Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Share your vision for the new year

Share your vision with each employee, and be sure to follow it up with action. To make it work, you must stay true to your vision every day. Be consistent. There’s no waffling when it comes to reflecting your style and your brand.

And make it real. Think about how you interact with your employees. Is the way you act consistent with the qualities that make up your brand? Your employees need to know the real you. They need to know the things that make you tick—your passions. When your daily actions reflect the vision you have for the company, your leadership skills will blossom, and every member of your team will be on board.

What do you have in store for 2009?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Torn between two loves….

the comfort of having a job and being happy.

In this situation, I always say happiness comes first. One of my favorite realisms is: You never have to stay in a bad situation. It can apply to any situation and carries a lot of power.

If you are in a bad situation at work, at home or life, you need to make a plan and get out! Whether you’re dealing with a bad boss, a snark, or you’ve simply hit a bump in the road, you desire something new. Start your quest with your head held high, with confidence, and begin learning from your current situation.

Leaving the bad situation may first seem like a setback, but it really is an opportunity to open another door. The memory of this experience will help you build a plan for your future. So, move on! The time is now.

And as Charlie Brown says….

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Incorporating Your Vision into Your Marketing

When creating your company’s brand, you’ll need a vision statement. Some people get this confused with a marketing position statement. To explain, your marketing is external; your vision is an internal message.

Your vision statement works as your game plan. It lets your employees know where you are headed. In the vision statement, highlight what direction you plan take the company in—its future. When everybody is on the same page, it’s much easier to move the company forward.

For instance, at Real Living we started with what I call essence words. We chose three, and I recommend you do the same. We’re all about family, innovation and results. So, we incorporated those three words into our vision statement: To become the nation’s leading entrepreneurial, agent-centric, consumer-focused network of real estate professionals built on family, innovation and results.

From our initial planning meetings to today, our vision statement allows us to share our vision with everyone, and sharing our vision with consumers was done through our marketing plan.

Creating a vision statement takes time. Don’t get frustrated. Just take the time to sit down and really think about what you want your company to be in the future. Focus your thoughts. Try creating a brand board and filling out at Real You chart to help find the heart of your company.

Share your brand boards with us!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The pressure of doing it all and starting a business

If you have always dreamed of being an entrepreneur but feel pulled in a dozen different directions, I have a few tips for you.


If you are committed to making your dreams a reality, you must stop and take some time to focus. I mean really clear your plate of all of life’s demands for a short while. Then, focus on your goals. What are they? Where do you want to go? What kind of business plan do you envision? What does your brand look like?


At this point, it’s up to you, so fire up that laptop or get out your pencil and get started. Record your thoughts and commit them to action. While it’s never too late to get started, there is no time like the present. Good luck!


Do you have an entrepreneurial success story? I’d love to hear from you!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Kiva.org- Helping entrepreneurs in the developing world “go for it” $25 at a time.

Recently I learned about Kiva.org, an amazing micro-lending Web site for the working poor. Kiva’s mission is to connect people through lending for the sake of alleviating poverty. It’s an opportunity for people like you and me to lend directly to unique entrepreneurs in the developing world. These are real individuals in need of funding. Despite their current circumstances, they’ve decided to “go for it,” because they know they can—and they will. Get involved, and you will be helping a real person make strides towards economic independence.


Amaka Okpara, 23, married with one child, lives in Lagos State, Nigeria, where she makes bags that she designs herself. While she is happy because the demand for her bags increases during this festive time of the year, she needs money to purchase materials. Through Kiva.org, she is requesting a loan of $1,200.00 that she plans to repay in eight months. But Amaka is not alone in her quest. In the Shartuz District of Tajikistan, Dilbar Asadova needs money to purchase additional inventory for her small, rural market where she sells food, clothing and personal products. Before starting her business in 2000, Dilbar was a housewife, but after her husband died she needed a way to support their four children. Her goal is to grow the business so that she is the biggest market in town.

These are just a few of the examples of women who have decided to “go for it” as entrepreneurs. In spite of the fact that they live in poor conditions, lack education and the necessary capital, they have found a way to grow their businesses through Kiva.org.

You, too, can help. I’ve decided to donate 20 percent of my book sales to Kiva.org. When you purchase a copy of Real You Incorporated: 8 Essentials for Women Entrepreneurs from the Real You Incorporated site between now and Jan. 2, 2009, you’ll also be helping women entrepreneurs like Amaka and Dilbar.


Thursday, December 4, 2008

Benefit from Networking Events

With limitless networking opportunities, it is important to understand how to benefit from them. Whether it’s online, at a volunteer meeting or at a formal networking event, here are a few important tips to remember.

  • It is critical to network with different people— people who you don’t work with, who are at different experience levels and have different backgrounds. This will help give you diverse perspectives.
  • You have to approach them; don’t expect anyone to come to you. If approaching someone you don’t know is difficult, try practicing. Write it out, talk to a mirror, video tape yourself—whatever works for you. Remember, people respond best to authentic conversation. Have your elevator pitch ready, but genuinely mention your business in conversation.
  • Follow the basic rule of conversation: Give and take. Ask open-ended questions and truly listen. People will remember those who take the time to care. You should be focused on building relationships, not the number of hands you shake.

A simple, genuine conversation between you and a stranger could open many opportunities. Just look at it as building a relationship, not building your business.

For more tips, check out this article on ways to maximize networking opportunities.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Economy have you down? Start your own business.

Does the economy and the job market have you down? Well now is a great time to start thinking about what you are truly passionate about.

This is the perfect time to take a break and think about what you really want out of the upcoming years. Do you want to continue working for the same company? Where do your passions lie? How and when are you going to put your passions into actions?

With the US losing 605,000 jobs in the first right months of 2008 and the unemployment rate reaching 6.1% in Aug. 2008, according to The Center for American Progress, the corporate world doesn’t look so stable. If you are thinking about starting your own business, now is the prefect time to do your research, see what’s happening in your potential industry and fill the voids.

There are unlimited resources out there to help you. Inc.com and Entrepreneur.com are great sites for aspiring entrepreneurs.

To help put your entrepreneurial vision together, check out the chart creator at RealYouIncorporated.com.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

A Marketing Plan is a Must

A well-created marketing plan can provide you with a road map to build and sustain your brand’s identity.

At its most basic level, a marketing plan consists of defining your positioning statement, outlining your advertising and communications strategy, specifying an environmental branding strategy—and creating a budget. If this sounds a bit daunting, you probably need to solicit some help from a marketing expert. But before you make that decision, it can’t hurt to do a little research on your own. Begin by thinking about the companies and brands that naturally attract your attention. Try to identify the common elements in these advertising and communications strategies. In other words, what are the common themes that engage you? You can learn from your competition. Study the messages they’re communicating—and then do it better.

Kathleen Murphy is founder and president of MurphyEpson, Inc., a marketing consulting firm in Columbus, Ohio. She is in the business of counseling her clients about different types of marketing tactics, and she knows that a good marketing plan is essential. Because Kathleen’s company started with a clear marketing plan, she was able to create the company she envisioned, but beyond that, she is able to help other companies achieve success as well. Whether you’re writing a complex, multi-tiered marketing plan or you’ve decided to take a more basic approach, the important thing is to create a plan. Then, like Kathleen, you’ll be ready to move forward with a road map that will build and sustain your brand’s identity.

