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The PWCC Blog provides a platform for our community to interact online so that we may deepen our connection with one another outside of meetings. Promoting PWCC’s mission to create a strong, vibrant network for professional women, the blog also offers individual members a unique opportunity for self-expression. Topics may range from advice on careers, financial matters, and work/life balance to personal observations or even humorous vignettes. Whatever the subject, we hope that all of our members will take advantage of this chance to support, inspire, and enrich the careers and lives of each other. If you’d like to write for the blog, submit your blog to admin@pwcc.org for review. All submissions are reviewed prior to posting. Information is posted regularly by the PWCC blog team, so check back often!

 

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6 Ways to Treat Yourself this Summer

Posted By Administration, Thursday, June 14, 2018

6 Ways to Treat Yourself this Summer

Half of 2018 is almost over and the 2018 PWCC 2018 Season has come to a close.  Now that you have more time on your hand (smile), here are 6 sweet actions that’ll help slash stress, boost happiness and improve overall health this Summer.

1. Put Yourself on your Schedule

Look at your schedule and put into practice having some free time for yourself during the day. Set 30 minutes apart for your personal alone time every day: no phones, no computers, no social media. Take the time to do what you like without any distractions.

2. Do Something for the Joy of it

Find something you enjoy. Maybe you’re artistic and have a talented outlet and you enjoy making jewelry or painting. Maybe you’re an avid tennis player and you enjoy physical activity.  Whatever brings you joy, do it! If you don’t know what brings you joy, this is a great time to find out by trying new things, getting out of your comfort zone, and learning something different.  Here are a few things to try for the joy of it:

       Go to a free music festival in one of the beautiful Chicago parks

●       Make potpourri from seasonal flowers

       Catch fireflies

       Do a walking tour of your city

       Blow bubbles (love this one, try it with your kids)

       Throw a BBQ for friends and family

       Have a water balloon fight

       Play with the kids or the neighbor’s kids

       Do an outside workout

       Dance around

 

3. Laugh Out Loud

Chuckling and giggling benefit our mental and physical health, especially when combined with a physical activity. Giving into a case of the funnies can improve our overall quality of life, while getting goofy with other people can help us connect with the people we laugh with and foster our relationships. Watch a funny movie or a comedy on television.  Better yet, have a slumber party with your besties, watch your favorite sitcoms, and get goofy. 

4. Indulge in a Massage

Set aside some time to experience the bliss of massage. It soothes both the mind and muscles, improves sleep quality, and reduces stress.  While you are it, get a manicure a pedicure, a facial, or all of the above, why not.

5. Cuddle

Whether you’re the big spoon or little spoon, cuddling is good for you. Studies show that physical contact reduces stress and releases a hormone called oxtocin that boosts happiness.

6. Indulge in Some Retail Therapy

Shopaholics, rejoice!  Hitting the mall can help ease mild depression and make us more confident, according to some researchers.  Another study suggests that purchasing new clothes can lift a person’s mood (can attest to this one!).  Science aside, treating yourself to something shiny, special, and new (it doesn’t have to be expensive!) is a pretty surefire way to put a smile on your face.

Make it an extra sweet and fun summer.

Submitted by:

Elaine Mikesell, Ph.D.
Managing Partner, Mikesell Digital Consulting - WSI Agency
elaine.mikesell@wsimikeselldigital.com

Professional Women's Club of Chicago, PWCC is a Chicago based networking organization that provides networking connections that support, enrich and inspire women to advance professionally and personally. Members come from public and private sectors, multi-billion dollar corporations, mid-size and small businesses, as well as, non-profit organizations. Membership is open to women from all industries in all stages of their careers who want to develop a strong lifelong network. Learn more about membership and upcoming activities

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What Will Be Your Legacy?

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, May 16, 2018

What Will Be Your Legacy?

A friend visited recently whom I’ve known since college. She told me that she’s trying to determine what to do with the next 30 years, or, the last third of her life. I said that we could write off the last ten years of life to dementia or poor health. “Two ninths” she responded. “So we have 2/9th’s left,” I teared up. From laughter? Or, was it despair?  

