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Trials, Tribulations and Not Giving Up In Life, Running and Business

May 17, 2018

Inspiration and Wisdom for Women Dealing with Challenges

Today started out with the intention of running. It is May 17th in Syracuse, New York, the snow has melted and the maple trees fully in bloom. A light humid breeze is swirling in the air making me feel like I’m waking up in Florida. I decide to start the day on an athletic note instead of work since I’m on a medical sabbatical until July. Some days it is harder than others to focus on “time off” because my mind still wants to work behind a desk promoting my company Women TIES or marketing the women entrepreneurs who are members. Many of them have applauded my decision to take care of myself. It shows what self-love looks like in the hectic world of business ownership.

I hear the voices of the women who are following me through this time period and decide to run to prepare myself for the Women Can Marathon next weekend in England. I re-read information about the course and the words “hilly off-course, rugged terrain” set off an alarm in my mind. I’m use to running on fairly flat roads. As I put on my bright pink NAVY hat so the tractors and cars don’t hit me while I run my farm road, I am excited to take off and let the warm humid air carry me up and over peaks, alongside horses and near farm land with small plants peeking out of the soil.

Sometimes best laid plans are unexpectedly halted because one can’t foresee what’s on the mind of others. Half way up the first big hill, a huge tractor carrying liquid cow manure went by me. If the wheels didn’t almost knock me off the road, the pungent smell of the contents sure did. After it passed twice, I turned around and returned home. I have a commitment in Devon, England and a stinky tractor wasn’t going to deter me from that trip and I’m positive no one would believe me if I told them I couldn’t come because I was hit by a manure truck.

After my return home, I decided to pick my second choice of exercise and walked down to my beautiful pool house that also acts as an aerobics studio and Jillian Michaels workout pad. I was going to pump some iron, flatten my stomach and give my legs a different workout. I was determined to exercise before working in my office. As I went to grab the handle of the pool house door, a snake jumped out at me having found a warm place in the crevice of the door to literally “hang out” in the sun. Holy Batman is all I can tell you I said as I ran away from the door. My second fitness routine wasn’t possible since the snake went into the pool house.

All of a sudden I turned around and saw my beautiful pool, with pool water around 60 degrees and thought to myself, “should I dare?” After stepping on the first pool step, I retreated and said, “Tracy, you need to be hot before you get in that Maine temperature water;” but I didn’t want to run on the road or drive my car somewhere else to run. I just want to run NOW! I sounded like the bratty girl in the Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory movie! My creative mind set in because around my long pool is a beautiful “track” of decking which my eyes selected as my running route for the day. It was flat, unlike what I would be running in England, but I could just take off and so I did. I ran around the pool like a crazed woman who needed a fix. Now I have run that pool route before even though I don’t admit it to most people because it is longer than a treadmill and outside in the elements so it acts as a last resort if needed. I was at the last resort!

I started running, around and around, feeling pretty gleeful that the manure and snake did not stop my determination. I was acting pretty smug if I say so myself, when the next thing I know I’m doing a somersault half air born and on the deck landing on my back, scrapping my leg and almost tearing up my hands. I lay there for a moment and screamed, “I give up! I give up!” as if everyone in the world could hear me. I lay there for about 2 minutes and then sat up. Stood up and started running again with blood running down my right leg because I was not going to be stopped from doing what I set out to do on a glorious Central New York morning!

I ran 3.5 miles on that pool deck and ended my run with a jump in the cool waters followed by some water aerobics to Don McLean’s “American Pie!” Let me tell you, accomplishing a goal through trials is a feeling you can’t explain! I stayed in the water longer than I wanted getting some more leg work in and then sat on the stairs, right next to where I tripped, and smiled at the sun saying, “Good Job!”

The moment felt like a defining moment for me because I realize I don’t give up easily. When it comes to battling alopecia, with its own daily drawbacks, I think and act the same way as I do about running this morning. The moment I think I see some hair grow in, another strand falls out. When I think my hair is coming in, my doctor tells me she is disappointed in the progress of the treatment. When I step out confidently without my eyebrows penciled in above my eye, someone asks me what’s wrong and when I tell them about having alopecia and all they say is, “Oh!” Those setbacks don’t stop me or define me, they propel me forward.

