Friday, June 26, 2009

Questions to Ask when Beginning a New Job

If you’ve earned a new position, congrats! When beginning a new job, it’s important to feel comfortable with the company and your new boss and team. During your first couple of days on the job, ask some of the following questions to help focus your work and set goals.

  • What are the top priorities for the company and our team? This question is vital to your success. If you think their priorities are XZY but they are really ABC, all of your work may be in vain. Also, ask which projects take top priority. You need to learn to budget your time.
  • How do you prefer to communicate and approve projects? Establishing a strong communication pattern with your boss will save you endless headaches and wasted time. If your supervisor is not one for interruptions, they may get upset if you keep dropping by to get their feedback. It may be best to set appointments.
  • How and when will my performance be evaluated? Asking this question will help you structure your work so it is easily measured and evaluated. The more profitable/positive results you can show, the better.
  • Will there be opportunity for advancement within the company? This will let your boss know you have long-term goals in mind. Caution: This is a question to ask after you have been there awhile. You may want to ask a co-worker you’ve gotten to know, “Do people move around a lot in this company?” This will give you a feel for the type of answer your boss will likely give.

Make sure you start off on the right foot and familiarize yourself with the operations of your new company and your team/boss. And to those lucky folks who are growing their team and bringing on new employees, please express the above info to your new hires! A welcoming work environment is positive for everyone.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Here’s the Story of a Lovely Lady…

…who was bringing up three very lovely girls.

For many years Carol Brady was a classic American female icon and many women could and still can relate to her. But while many of us cannot afford to hire our very own housekeeper named!

For all you multi-tasking moms and busy entrepreneurs out there, there is a new site to help you save time and money. Eliminating the middleman, allows you to shop directly from the manufacturer to help cut down costs.Other money and time saving features include free shipping (and fuel savings because you don’t have to drive to the store), price comparison charts and coupon clipping with discounts taken off automatically at the checkout. also keeps track of what products you buy and sends you reminders when its time to restock. You are also able to keep track of your spending and compare it to other families like yours.

With money and time being such valuable commodities, this site will help you manage both. And to me, that sounds amazing.

See for yourself, visit

Just for fun…

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Help Save Ohio Libraries

As a book lover and author, this news of library funding cuts breaks my heart, but we can all do our part to save Ohio libraries!

What’s happening: On June 19, Ohio Governor Ted Strickland proposed a budget cut that would reduce state funding for public libraries by $227.3 million in 2010 and 2011 fiscal years. This reduction would cut Ohio’s public libraries funding 30 percent in addition to the 20 percent cut due to the decline of the state’s General Revenue Fund. A total 50 percent cut in funding. :(

What it means: As a result, branches may close, hours of operation will be reduced, new book and material orders will be halted and other vital summer reading programs and services would end. With the economic hardships that thousands of Ohioans are facing, trips to the library have provided some relief for families, and I can’t imagine what some families would do without those opportunities.

How you can help:

  • Call or email Ohio legislators. For phone numbers and emails, click here. To email all legislators and senators at once, click here.
  • Join the Facebook group, and update your Facebook and Twitter status with:

“I contacted my elected officials to help save Ohio libraries, and you should too. Find out more:”

The Ohio Library Council site has provided the image below for you to save and upload as your profile picture on social media sites.

  • Spread the word! Let friends know what is going on, how you have helped and how they can, too.

For more information, visit The General Assembly Conference Committee is likely to make a decision this week, so act fast!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Personal Recommendations Beat Out Online Sources

As I was reading my daily marketing news, I ran across a study that found most online purchasers bought because of a personal recommendation from a friend/relative (34%), followed by spouse/partner (25%), then a blogger (5%) and a chat room (5%).

Truly, this is no surprise to me. Personal, one-on-one connections are gems. These are the people you trust and depend on. If Oprah tweeted, “Acai is amazing”, but my friend Jane said, “I tried it and it’s not worth the price,” I’d go with Jane. Sorry, Oprah.

