The Price of Leaning In by Natascha Thomson

Natascha and 2 friends 2013_9_12A Review of Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead.

“I am surprised how often we don’t ask the most basic questions – what do we want, what do we have to do to get it, and can we pay the price – in marriages, families and the workplace.” ~ Marc Lesser in Know Yourself, Forget Yourself

Personally, I find it extremely encouraging that the discussion about emancipation has restarted and is getting significant publicity. Partially, this is thanks to accomplished women like Sheryl Sandberg who have thrown their heads into the ring with books like Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead.

Interestingly, when I ask female friends if they have read Lean In, many of them respond that they don’t think they “need it”. They feel that they have things under control, are already strong, and can make it on their own. If this is true, why are less than 20% of women in leadership positions in Silicon Valley?

While I would consider myself a strong woman, I took away many good insights from the book, including tips on how to negotiate my salary, how to avoid blind spots as a manager, and why it is so important to lean in as a woman.  But I also enjoyed the tales about the early days at Google and the present day at Facebook.

While the book is, no doubt, also a PR vehicle for Ms. Sandberg, she appears to open up for the sake of giving other women courage. She confesses that she still sometimes feels like an impostor at work, worried that she might fail. Many women can relate to this feeling and might be surprised to hear that somebody at the top is not immune to it. The message here is: push through your fear. Or as they say “if it’s not scary it’s not brave”.

How has the discussion changed?

In the past, discussions about women’s equality often focused on what women did NOT have and how men were holding them back. This made the only obvious solution that men had to change.

In this new wave of women’s lib, the discussion has a stronger focus on what women CAN do to overcome the current inequality; what steps women CAN take to get what they want and deserve, despite existing obstacles.

Societal expectations

Lean In, the much-discussed book by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, is a brave and educated contribution to the gender equality discussion.  Ms. Sandberg has been most faulted by critics for focusing on well-educated women with high ambitions as opposed to women from all walks of life.  As her book fits into the genre of management and career advice, it’s not clear to me why she would be expected to write a book about society at large.

Yet, Ms. Sandberg, herself, preempts this criticism, in the chapter where she talks about the fact that women are expected to act “communal”, i.e. in the interest of all women and society, while the same expectation doesn’t generally exist for men.

She provides an intriguing example of a societal double standard for women from her time as a student at Harvard. When reviewing an HBR case study, half the class was made to believe the key player in the study was male, while half the class was told the protagonist was female.

The result was telling:  when the protagonist of the study was assumed to be male, he was commanded for his behavior. When the students assumed it was a woman, they disliked her and disapproved of many of her actions.

The career penalty

Ms. Sandberg makes the bold statement that the most important career choice for a woman is picking the right husband (or partner). Will the partner share housework, childcare, elderly care, and all other chores of daily life?  Having a job and children is a balancing act at the best of times, but staying at home, Ms. Sandberg says, carries a high career penalty. It can be difficult to get back into the game, and limit a woman’s ability to climb the corporate ladder.

Consequently, Ms. Sandberg advises women who are planning a family NOT to scale back too soon and NOT to tame their ambitions. Her rational is, that if women don’t pursue promotions or better job opportunities while they are getting ready for a life with children, the career penalty will be compounded.

Not only do many women get punished for taking a child break, says Ms. Sandberg, many already compromise their professional future even before they have to take time out, by cutting back prematurely. She recommends going as far as you can before the break.

Different comfort levels

I have discussed this advice with two career women who are planning to have children soon and only one of them agreed. The other, while she did not like her current job and saw no path for advancement, felt that she had “earned her stripes” at the company. Consequently, she would be able to juggle work and being a mom much more easily than if she had to prove herself all over again in a new environment.

Can we pay the price?

In conclusion, I enjoyed the book tremendously and recommend it highly. Yet, something about it does not sit well with me.

While Ms. Sandberg writes extensively about how she and her husband have created a supportive relationship where they share all responsibilities of daily life – and she freely admits that her resources afford her luxuries like housekeeping and child care that others might not have – something is missing.

Is this the message of the book?

To be a successful woman in corporate America, you have to give up time with your husband and time to take care of yourself?

Living in Silicon Valley, I see the rat race every day. Many people are asked to prioritize work over their private lives, while research clearly shows that human beings need breaks and diversions to achieve their full potential and creativity.

Ms. Sandberg is very clear in her book that she is not judging individual choices and  believes that every woman needs to decide for herself if she wants to be a stay-at-home mom or a career woman.

I want to be a high-achieving career woman who has a stimulating job that makes an impact and also have enough time to stay healthy and socialize. Some people tell me this is a pipe dream. I don’t want to believe it.

What price are you willing to pay?

ABOUT the AUTHORNatascha Thomson is the Owner & Founder of MarketingXLerator – a B2B Social Media Marketing Consultancy – with a focus on using social media to connect people for business impact. She is also a co-author of the book 42 Rules for B2B Social Media Marketing.

