Words of Wisdom, Wednesday Wisdom for women, women entrepreneurs and small businesses
The words of last week’s Wednesday Wisdom rang in my mind this week talking to two women entrepreneurs who created 501C3 organizations to help others who suffer like they once did. The quote read, “In the end, I realized how much people really care about others. The world news does not speak about this world that appears on the everyday streets that make up America – or Boston – or other great USA cities. People do believe in each other. We want to love others. We show our love the best we can. We are there in service and support from the smallest of us to the oldest.” I would also add “in the streets of Syracuse,” too.
Since I have dedicated my life to helping women entrepreneurs and women in general, it makes perfect sense I would be highly aware of the health risks women in particular face like breast cancer. They say 1 in 4 women you know face a breast cancer risk. This week I heard about 2 women I know who are suffering from this disease with a very poor prognosis for recovery. Besides placing them in my prayers, I also support Positively Pink Packages, one of Women TIES non-for-profits, created by Jennifer Tom after she went through her own diagnosis in her late twenties. I try not to miss her annual “Kentucky Derby” fundraiser every May to give to her cause and enjoy a special event.
Yesterday as I sat at the WISE Conference with another one of our members Susan Bertrand, who created Maureen’s Hope Foundation which helps anyone with cancer particularly children at Golisano Children’s Hospital, we talked about her inspirational event “iBelieve” on April 30th in Syracuse that is purely meant to deliver inspiration to our community. It’s an afternoon affair with 6 speakers and performers delivering pure inspiration to lighten others lives.
Not all businesses or non-profit businesses have uplifting reasons for their existence but many do. We must remember to support women owned non-for-profit organizations as much as we do female owned businesses because they operate and struggle with funding and marketing exposure like profit companies.
Today’s Wednesday Wisdom is to remind you that many non-profit-organizations are created by women who are making wonderful positive contributions with this type of business entity. Just as important as it is to support woman owned business to help put money in the hands of women and create a stronger buying circle, remember discovering and supporting a non-profit created by a woman is as important. You can make a tremendous difference giving to one of our non-profits and help change the world for a woman with breast cancer or a child suffering with cancer.
Monday Motivation, inspiration and wisdom for women and women entrepreneurs
As the crystal blue sky greeted me this morning with lemon lime baby leaves dotting the dark brown maple tree limbs, I glanced up at the foliage knowing what’s in store for them. Soon the leaves will expand, darken in color and fill the empty spaces between the limbs with deep green leaves until they fade into orange in September. Sometimes we just know what is next…..other times we might not.
Not knowing the next stage or phase in your business, life or even sporting endeavors can be natural. Sometimes we need to entrench ourselves in the current moment before we envision the future. Other times we understand the logical progression. Whether we know what comes next or not can be a combination of destiny, logic or emotion.
I sometimes wonder if life is a series of distinct opening and closing of doors or a continuum like the rainbow where colors lead and fade into the next. Perhaps it can be both over a lifetime as we grow, age and transform. Lately transitioning to becoming an empty nester, watching my stepmother suffer through Alzheimer’s Disease, finishing a marathon dream and entering my 22nd year as an entrepreneur are examples of how life is more a progression of colors than endings and beginnings.
If we understand this thought to be true than we can face any time in our life, when it feels like a door has opened or closed, with the emotion that life really isn’t about distinct endings and a beginnings but rather a beautiful rainbow of hues that can illuminate a sunless day anytime we choose to shine a positive light on our future.
Boston Marathon Wednesday Wisdom and Inspiration for women and women entrepreneurs
“The person who starts the race is not the same person who finishes the race,” is a quote once seen on a marathon supporter sign on the side of a road. I remember reading this quote and wondering who I would be once I crossed the historic Boston Marathon line on Boylston Street. What would change, what moments would influence me for the rest of my life, what moments along the 26.2 miles would stay in my soul forever? I have the answers and I really want to share them with you today so this is a long and unique “Wednesday Wisdom” blog post. I hope you don’t mind.
