The Success Story of the Owner of a Synergy HomeCare Franchise by Saili Gosula

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My name is Saili, and I am the owner of a Synergy HomeCare franchise.  My business is now 6 years old, and I’ve gotten to the point that I feel that I am running a real company, and that I can delegate and provide a living for a lot of people.  It’s like a real company now!  I even took 3 weeks away for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.  I did work some, for sure, but I was able to go to another country, spend time with family & friends, watch a bunch of soccer games, read 4 books, and get a tan.

I want to start at the very beginning – going back 50 years ago to a couple of different continents.  My parents are Indian, and I grew up in Brazil.

In Brazil at the time I was in high school opportunities for college were very limited, so they had a strict process for kids identifying their interest and then applying to college in that specific field. Admittance was based on a large test of all the subjects you ever learned in school, weighted based on the field you chose to study.

The problem is we were 16 years old when we had to choose what we would do for college, and changing majors was not permitted. You had to start over and get re-tested if you did that!  So being a math wiz from a math family, I decided I would study computer science.  I had never seen a computer in my life, but I’m a bit competitive. That was the most sought after field, with 30 slots for the entire state, and I was going to try for that.  I got in, started college in Brazil, but then ended up coming to the US. I moved straight from Brazil to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where I went for college.  I ended up with a double major in math and computer science, and a masters in computer science.

I got a job right out of school and worked in several companies over the next 20 years in several IT roles.  I started out as a programmer, analyst, then consultant, and then project manager.  I even did a 2-year gig in HR at one company because it had grown so fast under me, and the people trusted me with their problems.  I learned a lot in those 2 years in HR.  As a matter of fact, all of those different jobs I had over the years prepared me for what I do today.

In my last job in corporate America, I was director of inventory systems for Gap, Inc.  If my systems did not work, no clothes went to any of the Old Navy, Gap or BR stores worldwide.  It was a good job, with lots of recognition and visibility, but the product that I delivered was not exciting to me. The most important thing I did was getting jeans to the store on time.  As the years went on I kept thinking that what I was doing wasn’t really a good fit with the person I was becoming over time.

In the meantime, I started doing lots of work with non-profits, community organizations, and school PTAs – and I loved that stuff!  I was coaching soccer, a volunteer webmaster for a theater company, on the board of the theater company, and eventually president of the board of the theater company, creating yearbooks and playbills, and spending way too much time volunteering on top of my demanding job.  Even within Gap I used to lead all the volunteer events for our very large IT department, and planned all our social events.  I never stayed within my box.  The thing is that I loved being part of the community, and I would stay up all night because I believed in what I was doing.  I knew I had to do something different, but it is very difficult to leave a good paying job with lots of prestige, 6 weeks of vacation, and all kinds of benefits that large corporations provide.

And then I got laid off.  I was scared but also so excited!  This was the defining moment when I was free to reinvent myself.  I actually had been hoping for this opportunity because I knew I’d get a nice severance package that would buy me time to figure out what to do next. This was my chance.

I pretty much knew that I wanted to own my own business.  I felt that everything I’d done up to that point – the computer skills, the HR, the management, the team-building, the event-planning, the yearbook and playbill editing, the budgeting and project management, and the board experience at the theater company – it gave me enough of a well-rounded skillset that I could run a company.  But what was I going to do?  I couldn’t come up with an idea.  I knew I wanted to use my one greatest strength – my people skills.  That was the # 1 requirement.

So I ended up going to a franchise broker.  They reviewed my priorities, which were: community, seeing the impact firsthand, creating jobs, managing people, and finding something I could be passionate about.  They brought me a few ideas, and through a 60-day process I ended up buying into a Home Care franchise.

I am going to explain briefly what we do because I am not here to sell, but it helps to understand how this was such a good fit with what I was looking for:

I own Synergy HomeCare, which is a provider of 1-1 caregivers.  We provide caregivers that go into people’s homes and help them with the little things they can’t do for themselves, or that are difficult for them to do for themselves. The bulk of our clients are seniors, but we do serve people of all ages, including children. For our seniors, we help them with personal care such as bathing, meal preparation, medication reminders, transportation, errands, and going to the grocery store.  We do short, occasional visits, which we call respite, or we can be there 24×7, or anything in between.