Branding U by Mari-Lyn Harris

ml_fresh2 copy

One of the things I still come back to is know it’s a client magnet. A few years ago my partner and I were getting ready to launch a series of workshops and then do a Blog Challenge. The idea was to empower more people to use blogging as a way to brand yourself, and your business that you want to be known for.

My partner at the time after a year began to attract attention to himself, he wrote about something very specific, something he loved to write about, soon news magazines asked him if he would write for them. His audience got up to 22,000 visitors per month. This was his tipping point for success for him. (everyone is different) over time it increased to 200,000 visitors.

I’ve been blogging since 2004, my first blog was about Love and Kindness..with 5,000 monthly visitors a month and growing steadily. This helped me to develop Heart@Work as a company, producing conferences about Kindness, workplace wellness and getting media attention. A local paper picked up, what I was doing and wrote a whole page in their paper about Heart@Work. I got this for free, I would’t of been able to pay for this..this paper went out to thousands of businesses. Other people started to contact me for projects. All from a passion I had about “Kindness.” and blogging about it.

What I know for sure is that Blogging really works. It’s an inexpensive way for you to Brand U. Now, it will be easier to develop readers or an audience, than what it was for me from 2004 – 2008. Back then, there weren’t that many people online. There were enough people to say, YES! I want more kindness in my workplace. YES! How can it be made better?

There are many things you can do to Brand U, get yourself known, from social networking, face to face meetings, workshops etc are all very important things to do. One really, really great thing you can do right now, is to get started and Blog. Building your social capital and network is about building up people, reciprocating, collaborating, exchanging ideas with each other. Check in once in while with people in how you can help them. What you do, what you stand for and what you say will create your Brand.

If you have read Christine Comaford-Lynch’s book “Rules for Renegades” she talks about how sometimes you just need to find another way around to get things done. One of her chapters is “Build Power Rather than Borrowing it.” It’s time to build your own Power..this is what Scrappy Women do, we help each other, break the rules. We become a Renegade. I really enjoyed reading her book.


Mari-Lyn Harris is a Business Coach, She’s been coaching new startups since 1996. She’s been called “The Catalyst.” Loves to work with Women Entrepreneur Bloggers. Let’s expand your social networks, learn how to Brand U through a Blog Boutique. Heart@Work T: 510-564-7880

Pursing Your Passion No Matter the Risk by Emily Gimmel

Emily w_ Bags

It takes a lot to drop what you’re doing in life and make a complete u-turn, but for me, that was a reality.  I had worked in television and radio since I was 15 as an on-air personality. Through years of hard work, I had made a comfortable living for myself and could have been content, but one day in the Atlanta airport in 2008 completely changed my plans.

After a red-eye flight from Las Vegas, I found myself waiting for my connecting flight. As I sat, still half asleep, a brilliant snakeskin laptop bag caught my eye. Filled with excitement, I dashed over to the store, but when I looked at the price tag, I couldn’t bring myself to spend nearly half of my paycheck on a computer bag. Disappointed, I left without buying the bag.

I continued to pass the bag weekly as I traveled for my job and eventually broke down and bought it. Soon after, I realized the bag was far more fashionable than functional. It was at that point I realized I wanted to create a better, more affordable product for women everywhere. To me, luxury isn’t a price point, but a lifestyle. If you can rock the clothes your wearing and feel confident, then that is true luxury. Through my bags, I wanted to make woman feel more confident about carrying a laptop bag. In the past they were, for the most part, just not attractive to carry.

I came up with the concept of a “laptop purse” and began researching and creating a business plan while still traveling for television. I always had a knack for fashion and found it more exciting than broadcasting, so I went for it. After more than three years of planning and designing the bags myself, I launched GRACESHIP in March of 2012.

How does a woman with no prior business or fashion design experience start her own company you ask? That’s exactly how, I asked, but also did a boat load of research. One of the biggest factors that helped me start my business was simply asking people questions that had started their own businesses. Use the connections you already have to get ideas on things like finances and marketing. Coming up with an idea for a business is easy, getting it to market and making it happen is a whole different story. By gaining some business advice I was able to think like an entrepreneur and make the decisions that would launch my business in the right direction.

When it came to designing the bags, I jumped right in. I got a CAD design program and just started messing around really. I gained inspiration from other fashion designers and thought about the kind of bag I would want to carry to look good, but make my life easy. It took a while for me to learn the software, but I was determined to make my concept a reality. You can’t be scared of new things, get outside of your comfort zone and learn new skills. You may succeed or fail, but you’ll never know until you give it a shot.

After design was complete and I had my finances in check, I asked for help again. I needed to find a manufacture to produce my products. You never really think about all of the little things it takes to run a business until it comes time to actually making the tangible product. After countless phone conversations, excel spreadsheets and company interviews I found the best manufacturer for GRACESHIP.

