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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.


    5 Reasons Why Women Make Good Business Leaders

    July 19th, 2012

    Women Business Owners have inherent skills because of real life experiences.

    I had the pleasure of raising a family and view the intricate balance of my team as an extended family. I have found that the skill set that I developed running a household has shaped how I run my company.

    In a recent article, Bob Schmidt,  provides his top five reasons that women make good business owners:

    1.  Multi-tasking Pros…

    Women business leaders and managers are constantly pulled from one decision to the next.  Have to multi-task in similar manner to every mother who has raised a family. Most women are accustomed to constant interruption and distraction.

    2. People Skills…

    The people skills learned by women as they negotiate peace between siblings, and helping their children negotiate through the early years of life epitomizes skills needed to work with clients and customers.

    3. Attitude…

    Although attitudes vary a great deal from one person to another, it might be said that many women may have a greater desire to succeed than their male counterparts.

    After having been viewed as housewives and mothers, some women have great desire to feel respected for other accomplishments. Being marginalized by society is frustrating and may fuel tremendous dedication to business success.

    4. Consumer Preferences…

    The customer base of many types of businesses prefer to deal with women. Most men are not suited to deal with things near and dear to the female psyche. In addition, some women do not like to deal with men and prefer to work with women. From a customer viewpoint, it is likely that women have some advantage in many marketing areas.

    5. Diversity…

    Because of the history of the world of business being male dominated, women have added value due to past under representation in businesses excepting at lower levels. Professional female employees can be seen as an asset in ways that are difficult to quantify.

    Summary…

    Women offer skill sets that men cannot because of their gender, and the experiences that result from it. This is not to say that me do not have skills, but finding the balance of both genders in the workplace is probably “A woman’s job”.

    Read Bob’s entire article, Unique skills that women bring to management positions

    Share


    10 Ways Women Business Leaders Can Ensure They Are Working Smarter

    April 15th, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


    8 Ways Women Business Leaders Can Find More Time for Themselves

    March 30th, 2012

    Susan, a really good friend of mine who is also the editor of a magazine,  has been reading my blogs. This in itself makes me really nervous as she is a wonderful writer and demands excellence in her publication, but she was most intrigued by my advice on balance.

    We sat on the sidewalk sharing a bottle of Pellegrino to discuss my sage wisdom around this subject – me looking to her for comments on my writing and she looking to me for a panacea for creating balance in her life.  I could talk about balance theoretically, but when she probed, as all good journalists do, I realized that in reality my life is sorely lacking balance. What upset me even more was that as I look at my breast cancer as an opportunity to reset and reevaluate my days – I can see I am back in the women business leaders quagmire!

    Once again, I offer advice from a time-management blog by Justine Grey – hoping that I can share with you that this time it worked – I have balance!

    1. Exercise
      Since joining a gym, I’ve fallen back in love with my business, had more energy for my children, and found myself happier throughout the day. I’m more motivated and focused than ever before.
    2. Television
      A great, lazy way to escape the stress of unfinished to-dos and future plans is to watch TV for a few minutes or an hour.
    3. Reading
      Reading will allow you to venture outside yourself and enjoy the pleasures of someone else’s life for a while. You’ll get much more from reading than just escaping—you’ll become a better thinker, writer, and speaker too.
    4. Pursue a passion
      Make a list of the things you’ve wanted to do in life but have never had the chance to explore. My list contains figure skating, tennis lessons, soap making, and pottery classes. What about you?
    5. Attend a retreat
      The benefits of any retreat, regardless if work is involved, is the chance to get away from all other distractions for a week or a weekend and give complete focus to one thing you’d like to improve.
    6. Make mornings calmer
      I really enjoyed reading Inc’s interview with 37signals founder Jason Fried because it offered a glimpse into his interesting life. Jason said: “I try not to grab my phone and check e-mails first thing. I used to do that, and it’s just not good for you. Instead, I’ll go and brew some tea and try and relax a little bit.”
    7. Coffee dates
      I got a taste of freedom one day when I walked my daughter over to preschool and then decided on a whim to head over to a nearby coffee shop until I had to pick her up. Why not schedule in a fun coffee date for yourself as soon as you finish your most pressing matters for today?
    8. Sing it like you mean it
      My entrepreneurial uncle once told me that every time he had a meeting with a client, he would spend the entire drive over with the car radio blasting, singing along at the top of his lungs. My uncle said singing made him feel happier, more confident, and more energized every single time.

    When is the last time you evaluated your life with the intention of finding a way to achieve balance? Have you found it yet? Share your story with us here.


    5 Ways Women Business Leaders Can Supercharge Their Businesses

    March 20th, 2012

    I have often blogged about feminism versus femininity – underscoring the need for women to embrace their femininity and all the characteristics that are inherent in our gender. I would like to think that we are operating on level playing field where respect, humility and human kindness transcends the gender gap. Am I dreaming?

