30 posts categorized "Women Business Owner"

November 27, 2012

Change vs. Transformation


I hosted a NAWBO-CI coffee in Ankeny this morning for women business owners to discuss "making change." Not the monetary/dollars and cents kind, though the changes we make in how we do business can have big payoffs. Our focus was our behavior, our actions and how we create, implement and sustain change, for ourselves (hey, it starts with us!) and within our businesses.

Consider the intellectual part of our brain — the rational, analytical, visionary side that tells us that today we must work our marketing strategies and make sales calls in order to achieve our annual goals. It gets sabotaged by the emotional part of our brain — the "feeling" part that avoids fear, desires pleasantries and chooses to use today to clean out files, respond to not-so-pressing e-mails, catch up on business reading or accounting, or start researching a project that's not due until next month.

There are always distractions, demands and ways to keep from focusing on our goals and strategic plan activities — even when we know we'd be better off if we just moved forward with a necessary "must do now" tasks and set aside the low-priority "should do sometime" tasks. 

Frankly, change is hard, even for those who feel uncomfortable with where they are. It requires clarity on why the change is necessary, what that change looks like, and how one plans to achieve what's envisioned. It requires commitment and motivation, whether we're talking about self direction or leading a team within your company to embrace a change in our products or services, processes and policies, marketing methods, etc.

This morning business and leadership coach Dr. Christi Hegstad, MAP Professional Development, said she replaces the word "change" with the word "transform," because "change" implies that something is worn out, broken and needs fixing. "Transform" conjures up a vision of creating something new, wonderful and alive. Sounds like something we're all after. What do you want to transform about yourself — or your business — in the year ahead? It's time to start creating!

February 08, 2012

Leadership on February 23

It's been ages since I've written anything that didn't involve work for a client or a volunteer cause that I'm passionate about. Sorry to be so absent, but let me just tell you about one thing that's been keeping me hopping. Because it's about to take place.

I'm on the planning committee for the fourth Women Mean Business® Summit of the National Asscation of Women Business Owners - Central Iowa (NAWBO-CI) on February 23 in West Des Moines, IA. My role is overseeing communications for this event and I've been doing this all four years, plus chairing the Summit's awards component for three. This year we've had quite a promotional campaign, because there's such great Iowa speakers and content for our theme: HEART OF A LEADER.

The Summit appeals to anyone who wants to enhance their leadership abilities within their community or company; you don't have to be a woman business owners to find value in taking one day to focus on building your leadership savvy, skills and soul. Maybe you'd just like to get noticed by your business peers, supervisor or the team of folks who surround you.

GRABBING A SEAT AT THE TABLE is the keynote of Melynda DeCarlo, The Meyvn Group. Mary Andringa, Vermeer Corporation, shares LIFE'S LESSONS ON LEADERSHIP at the luncheon. And Liz Nead is the final keynoter with FINDING YOUR LEADERSHIP GAME. Three keynotes is a lot, but there's more! The Summit also includes eight workshops with 10 presenters to choose from and a panel of women business owners sharing their leadership stories. Panelists include Mary Stier of Mary Stier Connects, Jan Miller Straub of The Straub Corporation, and Gina Blean and Kelly Heysinger of Unified Therapy Services. That's 20 people talking about topics that will improve your success as a leader in just one day. Can you afford not to be there?

Please take a minute to visit the Summit website and look over this event for women in business. Hey, men, you're welcome to attend too!


July 25, 2011

I'm a Hosta

I've long assumed that I was drawn to these shade-loving, easy-to-care-for herbaceous perennials because our yard is filled with trees. And some variety of hardy hosta will grow wherever grass won't. But today I'm thinking hostas and I have a deeper connection.

Last Monday I had a 30-minute session with Madhu Maron, who helps people get unstuck. Our introduction came via email a couple of years ago when a mutual friend suggested that Madhu, who coaches people in reinventing themselves, check out the Schoffner blog. We've corresponded about business ownership, I helped with a bio for her professional musician husband, and we've been following each other on Facebook. A recent email exchange on a day when I was over-the-top crazed with commitments left Madhu picturing me as a high-energy Tasmania Devil in full-throttle behavior. She simply wrote, "Let's set up a time to talk, and you can't be sitting at your desk when we do."