Through all of the hurdles I faced when starting my business I have a few words of wisdom to sum it up. Take action; you can sit around all day and wonder what if, but be a go-getter and make your plans a reality. Finish what you start; when running a business you can be balancing a number of tasks, but need to remember to complete what you’ve started. Realize there is no golden solution; different problems will arise and there is never just an easy fix for all of them. Instead of trying to solve every problem at once, focus on the most crucial and then work your way through.

Finally, use the talents you have, take risks and have fun. That’s really what life is about. Robert S. Thompson said it best: “Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!”

Get out there ladies; follow your dreams and have a blast doing it!


Emily Gimmel, is a Kentucky girl born and raised and loves the city of Louisville. She likes to consider herself a Fashionista and wears clothes that express her playful personality.  You can find her via these links:


Changing the World One Woman at a Time by Patricia Rain

Patricia 1 DSC_12251African Women’s Leadership Summits: Kenya and Uganda 2013

On July 29th, 2013, I leave for East Africa for five weeks. I will attend two African Women’s Leadership Summits, then visit the farms and projects of some of these women leaders. Also, I will finally meet, in person, hundreds of generous, caring farmers who prayed for my survival during my battle with terminal breast cancer!

Our Goal: To Establish a Women’s Leadership Cooperative Throughout East Africa.
Women’s Leadership Summits

In 2005, I was one of twenty women in the inaugural Women Leaders for the World (WLW) training program at Santa Clara University. This program, conceived by the Global Women’s Leadership Network, was designed to further empower women leaders in their work, locally, nationally and internationally.

The training helped me to expand my work as the voice for tropical vanilla growers worldwide, many of whom I met while doing research on vanilla in Mexico, and many of whom I have met through my business. Over the years, I have come to be known worldwide as “The Vanilla Queen” for my work representing and working with the farmers.
I have helped three women leaders attend the WLW training. However, Mariam Mukalazi of Uganda, whom I met through my business and who work with women farmers in East Africa, were unable to secure a visa. In January I decided I needed to go to Africa this summer to meet Mariam, other African farmers I know via the Internet and also the WLW graduates living in Africa, whom I have never met.

Initially, I thought that we might have a one-day gathering of women leaders in Kampala, Uganda. The project quickly grew into two two-day African Women’s Leadership Summits – one in Uganda, the other in Kenya.

Our ultimate goal is to establish a loosely-knit cooperative of women leaders throughout East Africa. To this end, our proposed summits will add value in the following ways:
* Women who have gone through the WLW training will have the opportunity to meet women from other classes, get to know one another and determine how they can potentially share their training with other women leaders.

* We will continue a conversation about how we in the industrialized world can support these leaders as the Millennial Goals become due in 2015. How can we train women leaders unable to come to the US? How can we create a network of support – a leadership cooperative for women in East Africa – and connect with other leadership groups globally? The conversation has started via e-mail and Skype. We will meet in the two countries in August to expand this vision.

* The owner of the largest certified organic vanilla farm in continental Africa has committed to teach interested women farmers the technology for the labor-intensive curing and drying of vanilla beans. As we are again facing a shortage of vanilla worldwide, this could be an extremely helpful revenue stream for the women and their families.

* Should our project be fully funded, we also plan to document the summits, farms and projects on video and in writing..

The Magic Has Started
The WLW leaders in Kenya and Uganda are excited! They have begun the arrangements for the summits. Some of these women will travel hundreds of miles to attend. We want this to be the beginning of a larger conversation for setting up future women’s programs in the developing world.

Patricia Rain, the Vanilla Queen, who launched The Vanilla.COMpany in 2001 as a socially-conscious educational site and retail/wholesale business focused on pure vanilla and the promotion of those who grow it worldwide.
In 2005, she created the International Tropical Farmers Network (ITFN) and set up a Google Group so that farmers worldwide could communicate with one another and share assistance regarding issues concerning vanilla.
Visit her website or join her at The Vanilla Company on Facebook.

Branding From the Inside Out: Hawai‘i Style by Karen Kang


(This article was originally published on

I often talk about branding from the inside out—that is, from your core values to how you represent your brand. But, it never quite hit home until I was in Kona, Hawaiʻi, running enterprise branding workshops with 22 social entrepreneurs. Despite overcast skies, our Sheraton Kona hotel was resplendent with flowers, the sounds of Hawaiian chanting and the tastes of the Sam Choy Annual Poke contest.

The enterprises in the workshops ran the gamut from non-profits protecting Hawaii’s fragile ecosystem to for-profit restaurant and food service organizations. All had this in common: a love for Hawaiian culture and a deep desire to help its people and promote island sustainability.