Marketing and branding are my specialties. To learn more, go to Life Lesson 11 in Real You Incorporated: 8 Essentials for Women Entrepreneurs.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Give thanks by getting involved in a charitable pursuit.

As Thanksgiving approaches, we are once again reminded of the many reasons to be thankful. Even in trying economic times such as these, it’s almost always the case that we can look around and see others who are indeed less fortunate. As always, there are a myriad of ways to give back to your community, but the best way to channel your time, energy and resources is to follow your heart. In other words, identify problems in your community or the world that are important to you. So, my challenge to you is to pick three areas where your gifts could shine. Then, seek out organizations in your community that serve at least one of your chosen areas. Go to the Web site, contact the organization and start giving your time and resources in a way that demonstrates how truly thankful you are.

Barbara Fergus, owner and partner of the automotive dealership Midwestern Auto Group (MAG), has channeled much of her energy to philanthropy. She has a special interest in the arts and culture; consequently, that’s where she has placed most of her philanthropic focus. But she doesn’t shy away from other needs when she sees them. In fact, women’s leadership is also near and dear to her heart, and she is a proponent of policy change that will bring long-lasting results in that area. No doubt Barbara is thankful for her company’s success. More important, she has channeled that success into ways she can help others in her community. That’s what giving thanks by getting involved in a charitable pursuit is all about.

During the next few days, as you sit down with family and friends for a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner, think about how you might turn things around and help others in the community.

To learn more about finding and following your charitable passion, read Life Lesson 21 in Real You Incorporated: 8 Essentials for Women Entrepreneurs.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Hard Work Does Pay Off

I have some great news to share. I was recently awarded the 2008 Stevie Award for Women in Business in the category for Best Entrepreneur.

Thanks to my amazing team at Real Living and all of our phenomenal agents and franchisees who continue to grow our brand throughout the country. Without your dedication and passion, this would not have been possible.

Remember that you can make your dreams a reality. With vision, steadfast determination and a great support system, you can achieve anything!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Finding Your Target Audience

Finding and targeting a well defined audience will help your business be successful. And focusing on women is a great idea.

You may be surprised to learn that women make up 51 percent of the U.S. population, but make 85 percent of all purchasing decisions. So even if your business doesn’t cater specifically to women, more than likely they’re still the ones making the decisions.

But remember, women are savvy consumers. That means you always want to be one step ahead. In order to reach them, you’ll need to make your business incredibly accessible. Create both an online and offline presence. By 2010, women will outnumber men online by more than 8 million. Further define your customers by narrowing it down even more. Where do your consumers live, work, shop, eat? How old are they? You need to be specific in your targeting. After all, more than half the population isn’t exactly a niche market.

To find out more about female consumers, check out Life Lessons sixteen and seventeen of Real You Incorporated: 8 Essentials for Women Entrepreneurs.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Identify what you love to do.

Turn your avocation into a vocation, and you’ll never “work” another day.

While this is advice you’ve no doubt heard before, the real test is identifying what it is you love to do. Sometimes it can be too obvious, making it even harder to recognize. I suggest spending some time alone—time to soul search without the distractions of daily life. Then, think about how you like to spend your time when nothing else interferes. Write down some ideas. Brainstorm with people who are close to you and know you well. And be creative. Transforming what you love to do into an idea for a business isn’t always easy.

Linda Kick, founder of Our CupCakery in Dublin, Ohio, is a former teacher and manager who left education to pursue her passion for baking. According to Linda, it all started with the Easy-Bake Oven she received as a child. That’s what introduced her to baking, and through the years she often referred to herself as a closet baker. Now she spends long days baking everything from wedding cakes to gourmet cupcakes, but she’s having a blast. Linda always knew she liked to bake. Until recently, she just didn’t realize how she could turn her love of baking into a unique and viable business.

Learn more about Linda Kick and her thriving cupcake business at in the featured entrepreneurs section of RYI. Her contagious enthusiasm is bound to inspire you. Share your story!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Family Business: How to succeed!

Going into business with your family can be daunting, but not if you do it right! First, because this is your real brand, make it clear that you are the ultimate decision-maker in the group. Then, make sure each family member is qualified for the job, and define clear roles and responsibilities. If they’re not yet qualified, they can get some valuable work experience elsewhere before they join your team. Both my husband and I worked at other companies before starting work at Real Living. This is so important because family members are always being judged based on their relationship with the business owner—you! They’ll need that built-in credibility before they become a member of your team.

Once you’ve determined that they’re qualified, don’t allow them any special favors that would cause bad feelings among other team members. At the same time, don’t fall into the trap of holding them to a higher standard. That’s not fair either. But by far one of the hardest things you’ll have to master is to keep your personal lives out of the business. Equally hard is the challenge of keeping the business out of your personal lives. But you can do it, so, have fun!

To learn more about working with family members, listen to this podcast with Harley and I.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The power of female friendship can change the world.

What are you doing to connect with other women? Do you network with other women business owners or with women in the same or similar line of work? Have you considered joining a woman’s organization that would add meaning to your life—and to the lives of others? Here’s the message: Don’t isolate yourself. Reach out in a real and meaningful way, and not only will you be blessed, but you will touch the hearts of others. Begin by doing your homework. This will help you find the organizations and relationships that best suit your needs.

Debba Haupert, founder of Girlfriendology.com, knows firsthand that the power of female friendship can change the world. She lives it daily through her business, an online community for women based on female friendship. The site, which is designed to inspire women through semi-weekly podcast interviews with amazing women, also features shopping, reviews, blogs and more. Debba points out that men and children look to women for tending, as do other women. That said, if we take care of women, we take care of everyone. And that in turn makes the world a better place.

Check out Debba’s full profile on the RYI site, and start connecting and sharing with other women today!

Friday, November 7, 2008

It's Never to Late for a Fresh Start

Maybe your business needs to be re-energized, or you need to refocus your vision for the company of your dreams. Fortunately, there are plenty of resources that can guide you through the process. But first, you have to know what you want and where you’re going. Create a vision statement!

A vision statement, or road map for your brand, is basically a game plan. In one or two sentences, you can define your goals in a way that everybody understands and embraces. Determine a few words that embody what your business is about. I call them essence words, and they can help you craft a clear, well-defined vision statement. After that’s accomplished, get started on a business plan!

Check out Life Lesson Nine in Real You Incorporated: 8 Essentials for Women Entrepreneurs for a strategy map and RealYouIncorporated.com for vision boards.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Believe in yourself, as there is always another option.

Perhaps you’re experiencing a setback in your career, or maybe you’re faced with a new challenge, either personally or professionally. It could be that you’re bored with your current situation and you need something new and inspiring to set things in motion once again. Don’t panic. There are options. You just need to uncover them. Begin by reflecting on a similar situation in your life. Then use the memory of that experience to help you plan for the future. At the same time, identify your most resilient attributes. Are you flexible, determined and/or confident? Once you’ve identified some key attributes, combine them with what you’ve learned from past experiences, and move forward—all the while looking for new options.

