Moms In Business Magazine
I’m so honored to be the covermom for the October 2011 issue of Moms in Business magazine! It’s published by the National Association for Moms in Business (MIBN), the leading national association representing the 15 million executive, entrepreneur and CEO moms.
MIBN started in 2003 to provide a voice, empowerment, education and relationship building for moms in business. MIBN reaches out to 500,000 moms in business through various marketing channels and partners to help moms in business come together with one voice and make a difference for all business moms in legislation, education, networking and business growth.
“It is our passion and mission to make sure all business moms succeed,” says Gina Robison-Billups, founder and CEO of MIBN, who has spent much of her career supporting, educating, serving and representing the needs of business moms.
Thank you, Gina, and thank you, MIBN, for all you do for moms in business. I am grateful for your support, and look forward to more good things ahead!
I’m so excited to share the launch of 30Second Mom: 30Second tips for your mobile life! It’s a stream-based mobile website and app, sponsored by U.S. Cellular, aimed at keeping busy moms “in the know while on the go.”
30Second Mom features hundreds of helpful tips, designed to be read or viewed via video on a smartphone in about 30 seconds or less. The content is created by an international panel of diverse contributors who share their tips across a wide breadth of lifestyle categories including Food, Health, Money, Home, Travel, Beauty and more.
Whether moms read the tips or watch them on video, they are delivered in clear and concise – and fun! – formats that won’t take much of moms’ most precious asset: their time. After creating their unique stream and reading/viewing each tip, moms can interact by commenting, liking and sharing the tips with their social networks, making it an easy and fun way to share valuable information with their family and friends.
Here’s the link to the official press release put out by U.S. Cellular and my company, 30Second Mobile. I hope you will visit, sign up for a free account, take a look around and let me know what you think. I appreciate your interest and support!
I had the pleasure of spending the day at my alma mater Northwestern University. I love the energy of being on campus and always walk away inspired. Today I had even more reason to be energized because I attended Entrepreneur@NU, a conference organized by the Farley Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation in the McCormick School.
This was its third annual conference, and it’s growing rapidly – attendance was double last year’s. The event is meant to “showcase the best of the Midwest entrepreneurial ecosystem from web-based start-ups to medical device companies to energy businesses that are all based in and around the Chicago area.” By gathering the best talent in Chicago and elsewhere, there are a variety of opportunities to learn from successful investors and entrepreneurs about start-up trends and insights in financing, operations, marketing and more. The theme of this year’s conference focused on how the Chicago entrepreneurial community can learn from one another and those on the coasts to make Chicago and the region a better place for start-ups and innovation. In other words, how can Chicago become more like Silicon Valley?
While there were no easy answers, plenty of experts were on hand to offer their insights. Kicking off the morning keynote with the West Coast perspective was Jim White, managing director of Sutter Hill Ventures. He relayed fascinating information in his thorough presentation, but my favorite quote came during the Q&A, when he was asked why so many entrepreneurs pursue their businesses, when so many don’t succeed: “Entrepreneurs are driven because they want to change the world in some way.” Couldn’t agree more, Jim.
After an engaging panel discussion with three Chicago VCs who gave a strong and persuasive Midwest perspective, the lunch keynote, Jeff Bussgang, managing partner at Flybridge Capital, offered the East Coast perspective. His insightful presentation included advice for entrepreneurs, including what investors look for in a management team. One line that stood out for me was that VCs may be looking for the “Pied Piper” effect, which includes the ability to recruit and retain a great team and partners, and also chemistry among the team members.
Also on hand were several founders and CEOs of leading Chicago start-ups, heads of successful angel funds and incubator/accelerator programs, and even Kevin Willer, co-founder of Google’s Chicago office who is now president and CEO of the Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center.
Even though I’m not a first-time entrepreneur, I walked away with fresh perspectives on business possibilities. Hope to see you there next year!
September 11 Reflections
The death of Osama bin Laden on May 1, 2011 triggered powerful feelings for many people around the world. For me, it prompted a flashback to September 11, 2001 and the overwhelming feelings of that day, and the equally powerful memories on the one-year anniversary. I wrote a newspaper column for each of those events, and what follows below is taken from the column I wrote to mark the one-year anniversary. The feelings resonate with me just as strongly today as when I wrote them nine years ago:
Planes crashing. Buildings falling. People screaming.
Where were you when the first plane hit the first tower? A friend and I were at Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo studios in downtown Chicago, awaiting a show taping. After the planes hit, a very emotional Oprah came out to talk to the audience in her slippers, bathrobe, glasses and hair curlers. She said, “They say the show must go on, but not at Harpo it doesn’t.”
I admired Oprah so much at that moment for canceling the show, offering support to her guests and, most of all, for baring her soul. But all I could think was, “Get me home.” We joined the excruciatingly slow mass exodus from Chicago. Home never looked so good, and I never held my children so tight.