The journey of a marathon starts long before the starting gun goes off jumpstarting your heart and legs for this tremendous adventure. The journey starts when you ask yourself, “Can I complete a marathon? Do I want to complete a marathon? What the heck does it take to finish a marathon?” Having always been inspired by women the motivation to run a marathon came in November 2015 sitting around a table of 13 international and American women in the brownstone rental Kathrine Switzer had arranged for the very first 261Fearless.org team meeting. I would have never known that one simple candle lit dinner with wine and homemade food would spark something I never knew existed within me.As each woman introduced herself explaining why they were there, why they ran, and what they do, I was amazed to discover I was only 2 of 13 women who had never run a marathon; but I was a 15 year 2 mile a day runner which seemed to impress my new friends. Mary T., who sat across from me, just back from running a marathon in Antarctica and Inga, sitting to my right, was from Iceland who runs her country hills near fjords with a gun in case a bear crosses her path. She turned to me and said, “You should run in Iceland with me!” I’m not sure what my facial expression was but I sure as heck knew what my internal answer was….bears really?”
Then came time to listen to the inspirational words of Kathrine Switzer, the hostess who brought us together within her dream to create 261Fearless.org and what it would mean for women globally if we could get involved and believe in her concept helping to launch it in our own cities and countries. It is hard to say “no” to Kathrine because she is the most wonderful, warm, amazing woman I have ever met. She is electric and gracious all rolled into one.
After bonding with these 13 women I left New York City changed, wishing I could stay with my new international friends forever and wanting to help Kathrine anyway I could. I knew I had to help women know more about KV Switzer what she had done in 1967 and what she planned to do so I arrived back to Syracuse ready to stay involved and we did when I landed her a speaking gig at my alma mater SUNY Oswego and she repaid the favor speaking at a Women TIES event in April 2016.
In the late summer of 2016, I received an unexpected email asking for women to apply to run in the Boston Marathon with Kathrine on the 50th anniversary of her gender barrier breaking moment in history. My hands shook as I contemplated the decision and then I said, “No way could I run a marathon” and closed the email. Next thing I knew my NYC 261Fearless roommate from Louisiana (the other non-marathoner) posted a YouTube video saying in her southern drawl, “I’m doing this,” and next thing I knew I opened the invitation, filled out the application and sent it in! I knew I had to train, raise $7,261 dollars and then run it – which was going to be harder I wondered?
9 months later, on April 17, 2017, as I walked excitedly towards the start line in the Hopkinton, Massachusetts where our Boston Marathon start was to begin, Dawn, my NYC roommate was at my side, fatefully put there again, to start this once in a life time experience. As we walked up behind Kathrine with 110 other excited women (and a few men), we looked at each other grabbed hands and said a prayer that we would each finish. Boom the gun went off and we ran our separate ways.
You see as much as you think you will run alongside someone to experience the Boston Marathon together, you can’t. As distinctively as our own personalities, we uniquely have to travel the 26.2 hilly miles from Hopkinton through Wellesley past Boston College and onto Boylston Street by ourselves with our own mantras, pace, spirit and depth of commitment. You can’t live someone else’s moment; you must live your own.
I felt great looking ahead at the colored hats and shirts of thousands of runners. The energy of the crowd sweeps you up for the first 7 miles as you run downhill and uphill with tons of people cheering you on. Then you start feeling the tightness in your legs, the slowing down of your pace and the reality you have 19 more miles to go. I was not discouraged on how I was feeling because I had trained for this thanks to my coach Reem Jishi, and knew it would take every ounce of tenacity to pull through.
I started thinking of the 110 people who donated to my 261Fearless.org charity raising $8,000 and I knew there was nothing that was going to stop me from finishing that race even if I had to walk and run to get there. The generosity of my donors fueled me in the doubtful moments. As I approached the beginning of HeartBreak Hill near my beloved Boston College, a blind woman and her coach ran by me on the left and a man with blade feet came up on me to the right, and my spirit raged as I witnessed these two individuals.
Heartbreak Hill is a long hill but it was “Heartful Hill” for me because my oldest son Thomas had gone to Boston College for four years and when I drove into visit him that was the last hill until his dorm. I loved that hill! BC Students were cheered me on as I yelled, “I love Boston College!” I stopped to have a 14 year old girl fix my iPod music and she said, “I love your bracelet which said ‘She believed she could, and so she did,’ a gift from my friend Susan Bertrand of Maureen’s Hope Foundation. I took it off and gave it to her as a thank you. She hugged me. I was energized once again.
Just as I came down the hill on “The Haunted Mile,” a flat part of the race in Newton, my husband and son hugged me and off I went until a mile later when Jill Bates, a Women TIES member from Rochester and her sister-in-law, an Ironwoman who I had donated to for her Hawaiian race, hugged me and gave me one last push to finish my last 3 miles. You see you receive if you give. Off I went, knowing the end was near.