We connected a week ago as I sat in front of our house beside a flower bed that gets enough sunlight to contain both hostas and other colorful, flowering plants. Madhu asked me about my surroundings, so we talked about the hosta beside me. Before I knew it, her gently probing questions helped me focus on a lot of things about my multi-tasking self. Primarily, I've been forgetting to bring my heart along in all the things I tackle each day. I've been blessed with loving so many things about my life (family, friends, clients, writing tasks, volunteer interests, leadership commitments, etc.). The abundance each provides daily needs to be celebrated and savored. But that doesn't happen when one forgets to pause in the present to be thankful.

After that session with Madhu, the week was indeed one in which I stayed in the moment and worked to put self-care and appreciation into everything I did. Whether during the activities of the day or in the middle of the night, when I felt angst I pictured the heart-shaped leaf of that hosta and calmly massaged my hands (hey, that's self care) as a thank you for all the typing, gardening and other tasks I ask of them each day.

Madhu doesn't see many hostas in the Bronx. I sent her the photo above and she saw a whole lot more than I'd been seeing. She wrote: "I notice how dynamic this plant is. It's low to the ground yet reaches up high. The display of green in its leaves is grounding and of the Earth, while the flowers are airy, light and of the sky. Hostas seem to be good multi-taskers, provided they get the shade they need. Sounds like a great metaphor for you, Pam."

It's not just the heat that's making me step into the shade right now. Thanks, Madhu. 


June 02, 2011

Time Management: One day at a time

You've heard them before: "Time is money. There are only 24 hours in a day. Always set aside time for yourself. If you want time you must make it." Suggestions are everywhere regarding how to better manage that precious finite resource each day.

I've been exploring those tidbits of advice for a NAWBO-CI "happy coffee" I'm hosting on June 6 at 5 p.m. on the Greenbriar patio in Johnston. Women business owners will gather to share our time management strategies or perhaps the lack of them. We'll discuss what's working and what's not. I've downloaded 130 time management tips to see if there's some workable nugget that I haven't yet tried. There's always some idea worthy of consideration, but to insert another known phrase into this blog: Old habits die hard.

Yesterday was a time management gem for me. By 1 p.m. I'd completed all my appointments and the morning tasks that I'd prioritized to be done by 2 p.m. During the rest of the afternoon I was able to work on three projects at my desk; two of those had come up during my morning appointments and I'd labeled them "urgent." Yes, that pushed some "important, but not urgent" tasks to the top of today's list, but yesterday ended great. I quit working by 5:30 p.m. because it was a gorgeous day and I wanted to get out to enjoy it. The evening provided time to sit outside and relax, read, do a Sudoku puzzle or two and have a nice dinner with Chuck. Reminder to self: Savor June 1, 2011.

Because other days my ever-present to-do list is untouched by 10 p.m. When you're a sole proprietor in a service business, some days are spent reacting to pressing requests and living in the dreaded "fire fighter" quadrant Dr. Stephen Covey describes in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. No amount of routine-building and establishing of priorities is going to work on those days. Yet that's one thing I love about being a freelancer: Every day is different. I haven't been bored in 31 years. And some mornings (hey, I've identified mornings as my most productive time) I even "make" time to write a blog! But as you can tell by my sporadic posts, blogging is in an "important, but not urgent" category for me. Hope to see central Iowa WBOs on Monday night to share time management insights.


May 06, 2011

Never say, "I'll never..."

Amy Kolln, Considerate Done Appreciation Marketing, has me eating my social media words. That's because I am sure I once said, "I'll do LinkedIn, I'll try Facebook, but I'll never be on Twitter." But after attending two of Amy's information-packed workshops on social media this week, I'm on Twitter. Amy told of getting her Twitter account and spending months just taking it all in before she ever Tweeted. That sounded like a good first step, as well as a good avenue for practicing my listening skills. Plus, I was sitting right there with someone who could hold my hand every step of the way!

