Skip to content

The Heart of Business

March 21, 2018

Inspiration for women entrepreneurs, female business owners and small businesses

The peaceful Adirondack lodge, with its tall floor to treetop windows with streaming light shining on wooden floors, with a grand fireplace, expansive book shelf and old wooden ship upon the fireplace mantle, was nestled in a hillside. Comfortable couches and recliner chairs formed in group settings with a window seat and cushions in a bow window with pillows ready to provide comfort. The setting was simply tranquil.

A kitchen fully stocked for patients and families was open around the clock and a private bathroom with towels and lotions helped families who stayed overnight freshen up in the morning. You would think I was describing a spa if you didn’t know this lodge was a Hospice House donated in the name of a woman whose family wanted to provide peace to other patients and families of terminal ill patients. What a gift. What a sweet gift.

The environment was exactly what my 6 younger siblings needed to ‘rest’ in to accept the final days of their beloved mother. The sterile environment of a nursing home just made the situation worse. They needed to be comforted in a beautiful, peaceful, respectful place for their mother and themselves.

As I left to come home after three days to do some work and wash some clothes, I hugged the young woman who had been the night nurse checking in on my stepmother and I as we softly slept because of course this lodge had a reclining chair for family members to sleep in the room with their loved ones. I said to the nurse, “Thank you so much for taking care of my stepmother and being so kind to me and my siblings. It means the world.” She said, “Of course, that’s why I am a hospice nurse.”

Throughout my 23 years of entrepreneurship I have not saved lives, but I would like to believe I have brought the same care, tenderness, listening abilities and support to women entrepreneurs who seek my support or share their stories of tough business times with me. I am not trained like a hospice nurse but my heart feels similar to one. I truly care about my members and women who walk through my event doors.

Today’s blog post might just inspire you to contemplate the same question. Do you perform your entrepreneurial work with a generous, caring heart? Do you put your customer’s needs in line with your own? How would your customers describe your business in writing one day, as I write about this “hospice business?” Do they “love” what you provide and help them solve?

Wall Street doesn’t talk about love, it talks about profits and wealth and its clients want those; but for the millions of other businesses we should give what most humans want a caring, mindful company who values them with our heart.


What it Takes To Accomplish Your Biggest Challenge

March 16, 2018

Inspiration and wisdom for women entrepreneurs, female athletes and small business owners.

Last year at this time I was training to run in my first marathon – the historic, iconic Boston Marathon. It didn’t matter how much snow was falling from the sky or how cold the temperatures, I had to get outside and run to ‘put in the miles’ needed to train my body and mind to run 26.2 miles. Treadmill running only takes you so far in training. The outside elements and curvature of the roads are essential to prepare your lungs and legs.

What I remember most about taking on the biggest goal of my life was the innate focus that came along with preparing for running a marathon. Running had to become an essential part of my everyday routine to be ready. I had to focus harder in business to get work done so I could go out for long runs during the day. In my personal life, I needed to save down time to spend with my family on non-long day weekend days and I had to treat my body with the perfect amount of food and water to be healthy enough to run for 6 hours.

As a woman entrepreneur, I have experienced that focus when I launched my two companies and when I added new services and benefits to help my customers. Dedicating a part of your life to any big purpose takes more than gleeful hope, it takes blood, sweat and tears. If you are a woman entrepreneur today facing a big business challenge or even a first time marathoner, dig deep, set a workable plan, stick to the plan and schedule the extra time you need to accomplish the challenge. Make sure you enjoy the journey no matter how hard days may become because in the end you will have accomplished something that amazes other people and even yourself.

What I can tell you today, as I watch other runners I know prepare for the 2018 Boston Marathon, is I wish I had to do it all again, train and run it. Not only to be a part of the most iconic race in America but to test my will, body and spirit and remind myself any big goal in life is possible.

Speak Up to Change The World in Business and Life

March 14, 2018

Wednesday Wisdom and Inspiration for Women Entrepreneurs and Females

I entered the Syracuse Peace Inc. office on Sunday afternoon to lend my support to five amazing young women from Christian Brothers Academy who are organizing the March for Our Lives event in Syracuse on March 24th, the same day thousands of students will march on Washington DC to end gun violence that occurred in Parkland, Florida. I have never been more impressed by five 16 year old girls then I was at that meeting especially when they were addressed by mothers who had lost their sons to gun violence on the streets of Syracuse and have wanted for a long time for the public to care more about this issue.