The workshops were organized by Hawai‘i Investment Ready (HIR) in sponsorship with the Kamehameha Schools, the largest landowner in the Hawaiian islands. Lisa Kleissner, HIR co-founder and a dropout from the Silicon Valley rat race, is herself a great example of someone who lives her brand values by helping social enterprises increase their social impact.

I was drawn to this project in part because I have roots in Hawaiʻi. One set of grandparents were born here and another set immigrated from southern Korea to work the sugar cane and pineapple fields in Kauai. My parents were both born in Honolulu.

Love What You Do, the Brand Will Follow

What created the greatest impact for me in Kona was hearing the young entrepreneurs talk about why they were in the business of helping Hawai‘i and its people. Over and over, I heard how the motivation was not money, but love.

Kapaliku “Matt” Schirman and Rick Kapanowaiwaiola Barboza of Hui Kū Maoli Ola are trying to save Hawaii’s fast-dwindling native plants that are key to restoring the island’s groundwater supply. Na’alehu Anthony and Keoni Lee are bringing on-demand programming that promotes Hawaiian culture, history and language to Hawaiians and island-lovers everywhere from their ‘Oiwi television network. Others like Johanna Ventura and Stacy Sproat-Beck of Waipā Foundation are building a community kitchen and poi mill to help economically challenged cottage industries thrive in eastern Kauai. They are not only branding their social enterprises, they are branding themselves in the best way possible—with authenticity.

When we first started our branding workshops, a number of the participants were skeptical. They didn’t feel it was the Hawaiian way to promote themselves and didn’t like the competitive context of market positioning. But when it became apparent that what I meant by branding was not one-way promotion but two-way value exchange, education and engagement, they got on board.

Be Visible to Have Impact

To make the greatest impact as a social entrepreneur, you need to have visibility and to be recognized for your value. Without brand awareness and recognition, you will not have the influence that you need to make a difference. If you can’t do it for yourself, I said, do it for your mission and the greater good.

We worked together on the BrandingPays™ five steps:

1) Positioning. Articulate a compelling and differentiated value proposition for their target audience.

2) Messages. We developed vision and value messages that resonated with key targets. We found a way to tell their story that connected emotionally.

3) Brand Strategy. Here we put together their brand’s rational value and emotional value—what I call “cake” and “icing.” We looked at core values, what they loved doing, strengths, personality, image and brand promise to define a brand strategy that can be represented in a 360-degree way.

4) Ecosystem. The concept of an ecosystem with partners and influencers who can help advocate for you and accelerate your brand leadership comes naturally to Hawaiians where everyone is, or acts like, they are related.

5) Action Plan. For many of the social entrepreneurs, developing and executing their action plans was daunting. They realize that they need to be found on the Internet to maximize their reach and opportunities. A few of them have already invited me to join them on LinkedIn, the largest online professional network, and some have been inspired to start their Twitter and Facebook accounts. Now that they have a strategy, their tactical execution will go much smoother and actually add up to something in the end.

The progress in just two days of seminars was amazing. Each entrepreneur became much more focused and articulate about what they were about and the value that they delivered. Their confidence in themselves and their ability to attract investors rose significantly. They radiated when they spoke of their enterprises. And why not? They were doing what came naturally—branding from the inside out.

Karen Kang is the Founder and CEO of BrandingPays LLC, a corporate and personal branding company that offers consulting, training and coaching. She is the author of BrandingPays™: The Five-Step System to Reinvent Your Personal Brand (January 2013) and a former partner with Regis McKenna Inc., the marketing firm that helped launch the Apple, Intel and Genentech brands.

Karen is a sought-after speaker at leading business schools and professional organizations.  Find her at, and on Twitter @karenkang.

The Bright Side of Burnout by Camille Smith

Camille chin in hand_hair fixedto liz matchmanExperiencing any of these? Low energy. Feeling scattered, distracted. Producing work you’re not proud of. Saying something isn’t important when it really is. Snapping at loved ones.

These signs of burnout are being experienced in classrooms, boardrooms, and break rooms. Just because we’re darn good at adapting, it does not mean we should adapt. Being burned out is NOT, I repeat, NOT the new normal.

In April, Gallup Economy posted their findings on worker engagement: 36% of U.S. managers and executives were “Engaged” in their jobs in 2012 — meaning they are deeply involved in and enthusiastic about their work and actively contributing to their organization. That’s up from 26% in 2009 when the economic downturn grabbed us. (

Wait. What about the other 64%? How does their disengagement affect those they manage? For a partial answer, take a look at the stats below:

to liz burnout

Many of us are taking on more and taking care of ourselves less.  Heck, even if we individually are on an even keel, we can get a heat rash from others who continually over-extending themselves.

Here’s how folks in my network finished the sentence, “I know I am burned out when…”

  • § Daytime TV makes sense
  • § I get little twitches in the muscles around my eyes
  • § I’ve eaten the same dinner for the last 5 days and don’t even care
  • § I waste time web surfing instead of getting real work done
  • § I pay for gas then drive away before getting it
  • § I eat lots of unhealthy food
  • § I put milk in the cupboard, not frig

It’s elementary

Remember in elementary school when the firemen told us what to do if our clothes ever caught on fire?  I’ve put my twist on it and created a process to help reduce stress and increase performance. I hope you’ll try it out. Why? Because you have more important things to do than burn out. 

1: Stop … and ask.

Ask: Am I smoldering (upset, out of sorts)?  If you answer “No”, carry on. If you answer “Yes”, then identify the specific flame, perhaps a disappointment or unfulfilled expectation. “Go CSI” and see if your interpretations are adding to stress. If so, change them. It’s an interpretation, not a fact like gravity!  to liz fireman

2: Drop … into your Self.   

Ask:  Have I lost my voice and stopped speaking my truth?  Have I disregarded my values?  Have I disconnected from my purpose?  Sometimes it’s easier to answer these questions if someone we trust asks them of us. Don’t let your “I’ve got it together” ego get in the way.

3: Roll … in a different direction.

Break out of your habits and routines. Take a different route to work, have a picnic lunch outside with a book of poems or a sketch book, not your blackberry.  Listen to unfamiliar music; spend time with someone you wouldn’t normally.  Changing your physical routine has the possibility of changing your mental outlook because you can’t rely on muscle memory or cruise control.

4: Go … beyond your comfort zone.

  • Where you normally give up or in, go 1 more inch.
  • Ask for support.
  • Draw boundaries. If there’s a situation that sucks your energy, talk to those who are involved before the situation comes around again.
  • Do what isn’t comfortable: reduce your need to achieve. Do it for 1 week.

Oh, and 1 more thing … your raison detre

To have this tool work, you need a personal commitment that inspires you – a ‘reason for existence’. Here’s one of mine: I am committed to supporting people being fully self-expressed, making their contribution, having a blast and being satisfied in the process, including me.

Want to hear this conversation sprinkled with stories and the woman-with-a-mic moments? Get my 30-minute video at Share the love with your team. Order the Team Package, complete with DVD and Facilitator’s Guide.

Thanks for listening and thinking. I hope our paths cross soon.

Camille Smith, A leadership coach who gets to the heart of what matters to you, believes communication is the solution, pokes holes at reality so possibilities emerge and awesome results realized.

You can find out more about Camille by visit:

The Pain of Losing is Only Temporary, However, Quitting is Forever By Dr. Bette Daoust, Ph.D.

I really came from a humble beginning growing up in Burnaby, British Columbia and in San Francisco California. My father passed away at an early age and left my mother with two small children. I had just turned six and my brother was one. It was at this juncture that my mother decided to move in with her mother in San Francisco. I had the pleasure of attending elementary school there within a short walk of Panhandle Park. Those were fond memories and San Francisco always felt like my second home.

Soon thereafter, when I was 9 we moved back to Canada where I remained until turning 50. I was overjoyed to be headhunted and return to the Bay Area on a more permanent basis. I loved being reconnected with family and making new friends. It was difficult leaving behind my children and their families but in reality I saw them more often and the visits were longer.

My journey to where I am today may be pretty typical for some. I was the child that was always picked last for any team, my academics were excellent when I liked the subject and very dismal if I did not. I was not slated to accomplish much in my life by all those that taught me. I basically just floated through my teen years without too much caring about the future.

I applied to university and with my rotten marks I was not too hopeful and neither was anyone around me. I did manage to get in and soon was on my way to another dismal academic year. I dropped out! It was not long after that I knew I wanted to be a teacher but would have a lot of fences to mend academically before I would be permitted back into the university system. I decided to go to Community College and see if there was anything that would spark my interest. I decided to try the Teaching Assistant program. This was the best choice I had ever made in my life. I ended up with a 100% scholarship to any university of my choice! This program introduced me to skills I never knew I had…writing, teaching, and helping others succeed. My path was now clear.

I did become a teacher and moved beyond the classroom to developing programs for the entire Province of British Columbia, I completed a Master’s Degree in Educational Technology and put it to good use. I wrote training guides, books, and taught outside the classroom (other teachers, business people and more in the field of technology). I managed to start my own training company and actually got more clients than one of the larger companies in the area. Lucky me! Actually it was hard work doing the marketing, but I dug in and won.

As my reputation for writing books increased, so did my contracts and that is when I decided to leave teaching and go into the world of business. That move led me to be hired back in the Bay Area as technical writer, instructional designer, and document expert. Ahhh…..the good life!

