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Wednesday Wisdom: Woman in the Mirror

October 18, 2017

Inspiration and Wednesday Wisdom for women, women entrepreneurs and females

It was if Michael Jackson was singing in my ear when I received a special personal invitation this week to attend a private Suffrage Centennial event in New York City with Governor Andrew Cuomo and Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul on November 6th, the night before my birthday. As I looked in the mirror this morning remembering the excitement surrounding the invitation, I heard the words, “I’m starting with the man in the mirror. I’m asking him to change his ways. And no message could have been any clearer. If you wanna make the world a better place, take a look at yourself, and then make a change.” (Of course knowing me, I changed the word “man” to “woman.”)

As I look in the mirror I see the same Tracy, maybe with a little more age on her face, grey in her hair and wisdom in her eyes, but it’s the same spunky girl I’ve been all my life. I have always wanted to be a girl who would change the world in her own way and mostly for other girls/women. My eyes glanced back in time to when I was 15 and put together an all-girl slate to run for our 9th grade class officers. I never realized I had so much “girl power” in me until I look back on that time and discover it has been me all along.

As the “Me Too” hash tag was the main news story this week, I was proud of the women who came forward to acknowledge their experience. Maybe they looked in the mirror one morning and said, “Today is the day I will speak my truth since other women are sharing theirs.” We have all had “Me Too” moments – perhaps not with a sexual harassment experience – but believing it was time to speak our own truth.

After reading this post, I challenge you to get up and go to the closest mirror and spend 5 minutes looking in it. Look at yourself. Go back in time through your eyes to see what you have always been passionate about. You might discover it is what you are doing now or it could shed a light on a new area to concentrate on. Ask yourself, “Do I know what moves me every day, what gets me up each morning, what makes me active in the business or non-profit community?”

When I bring my 26 and 22 year old sons with me on November 6th to the special event to hear the Governor speak, I hope their eyes capture the moment and speaks to their spirit. I also hope they see why I was invited. I wish the same for you looking in the mirror today.

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Women Say Together – “Me Too”

October 16, 2017

This post was originally created on January 2, 2017 but the recent news about Harvey Weinstein and the hashtag “Me Too” inpsired me to share this again today with some edits. I hope it speaks to you and you say “Me Too” if sexual harassment in the work place happened to you too.

REPOST: This is not my typical blog post but I think the topic is important for any women going to the Women’s March on Washington to read or contemplate if they aren’t signed up yet. I know I have a diverse reader base and I try to keep this blog very much focused on non-political related issues but sometimes there is a larger movement and need to use a marketing platform to share information to inspire and educate others. This blog post is aimed at that today because of the three phone calls I received in the last 48 hours from women interested in our bus trip.

This post is also aimed at shining a light on this fact – if you think every woman is going to protest the President-Elect, you are wrong. Some are going for that reason but the majority are going to stand up for women’s rights which are also human rights. Read the 3 diverse reasons 3 women told me they want to join the march (most of these women are in their 60’s) and my never disclosed reason too:

* One woman wished she marched in the 1980’s during the AIDS crisis because her son’s partner died from AIDS. Walking at this march will make her feel like she did something finally to support that cause she was afraid to support years ago.

* One woman has fought sexual harassment in her corporate workplace in a major city. She is in the STEM field. She has fought to protect herself and other women in her company. She is marching because she wants sexual harassment to stop and more attention to be brought to this topic.

* One woman is coming to try to film a marriage between two women at the march because they want to show that anyone should have a choice to marry who they want. This woman is gay herself and works for a film company who supports gay rights. If you have an answer for her, please reach out to me.

If you think the world is equal for all, you might not be a female or you might somehow have missed inequality in your life. Here’s another story I haven’t shared publicly until today in this post.

In 1986 when I was working at my first job out of college at a Philadelphia Investment Banking firm as a Sales Assistant to the Corporate Vice President (a male), my boss’s largest client – another male in his 60’s – relentlessly invited me to Spain (even though he was married), called me “Sweet Hips” every time he saw me, put his arm around me and brought me gifts. I was a 21 year old spunky, independent, young woman so I thwarted his advances. One day my boss noticed and called me into his office and said, “Tracy, you WILL BE NICE to that man who is my highest paying client.” I said I would but I would not accept any further advances or inappropriate behavior ever. I resigned from that company a month later even though they wanted to put me in their investment banking training program because I was smart. But today as I write this post in real time, I realize I left because I didn’t want to face the constant sexual harassment issue. Maybe all along this first sexist job experience was the true catalyst for my feminist spirit rising up and getting stronger all these years later. #MeToo

Back to the stories above – please keep in mind how diverse the reasons are for the 3 women above who want to march. What are the stories behind the other thousands coming? Every woman has a story. Every woman has something her presence represents. Mine is for pay inequality for women since it has been my passion for two decades but now it is for all the reasons stated above too and for every woman I meet in Washington.