So 6 years ago I decided to do something that I’d never done before, something I had no formal training in, and that my college education definitely did not teach me how to do.  The franchisor did provide training, but then you’re on your own to get your own clients and caregivers.

People used to tell me that I had a lot of guts to make such a change.  At the time I must have had this puzzled look on my face because I didn’t understand that.  To me, it was a matter of survival.  I couldn’t go on giving so much of myself to something I didn’t believe in.  I needed to feed my soul.

But it was really hard in the beginning!  Being a people person in IT, I was popular.  Mine was the office that people walked into all the time to talk to someone, or ask work questions. My phone was always ringing, and my email was always full.  Then I started the business, and I was in this tiny little office by myself.  Nobody stopped by, nobody called, and I questioned my decision. I felt a little scared . . . and lonely.

What I did to compensate for this was that I started networking.  I joined a networking group, and I have been with that group for almost five years now. It was a community of business owners, and I could trust the people in that group to actually provide services for me as well. I then felt that I wasn’t as alone.  And I loved to find reasons to refer business to other people in that group.

After that I tried a few other groups. Now I am also very active in the Chamber of Commerce for our city, and that is another wonderful group. I always look forward to talking with these people. I go to business mixers and chat with both people I know as well as connecting with new people, and now I am no longer lonely at all.

To be truthful, I’m a crazy networker.  It really helps!  It may be a little uncomfortable at first, but it grows your business, and you learn who you should partner with. And the more you go the easier it gets. Everybody is there for the same reason – to expand their network.

The other thing that was hard in the beginning was doing everything myself.  It was exhausting!  I was on call 24×7, and my mind was spinning from all the different things I was responsible for.  I started paying people right away to do things for me.  I was fortunate that my circle of friends included competent people excited to help me start my business. I paid them, but not what they were worth. I also started paying my high-school-aged son to work in our office.

Eventually I hired full-time staff.  I almost always hired the next person before I could afford them – I just knew that I couldn’t grow without them. And none of my office hires came to me in a traditional way, by applying for a posted job position. I would meet someone that was available and just know that this person would be a good fit for my team. I couldn’t afford not to have them! This enabled growth.

My staff is top notch. I can be out of the office all day and know that the company runs smoothly without me.  Oh, and gradually I’ve worked myself into a place where I am never on call anymore, though I am always the escalation point.

I now have five full time office staff that help run my operation. I always have a couple of part-time people that are available to help when needed.

Now we have about 60 caregivers working for us, another 100 that we consider active and available, and another 400 that have worked for us occasionally in the past who we could possibly call on again. In our 6 years in business we have served over 600 clients.

Advice

Find out what your strengths are, and find a career that uses those strengths. It will feel much more natural, and you will be better able to sustain your effort in it.  Me, I am a people person to the extreme, so I chose a profession that would have me always talking to people, connecting with people, understanding people and having them entrust me with their most prized assets – their parents. I can connect with all the different people that all different levels, and that makes me very successful in this field. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Saili Gosula is the owner and Executive Director of Synergy.  She had a successful career in IT until 2009.  Always an avid volunteer in the schools and local non-profits, focusing on people and the community eventually became more important to her.  She made a career switch.  She is passionate about her new career in home care.  She differentiates herself by her tirelessly giving and positive approach.  This has quickly helped her to grow her business and provided her with many loyal fans and followers, across clients, associates, and employees.
Saili@SHCSanMateo.com
www.synergyhomecare.com/SanMateo

 

“The Last Wizard of Eneri Clare” by April Lindevald

ss-20160930-april-with-book-pic1On the exact date of my 60th birthday, a time when others are winding their careers down and thinking about retirement, my first novel was published!  Self-published, to be accurate, but still, a physical  item in my hands, the culmination of eight years of loving labor, finally real, and beyond exciting.

I have always loved fiddling with words and telling stories, from the time I was very small, and scribbled, “The Misadventures of Lorelei,” about a very curious dachshund (loosely modelled on those in our household), with pictures to match.  But I also loved the stage, and so became a professional classical singer, performing, recording, and touring the world.  Whenever friends and family would tell me that I had a gift with language, and should try my hand at being an author, my standard answer was that I appreciated the compliment, but I had nothing important to say.