My book series was spurred on by my work in high tech and working with budding entrepreneurs – how could I stop helping others succeed. As an active Rotarian, I helped in other ways ; I had the chance to work with entrepreneurs in building their businesses. It all sounds rosy, but trust me, I had my share of failures as well. The biggest contributor to my success was to realize that the pain of failure or bad results was only temporary but quitting was forever. I am not a quitter!

Now back in Canada, by choice, my skills as a networker and writer has led me to an ideal life. A life where I can choose what I do. I choose to help others succeed at the same time working for another high tech company guiding them through the world of documentation which in turn will push their technology to the world! There is nothing like a new challenge in life.

My advice to anyone wanting to succeed is to plan your way through the rough spots and go by the seat of the pants with the successes by doing what works. You have to be organized, detailed yet agile and flexible at all times. Today I work with several businesses (two of them are MLM – each has not hit critical mass, therefore I am in it for the money and it gives me the ability to help others gain some good income at the same time). I am back to writing and am helping my daughter Carina Grace market her trilogy (Chronicles of Myriad – first book is called Child of the Soul Stone – now available through Amazon and Chapters) and I am getting back to my love of writing as well. I am in the process of putting together a program called Create My Own Cash (website is up and the Facebook page is taking shape). This program is for those that want to make money on the side and want to do it right without spending more than what is available. If you want to know more, call me, Skype is always open bette.daoust is my handle or send a message via Facebook, I am always happy to hear from others.


Bette Daoust,Ph.D. :  Instructional Design, Speaker,  Writer, Author, Technical Writer at TechnoQuan, LLC,  LifeVantage Distributor

I Lovingly Move Myself Forward or Paying It Forward by Mari-Lyn Harris


What am I going to write about? The usual Marketing, Social Media stuff? No, I wanted to write something deeper… something more on a personal note.

When we allow ourselves to embrace our Divine Feminine, the nurturer, the caring person, we honor ourselves, the part of us that is magnificence. This part of us is Love, Oneness, Divine, where we celebrate ourselves, our dreams and our passions. Even when we are scrappy and sassy!

My story starts after spending some time in a Spiritual Retreat for a few months, I felt honored and of course there aren’t words enough to show my appreciation to have spent the time with Mercedes. She really directed me back to spirit to a very personal place, as I was healing my broken heart and in doing so I also got my stomach and legs back. (this is a longer story). I also got to learn how to embrace my own magnificence. I could barely say the word let alone feel it. My mantra became: “I lovingly move myself forward to greater success and love.” rather than the story that everyone wanted to hear about.

While I was there, I started to create the next chapter of my life which is about making a difference, helping others, sharing Kindness has always been my passion. Empowering Entrepreneurs who make a difference not just for a profit, for a mission or cause, these people who are visionaries. They want to change the world.

I Founded, Food 4 Social Change, the Mission is: “To create a community of Social Change Leaders who are changing the world one business at a time.” My vision is to create an Incubator/Cooperative combination.

I started to create a personal marketing plan and found the “HOW” is not up to me – it’s up to God/Universe whatever you want to use, to show me the way. Being new to San Francisco, CA. I didn’t know anyone. I asked God “What’s next? “ Please put the people in front of me so this may come together.

I began to network and meet people, just be curious what their passions are and support them in some way. Even if it’s just words of encouragement.

In 2009, I started a Pie business, my intention was to use it as a vehicle of social change. Make delicious naughty pies to feed the hungry. Thus “Feeding the hungry one pie at a time.” came to be. 1% of the profits in 2009-2010 went to Food Banks. Now, I have chosen to donate to community garden projects as I believe it’s better to teach someone to grow, eat and be healthy, they will in turn will help others to do the same. The ripple is now in play. Paying it Forward.

Sedona Pies will be re-launching here in San Francisco, CA. The pies are Sinfully Delicious, made from honest ingredients and Love. I like to call them naughty pies. because they are made from Wine, Beer and Spirits. Sweet pies – fruit to nuts. Oh, did I say they are topless too! Gluten free is available.

Sedona Pies is a part of Food 4 Social Change along with other Food Entrepreneurs who make a difference. As I go along, I will attract the perfect people who will want to join me.

If you haven’t found your passion yet, I encourage you to get in touch with your Divine Magnificence, you will then discover your purpose and know what’s next.


Mari-Lyn Harris, CEO & Founder of Heart@Work, Sedona Pies and Food 4 Social Change. Author, Visionary, Believes in World Kindness and making a difference. You can find her at and If you have any questions, just give her a call: 510-564-7880.

Be the Change by Daisie Hobson


After working in High Tech for 12 years, Daisie Hobson had had enough!  She had traveled all over the world and experienced poverty that put her humble background to shame.

One day while walking through a park in Cairo she had young girls and boys following her around, welcoming her to Egypt and asking her questions about the US. It was then that she decided that she wanted to do more than throw down money in the countries that she visited.  She wanted to make a difference; she wanted to be the change that she expected of the world.