The images in our minds from September 11 are vivid and just as frightening years later. The events embedded a powerful scar upon our psyche; one you don’t think about all the time, but it’s still there. We can hope that it fades over time, but it will never go away. Not even because the man responsible for the destruction and ensuing changes to our lives is now dead.
Osama bin Laden and September 11 changed many things about our world. Those of us who were too young to feel the impact of Pearl Harbor lost our innocence by realizing that our country is, indeed, vulnerable. We fought back, we became a bit paranoid, and we pulled our children even closer to us.
Many parents felt that their family dynamics changed completely. “I dismiss my worries much faster,” says Shelley, a mother of three. “I can’t imagine anything in my life being that bad. The result is a closer – almost spiritual – bond with my family members.”
Others realized just how precious the fleeting moments are with our children. “I tend to appreciate the little things more now, instead of counting down the minutes ’til bedtime!” says Elaine, a mother of three.
Perhaps the most important lesson we learned is to live in the moment, to savor each day with our families. “The two things I try to keep in mind every day are that you can’t take your freedom for granted and that life is short, and you should treasure the people you have with you today,” says Jessica, a mother of three.
Adds Shelley, “I realized how fast we have been trying to push our children to grow up and be independent. We are always thinking about the future. In the process, we are missing all the todays. I try to parent my kids for their lives right now.”
It seems as though more babies than ever are being born, perhaps in celebration of our freedom or in defiance of our enemies. And as we celebrate our families, we will always remember those who lost their lives, those who lost loved ones, those who saved countless people with their acts of heroism and those who continue to fight for our country. On every September 11, “I’ll think about those families all day long. I’ll think about the soldiers in Afghanistan. I’ll think about my life. I know I will shed tears,” says Shelley.
“My family will reflect on special times and prepare for new beginnings,” says Jessica. “Every time I look at my baby, I think of all the women who were also pregnant when 9/11 happened. I remember looking down at my belly and wondering how this world would look when my baby arrived. Now I look at my baby, and I still wonder what the future holds for him and for every child. But I also have incredible faith in humanity.”
Hot Mommas Project
I recently had the pleasure of serving as a judge for the Hot Mommas Project, an award-winning women’s leadership research venture housed at the George Washington University School of Business, Center for Entrepreneurial Excellence. The project is led by Founder/Chief Hot Momma Kathy Korman Frey, Entrepreneur in Residence at George Washington who teaches the award-winning Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership class.
Put simply, Kathy and the Hot Mommas Project are amazing. Last year, the project became the world’s largest women’s case study library, providing free online access to stories of female role models and mentors. Results include measurable increases in self-confidence among women age 18 and older. How fantastic is that?
The Hot Mommas Project calls itself a “digital democracy,” featuring cases from all over the world. Stories come from women of all ages and walks of life: from princesses to teenage moms, and from survivors to CEOs of large companies. They are real stories from women who share them in order to help each other and the next generation to succeed, however they define the word success.
As a first-time judge, I didn’t know what to expect. But after reading the first story, I was hooked. The author, and each one that followed, had me rooting for her as the heroine of her story. Better than any novel, I was truly awed and inspired by the authors’ courage, resilience, tenacity and fortitude. Whether you need a little inspiration or an entire attitude adjustment, you will not be the same after reading the stories of this year’s winners.
So thank you, Kathy and the team at Hot Mommas, for including me on your esteemed panel of judges. It is an honor to serve on your project. I know there can only be a certain number of finalists, but the reality is, each author is a winner in my book. As are all of you. Thanks for all you do to mentor and motivate women around the world!
Wired + Inspired
I’m feeling particularly Wired today. Not wired as in electronically connected to a computer system (wireless all the way, baby), and not even wired as in overly-caffeinated (holding strong to my coffee detox – haven’t had any for weeks).
The wired I’m referring to is Dictionary.com’s slang definition: tense with excitement or anticipation; edgy.
I love that definition, and I think it’s an awesome way to start a new week. It’s like you’re on the brink of something spectacular that you’re not quite sure will happen, but you’ve got the edge within you to push it over the finish line. It’s also worth noting that “pumped-up” is considered a synonym of wired. How cool is that? So without sounding too much like Arnold Schwarzenegger, I’m feeling a bit pumped at the moment.
Why? Because of my second word, Inspired. I woke this morning feeling especially inspired by various projects swirling around my busy world. Sometimes it seems like too much, and I wonder if I can get it all done. But today, I feel inspired by a couple key tasks that I not only want to achieve this week, but that I know I will achieve. And that feels great.
However long your list, try to hone in on the items that make you feel Wired + Inspired. I’m guessing those are the ones you’re more likely to accomplish, which will make this a truly fantastic week for you.
So, how are you feeling??