    While I feel women have equal opportunities in business, I do think there is always room for improvement. Here are some ways women can ramp up their business acumen from another female entrepreneur, Geri Stengel:

    1. Women need to take more risks
      When women start businesses, they opt for career paths that seem safer and more flexible than running a major corporation. Liz Elting, CEO and founder of global language service provider TransPerfect, advocates another tack: Go for broke when you are young and have nothing to lose. Don’t worry about what your life will be like in 10 years. Dream big and follow your dreams. When your business grows, so do your options for work/life balance.
    2. Women need to get tougher
      Nice girls please people. CEOs have to make tough decisions, from firing people to cutting services. In a man, that’s being strong; in a woman it is seen as being bitchy. “If you want everyone to like you, you will have a hard time doing what is necessary,” Elting says.
    3. Men need to get over themselves
      At home, men must share in household responsibilities, recognizing that their partner’s career is as valuable as their own. At work, men need to be more inclusive. Networking events shouldn’t be just guy things. Deals are done in informal settings after the conference or out of the office — on golf courses and in the corporate box at the ball game. Yes, some women like sports, but a lot are left out of that schmoozing and dealing.
    4. Women need to get over themselves, too
      Whether in peer groups, such as the Women Presidents’ Organization or through mentoring women starting out, women need to support and mentor each other. As Sheila Lirio Marcel, CEO of Care.com says, “We must lift as we climb, bring others along with us and collect talented people as we rise.”
    5. Everyone needs to build more flexible businesses
      Let’s start firms that don’t follow the same old business model; let’s build a model that can accommodate the differing needs of GenY, parents, Type A workers, and those who want to work reduced hours. You can retain and grow talent by being flexible — flexible about taking a year off for family without losing a rung on the career ladder; flexible in working hours; flexible about telecommuting.

    Changes now, in attitudes, awareness, and culture could end the stagnation of small women-led businesses and make them into the economic drivers we need.


    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?

     


    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.

     


    10 Tips for Women Business Leaders to Ensure you are on the Right Path to Building a Sustainable Business

    January 8th, 2012

    If you read my blogs, you know that I am always searching for ways to improve and maintain a healthy business while ensuring that, as a woman business leader, I maintain balance in my life. It is through my blogs that I share what I know with my readers and hopefully learn from your experiences as well.

    Here are some of my observations on building a business that is sustainable:

    1. Maximize dreams and aspirations
      As you imagine “what can be” open your mind a little wider and imagine the path to get there.
    2. Seize opportunities
      Stay open and tuned-in to opportunities by focusing on the outcomes rather than fear of the unknown.
    3. Accentuate your strengths
      Don’t put energy into working on your weaknesses, rather use and cultivate your strengths, which will override your perceived weaknesses.
    4. Cultivate a culture of care and service
      This notion extends to everyone who you come in contact with — from your customers to your co-workers and everyone in between.
    5. Focus and commitment
      Once you have set your goals, stay committed and focused on where you are going and articulate this to your team.
    6. Innovate
      Continually look for new ways to solve problems and come up with solutions that meet your needs and your principles. Look beyond the norm and what is expected with creative ideas that can be put into action.
    7. Develop win-win strategies to benefit all
      I know that the notion of “win-win” sounds like a cliché, but it’s all about balance. Make sure that your partners, co-workers and associates feel comfortable with outcomes.
    8. Lead & brand
      Be a leader in your field and stay true to your value proposition.
    9. Listen to & reward your team
      Believe that people on the front lines are literally your most important people. Ensure that every team member feels valued and is essential to the overall health of the company.
    10. Stick to principles & core competencies
      Markets change. Competitors appear. Do not compromise the essence of what your business is and the principles for which it stands. Stay passionate and true to your beliefs.

    Women Business Leaders: 7 Ways to Reach Your Goals in Smaller Chunks

    October 11th, 2011

    A friend of mine just returned from a trip to China and noted that the society is goal driven — to the point of setting detailed timelines and creating plans to reach specific aspirations. As women business leaders, we share this goal-setting culture and recognize that developing strategies to reach those goals is essential for sustainable success.

    In a recent article by Srinivas Rao on accomplishing your goals in smaller chunks, he offers some “down-to-earth” tips that may take some of the stress and intensity out of the daunting tasks that you set for yourself. I’ve condensed the major points here:

    1. Bite off less than you can chew
      By starting with bite-sized pieces, our view of how much progress we’ve made shifts dramatically.
    2. Take action daily
      The only way to get any sort of result is to take action toward a goal. By taking action every single day, you create momentum.
    3. Celebrate small victories
      We’re so caught up in getting to where we want to go that we forget to enjoy the journey and celebrate the small victories along the way.
    4. Learn from setbacks
      Setbacks are usually opportunities in disguise. We have to remember that it’s sometimes necessary to take two steps back in order take 20 steps forward.
    5. Keep charging forward
      Many people tend to give up on a goal when they feel stuck or as though there is no light at the end of tunnel. Often, accomplishment occurs in the final hours of a goal.
    6. Take a break
      It’s important to make a point daily to take a break from everything and do something without any purpose other than for the enjoyment of whatever you’re doing.
    7. Detach from the outcome
      Consider the actions you take and the seeds that you plant in order for your goal to come to fruition. Let nature take its course and stay detached from the outcome.

    Many of my previous blogs address ways women in business can reduce stress. Here are two of my favorites: “Women Business Leaders: How to Stop Stress in a Minute,” and “10 Ways Women Business Leaders can Achieve Balance in Their Lives.”