Not knowing which way the conversation was going to lead due to the frustration on the part of the mothers, I studied these young women’s poise and answers as they agreed with the mothers that they wanted the march to not be just about the deaths of the 17 Parkland Florida students lost a month ago today or Sandy Hook or Columbine but by average every day gun violence in the streets of the community.

I was there to support these girls from a promotion and event planning perspective since I worked with a couple other women to produce the Syracuse CNY Women’s March in January. I didn’t realize I would be witnessing such intelligent young women with a strong passion to change the world, not only for their generation, but for others. Within them, I saw myself when I was their age, not necessarily fighting for gun laws, but taking major leadership roles in high school.

By the time we are middle aged women, we might forget how we felt in high school or whether our leadership skills as 16 year olds translate into our personal lives. Not every woman wants to or can create, run and lead a company even though too many of us who do probably take it for granted. We might not be fighting the government about changing gun laws but we may be interested in lobbying our state government for changes in laws that affect our businesses or clients. It takes a person with great passion in wanting to change the world for the better that pushes them towards lobbying, marching, protesting or demanding vital transformation to make the world different.

Next week I have been invited back to Albany to participate in a roundtable discussion on women’s issues. The woman who nominated me to the state leader running the program was someone who has attended a couple Women TIES programs and remembered my feministic attitudes about life and business. I am attending and bringing with me any ideas my members have about issues that face them today in New York State so make sure you send me a private email if you have something you want me to share.

If I wasn’t so vocal about my desire to change the world for women entrepreneurs and women in general, I wouldn’t have received the invitation. Sometimes we must speak up if we want to be heard on topics essential to our life work. Believe me people listen.

Today’s Wednesday Wisdom is to inspire you to speak up more about the topics that lead your life or business. I think we have responsibility to ourselves and our community to share our unique perspective, voice and desires with the world. In the process we will discover others who agree with us and want to join our journey to make changes. We will also discover people that disagree and have alternate opinions. It is important to be open enough to listen to them and see their side although it doesn’t mean we have to change how we feel.

If you’d like to join me and some other women supporting these five young women on March 24th and walk with them in Syracuse, sign up on our website today. See if within yourself you see that 16 year old girl who just wants to change the world for the better.

Advice for a New Work Week

March 12, 2018

Inspiration and Monday Motivation for Women Entrepreneurs and Small Business Owners

Last week I had an unexpected conversation with one of our members as we spoke about her business during her annual Women TIES membership renewal call. She said, “I know I should be doing more social media marketing but honestly I love being out on sales calls more.” I told her she was lucky to have such a strong love for sales since so many women entrepreneurs prefer social media marketing exercises over direct sales activities.

I asked her where her comfort with sales came from and she said, “When I started working for my father’s company my first job was making collection calls. I did not love making those calls but honestly it made me much more comfortable in sales once I had my own business.”

I learned something from my conversation with her that I wanted to share with my readers today:

* We must embrace hard tasks – no matter what they are – to become more comfortable with them in the future. We already know what we are not good at. We are keenly aware of subject areas where we lack confidence. We certainly know the business tasks we avoid. Why not commit starting today to perform one difficult task every single morning. The small change will soon become a positive habit and make us more successful. More importantly the change will empower us as we start our day every morning.

* Pay attention to where you spend your time in your business. Social media marketing can be a time consuming activity that can distract entrepreneurs from a mirage of duties. Chart how much time you spend doing specific tasks for a week – like social media marketing – and see where you spend and value your time. You might find an imbalance in your sales and marketing duties. By becoming aware, you can adjust your work schedule to include more direct sales.

* Only in doing what we are afraid to do, do we become less scared and more confident to take on larger challenges. One of my favorite quotes is, “If you don’t try, you can’t fail; but if you fail, you get right back up and try again.” Success is in trying and failing. What are you willing to try and fail at today to have a more successful business day?

Game Changing Women

March 9, 2018

Inspiration about Game Changing Women

A young 20 year old game changing woman in 1967 officially entered to run the Boston Marathon only to have its male race director attempt to push her out and rip off her bib number. This woman was Kathrine V. Switzer. By fate, I met Kathrine over the phone in 2015 when I searched the word “fearless” on Google looking for a female keynote speaker for my annual conference for women entrepreneurs. Little did I know who Kathrine was and the “game changer” she was until after my daring attempt to reach her by phone to ask her to speak.

Our first phone call lasted an hour as we found similarity in our passions to help women – hers in running and mine in entrepreneurship. By the time the phone call ended, Kathrine invited me to New York City to be part of a new organization called to empower women through running. I was one of 13 women who joined her that weekend to kick-off the first 261Fearless “Train the Trainer” program and lend support to this new global organization.

