Investing In Fashion Brands

question-mark-man-suit-1My friend’s been doing workshops for some globally known fashion brands recently, so I became interested in what’s happening in the world of fashion. This guest post surveys the fashion industry from an investment standpoint. Enjoy! – Kimberly

In a world of fashion, there is no doubt that there are some names which have been able to make a big difference when compared to others. They have perhaps done something extra which has helped them to move one level up as far as the market, customer acceptance, revenue and other such factors are concerned. Hence, it would be interesting to find out more about a few fashion brands which have done exceedingly well as far as the year 2016 is concerned. They could set the benchmarks not only for this year but also for the next few years.
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Never give up! by Inna Rosputnia

SS 2016 KW Inna Rosputnia pic2

Inna Rosputnia was born and growing up in Ukraine at a time when it was a battleground between communism and democracy. A personal experience of this conflict, including poverty, struggling and intolerance — as well as a personal fascination with philosophy shaped Inna’s thinking in later years and influenced her successful strategies in both finance and philanthropy.

Inna graduated from 2 Universities and have Master Degree in Economy and International Relations. She began her career in finance field in 2007. In 2008 Inna became a Head of Financial Risk Insurance Department at Alfa Insurance IC (Ukraine) that is a part of Alfa Group Consortium – one of Russia’s largest privately owned investment groups, with interests in oil and gas, commercial and investment banking, asset management, insurance, retail trade, telecommunications, water utilities and special situation investments. Inna began trading futures, commodities, and stocks in 2009. She is working with individuals and families as well as institutions and corporate clients. Inna also makes investments in commercial real estate in different countries. Her real estate portfolio includes office centers and hotels.

Inna has been active as a philanthropist since 2013, when she began providing funds to help women in Africa to attend Universities and start own business. In 2016 Inna joined Cherie Blair Foundation for women, where she is working to promote gender equity, the values of open society, human rights, transparency and empower women.

Inna is the author of a book “Basic Instinct of Woman-Trader”, published in Russian and English languages in 2016. Her articles and essays on markets, financial planning, politics, society, and economics regularly appear in newspapers and magazines, like The Business Woman Media, Financial Magnates and other.

Here is the link for online sale of the Russian version:  https://www.amazon.com/x41E-x441-x43D-x43E-Russian-ebook/dp/B01I1PCR3S#nav-subnav

The English version will be available in late September 2016. You can pre-order the book on her website:  http://ladyf-trader.com/my-book/

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Inna Rosputnia – A futures trader and wealth manager, working with individual and institutional clients; founder and CEO of Lady F Wealth Management. I graduated from two universities and has a Master degree in Economy and International Relations.

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Smart People + Smart Leadership = Happy Customers? by Lucy Freedman

Interpersonal Intelligence for Technical Organizations

By Lucy Freedman, developer of the SYNTAX of Influence, co-author of Smart Work (the second edition of Smart Work: The Syntax Guide to Influence, is available at HappyAbout.com or Amazon. ).

Originally published at http://svforumelsig.blogspot.jp/

When I first started my business, a mentor quizzed me about what it meant to have a business. Does coming up with a great idea make it a business? Clearly no. Does having a product make it a business? What about an office, employees, marketing? No, no, and no, he said. You have a business when you have a customer.  Aha.

lucyfreedman

In the world of technology, we can get so focused on the product or process that the relationship part of the business receives a minimal amount of mindshare. Sure, when we need to make a funding pitch, attract a key executive, or give a customer presentation, we put attention into those relationships. Even then, it’s typical of technologists to be mostly content-oriented and not so focused on tuning into the interests of their audience.  There’s room for growth.

While the ability to relate well with funders, talent, and customers is important for business success, the internal communication in a company is equally important. What customers and VC’s really want is for the product to work and meet their needs in a timely and cost-effective way.  For that to happen, managers and teams need to be able to get on the same page and come up with solutions and answers. Knowledge needs to be mobilized. Deadlines need to be met. Problems need to be solved. All this takes communication that is both focused and flexible.

The Challenge

The kinds of interpersonal intelligence that allow people and teams to collaborate well tend to be underdeveloped in engineering organizations for three main reasons.

  • Engineers are generally not drawn to learning “soft skills”
  • Engineering leadership is mostly made up of engineers
  • Most interpersonal skills training is oriented more toward personal growth than practical business interactions.

As a result, efficiency, accurate and relevant sharing of knowledge, and delivery to the customer are often hampered by turf battles, planning disconnects, and just plain miscommunication.