Sitting on those swimming pool steps with the same warm breeze swirling through the very few wisps of hair I still have on my head, I grab the sunscreen rub it on my head like my brother-in-law, who has been mostly bald for some time, to hopefully turn my scalp into a lovely tan to match my remaining hair – instant make-up I hope. Then I listen one more time to American Pie, smile at the sky, say some prayers and jump back in the water one more time to SIMPLY rejoice in accepting the trials and tribulations that come from a simple morning run, confronting a snake and discovering how deep my well runs when it comes to life and its trials. I know I might not conquer this disease but I also know it has picked one bad-ass, potentially bald woman, to test.

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Essential Guides In Running A Small Business

May 16, 2018

Inspiration and Wednesday Wisdom for women entrepreneurs, female business owners and small businesses

The guide that shows you what others only tell you,” caught my attention. It was printed on the DK Eyewitness Travel 2018 London edition my son sent me for Mother’s Day. It’s a beautiful, descriptive travel guide to a new city I will visit in ten days. Inside were 400 pages of suggestions, maps, inspirational venues, historical museums and beautiful parks to visit. Since my son knows we’re traveling to Paris too, I received the same guide in the Paris edition.

Over the past week I started sharing the Women TIES 32 PR Tool Document (aka guide) to members on our private Facebook group. Each day I focus on one marketing benefit they can use throughout the year to elevate their name and give their company exposure to brand their name and increase marketing opportunities. I never considered the document a “guide” until I received my travel books. Similar to the travel guide, the posts should motivate members and direct them to services they might have forgotten about to use freely as paid associates.

Although our document is not as fancy or nearly as colorful as the travel guide, it does have a similar mission in highlighting the best of services we offer members to encourage them to visit our website more often to update their profile, hire another woman, utilize our 13 year marketing platform to advertise or channel them through the list of social media marketing links they can use to share news. No, we don’t have photo of Big Ben within our documents but we do have sites to remember.

When I worked as an employee in higher education for nine years before becoming an entrepreneur, staff were given “guides” to educate us on human resource policies. We also created “guides” for our sixty member alumni association board of directors to utilize as they governed. Although most woman owned businesses are relatively small and might not warrant such guides, perhaps creating a point of services for your customers would be helpful for them.

Today’s Wednesday Wisdom is to provoke the thought of whether you need to create or update any guides in your business? Do your customers always ask for a list of services and prices? If so, why not print them in a guide format. If you have a small number of employees or essential vendors, can they refer to a document to give useful employment, privacy or corporate policies to follow? If not, one summer day might be the perfect day to work at home and produce one. Have you updated your corporate business plan yet this year? If not, consider doing so since it is an essential tool to leading you forward on your business “trip.”

Your “guide” doesn’t have to be a glossy, 400 page descriptive with beautiful photos and glossaries; it can be a simple, logical and important document needed to run your company better and inform potential customers and current employees.

Google Alerts, Bravery and Baldness

May 15, 2018

Inspiration and Wisdom for Women, Women Entrepreneurs and Females in Business

Every day as I face another unknown day facing my medical condition alopecia areata, I find interesting articles appearing through Google Alerts. Google Alerts is available through your Gmail account and helps you read information on any topic that interests you that appears online. I traditionally have Google Alerts on my name, my company names and entrepreneurial and female focused subjects since this is my expertise area. I suggest every woman entrepreneur do the same.

When my hair started falling out again in January with a condition known as Alopecia Areta I created Google Alerts related to Alopecia and Autoimmune Conditions. Every day my Gmail account gives me links to articles to read. I found this one article today especially helpful. I have only showed a few people in my family the status of my hair to which everyone says, “Oh!” and that’s it. I am positive they are as shocked as I am about the condition but don’t know what to say which is fine with me. I look in disbelief at times too rendered speechless.

When today’s Google Alert article appeared, “What’s Its Really Like to Have Alopecia” which shares the stories of seven women’s personal struggle with the relentless and ever changing disease, I felt a sisterhood immediately. Except for my brother who suffers from the disease on a more limited basis as a PhD candidate when he drinks too much coffee, eats too much gluten or stresses about oral exams, I don’t have anyone to share this experience with.

