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 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 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!