9 Ways Women Can Help Each Other Get Ahead In Business

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"There is a special place in hell for women who do not help other women." ~ Madeleine Albright


We work to change this idea of competition that pits women against each other. There is no need for competition in business or in the workplace. We are far stronger working together than apart. Women are natural collaborators and we do better when we are building each other up rather than ripping each other down.

Here are a list of ways we can help each other as women in business. Feel free to add your own!

  1. Send free resources (books, articles, videos, programs, events) that you come across to someone in your circle that would benefit from the material.
  2. Be a connector. Scan your network of contacts and facilitate an introduction between two people who could help each other or benefit from knowing one another.
  3. Refer. Give out referrals for your favorite women in business. Hand it out like candy!
  4. Share it out! When someone in your circle starts something new, gets featured, or that you know could benefit from more exposure or awareness, share their news! You can do this by posting, re-posting, or forwarding with a link back to their work.
  5. Do business with other women owned businesses. This year while doing my taxes, I intentionally sought out a woman-owned tax firm. Look for ways you can support other women in business.
  6. Listen. Sometimes we just need to be heard, not for someone to fix things. Offer your full presence and a listening ear
  7. Acknowledge. Pick 5 random women from your circle and just send an email or better yet pick up the phone with a kind, encouraging or inspiring word.
  8. Invest. Women face more challenges in securing funding than our male counterparts. Consider ways to put your uninvested assets to use by investing in women owned business ventures
  9. Give back. All of our progress will be for nothing if we do not empower the next generation of women leaders. Volunteer your time, be a mentor, teach young girls, or delegate a portion of your income to social causes you care about.

 

What would you add to this list?
What is one action you can take on from this list to empower women in your circle?

We’re all in this together.

Power, Purpose, Community!

Your Personal Branding Questions - ANSWERED!

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This past week I led a discussion on personal branding for a large organization.

With 20 minutes to present and about 60+ people on the call with plenty of material to get through, I squeezed in my best tips and advice on how women in business can build a powerful brand.

Today, I’m sharing with you the nuts and bolts of my talk along with the answers to a few questions we had on the call. Later on, I will be inviting a few of you to join my first ever personal branding masterclass to expand on some of the material covered here. So without further ado, my quick tips for building and leveraging your personal brand in business and leadership.
 

What is brand?

For many of us, when we think of a brand, we tend to think of it in terms of the name of our business, our bio, what’s on our resume, LinkedIn profile, or the role or title we have. Maybe for some of us, we don’t even see ourselves as a brand or never really considered it. We might think of the stores we shop in, the products we buy, the logos we see as brands. But this is a very one-dimensional way of seeing ourselves and the power we have to create an impact and build influence.
 

A brand reDefined.

A brand can be defined as three things:
 
1. The unique set of ingredients that set you apart and allow you to stand out.
2. The experience of you and what people come to expect from you.
3. The value you bring to the table.
 

Why does having a brand matter?

When you don’t have a clear definition of who you are, what you stand for, and what you bring to the table, you can start to feel adrift and stagnant in your work. You may find yourself unable to create meaningful goals, struggle with confidence and impact in your leadership, and decision-making becomes a bit cloudy.
 
Consider your brand as your navigational guide towards personal and professional success. Foundational items like your personal vision, core values, and strengths lead the way. With a clear understand of your brand, you can align with the right projects/clients/opportunities.
 

What gets in the way?

I call these the stories we tell ourselves; invisible barriers that come in the form of negative self talk that causes us to hide, shrink, become insecure and diminish confidence.
 
The two narratives we most often hear are:
1. Not good enough.
2. Who do you think you are?
 
What we continuously believe and actions we take as a result, becomes our habits, which shape our character and ultimately our destiny. Through methods that interrupt this pattern of thinking, we find ourselves able to replace negative thinking with solid, more empowering beliefs. Priceless!
 
A few questions I received that I’d like to answer here were:
 
How does the culture of the organization come into play with developing your personal brand within the organization?
 
“Make visible what, without you, might never have been seen.” – Robert Bresson
 
1. Listen; engage in active listening to tune into the internal dynamics of your organization. What do you notice about how teams communicate, how problems are solved, or how leaders lead? Then ask yourself: What/how can I best contribute here? What unique quality or skill that I possess would be most useful here?
Learn to ask for feedback from colleagues and clients to determine what your best strengths and skills are. This will aid in knowing who you are and where you most bring value.

2. Teach; oftentimes you have to show & tell people how you want to be perceived and what you want to be known for. Pay attention to the language you use about yourself and how you describe what you do. Use language that you most want to be known for. In essence you have to be the one to teach people who you are. Do this by your actions, words, and results achieved.

3. Cheer-lead; women can be your best advocate who will attest to your skill and value. Your cheerleaders will speak highly of you in your absence – they become your own personal PR agent! Align yourself with ‘influential allies’ and become one yourself for other women.
 
How did I develop my brand as a business professional and voice for women’s leadership and empowerment?
 

I will be answering this in full detail with step-by-step guidance in my Branding masterclass. On Wednesday, August 30th I will be hosting a 75-minute online branding masterclass, The Essence of YOU; Personal Branding for Smart Women. This session is for you if you are considering your next career move, starting a new venture, needing more clarity around what you want, and especially if you're just tired of shrinking and ready to play bigger in your world! What’s unique about this course is that it takes a very unconventional approach to branding, from the inside, out. So if you’re open to a new way of discovering & developing your brand, you will enjoy this talk.

Sign up is here.
 
I’m keeping the class limited to 15 people so we can have a personal focus for our attendees.
 

Cheers to mastering your brand and unlocking your true path to great leadership.

The SHE in She Went for Her Dreams

When you’re in the business of helping people succeed, the work becomes bigger than you.

I’ve seen the magic of how one woman who decides to go for her dreams and play a bigger game in her own life can inspire another woman to do the same.
 
It’s like a ripple effect.
 
The impact we have on one other as women is far greater than we could ever imagine. There is something about seeing a community of like-minded trailblazing women who are going for it that sparks something within you.
 
The fire in your belly roars to a flame and you are inspired to get out there, be your best self, and do your best work.
 
This is what it means to have a greater purpose through your work.  When it comes to business and the work that we do, I don’t believe it’s just about selling widgets and increasing the bottom line. I’m going to take a guess that if you’re reading this, that you believe this too.
 
As women entrepreneurs, many of us go into business driven by a desire to create, change the world, and serve humanity. Our dreams are not flights of fancy, but an invitation to action. At the risk of getting too metaphysical and woo woo, doing business is a sacred act. The hum that lies just underneath the surface, that fuels you to get out of bed every morning. It is a force that does not come through you alone but from a higher power energy channeling through you. It is not our job to question it, but to obey the callings of our hearts.
 
The imperfect road towards living our dreams is paved with setbacks, longer than expected wait times, and dark nights of the soul. Still we march on. It takes courage to do this kind of work to follow a dream, make an impact, to let go of comfort, risk failure and disappointment, believe in an idea so fiercely that you would die for it.

Project She Went For Her Dreams exists to lead, guide, and transform women into their highest calling as business leaders of the future. We partner with women of our time who are boldly pursuing their dreams and making a difference in the world through the work they are called to do. These women are thought-leaders and change-makers who see the world not so much as it is but how it could be. They are in the trenches, have fallen down and gotten back up, and show up every single day to bring her work out into the world.

The message I want women to take from our work is that you have to do the thing that calls to your soul. It’s no longer an option to deny our dreams any more. We cannot continue to hide behind our unfulfilling 9-to-5’s, the excuses, the fears, and the circumstances that keep us blocked every day. We must become loyal to our dreams instead of what other people want from us. Even if you don’t know what your dreams or passions are, there is no greater time to start exploring them then right now. Part of going for your dreams is about becoming curious about who you are and the work you want to do in this world.  
 
Each woman intuitively knows what that next step is for her. It is a very personal journey. Whether it’s starting a new business, leaving the dead-end job, doing a TedTalk, taking the job across the country because she feels in her heart that it’s the right move, speaking her mind openly in the boardroom, sharing new ideas that have the power to change the course of traditionally held views, getting out of our heads and trusting ourselves.
 
The SHE in She Went For Her Dreams is for every woman who dared to do big things, use her power to create, and hold up her middle finger to anyone who tried to hold her back. This mission is for her, this mission is about Us.  
 
Now that’s something worth celebrating.
 
Last Fall, my company went through a re-brand and Project She Went For Her Dreams was officially introduced to the world. The launch was celebrated with the kick off my empowerment series, A Night of Dreaming + Doing in NYC for women entrepreneurs, world changers and all star trailblazers. We have our next event coming up on September 21st which is shaping up to be another magical experience.
 
Today, we forge on, giving inspired business and leadership guidance to women that want it. Some of our women have gone on to launch award-winning companies, appearances on major media outlets, pen best selling books, and even get married, move across the country and start families.
 
