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    Bouncing Back: Lessons for Women Business Leaders from Bikram Yoga

    September 12th, 2012

    photo credit: DennisSylvesterHurd via photo pin cc

    I recently celebrated my 10th month as a breast cancer survivor – and I have learned many lessons — but none so poignant as the lessons I learned when I took a Bikram Yoga class. I had taken many yoga classes prior to my diagnosis but thought that Bikram Yoga, with its rigorous postures combined with heat, was not an activity that I could easily participate in.

    Well, being an adventuresome woman with an openness to possibilities, I was drawn back to try a class. As I timidly entered the Bikram room I was overcome with heat and fear – what if my life had changed so dramatically that I could not do this? That was all I needed – an opportunity to overcome fear. As I struggled though adapting to the reality of not being able to do some of the exercises because I cannot lie on my chest, I started thinking of how I could extract lessons from this experience. I completed the class, have continued going back and want to share some of my observations with other women business leaders about how one “bounces back.”

    It’s not what you do but who you are, doing it
    As I accepted my limitations and did not measure myself against any one else – I was impressed with what I could do rather than what I couldn’t.

    Use fear as a motivator
    Feeling fearful for me is a signal that I am putting boundaries on myself. It is a good barometer for action – a signal to figure out barriers.

    Adopt a problem-solving mindset
    I had some issues to overcome – rather than use these limitations as excuses – I approached them as solvable problems. This allowed me to gain control of the situation rather than sink into the victim mode.

    Energy from the participants
    Drawing energy from the other students was extremely helpful. Pay attention to resources surrounding you.

    Stay open to possibilities
    If I would have approached the class expecting to perform as I did prior to surgery, I would have faced defeat without even trying.

    Embrace yourself with a smile
    This needs no explanation.

    I hope you are invigorated by challenges – I think they break the monotony!

    13 Steps Women Business Leaders Can Use to Mitigate a Crisis

    July 29th, 2012

    Women business leaders likely have an advantage over their male counterparts if ever confronted by a corporate crisis.

    Many readers will no doubt recall a moment in their lives when their very own mother had to face and solve a crisis. Women business leaders with families have probably already faced and solved myriad family crisis.

    Most important in any crisis situation is to short-circuit denial. It’s a human trait when disaster strikes to go straight into “this cannot possibly be happening to me.” Or “if it is happening, it cannot be that bad.” Or, “even if it IS that bad, no one will ever notice…” The faster you move beyond this denial, the faster you can put in the right fixes and that makes all the difference to how the crisis unfolds, and how you will be remembered.

    Here are 13 of Davia Temin’s the most important Crisis Management rules.

    1. Don’t hedge. Just because you may have gotten away with something before–or know of others who have–do not assume that you will do so now. Assume that–eventually–all will be known, and design your actions accordingly.
    2. Control yourself. Control your emotions. Just when your emotions will be going wild, you must conquer them and think strategically and smartly.
    3. Don’t retreat. Keep your eyes on the outside. You will be tempted to withdraw into your inner world, but keep focused on the exterior reaction. You’ll make better decisions and it could help privately as well.
    4. Move quickly. Move quickly to assess the situation and damage, and to not only publicly strike the right note, but to start doing the right things.
    5. Hone your message. Figure out what the right note–message, tone, words, delivery mechanism–is.
    6. DO NOT LIE. Never make a public denial when it’s a lie–there is no better way to be hated.
    7. Know your crisis. Each crisis is different–the particulars matter. So never just copy the responses of others, though you can learn from those who have done it well.
    8. Keep your humanity intact. Limit your liability–but not your humanity–in how you respond to a situation.
    9. Check your moral compass. Use the opportunity to reset your moral compass (i.e., listen to your lawyers, but not to the exclusion of your conscience).
    10. Do the right thing. If you must, take your medicine–apologize, make reparations–and then put in lasting, game-changing solutions.
    11. Don’t disappear. Become a visible and real part of the solution–no matter what it takes.
    12. Align with the good guys. Begin to be identified with best cases, so that your own “worst case” is forgotten over time.
    13. Don’t ever do it again. Never, ever, ever make the same mistake again.


    When a crisis strikes, the reparation of your reputation begins with the steps you take at the outset of and throughout the resolution of the crisis. If you do the proper things, you will mitigate the tarnishing of your brand.

    First and foremost, do not succumb to the human frailty of self denial. Be intuitive, be forthcoming and transparent and above all DO NOT LIE.

    Read  Davia Temin’s complete article, Reputation Rehab.

    Davia is CEO and president of Temin and Co., a global reputation and crisis management, coaching and marketing strategy consultancy working with corporations and institutions on some of the largest and most headline-grabbing crises of the day. Her website is teminandco.com, and you can follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/DaviaTemin. Here she gives no-nonsense advice on handling crises large and small.


