Guest Post: Women in Business

I have never once been impressed by the fact that I am a female entrepreneur. What I am proud of, is that I started my own business, grew it to $2.5 million and 17 employees, opened a second office in Boston and have never had a layoff in 10 years. None of those accomplishments has anything to do with being a woman.

I could be the world’s worst feminist.  I just think that we accomplish what we want to accomplish, regardless of the obstacles – real and self-imposed – we face.

There is no doubt that women and other minorities in today’s predominantly white male-dominated white-collar business world face discrimination. I just think too many of us use it as an excuse instead of finding our own, maybe new pathways.

For example, one of my clients is a venture-capital firm that was founded by three women. They were all incredibly successful in their previous jobs in investment banking because they are smart, worked extremely hard and knew how to stand up for themselves. Today, they’ve raised hundreds of millions of dollars and invest in exciting technology companies – all on their own terms. And I’ve never heard one of them blame the male establishment for their having gone their own entrepreneurial route.

Whenever I encounter someone who I suspect has defined me by my gender vs. my professional skills and strengths, I view it as a personality clash.

Frankly, I probably wouldn’t want to do business with someone so close-minded and judgmental anyway, so I instead seek out clients and partners who have the personal attributes I respect.

 

Laura Grimmer, Articulate Communications

Laura Grimmer is a communications strategist with nearly 20 years’ experience, and  Founder of Articulate Communications. Laura’s clients have included industry-defining companies like USinternetworking; leading services firms such as Sapient (NASDAQ: SAPE) and Pricewaterhouse Coopers; and enterprise software solutions leaders like CDC Software (NASDAQ: CHINA), Manugistics (NASDAQ: MANU), MAPICS (NASDAQ: MAPE) and Microsoft Great Plains.

She works closely with every Articulate client to define corporate messages and ensure the programs clearly align with business objectives. She is an active resource for every team and client for ongoing or special projects.

In addition, Laura also taps her wide network of best-of-breed service providers to deliver various counsel as needed, from investor relations to crisis communications and presentation training.

Laura leverages her experience for clients as a journalist, including positions as a reporter and senior editor with The Associated Press, the world’s largest news organization. She honed her expertise in technology at a Boston-based mid-sized PR firm in the 1990s, opening and running its Washington, D.C., and New York offices before launching Articulate in 2001.

Laura earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of North Carolina.

 

“What Makes a Top Performer in Business?” Series: Part I

Sitting on my shelf collecting dust bunnies since last fall, I finally decided to pick up and open the book Talent is Overrated by Geoff Colvin.

What suddenly peaked my interest in the talent subject was graduating exactly a year ago and where I have come in my career since then.  It got me thinking about where and what I will be many years from now.

Within the past year, I have followed, read, met, and spoken with many great business leaders in all industries, and this got me thinking about career paths and just how do people get to the top. Are they always in it to win it, or do they just go with the flow from a strategic plan?

When you see or hear the word “talent,” what instantly comes into your mind? Is it sports, a favorite game of yours, or the skills required in your job?

We might think that world-class performers in any area of interest were born with an unexplained “gift.” Geoff Colvin states that researchers found that superstars like Bill Gates, Jack Welch, or Warren Buffet are just like everyone else from the start of their careers. Anyone can reach to be world class performers in their industry by exhausting deliberate practice. Researchers found few signs of advanced achievement before the individuals started intensive training, stated Colvin.

One could argue that, well if it’s not a natural “gift,” then it has to be IQ. Yet, Colvin pointed out something I never realized before, “…IQ was of no value in predicting how quickly they would improve. Many studies of adults in the workplace have shown the same pattern.”

So, if high achievers and intelligence aren’t intertwined, then how can a company find and keep the talent to grow?

Colvin coined the term “human ability,” and he determined that it’s a company’s scarcest resource to date. Companies need to spot potential, provide constant challenges and, offer growth opportunities in order to develop an employee to become a phenomenon. This way, companies can continuously build success from their highly-developed employees, which will yield limitless potential.

Bill Gates once said:

“If you took the twenty smartest people out of Microsoft it would be an insignificant company, and if you ask around the company what its core competency is, they don’t say anything about software. They say it’s hiring. They know what the scarce resource is.”

The main message from Colvin’s book thus far: no one knows if they have or will acquire these traits to become a world-class performer. The question is: what makes some people excel more than others? Stay tuned for part two…

Photo credit: zimbio.com

Post written by Julie Skowronek, Assistant Marketing Manager at Whiting Consulting.

Why You Need to Read the “The Thank You Economy”

Gary Vaynerchuk has done it again; he wrote another social media masterpiece!