Since that phone call, I have blessed to be around Kathrine and understand the amazing woman she is not only in running but life as she enthusiastically meets and greets runners of all ages, genders and ability at races around the world. 261 Fearless opened my world to becoming a Boston Marathoner in 2017 when I completed the historic race with 110 women and (a few men) joining Kathrine on her 50th Anniversary gender barrier breaking run.

Going from a 3 mile a day runner to a 26.2 mile runner one beautiful April 17th day in Boston was a dream I never knew I had until meeting Kathrine. Now as a part time staff member to this incredible organization, I help share Kathrine legacy and the 261 Fearless organization across North America.

Today I’m sharing five pieces of wisdom from “Five Fearless Game Changers” who delivered these remarks in Boston yesterday on International Women’s Day. I hope their inspirational words and actions inspire you today to be your own “game changer woman.”

Five Fearless Game Changers #1: Ayanna Pressley

About: In 2009 Ayanna became the first woman of color to be elected to the Boston City Council. In 2011 Pressley became the first woman in 30 years and the first woman of color ever to top the ticket. Her career has been marked by history-making campaigns and a relentless determination to advance a policy agenda focused on girls and women, breaking cycles of poverty and all forms of violence, and reducing trauma in our communities.

“What makes me a fearless woman and game changer? I am my mother’s child and she was an excellent role model. Life is energy so I’d absorbed the best parts of my mother every time I do something more bold and fearless. I know warrior women don’t realize they are warriors because they are compelled by their passion. Women who make history don’t set out to make history.”

Five Fearless Game Changers #2: Joann Flaminio

About: Joann became the first ever woman president of the Boston Athletic Association in 2011 and was at the helm of the organization in the aftermath of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings. Joann helped shape a positive response to the tragedy that was widely lauded both locally and nationally.

“I was in the right place in 2011 to become the female President because I was “READY” to be the next leader. I learned as much as I could about the BAA so when the opportunity was available I could be called. You aren’t a game changer alone. There are women who championed my ability to step up into leadership. Finally you also have to be resilient.”

Five Fearless Game Changers #3: Elizabeth Perry Tirrell

About: First Vice President of Athletics at the America Heart Association/American Stroke Association, Perry oversees fundraising athletic events in and around Boston. An avid runner herself, she completed her first Boston Marathon in 2017.

“Not only did I have an amazing mother as role model but my father was one too. I knew both of my parents would be there no matter what happened to me. They also taught me resilience. I also believe to be a game changer, you have to be part of a team. You have to have a pack and a vision. Finally, if you are going to be fearless you also have to be patient.”

Five Fearless Game Changers #4: Zahra Arabzada

About: Zahra was raised in a conservative part of Afghanistan and after observing inequalities in her community became an activist for women and children’s rights at a young age. Having attended the first female boarding school in the country, she went on to study in Rhode Island, where she was introduced to the freedom of sport.

“Accepting failures and rejections may sound cliché but I have learned more from my failures than my successes. You can only know it when you are going through it. I also think being a game changer means to me having a desire to leave the world a better place than the one I came in it. I run for my sisters back in Afghanistan. Fearlessness is also the ability to truly accept the sacrifices you make in life.”

Five Fearless Game Changers #5: Kathrine Switzer

About: An iconic athlete, author, and advocate for sports and social causes, Kathrine was the first woman to officially enter and run the Boston Marathon. She then created a global circuit of 400 races in 27 countries that led to the inclusion of the women’s marathon in the Olympic Games. Last April she ran the Boston Marathon on the 50th anniversary of her historic run in 1967, celebrating women’s achievements and launching 261 Fearless.

“I became a game changer the moment the 1967 Boston Marathon race director attempted to take my #261 bib away from me. I knew I had to finish the race even though I was embarrassed tired and scared but I dug in and finished it. Somewhere over Heartbreak Hill, I wondered where the woman were? I realized that women needed the opportunity to run and I am going create opportunities for women in running. Being a Game Changer means having determination, persistency, and vision as well as a willingness to correct an injustice. Game changing women don’t walk away from injustice. They pick up the cause, turn it upside down and do something positive to change it.”

I salute these game changing women. What are you willing to change today in your life?

Find out more about 261Fearless today and run with us.