Karen Hough, founder of ImprovEdge LLC, knows what it means to be flexible. She has taken her background in improvisational acting and applied it to the business world where she uses it to provide training and consulting to businesses. By doing so, she looks for ways to help people communicate, behave and work differently. Why? Because people can get stuck, and when that happens, they need to look for another option. Quite simply, they need to get unstuck. According to Hough, it’s not that hard to do—as long as you believe in yourself and remain open to other options.

What about you? Are you temporarily stuck? Do you lack motivation, or have you hit a roadblock in your career? Now is the time to look for options. Begin with Real Fact #1 in Real You Incorporated: 8 Essentials for Women Entrepreneurs—It All Starts With You. Then learn more about Karen Hough in RYI’s featured entrepreneur section.

Become a Featured Entrepreneur
Do you have advice based on your journey to entrepreneurship? Become a RYI featured entrepreneur by e-mailing me, or tell us your story in the Share Forum!

Friday, October 31, 2008

My Favorite Halloween Costume: Freudian Slip

Today is the day to let your imagination run wild and allow your inner child come to life. Reminiscing about the past is the best place to start! Remember the good old days of pillow cases full of candy corn, Mary Janes, Clark bars, candy buttons and Bit-O-Honeys? I miss those days.

One of my most memorable Halloween moments is when I dressed up as a Freudian slip, and I have always loved Trick-or-Treating with the kids. What are some of your favorite Halloween memories? Feel free to share. I love hearing your stories!

Do you know:
How much candy is purchase annually in the U.S.?
What is the most popular candy in America?
Where the concept of the Jack-O-Lantern originated?

Check out my Happy Halloween – Traditions and Memories podcast to find out!



Thursday, October 30, 2008

Which Book Won a 2008 Best Book Award?

Real You Incorporated did!

The 5th Annual National Best Books Awards, sponsored by USA Book News, announced the 2008 winners, and Real You Incorporated: 8 Essentials for Women Entrepreneurs won the “Business: Entrepreneurship & Small Business” category.

The book was also a finalist in the business categories of "Careers", "Management & Leadership" and "Motivational” and in "Self-Help: Motivational".

I want to say THANK YOU to everyone who helped make this possible. Your support of me and the book have not gone unnoticed. It is your words, actions and inspiring stories that keep me going.

So, again, thank you. It is an honor to know that my book is helping to energize women’s lives.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Rally your troops around a clear vision statement

It all begins with a vision statement, and if you’re a business owner—or you plan to start your own business—you need a vision statement. Fortunately, a strong vision statement typically consists of only one sentence. Begin with three vision words or adjectives that you readily and easily associate with your vision for the business. Define them, write them down and then keep them handy. They are the building blocks for your company’s vision statement.

Sandy Clary, founder of Columbus, Ohio-based Clary Communications, masterfully developed a vision for her company when she started her public relations business back in 1983. By putting the vision in writing, both she and her employees were able to stay focused and on task. Perhaps most important, Sandy made sure that creating the vision statement was a team process. That only makes sense, according to Sandy, since team member involvement in the process increases understanding and buy-in of the concept. Now, 25 years later, Clary Communications is still strong, fast-paced, focused, fun and very creative—all traits that were part of the original vision statement.



Set the tone for your employees—and for yourself—by reading more about Sandy and other women entrepreneurs in Real You Incorporated: 8 Essentials for Women Entrepreneurs.

Have you purchased your copy yet? You can pick it up at any book store or conveniently order it online at Amazon.com! If you’re interested in learning how to create your vision statement, which is part of the larger strategy map for your company, check out Life Lesson Nine!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Letting Go is Hard to Do

Eventually your small business may turn into a booming company. As your company grows it becomes more difficult to control every aspect on your own. Never forget that working smarter—not harder—is the answer to your dilemma.

Remember that team you built? Trust them to get the job done. Successful entrepreneurs know the difference between leading and managing. Sure you’re still going to be there, offering them the direction they need. But now that your company is growing, you can’t be everywhere at once, and you certainly can’t do it all. So give your team the breathing space they need to put your plans into action.

You created a plan and a vision. Now let your team members carry it out. For more tips on building and managing a stellar team, check out Life Lesson 14 of Real You Incorporated: 8 Essentials For Women Entrepreneurs.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

When the brand gets in the way of the message

I want to say this upfront: I LOVE the YWCA and everything it stands for. The mission statement, emblazoned proudly in persimmon, is empowering women, eliminating racism. I’m honored to serve on the board of my city’s YWCA, and champion the organization’s causes whenever I can. So, in the story I will tell you today, don’t think I’m disparaging the Y in any way, I am simply relating a cautionary branding tale.

To read more about this branding dilemma, check out my eBrandMarketing post.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Change the world for other women.

You don’t need to be an entrepreneur to make this happen. It’s as simple as reaching out and empowering another woman with a kind word—or a reference. Perhaps you’d consider taking a mentee to lunch. Maybe you could find time in your schedule to volunteer with a professional woman’s organization in your community. Or, it may be time to start your own. And if you’ve attained a level of success that allows you to give your money—do it. Time and money combined are unstoppable. Throughout the last century and continuing today, women everywhere are making a difference for women of the future. Think Gloria Steinem, Hilary Clinton and local women in your community. You, too, can be one of these change-makers. Get involved now.

Once you’ve reached a certain level in your career, it makes sense that you’ll learn the most from your peers. The concept is simple: Peers share their knowledge and their experiences in a valuable exchange of ideas that benefits both parties. Marsha Firestone, president and founder of the Women Presidents’ Organization (WPO), has witnessed this firsthand. She started WPO specifically to help those women who had already achieved success. But prior to that, she worked for the American Woman’s Economic Development Corporation, a nonprofit that helped start-up and young women entrepreneurs. So, Marsha made it possible for professional women at various levels to network successfully, and she knows that it works at any stage of a woman’s career. It’s all about branching out, a concept that Marsha—and others—have instituted so well.

Real You Incorporated is another organization that connects professional women. Share your story and tips so that others can learn from you in the Share Forum. Together—we are unstoppable!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Don't Forget to Dream

Without leaps of imagination, or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning.

Begin by asking yourself this question: If you could be anyone else for a day, who would it be? What is your dream? Start defining it. What are you passionate about? What business activities feel most like fun and least like work? Of course, this requires some soul-searching. Take it to the next level. Write down the names of three people you admire. It doesn’t matter if they are family members, friends or business acquaintances. Then, determine what characteristics you admire in each of them. The attributes you list should be closely aligned with the heart of your passions! When you define your passions and dreams, you begin the planning process, and that in turn opens the door to exciting possibilities.

This tip, from Gloria Steinem, is definitely one to live by. Anytime you create and build a business, you dream—or plan. It’s part of the natural course of events. And leaps of imagination are necessary for making it happen. There are, after all, endless possibilities, and it’s up to you to steer them in the direction that fulfills your dreams. I spend a great deal of time talking with women entrepreneurs around the country, and I am able to witness firsthand the incredible success they are experiencing. As you know, women are starting businesses at twice the rate of men. Why? The reason is in part because they can, but also because they are dreaming and planning. It’s the excitement of the possibility. And today, more than ever, they know that it’s possible for a woman to own and operate her own business. Thanks to women like Gloria Steinem who forged the way for women like me—and you.