Is this just a depressing downer, condemning engineering organizations and their customers to clunky communication, relieved only by those special high-tech + high-touch individuals who can navigate well both technically and interpersonally? Although many are resigned to this state of affairs, there are lights flickering here and there.

Bright Lights and Good Books

In fact, at a past Silicon Valley Engineering Leadership Community meeting, Ron Lichty presented a “Crash Course” based on his new book with co-author Mickey W. Mantle, Managing the Unmanageable: Rules, Tools, and Insights for Managing Software People and Teams  (Addison-Wesley, www.ManagingTheUnmanageable.net ). They address important considerations for people who move up the technical ladder from writing code to managing people.

Another new and highly recommended book on this subject is Team Geek: A Software Developer’s Guide to Working Well with Others by Brian W. Fitzpatrick and Ben Collins-Sussman (O’Reilly Media, 2012). It’s very entertaining reading and addresses expanding circles of influence, from your own team to the organization to the user community.

A few years back,  Michael Lopp wrote the insightful and humorous book, Managing Humans: Biting and Humorous Tales of a Software Engineering Manager (Apress, 2007). Michael gives practical advice for many of the situations that recur in software development. He names some of the types of people you’ll run across – such as Mr. Irrelevant, Laptop Larry, Curveball Kurt, the Snake, and Free Electrons. Cleverly written, full of useful homilies.

What all of these books have in common is the practical experience of the authors, who have lived what they are writing about.  They share illustrative stories that those who follow in their footsteps will easily relate to.

De-coding How People Work

As an outsider who can’t code my way out of a paper bag, I have been taking a different approach for the past few decades of working as a consultant, coach, and facilitator for high tech companies.  Programmers understand the structure, or syntax, that is required for code to work. I have studied the structure, or syntax, that is required for human communication to work.

What I have discovered is that the smart people who know how to code have an easier time learning interpersonal skills when they have access to the proper syntax for communicating. Hundreds of engineers have experienced and applied the SYNTAX model to their workplaces. People who considered themselves non-people-oriented have shown that with several relatively small changes in their communication, they can achieve great improvements in their working relationships.

This is not about sentence structure or grammar. If you consider that people are pretty systematic in how we organize our perceptions and our behavior, it makes sense that you can detect each person’s syntax, and hence, get more predictable results with them. There’s also a structure, a syntax derived from studying outstanding performers, that makes communication work better. Our model, SYNTAX, represents that architecture so that people can easily learn it.

It’s explained in detail in the book Smart Work, which I co-authored with Lisa Marshall. If you are interested in getting a look at it, or even writing a review, please contact me at syntaxoffice@syntx.com and I will gladly share it with you.

Smart Leadership

When leaders in an organization start practicing SYNTAX principles, or some of the other excellent suggestions in the books listed above, they create a climate where it is much more natural for others to collaborate productively as well. It’s a matter of good design of human systems – whether writing effective, clean code for applications that will benefit people, or holding effective, clean meetings where work gets done and agreements are solid, it’s about designing intelligent human systems.

Whether through the stories and rules of the road derived from experience, or through applying a systematic, structured approach to interpersonal behavior, everyone benefits when a technical organization develops its conscious competence at communicating.

Engineering is about solving real-world problems and creating innovations that make a difference.  It takes smart people working well together to do this successfully. With smart people, smart leadership, and outstanding communication, you get happy customers. That, plus your satisfaction at meeting your own high standards, makes it worthwhile to master the softer skills.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lucy Freedman is Founder and CEO of Syntax for Change, working with change leaders in technology companies to spread collaborative leadership throughout their organizations and to their strategic partners. Lucy has trained and certified both internal and external facilitators who have implemented Syntax programs in companies such as Agilent, HP, Sun, Oracle, EDS, Tokyo Electron, Intel, National Semiconductor, and Cisco Systems. Visit SyntaxforChange.com for an explanatory video and to request a complimentary sample chapter of Smart Work: The Syntax Guide to Influence. Direct email is lucy@syntaxforchange.com.

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Good Job: How to Accept a Compliment by Mildred Lynn McDonald

AAEAAQAAScappy Women Mildred Lynn McDonald blog 2016-06-07

*This post was originally published in UCSC (University of California, Santa Cruz) Extension in Silicon Valley Project Management blog.

I’ve never had a problem accepting a compliment, so it came as a surprise to discover that many people find this basic interpersonal skill challenging and uncomfortable.

After a bit of reflection, I decided that cultural orientation aside, accepting compliments is second nature to me. Why? Because I don’t try to figure out the reason behind the compliment, other than the goodwill that is presented to me “in the moment”.