A Lesson in Emergency Planning for Entrepreneurs

March 7, 2018

Inspiration and Wednesday Wisdom for Women Entrepreneurs and Small Businesses

Winding down the back Pennsylvania road we witnessed half fallen trees hanging on electrical wires almost low enough to touch our car roof. We saw half sunken cars in ditches on the side of the road. We heard radio reports of eight hour backups on the major highway. Just like Superman and Wonder Woman, my husband and I jumped into our cars at 5 a.m. Saturday morning to rescue our son stuck in a Greyhound bus in the “Bombogenesis” in lower Pennsylvania. After relentlessly trying to get a hold of Greyhound Bus in all parts of the state the night before, we gave up and decided to go get him or he’d be stuck on the bus forever.

Fortune was on our side in a number of ways. Our son’s AT&T cell phone was still in service so we could communicate with him although the Verizon phones on the bus weren’t working because a tower had gone down. He was safe in a warm bus which luckily got off the highway and parked overnight in a Loew’s parking lot next to a restaurant so he had cover, a bathroom and food. Although he is 22 years old, older women on the bus befriended him to make sure he was fine. It felt like a miracle to see his exhausted face and watch him walk across the parking lot with suitcase in hand. His hug was strong and long as he whispered in my ear, “Thank you Mom for coming to get me.”

As we drove him back to New York City, we talked about the pros and cons of emergency planning that encompassed the experience. The wisdom was too pertinent to not share with women entrepreneurs and small business owners today:

* Unlike Greyhound Bus Line, make sure you have adequate staff on call to answer questions if an business emergency occurs that your customers need answers to immediately. We might not like planning for emergencies but we need to because we owe it to our customers.

* Communication is vital in an emergency. Make sure you know how you would communicate with customers, vendors, family and others if your company experiences an emergency. If my son had a Verizon phone, we would have been out of luck talking to him because the Verizon cell tower was blown over. Double check your phone service emergency systems with your provider.

* Be level headed when emergency decisions have to be made. Take the emotion out of decision making and replace it with logical thinking. My husband and I could have jumped in the car Friday night to try to reach our son but realized we could put ourselves in danger by doing so. He was safe until morning so we knew we could wait through a sleepless night.

Today’s Wednesday Wisdom is to encourage you to set a date on your calendar to go through potential emergency situations that could arise in your business. Whether it’s a snow or rain storm damaging your roof, loss of electricity and no access to customer files or the loss of communication with your phone, a plan should be in place so you know what to do when the time arises.

It is not pessimistic to plan for worse case scenarios in business; it is smart and in the end will bring you clarity and fast decision making.

Moving Past Business Blocks

March 6, 2018

Inspiration for Women Entrepreneurs and Small Business Owners in New York State

It began as a lunch break and need for fresh air and turned into an enlightening experience. I found myself chipping away at a large ice and snow boulder blocking the path between my back porch and garage, I realized it had been months since this path was clear thanks to a harsh winter. This obstacle was going to deter our route unless someone cleared it. As I worked at moving the obstruction, my head cleared too about a problem I had been working on for weeks. Was there something therapeutic to clearing this blocked space? I think so.

There are often obstacles in our path; in both our personal life and business world. Roadblocks, barricades and detours catch us off guard and keep us from moving forward. Sometimes these situations tell us we can’t go in a particular direction and to find another way. Other times the blockages we face are simply showing us that the path we want to take is special and requires extra energy and time. If we want to travel further, we have to try harder, focus more intently and muster up enough energy to move past what is holding us back.

Facing obstacles no matter what they are or how they find us shows us how badly we want something. Last week after my first day of hilly 10K race training for the May “Women Can Marathon” relay, I simply couldn’t walk well. I thought it wouldn’t be possible to run two days later to stay on my program; but my will overcame my body. Sometimes this happens in business too. We try something new, develop a new service, launch and new product and as soon as we do, it’s painful. We remember that trying anything new means stretching, growth and pain. When we face particular obstacles we need to chip away at them and clear the path to keep moving forward.

Today’s blog post is meant to bolster your spirit if you are trying something new and facing some obstacles. It could be frustration landing new business accounts, facing a dead end with developing a new website, or irritation with hitting new revenue goals. What are you trying to accomplish that makes you feel like there is an ice and snow boulder in your way? Can you chip away at the problem to get to other side? Do you need assistance to clear the problem? Do you need to stay focused until you complete the task?

Over time the frozen boulder was going to melt and clear our path but with focus, energy and determination I moved it so I could move on. What are you going to do with the business boulder standing in your way today?

%d bloggers like this: