Category Archives: women in business

Expectation Is A Killer Of Creation – Breaking The Rules For Success

Last week I wrote this post for Forbes, asking 13 successful women what one attribute helped get them where they are today. Their answers vary, and I encourage you to read through them for inspiration. I didn’t include my answer – it felt a little too unwarranted for the venue – but since many folks have asked me about my one attribute, I thought I’d share it here.

The one trait that has helped me get to where I am today (other attributes have helped me stay) is ignoring the rules. I don’t always ignore all the rules but like my religion, I use them more as a guideline. Often, I purposely won’t look up how something is typically accomplished, because I don’t want to be restricted by the doubts, expectations or opinions that other people’s experiences can put in my mind. If I had followed some of life’s more obvious rules, I wouldn’t have moved to Boston, I wouldn’t have started my own companies and I wouldn’t have worked with some of the really great people I have the privilege of calling colleagues. Sometimes people will say to me, for example, “You can’t ask that,” or “You contacted who?!” – because their own fears of failure, or ego, would have held them back from doing so. Sometimes, expectation is a killer of creation.

What’s one attribute that’s helped you achieve success? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

Can We Merge What Young Women Find of Interest With New Knowledge For a Better Future? My Latest at Forbes

Educating young women and getting them to have passion for taking care of themselves when they grow up (vs just wanting to “marry well”) is a strong area of interest for me. Last week on Forbes I asked – can we reach young girls through things they’re naturally interested in (fashion, music, pop culture, etc.) and segue it to educating and exciting them about pursuing STEM careers? Things like wearable tech, for example, might be a natural cross over for their interests – but I think we have a long way to go to educate them that these careers can be just as exciting as the ones on the front of all the glossy magazines in the grocery store. I’d love for you to take a read and please let me know what you think.

A Good Day for Power Women – Marissa Mayer to Head Yahoo as CEO

With only a small percent of women leading the world’s largest companies, I was thrilled to read today that Google’s Marissa Mayer is joining Yahoo as its newest CEO. Ms. Mayer has long been a woman I’ve admired in business, representing Google with grace and feminine power, while taking her place among the boys’ club in Board rooms. It’s not an easy feat – as ABC News reported just last Fall, only 16 women have headed up Fortune 500 companies at the same time. I’m hoping that more women like Ms. Mayer will continue to grow that number, as she follows in the foot steps of other female leads in breaking that glass ceiling. Let’s hope not only is her tenure outstanding, but her future departure goes more gracefully than Yahoo’s last female CEO.

As The Wall Street Journal reported, Mayer said:

I am honored and delighted to lead Yahoo, one of the internet’s premier destinations for more than 700 million users. I look forward to working with the Company’s dedicated employees to bring innovative products, content, and personalized experiences to users and advertisers all around the world.

Best of luck, Marissa. We’re excited to see what you do!

Spring Speaking Circuit – Where I’ll Be

I’m trying to get better at speaking and presenting publicly – if I’m advising clients to do so, I figure I should practice what I preach. If you’re around Boston or NYC in April or May, please consider coming to one of these events – and please do say hello and introduce yourself if we haven’t yet met. It’s nice to make real life connections with the online community.

1. BU Chapter of 85 Broads Spring Conference, April 2, 2011 Boston, MA – This year the theme is “Confessions of an Entrepreneur,” where various CEOs and founders share their journeys to starting their businesses and start-ups. I’m on the PR panel, so if you plan to enter the public relations profession, start your own firm or even just consult, hopefully I can share some valuable insights to help you in your journey.

2. Social Media & Community 2.0 Strategies, April 4-6, 2011 Boston, MA- I’ll be speaking on measurement of social media campaigns and efforts. A lot of great social media folks – Scott Stratten, Aaron Strout, Rachel Happe and many others – will be speaking as well, on various topics related to business, social media, marketing, community, branding and more.

3. Cape Cod & Plymouth Biz Event – Enterprising Women – Wake Up Wisdom for Women, April 14, 2011 Hyannis, MA – I’m lucky enough to speaking among other smart businesswomen who will also  share their experiences, tips and tools on how to be a successful female business leader. I’ll be on the “Leadership Lessons” panel.