When I felt alone in business the day I opened my first company, Five Star Events, I had the same feeling. I didn’t know exactly what to do to get through the ups and downs of being a new business owner so I surrounded myself with other women in the same situation. Luckily for me entrepreneurship was a just starting to become a viable career option for women and more women were talking about it so I found a group to join. The benefits of that group helped me incredibly so I started my second company Women TIES to do the same thing as the organization did but for women in other parts of New York State not just Central New York.

Every conversation I have had with thousands of women over my 23 entrepreneurial careers has helped me and my businesses. Not one statement or presentation or meeting hasn’t given me morsels of information and support I needed to survive and thrive as a female entrepreneur. This is why I am trying so hard to not let my alopecia diagnosis stop me from running my business although for the moment it has slowed me down as I try to get healthier, stress less and tend to new medicine and life habits.

The lesson in today’s post is to inspire you, if you are facing difficulty in your personal or entrepreneurial life to find groups, associations or other individuals to talk to or share stories with so you can belong to a group of people that understand. There are millions of people on this globe dealing with similar circumstances as we are; it is up to us to find the strength to reach out and seek the support. I know I couldn’t be where I am today without the friendship, sharing and knowledge of the women I have met during my professional career. I hope the same for you no matter what you are facing.

Global Social Running Network for Women Coming to New York State

May 14, 2018

Inspiration for women, female runners, women in business

On May 27, 2018 I am joining an International Team of female runners on the beautiful shores and hillside of Devon, England to run in the Women Can Marathon. Instead of running the full marathon, I am running 6.5 miles of an International women’s relay team with teammates from England, Switzerland and Malta. I am excited to wear my American buff while I run with my International sisters to complete this women-only race during the countries 100th Anniversary of women’s right to vote. Our medal will be in the shape of a voting box. If you follow me you know I can’t wait to have that medal in my collection because of my feminist spirit and work in pay inequality as it relates to women entrepreneurs.

While American women were celebrating International Women’s Day in communities this year, with the freedom to choose activities they wanted to partake in, an ocean away a group of Saudi women exercised a new freedom by embarking on their first jog together through city streets. Saudi women are not the only women restricted from the joy of running, many women do not run because they are restricted in their marital lives, encounter harassment while they run or are fearful to begin or run alone.

This comes to no surprise to relatively new non-for profit organization 261 Fearless, a global supportive social running network which empowers women to connect and take control of their lives through the freedom gained by running. The organization hopes to grow communities throughout Central New York, New York State and the United States of America.

Established in 2015, 261 Fearless Inc. was founded by pioneer runner, Syracuse University graduate and 2018 Syracuse University Commencement Speaker Kathrine Switzer. Switzer was the first woman to official enter the Boston Marathon in 1967 when women weren’t allowed to participate in major races. Switzer wore bib number 261 which has become synonymous with fearlessness.

Photo by Horst Van Bolen

The mission of 261 Fearless, Inc. is to bring women together through a global supportive social running network allowing fearless women to pass strength gained from running onto women who are facing challenges and hence sparking a revolution of empowerment. Through the creation of local running clubs, education programs, communication platforms and social running events, women are connected locally as well as nationally and globally to other women in the organization.

Tracy Chamberlain Higginbotham, Syracuse resident and President of Women TIES, LLC, has been affiliated with 261 Fearless, Inc. since 2015 when she was invited by Switzer to join her, Edith Zuschmann of Austria, CEO of the organization, and thirteen other International and American women in New York City for its launch. “My love for running and supporting women for twenty years led me to participate with 261 Fearless at its inception in the United States and now I want to share the empowerment I witnessed when women conquer their fears and run in a 261 Fearless community,” states Chamberlain Higginbotham.

261 Fearless Team Bloomington Normal IL

261 Fearless is expanding internationally and nationally in other American communities such as Kansas City, Boston, Minneapolis, Doylestown, and Dallas. “I think women in Central New York and across New York State might want to join us by creating their own club to empower women in their own community or become a coach,” Chamberlain Higginbotham exclaims. Women are social by nature and love running to stay healthy, relieve stress and have fun and that’s what 261 Fearless was created to do.