Down the hill and the big left turn on Boylston Street, the crowd noise was louder than a Boston Red Sox victory over the Yankees. I couldn’t believe how loud that crowd was and how many people stayed to cheer us on. The elite athletes had finished hours before. Kathrine Switzer had finished an hour before at the age of 70 finalizing her big dream. You wouldn’t know you were a charity runner when you heard that crowd. I heard someone say, ‘Tracy….I turned around to see my roommate Dawn from Louisiana call my name. We had miraculously caught up to each other at the .2 mile of the 26.2 mile race. Was it fate? I say it was our prayers that we crossed the finish line.
At the end of the race I was a different person, a changed person. I realized that during the race I tried to give back to the crowd as much as they gave to me. I stopped took photos, danced for them, acknowledged them, shook their hands, gave hugs to people who held up “Do You Need A Hug” sign, slapped as many little girls hands as I could to make them happy, and slowed down to bask in the true “LOVE OF BOSTON.”
In the end, I realized how much people really care about others. The world news does not speak about this world that appears on the everyday streets that make up America – or Boston – or other great USA cities. People do believe in each other. We want to love others. We show our love the best we can. We are there in service and support from the smallest of us to the oldest.
I am changed forever by the love every single person in the Women TIES community, my family and my new Boston family showed me. I don’t know what to do with all this love but I sure do plan on giving away as much as I can to repay every person who believed in me. Come to a Women TIES event and I’ll give you a hug to share it.
Although the bracelet is on the wrist of a 14 year old girl, I remember what it said, “She believed and so she did!” What I know for sure is if I can run the Boston Marathon, then any woman I know including my favorite women entrepreneurs, can do anything they believe they can!
Final Note: If you love this story, please help me continue to raise funds for 261Fearless.org by donating on my Boston Marathon donation page by clicking on this link! Thank you so much. Love, Tracy
Inspiration, Gratitude and Wisdom
This is a very different blog post but I know how far and wide my blog posts are read and it was important to share this message.
In the words and tunes of the DropKick Murphys “I’m Shipping Off to Boston” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x-64CaD8GXw tomorrow!
I am setting out on my last 50 minute run to dream about the 2017 Boston Marathon and all the people who have shown their support. Whether you donated money, sent me encouragement or kept me in your thoughts, I am grateful.
This was the largest undertaking of my life more so than starting two businesses. I have gained wisdom and focus and will be sharing more of that insight with you when I return so you can use it your everyday business life. It is amazing how setting a really big goal can be achieved with dedication, training, support and tenacity. If I can run Boston, you can do anything you want too.
I’m still fundraising for 261Fearless – especially on a morning where the artist of the bull in NYC wants the new “fearless girl” moved somewhere else. I feel like the bull is my 26.2 miles in Boston and I’m the fearless statue staring it down! I leave for Boston tomorrow morning! Please pray for me to have strength, tenacity and spirit to carry me to the finish line.
In entrepreneurial, athletic and feminist spirit,
Tracy Chamberlain Higginbotham
Women TIES, LLC
Wisdom, inspiration and advice for women entrepreneurs and female business owners
It’s a magical time of year when suddenly green buds appear on tree branches, the yellow heads of daffodils pop up out of the ground, the once quiet cold air rings of bird chirping and from stinging our faces to basking them in warmth. Magic, enchantment, or delightful are what those of us in the Northeast feel when the grips of winter start fading.
Besides being a season of positive climatic change, spring is filled with new beginnings and celebrations like baptisms, communions, college graduations and of course special holidays like Mother’s Day. I can look outside, view the size of tree buds and tell how close my son’s birthday is since he was born the end of April. Magic continues as we dream of summer vacations, family celebrations, and attending sporting events like the Boston Marathon.
Now is the perfect time to also contemplate whether you still feel the magic about your business? Does it enchant you still? Is it as exciting to get up every morning plan your day, communicate with your customers and fuel growth? Do your customers still feel magical to you and would they say the same about their relationship with you?
If there is one thing that this beautiful season of spring gives us is the sense of rebirth, revival and resurrection. Perhaps your business has been dormant in producing new ideas, creative communication or exciting events to provide the magical touch your customers need to remember why they are affiliated with you and your company.
Today’s Wednesday Wisdom is to inspire you to think about the magic you are or are not producing and make a plan to bring something special back into your company. Look outside for inspiration, take time to walk in the warm air, pick some flowers and let creativity, passion and magic in. Enlighten and illuminate the ways you conduct business, talk to customers, handle problems or treat staff and then take action to make your ordinary ways extraordinary.