The New Girls Network – Prying the Darn Door Open

October 12, 2017

Inspiration and Wisdom for Women, Women Entrepreneurs, Women in Politics, Women Leaders

More than a decade ago I was asked by two upcoming male leaders in my town to create a special program for business professionals age 40 and under. The program would educate and network this younger group of men and women with other professionals their age to help them advance together. With all my enthusiasm, I lent my creative energy, time and effort to this cause as I do with everything. I promised I would work at this volunteer leadership role for a year. My goal and understanding was once I “proved” that I was a good event planner that I would be able to secure some paid event planning work for the future. It seemed fair and worth the risk. I myself was a under 40 entrepreneur at the time.

The program was a success and after a year I approached these men to talk about getting a paid event. The answer was simply, “no thanks” and the conversation door shut. As I tried to “pry” it open I realized they never intended to give me work. Why? In my sincere opinion, it was because I was not a member of their “boy’s network.” I remember saying to myself, “Tracy you were used.” But one side of me said, “Well at least you helped others for a year while being used.”

Fast forward 15 years later and these male leaders have become a strong hold in town. I have watched as “small business” under their leadership has not seemed as important as big business. I think again to my experience with them. It resonates. Then I hear they are using their male persuasion in an important political race supporting one of their “own” while sharing negative tales about the female opponent. When I hear the back story of this attempt, I am transported directly back to the door that closed in my face that day.

I’m really tired of men winning – or should I say more honestly – women not winning when they should because men are trying to stop them. Our world will never, ever change if women don’t create and support a “New Girls Network” of their own, supporting and giving priority to women running for office, leadership roles on boards and buying from women owned businesses first. Enough time has passed. It is TIME for women to stand up and truly support women and not be fooled anymore. If women don’t stand up for women, who will?

I’m fired up. I have been fired up since Hillary lost. I’m fired up every time a female leader speaks at one of my events or advances in her career to the top level. I’m fired up with two twenty year old girls tell me boys make fun of them because they play rugby. I’m fired up to get this world swinging towards the positive for women. Will you help me pry open that darn door and let more women into the room to lead? I need you. Women need you. Women need us!

Success in Business and Sports: Listening To Your Own Voice

October 11, 2017

Business inspiration, advice and tips for women entrepreneurs and female business owners

The chamber of historic Sheldon Hall was bustling with twenty year olds filling the room. Books sales were taking place in the entrance of the lobby. Lights were dim. An announcer asked everyone to take their seats. A single chair was staged on the auditorium raised platform with only a white backdrop behind it. It felt like an important conversation was going to take place and it did.

Enter stage right ESPN columnist, panelist and bestselling author Kate Fagan, guest speaker at the SUNY Oswego’s I Am Oz Diversity Speaker Series to speak to the audience. In her memoir, “The Reappearing Act: Coming Out on a College Team Led by Born Again Christians,” Fagan reveals how she lost motivation to play basketball at the University of Colorado and how close she was to walking away from her full scholarship until self-acceptance, and embracing her inner truth about being gay stopped her from leaving the sport she loved.

Kate’s overall theme to the audience of young sport writers, communication majors and athletes was to “make sure you know your own voice and nobody else’s” because it will propel you into a future only meant for you. The misconception of people trying to get ahead by imitating other people’s words, actions and beliefs leads to failure. Fagan said, “What ESPN, and the world, is looking for are people who know and understand their unique voice that makes them who they are.”

Imitation in business ends up producing the same response. Companies can copy another company’s success but in the end lose their way because they lose their voice and unique perspective, style and delivery in the marketplace. Following other women’s success strategies can be wise as long as you don’t try to replicate everything they did to bring your own company success. You must have a unique position in the marketplace or a specific niche that only you can serve. “Use your unique voice,” Fagan said.