If you’re out there trying to make a splash in cyberspace, get the movers and shakers talking online and off. And talk to women! Women, your most valuable consumers, are twice as likely as men to recommend a product/service to a friend.

Start with a core group of “sneezers”, as Seth Godin calls them. These are influential people who are sure to tell their friends when they’re into something new. Then keep the momentum going. Ask those people to write online reviews or blog about your product/service. This will begin your online and offline publicity.

Are you looking for more tips on getting your product/service seen and heard in the marketplace? Sign up for my tip of the week, delivered to your inbox every Friday!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Businesses Use Twitter to Engage Customers Online

If you haven’t jumped on the social media bandwagon, hop on! More and more companies are coming up with creative ways to engage their customers online. According to Marketing VOX, a recent study indicates that more than eight in 10 Twitter users, most of which represent small businesses, expect their company's use of Twitter to increase in the next six months.

And if you know me, you know how much I love Twitter and believe in its power. Nestle is taking an interesting approach to get moms talking about their product. The company is running a Juicy Juice ad that asks questions like: “How do you help your child shine a little more every day?" and "How do you stimulate your child's mind?" If you go to CafeMom and BabyCenter, you can tweet your answer, and it will be live on the ad, wherever it’s running in cyberspace. Talking about the love(s) of our lives and being an online celeb for a day. Who doesn’t love that?

How are you using Twitter to grow your business and increase awareness?

Friday, June 12, 2009

It's time to commence.

This year, I have two kids achieving milestones. My 8th grader's recognition ceremony was yesterday, ending his middle school years and celebrating his move to the “big house” of high school. And my high school senior will graduate next weekend and head to Chapman University in the fall.

Commencement speeches are no doubt hard to write and hard to deliver with power. There are infamous examples of famous people who delivered bombs—and famous people who delivered eloquent still oft-recited commencement addresses. To me, the point of any commencement address is to inspire those in attendance to be the best they can be—as individuals and as part of the greater community.

And with that, I will share Mr. Bruce Brombacher's theme with you. Mr. Brombacher has been a middle school math teacher since 1976 and is considered the patriarch and heart of Jones Middle School. He also has been named Ohio Teacher of the Year in 1981, the National Teacher of the Year in 1982 and received many other awards of distinction in an amazing career. He has decided to retire this year, and thus his speech was poignant (many tears by him and us), eloquent and to the point, much like the man. (Even though he was interrupted mid-way through by a pulled fire alarm prank, Mr. Brombacher remained calmly at the helm, standing at the podium until the alarms were quieted five minutes later.)

His message: Just as a triangle has three sides, so must a successful person: belief in yourself, belief in those around you and belief that you can make a difference in the community.

Perhaps not revolutionary concepts, but at the core of the new society that the Millennials will help to create—and the one all of us find ourselves in the midst of today.

It's the same message found in Real You Incorporated: 8 Essentials for Women Entrepreneurs, and it's the start of any speech I give. To succeed, in work, in life and with your family, it all starts with you. It's believing in yourself and your unique gifts and building on those gifts to create your unique competitive advantage in business. And while women are uniquely in tune to the more emotional aspects of personal branding, men are embracing the message, too.

It's time to commence. It's time to believe in yourself and those around you. It's time to put the real you in your business and make an impact on the world. You can do it. It all starts with you! This is not the time to allow fear to immobilize you. This is the time to put your passions into action. Much like the college, high school and middle school graduates during this season of commencement, change is here. You must face it and get moving.

Have a fabulous weekend! And congratulations to all of the 2009 graduates out there—and to those who believe in them with all their hearts!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Self-Bailout Contest for Small Businesses

Survival of the smartest! Office Depot is awarding more than $1,000,000 in prizes in the Office Depot—Adopt a Small Business Contest. 500 small businesses will win more than $2,000 in prizes!

Want to enter? Upload a two-minute video about what your business is doing to survive during these hard times and how Office Depot can help you get through the challenges. The entry deadline is 11:59 PM EDT on July 31, 2009. Click here to enter.