Women You Should Follow
A couple of posts ago, I wrote about the power of social media connections. I’m constantly amazed by the people I meet online and through social media networks. Melissa Stewart is one of the people I feel fortunate to have met via Twitter. Melissa is a self-described serial entrepreneur who’s had a home office since age 5. Even better, she’s passionate about entrepreneurship, addicted to coffee and eternally optimistic. No wonder we get along so well!
Melissa’s latest venture is SheOwnsIt.com, a site dedicated to celebrating, supporting and connecting women entrepreneurs. The site offers a wealth of information on starting a business, sales and marketing, money and finance, social media and more, making it an indispensable resource for entrepreneurs of all kinds.
Melissa recently published her list of 20 Women You Should be Following on Twitter, “for business, entrepreneurship, inspiration, conversation and beyond.” I was so excited to learn I made the list! It’s truly an honor to be among such illustrious company, and I’m grateful for being included.
I was already following and being inspired by many of the women in the group, and the ones I wasn’t already following, I quickly did. Word of mouth recommendations from social media influencers like Melissa are the best way to find quality people to follow and learn from.
So thank you to Melissa and SheOwnsIt.com for the special recognition, and for the important service they provide. It is so appreciated. And if you’re not already following Melissa, you should be!
Waiting + Wondering
“You never know what’s around the corner, waiting for you. Each day is a gift to be opened. What will you unwrap today?”
Those were words I tweeted yesterday. Sick with a cold and feeling somewhat apprehensive about tasks yet to be completed, I was still filled with the sense that something positive was going to happen. As I went about the business of my day, going through various cold remedies and at least one full box of tissues, something good did happen.
I had been waiting, but not idly. Nearly every moment, I did something to further my progress toward resolution of one of my projects. But even while being proactive, the wait was frustrating. And just as I was wondering if it would ever happen, the last piece of the puzzle fell into place. It truly did feel like a gift I finally got to open.
But there were other gifts yesterday. They came in the form of “get well” wishes and loving words from family and friends near and far. When I woke up this morning feeling better, I could not attribute it solely to the vitamins I’ve been taking. I’m wondering if more credit goes to the power of positive energy that was directed my way from those who took the time to share a kind word with me.
Social Media Connections
I’ve been focusing on social media to generate awareness about what I’m doing professionally. I’ve found that Twitter is an efficient (and fun!) way to share a message and grow a targeted audience. The ability to communicate instantaneously with global reach is exciting and powerful. It’s truly amazing how many people you can connect with in just a few keystrokes.
After using Facebook for years personally, I’ve turned my attention to it professionally. I set up a page where I’m starting to share what’s going on with my business life. But more than just a place to share that information, I’m finding it has almost more value in terms of what I can learn from others. As I peruse other people’s pages, I absorb what I like and dislike, I glean information I did not know or find out how to do things better, and I connect with people all over the globe with whom I may not otherwise have had a chance to know.
Wow! We’ve come so far since the dot-com boom days that felt like a whole new world. Today, again, is an exciting time of evolution and crazy growth and connections on our rapidly-shrinking planet.
Life is all about relationships. Personal and professional connections. I really enjoy how social media makes it easier than ever to initiate and cultivate relationships all over world, and even in my own backyard.
Labor + Love
It may be the day officially devoted to love, but that’s not why my Two Words of the day are Labor + Love. In fact, those Two Words resonate every day. Why? Because every day is filled with labor, of all kinds, and that labor can be done with love (yep, pretty much all of it).
When work is a labor of love, it’s a true blessing. You spend so many hours each day working – on the job, your own business, your home, your kids, your significant other, your extended family, yourself and more. Papers, presentations, homework, phone calls, emails, texts, meetings, appointments, exercise, shopping, cooking, laundry, cleaning, organizing – and preparing to do it all again the next day. If you think of that work as a chore, you may get discouraged or disheartened. It’s hard to not get overwhelmed, and it happens more often than we’d like.
But if you turn that thinking around and see each task as furthering your own agenda (of prosperity, health, happiness, thriving family or whatever it is), it really helps. You’re choosing to do that labor in order to get closer to a bigger goal. Checking off an item on the daily to-do list is a positive step forward. Even laundry becomes tolerable when done with love – your family does appreciate wearing clean clothes, and they know you’re the one who provided that to them. While it may not always seem appreciated, it truly is.
Finally, your loving attitude toward your labor will show in all that you do. Others notice when tasks are tackled with positive energy rather than negativity, and they respond in kind. Whether you show it at work, at school, at home or elsewhere, it will shine through and be well received by employers, customers, potential clients, family members, friends and more.
Best of all? It’s contagious. Your attitude can be infectious and spread to others around you. Setting the tone for others in the workplace, home and everywhere (even online!) may help them find more joy, which reinforces your own feelings. Inspire others by sharing a mindset of Labor + Love.
Happy Valentine’s Day!