Today’s Wednesday Wisdom is to remind you just that to use your authentic spirit in running your business. Act, speak and be the truth of who you are because you can’t be anyone else but yourself. This doesn’t mean you can’t learn from others in business or life. True success will arrive because you found, know and speak the truth of who you are, why you are in business and what you are passionate about changing in the marketplace. If you have lost your voice, then consider Kate’s book title “The Reappearing Act” and find it again.

There is time to rework your marketing materials, business plan and entrepreneurial spirit if you look inside and listen to what you really want to accomplish as an entrepreneur or woman in this one life of yours. Make the decision to listen and use your unique voice.

Set Marketing Goals For Year End Success

October 10, 2017

Business and entrepreneurial advice for women business owners and female entrepreneurs

As I prepare to see my orthopedic doctor on Thursday, to hopefully give me the go ahead to run again after a hip muscle injury, I am dreaming about running. I envision myself like Forest Grump (but less hairy), taking off and running, running, running until I get to California and then returning back to New York State. Call me crazy or just a woman who really wants to run again after letting my Empire Half Marathon race come and go this weekend.

Just as I was dreaming, The Running Bug tweeted a post about “Returning to Running After an Injury” and the advice brought me back to earth. The article suggests running for only 10 minutes the first run increasing the velocity and length of runs. My “goal” of taking off on a marathon length run “cut me at the knees” and back to reality. By the end of the article I realized I needed to set incremental goals to complete my return to running.

You might wonder what this short story has to do with you and your business today so I’ll tell you. Accomplishing great marketing means setting smaller marketing goals to get you to the ultimate branding platform where the name of your business is remembered in the consumer’s mind and the marketplace.

I’d like you to think about marketing your company in these 4 bullet points today:

Big Goals
Timely Goals
Small Goals
Budget Time & Money Per Goal

Bottom line, “Balance is essential in marketing to be successful.”

I have learned the past two decades as a woman entrepreneur that time, money and priorities must be planned out wisely if one is to achieve business, financial and entrepreneurial goals. Although it can be hard to ink our desires, stick to them and see them evolve, we must begin in order to move forward. It’s mandatory to set goals, check back on goals, applaud successes, revise failures and continue to proceed in order to achieve. This is really important in marketing especially as the calendar year starts to wind down and you feel like you haven’t accomplished all your business goals yet.

Today’s post is to inspire you to stop before you start this morning and take time and set your big, timely and small marketing goals for your company for the rest of this year and then set a weekly or monthly action marketing plans to accomplish them. Setting plans, breaking them down to do-able projects and increasing your intensity of work will help you get closer to where you want to be by year’s end. Run Strong.

Women Moving Forward Together

October 4, 2017

Wednesday Wisdom, business advice and inspiration for women entrepreneurs and female women business owners

I took piano lessons when I was 13 years old, biking three miles one way and three miles back from my teacher’s house. I never became the accomplished pianist I dreamed of at the ripe age of 13, but I perfected the song “Memories” which I played every time I sat down at the keyboards with my family groaning in the background when they heard the first chord. Today, with the tune “Memories” playing in my head, I am delivering the speech I gave to 110 women entrepreneurs, 11 speakers and 40 sponsors. If you want to make this reading more dramatic, put on “Memories” on YouTube.

9/27/17 – “POWER” Wednesday Wisdom

As I started to prepare my opening remarks for this special P.O.W.E.R. event, I was moved listening to “A Concert for Charlottesville” created and hosted by my favorite band the “Dave Matthews Band” who had their beginning in Charlottesville. I became a DMB groupie when I saw them perform at Woodstock in my hometown of Rome, New York in 1999 – (not 1969) but I’ll save stories about Woodstock for another time!!

Dave Matthews is an activist someone who stands up for the environment, indigenous people, inequality, and he even walked in the Women’s March in Seattle with this two daughters in January! I do love this guy for so many reasons – the last one especially. So when the Dave Matthews Band threw a quick free concert to bring unity and peace to their beloved city of Charlottesville, I had to listen as I worked on POWER event communication and marketing. I love being inspired.

Some of you might remember the White Nationalist Rally in Charlottesville that ended in a woman’s death and has been an uproar since. This concert was created to build peace and bring more unity to the community and to show the world too. The rally reminded me of taking 110 women to the Women’s March on Washington in January of this year to walk for women’s rights which are also human rights. We weren’t sure what we would face in the streets of DC but what we found was one of the most peaceful marches in recent history. It was simply the best event I have ever attended (besides Woodstock).