At first glance, this might seem naive, but I assure you that accepting these little bouquets of acknowledgment with a smile and a sincere “thank you” has served me well over the years with both friends and co-workers.

As author Maya Angelou once said: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.

I believe that this sage observation captures the essence of accepting a compliment exponentially because when a compliment is received with grace and generosity, both the giver and the receiver feel good. Really good. Hmm, perhaps this is because as human beings, we are simply “wired” that way. I’d like to think so.

Trouble Accepting a Compliment? Here’s a Tip

If you find yourself stammering, filling the air with pregnant pauses, or discarding many of the compliments that come your way, here is a tip: When receiving a compliment, try to clear your mind and focus on the other person rather than yourself. Think about it. If you focus on the other person, you are not making a judgement about your worthiness to receive a compliment, the accuracy of the compliment or anything else that might make this potentially enriching interpersonal exchange “less than” it is. Plus, and this is a big plus, you are now in a position to make another human being feel good.

We all know what it feels like to deliver a genuine compliment to a friend or co-worker only to have our words diminished by “Oh, it was nothing.” or “Anyone could do this.” or “It is OK, but I really wanted to do xyz.” It can make you feel so let down … just like a deflated helium balloon!

If you have trouble accepting a compliment and are asking yourself “how to” accept a compliment in a positive way, check out these scenarios by K.T. Bernhagen:

  • For a job well done: “Thank you. I was hoping this was what you were looking for, and I really like it too.”
  • For a speech, performance, article, or work of art: “Thank you. I really enjoy (writing, performing, speaking, whatever), and I’m glad you liked it!”
  • For your help: “Thank you. I’m so glad that I could help.”
  • If you caught a mistake that was missed by others: “Thanks for noticing. I’m glad I caught it, too.”
  • In any other situation: “Thank you. I appreciate it!” Enough said.

Here are a couple of other scenarios for your toolbox by author Jack Griffen:

  • If someone says “You deserve it”, consider replying with: “I’ve had a good example set for me. You have given me a lot of support. It’s meant a lot.”
  • If someone says “I don’t give praise lightly”, consider replying with: “I know you don’t. That’s why I am thrilled with your remarks. They mean a great deal to me.”

Like most things in life, all you will need to master the art of accepting a compliment with grace, generosity and goodwill is a little time, attention and practice.

I’d like to end on a comical note, so here’s a quote about compliments by the incorrigible Mark Twain: “I have been complimented many times and they always embarrass me; I always feel they have not said enough.” Ha!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Mildred Lynn McDonald – Catalyst & Life Coach | Internet Radio/Podcast Host & Producer

Mildred Lynn’s life adventure whisked her across North America, through the industries of Health & Fitness, the executive halls of Fortune 50 high tech companies, and into the intriguing arena of Life Purpose, Energy Medicine and Environmental studies. She has an advanced degree in Science & Nutrition, training in Adult Education, graduated as a Certified Integrative Coach, and currently combines all three as a Healing Conversationalist.

The common thread has been a love of people and the sincere desire to help everyone live their passion, find balance, and experience life fully and completely. With a little time and patience, she transformed her passion, intuitive gifts, and coaching skills into a vibrant mentoring and life coaching practice. Today, it is her great pleasure to produce/host four popular Internet Radio shows/podcasts devoted to all things mind-body-spirit on BlogTalkRadio, iTunes, SoundCloud, Stitcher and Podbean. Website: http://healingconversationswithmildredlynn.com

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The Forecast Called for Sprinkles (How I Came through My Personal Tsunami) by Pam Turkin

Quote: Don’t carry your mistakes around with you instead place them under your feet  and use them as stepping stones to RISE above them.
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My name is Pam Turkin.  I am a mom, a wife, a daughter, a baker and admittedly, a serial entrepreneur.  For as long as I can remember I was always doing something.  There were studded gloves and children’s phone books and Forrest Gump T-shirts to name a few.  Most of these early businesses kept me busy enough to stay at home with my kids. That was always my goal.  I never was trying to create anything more than a bit of extra income for my family.

When my kids were very young, my first marriage fell apart and I found myself the sole supporter of my family.  I did what I had to do and went to work.  Though it was hard for a single mom, I relished the opportunity to be involved in a growing company where there was opportunity everywhere.  I joined the marketing team and learned quickly that I had found a place for my creativity to shine. I learned all that one could learn about the marketing of a successful brand and I also found the love of my life, Todd, while at that company.