Eight years ago, I discovered I finally DID have something to say that wanted expression. I am an avid lover of the fantasy genre – books, movies, TV shows.  I love being transported to a far-away place and studying the complexities of human nature from a fresh perspective.  It concerened me that in almost all fantasy works, the good guys defeat the bad guys, sometimes through great sacrifice and strenuous effort.  BUT, ultimately they triumph by chopping the heads off of the bad guys, just as the other side would have done.  What, I thought, distinguishes them, then, from the other side?    Look around at our world!  What are we teaching the next generation?  That there is only one way to win the day?  That the only response to evil is a fist, or a sword…or a gun?  Don’t we believe that the values we say we cherish are enough to beat back darkness – faith, hope, love, creativity, intellect, resourcefulness, community —  in the final analysis, do we not trust them to carry any real power?

I asked myself, “What if there was a good adventure story where the good guys were not allowed to use violence and warfare to achieve their ends?  What would they do instead?  Could it at least provoke a new conversation about what we believe as a culture, and who we want to become as a people?

The moment I put pen to paper, the characters appeared and started dictating the book, beginning to end, in vivid detail. Whether one’s subconscious kicks in, or someone is really out there channeling through you, they were very real to me, and became friends that I could not wait to sneak off and spend time with.  I argued with them, and they told me to shut up and write what they told me.  They surprised me with events I had not planned.  And thank heavens, listening to interviews with successful authors convinced me that this is a common experience; I was not losing my marbles.

A year later it was done.  The next seven years were spent typing, revising, editing and polishing.  Every moment spent in that world was sheer joy for me.  Now it is time to share the results with the outside world.  “The Last Wizard of Eneri Clare” is an epic story about wounded and insecure people who have encountered life’s blows, but somehow manage to dig deep and find their inner courage.  They band together and form a community, pooling their strengths and talents to move forward.  There are many subplots embracing themes of second chances, redemption, compassion, forgiveness, and a healthy dose of humor too.  There are dragons, wizards, and water sprites, unicorns and talking beasts, a little romance and a healthy dose of magic along the way.  AND a pitched battle unlike any you have ever read about or seen before.

I hope you will give it a look!  The book is suitable for readers from age 13 up, and is available now in hardcover, softcover, and digital formats through Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble.com, and Bookstore.balboapress.com.  You can find out more about it on my website:   www.aprillindevald.com , or at facebook.com/lastwizard2016 .

And for those of you who may be approaching an end of some of the earlier chapters of your life, don’t let anyone ever tell you it’s too late for you to have something meaningful to say!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
APRIL L. LINDEVALD has led an adventurous life as a classically-trained singer, recording and touring with the Grammy Award-winning Gregg Smith Singers, and appearing for many years with the New York City Opera. She is also a busy intuitive counselor, and author of the popular column “Creating A Magical Life.” Additionally, she has released a CD of her original inspirational songs. April is a lifelong spiritual seeker. She resides on Long Island with her educator husband, Brian Abrams, and their dog-kids Max and Cookie.
Contact her at aprlsngs@optonline.net

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.

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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.

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!

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.

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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When Deadlines Create Major Stress by Melissa Heisler

heisler9404When I worked for corporate, I was tied to meetings, schedules, control, management, hierarchy, and chain of command. Rules and procedures were a way of life. Everything was planned then executed. The work day was rigid and uniform. Changes and the unexpected were met with horror and immediately neutralized. Over the past seven years, I learned a new way to go about business.

Being my own boss I was able to make changes to the way I work. At first, I met my day with the same dogmatic precision I had for the past eighteen years. It felt awful. Here I had my dream job yet it didn’t feel right. Then I realized I make the rules. I can decide when and how I work. I can change due dates. I can create my perfect work week. I didn’t have to adhere to the 9 to 5 format. I could work seven days a week or three. As long as my business progressed, how I made it progress didn’t matter.