What about you? Are you dreaming and planning? Is your imagination working overtime? Get your mind in gear by reading about other women entrepreneurs and sharing your success story at www.RealYouIncorporated.com.

Friday, October 10, 2008

What's in a name?

Let me say this: Naming your company matters. It’s part of your real brand; it’s your essence. What you need to do is begin with your company story. Write it down; record it. From the first twinkle of an idea to the people that have played a significant role, get it on paper. This is important because you’ll want employees to know about and understand your brand. They need to know the real story.

After you’ve got that down, coming up with a name for the company should be easier. You’ll want it to define your real brand—the genuine, truthful, authentic you that your company is all about. Remember those dreams? Sure you do! Let them unfold—in your company name.

To share your success story and company name leave us a comment, or check out RealYouIncorporated.com for some inspiration from other female entrepreneurs.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Remember Mom's Rule?

It’s better to give than to receive. At least to give first. Then receive. It’s the way to build real relationships, deeper relationships, but some of us have forgotten that principle during the boom years. It’s probably time for a reminder.

Consumers are unsure, and in many cases, just plain scared. What are you doing as a business to give back to your customers? To read more about reaching your customers, check out my eBrandMarketing post. I’d love to hear what you’re doing, leave a comment!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Subscribe to great magazines that energize you with new ideas.

Begin by visiting your local newsstand or bookstore and browsing through the periodicals. Make some choices about the magazines that relate most closely to you and the life you are living. Then, jot down the titles and subscribe to the ones that speak to you most. But don’t stop there. Get online and find out what’s happening in business, fashion, home living, parenting and more. Try sites like Glam.com and iVillage.com. With a computer at your fingertips, nothing can stop you from accessing great articles and features that will inspire you and help you grow.

There are several magazines—both print and online—that appeal to me. That’s why I make every effort to subscribe to those publications that speak to my heart. Some are business related, while others address family and the personal side of my life. Often, a good read is all I need to get inspired. Pink magazine is a personal favorite of mine, with its tagline--a beautiful career; a beautiful life. It emphasizes the fact that my personal life and my business life are not separate; in fact, they are intertwined. And that’s how I keep it real—by refusing to differentiate the two. Instead, I focus on my passions and my goals, putting first the things that matter most.

There’s no shortage of inspiration at the Real You Web site. In addition to the many great magazines and Web sites you’ll find online and at the newsstand, you’ll be inspired by our stories of women entrepreneurs who are putting the real you in their lives!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Your Business, Your Brand, Your Culture

If you happen to be in Columbus, Ohio, on Oct. 9, I'll be presenting "Putting the Real You in Your Business" at the National Association of Women Business Owners luncheon.

I'll be sharing insights on:
• Establishing a successful brand for yourself

• Putting yourself at the center of your business
• Giving your company a competitive advantage
• Building a great company culture
• Creating lifetime relationships with your clients

The meeting will be held from 11 a.m. - 1 p.m. at Smith and Wollensky at Easton Town Center.

For more information and to RSVP, visit NAWBO Columbus. I hope to see you there!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Dear Advertisers. It's me, Female Consumer.

Every month I’m excited to read my favorite magazine. I open the glossy cover with its witty teasers to find: full-color, beautiful woman, product, no substance (flip). Repeat. Repeat. Great content (finally!). Flawless woman, product (flip). It’s a vicious cycle. I quickly move past the ads to get to the good stuff.

It’s disappointing to say the least. Here you are with your great brand, prime real estate in a highly-circulated magazine, an over-paid advertising agency on retainer and a full page ad that says … nothing. Hello? Anyone listening out there? What happened to the emotionally captivating messages that accompanied the great imagery?

To read more about emotional branding and which companies are doing it right, check out my eBrandMarketing post and tell me about some ads that speak to you!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Find clarity about what it is you are seeking, and go after it.

If you don’t have a clear picture about what you want, you will never get it. Clarity of vision is so important. But to do it right takes time and effort. Begin by choosing three words to describe your business, even if that business is not yet off the ground. Then put your operating principles in writing. This will likely be the precursor to your company vision or mission statement, so take the time to get it right. Next, list some additional adjectives that you want to associate with your vision. Play around with it; be creative. This is the fun part. Remember, the clearer the picture, the easier it will be to transform your vision into reality.

This tip comes from Elizabeth Lessner, owner of Betty’s Family of Restaurants in Columbus, Ohio, which includes Betty’s Fine Food and Spirits, The Surly Girl Saloon, Tip Top Kitchen and Cocktails and Dirty Frank’s Hot Dogs (coming soon). Even before she opened her first restaurant, Elizabeth was trying to find a niche. She wanted to create an environment where women could go—a place to hang out and feel comfortable, free of hassles and full of fun! “It seemed like I could do it,” she recalls about her initial vision. So, she decided to take a chance. Sure, there were skeptics in her life, people who doubted her ability to make it happen—especially at such a young age. And frankly, without that clear picture, it could have flopped. But Elizabeth had clarity, and she went after it—and that made a huge difference in the outcome.

You, too, can follow a dream—a similar dream of owning your own business, perhaps. In the meantime, learn more by reading Elizabeth Lessner’s profile at RealYouIncorporated.com.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Business partner or best friend? Why not both?

Are you thinking about going into business with a friend? If so, begin by recognizing the fact that there could be a strain on the relationship. Then, take the necessary steps to prevent any upsets, like defining, up front, individual responsibilities. Be clear that someone needs to be in charge. Remember, this business is your dream.

Having said all that, a friend and partner can be a tremendous asset, especially if that person has talents and skills that contribute to your vision for the company. And that’s the key. Without that in place, both your friendship and your business could be headed for disaster.

So, bottom line, establish the rules before you get started. Then, together, reach for your goals!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

By 2012, women will outnumber men online by more than 8 million

A woman starts a business in the U.S. every 60 seconds. And, American women are the largest economy on earth. Put those two stats together with the possibilities of the Internet - and you’ve got a revolution to be reckoned with.

To read more about the power of women online, check out my eBrandMarketing post and let me know what you think!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Make your office of reflection of the Real You

MAKE IT HAPPEN: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2007 the average American worked 42.9 hours a week. Over the course of a year, this added up to approximately 2,230 hours, which is about 13.3 weeks straight. If you’re spending this much time in your office, create a space that reflects the real you by addressing the needs of your five senses.

TIP IN ACTION: Start with color. Choose colors that exhibit your personality. For example, those who consider themselves to be imaginative, idealistic, a visionary and somewhat eccentric at times may be drawn to the color blue. You may also want to surround yourself with visual reminders of your hobbies and passions. My walls are blue, and I have sea glass on my desk to remind me of the ocean (I’m landlocked in Ohio). I also have tons of pictures and mementos from my kids.

Next, stimulate your sense of smell with a favorite scented candle—lavender, sandalwood and vanilla are great stress-relieving scents. When it comes to taste, keep a container of mints, chocolates or hard candy in your office. I have giant red lollipops around.

Whether you like Beethoven or the Beach Boys, choose some tunes that reflect your taste in music. There are some great desk clocks that double as iPod docks on the market. Turn on your favorite playlist, or listen to some soothing sounds of nature—whatever gets you energized.