Through my career I worked with many brands: Ralph Lauren, Caterpillar, M&M MARS and Nike, to name a few.  I was always intrigued by the power of a name and what it could mean to individuals.  I traveled extensively, working with many big box retailers and listened to their challenges.  During this time I also began to notice the “cupcake craze” starting on each coast of our country.  I would travel home to Detroit on the weekends and tell the tale of the endless lines at places like “Sprinkles” and “Magnolia Bakery”.

HOW COULD SUCH A LITTLE GEM MAKE SUCH A BIG SPLASH IN THE FOOD WORLD?
My curiosity morphed into action, and I decided that Detroit needed a “gem of their own.” Just Baked was born.  I spent a year crafting recipes and testing them on my five teenage children and their army of friends, and when this hobby became a business I knew I was on to something special.

The next 7 years were a whirlwind of great adventure as we grew from one small cupcake shop to nearly 20.  There were investors and partners that advised us to take the business in directions I never dreamed it would go. It grew quickly and with great momentum and enthusiasm, as we cemented our place in the bakery world.

Looking back, I can now see that the company was growing at warp speed and somewhere along the way, I lost myself. I lost my direction and let the business wander from the core goals that it had been started with.  And true to many businesses that lose their way, it all came crashing down in an instant.

LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT JANUARY 5, 2015.
It started like the many days leading up to our demise: with fear and apprehension. I had taken a few days to go visit my mother out of town and hopefully clear my head to allow the next course of action to become clear to me.  But on this morning it would be different. My oldest son called, with tears in his voice and told me of my partners’ decision: “they closed the business mom,” he said, “it’s over.”  Though I heard the words I could not process what I had heard. How could that be? My partners had pulled their funding during a major expansion, without warning or explanation. I was devastated. Without warning or financial backing, we were now on our own trying to figure out how to save the jobs of dozens of people who depended on Just Baked to feed their families.

I was crushed.

I spent a good deal of 2015, as I like to say, “Laying on my bathroom floor”.  I went over what had happened like a bad horror movie on loop, always ending up in a wounded place I couldn’t seem to shake.  There were calls from interested employers, new business opportunities but I was not able to see past the wounds that were still there.  I listened, but knew I wasn’t able to accept any of the kind words that people tried to motivate me with.

I do remember one phone interview in which the owner of a very large local business on the other phone said these words.  “Pam, you are not done yet.  This last business prepared you for the next BIG adventure.  You still have greatness in you.  I am not going to hire you, go figure out what’s next.”  At the time I thought he was crazy.  I would NEVER do this again!  But looking back on that call, I heard those words often over the year as a kind and gentle reminder that I would be OK again.

And then the impossible happened. I was on a call with one of my oldest and dearest friends who was “stuck” in her life. As I had done often before, I began to brainstorm with her about all the opportunities she had at her disposal to go out and create a business for herself. And just like that, I began to dream again.  Not about her new business, but about one I had been contemplating.  I had been thinking about a new idea but had given up on myself to properly execute it. However, in this moment it all came pouring out of me like a bathtub that had hit the top and couldn’t help but spill out on the floor.  I did my research and realized my idea was solid.  I left my comfort zone and shared my idea with a few trusted mentors, who encouraged me to get up and move on.

SO HERE IS THE PART WHERE WE ALL CAN STAND AND CHEER.
I would like to introduce Rise Baking.

Rise Baking Pam TRise Baking is a monthly baking subscription service that ships premium ingredients with original recipes directly to your door. The process is simple. Each month you will choose recipes that suit your taste. Then, your shipment will arrive fully stocked with pre-measured and color coded ingredients making the baking process simple.

Rise Baking is a new business that I collaborated on.  I have taken all of my baking skills, knowledge and love of real food, and created a program that will allow any home baker to rival a professional one.   I am very proud of Rise Baking for many reasons, but mostly because it shows that anyone can pick themselves up, dust themselves off and start over again.  I had many kind local entrepreneurs who encouraged and helped me develop Rise Baking as well as encouraged me to believe in myself and get back up again. I plan to do that BOLDLY.

Everyone makes mistakes, and though I’ve made many, I have learned a lot.  I hope my story continues to motivate all the entrepreneurs, dreamers and doers out there to remain positive and to create your story the way it CAN and SHOULD be.

Anyone can “RISE” again even after the most difficult of circumstance and I plan to do just that!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Pam Turkin, Chief Baking Officer of Rise Baking (http://www.risebaking.com).  I am a 54 year old women who has built a successful cupcake retail brand to 20 locations.  In 2015, I lost my business overnight when my partners pulled their funding during a major expansion.  It took me many months to pick myself up but I did!