4. Tory Johnson’s Spark & Hustle National Tour, May 12-14, 2011 Boston, MA – A tour designed to inspire small business owners, I’ll be speaking on how to embrace new marketing tools like social media and integrate them with more traditional, yet still valuable, principles. Speakers on this tour have included dynamic men and women from companies such as Vera Bradley, Sittercity, Liz Lange Maternity, QVC and many more. I’m honored to be a part of the Boston leg.

5. PR News Facebook Conference, May 24, 2011 NYC – A Facebook-focused conference designed specifically for PR professionals, where I’ll be speaking on best practices for monitoring employees’ Facebook activity for optimal and safe results. Do you know how to make your employees brand ambassadors without hijacking their personal lives?

6. unGeeked Conference; Boston, November 10-12, 2011 Boston, MA – I’m excited to not only be speaking about social media, marketing, branding and PR but to be a part of the Regional Executive Team helping to organize other speakers for this conference. Interested? Let me know. Sponsored by Mashable, unGeeked is about creating and engaging an entire community, regionally, nationally and internationally of Marketing, Branding, PR, HR, Legal, Sales and Customer Service professionals, Consultants and businesses both on-line, during a 3-day retreat and after the retreat for the ultimate in discussions and information sharing.

Love Your Life

Every other month or so I get together with a wonderful group of women who are in similar fields and own small businesses. The “PR Chix” are each others’ Board, executive team, shoulder to lean on and friends. We share ideas, wisdom, triumphs and heartache. Although I only see these women a few times a year, and always in a a mentor/mentee-type atmosphere, I love and rely on and respect them. Immensely.

At the last meeting we had, one of the women was talking about her summer and how she took some time for herself and spent a good deal of it surfing. She talked of her car full of sand and wet towels, and I felt like I was watching a movie. The other two talked about new romances, skiing, days at the beach and dating. They spoke of how they have both run marathons, international summer travels and going out in Boston.

It was so romantically glorious in my mind, picturing them all so carefree. I said to them, “Your lives are so interesting; you are so lucky, I never go anywhere.” They of course said, “Yeah, but we all want what you have.”

I am the only woman in the group who is married or has children. (Despite this, we have so much in common.) So when I hear of their lives I envy their freedom; when they hear of mine, they envy my stability/family.

When I came home, I told my husband of their adventures and how they all got to go to all these places all summer, had already run marathons (which I want to do), etc.

Boy did I feel dumb when he reminded me of all our travels in the previous year that I had forgotten to mention: San Francisco (All Star Game), Vegas (“Rocktober” with friends), Tampa/St. Petersburg (amazing stay at the Don CeSar Beach Resort with the kids) Hilton Head, Michigan, etc. – both with and without the kids.

And then, a few weeks later when he gave me this amazing gift (which had already been in the works), I felt even more dumb that I had not been more impressed with my own life to share it with my friends.

This is certainly a lesson I will never forget again.

More Double Standards For Women in Business

A recent report published by the Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology concludes that female managers who are seen as unkind, insensitive and unaware of others’ feelings are judged as worse bosses because of it – yet men who exhibit the same qualities aren’t.

“It seems female managers may be expected to be sensitive to others’ emotions and to demonstrate this sensitivity by providing emotional support. Because of this, female managers’ job performance is judged on them being understanding, kind, supportive and sensitive,” says Kristen Byron, assistant professor of management in the Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University, who conducted the research. “In contrast, this is not the basis to evaluate the performance of male managers. It is far more important for male managers, and men, in general, to be seen as analytical, logical and good at reasoning than showing care and concern for others.”

As a female business owner and manager I find this very interesting and slightly frustrating. I see this in my own business – if women managers are not sensitive it’s definitely brought to my attention by the staff moreso than if a male manager or colleague is a bit hard-edged.

There have been a lot of articles and studies on the management style of women vs. mens and the entire “bitch” assumption for successful women in business. The truth of the matter is that we are different than men, we lead, we follow, we teach, we learn – differently. This doesn’t mean we are any better or worse at managing – we just use different tactics to get what we need. Unfortunately, we probably do waste too many cycles worrying about everyone’s emotions or thoughts. Caring less – perhaps embracing a little more of our selfish side – could make us more efficient.

But then again, what’s wrong with emotion? As the late, great Anita Roddick claimed, “I run my company according to feminine principles – principles of caring, making intuitive decisions, not getting hung up on hierarchy, having a sense of work as being part of your life, not separate from it; putting your labour where your love is, being responsible to the world in how you use your profits; recognising the bottom line should stay at the bottom.”

Amen!