Lastly, make sure you address the importance of touch. From your chair to the flooring, it’s important to feel comfortable in your workspace. Pick a desk chair that’s supportive and adds personal flair. Your desk should be spacious and ergonomic.

Here are a few offices of famous New Yorkers, including Martha Stewart’s, for inspiration.

Friday, September 19, 2008

The Million Dollar Question: Can I have it all?

Women have been grappling with this one for years. The honest answer: it’s not about having it all. It’s about having what you want—and being real.

Being real means aligning your values and personality with your business—and the people in your life. Think about who you are and what you want. How do you think? What makes you tick? Then, make sure the members of your team think like you do. Forget about having it all; instead, focus on integrating work and family with your personal goals.

Begin by setting aside some time, away from life’s distractions, to focus on your goals. Develop a clear plan, and then put it into action after your family, friends and professional team members are on board. Together, you will make it happen!

For more tips on making it happen check out Real You Incorporated: 8 Essentials For Women Entrepreneurs.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

A Lesson from eHarmony.com

I’ll admit it. I’m a big fan of eHarmony.com and I’m married and the mom of four. The reason I’m a fan is the marketing genius and lessons we all can learn from the site and its approach. Launched in 2000, the site is the #1 trusted relationship destination on the website, and has kept that position even in the face of a lot of competition. Why? Check out my eBrandMarketing post.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Never leave home without a business card

You’ve heard it said that first impressions are everything, and in many cases, it’s true. When you’re out there pitching your business and selling yourself, you need to be prepared to articulate your message on a moment’s notice. Having your business card handy will simplify the process. In the meantime, practice what you want to say the next time you need to ask for business. Keep it short, perhaps a sentence or two, and be sure to include the key points—your name, your company name, what service you provide or what product you sell, and finally, how people can find you. That’s where the card comes in. Have it ready—always!

Hopefully you were able to attend last evening’s RYI event at the Wexner Center when I hosted a panel of professional women from Central Ohio, and together we discussed how women have a unique ability to infuse philanthropy into their business. If you arrived early, you were there for the networking reception—the perfect example of an opportunity to meet other professional women and share your story. Of course, there are similar events taking place across the country all the time. Don’t miss them. Be there. And don’t forget your business cards!

Stay tuned for similar networking opportunities by checking the Real You Web site.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

There Are 1,010,400 Charities. Find Out How Your Business Can Help.

There are more than one million charities out there that could use you as a supporter, so consider pairing up with a local or national charity that fits your personality and passions—it’s a truly rewarding experience! I genuinely believe in giving back to the community, and I have a passion for the arts. This combination compelled me to become one of the founding donors for the Wexner Center for the Arts.

If you’d like to meet other like-minded women, I will be hosting a panel at the Wexner Center, in Columbus, Ohio, next Tuesday, Sept. 16, from 6-8 p.m. about how women have a unique ability to infuse philanthropy into their business. You’ll meet some of the women in the book and some new faces including Bev Bethge of Ologie, Jeni Britton of Jeni’s Ice Creams, Kim Holzer of Smith Barney, and Elizabeth Lessner of Betty’s Fine Food & Spirits, Surly Girl and Tip Top.

Come early from 5-6 p.m. to see the Andy Warhol exhibit for free! Enjoy a networking reception from 6-6:30, panel discussion and Q&A from 6:30-7:30 and then a book signing and Jeni’s Warhol-inspired ice cream and Surly Girl cupcakes at 7:30. I truly hope to meet you at the event!

Please RSVP here.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The real world is online

Your goal should be to grow closer to your female customer, to know what she likes and what product or service you can offer her to make her life easier. Now take that a step further and determine how you can delight her online. So, imagine a day in her life. From start to finish, what does she do, and what does she need to accomplish her daily tasks? Find out where she’s going online—and be there. What does she read online? Where does she spend her time? But perhaps most important, subscribe to blogs and e-newsletters within your industry, and keep current with what’s out there. Things are moving fast, and you and your business need to be a part of it in order to meet her needs.

At Real Living, we developed a series of quizzes for customers to discover their decorating style, housing types and more. We did this to make life easier for women who are searching for a home. The process of choosing a house can be daunting. By providing her with the tools she needs to simplify the process—like a consumer portal where she can organize, personalize, save and share her favorites properties with friends and families—we’ve helped her accomplish one of her tasks—and best of all, we’ve done it online. You, too, can bring this concept to your business. The real world is online. Be there. That’s where you’ll find your customers.

In addition to meeting customers online at RealLiving.com, we’ve created a forum of women entrepreneurs online as well. Learn what other women are saying and doing online, and share your story!

Friday, September 5, 2008

The Power of the Purse in Real Estate

Real Living has been marketing to women for 7 years now! In fact, Real Living was the first women-focused brand in real estate. Why market to women?

• Women make or influence 91% of all home buying decisions.
• Women guide 94% of all home-furnishing purchases.
• Two-thirds of real estate agents are women.
• 78% of engaged women say that while they already have furniture, they’ll replace most or all of it when they marry.

This being said, I presented at the national Marketing to Women (M2W) conference in May about the tremendous purchasing power women hold in this country, but more specifically in real estate. It was a great learning experience! The M2W conference attracts brands from across the country that understand the influence women have as consumers.

M2W asked Real Living to put together a video highlighting more great statistics on the purchasing power of women. It’s now featured on the M2W site. Click here to view the video!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Women Out-Earning Men in Some Professions

We have been waiting quite some time to see the pay gap between women and men shrink. Well ladies, in some professions the tables are turning. Here are a few current careers where women are earning more than men:

• Sales engineers
• Statisticians
• Legislators
• Automotive technicians and mechanics
• Baggage porters
• Financial analysts
• Aerospace engineers
• Advertising managers

According to an article on AOL, women tend to verbally outpace men and are excellent with details and follow-up, and it is these characteristics that enhance their workplace performance. Currently, women are also receiving college degrees in larger numbers than men. After graduating, they are moving to large urban cities, where, in the past few years, there has been an increase in women earning more than men.

The glass ceiling is getting thinner. Become a pioneer in your field, and begin paving the way for future generations!

To learn about women who change the world, check out Life Lesson 20 in Real You Incorporated: 8 Essentials for Women Entrepreneurs.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

The window to your soul is found in the people you admire.

Who is your hero? What are the words that describe your hero? What is something that person did that you admire? And finally, what is one way you can be more like your hero? Write these thoughts down on paper. Then, make a list of the qualities that you admire in your hero. If you have several heroes, they will probably all have similar qualities. But identifying your hero and what that person has done is only the beginning of the process. The next step is to contact your hero. It doesn’t matter if your hero is a famous person or a close friend. Write to that person. Reach out to her. By doing so, you will be greatly inspired to live your life in a way that makes you happy—a way that you’ve admired in others and therefore can apply to your own life and business.

When Chelsea Clinton introduced her mother at the recent Democratic National Convention, she referred to her as “my hero.” Since heroes are presumably those individuals who inspire us to do great things, the people we model our lives after, that most likely means that Hillary Clinton has greatly influenced her daughter. It may even mean that Chelsea has patterned her life after her mother. Remember, identifying your heroes is all part of determining who you are and what you love to do. Famous or not, heroes are the people you and I aspire to be like. They help us identify our values and ethics and what is important to us—thus, how we will run our business.