To be honest with you, I lost 2 of my best friends when I told them I was taking women to the women’s march because it was seen as purely political perspective, but in my mind it was about activism and doing what I could for the gender I love -women. I realize not everyone feels the way I do about women but I just do. Maybe because I’m the oldest of 8 siblings and the first 6 are girls. Maybe it’s because I am still best friends with two of my kindergarten girlfriends or my 22 years of supporting women in Syracuse in my leadership roles. I want women to have equality in all aspects of life including business, sports, and in life period. I wish I had the voice of Dave Matthews to sing for you right now to prove it but again…that will have to wait for another time because I wasn’t invited to the concert on Sunday or Woodstock to sing!

I look out today and see this amazing audience of women brought together under one roof, in one place for a common goal – to be inspired, united and strengthened in our support for other women entrepreneurs no matter how similar or different we are. We are women running businesses in a still male dominated world making it more difficult at times.

Just like the concert attendees joined voices Sunday night to sing to the tunes of Justin Timberlake, Ariana Grande, Stevie Wonder and Dave, I hope when you leave this POWER conference today your voices, actions and support for women are strengthened. We must be united as one to support sister entrepreneurs no matter if they make 1 million in sales, 10,000 in sales, are black or white, gay or straight, catholic or jewish, old or young, new in business or 30 years in business because it doesn’t matter really – what matters is that women support women!

The only way our society will change and get better is if women have each other’s back. It is time – way past time- to put more of your support, voice and especially money in the hands, bank accounts and pocket books of women first and foremost to level the economic playing field.

We are powerful. Women forget we have the power. We make up 52% of the population. And today is an event to remind you that together women are stronger than alone and no matter our background, product or services or revenue numbers, we should always choose to support and buy from women first and foremost helping to eradicate pay inequality and making women financially stronger together.

I hope the economic power of supporting women resonates stronger with you today by the time you leave. Women are powerful – Please repeat it with me loud! Women are powerful.

This Wednesday Wisdom is to remind you to lift each other up now. Today. Not tomorrow. From this day forward as if it was a marriage vow! We must be women supporting women in business, sports, equality and life! Amen.

Monday Motivation: Stay the Course Entrepreneurs

October 2, 2017

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

Today’s news of the horrible shooting in Las Vegas at Mandalay Bay pulled at my heart strings like it did for most people. As a woman entrepreneur who has to motivate herself every day to be positive and focused to conduct business, it’s hard to concentrate when so many people lost their lives last night. The news reminded me of an experience I had earlier this year and a need to share it with other women entrepreneurs experiencing a “Blue Monday.”

The theory bad things happen in sets of three from deaths in a family to environmental disturbances to significant life events is an idea embedded in our psyches. Earlier this year, I lost three close friendships due to an activist decision to take 110 women to the Women’s March in Washington DC to stand up for Women’s Rights. I started wondering if this bad “luck” would continue through all of 2017. Upon Googling this occurrence, nearly every source claimed the theory of bad things happening in three is simply in one’s head.

On this Monday, I wanted to share with you as a leader of your own company, that although bad things can happen repetitively in business and the world, there are thousands of experienced business owners to prove bad or slow times pass, trusted relationships change and are replaced and a few certainties exist like:

*The first plan you have for your business will be altered naturally by the market, consumers and demand. Be flexible. Be astute. Be aware. Talk to other female business owners and see what has happened in their entrepreneurial journey so far and how they remained flexible and made changes.

*Most of your friends and family will not understand what running a business entails so find like-minded individuals to talk with in your community and make sure to keep developing your list of confidantes because they could depart at some point in time.

*You will make less money than you hoped to make in the first three years. Stay the course. Keep marketing, marketing, and marketing. Develop and make strong business connections.

*There are things outside your control that can affect you, your team and your clients. Expect the unexpected when you plan. Leave room for error and revisions.

All I know after 23 years as a woman entrepreneur is that nothing stays the same in both good ways and bad. The market changes and customers can be fickle. People come in and out of your life so be prepared for those changes. Not every woman who shows up in your business life or as a client will remain a customer but that’s okay. As they depart, others take their place. Focus more on your passion for running your enterprise and helping as many people as you can.

Remain as committed as possible to your dream and be the compass this business dream needs. Everyone and everything can be replaced. Your personal vision, fortitude and passion cannot.

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