Ann Martin of Victor, New York recently became a 261 Fearless Coach because of her love of running combined with her 38 years as a Physical Education teacher. She states, “Running has given me so much including a positive outlook, a healing path in tough times, a social network, an avenue to continue to compete even as I age.” Martin retires from teaching the end of June and hopes to extend her experience through 261 Fearless to women in the Rochester and Finger Lakes area.

There are numerous ways women can get involved with 261 Fearless, Inc. by becoming a Club Director or Coach through the organization’s educational training program, becoming a member of a club or joining the organization’s friend program that provides access to the global women’s network and opportunities. For more information on getting involved visit http://www.261Fearless.org or locally reach Chamberlain Higginbotham at 315-708-4288

261 and 261 Fearless are trademark-protected brands, with registrations in the United States and throughout the world. Any use of these brands without the express written authorization from 261 Fearless, Inc. for each such use is strictly prohibited.

The Importance of Women Keeping Their Maiden Name for History

May 10, 2018

Inspiration for women, women entrepreneurs and working women

My work day began with a beautiful note from a dedicated sponsor of my company Women TIES, Bonnie Rosen Rozen (no misspelling there!). She responded to yesterday’s weekly Wednesday Wisdom by sending a beautiful account of her personal background obtaining a flexible job so she could be available for her daughters while they grew. She also shared her mother’s incredible history of working as her father’s bookkeeper and advisor for his business so she could stay home with Bonnie and her two sisters. My story inspired her to recall her own.

Yesterday afternoon as I was enjoying lunch with my 84 year old aunt our conversation started focusing on her mother, my grandmother, especially as Mother’s Day Weekend was approaching. We discussed my grandmother’s quietness about talking about her background and family. My grandmother’s unwillingness to share her family history has left a hole in what we know about her side of the family and we don’t know why. We believe there was an American Indian link to the family since my grandmother, her brothers and my father look Native American but we don’t know that for sure. My aunt remembers seeing a photo of an Indian woman standing next to a soldier in a family photo.

As we dreamed about the generations of women we both would never know because that is how history happens, we wondered the great women we will never know were in our family. Could it be the sparkling blue eyes of my Aunt came from a distant female relative since no one else in her family has blue eyes? Could my feminist spirit sprung from another woman in our family that fought for equality in her lifetime? We have searched for more history on my grandmother’s background but simply can’t find it; we only have the photo with no dialogue or links to her past.

The conversation reminded me about the importance of women keeping their maiden names in their formal name so when future generations wonder about us they can discover who we are and what we did in our lives and careers. It is a reason I officially go by “Tracy Chamberlain Higginbotham” because I don’t want to be lost in history if my great great granddaughters want to learn about my entrepreneurial and women focused career. Being Catholic, I was baptized with my other Aunt’s name and choose my mother’s maiden name as my confirmation name so I am really “Tracy Elaine Lauri Chamberlain Higginbotham” My name is saturated with a generation of wonderful women I respect, love and cherish and I am proud of that every day.

This Mother’s Day instead of giving your mother a gift of flowers or a dinner certificate, think about using your maiden, middle or confirmation name more often especially if it gives tribute to a favorite female in your history. Anyone can formally change their name so if you feel strongly about not being lost in history, give yourself and future generations a gift by adding your maiden name to your formal name.

Another idea is to buy a journal and sit down with generational women you care about this weekend jotting down personal stories and memories of the women (and men if you want) in their lives for a keepsake. I gleaned some new historical lessons yesterday that I already shared with my siblings so they won’t be lost and I have written them down. Why not honor the women in your family by asking them for personal stories to cherish forever.

P.S. Bonnie Rozen Rosen got lucky and married someone with a similar last name but different spelling. Lucky her.

Inspiration for Working Mothers and Women Entrepreneurs

May 9, 2018

Inspiration for women entrepreneurs, working mothers, women in business

My mother and aunt weaved old fashion Italian career expectations of homemaker and mother to include entrepreneurs. The women’s liberation movement emerged in the late 1960s through the 1970’s in the United States. This was a time when women’s roles were changing as more women entered college, modern advances required more household income leading to two income households and equality was bubbling up in societal causes.