Heroes are everywhere in life. In fact, you may discover that you admire qualities in other female entrepreneurs. Who are your heroes? What makes them special to you?

Take a look into the lives of other women entrepreneurs.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Tips for hiring a great team

Begin by articulating your personal and business brand to potential employees. That’s as easy as writing a job description that provides a glimpse of what your company is all about. That will get the ball rolling when it comes to attracting the right individuals to your door. You know the kind of people I’m talking about. They’re the workers who understand that it’s your company, but treat it as if it’s their own.

You’ve created a real brand. Now it’s time to hire some real people who think like you about the culture you’ve created. For more tips on hiring a knock-out team and building a creative culture, check out Real Fact Five in Real You Incorporated: 8 Essentials For Women Entrepreneurs.

What makes your culture great?

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Finding the right professional organizations for you

Connecting with like-minded individuals is a great way to grow your business and your personal network, but we all seem to be strapped for time with work, family and other activities. That’s why it’s best to only join organizations that have meaning to you. Start by visiting several groups so you can determine which ones are right for you. Then be selective, because attending too many meetings, or joining a long list of organizations, is the opposite of real.

Once you find that perfect fit—an organization that turns out to be exactly what you’re looking for—volunteer your time as a leader. Why? Because you’ll get the most out of it that way—and so will the organization. Leaders who give their time this way quickly learn that the benefits far outweigh the input.

Check out this website for great professional organizations in your area! Have you found an organization that speaks to your passions? Tell us about it, we’d love to hear from you!

To learn more about finding your passions, check out Real Fact Two in Real You Incorporated: 8 Essentials For Women Entrepreneurs.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Have you seen one of the best blogs for marketing to women?

I’m excited to share with you that I have recently become a contributing columnist to eBrandMarketing—the No. 1 blog on marketing to women—published by Glam Media, which reaches 77 million unique visitors. You’ll hear from the foremost authorities on women, like Fara Warner, author of Power of the Purse.

My column, called (you guessed it!) Real You, spotlights what women are looking for in a brand experience. I share my thoughts about how companies can do a better job connecting with us through emotional branding, authenticity and understanding women’s purchasing power.

Check out one of the most read blogs on eBrandMarketing: Real You: “Ladies” you can ride, look pretty, but you cannot drive, and come back every Friday for a new Real You column!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Real You: Learning the lessons of blogging

Sure, as a writer, blogging comes fairly easy for me. I like sitting in front of the computer, with a white space to fill with words. The problem is, if nobody else reads the words, it's sort of like writing in a diary. Helpful personally, but not likely to help grow my business. So that's what I've been focusing on the last few days. Learning how to link, maximize, post, syndicate the content, and most importantly, find more readers who could benefit and learn from the content I love to share.

My message to you: don't be afraid. Jump in. Learn the lessons of blogging and connecting - so you aren't just blogging to yourself!




Ok, like this example?? This doesn't look good to you or me? Hopefully, I'll be able to fix it, but at least you know I'm trying. Go ahead. To grow your business, you've got to grow your confidence online.

Like me, you just have to keep learning! Add to Technorati Favorites

Spouse and Business Partner: Making it Work

This is a topic that is near and dear to my heart. At Real Living, my husband is the CEO, and I’m the president. Being a husband-and-wife team has its ups and downs, but for the most part, it’s a great opportunity. You’re sharing your business success with the same person you plan to spend the rest of your life with.

But the road can be bumpy if you don’t take the time to define your individual roles. Determine from the get-go who has the final say on decisions and who’s responsible for various functions in the company. That’s a must.

Then there’s the issue of financial and emotional risk. When you’re both involved, that obviously increases. But there’s an awesome tradeoff that you simply can’t ignore: When everything is running smoothly, it’s doubly rewarding—and you’ll be able to enjoy that together.

Do you have any great success stories about working with your spouse? We’d love to hear them! For more tips on working with a spouse or business partner check out Life Lesson Five in Real You Incorporated: 8 Essentials for Women Entrepreneurs.

Technorati Profile

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

If you make your female customers happy, your male customers will be happy, too. We are the demanding ones.

MAKE IT HAPPEN: Schedule a regular time (monthly or quarterly) when you and the members of your team can discuss how to touch base with your customers. During this time, talk about what’s working and what’s not. Consider what you might do differently—or better. Remember, your goal should be to stay one step ahead of her. Now, get moving! You have no time to waste.

TIP IN ACTION: Women are world-class consumers, making or influencing 85 percent of all purchases and 91 percent of home purchases. Given these statistics, don’t women deserve a little attention? In the 1970s, women were purchasing with his money. Today she is purchasing with her money. Knowing that, it’s no surprise that women are dramatically changing how products and services are designed and marketed. Call it what it is: the unstoppable trend of women’s buying power. At Real Living, we created the first residential real estate company built with women in mind, from the logo and font treatment to the consumer-friendly Web site. Look around you. No doubt you’re surrounded by other companies that are following a similar course of action.

Share your best practices for connecting with consumers.

For more on connecting with female consumers, check out Real You Incorporated: 8 Essentials for Women Entrepreneurs.

Friday, August 15, 2008

The Almighty Power of Networking

Networking is not just important, it’s absolutely necessary. In whatever stage of the game you are—whether you own a company or you’re working for someone else—networking with other individuals is essential because you never know who can help you move up or help you move on.

Here are my suggestions:

  • Get over being intimidated. Leaving your comfort zone is never easy, but you can practice at home by role-playing what you’ll say when you meet people. Get your elevator pitch down.
  • Go with a friend. If you know someone who’s really involved in a group or organization, tag along. She’ll be sure to introduce you to her circle.
  • Always be on the lookout for networking opportunities. It might happen the next time you’re in the cafeteria. Introduce yourself to that person from another department—the one you see occasionally—but neither of you ever speak.
  • And don’t fret; it gets easier!

To network with other women online check out the share forum on RealYouIncorporated.com, it’s a great way to get started. We’d love to hear from you!



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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Women in business have clout-lots of it. And we're gaining more every day.

MAKE IT HAPPEN: What about you? Do you dream about a career that affords you more clout? Do you think about how your life might be different as an entrepreneur? If so, trust your gut instinct and decide that now is the time to make a change. Next, take care of yourself. Remember, if you’re not happy, and if you can’t be there for yourself, you can’t be there for anyone else. In addition to that, don’t go it alone. Reach out to others and tell your story. Don’t be an island; that is too isolating. Finally, separate yourself from negative influencers, or snarks. Put simply, don’t worry about society’s expectations for you. Instead, do what feels right.

TIP IN ACTION: The statistics prove it. Women are starting businesses at twice the rate of men. In fact, every 60 seconds a woman starts a business. From home-based businesses to high-level entrepreneurs, women are taking control of their professional careers in a variety of ways. Why? For starters, it’s a way to break the glass ceiling. Women who are tired of taking a backseat in Corporate America are turning to entrepreneurship as a way to get ahead. But most of all, women are looking for a better way to align their personal life with their professional life. Some call it balance, but it’s really about pursuing dreams. Entrepreneurship is a means for accomplishing that goal.