As Harry Potter author JK Rowlings states, “It is important to remember that we all have magic inside us.” I wish you an especially magical season of spring personally and professionally.
Inspiration and wisdom for women, female runners, small business and women entrepreneurs
The heart is beating faster, the goal is in sight, the hard training done and the financial goal is completed and you are ready to go! You have been envisioning this “finish” line for quite sometime both in your dreams and while awake. It has consumed, inspired and driven you to be and see yourself differently. The goal has morphed you into a new person with a different set of skills, insights and daily dedication. Now it is time to see what you really lies inside you!
This paragraph and feeling has happened to me a number of times in my life – when I started my first company, when failure almost halted my second company, the time I lost 30 pounds in two years and now as I prepare to run in my first marathon one week from today! In all instances we start with the recognition of wanting to try something large and unknown and deep down believe we can do it if we are persistent, bold and focused. After the verbal commitment, it takes unrelenting drive to tackle the unexpected situations and doubt that arise. In the middle of the goal, we know we cannot turn back.
Making a decision to move forward and not backward in any small or big decision rests on these staples:
These are the four pillars of success I have used since September 2016 when I committed to help 261Fearless.org raise money for their new non-profit organization by running on a charity bib in the 2017 Boston Marathon. One week from this moment, I will be at the start line ready for my 26.2 mile journey through the old, hilly streets of Boston with 30,000 of my friends. Am I nervous – yes! Am I ready to achieve this goal that only 1% of people in the world can say they did – yes! Am I ready to run for women and girls until I can’t run anymore – yes!
If I can attempt this daring goal, I know you can achieve yours whether you are fighting for women’s equality, launching a new venture, rising up to injustice, growing your older company, or taking on a new healthy goal. You can cross your own finish line if you have commitment, belief, trust and fortitude.
Let me know what you are trying to accomplish in 2017 and I’ll carry it with me next Monday from Hopkinton to Boston past Wellesley and Boston Colleges, with 30,000 people in one of the greatest races in the world. I hope you give me something to think about for you while I run so we can cross the finish line together.
Thank you to everyone who has supported me in any small or big ways. I appreciate it more than you know. If you are interested in helping me one last time, I have a fundraising goal today to get more $50 donations to help 261Fearless.org! If you’d like to help, click on this link: goo.gl/9uZpuw. It is a tax write-off for you and helps a wonderful cause!
If you want to cheer for me from home and check on how I am doing next Monday, my bib number is #25862. With love and gratitude, Tracy
Business wisdom and inspiration for women entrepreneurs and business owners
Persistence is a word being repeated frequently in today’s language. Although its popularity centered around recent political events regarding Elizabeth Warren inspiring women to be unrelenting and unwavering in their pursuit to be heard and tenacious about making a difference, the word has always been part of a woman entrepreneur’s mindset and vocabulary.
When I opened the doors to my first company 22 years ago, my Aunt, a seasoned business woman, stopped me in my grandparent’s kitchen to ask about my new entrepreneurial beginning. As the smell of homemade sauce and meatballs filled the air steaming the windows, I remember her sharing some wisdom by saying, “Tracy, I am excited for you but remember to be successful in business you must be persistent and focused to succeed because it isn’t always easy.”
Just like every other woman who ever started a business, my optimism bubbled out of me like the sauce fumes from the stove.”I will remember that Auntie, I promise,” I said thinking of how my grandfather came to America from Italy when he was only 8 years old. I always observed persistence in him and my grandmother making a new life in America for their offspring. Tenacity, persistence and equally great sauce run through my veins.
The word “persistence” has taken on a new meaning since training for the Boston Marathon. Trying to balance, running more than 9 miles a day, work, rest and fun has been challenging. Successfully running 26.2 miles on the hilly streets of Boston will take every ounce of persistence I have to cross the finish line. I can tell you for certain when you set big, important goals persistence develops naturally because you must possess it to succeed.
Today’s Wednesday Wisdom is meant for you to contemplate what the word persistence means in your life. Are you persisting to keep your business afloat during a difficult time? Could it be you are persisting to achieve the highest revenue year on record by December 31st? Are you persisting to change your business so it fits into a new stage in your life? I hope today you take a few minutes to recognize where and why you are persisting in your business and its hopeful outcome.
I wouldn’t be where I am today without the example of tenacity from my Italian relatives, Kathrine Switzer, who persisted to complete the Boston Marathon in 1967, and all the women entrepreneurs I have met the past two decades. They have demonstrated what it means to persevere and live knowing the decision to try harder always produces a positive outcome.