I created Rise Baking.  Rise Baking is a monthly baking subscription service that ships premium ingredients with original recipes directly to your door. The process is simple. Each month you will choose recipes that suit your taste. Then, your shipment will arrive fully stocked with pre-measured and color coded ingredients making the baking process simple!

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How to Align Your Organization’s Strategies, Products, and Services to Address Climate Change by Marianna Grossman

Marianna-G20132016 promises to be a breakthrough year for global action to address the challenge of climate change. In December 2015, representatives of many of the world’s countries gathered in Paris and agreed to significant action for both developed and developing countries. Now the challenge is to make the changes to our energy systems and how we design, make and distribute products and services. This is the year to push for dramatic advances in the way we manage and use water and how effectively we protect natural resources and ecosystems, including forests and oceans.

We applaud the leadership of California’s Governor Jerry Brown in establishing the Under2MOU for states, provinces, counties, cities and others to dramatically reduce green house gas emissions (GHG) and to catalyze action for energy efficiency and clean energy sources.

Pope Francis authored an important call to action in his encyclical, Laudato Si. This inspiring document was issued on June 18, 2015 and urges all humankind to undergo an ecological conversion, to care for our common home. There is no business case for destroying the planet. And moral values require that we protect the precious Creation on which all life depends.

The UN Sustainable Development Goals issued in Sept. 2015 lay out a vision for a world that works for all people: to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all as part of a new sustainable development agenda. Each goal has specific targets to be achieved over the next 15 years.

The Climate Mobilization is new group working to raise the bar for climate action, recognizing that we are facing a global emergency and must act accordingly to transform our entire economy to be regenerative and to end use of fossil fuels, to protect forests and to ensure a habitable planet for all.

As the United States elects a new President in 2016, Minerva Ventures is working to bring climate action to the forefront of the discussion of our shared goals and priorities. Every business leader should be pushing Congress and our political candidates to put forth bold policies and plans for a rapid transition to a clean energy economy and a sustainable future.

Let us know how we can help you address the risk of climate disruption and how you can take more leadership to create a more prosperous and resilient future for all. Join us on 2/24/2016 for an event to discuss the Resilient Path.

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/resilient-path-meetup-tickets-21282511565

Contact: LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mariannagrossman

Twitter: @MGrossmanSV

Website: www.minervaventures.com

Email: mgrossman@minervaventures.com

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Marianna Grossman works with companies, cities and other agencies to align strategies, products and services to address climate change at the scale. For nearly 7 years, she led Sustainable Silicon Valley, a multi-sector network applying ingenuity to create a sustainable region and world. Formerly, she was Partner for Innovation and Sustainability at Minerva Consulting and had corporate roles in the automotive, computer and semiconductor industries. Board Service: Transportation Choices for Sustainable Communities, Sustainability Committee of the SF Bay Area Super Bowl 50, ILFI California Congress, Climate Music Project and climate advisory council for City of Palo Alto. Education: MBA, Yale University. BA, cum laude, with distinction in Policy Studies, Dartmouth College.

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Finding a Cause and Cure for Diabetic Blindness by Shaili Davuluru

1443537353eye (1)I am currently a senior at a public South Bay Area high school. After developing a passion for human biology through my high school studies, I am planning to pursue the pre-med path in college in hopes of becoming a physician one day.

I enjoy sharing my findings here from the medical research project that I worked on last summer.

Diabetic retinopathy (DR) is the leading cause of blindness in the working age population. It is an eye disease that develops when a diabetic patient’s hyperglycemia has been left untreated or has been present for a long period of time.

Unfortunately, there is no cure for this disease at the moment. Physically, someone might experience blurred vision, dark splotches, or floaters in their view. On a microscopic level, it has been concluded that acellular capillaries and pericyte ghosts are histological hallmarks of early stage DR. Therefore, diabetic patients who exhibit these symptoms may be at a risk of having DR. Acellular capillaries, pericyte ghosts, and leakage of blood ultimately contribute to blindness or loss of vision.

Altered gene expression can have a profound effect on the survival of retinal endothelial cells and pericytes, which are the structural support cells of the retinal vasculature. In order to study the effects of altered gene expression in the retinal capillaries, one needs to isolate the retinal capillaries first.

In this lab, I learned how to isolate the retinal capillary network of mouse eyes, stain them, take images, and look for variability in the retinal capillary network. In particular, I looked for acellular capillaries and pericyte loss which are associated with the development and progression of DR.