In this new business style I learned to be flexible. At first when a client canceled or rescheduled, I was spun into a Type-A hissy fit thinking that the world would end because a session didn’t happen as planned. Eventually I found the flow. I released dates and times. If a client or meeting had to shift, I trusted that it was for the better knowing that there was a reason for the reschedule. Many times I could uncover why. For instance, a client wanted to delay her session a few days. In that time I happened across a piece of information which was perfect for the session. Had we met as initially planned, I would not have been able to share this information. Another example is writing. If I penciled in a time to write but don’t feel like it at that day and time, the writing was stifled and poor. If instead I seized the opportunity to write when the muse calls me, I write quickly, clearly, and more strongly. As I built up proof that divine timing was more ideal than any schedule I could devise, I relaxed into trust and learned to flow my business.

One work instance where I am still flung back into rigidity and Type-A stress revolves around deadlines – hard, crucial deadlines. Taxes need to be paid by April 15th. Credit card payments are due at the end of the month. These dates are not flexible and penalties are incurred if they are not met. Just having a deadline date is not enough to send me into a tailspin however. Two other elements are necessary to push me into stress overload. First is a large amount of diverse work. Never shy of a little hard work, I am very happy to roll up my sleeves and make it happen. But when the work is tied to a fixed deadline it triggers my worry and anxiety. This leads to cloudiness and inefficiency. Adding in the final part of the equation, not being able to complete the work on my own, and we have the trifecta of stress. Nothing frustrates me more than having a deadline to complete a lot of work and not being capable of completing the work on my own or needing to rely on others for their part of the work.

Being in the midst of just such a large workload with a fixed deadline for tasks I can not complete myself, I started to notice physical stress symptoms pop up; a little weight gain, unclear mind, inability to sleep soundly, and reaching for quick fix addictions to ease the anxiety. Once I realized the extent of my stress I stopped and took account of the situation. Instead of finding ways to make the work easier and faster (which I already had tried and just led to more fear and stress), I took a hard look at myself and my thoughts. I was trying to control things outside of my command which only led to more stress and worry. Instead I turned to trust. I recounted all the times when I let go and surrendered to divine timing and everything worked out better than I could have imagined. Also I let go of the desire to affect what I can not affect. The end result is that I feel better, I am more clear and able to act, and everything is happening as it should, when it should.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Melissa Heisler is a stress reduction expert, Type Me coach, speaker, and the author of From Type A to Type Me: How to Stop “Doing” Life and Start Living It. She is committed to guiding entrepreneurs and professionals to improve their health, increase their mental clarity, easily deal with difficult people, find peace in their current jobs, and improve their business effectiveness all through reducing their stress levels.
www.ItsMyLifeInc.com
https://www.linkedin.com/in/melissaheisler
https://www.facebook.com/itsmylifeinc

Finding Women in the Information Systems Environment by Beata Green

Beata GREENThere is a marked gap between the number of male and female students enrolled in computer science in schools. That means very few women are entering into a computing career. Moreover, this is a concern, because the lack of women in information systems careers can actually slow down the economy. Not only that, but the risk trickles down to companies who are missing out on the more diverse teams that studies say will make their businesses more successful.

There are a host of benefits to acquiring female talent, one being better returns. Women, when placed in general leadership positions can offer far higher returns to shareholders and investors.

The fact that there are fewer women in information systems means that they can be very difficult to find, let alone attract for a business. However, there are ways to locate the talented female coders you seek.

Explore Different Networks
Do you currently know any female developers? If you don’t, chances are you won’t be able to use your existing networking channels to find them. Instead, try and connect with individuals from other networks, and explore your opportunities there.

Support and Encourage Existing Female Talent
Are there women who are already working for your organisation that would be a good fit in the developer role? Identify the strengths and qualities you want in a female developer, and then set about finding and interviewing them. Ensuring that potential female developers feel supported and encouraged will help them to feel more comfortable with new challenges.

But the challenge lies not only in finding women to work for your company; it will also require a change to the way your existing company culture is structured. It also requires you to effect a change in how women developers are perceived by those who already work for your company.

Change Your Company Culture
If you are currently working with teams of male coders but want to harness female talent, a culture change will likely be necessary. Many business owners believe that new female team members will simply adapt to the existing company culture. However, this won’t be beneficial to the new team member or to your business. To make any team member feel welcome, you must understand how they communicate, and then learn how to communicate in their language. That includes new female team members.