Amy's first career was as a kindergarten teacher, which translates well into one of her current passions: teaching social media as a way to help others build relationships. As a teacher, she is patient, lovingly laughs a lot at the boo-boos of her students and provides superb one-on-one attention when needed (which is often when you're five years old, as well as 60+). She's all about giving and showing others how to master relationship marketing. Amy's a life-long learned who loves to read. So she's connecting professional women in Booked for Lunch. And her faith and love of family comes alive in the "Momentum" group she started for mom entrepreneurs, as well as her commitment locally in Women of Faith. 

She's all about connecting. In addition to teaching me Twitter basics and pledging to make herself available for many of my "how do you do...." questions, she opened my eyes to many social media tips and I'll share just three:

• how to convert your Facebook URL to your name (or your company's name) instead of a mass of numbers, symbols and letters,

• how to link Facebook posts to Twitter, and

• that one needs a clear social media plan or you'll flounder, especially on Twitter. 

This is probably why I've avoided Twitter; my social media plan is hit or miss. In other words, nonexistent at the moment. So for now, I'm "listening" on Twitter. We'll see what I can learn there. Thanks, Amy!


February 09, 2011

WBO Summit: Surviving to Thriving in 2011

There's an event that's been getting a lot of my volunteer time. And it's just three weeks away! Each year when it takes place I get to spend an entire day with ready-to-learn-more women business owners. It's a totally energizing and uplifting day that makes me feel like I could work another 30 years if surrounded everyday by such fun, talented and determined folks. I see passion and energy take over as speakers share information, new ideas pop into heads and pens scratch furiously at notepads. All the craziness I've endured in working too early and too late each day to provide donated services just floats away, and I end up smiling and saying, "It was worth it!"

The event is the Women Mean Business® Summit and it's March 3 in West Des Moines. We've scheduled a cast of Iowa all-stars to tell their "surviving to thriving" stories, including three keynote presenters. Clinton-based Emily Starr, CEO of StarrMatica Learning Systems, will share why she was "Terrorized in El Paso" during her entrepreneurial journey of marketing and building her white board software company. Attendees will hear why Connie Wimer, Business Publications Corporation, repurchased her company at a time in life when most women would be thinking of downsizing and checking out retirement facilities. Strategies for success in dealing with challenges on the road from surviving to thriving is the topic of Rowena Crosbie, CEO of research and training company Tero International. And those are just the keynoters! 

A three-member WBO panel will share personal stories and surviving-to-thriving insights. They're Saley Nong, Divine Flowers by Saley; Lois Reichert, Reichert's Dairy Air and Michelle DeClerck, Conference Event Management. But wait, there's more! The day also includes 10 concurrent workshops to choose from, women in business awards and an optional 4 to 5 p.m. networking reception.  Luncheon and light breakfast are included.

For members of the National Association of Women Business Owners it's a $99 day until Feb. 17 when rates increase; non-members have until that day to sign up for $129. I really don't have to wait until March 4 to say the WMB Summit was worth all those planning meetings and hours spent writing press releases, emails, web copy, etc. I already know it will be. Hope to see some of you there.

Women Mean Business Logo 2011_2

September 08, 2010

Paycheck vs. Unemployment Check?

Imagine that you're an employer interviewing for positions requiring educated, experienced workers. New hires have a 90-day probation period. Get this: four skilled, unemployed candidates turn down your job offer. They don't want to lose their unemployment checks that will cover them until at least March.

Business owner Evelyn Reis Perry, Carolina Sound, shared this situation and expressed her frustration on August 6 in a post on the blog site of the Institute for Economic Empowerment for Women. "So we have in place, in DC, a counter motivator for getting the workforce back to work!  How can we fight entitlements that leave us without employees?" 

"I don't understand the attraction to dependency," commented Kay Carrico, owner of In-Compasse International, Inc. in New Mexico. Kay says she's heard the same hiring-dilemma story from business owners and straight from the mouths of would-be employees, too.

It made me wonder about all the things that can happen over time to people who lose their jobs. Do they lose confidence in their own abilities (so much so that they don't think they can show their potential and prove their value in 90 days)? What causes them to "take a pass" on a job that fits their skill set? When they say "no" to an employer that has confidence in them have they also said "no" to themselves? 