My friend is a math teacher so it is natural for her to think of legacy in terms of numbers. In the musical “Hamilton”, it stuck with me that Hamilton’s wife Eliza lived for “another fifty years” after her husband’s death. Did Hamilton’s death make her a 50/50? After Hamilton’s death she went on to painstakingly tell and keep his story alive, raise funds for the Washington Monument, speak out against slavery and establish an orphanage in New York City.

In December 2015, Gord Downie, the lead singer and lyricist for the Canadian band Tragically Hip was diagnosed with glioblastoma, an aggressive brain tumor. He died in October, 2017 from a disease that gradually erased his memory. In his last year of his life, he released a solo album to bring attention to the government policy that sent Canadian children from indigenous families to abusive, state funded residential schools from the 19th century until the 1970’s. Downie’s Secret Path project became his Legacy Project, to make people aware of this tragic aspect of his country’s history. Apparently, Downie had not known about the schools or treatment of aboriginal children prior to his diagnosis. He chose thoughtfully about how he wanted to spend his remaining life. What was his legacy fraction, 1/26? He died at 52.   

Martha Nussbaum a distinguished professor at the University of Chicago (and named one of 100 Leading Global Thinkers) spoke to a group of psychologists in January 2018 in Chicago, which I attended.  She and her co-author, Saul Levmore wrote a book titled “Aging Thoughtfully - Conversations about Retirement, Romance, Wrinkles and Regret”. Nussbaum’s message is to encourage each of us to give thought to what we want to do with our lives, especially as we age.  She gave an example of a relative who lived for over a century, yet the woman was so preoccupied with trivia and herself that she left no legacy. Nussbaum could see nothing meaningful for this woman to be remembered for. Nussbaum’s message? Don’t waste your life like that. Think about how you want to spend your 2/9, or 50/50 or 1/26. 

I see adults of all ages in my practice. They don’t usually come in to address legacy but there is often an undercurrent; an attempt to understand what life is all about, a desire not only to make meaning of it but to figure out where they can fit in, and what they want to contribute.

Of course, few of us know the true fraction that represents the percentage of life unlived.  Maybe it’s ridiculous to put a number on it, yet the idea intrigues me. And, I know I’m not alone. The comfort is in talking about it out loud.  Martha Nussbaum and my friend are talking about legacy and aging openly and candidly. I encourage you to join the conversation. Talk to friends, relatives or a therapist about it.  To want to be known and remembered as bigger than oneself is nothing to be ashamed of. It’s your life.  

Submitted by:  Caroline Steelberg, Psy.D., LLC is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist with offices in the Chicago Loop and Andersonville. She specializes in the treatment of adult individuals and couples.

Professional Women's Club of Chicago, PWCC is a Chicago based networking organization that provides networking connections that support, enrich and inspire women to advance professionally and personally. Members come from public and private sectors, multi-billion dollar corporations, mid-size and small businesses, as well as, non-profit organizations. Membership is open to women from all industries in all stages of their careers who want to develop a strong lifelong network. Learn more about membership and upcoming activities

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PWCC Blog: How to Transform your Career & Reach your Full Potential

Posted By Administration, Thursday, May 3, 2018

Over the course of your lifetime, you’ll spend at least a total of 10.3 years at work and most professionals report feeling disengaged in their current position.  Changing a career can be intimidating.  That’s why people settle and stay.

The good news is that people change careers every day.  So, how do you transform your career successfully? 

Here are 7 proven steps to navigate a career transformation successfully:

1.      Self-Reflect

Before changing, it is important to make sure you are choosing the right career path to avoid experiencing a set-backStart with a self-evaluation.

2.   Plan a Future Scenario

What should your “after” picture look like?   Consider worst and best case scenarios, and choose the best.  What are your transferable skills? What’s stopping you?