    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.


    Tips for Women Business Leaders to Disagree in a Positive Way

    June 29th, 2012

    Photo by takomabibelot

    For women business leaders, understanding yourself is the key to evaluating how you will react in group situations where you may not agree with what you are hearing. I was recently challenged by someone who was not happy with an action that I had taken. My immediate reaction was to get into a defensive position by defending my actions. I came away from the encounter feeling insecure and angry. When I actually stopped to analyze what had taken place I realized that, firstly, I had not been approached with diplomacy and secondly, my reaction was emotional.

    This is what I should have done; listen, process and buy time by saying, “I hear you but I may not actually agree with you.” This would have taken me beyond emotion into a logical place where the issue may have been efficiently solved.

    Here are some positive ways to intentionally disagree, condensed from a Forbes blog:

    Share your knowledge so others benefit
    Speak up to share your knowledge and expertise, and don’t let the fears of disagreement stop you. Make yourself a part of the conversation. People want to hear what you have to say.

    Mirror the person who is disagreeing
    When the person who disagrees with you speaks, make sure to respond by repeating what he or she has said word for word. For example, “Correct me if I’m wrong, but what you are saying is…” Once they’re under the impression that others are listening to and understanding them, they are then able to listen more carefully to what you have to say.

    Validate the person who is disagreeing
    As you respond with a conflicting opinion; first explain to the person that you understand what he or she is saying with a phrase such as “It makes sense to me that.” It helps you understand more fully the point of view that is different from your own. And it lowers people’s defenses so that they are open to what you have to say.

    Be prepared for contrary viewpoints
    Before attending a meeting in which disagreement might occur, imagine some potential reasons why others might question your point of view. Then come up with sound and logical arguments to counter these viewpoints.

    I know that I have to intentionally disconnect my feelings in tense situations, but it is not always that easy. The ideas here can be used as your own personal exercise prior to meetings to help prepare for potential disagreements. What techniques do you use to diffuse disagreements?


    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.

    Why Women Business Leaders Need to Delegate More

    June 15th, 2012

    photo by Yandle

    I never realized how difficult it was for me to delegate until I was blessed with Ella, an intern extraordinaire. I have had much success mentoring young women by having them shadow me. But my new intern took this one step further by taking over some of my tasks. These included getting me organized, managing my schedule and travel plans and generally making my life easier. I cannot imagine how difficult and frustrating this must have been for her. I was holding the chaos on my desk close to my chest, as she relentlessly tried to assume command. After a few weeks, I have to say that the mentoring went both ways – I learned to delegate, and I guess she learned about life as a woman business leader.

    Here’s a good list of things you need to delegate, condensed from an article by Fabienne Frederickson:

    1. Delegate anything that does not make you money
      If you’re doing something that doesn’t make you money, it’s not your “brilliance work” – those activities you perform that bring in the most amount of money using the least amount of time and effort. I want you to look at how much you earn per hour when you’re doing your brilliance work. Now, consider how much you’re not earning when you’re doing other work you could be paying someone else to do.
    2. Delegate anything that you’re not good at doing
      If you’re not good at doing something, chances are you’re not enjoying it, not doing it well and taking longer to do it than someone else would. For me, that task is bookkeeping. I spent way too many hours struggling to keep up my books until I finally realized it was best to have someone else do the job.
    3. Delegate what you don’t know how to do
      I don’t know how to code HTML or how to build a website. But I know that if I want to get more clients and make more money, then I have to have a professional web presence. That means hiring someone who’s got great coding and website skills, and delegating that work to them—which is exactly what I did.
    4. Delegate what you don’t have time to do
      When I started my business, I kept my own schedule and at first, this made sense. But over time the more clients I brought on and the busier my calendar became, the more time it took to schedule–and reschedule–meetings.

    It’s been working out for both of us, but I do admit I probably put up more of a fight than I imagined! For me, delegating was easier said than done, but I highly recommend it for anyone who feels overwhelmed. You probably are!

    6 Ideas Women Business Leaders Can Use to Become Excellent at Anything

    June 8th, 2012

    photo by Courtney Dirks


    As I come to grips with adjusting to life post breast cancer trauma, I find myself struggling with what it is I really want to do. I realize that I have developed skills over the years through my experiences as a woman business leader, but I also acknowledge that I have been juggling too may balls in the air. I have always talked about focus and understanding what it is that you are really good at and honing your skills.

    Now, as I look at my options ahead, I realize that whatever I choose to do has to be something that makes a difference in others’ lives. Cultivating the focus means surpassing failures and setbacks, and spending my time working toward that goal, never allowing failure to be an option.

    Tony Schwartz outlines some worthwhile ways to achieve excellence below:

    1. Pursue what you love
      Passion is an incredible motivator. It fuels focus, resilience, and perseverance.
    2. Do the hardest work first
      We all move instinctively toward pleasure and away from pain. Most great performers, Ericsson and others have found, delay gratification and take on the difficult work of practice in the mornings, before they do anything else. That’s when most of us have the most energy and the fewest distractions.
    3. Practice intensely, without interruption for short periods of no longer than 90 minutes and then take a break
      Ninety minutes appears to be the maximum amount of time that we can bring the highest level of focus to any given activity. The evidence is equally strong that great performers practice no more than 4 ½ hours a day.
    4. Seek expert feedback, in intermittent doses
      The simpler and more precise the feedback, the more equipped you are to make adjustments. Too much feedback, too continuously can create cognitive overload, increase anxiety, and interfere with learning.
    5. Take regular renewal breaks
      Relaxing after intense effort not only provides an opportunity to rejuvenate, but also to metabolize and embed learning. It’s also during rest that the right hemisphere becomes more dominant, which can lead to creative breakthroughs.
    6. Ritualize practice
      The best way to insure you’ll take on difficult tasks is to build rituals — specific, inviolable times at which you do them, so that over time you do them without having to squander energy thinking about them.

    Tony wrote the list above after realizing he could achieve things he never thought possible. But, to do that takes much effort and deliberate actions. Is there anything you’d add to the list?

    Women Business Leaders: Look at the Big Picture and the Little Picture, Too

    June 1st, 2012

    photo by: krossbow

    I have been struggling with my to do lists lately. I have one for groceries, birthdays etc. And another one for work  must-dos, phone calls, writing proposals, letters, preparing for meetings and more. But the most important one–and one that I never seem to get to–is preparing strategies and big picture plans. Whether these tasks are coded by quadrants, colored pens or any other organizational tools, the bottom line is that I never seem to get to the bottom of the list.

    Here are some ways to ensure that you are staying on track to accomplish both your big picture and little picture goals, condensed from a great article by Vic Lawrence.

    Big Picture Productivity
    The following are four dimensions of big-picture productivity that fit firmly into the realm of personal development. Keeping an eye on how you’re doing with these will keep you heading in a solid, forward-moving and very productive direction:
    1-Taking initiative
    If you have developed a pattern of merely reacting to situations, circumstances and other people, you need to start looking for opportunities to take initiative. You can’t just wait for things to get better, you need to actively start making it happen.
    2-Envisioning your future
    What kind of person do you want to be? What do you want to accomplish in your life? When you answer those questions, then you can map out goals and objectives and an action plan for getting there.
    3-Saying no
    Another critical thing to develop is the power to say no to those things that aren’t helping you move forward.  When you say no to the things that hold you down, you’re automatically saying yes to a whole new world of possibilities.
    4-Seeking common ground
    To keep yourself moving in a positive and productive forward direction, you need to cooperate with others in the areas upon which you can agree. By emphasizing what you have in common with others, the differences and disagreements that remain won’t hold both parties hostage.

    Little-Picture Productivity
    Now that you know what to pay attention to in the big picture, there are also all kinds of things you can do to be more productive when you actually start working on any given task or project. Things to try at this level include the following:
    1-Work on the tough stuff first
    It can really help to start tackling the thorniest problems when you’re at your freshest. Once your energy starts to drain, take a break or switch to another task that’s less difficult. Note that this doesn’t necessarily mean first thing in the morning, it means figuring out your most productive times of day.
    2-Eliminate distractions
    This can be tough in the digital age when various social media, websites and email keep demanding your attention. This also means making sure you’re working in a physical environment that helps you be productive. A change of location once in a while may need to be explored if you get stuck.
    3-Get the tools you need
    A cook that doesn’t have any pots, pans, utensils or raw ingredients is going to have a tough time preparing a meal. If you don’t have what you need for a task or project, re-schedule it until you do, otherwise you’re wasting valuable time.

    I admit that although I have the best of intentions, I don’t follow all of the suggestions all the time.  I think I need to buckle down with pen and paper and follow these tips. I know that once I get it done, I’ll be better prepared to follow through on my intentions.

    13 Small Things Women Business Leaders Can Do to Simplify Their Day

    May 18th, 2012

    photo by Jyri

    As I recover from the horror of being diagnosed and treated for breast cancer, I find myself slipping back into the frenzy of overly-busy work days. How did this happen? As I reflect on the early days of settling into and treating my disease, I see a calmer and more serene person. It has been a life-changing journey with some very pleasant, unexpected outcomes. Now, I always look for the positive in bad situations. Another upside of this personal crisis was the ability to enjoy a simple day with the gift of time.

    As a woman business leader, I don’t often get the opportunity to create, write and just “be.”  So, when I came across this advice on how to simplify your life from Leo Babauta, I wanted to share it with you.

    Start early
    Going into work early was one of my favorite tricks — it was quiet, before the phones and chatter and meetings started, and I could get a lot of work done in peace. By the time everyone else was getting started, I’d gotten two or three big tasks checked off.

    Limit your hours
    Cut back on your hours and set a limit — say 6 or 7 hours a day — and get your most essential work done within that limit. Limits force you to be effective.

    Make a short list
    Make a long list of all the tasks you need to do … then make a short list of 1-3 things you really want to get done. Choose so that, if you got only these tasks done, you’d be proud of what you did today.

    Batch distractions
    Things like email, reading blogs, Twitter or another social networks. Set a time for these, preferably later in the day: say, from 3-4 p.m. Another approach might be to do them for 10 minutes at the end of each hour — but stick to that 10-minute limit!

    Write shorter emails
    If email takes up a lot of your day, the simple change of limiting yourself to 3-4 sentences per email will make a big difference.

    Limit meetings
    Some top Google executives just do 5-minute meetings — anyone who attends these meetings had better be prepared, and concise. If you can get out of meetings and just get the notes, it could save you hours per week.

    The fewer repetitive and routine tasks you have to do, the more time you’ll free up for creating and important work. So automate wherever possible.

    Eliminate paperwork
    I used to deal with a lot of paperwork, and even then I knew it was a waste of my time. Whenever possible, eliminate paperwork in favor of digital.

    Clear your desk
    Clear everything off the top of your desk. Everything should be: filed, given to the appropriate person, given a permanent spot in a drawer, or trashed/recycled.

    Get away
    If you can get out of your office, and find a peaceful spot where you can focus on important work. Working from home is a good option here. The more you can do this (it might be once a week, or an hour a day, or half of every workday), the better.

    Take breathing breaks
    Every 15-20 minutes, get up from your desk, and take a breathing break. When you get back to work, remind yourself what you want to be working on, and clear away all distractions.

    Practice a focus ritual
    Every hour or two, do a refocus ritual. You might start it taking a walk for a couple of minutes to clear your head and get your blood circulating. Then return to your list of Most Important Tasks and figure out what you need to accomplish next.

    Schedule big blocks of creative time
    Not everyone can do this, but when possible, put a big block of 3-4 hours in your schedule for creating or doing other important work. Be ruthless about clearing distractions and doing the work you love during these blocks.

    I can see that there are areas I need to work on, and I am going to heed Leo’s advice! Oh the joy of a simple day! Please let me know what methods you use to simplify your day.

    How Women Business Leaders Can Recover from a Business Crisis

    May 16th, 2012

    by filipe.garcia

    I recently reconnected with several of my high school classmates. This may not seem unusual except for one detail – we attended school in Johannesburg, South Africa and have now spread to locations throughout the world. This was undoubtedly one of the positives that occurred after my diagnosis with breast cancer – the fact that my high school friends reached out to me with sincere compassion and caring. Another plus was that there is a virtual group where many of our classmates stay connected and share life’s ups and downs.

    One of the women in the group reached out to the rest of us as she was maneuvering through some tough business issues. I am going to share a wise response that came from a former classmate and renowned doctor who now practices in Orlando, Fla:

    • When your life is overwhelming and you feel that you are losing control –focus on the issues that you can manage.
    • Identify the things in your personal and financial life that you can manage, pay very strict attention to them and ignore the rest.  You will find that you can begin picking up the pieces as you recover from your crisis.
    • Pay attention to yourself, your health and mental health. It is more important than ever that you eat right and exercise and try to relax – these are things you can control.
    • Pay attention to your family and friends. Do not lose sight of them, do not let them fall apart with everything else.
    • Identify the one or two or three things of your finances that you can possibly control, no matter how insignificant, and focus intently on them.
    • As you recover from the crisis, you will start again picking up the pieces, in a controlled, gradient fashion. As you begin getting things under control, even after possibly losing much, you can start rebuilding in a much more deliberate fashion with a more solid foundation.

    Finally, remember there are things you CAN do. Here is an “exercise” that you can use to make sure you are taking care of the important things. Follow the sequence and you’ll find that there are three dynamics at play here:

    • Self (Dynamic 1),
    • Social, family and friends (Dynamic 2)
    • Financial, the outside people, partners, creditors, etc. (Dynamic 3)

    You MUST start with Dynamic 1, you cannot succeed in 2 without success in 1, and you cannot succeed in 3 without 1 and 2 in control. I hope I have offered some useful take-ways for those of you undergoing a difficult challenge.