But the best part about all of this, is what we get to say about the work we did when we sit old and gray reflecting on our lives, that we went for it, we went for our dreams.

 

Want To Get More Clients? Tell Your Story!

The one vital piece of information missing in our business conversations that lead to more sales, more partnerships, more funding, and overall more yes’s is: your story. Your story is the single component that allows you to stand out in a saturated market and has the power to create meaningful connection and promote influence in your industry.

Ladies, we are not telling our stories; our personal truth that helps me to know why I should hire or buy from you.

Last week, I was at a networking event for women entrepreneurs in New York City. I met this lovely, stylish lady who co founded her business making high quality nail polish at a fraction of the cost. Naturally, as someone who has her nails done on the regular, I was intrigued. She went on to tell me how her product was featured in top magazines, how they were voted number one against other nail brands, and why their business was the bee’s knees. Her sales game was strong and I could appreciate her passion and energy for the product. Yet something was missing. I probed a little bit and asked her about the backstory of how she came into business. I later learned that her parents were of Caribbean descent and taught her the value of hard work. She shared that when she was little, her mother always had her nails done no matter what and valuing self care was something she admired in her mom. She also shared that her father was an entrepreneur and that she learned so much from him growing up and seeing him run a business.

Bingo!

Her story of what inspires her as an entrepreneur and why she went into the nail business suddenly came to life. I could relate to her story having also been brought up in a Caribbean family. I connected with her values of self care, beauty, and maintaining a positive appearance. Most importantly, after meeting dozens of women business owners that night, she is the one I remember most because of the story she told. Later that night I looked her up on social media and became a follower. She is on my radar now and when I am ready to buy new nail polish, I will think of her.

Our stories give the work we do deeper meaning and adds a dimension that humanizes our business. In our stories, you get to see the real person behind the logo. It provides an opportunity to create real connections, bond over common values, and be a bit more conscious in how we buy and sell.

What is your business story?

·      It tells your ‘why’; why you do what you do and what drives you

·      It is an opportunity to create a meaningful connection and a lasting first impression

·      It is the defining factor that will have you standout

·      It’s your sense of purpose or your mission

How do we find our stories and tell it in our business?

 5 elements for you to consider in developing your story:

1.      How did you come to do this work? Look for the hook that will capture hearts and minds. This can be: defining moments that changed your life, triumphs you’ve had, painful challenges you overcame, lessons learned, etc. Dig deep.

2.     What are the top 3 values that show up in your story? Confidence. Spirituality. Harmony. Purpose. Etc. These are the components that create connection and impact for your clients or your audience.

3.     What’s the energy behind your story?  Inspiring, educational, victim to victory, reflective, visionary, to evoke shock, influence, etc. Focus on the intention behind your story.

4.     Be able to summarize and articulate your story in 2-3 minutes.

5.     Continually revise and practice!

Remember, your business is an extension of you. Not only do you bring your expertise but you also bring your entire life experiences to the table. Your business is part of your life story; share it freely as you do business. In doing so, you will attract the people you are meant to work with.

Do you need help putting your business story together? Do you want to tell your story in a compelling and succinct way? Let me help you! I’m offering specialized Brand Storytelling sessions for a limited time. Reach out at she@shewentforherdreams.com to learn more.

10 Things You Can Do This Summer To (re)Fuel Your Mind, Body & Business

I love the summer time. I really do.

Outdoor music festivals, street fairs, sunbathing in the park, trips to the beach, rooftop parties.

There’s nothing quite like summer in NYC.

I don’t know about you but my productivity tends to go way down in the summer. My soul longs to be outdoors during this time of year breathing in fresh air and soaking up the sun.

The summer is notorious for slowing us down especially at work.  It’s a great time to take advantage of the slow season and refuel our senses. To clear away the busy work and focus on tasks that will build us up and sharpen our skills.

Over here we’re doing our best to take advantage of the summer months, stay sharp, and do what we love to do in empowering women entrepreneurs.

Here are 10 things you can do to refuel this summer:

1. Take a Toastmaster Class. Perfect your public speaking skills. Whether you speak publicly for work or not, improving this skill is a game changer for confidence, presentations, and enhancing brand visibility. Check your local Toastmaster chapter to attend a meeting.

2. Spruce up on Your LinkedIn profile. Are your roles up to date? Does your summary need refreshing? Is your photo outdated? Your LinkedIn is your most valuable asset as an entrepreneur; it leads to potential clients and strong partnerships.  Make sure it leaves a positive, professional impression.

3. Listen To A Business Empowerment Podcast. My favorite podcast at the moment is Being Boss. It is an amazing hub of resources and information from top experts in business with content updated regularly.