To begin with some foundational information, the retina is a light sensitive tissue in the posterior portion of the eye that transmits light to the brain through a series of neurons. The retina, which is responsible for the central vision, contains the macula and fovea, which contribute to visual acuity (as show in the figure).

The retina consists of 10 different layers, 3 of which contain nerve layers and 2 of which are synapse layers. In the retinal vasculature there are structural cells called pericytes, which are embedded on the outside of the capillaries, and there are endothelial cells, which line the inner lumen of the capillaries.

DR is a disease that causes damage to the blood vessels in the retina and changes the morphology of these capillaries. In a diabetic condition, the structural pericytes begin to undergo apoptosis, and when they die, the capillary loses its structure. This forms acellular capillaries, which are thin, collapsed tubules that are prevalent in patients with DR.

In order to actually analyze for the presence of collapsed tubules in the mice, the vasculature is isolated through a 2-day process called Retinal Trypsin Digest, RTD, followed by a staining procedure to make the capillaries visible.

In the RTD process, the retina is put through numerous washes with a 3% Trypsin solution. The retinal vasculature is finally mounted onto a slide and stained with Periodic Acid- Schiff’s Reagent (PAS) and Hematoxylin before being imaged. The resulting images of the stained slides have a varying number of acellular capillaries in the retina.

There are some mouse retinas that have 6-10 thin acellular capillaries while others only have 1-3 acellular capillaries.

From these results, I have been able to show that diabetic retinas have more acellular capillaries (approximately 6-10 per region). Wildtype, non-diabetic, mice tend to have 0-2 acellular capillaries, because the mouse does not have diabetes and does not have the risk of getting diabetic retinopathy.

Essentially, in diabetic, high glucose animals, acellular capillaries as well as pericyte ghosts develop from compromised capillary structure and barriers.

I look forward to my exciting college years to prepare me for my future medical career.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Shaili Davuluru:
Shaili is currently a senior at a public South Bay Area high school. After developing a sincere passion for human biology through her high school experiences, she is planning to pursue the pre-med path in college in hopes of becoming a physician one day.

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Lawyer Up or How I Launched a New Career at Age 50 — and you can too! by Kate Allure

Kate Allure b&w (3) No, I didn’t become a lawyer at the ripe old age of fifty, but I did start a new career as an erotic romance author. In the two years since, I’ve published two books with a respected publisher, Sourcebooks, and established a brand as the author of “Sizzling Romance for Smart and Sexy Women.” In August my second book, Lawyer Up, launched. In writing it, I guess you could say I got to play with lawyers, in my mind anyway.

I never in a million years foresaw that I’d become a professional authoress of steamy stories. It’s been both a joy and a challenge. I’ll admit my achievement didn’t spring out of nothing—I had a non-fiction writing background—but still it took guts and a bit of luck…and that secret ingredient—foot surgery—to get where I am today (more on that later).

But first, here’s how it happened: Years ago I stopped working as a professional fundraiser to care for my two young, special-needs boys. Then, much later, when their care was well in hand I prepared to go back into grant writing with a new, more personal, focus on autism. But then, foot surgery laid me up for several weeks and I found myself writing salacious stories with the mood-enhancing aid of pain meds to help me dream up sexy situations…around doctors, of course. Eventually, the result became my debut book, a trio of stories published as Playing Doctor.

However, jumping back to where I had story nuggets, a fiftieth birthday looming ever closer, and a desire to try something new, I found that writing fiction was fun and freeing and so different from what I’d been doing, but it also required a giant leap of faith to pursue it professionally.

You only live once!
Live life to the fullest.
Everyday is a new beginning. bla bla bla.

All clichés but still true. Ask yourself, do you want to get to the end of your days and wish…wish things were different, wish you’d given it a try, wish you didn’t regret might-have-beens? Not everyone is in a place where they can launch a new career mid-life (and in today’s longer living, I’ve decided that fifty is going to be my mid-life), but for those of you that don’t have any real excuses, time’s a wastin…

If you’ve a dream job or goal that seems out of reach, I urge you to start taking steps toward making it a reality. I can’t promise you’ll succeed, but if you don’t at least try then it definitely won’t happen. And you just might find, as I have, that the effort is as much fun as the achievement. As we say in our house, “No duff sitting!” So, if you have a dream—little or big—here are some basic ideas to get you going:

Start Today
• make a plan and list every step needed to achieve your goal
• inventory your skills and weaknesses; be realistic
• don’t forget to solicit support from friends and family (you’ll need it during setbacks and periods of self-doubt)
• strategize for laying the ground work, whether filling in education/experience gaps or networking in a new field

While the happy-pills and free time recuperating were the catalyst that got me started writing fiction, afterwards I had to take concrete steps to turn my new hobby into a career. For an author this includes attending writing conferences to meet industry professionals, pitching to agents and editors, accepting and incorporating editing feedback, and more.