By entering the contest, you have a chance to win $1,300 Office Depot gift card, one year of Tech DepotTM services tech support ($599.00 value) and $110 gift card toward copying, printing and shipping services. Gotta love free tech support and gift cards. For official contest rules, click here.

Good luck!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Summer (Business) Reading Recommendations

Summertime is here! And that means choosing a few great books (or magazines) to take along on vacations…to help your business.

Here are a few recommendations:

If reading magazines is more your style, try:

And of course my summer favorite, Gift from the Sea, by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. It always gives me inspiration.

What are some of your favorite summer biz reads?

Monday, June 8, 2009

Finding the right entrepreneurial community for you

Finding a women’s community that is just what you’re looking for can often take some time. To help you out, I’ve listed a few different online women’s communities that I think are fantastic.

Startup Princess—Startup Princess is a community where women can grow together while learning from one another. If you are looking for a fairy godmother (mentor), this is the place. The site is full of stories from women just like you. Features on the site include a blog, directory of women-owned businesses, videos and more. They recently featured me in a blog post. (Thanks, Kelly!)

Savor the Success—Here women come together and share trials and tribulations about business and life. You can connect with other members through blogs, message boards and events. For those living in the New York or California area, there are chapter events you can attend. Find a chapter near you! In addition to being a networking site, Savor the Success also features a PR Co-Op. Providing tools and references for you to use in expanding your business, this is a great resource.

Metromom—Their slogan is: Connecting Women. Creating Change. The site has a blog and hosts events for members. Events range from free calls to virtual and live events. They also have a marketplace where members can sell goods and post opportunities for other members. In addition to their free community, Metromom also has a paid membership club.

EMwomen—Based in Hot Springs, AR, this community focus is Empowering Tomorrow’s Leaders Today. You can upload your blog and join forums and special interest groups. The site also features recipes and cooking demonstrations. They also offer two levels for paying members.

Real You—(Of course I had to include our community.) The Real You community features success stories of women entrepreneurs, member brand boards, podcast interviews and updates, the Real You Chart Creator and more. Each Friday, I publish my tip of the week. Click here to get your weekly dose of inspiration!

Now go out and explore the wonderful world of women’s entrepreneurial communities!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Ready, Set, Launch – Gulp

As an entrepreneur, you know the feeling! Whether you're a solopreneur, mompreneur, intrapreneur (an entrepreneur within a company), a multi-million dollar entrepreneur—whatever level—that moment when the project is finished and you launch it to the world is daunting. You *think* you've thought of everything, dotted all your I's as they say, but invariably, something isn't quite perfect.

But it's still great. That gulp feeling, that nervousness, is all because we put too much expectation on ourselves, and our team, to be perfect. Perfect isn't sustainable or real. Perfect is a place where there is no room fo
r improvement, and there always is. Always. So if you're like me, and you've for too long held on to that perfectionist feeling, try to work it through. Realize, as I had to, that each mistake is a chance to learn and that when you're being realistic, you realize nobody—and no product or service launch—will ever be perfect.

Guess who reminded me of the whole problem with perfection? My middle school son. He is one of those guys—straight As, great at sports, a mentor, teachers love him, tons of friends. That guy. One night, tucking him in, I said something to the effect of you're just such a perfect kid. He looked at me, incredulously, and said: “Mom, nobody's perfect. I'm not. That's too much to expect from yo
urself.” Yes, he said it. Now I call him my “almost-perfect” son, with a smile.

That said, there's nothing wrong with doing your best. I just launched a new Web site for my Real You business—GULP. It's a work in progress, but it's a great start. I say that even while I acknowledge to you right now that I wasn't going to tell you about it today because it's not perfect. It isn't. But, then again, it never will be.

So, with pride, and a nod to imperfection and the entrepreneurial spirit, I hope you'll check out my new site: and watch with me as it evolves. Because a Web site, much like the business it represents, always evolves. And once you realize that fact, and the fact that your best is good enough—even if it isn't perfect—you'll be able to share more of the Real You with the world.