A Non-Competitive Environment
A non-competitive culture can provide far more benefits to your company than a competitive one. When everyone is on the same playing field, individual talent can be utilised far more efficiently. This kind of environment places importance and value on all team members, and can present a much more welcoming place for coders of all genders to work.

Don’t Change the Focus for Female Interviewees
Believe it or not, talking about the work-life balance your company offers will not impress female interviewees. A woman engineer, coder or developer will be interested in the challenges they will be solving at your company, just as male interviewees would. If you have a set of especially difficult challenges that you are dealing with, put the spotlight on these at the interview.

Some studies suggest that even simply removing any gendered pronouns from employee communication before handing it to your team can be enough. When management shows no gender bias, it can set an example for employees. Although this may seem like a simple solution, it can go a long way to communicating to existing and potential employees that you are interested in talent, regardless of the gender from which it may originate.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Beata Green is Managing Director of HeadChannel Ltd., London based bespoke software development company. She is responsible for overall strategic direction and overseeing the company’s continuing growth, building closer client relationships and maintaining best working practices. She enjoys brisk country walks with her red fox labrador and then relaxing in front of a TV crime drama with a glass of red wine.

11 Networking Tips to be Connected by Mari-Lyn Harris

ml_fresh2 copyTo meet new people is sometimes very scary, especially when you don’t like doing it or you are new to town or shy.

Let’s say, you have just moved to a new city what do you do?  This is a great question,  Mr. Wonderful on Shark Tank..asks this of people when there are offers on the table. “What are you going to do?”

When I moved to San Francisco CA,  I just knew I wanted to launch an idea/project here. Of course the weather and it’s beauty does help too!

What you need to do, is figure out who you want to meet..when I arrived I knew no one, even though people may say, “hey look me up and…” I think they just said this out courtesy don’t depend on them..some may actually  mean it, some really don’t. I was fortunate that my sister lived here for a long time and hooked me up with a few people..that I could meet or get to know. One of the gals was Liz –  Bette just said “Meet MariLyn for coffee and pretend it’s her (Bette).”  We did, we hit it off, and I always keep in touch or find ways that we can socialize.

I’ve been here for almost 2 years..boy it’s hard to imagine.. I have some great connections in the Food business and still finding ways to meet more people.

My 11 Networking Tips:
1. Pick a focus or vertical of people that you want to meet, this will shorten your time.

2. Go to each city’s Chamber mixers – just to get a feel for the people and the area your are in. Living in Fremont, my roommate would tell me about it, introduce people to me, it will give you time to discover who you would like to get to know better. Each chamber has it’s own focus.

3. Volunteer – I actually volunteered for an organization that I liked what they were doing – Community Gardens.. I was offered a contract for a Project Manager as they received a grant. I said, yes! I was just so happy to have something while finding my way.

4.  Go to Church – Normally it’s not something someone says..find a church that believes in the values as you do.  That will fill your spirit. Why? Because, you’ll depend upon your Spirit or your God within to help you on your new adventure or journey.

5. Check out Meet-Up.com, they have many meetings listed, pick a couple that could help you in your job search, for socializing or just interests. There are lots of business networking groups.

6. Take a class. Learn something new and meet people at the same time.

7. If you are looking for a Tech job, check out this website (www.techjobscafe.com) for jobs. One thing that is funny here, people post jobs on Craigslist.com. Also be active on LinkedIn. Search Indeed.com, you can connect using your LinkedIn account.

8. Be proactive in meeting new people, ask them where they go.  If they are active, they will invite you as a guest. When you find a group you like, reciprocate.

9. Be consistent in networking. I met this gal who was a financial planner I asked her how she keeps up with all the networking she does. Her answer was, she goes to a women group every month and volunteers for committees. The rest of the time, she has five groups that she attends once a month on a consistent basis.

10. Start your own group, whether it’s online or meeting in person.  You never know who you are going to meet. Or join a group like Rotary that would be of interest to you.

11.  Be a hostess/host of the event. Even if it’s not yours. It’s a great way to get comfortable, you are helping other people who are shy and you meet more people. Years ago, I was coaching a gentleman who wanted to meet new people, he was rather shy, I just suggested that he become a host of the event. He reported back to me, saying it worked really well.