4. Purge. Out with the old, in with the new. Carve out time to clean out your inbox, organize client files, file away business cards, clear off your desk of old coffee mugs and random papers. Get rid of anything you no longer need.

5. Get new headshots. If your current shot is more than five years old, time for fresh new photos.

6. Start a Passion Project. Passion projects have a funny way of leading to new business ideas. What is a new fun creative idea you want to try for your business that won’t take a lot of time? New blog series, 7-day challenge, new program you want to test out, etc. Tap into your passions and (re)create from this place.

7. Revisit your goals. You know those goals you wrote down on January 1? Time to check in on them. Evaluate your progress, re-examine and re-align to stay on track.

8. Summer Reading. Grab your favorite business book you’ve been meaning to read, go to the park and read it under a tree. Some of my favorite books I would recommend are The War of Art by Steven Pressfield, Miracles at Work by Emily Bennington, and Start With Why by Simon Sinek.

9. Volunteer. I recently gave a talk to Dress for Success women’s group on interviewing and the most amazing experience. One of the most amazing ways of giving back is volunteering your time to those who need what you do the most. Research your favorite organization and reach out to them about doing volunteer work.

10. Remember Your Joy. Always, always, always remember to have fun. As entrepreneurs sometimes the work is consuming and we forget the most important ingredient is to always have fun. Take a painting class, go bike riding, or in my case play a sport. Making time for joy clears your mind and energizes you so that when you return to business you are focused and replenished.

Do you have any other ways that you love to refuel in the summer? Share with us in the comments below!

 

5 Ways Women Entrepreneurs Undermine Their Confidence

There is an invisible barrier that is hurting the population of women entrepreneurs everywhere. It is not often talked about openly when it comes to launching our own business, getting new clients, making more money, giving birth to new ideas and playing at a higher level. As a result, we suffer in silence; we put on a brave face, and keep to ourselves unable to talk about the real issue that so many of us struggle with. 

The issue: Confidence.

In the past week alone, I’ve had several private conversations with women entrepreneurs who were incredibly talented, passionate about their work, and had impressive accomplishments that still bump up against bouts of self-doubt when it came to their business.

So often as women entrepreneurs, we pour so much of ourselves into our dream business to make it work. Many of us have taken huge risks and made great sacrifices in order to create and do what we love. To some, a business may mean a chance to align with our purpose, build a legacy, make a difference, solve a problem or help others. Naturally, we can become susceptible to voices of doubt and insecurity that cause us to unknowingly fall into traps that undermine our self-confidence. I have done things in my own business that cause me to hold back and play small so when I see it in other women, I know it all too well. Here are some of the ways I see women entrepreneurs hold themselves back and what we can do about it.

1.      Shy away from self-promotion. Many women loathe being self-promotional. I get it. A lot of this comes from conditioning we learned when we were little girls that it’s not polite to gloat or toot your own horn. We worry about coming off self-serving and that we will put people off. Mothers aren’t worried about this when they talk about their children so why then should we not hold that same pride and enthusiasm when it comes to our business creations. When you share genuinely, it will not come from ego so don’t worry about turning people off.

What to do about it: Consider any biases you may have around self-promotion. What does it mean for you to own your accomplishments and share them with others? What proud results have you achieved in business do you not bring up in conversation with clients to avoid being self-promotional?

2.     Questioning their readiness. I put off submitting my articles to editors for years because I didn’t think I was “ready” to call myself a writer. I convinced myself I needed to have more articles under my belt in order to be taken seriously. Often I hear women say I need more education, more training, more research, more information, a website, business cards, etc etc. When we want to take our business to the next level, we will undoubtedly always feel unready. Left to our own devices we’ll fill our time with countless activities to feel “more prepared” but underneath they just serve as distractions. In some instances maybe you will need additional training but in most cases, your voice of doubt may be sneaking in.

What to do about it: Question the voice that says you’re not ready. Focus on what makes you prepared right now.

3.     We box ourselves in. When I was younger, I used to always copy what my big brother was doing. I followed him around and wanted to play with the big kids and do what they were doing. As entrepreneurs, we often do the same thing. We look to what other key players in our industry are doing and we emulate them. Sometimes in following other people’s creativity we stifle our own. While it is wise to learn and follow in the footsteps of others more successful than you, be careful not to box yourself in.  What may work for them will not necessarily work for you. You have to find your own way to stand out and dare to be different. Entrepreneurship is a great vehicle for creativity and authentic self-expression. People will buy from you based on what you uniquely bring to the table.