I don't know the stories of the four who turned down jobs with Carolina Sound. I have no idea what each believes he or she needs to break the cycle of unemployment.  All I know is that I have a strong need to feel like a contributor on the planet. Maybe it's my irrepressible Iowa work ethic. But if I'm healthy and able to work, I'd rather have the opportunity to stock shelves in the dead of night or work three jobs to keep a roof over my head than to wait at home for my next check from Uncle Sam. If I didn't TRY to get my life back on track, embrace an opportunity, and say goodbye—and thank you—to government dollars that held things together when I was my most desperate, well, I would have trouble looking at my own face in the mirror every morning.

August 10, 2010

Thank you, Social Media!

Okay, I finally gave in to Facebook and at least one excellent thing has happened. I set up an account after attending Banded Together's social media gathering on July 20. While I really only wanted a P.S. Writes Facebook page for business, one has to have an individual page first, so that's where I've been bending my learning curve. Special thanks to Karey Bader, Blizzard Communications, for my private tutoring. Looking forward to more learning at your August gathering.

My Facebook friends now number 110 and I've been keeping tabs on other business owners, friends and even family members for a couple of weeks. The value of social media for a business like mine has been a big question mark for me, but that question mark became more of an exclamation point this week. The most excellent happening: I won a free 60-second Web video from Munoz Productions. I "like" them and their Facebook post said they were giving three free ($150+ value) Web videos away to the first businesses to contact them. 

I'd managed to find my "news feed" area, and was exploring all that my Facebook friends had been doing when I saw Dave and Margie's post. Looking forward to working with these two pros and to saying that "I won something for my business!" the next time someone asks me how social media is impacting my bottom line. 

July 08, 2010

"Customers will expect you to find them..."

I'm finding it impossible to keep up with the social media frenzy. But I'd better keep trying. At today's luncheon for NAWBO-CI (National Association of Women Business Owners - Central Iowa), Adstringo's Gabriel Glynn told all-too-busy business owners that in the future "people are going to EXPECT YOU to find THEM." I'm having trouble with a vision of reading the minds of potential customers and knowing precisely when to enter their lives and have them look up from their cell phones and say, "I'd hoped you'd be in touch. Here's what my company needs communicated..."

So they won't be LOOKING for me anymore outside of their preferred social media networks. It's just assumed I'll be there. One NAWBO member said a 40-something woman told her that if she couldn't find a company on Facebook she wasn't going to use them. Facebook was her TOOL, and that was that.

So I came home and decided to explore Foursquare, the location-based social network which as 1.9 million users and nearly 13,000 are new each day. I've heard and seen the name a lot, but didn't know how it worked.

I wanted a clear definition of their service and when nothing happened when I clicked on "What is Foursquare?," I typed the same thing in the search box. Up popped 22 venues in Des Moines, West Des Moines, Johnston, Urbandale, Ames, Clive, Ankeny, Perry and Ames (including the ISU recycling trailer). I hadn't told them my geographic location (Big Brother is watching!). If you're the top (and sometimes only) visitor to one of these venues, you're the mayor. You can see who on Foursquare has been there. You can even earn badges. Is this to appeal to my inner Girl Scout? I am clueless on the value of this. I will have to try harder. Next week, next year, next something.

May 13, 2010

Getting Ready for May 26

I'm getting tired of the gloom this week in Iowa, but thinking about all the energy and enthusiasm that will surround me on May 26 puts a smile on my face. A lot of my volunteer time lately has been focused on writing copy for print and electronic materials for the upcoming Women Mean Business® Summit in West Des Moines, IA. It's only the second year of this event by the National Association of Women Business Owners, Central Iowa Chapter (NAWBO-CI), and I am once again on the planning committee. 

I've been a member of this organization since 1986, and the WMB Summit is the best, most-empowering program we've created. It builds business relationships, makes us look at ourselves and our businesses in new ways, and connects us to valuable business resources. Working with a team of WBOs to bring in a blend of national and local experts is exhilarating. After 31 years in business, the learning never stops. If you're a WBO (or want to be) and you need to recharge your batteries, shake up tired processes or systems, or take a new look at cash flow, networking and the questions you ask yourself, click through to the summit Web site for all the info you'll ever need to know. Discounted early bird registrations end Friday (May 14).