. What keeps you connected to your vision?

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    Women Business Leaders Should Dress for Success

    January 17th, 2013

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    A Signature Style is what helps us to create an unforgettable image and stand out from the crowd.

    Women business leaders inherently stand out from the crowd due to their gender. But how do you become memorable beyond your femininity?  Here are some pointers on how to create an unforgettable image by creating your Signature Style.

    Your wardrobe should contains the 3 C’s:

    Consistency         =          Credibility             =           Confidence

    Consistency -Consistency means you have a look that is in keeping with your message, your position, your personal brand.  Think Katie Couric, Oprah, Michelle Obama. They have a look that underscores who they are and what they stand for, and that is authentic to them.

    Your look should maintain a degree of consistency in order to be credible and should extend your professional brand.

    Credibility

    Credibility is given when you have shown that you are consistent with your personal brand, are authentic and have an image that matches your message.  Do not give up your credibility for the sake of comfort or lack of time.

    Pay attention to the details.  Don’t let things like panty lines, a bad haircut or dated clothing ruin your appearance. This will undermine not only your credibility but your confidence, as well as the confidence of those around you.

    Keep your appearance up, keep your wardrobe looking good and ensure it’s a true reflection of you to score the most points in credibility.

    Confidence

    Confidence comes in knowing you’re pulled together.

    When your look is consistent with who you are, your clothing is up to date and in great shape (no falling hemlines, etc), your bumps and bulges are managed with shapewear and your hair and makeup flatter your look, you just can’t help but feel confident!

    When you’re confident from the minute you set foot out the door you’re unstoppable!  You know you look great, but more importantly, you feel great and it shows!

    Taking time to ensure that your wardrobe is supporting you in the 3 C’s will go a long way in helping you to feel great about yourself!

    Summary

    The key to dressing for success lies in consistency, credibility and confidence. If women business leaders follow these simple guidelines your brand will flourish.

    Read Susan Creal’s full article on signature style, “What Do Bill Gates, Oprah and Michelle Obama Have In Common?”

    Another excellent is Mary Michele Little resource, Your Signature Style Coach with One Chic Mama Inc.  She is passionate about helping women entrepreneurs bring out their authentic style and take their look to the next level.

    To get her free report, Top 5 Secrets for Creating Your Signature Style, or to learn more about Michele, go to www.onechicmama.com

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    3 To-Dos For Women Leaders To Surround Themselves With The Right People

    November 30th, 2012

    Women business leaders should evaluate the company they keep, both within the business day and socially.

    Have you ever spent time with someone and wondered. “Why am I wasting my time?” There is an old proverb that reads, “Show me your friends and I’ll tell you who you are.”

    Quite often we become like the people we’re around. Based on that, we must be cautious about whom we surround ourselves with because of the short- and long-term implications.

    I have worked with people who looked for negative alliances. A group of actively disengaged employees would hang around together, waiting for the opportunity to talk about how bad things were.

    We all know that if you hang around people who don’t like their jobs or their lives, you’ll become like them.

    Clint Swindall, president and CEO of Verbalocity, a personal development company, suggests 3 “to dos”  to help you surround yourself with the right people:

    1. Analyze your crew

    Surround yourself with people who support and challenge you. Create a support system of  people who enhance your life and will help you reach your goals. Do an analysis of your circle of friends and evaluate whether they add to your life or take away from it. Measure their successes by what you are aspiring to.

    2. Filter out the negativity

    You know that you have good instincts – use your antennae to find the negativity and them make sure that you keep it as far away from your life as possible. Refuse it. Not only does it impact our perspective regarding our own lives, it impacts our mental health.

    If there are negativity supporters or exponents in your organization, you need to have a serous talk with them. If they refuse to change their attitude, you have to get rid of them. They can foster and fester a cancer that will spread through your company and kill your goals, dreams and, ultimately, your livelihood.

    While your success can be determined in part by whom you surround yourself with, it can also be determined in part by whom you choose to not surround yourself with.

    3. Dedicate time to the relationships

    Our lives are so busy that sometimes we have to dedicate the time to interact with the people who mean the most to us. If you need to schedule time to keep in touch with friends and family, put it on a calendar.

    If you’re around someone with a cold, you’ll probably catch the cold. What are you catching from the people around you? These relationships in your professional and personal life are as important to your success as the work itself. Do everything in your power to surround yourself with the right people.

    Summary

    Not often are successful businesses run by one single person; generally you’ll need a very strong support staff that is committed and faithful to the goals of the company. If there are naysayers or negativity artists on board, success will inevitably be derailed before the train gets a full head of steam.

    Use your intuition to select people around you who will compliment and contribute to your goals and boot the detractors off the train before any serious damage is done.

    Read Clints entire Forbes.com article, Surround Yourself with the Right People.

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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.”