3.   Plot your Stepping Stones

Take short term actions to help you move forward and create your dream future.  Be sure you are leveraging your network.   Your network is your most important asset during career transformation.  It can:

o   Help you meet key players

 o   Advocate for you

o   Get you the right advice and coaching

o   Be your seal of approval even if you don't have the perfect match of skills and experience

Invest in your skills.  Career makeovers most often require that you learn a few skills or refresh old ones.

These little steps may not seem relevant, but they are necessary to move forward.

4.   Talk to a Mentor or a Coach

Remember, many people have faced challenges similar to the ones you’re currently facing.  Navigating a career requires a psychological change, it is important to tap into the experience of others.

5.   Check your Fears

Fear is the only thing often stopping us from becoming the person we want to be.  Listen to your internal conversation and be sure it is not stopping you.  What would you do if you were not afraid?

6.   Get Inspired

Surround yourself with inspirational messages and people. Write a person manifesto, vision, or a letter to your “present” self from your “future” self and review it at least weekly. Keep it simple.

7.    Commit

Quell your excuses and get into action. Nothing will change until you take the first step.         

Career transformation can feel daunting. It can also be invigorating as you feel totally empowered to create your destiny.  Make it about creating your destiny.

 

Submitted by:

Elaine Mikesell, Ph.D.
Managing Partner, Mikesell Digital Consulting –WSI Agency
elaine.mikesell@wsimikeselldigital.com

Professional Women's Club of Chicago, PWCC is a Chicago based networking organization that provides networking connections that support, enrich and inspire women to advance professionally and personally. Members come from public and private sectors, multi-billion dollar corporations, mid-size and small businesses, as well as, non-profit organizations. Membership is open to women from all industries in all stages of their careers who want to develop a strong lifelong network. Learn more about membership and upcoming activities

 

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Tips for Smarter Living :Telling a Good Story

Posted By Administration, Thursday, May 3, 2018

Storytelling has moved from the children’s library into the workplace.  Managers are now using stories to make a point, make themselves believable, and lead their teams. 

Storytelling immediately brings your audience with you and helps you better convey any information you want them to know or learn.

But storytelling is also something most people are happy to avoid: it means speaking about yourself in front of people.  Research has told us that people fear public speaking/storytelling more than they fear death!

So how can you learn to use this very effective way of communicating information?  By doing it!

Here are a few tips to get started:

  •  Who is listening? In other words, who is your audience – friends, strangers, colleagues? A large mixed group? You need to know this to find something that connects you to them. Knowing your relationship brings you closer to knowing a story that’s right for them. 
  • What story should you tell?  The best story comes from something close to you – something personal. Hearing a personal story gives your audience permission to think of you as human, which builds an empathetic relationship between you and them – a necessary ingredient to being a good leader.  Everybody can relate to being human.

    Remember: knowing your audience is always key: you have to know who is listening to find the right way to tell your story.  
  • Be sure to fit the occasion.  Focus on something that connects you and your audience. What experiences do you have in common? This is easy enough for a group of colleagues or a family gathering but even if you’re facing an audience of strangers, think about the occasion of your talk to find some clues.  (Hint: you can always win over an audience of strangers by being funny or personal or by asking a question that your story answers.)
  • Structure the story.  Start with the characters and introduce them quickly. Don’t have too many and make them vivid.

    Then introduce a conflict, either between the characters or with some external force. Your character must face a challenge because the challenge is what moves your story forward and keeps your audience’s interest: they will want to know what happens. 
  • Now, get started! Either start saying your story – and record it – or write down a rough first draft and record yourself reading it.

    What does it sound like? Where did you stumble? What’s missing and what’s included that doesn’t belong?  Write a draft that includes these corrections. Record yourself reading it again and repeat the process: what’s good, what’s bad, what’s missing. Rewrite these revisions and now you have a second draft.
  • Practice, practice, practice.  Speak in front of an audience you trust and listen to their feedback. Learn the story well enough to tell it without notes because speaking directly to your audience without reading furthers your connection to them.

Storytelling, when done well, establishes your bona fides with an audience.  Start small in comfortable situations with people you know well to hone your skills and then take your storytelling on the road – to professional speaking situations and in your workplace.  You’ll learn to enjoy being fearless!