A year later she was headed to Mexico as a Peace Corps Volunteer.  She quit her job where she was making ridiculous money, sold her house to the bank and donated all her things to friends and family.  She said “adios” to the bay area and decided that she was going to work towards making the world a better place and learns Spanish while doing it!

Unfortunately, what the world wanted and what Daisie wanted didn’t initially mesh.  She imagined living in mud huts, digging ditches, teaching children English while sitting in the dirt.  What she got was an air conditioned office, constant internet access and teaching children English in her apartment a block away from el Centro.  She was designated the “Project Management Specialist” for Peace Corps Mexico (  Sure, she was learning Spanish, but she was once again working for the “man” or “hombre” and was stuck in an office.  She decided immediately it wasn’t much different than working in the US.  In the US she had a day job she didn’t like, but it was her night job and her volunteerism that filled her heart.  She decided to do the same in Mexico.  By the end of her service, she was mentoring 15 children and at least 10 adults.  Her heart was so full it broke, when it was time to say goodbye.

Since she lived near the Peace Corps head quarters in Mexico, she was often asked to speak to the new trainees.  The advice she often gave was…if you heart isn’t filled in your day job, find something that fills it in your spare time!  The Peace Corps asks that volunteers have secondary or community projects outside of their main project, and Daisie found it in working with the children in her community.  Others found projects in orphanages, helping pueblos implement solar ovens, water projects etc…

Mexico and/or the Peace Corps aren’t unique in their needs for volunteerism.  The US has needs in all areas:  tutors, mentors, helpers, counselors, and friends.  If your heart isn’t filled by your day job, maybe you need to fill it by working in your community; tutoring, mentoring, donating goods and preventing violence.

Daisie says, “Stop complaining about the state of your community and start doing something to improve it!”

Daisie recently returned from her service in Mexico, but is determined to continue to serve.


Daisie Hobson is originally from Missouri where she got her BS in Ceramic Engineering, she got tired of the cold so she moved to the hottest place in the country, Arizona.  After many sunburns and air conditioning freezer burns she moved to California where she got her MS in Organization Development.  She is currently preparing for her next adventure!

She also kept the blogs while she was at the Peace Corps:

My Motivation for Starting My Own Business and Why I Would Never Do Anything Else! by Trinity Nicole Miller

DSC_8209-fb Tinity Nicole Miller

I recently got a divorce and have been reflecting on the last 15 years of my life.  I wanted to make the next 15 years better, more productive and I wanted to be smarter in my personal as well as business life!  I started to think about how I got into the industry I am in and why I fell in love with my work.  I think it is because the foundation of it all was helping people, something that is so much a part of my life especially today.  I am an avid community servant, have raised millions of dollars for women with breast cancer and severely abused children, have held a national beauty title and currently hold the title of Ms Texas 2013 to help raise more money for my organizations and finally I am an overachieving workaholic.  How did I get this way???

In January of 1996, I bought a small advertising business called ‘Colonial AD” where I designed and put coupons in video boxes at the local video stores. This was when they were still VHS, there were no DVD’s yet.  I had all 5 of the video stores signed up with me and it was going pretty well.  I had Burger King, Sonic, Pizza Hut, McDonalds, Shakey’s Pizza and several other major chains as well as a few nice local businesses that provided some good offers.  It was pretty cool to get your movies and also great deals on food.  All of my coupons were a buy one get one free deal on food. I was doing this in my spare time and I really decided I liked it. I started to think a lot about how to market different types of businesses and I fell in love with advertising.

In August of 1996, I bought my first PC and I decided to put coupons on the internet.  At the time I was proficient on an Apple as I was a paralegal for a large criminal defense firm and had not been on a PC yet.  I had also worked for American Airlines and was very proficient with the SABRE system, the 2nd largest computer system in the world, next to our military system.  I was completely excited with getting to discover a completely new computer system and jumped in.  I contacted a new company that had just opened and was providing internet in our area for the 1st time.  I partnered with them and they gave me internet service in exchange for putting their logo and link to their website on the front of my website.  I had no idea how to build a website at the time and I really didn’t know what the ‘world wide web’ was or how it worked.. I scheduled another meeting with the internet company and I arranged for the owner of the company, to give me private lessons on web page design every morning at 7am. I learned to program html in a matter of weeks.  It was funny, because I understood how everything worked very easily. I simply had to learn functions.  Computers and programming have always made perfect sense to me.  I never used a web page editing program such as Front Page.  I started with MS Note Pad on a blank page and hand coded everything from the very beginning.  I still do  however, I now use Edit Pad..