The best of you. The real you. And believe me, that is as close to perfect as you need to be.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Tips for Writing Effective Emails

While email marketing can be trying with those pesky spam filters, it’s a great tool to reach your target audience. Remember, a poorly completed email can negatively affect your brand. To put your best foot forward and connect with consumers, try these tips.
  • Clearly state your purpose in the first couple sentences, and never mislead you reader.
  • Use bold text, lists and bullets to make the most important parts of your message easy to find for your busy reader.
  • Don’t write in all caps or use smiley faces and other emoticons.
  • Avoid attachments.
  • Don’t forget your call to action. Make it simple and clear.
  • Include your contact info.
  • Proofread your email. Having a friend or colleague proofread your message is best since you’re very close to the content.
  • Use permission marketing—when people consent to allowing you to send them messages. You’ll get much better response rates when your reader wants what you’re sending.
  • Be concise and clear in your subject line, putting your most important info first.

While overall shorter subject lines correlate with higher open rates, a recent study by Epsilon shows that subject line word order and content can be just as important. According to Epsilon, most people look to the first 38-47 characters of the subject line, and what they contain. It is important that the reader thinks the subject is relevant to them, and feels like they will miss out on something valuable if they don’t open the email.

Share your best practices for writing effective emails!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

About Reinvention and what it really means to entrepreneurs

General Motors - fresh from yesterday's Chapter 11 bankruptcy announcement - unveiled a new 60 second television spot titled Reinvention. The spot is full of Americana images - baseball, big cities, folks hugging, sports fans, a tattered American flag, some familiar product shots, and the now, also cliched, nod to going green: plants growing, solar panels, windmills. You get the picture. And in case you don't, you'll see the spot, along with newspaper ads, radio spots and the like soon in your market.

Nothing about a 60-second television campaign says reinvention, except for saying the word "reinvention." You know and I know nobody watches television commercials anymore, and for a company in bankruptcy to spend our money (yes, we own GM now) on image advertising seems, well, business as usual. We all have a stake in seeing GM succeed now. How about a little reinvention here? (For more on the traditional campaign tactics being employed read this AdAge article.)

Which got me to thinking about entrepreneurs and how we must constantly reinvent ourselves and our products and services. Especially now, in these tough times. We know a federal bailout isn't coming our way. Instead, we need to rely on good 'ol American ingenuity. Creativity. Teaching ourselves new things - like twittering, and blogging. Pushing ourselves out of our own comfort zones to network, to pitch our business, to learn new skills everyday.

We know reinvention isn't a word you try on - it's a way of life. It's not taught - it's felt, it's born through struggle, and worry and yes, from fear of failure. Can a huge company like GM ever really get it - get the true meaning of reinvention - if there is never a true fear of failure? I'm not sure.

But I am sure about this: women entrepreneurs are helping to reinvent the way business is being grown across the U.S. and beyond. They are helping change companies from within (although not enough are there yet) and they are launching companies that are defining success in a whole new way. I hope the "New GM" has some women inside helping it reinvent itself. The chair of the board of directors is a man, the CEO is a man, and well, you get the picture.

And speaking of the picture, the images I see on the new TV spots are all of men (I think I saw a female hand, but I'm not sure), and the voice over artist is male. But GM's customers are female. Women make or influence 85 percent of all car buying decisions. A reinvention without taking women into account - internally or as customers - is really no invention at all.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Real You in the Workplace: Act Your Gender

Women in the workplace often try to act like men in order to get ahead. However, this can sometimes backfire and cause more damage than it’s worth. Women just aren’t wired like men. And when women approach others with a male attitude, it can be a turn off.

Instead, I strongly encourage you to be yourself. Don’t put on a male front. We need to be strong and stand up for ourselves, but in the appropriate manner. It’s really the only way that people will take us seriously.

Women also need to remember we are natural networkers. So don’t isolate yourself—even if you are in a position of authority. Ask questions and get involved with mentors and other people in a similar line of work. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. In addition, don’t hesitate to ask questions. And definitely don’t live in a vacuum. It just won’t work.