Submitted by:
Carol Jambor-Smith, Ph.D.
Principal, Jambor-Smith Communications
carol@jamborsmithcommunications.com

Professional Women's Club of Chicago, PWCC is a Chicago based networking organization that provides networking connections that support, enrich and inspire women to advance professionally and personally. Members come from public and private sectors, multi-billion dollar corporations, mid-size and small businesses, as well as, non-profit organizations. Membership is open to women from all industries in all stages of their careers who want to develop a strong lifelong network. Learn more about membership and upcoming activities

 

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Tips for Smarter Living: Spring Clean Your Diet for Workplace Success

Posted By Administration, Thursday, April 5, 2018
Many women use spring as a time to try to lose weight for summer, why not try to improve the quality of our food choices to get the most we can out of our busy schedules without feeling deprived?
 
Food affects your brain. To function at your highest performance, your mind needs nutrient-rich and low glycemic foods. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables and foods with B vitamins, antioxidants and essential fats.
 
Here is a list of tips your brain will thank you for:
 
Snack between meals: Eat a snack that's high in protein and complex carbohydrates between your regular meals. Cottage cheese, fruit, yogurt, tuna, hard-boiled eggs, protein-bars, an apple with peanut butter, and trail mix (heavy on the nuts, not the dried fruit and candy) are all great high-protein snacks.
 
Water: Stop dehydrating yourself! The minor signs of dehydration include lethargy, headaches, aches and pains, and a general sense of confusion called brain fog. Staying well hydrated is as simple as developing the habit of regularly drinking water. Aim for 90 ounces a day.
 
Spinach: Whether it's steamed, sautéed, or in a salad, spinach will help you remember facts and figures for that late-afternoon strategy session when your mind begins to go mushy.Research shows the lutein, folate and B vitamins in spinach can improve mental alertness and memory. And the antioxidants in spinach act as bodyguards for your brain, protecting them from free-radical damage that can cause memory loss and cognitive decline.
 
Beets: The natural nitrates in this root vegetable actually boost blood flow to your brain, according to researchers at Wake Forest University. This not only enhances mental performance, it also increases energy, to help you avoid that mid-afternoon slump.
 
Olive oil: This healthy fat is scientifically proven to help learning and memory. So it's a good choice for dipping your bread or drizzling on your salad if you want to be sure to retain information from that upcoming meeting. Olive oil has high levels of vitamin K, which studies show can help your brain process information faster. It's also packed with polyphenols, which can actually reverse learning and memory deficits. Studies show it can even protect the brain against Alzheimer's.
Salmon: Want to be laser-focused this afternoon? Salmon has DHA and omega-3 fatty acids, which not only increase brain function and concentration. Mackerel, herring, sardines and anchovies among other fish with "smart fats."
 
Tomatoes: Whether you choose them in salad, sauce or soup, tomatoes have high levels of lycopene, an antioxidant that helps fight free radicals. Those are the pesky chemicals that damage brain cells. So eating tomatoes can help prevent that damage, which in turn helps you think more logically and solve problems more constructively. Have you noticed that tomatoes have a slight sweetness? Eating tomatoes early in your meal is a great way to fulfill sugar cravings without spiking your blood sugar.
 
Eggs: Your next business brunch can boost your brain function and make you more alert, if you go for the omelet, the scramble, or the benedict. Packed with supportive antioxidants, eggs can also give you more energy and better concentration. The yolks are especially beneficial for brain function, because of a nutrient called choline, which a recent study links to better performance on cognitive tests.
 
Bananas: A banana contains about 25 grams of glucose, our brains work best with a small amount circulating in our bloodstream, so snacking on a banana can help us sustain our brainpower.
Dark Chocolate: Science says dark chocolate can lift your mood and fuel your focus. That's because of powerful antioxidants called flavonoids, which improve memory, learning and decision making. Dark chocolate also contains magnesium to help you de-stress, and a small amount of caffeine, to make you more alert. So if you're looking to increase your focus, decrease your stress level, and satisfy your sweet tooth, go ahead and splurge on a dark chocolate dessert. Science supports it.
Remember, diets filled with energy drinks, fast food and sugar negatively affects your mood, learning and memory, whereas diets filled with fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds can enhance your concentration and outlook. If we were to snack on something high in sugar, like a handful of M&Ms, then we risk a blood sugar spike followed by a crash. The result? Low energy and low productivity. Better choices will keep you fueled for maximum performance.
 