The first week of my lessons, I got a very simple and clean coded web site up.  I kept the name Colonial AD and my company was the first company worldwide to offer coupons on the internet. I also started the concept of ‘local search placement’ with these coupons.  I saw that localized marketing was the only way to help logically and relevantly categorize a company to place them on the search engines.  I put companies on ALL of the major search engines and directories according to industry and location.  At that time the ‘major search engines were: AOL, InfoSeek (which evolved into, Excite, Hotbot, Ask Jeeves, Dog Pile, Alta Vista. ASK, Lycos, Metacrawler, and All the Web.  Google officially arrived in 1998, bought out and it’s very large database and has changed searching online dramatically for the better. My company was grandfathered in with Google due to the fact that I had a lot of pages in the database, had properly categorized companies for inclusion, operated with ‘white hat’ techniques and helped keep their search engine relevant.  I have been a Google partner since they first arrived.

At this time, Yahoo was still only a very large directory and did not yet have a search engine until 2000.  They used the Google search engine until they launched their own in 2004. I used to sit up all night in the late 90’s and email back and forth with the creator of Yahoo, Jerry Yang and I learned SO MUCH about the industry, where it was going and how to properly program to make my pages load and function at top efficiency.  I credit Jerry with giving me the foundational information that I needed to become a power in the industry later in my career.

During this time our economy was crashing in the Texas Panhandle due to the fact that we got our first Wal-Mart.  In the first quarter of Wal-Mart being open, over 250 local businesses that were family owned and had been in business for 30-100 years went out of business.  My friend owned  the local newspaper and was so excited when Wal-Mart bought $150,000 per month in advertising for 3 months in his newspaper.  Once the 1st quarter was over, Wal-Mart pulled ALL of their advertising out of the paper and Brad had lost the majority of the local business due to the closings. He had to sell the newspaper his family had owned for over 50 years. Needless to say, our area was devastated by the arrival of Wal-Mart.

I decided to use my coupon program to try to help the companies that were left to stay in business.  I named my website “The Business Showcase of the Texas Panhandle” and hired 3 very intelligent sales guys and sent them to the 13 towns surrounding Amarillo. I told them to offer this for $15/mo and if they couldn’t afford it, to give it to them.  They immediately signed up 400 clients and I would estimate ½ of them I gave the advertising to for free.  I told them that it would help them and when they started seeing results, they could contact me and start paying.  Within 6 weeks, I had 400 paying clients.  Over 80% of my clients did not have a computer or the internet, but when I explained what I wanted to do for them, they knew that they needed something radical or they would be next to go under.  My sales people took a printout of the website and examples of coupons so they could see what they were getting. This is still funny to me.

I was also building websites for clients and that was so fun!  It was like playing a video game to me and I spent 18 hours a day, 7 days a week working on my business.  I took out ads in the Thrifty Nickel and put pages of these online coupons in it and advertised that shoppers could go online to my website and download and print these and many more coupons.  I also partnered with the billboard/bus bench company and put these coupons on billboards and bus benches all over the panhandle.  I was the only marketing company that was advertising websites and it was interesting that people were making fun of me, saying that the internet would never make it.  But I knew in my heart it would, and my heart is never wrong about business.

By 2000 I had changed my business name and expanded to the entire US with 2800 cities set up in my program that I could advertise a business in.  I started doing local, regional and national targeted marketing online.  I also started building a coupon and website creator program for my clients to be able to build and update their websites and coupons themselves.  I hired ‘programmers’ to help me build this program but I kept getting ripped off and lied to, so I got a Perl/CGI book, and I started learning on my own.  It took me 3 years to finish the program.

In Thanksgiving of 2003, I won the ‘2003-2004 Webmaster of the Year’ award for the entire world with this program.  When I got the phone call that I had won, I was out in my detached garage office working and started screaming hysterically.  My family thought that I was hurt or being attacked and came running out to help me. I was so freaked out I couldn’t tell them that I had won for about 3 minutes.  I can still see the looks on their faces and it still makes me laugh.  This was a huge accomplishment in my industry and I had I won using a very slow internet connection with 36.6 dialup modem.  This was pretty amazing in itself.  The next year we finally got DSL service in our area.

Since then I have used my online marketing techniques to advertise and grow thousands of local businesses.  I am very proud of the work I have done because not only did I do it successfully, but I helped lots of companies reach their goals and dreams, even in a down economy.  In Sept 2011 I divorced and turned my company over to my ex due to the fact that was the only way I was ever going to get him to show up in court and give me my freedom. It was devastating to me at first, and while I thought this would be the end of me, I am definitely a scrappy business woman!! One great thing about me is my tenacity and hardheadedness.  I have since started a new company and it is growing faster and better than I had anticipated.  My new company will definitely be the crown jewel in my career for the next phase of my life.

Trinity Nicole Miller, President of Nicole Miller Marketing & Ms Texas American Renaissance 2013. I am an over achieving workaholic business woman and motivated beauty queen that has a intense passion for helping people.  I use everything I have in skills and talents to plant something good in the world around me.

Quote: You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do…..Eleanor Roosevelt