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.

 

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Employee-Customer Interaction Starts with Engagement

The focus of building a trusting relationship with customers takes time and patience…but what else? In a recent post from Brian Solis, he says that changing your company’s focus to the quality of the customer experience should be top-most on your list of company priorities.

Listen, Customer, Customer-centricity, "Employee-customer relationship", "customer service", custome rfocus

Once in a while, we come across an experience where an employee might not seem 100% customer focused. Sure, they might be interacting with the customer…but are they listening? Hearing the input and feedback carefully, and having the employee interpret it properly will ultimately build a longer valued relationship with the customer. A process similar to this one takes some training and practice for employees, but it’s a great way for a company to change their tactics in grasping what is most valuable…not necessarily the product, but the people and the brand.

Similar to Tony Hsieh’s WOW customer experience…listen and give back 105% more than what they’ve expected. This will create a brand that is solid rock. My favorite quote in Brian Solis’ post that fully represents the real employee-customer relationship is:

“Customer-centricity begins with internal transformation and the willingness to adapt or create processes and programs that break down internal silos. It’s not just about communicating with customers; it’s about showing them that listening translates into action within the organization to create better products and services and also foster valuable brand experiences and ultimately relationships with customers. It’s also about empowering employees to improve those experiences and relationships in the front line and to recognize and reward their ability to contribute to a new era of customer engagement and collaboration.”

His words are powerful and completely true. What are some of your successful customer experience stories?

 

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

Photo credit: Allbizanswers.com

When Did the Phone Go Out of Style?


Businesswoman on phone, Telephone and woman, Woman on the phone, woman looking at phone
This weekend on Twitter I noticed an article that was featured by the NY Times entitled “Don’t Call Me, I Won’t Call You”. The main theme of the article is how no one uses the phone anymore. We rely on other means of communication such as email or texting or updates on Facebook or tweets. After reading the article it really hit me how uncomfortable people are about picking up the phone and talking to one another.

As a recruiter I live or die by the phone. My success depends on how many calls I make a day, how many conversations that I have etc…and how many people I can share my opportunities with.  I do rely on all the wonderful tools out there to do my job, however it is the phone call – an actual conversation where the work gets done.

How many of you have gotten an email from someone saying “is it ok to call…?” instead of just picking up the phone and calling someone – we are actually now trained to ask permission first.  The phone is now perceived as being rude or intrusive versus the vital tool that it is. Think about how much time we waste going back and forth on emails instead of picking up a phone and talking over the topic at hand.  There is many a time I will get an email from a client or candidate and instead of replying I will actually pick up the phone and call then back. I know…..how dare I break the email chain, right?  But I want to grow my relationship with that person and to do what is required for a more personal approach.

I have an 11 year old and he struggles with using the phone. It is awkward for him as he would prefer to text, or not call at all. I make him practice his phone skills. As I train new recruiters, I see them struggle with making calls, it is hard for them to build that rapport over the phone with someone since they much prefer email or texting someone. Apparently that trend continues all over since most people now have mobile phones and smartphones, but according to a poll released by Nielsen, voice spending on mobile phones is decreasing and within the next 3 years text spending will surpass voice. As a society I think we need to practice our phone skills.  I am guilty like everyone else most of the time I will text my friends or ping them on Facebook but it is not the same rush as a good old phone call.  You learn so much more about the person and who they are and what they’re about.

So I challenge you this week to pick up the phone each day and instead of emailing a client, pick up the phone and give someone a call…

7 Ways to Build Unbreakable Trust



Admit it. We’ve all did it before, even subconsciously- make snap judgments of people. First impression IS everything, but how do you convince a stranger away from the negative impressions and leave a trusting one? I heard author Nicholas Boothman speak on CBS Morning News about his book, Convince Them in 90 Seconds or Less. Curious, I wanted to give it a read, and found that it gives the best advice for making those first few seconds of meeting someone into a lasting relationship builder.

Ever walk into an interview or a networking event and thought of any of the following:

-Just be yourself

-Don’t be nervous

-I hope they like me

If your mind only focuses on these few examples and not what you’re doing, it can start you off in the wrong direction for your first impression. By leveraging the seven pointers below from Nicholas Boothman that will all change! Continue reading

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