What to do about it: Find where you might be putting yourself in a box based on industry standards. Where can you add a bit more creativity to how you do business?

 4.     Self-comparing our success to others. I see this so many times and it still creeps in for me from time to time; self-comparison. Social media also plays a major factor as scroll through our feeds to see confident women crushing it in business that causes us to questioning our own progress. First of all social media presents a curated stream of success that does not represent the whole picture, just the highlights. Every woman who’s reached a high level of success had a beginning and a middle in their journey that didn’t look as glamorous. As long as we define ourselves by what others have achieved we always find ourselves falling short.

What to do about it: Search for and define your own definition of success for your business. Make it something that inspires you. Is it the number of followers you have (totally fine if that is your gauge)? Is it the people you inspire even if it’s just one person? Is it consistently hitting your sales goals? Make your success personal. This way despite what you may see other people doing, you can stay focused hitting your own targets in a meaningful way.

 5.     Blending in or hiding behind our work. Sometimes we can get so comfortable behind our laptops or even for those of us who do one-on-one work with clients, this can be the best place to hide. Yet many of us want to be seen and heard, to bring more visibility to the work we do and be a voice in our industry to reach and empower the masses. We must be willing to put ourselves on panels, in front of audiences, and at the head of wild ideas. To speak up and speak out about the problems we are here to solve through truth and conviction. In doing so we learn to become the leaders we secretly desire to be and lead the way not only for our clients but also for the next generation.

What to do about it: Inventory the time you spend in your business. What percentage of the time are you working solo or privately with clients? On social media promoting your business? Take an honest account of how you might be hiding in your business.

Remember, it’s not about reaching pinnacle levels of confidence and being confident all the time. Inevitably you will confront challenges that threaten to rob you of your confidence. But what we can do is practice seeing where we might be guilty of stealing our own confidence and giving our power away.

Where do you see yourself in the list above? What other ways do you see yourself undermining your confidence?

 

 

 

Starting a business and dealing with uncertainty

The most common reason I hear brilliant, talented women hold themselves back from running their business full time is that the thought of leaving their full time job is terrifying. Some of them have kids to take care of not to mention health insurance and affording just the basic necessities to live in one of the most expensive cities in the world. What if the business doesn’t earn enough income? What if I lose my home? I am just not ready to give up my lifestyle i.e. daily café lattes, brunch with girlfriends on the weekend. The fear is justified. However this fear keeps us trapped.

In this article, I won’t try to convince you that you should take the leap into entrepreneurship. I won’t tell you to jump and the net will appear. I won’t even give you a bulletproof plan to successfully leave your job and start your business. I don’t believe those exist and you certainly don’t need me to create a plan for you. I will tell you this however, when it comes to trading in your regular paycheck for a dream that may or may not work you are choosing a level of uncertainty that can be so uncomfortable it will make you squirm. That uncertainty of being your own boss will never go away. I have spoken with women who have been in business for ten and twenty years who still to this day combat uncertainty in their business. I recall a conversation with a woman business owner when I first started my company. She ran a startup and shared with me times in her business when she wasn’t sure she could make payroll for her employees. I’ve spoken with women in business who confided in me times where they’ve laid on their kitchen floor in tears wondering how they would make the business work. Paula Tursi, my speaker at this months Dreaming + Doing event openly shared that in the first years of running her yoga studio, she says “we were broke and I seriously questioned if we should close the doors.”

The uncertainty struggle in entrepreneurship is real folks. The success stories you often hear and read about from people who are doing really well in business are not without its dire, nail biting moments of pushing through uncertainty.

In interviewing over 50 successful women in business throughout the years, one of the main themes that constantly shows up in our conversations is that they learned to take risks. They are no different than you or I; some had families and kids to take care of, some had gone through health challenges, some even started their business while holding down a day job, and supporting a household.  They saw the risk in starting a company and accepted it.

Taking risks and moving through uncertainty is a muscle we learn to strengthen over time. Risk doesn’t have to mean giant leaps like quitting your job today and going into business the next although it could be for the person who believes this is right for them. Taking risks can also be the actions you take that start off small but ultimately lead you to where you want to be. There is no right or wrong way to “do entrepreneurship” but make no mistake about it, weathering bouts of uncertainty will always be apart of the story. Instead of avoiding it completely, let it become your wisest teacher. After all, we deal with uncertainty on some level every single day. Maybe it’s time we start using it to guide us rather than running away from it.

How do you deal with uncertainty? What do you think you could learn from it when it comes to starting your business?