Gary Vaynerchuk, Thank You EconomyOur company loved his last hit, Crush It!, about developing a strong personal brand in life and in the office, and Vaynerchuk’s new book, The Thank You Economy, targets points of why every business should incorporate and adapt to today’s expanding changes on the Internet into their company’s traditional organizational strategies.

One of Gary’s quotes that really hit my core about company culture is…

 

“I care more about my employees than I do about my customers, and I care more about my customers than I do about breathing.”

It is vital for every business leader to realize that in today’s market, customers and companies are experiencing equivalency due to the power of online media and competing for authenticity.

According to Gary, some of the main company culture building blocks that should be incorporated to create success are:

1.      Innovate today- Old fashioned business techniques are now unreliable, and innovation and creativity are the keys to moving ahead.

2.      Transparency- We love Gary’s enthusiasm about the importance of transparency and honesty. This is something we practice on a daily basis, because it builds our brand’s exposure and supports engagement with our audience. As stated by Gary, “Good intentions pull people towards you…”

3.    Do it the Zappos way- Tony Hsieh has empowered Zappos employees to care about their customers and go farther than expected. By performing small tasks that the company doesn’t ask employees to do, they have created ‘shock and awe’ moments. Even a hand written thank you note in today’s digital empire is considered a pleasant surprise; this is something we enjoy doing here at Whiting Consulting, as well!

4.     Empower the influential- Empowering your employees to care for your audience will boost your of community interactions and value online. Word of mouth will take charge, and all the effort put in will come back by continuously building-up your brand.  Empowerment within the company is a definite must.

Those are just a few of the key points Gary crosses in the Thank You Economy, and there are many more valuable tips and stories regarding how to survive today’s economic expectations online.

We highly recommend reading Gary’s book. Businesses should take every opportunity they have to create a unique experience for their customers in today’s ever-changing society.

 

Post written by Julie Skowronek, Marketing Coordinator at Whiting Consulting.

Photo credit: thinkvitamin.com

The Importance of Setting Personal Goals

With all the hustle and bustle of our daily jobs, it might be easy to forget about the importance of setting personal goals.

Chernee’s recent post about the value of taking time away from stress falls right into this category. Just a couple of weeks ago, I was running my second half-marathon in Disney World. I have been a competitive swimmer the majority of my life, and I always hated running until a few years ago. But now, I use running as my “de-stressor” and use it as a healthy goal for myself. Something to keep me busy at home 🙂 .

In my second half-marathon, I took 30 minutes off my previous time… quite an accomplishment! The night before the race, I was thinking about eight things that could go gone wrong during the race, but I never let my goal of finishing and earning that crown medal out of my sight! Even when I was at mile nine, I briefly hyperventilated and was about to collapse do to joint pain in my legs! But I kept pushing alongside my sister, who checked up on me every few seconds.

Embracing your determination for the end result is priceless.

I knew that after crossing that finish line would be a feeling like no other! A common phrase, but so true… just remember that you can do anything you put your mind to! Personal goals help you thrive mentally and physically, and they keep your mind in tune with yourself. Goal setting also keeps your heart happy and healthy!

Post written by Julie Skowronek, Marketing Coordinator at Whiting Consulting.

Overcoming Personal Fears In the Workplace

"The King's Speech"

I don’t know about you, but I loved the movie “The Kings Speech.”

I have been a fan of the British monarchy since I was a child, and the day Lady Diana married Prince Charles I can remember staying home from school to watch the wedding on TV with my mom.  It is one of my fondest memories, which is why the movie spoke to me in so many ways.

I didn’t know much about King George VI, and I did not realize that he had such a struggle with speaking… especially publically. At the time that he was given the throne, all of the hype was around his brother’s abdication of the throne to marry a twice-divorced American. I never really thought about how King George must have felt about taking on a job that he not only never expected to have, but a position that he felt was very much above his ability to perform well — in addition to it being such an internationally-public job. It is very evident that speech therapist Lionel Logue’s continual work with King George VI regarding his stammering, and nerves while in the public arena, made an impact that affected more than just his “job.”

I then started thinking about how much the same thing truly happens in the workplace today. How many times we are asked to do something that paralyzes us with fear, yet we need to show the courage of King George and press on? My guess is that one time or another, we have all faced that kind of fear.

We all have our personal struggles in the workplace: whether it is public speaking, writing, or presenting to upper management.  Couple that normal fear with the fact that our recent economy has forced fewer people to carry increased workloads, and the stressors multiply.