For the first time many more women had an opportunity to apply to college, graduate and enter the workforce. My mother was the first women in her family to do so when she left for SUNY Cortland in 1959 to become a Physical Education teacher and coach. She loved the liberty and opportunities that faced her although her traditional father did not agree with her choice. She graduated in 1963 the year before I was born and by late 1960s-early 70s owned two businesses with my father while teaching and coaching.

The next generations of women graduated with college degrees and had choices whether to stay home with their children, work full time, part time or become entrepreneurs. The choices were bountiful and diverse. I thought I would be one of those 1982 Wall Street career women after landing my first job in Philadelphia in an Investment Banking firm. I loved the idea of climbing the ladder to higher positions and salaries. Then one day I realized my future husband would never move to Philadelphia so I moved to Syracuse found another job in higher education and got married. I guess my Italian roots needed to take hold somewhere closer to home.

I honestly believed I would return to the job I loved at Le Moyne College until December 10, 1991 at 21:21 p.m. when I looked into the biggest brown eyes you can imagine and fell instantly in love with my first son. Climbing the ladder disappeared in an instant. I never guessed I could be so smitten by one human being but I was. I returned to work eight weeks later as a full time employee only to convince my boss one month later to split my job in half so I could work part time doing what I loved and being a mother at the same time. It was the perfect solution until my second son was born three years later and my heart almost burst open like the Grinch in the Grinch Who Stole Christmas movie. I soon realized I needed to become an entrepreneur so I could be a full time mother and professional career woman at the same time on my own terms.

As Mother’s Day approaches this weekend, I hope you stop and reminisce about the role your mother or female role models have played in your life. If you are a mother and running a business, think of all the blessings you have received by being and doing both. This Wednesday Wisdom wishes you the most glorious Mother’s Day with one hand on your business and your eyes on the children you love.

We are a privileged generation of women with freedom and equality increasing in our professional lives. Count your blessings because there isn’t anything better in the world than being a female entrepreneur with a beautiful family to support and love us. Enjoy your weekend my friends.

Being Tenacious Is the Way to Live and Work

May 7, 2018

Inspiration and Monday Motivation for Women and Women Entrepreneurs

Being tenacious is one of the best qualities anyone can have. It has served me well in so many areas of my life including sticking firmly to my business plan opening my second business, persisting in finishing the Boston Marathon in under six hours to get the medal and facing personal medical challenges. I’ll be honest with you this Monday morning, I woke up took a look at my almost bald head (and I’m a 53 year old woman) felt a lowering of my spirit happen then walked into my business office looked outside saw the really hilly neighborhood road and decided after a couple calls I was going to run farther today than I have before on this road. Yup, that is what tenacity means to me – not giving up and giving in to challenges.

Of course there are some days when I get up look in that mirror and feel sorry for myself and go in my office and write out my sad emotions and stick inside but for the most part this health challenge is motivating me to do more than I have before when it comes to situations in my personal life. I’m working on the ideas and changes for my business life but that will wait for a few more months until I am done with my sabbatical.

I committed in December to travel to England for the first time to run in an all woman’s marathon called the “Women Can Marathon” in Devon, England. One strand, by one strand as my hair fell out I doubted whether I could still go on the trip. I had a great excuse to give up because like most women I am worried what people might think when they see me running bald with my Boston Marathon hat on. But then that tenacity resurfaced and the next thing I knew I was telling my teammates about my condition and they embraced me and said, “Come anyway and run with us.”

I know the Women Can Marathon is going to be a challenge since the beautiful, seaside, hilly terrain is something I have never run on before but the views look amazing and will propel me forward just like running with my teammates from Switzerland, Malta and England. I bought an American Flag buff to wear on my head and show off my American pride. Just buying that and envisioning myself representing the USA on Team 261 Fearless as I run empowers me. Small acts of tenacity will change any negative mindset.

On this Monday, I hope my example of tenacity will infuse in your spirit and give you the capability of persisting forward in light of difficulty whether it is in your entrepreneurial or personal life. When we are tenacious, we stick firmly to a decision or plan without doubting it.

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