Try these 11 tips out see how they work for you. I love to hear which tips that have worked for you.

You can also be a guest blogger by writing a blog about you or your business for this website:  http://www.scrappywomen.biz/blog

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
MariLyn Harris advises Food Startups – how to energize their Marketing. She blogs, writes about Marketing, Social Justice issues and a few things in-between.  Food 4 Social Change is a Producer Cooperative, provides many services to support food startups. A complete food-eco system. Check out http://food4socialchange.org

How To Sell To Difficult People by Amy Walker

(First Published at http://amywalkerconsulting.com/blog/ on February 4, 2014)

Selling to the Stinkers

Ahhh, the Hecklers, the Know-It-Alls, and the Doubters.  They are not our favorite people to sell to.  I definitely prefer hearing, “This is exactly what I’ve been searching for!”  But in every event you are going to have a tricky person to sell to.  I know speakers and trainers who just let them go and work with the excited ones.  You can do that.  I also know that I have had some that were stinkers during the sales process and ended up being my most loyal and long running clients.  I’ve also closed stinkers who turned into stinker clients.  The key is to know which ones you need to let go and which ones really need you.

Why are they stinkers?

Most human beings are good and it is in our nature to protect ourselves.  When you come across crusty people, they are usually nursing some type of hurt.  Hecklers have often been through rejection or ridicule and had to laugh their way out of it;  Know-It-Alls often can’t handle being weak and imperfect; and Doubters have often been taken advantage of in the process.  The first step to handling a tough sale is to try to understand them and think of them as a good person.

shutterstock_114407182The Heckler: Makes Jokes, derails the presentation, asks completely irrelevant questions etc.

Remember that hecklers like to see you sweat.  They like pushing buttons.  The easiest way to handle a heckler is to get them on your side.  Laugh with them.  Joke with them.  Understand that they want to be seen and heard, and treat them with kindness.  When they like you, they will also sometimes be the most outspoken proponents of your products.

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The Know-it-All: Everything is great in their life, they don’t need help, every time you get close to finding their pain or problem they will block you

Know-it-alls have a hard time showing weakness.  They are usually strong and are used to doing things on their own.  They do not want to feel incompetent or wrong.  If you keep pushing to figure out their problems, they will put up wall after wall after wall.  When I come across these situations, I pull back and invite them to tell me what they see that isn’t working.  If they come up with nothing, I ask them what they want that they don’t have and then I ask permission to help them come up with solutions to get there.

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Doubters: Second guess you and your product.  Want proof.  Treat you like you are trying to pull one over.

NEVER sell this person into a product or service, you have to let them choose into it.  If you talk them into it, they will inevitable blame you for why their life has gone all wrong!  Ask them if they have had a negative experience before.  Listen to them and ask questions like, “What do you need from me so that this is a different experience?”  Keep asking them, “What else do you need to know before you can decide if this is right for you?”  Give them any type of reassurance they ask for.  If they want references, let them call your clients.  If they want facts, show them where to find it.  Your job in this situation is to inform where ever they need it and continue to invite them to get more answers until they have no more questions.  Then you ask for the sale.

When to RUN! 

Anyone that has worked with a pain in the butt client knows they make your life miserable.  Some of my favorite clients and people have fit into these 3 categories in the beginning.   But if they can’t pass my test, I will not work with them.  My test is simple.  Can they take accountability for themselves, or do they blame others?  If they blame others, they will blame me.  If they can take accountability I know we will be able to work together as soon as they are ready and I will move forward.  If not, I bust out of that sales call as soon as possible!

Happy Selling!

Amy Walker PicABOUT THE AUTHOR: Amy Walker is an International Executive Business Coach and CEO/Founder of Amy Walker Consulting.  As a Featured Professional Speaker she has shared the stage with some of the top names in the industry including Willie Jolley and Delatorro L. McNeal II.  Amy is a Master of Sales and has written sales scripts for billion dollar companies and organizations.  She has been regularly featured on television, radio, and print.  Amy is passionate about Women in Business, Making Businesses Thrive, and Balancing Business and Family.  She is the happily married mother of 5 boys.
Website: www.amywalkerconsulting.com
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