Looking for more inspiration? Go to http://www.RealYouIncorporated.com/ to find out what other women have to say.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Women Gather in Austin for Balance Expo

If you are in Austin, Texas, this Saturday Aug. 9, stop by the Balance Expo for Women at the Palmer Events Center. Join me and 7,000 other women finding new ways to balance careers, children, charitable passions and social lives. There’s a 5K Run in the morning to benefit the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition, and the expo runs from 8:30-4 p.m.

I’ll be presenting Putting Your Passions Into Action. Other speakers include Jackie Warner, fitness expert and entrepreneur from Bravo’s Work Out, actress Elizabeth Keener from the The L Word, Brad Womack, of The Bachelor, and many other experts on business, health, fashion, wellness and children.

Stop by the Real You booth. I’d love to meet you!

Is a Culture Vulture bringing down your team?

You’ve probably met this person at one time or another. They’re the employee that isn’t on board. The one causing friction among your staff and bringing down team morale. I have a name for people who sabotage businesses—culture vultures! And my best advice is to get rid of this person as soon as you can. If that’s not possible, then pay close attention to what’s going on, and trust your instincts. In other words, your perceptions of this person are probably right.

In the meantime, take comfort in the fact that culture vultures usually destroy themselves. Truth prevails, but it doesn’t typically happen as fast you’d like. Get help in the form of a business consultant, a person who will work with you to plan a strategy that ensures that every member of your team is on the same page.

Is your team being brought down by a culture vulture? Share your experiences with us! You can learn more about how to avoid culture vultures in Life Lesson Fifteen of Real You Incorporated: 8 Essentials for Women Entrepreneurs.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Things to consider before starting a business

Before bringing a great business idea to life, you must prepare yourself for what’s ahead. There are many things you can do, but begin by connecting with people. First, find a mentor, a person who can teach you the ropes and share personal experiences at the same time. Learn from this individual. Why is she successful? What could this person have done differently?

Of course, you may have to step out of your comfort zone. For instance, the next time you’re riding the elevator with a co-worker you don’t know, introduce yourself. It’s critical to develop relationships, so start immediately!

Do you have a fantastic mentor that you want to tell us about? Go ahead, we’d love to hear about the real people in your life! For more on mentors and networking check out my book, Real You Incorporated: 8 Essentials for Women Entrepreneurs.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Write your own job description based on what you enjoy doing.

Think about what it means to be, act, think and look like you. It’s not necessary to mimic other people. Instead, strive for authenticity. Now, bring out the paper and pencil, or start up the computer, and write your dream job description. When you’re done, make it your goal. With that as your focus, you’ll be surprised how quickly things start to fall into place.

Rachel Anne Mazur, CEO of DASCO Home Medical Equipment in Westerville, Ohio, is all about having passion for what you do. Although her father started the business more than 20 years ago, it wasn’t until Rachel started working for a similar company that she discovered it was her passion. Already very much a family person, Rachel returned home to join the family business—and there’s been no turning back. Why? Because she loves her job as CEO, and her fun, upbeat attitude is an example for all the employees at DASCO.

If you’re looking for more tips about finding your passion, check out Rachel’s profile or Real Fact #2 of Real You Incorporated: 8 Essentials for Women Entrepreneurs.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

If you lose your job, don't look at it as a setback

When women are fired, they feel ashamed. Men, on the other hand, take it as part of life. Let’s learn a lesson from the other sex just this once.

First, don’t take being fired personally. It’s all about business, and your personal brand can handle it. Get out of your personal funk and move on—to bigger and better things. Start gathering references; take samples of your work; and keep your head up high. This is the beginning of great things for you—and your personal brand.

Have you had experiences that have helped shape your personal brand? Tell us about them! To learn more about developing and communicating your personal brand, check out Real You Incorporated.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Make time for yourself, because your future starts now.

Wow! This may be a tough one for those of you with kids. And even if you don’t have a family, it’s a challenge in today’s world to get away for a while. But taking a break is necessary for your well being. So, if you can, head to the hills, the ocean—or even a hotel for a night or a weekend. This guilt-free time alone is essential, and what better time to plan your getaway than during the dog days of summer. Do it now—before school starts and before the holiday rush kicks in. This will give you some time to think, plan and dream. Chances are good that you’ll return recharged and ready to take on the world.

Women everywhere, and in all stages of life, are planning time for themselves. For some, it’s as simple as the solitude they experience while driving alone in the car. Others report that a long bike ride in the country is the best antidote. And some listen to music alone, take long walks in the woods, participate in a retreat, vacation alone—maybe even escape to a hotel on the other side of town. It doesn’t matter how you choose to make time for yourself. Whatever you do, you’ll quickly discover that spending time alone can be empowering. The key is not to delay. Plan your time today.

Don’t waste another minute. Plan your personal getaway time during the slower days of summer. When you return—refreshed and rejuvenated—get more inspiration from the new Real You Web site to be launched later this summer.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Should you join the family biz right out of college?

Joining the family business might seem like the easy route after college, but there are several things to consider. You must first decide, simply and emphatically, if this business is your passion. Sure, you’ve grown up with the business, but is working in the family business part of your dream? Be absolutely honest about your answer because it’s your life—and you can’t live that life pursuing someone else’s dreams.

If you make the decision to join the fam, do so only after obtaining the necessary training and know-how. Make sure you’re qualified and prepared for the task. This is important so that others have a positive perception of your role in the business—and they take you seriously.

For other tips on finding your passion see Real Fact Two in Real You Incorporated.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Reflect on your past, and write your life story.

Write your life story, but try to limit it to a page or two. Simply focus on the highlights. That will give you enough material to reflect on what you’ve learned from past experiences. It’s important to realize that with every experience, you grow.

You may never be forced to make a decision quite like the one Rosa Parks made when she refused to give up her bus seat to a white man. But, like Rosa Parks, you will have experiences that alter the course of your life. Her actions sparked the Montgomery bus boycott, which set a precedent for future non-violent civil rights protests. Unfortunately, Parks was fired from her job, and eventually she had to move to Detroit to find work. In spite of it all, she remained active in the civil rights movement for many years and eventually worked as an aide to Congressman John Conyers. In 1999, she was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal. Clearly, the experiences and events that shaped Parks’ early life had a significant impact on her later years.

What about you? What’s your story? What experiences have shaped and guided you and made you the person you are today? Perhaps even more important, what can you learn from the past that will make you a better business owner, mother, friend or co-worker in the future? Gain inspiration from the stories of several women entrepreneurs in Real You Incorporated and share your own with us!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Stop Taking Credit for My Work!

I’ve been in too many businesses to name where a certain employee will continually take credit for others employees’ work. If your organization has one of these people on your hands, you’re dealing with an ego snark—someone who wants what you have and will go to any length to get it. These individuals are crafty, and they’re dangerous. They’ll also destroy your culture if you let them. Ego snarks often do their worst damage before you realize they’re a problem, causing animosity within your team and bringing them down. But you’ve at least spotted this person—hopefully before too much damage occurs.

Here are some quick tips for dealing with an ego snark:
  • Single them out. Ask them their thoughts and opinions on a new topic.
  • Hold them accountable for specific responsibilities that the team would conquer together.
  • If the problem persists, confront them.