In my fundraising past, I’d sold other people’s art and now I was selling “me!” Scary stuff. Being told to “take a breath” in my first ever pitch appointment and then to “stop talking” when I didn’t seem to hear that she’d ask for my full manuscript felt awful, but I picked myself up and went back to pitching to anyone who would listen. So, I guess I’m not saying it’s going to be easy and you must want it badly, but still I think I would have regretted more always wondering what might have been. Ultimately, I went home with eight prospects, and surprisingly received an offer from the first lady who I’d pitched. Serendipity. You never know what’s going to happen.

So, for whatever your dream, do the research to find out how to enter the field as well as take inventory of your skills. If something’s lacking you’ll need to make plans to get the education or experience required, but that can be the first step in your plan.

Put the Steps In Your Calendar
• schedule yourself to implement at least one step every week
• expect that you may have to readjust your schedule at times

A plan’s worthless if you don’t do it, so make sure you do something, no matter how small, every week. For a writer this is making sure that you write something every single day. For you, it might be something different, but just make sure you keep moving forward.

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back
• there will be disappointments, so be ready
• keep striving, but be flexible—success might take a different form than you expected
• celebrate yourself for the effort and for the wins
• Don’t Give Up!

Setbacks may require you to alter your plan but other times you may leap ahead unexpectedly. I have a non-fiction project that hasn’t sold, but I’m exploring self-publishing. It’s a setback but I’m not giving up on something I believe in.

And celebrate your successes. I had a glass of champagne when I got my first offer and then when the book published I threw myself a launch party. When you work so hard to achieve something, you need to take a moment to enjoy the success. Chances are you’ll be back struggling again fairly soon. For me this took the form of rewrites on the second book. I changed editors and in the end rewrote my second book, Lawyer Up, four times. It was a frustrating, emotional period, but I’m thrilled with the end result—a vastly superior book. RT Book Reviews, the gold standard of romance reviews, thinks so to, upping my second book to four stars (the first received a respectable three). Recognize that struggle and setbacks can move you forward too as long as you don’t give up.

Start Today!
Yes, I’ve already said that, but it’s the most important thing you can do to realize your dream. Get started on it today. And don’t forget that there’s an element of luck in everything. If you don’t succeed at first, cut yourself some slack and just keep going.

WARNING — this paragraph is X-rated. As an erotic author I sometimes get asked how I do my research? (wink wink) Obviously, research is important in any field, and today the Internet makes it super easy to learn anything…I mean, seriously, anything! But nothing is as useful as “hands-on” research, and in my field that can be quite…pleasurable. I’ve discovered a whole new world hiding right in plain sight. It’s name is Fetlife and that’s all I’m gonna say, but you can Google it. Oh, and while you’re at it, search on “bunny flogger.” It’s heavenly!!! (believe me, it’s worth three exclamations). Besides researching, I’ve enjoyed writing steamy sex scenes that fit the different professions—doctors, lawyers, and coming up, strong men who work with their hands (yum). In Lawyer Up, I had a great fun writing a sizzling scenario set in a New Orleans courthouse late at night—the stories title, “Of Writs and Writhing,” kinda sums it up nicely.

So this leads to my final piece of advice—if you’re not having fun, you’ve got to rethink your goals. Life really is too short to waste time pursuing dreams that don’t fill you with joy, maybe not all the time but at least some of the time. I’m having a ball with my new career and that’s just as important as any money I make.

You may have noticed that I didn’t really address starting a new career at fifty. That’s because age shouldn’t be a factor at all, unless the looming birthday spurs you to action. Whether your twenty or sixty, if you want something you should go for it. Be realistic about your abilities, but don’t let a mere number stop you.

I’m truly grateful for the encouragement of my friends and family and for the good fortune that has helped me launch a new career at age fifty. AND, you can do it too—at whatever age you are.