In the past in situations like this, you might have been able to find a job where you could “hide” from the activities that frightened you – but not anymore. Each of us is asked to do more, and the support that was traditionally offered to assist us with working on your skills, such as training in public speaking and training in giving effective presentations, is usually the part of the budget first cut in economically-difficult times. As cited by bnet.com in August 2010, “What’s the first thing to get cut when companies are economizing? It’s always training. In the last three years, training budgets have fallen by nearly a quarter.”[1]

As a result, we have been forced us to face our fears on our own. Odds are you won’t have the wonderful privilege of working with a trainer or mentor, and you won’t be developing the great relationship that King George VI and Lionel Logue did in “The Kings Speech.”

Last year, I was at a conference, and we were talking about social media and how all employees should to take a part in being a spokesperson for their company. As a result, with little training, they end up putting themselves out there and hope for the best. I remember the time when I was just beginning to contribute on social media platforms. I was so scared that I would look silly or embarrass my company or myself.  I felt that I was not a strong writer and didn’t have the ability to think quickly on my feet. I thought, “Who would want to listen to me?”

But I found some help, watched what others were doing, and stuck my neck out there.

At first, it was very scary for me… thinking about every tweet or comment, but now after a year of being on-line, I am not afraid anymore. So, in a way, practice does make perfect. I’ve learned that organizations need to first understand their team members at a personal level, and they can then provide the support they need to succeed.  They need to be the “mentor” who stands beside King George while he gives the speech of a lifetime.


[1] “Stop! Don’t Cut That Training Budget, “http://www.bnet.com/blog/business-strategy/stop-don-8217t-cut-that-training-budget/455, August 31, 2010.

Photo credit: Rottentomatoes.com

Starting the New Year on the Right Foot

I have never been the type of person that sets New Year Resolutions…..However I do set goals for myself all the time and do believe with a New Year comes a New Beginning.

With 2010 being an unusual, and at times challenging year for me, I thought it would be good to put together some goals of what I would like to accomplish this year!  I do have to say I was never more excited to see a year come to an end and a “New” Year to begin!New Year's

As I look forward to this New Year, these are my goals for 2011:

As our lives become more and more busy, and as my kids and life demands become more and more, I would like to carve out more time for me and my family. It will be important to me to have quality family time with my Hubby and my Kids; something that did not happen much in 2010.  That time can manifest itself as a great family vacation, or, our ability as a family to sit down with some quiet time each evening to share what happened in our day and how I can help them the next day.

I would like to become more streamlined. I still love the idea and feel of a notebook or journal but as the world becomes more mobile and as I travel more, the need for me to have tools in place to make information accessible has come to a head. So after 15 years the notebook in my brief case is no more and I carry an iPad instead. I have started using Evernote and love it!! I can access it everywhere and it has been my dream to sit down and quickly make an update and with this tool I can.  I encourage you to check out Evernote …it is a wonderful eye opener.

I would like to enjoy time more…I am not a patient person and my job is all about deadlines but I would like to take the time to enjoy the moments in my life that are quiet to reflect on the day ahead – to take the time to both enjoy what I accomplished and plan for what is to come.

I want to continue to evolve our already strong brand.  We work very hard at ensuring both our clients and candidates have the best possible experience with Whiting Consulting.  I want to look for ways to strengthen that.

I want to attend more industry events both within our space as well as within the space of our clients to further learn about their worlds!

Most of all have fun and embrace the passion that I feel about my life and the work that I do.  I have aggressive goals for our corporation this coming year and in order to achieve those I need to embrace what we want to be as an organization and live that every day.

What goals have you set for yourself this year?  How do you handle the work/life balance equation to succeed?  I would love to hear from you!

 

Photo credit: freemarketingmediagroup.com

A Letter to the Workplace

Workplace, Workforce, Generations, Generational, Labels, Labeling

Dear Workplace,

I recently joined the workforce in May after graduation, and was eager to share my ideas and, more importantly, learn from others in the industry. So far, I have not been labeled “Gen Y” to other workers, but rather seen as a hard worker, excited to excel in my position. With all three generations of employees working together in the workforce today, the labeling of every generation and their negative qualities has gotten out of hand lately… I would like to see the finger pointing stop, that way we can all establish the same goals of accomplishment in the office, and ultimately have fun. Everybody wants to feel trusted and valued in the office – if not, then why go to work at all?

All throughout my schooling years, fellow peers along with the pressures from today’s society, created a strong sense of labeling people from what brands they wear and who they hang out with. I’m sure we’ve all been through this same experience at some point in school. Thinking about it today, I was never into labeling people or purchasing important name brands on my clothes. I talked with everyone, no matter what they wore or who they hung out with. All that mattered to me was having a good positive image and creating an attitude and environment around me to foster great relationships with my peers (with no labels attached). Maybe that’s why today I don’t label generations in the workplace. I see the good that all employees produce in their company to create the best output for everyone in the end. Continue reading

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