In any situation, always protect your ideas. The best way to do that is to surround yourself with a team of real people—the family, friends and staff who will help you achieve your goals.

Have you had any encounters with an ego snark lately? Tell us about it! Or to learn more about different types of snarks check out Life Lesson Four in Real You Incorporated.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Mentors: Paving the way to success

When you discover your passion in life, find someone who’s been successful at it—and make that person your mentor.

Are you connecting with individuals in your industry? Do you routinely meet with one or two mentors who can answer questions, provide encouragement and nurture your dreams? Make a list of possible mentors, and put them on your calendar. Then, remember to be there when someone new to the industry needs your guidance.

Freelance writer and Internet talk show host/producer Carrie Runnals lives by this tip from her father. Here’s what it means: Find someone who shares your passion, has experienced success and is willing to share what he or she knows with you. Learn all you can from that person, and when you’re successful, become a mentor to someone else. Carrie had many careers before her present one as host of the Words to Mouth Internet talk show and companion blog Web site. Through it all, she’s never been afraid to ask someone, “How do you do that?” Because the technology associated with podcasting changes rapidly, Carrie often finds herself asking more experienced professionals for assistance. In turn, she’s eager to help colleagues who are new to the industry.

Carrie Runnals learned early on that networking and mentoring are critical components to success. You, too, can connect with like-minded individuals at www.RealYouIncorporated.com. Share your stories, your advice and your dreams. Together, we’ll learn from each other.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Women in Real Estate gathered in Boston

At the Women's Council of Realtor's Women of Influence conference this weekend. The best thing about the meeting: women helping each other feel empowered and confident, even in the face of the worst real estate market most folks can remember.

I was privileged to be asked to speak on a panel to the full conference. The audience was smiling, and receptive, and positive. I'm not kidding. A room full of entrepreneurial real estate professionals who are positive. It's true. That's because contrary to the media bombardment, real estate professionals know home is where the heart is. These women know that people live in houses, and eventually, many of them, you perhaps, will see that it is a great time to buy.

And, since the housing industry led us into this national recession/close to recession/whatever you want to call it, perhaps these women from across the country are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. First in, first out?

No matter what, I do know that Americans and Realtors in particular, are an optimistic, enthusiastic bunch. We know things will get better. We're just waiting for the news to catch up!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Pursue Your Charitable Passion

If you’re not engaged in a charitable pursuit, follow your heart to get there. Pay attention to the needs in your community, and when it feels right, respond.

Pick three areas where your gifts could shine. Then, seek out organizations in your community that serve at least one of your chosen areas. Write them down, and check out their Web sites. Better yet, refer to http://www.volunteermatch.org/ for more ideas.

I’m a huge believer in giving back, and I make sure it’s part of my business and personal life. One of my many loves is the arts, and that’s why I’m a founding donor of the Wexner Center for the Arts. I will be hosting a panel discussion with five other notable women from the Columbus business community, including four from the book, at the Wexner Center at a date TBA. We’ll be discussing how women business owners are in a unique position to be givers to their communities by supporting their charitable passions. The discussion will also include how women can leverage the causes they’re already passionate about as part of their overall brand presence.

The free event, which begins with a reception and concludes with a book signing, will take place in the Performance Space at the Wexner Center for the Arts, located at 1871 N. High Street, Columbus. If you’re in the Columbus area, please join us!

Get inspired! Learn how you, too, can pursue a charitable passion that is right for you!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

On being real, even if you're famous like Heather Locklear, who I spent the weekend with (sort of)

Last weekend, I had a fabulous experience.
An “aha moment”, as they call it at the incredible Miraval Resort and Spa where we were staying in Tucson, Arizona. (More about the resort in another post.) An “aha moment” is when you have sudden clarity of a thought, an idea, a spark of a dream. Typically, in this blog, I’d relate an “aha moment” to you and your dreams of re-thinking your personal brand, or the clarity to finally go for it and start your business. And that fits.

But in this case, my “aha moment” was about celebrity in today’s culture. Authenticity – being real – is an over-hyped term. But at its core, sincerity is still a quality you can feel in others and you know it in yourself. That brings me back to Heather Locklear. It got me thinking about how hard it must be for her, to - out of necessity - build a shell around her real self just so she can walk through a restaurant, go shopping or just goes for a walk on the beach.

Her appearance the first morning at breakfast, with her also-celebrity friend Jack Wagner (of the Bold and Beautiful), caused a heightened buzz through the room. Next came the staring, pointing. Even in a place where all were supposed to be engaged in finding inner peace. Last week's cover story in People magazine, and subsequently in all of the other gossip magazines, had heightened our collective awareness. But none of us know her.

Natalie Goldberg, of Writing Down the Bones fame, began a speech at a writer’s conference I attended with the words, essentially: “You don’t know me. You think you know me. But you don’t. Don’t come up to me at lunch, and chat and talk. I don’t know you.”

She was, I believe, in a very strong and powerful (off-putting to me at the time, but now I’m wiser and understand) manner telling the crowd that our perception of her as a powerful author and inspirational creative force was all we were entitled to have of her. All we, who did not know her, could and should know. The rest was private.

As I glanced at Heather (aka Kathy, the name she used at the resort) and Jack across the room, I saw a couple having fun like everyone else in the room. I saw an animated, beautiful woman who I felt a connection to just because I’ve grown up watching her on TV. She’s my age. I am cheering her on.

But I don’t know her. I shouldn’t want to know about her personal struggles, splashed across the tabloids with words like depression, anxiety, drug abuse. No, what the “aha moment” taught me first-hand this weekend is that our celebrity culture is dangerous. We don’t know these people. We should applaud their art, their acting, their public personas for which they are handsomely rewarded. As for the real person behind the fame, we need to leave her alone.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

If you and your brand aren’t in sync, customers know you’re faking it.

To ensure that the business you’ve implemented is real—and not fake or disingenuous—take some time to reflect. Just because someone tells you to run your business a certain way, you don’t have to listen. It must feel right to you. And if it doesn’t, change it. Start by choosing three words that describe your business and its essence. These words might be part of your mission statement, and in the end, they should describe the kind of experience you want for each and every one of your customers.

As president of the American Wine School, Marianne Frantz uses the following words to describe her customers’ experiences: sip, learn and savor. She measures success in terms of a flawless event or a well-attended wine tasting. Making attendees happy is the most rewarding element of what she does as a wine educator. Best of all, she’s in sync with her personal brand, and customers know she’s real.

Let’s face it. You know a fake when you see one. To make sure you don’t fall into that trap, read Life Lesson 16 in Real You Incorporated.

Have you chosen your three essence words? Share them with us!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Be selective with your time

You're a busy professional with limited time to devote outside of work and family, so that’s why it’s best to only join organizations that have meaning to you. Start by visiting several groups so you can determine which ones are right for you. Then be selective, because attending too many meetings, or joining a long list of organizations, is the opposite of real.

Once you find that perfect fit—an organization that turns out to be exactly what you’re looking for—volunteer your time as a leader. Why? Because you’ll get the most out of it that way—and so will the organization. Leaders who give their time this way quickly learn that the benefits far outweigh the input.

Learn more in Real Fact No. 7 of Real You Incorporated.