Good luck and enjoy!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kate Allure writes erotic romance fiction and is the author of the Meeting Men series for Sourcebooks about real women meeting handsome professional men as they go about their everyday lives—and the fun they have behind closed doors! Her non-fiction writing included working for American Ballet Theatre and New York City Ballet and penning a weekly arts column. Beyond writing, Kate’s passions include traveling and exploring all things sensual with her loving husband.
Kate’s website: http://www.KateAllure.com
Kate’s fanpage: https://www.facebook.com/KateAllure.Sizzling.Romance
Twitter: https://twitter.com/KateAllure
Watch Kate’s new Playing Doctor book trailer: https://www.facebook.com/KateAllure.Sizzling.Romance/videos/vb.603530653080063/664317833668011/?type=2&theater or https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PHXNhKO8wpg

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Sharing Is Caring: How Coworking Is Changing How We Work by Chrissy Gomez

Originally Published on http://www.mbacentral.org/coworking/

As traditional office settings become less and less common, shared office spaces — also known as coworking — are becoming more popular. Startups in particular are turning to coworking arrangements to save on some of the initial cost of doing business.

What Is Coworking?

What is it? A style of work that involves a common working environment, typically an office, but where activity is independent. Unlike a traditional office, those in a coworking environment aren’t usually employed by the same company.
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Silicon Wellness was created to reduce the high stress and re-balance the energy by Linda Benn

Linda BennWhat is the scrappiest most outrageous courageous thing you have done?

Have you ever had a spontaneous thought to move to the other side of the world? Give away your business or job and every possession to start your business all over again in another country?

This is what I did 5 years ago in 2010. I felt guided to move to the Bay area where I left my heart many years ago when I was traveling the world. I always loved San Francisco and it felt like home. I love the energy of the city as it is so alive and dynamic.

I grew up in a small town on the east coast of Australia where you access the Great Barrier Reef. My family owns charter boats. As a child growing up we would go out to the different islands, reefs and beaches and explore the marine life. I remember as a little girl when we anchored at Lady Musgrave Island. I asked one of Dad’s friends “is there any sharks here” & he replied “no the crocodile ate them all”! Then all us kids would jump over board and go swimming.

Even though I grew up in one of the most beautiful areas in the world, I was always excited to travel and explore the rest of the world. I was born with a different spirit to my family, their belief system is different to mine and I never felt accepted. I was always searching where do I belong in the world?

My family has taught me emotional resilience and how to survive alone.

I made my decision to move here when I was living at the beach another beautiful area in Australia on the east coast where the whales raise their young. I heard the song when you go to San Francisco where a flower in your hair and I started crying, actually sobbing! San Francisco was calling me to come home. I then proceeded to pack up and let go of everything in order to leave the country. I organized a temporary home for my little dog- “Penny” who was a short haired dachshund.

When I arrived on a 90 day tourist visa, I was on a mission to find out how can I stay permanently and get a work visa. Tenaciously I overcame every obstacle and challenge to get my visa. I did all the research and paperwork myself without an attorney. I went back to Australia to have the interview with the US consulate and was approved straight away and left Australia 2 weeks later with my little dog Penny.

In the last 4 ½ years, it has been a whirlwind of events including moving 12 times looking for where am I meant to be to shine my light? Yes you read correctly twelve times I moved and dragged Penny everywhere with me!!

I now live in Redwood City to focus on corporate companies in Silicon Valley and worked at Rocket Fuel for 4 ½ years as their wellness consultant. I saw a need that this area needs healing with so much stress, worry, overwhelm and fear. I knew this is where I am meant to be, to share my gifts to re-balance and calm people down! Penny my little dog would come to the office with me. She worked with all my clients in Australia and did her healing work. In the office she would just look at people and you can see the stress melt away from their face. She helped people to connect with their hearts and come back to their true self and be their authentic selves. Unfortunately she passed in November 2014 at the age of 15 ½ years old.

Silicon Wellness website was created in 2015 to provide holistic wellness services to corporations introducing the model, the ‘rapid growth management model’ with 3 levels of Physical, Energetic and Organizational wellness. My model is designed to provide opportunities for other holistic gifted practitioners who are looking for more work and wanting to learn new skills through my training program called the BENN technique incorporating my 5 R’s. More about my work in the next blog story.

I feel blessed to have followed my guidance, follow my heart, have faith and trust, this is what has kept me going. My intention is to now inspire and teach others how to move, change and follow their hearts to create their dreams and embrace the Aussie philosophy of No Worries Mate!

I didn’t give up on my dream and feel so grateful for being here. I love the work I do and the positive impact it has on others.

What have you always dreamed of doing? Make it happen now.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Linda Benn and her team provide sessions in the Silicon Valley bay area from San Francisco to San Jose. They can come to you and meet you when you arrive in the country.
For an appointment email linda@siliconwellness.com or call 415-290 3793. www.siliconwellness.com

 

 

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