Contributed by:  Debbie Story, Corporate Identity, Inc. dstory@corpid.com

Professional Women's Club of Chicago, PWCC is a Chicago based networking organization that provides networking connections that support, enrich and inspire women to advance professionally and personally. Members come from public and private sectors, multi-billion dollar corporations, mid-size and small businesses, as well as, non-profit organizations. Membership is open to women from all industries in all stages of their careers who want to develop a strong lifelong network. Learn more about membership and upcoming activities

 

 

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PWCC Blog: Networking as Building a Hive, Not a Car

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, April 4, 2018

PWCC Blog: Networking as Building a Hive, Not a Car

This blog will tie together the new “organization as organism” model to the increasing need for “soft skills” training in the workplace to networking.  Bear with me.

Much is currently being researched and written about the need for organizations to move from a hierarchical model to a hive.  No more top-down edicts but more hive-like interaction.

McKinsey’s The Five Trademarks of Agile Organizations outlines this need for change.

Traditional models for organizations (think Ford Motor Company) were built upon hierarchy and specialization: leaders made decisions and departments implemented them.  Each department specialized in a discrete skill needed to implement their portion of the decision.

Today, organizations that meet the demand for quick responses to market demands rely on creative, disruptive problem-solving across departments.  There is little hierarchy especially because the best problem-solving includes multiple voices and perspectives looking simultaneously at the same problem. Inside-out, collaborative.

And while companies are perfecting their data analytic skills to offer customers nimble measures of success, little attention is paid to the need for communication and collaboration training to ensure that co-workers know how to share data and projects that lead to solving client’s problems and winning new business.

Scope Logic’s The Importance of Collaboration in the Workforce outlines the need for these “softer skills” in the age of digital everything:

“When your teams are collaborating, they are essentially learning new things from each other. Your organization becomes a body which encourages a culture of continuous learning, and supports that learning through opportunities for growth and development, as well as through safety nets for failures. Whenever team members collaborate, they enhance their capacity to go and grow beyond their comfort zones and take your business to new heights.”

And thus back to networking.

While some may approach networking as the means to an end – new business, say – this approach looks like the traditional approach to business: make a decision and find someone to implement it.

True networking is necessarily collaborative. Think about viewing networking from Scope Logic’s lens: true networking allows you to learn new things, develop relationships that support opportunities for growth and, and enhance your professional savvy.

But true networking demands you enter the relationships as a worker bee, looking to build something beyond yourself within your network.  You’re going to have to give to the hive in order to benefit from it.

Submitted by:  Carol Jambor-Smith, Principal and Founder, Jambor-Smith Communications carol@jamborsmithcommunications.com

Professional Women's Club of Chicago, PWCC is a Chicago based networking organization that provides networking connections that support, enrich and inspire women to advance professionally and personally. Members come from public and private sectors, multi-billion dollar corporations, mid-size and small businesses, as well as, non-profit organizations. Membership is open to women from all industries in all stages of their careers who want to develop a strong lifelong network. Learn more about membership and upcoming activities



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Become a Negotiating Pro

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, March 7, 2018

A lot is being said about women achieving – or not – pay equity:

  • Jessica Chastain reportedly helped both Jada Pinkett Smith and Octavia Spencer negotiate higher salaries in recent films;
  • The 2018 USA Women’s Hockey Team threatened to sit out games if the USA Hockey refused to pay them equal to the men’s team’s salary;
  •  In an open letter to the BBC General Director, published in the London Times, forty-two female journalists demanded pay equal to that of heir male counterparts.
  • And don’t forget: PWCC is an annual sponsor of the Chicago Equal Pay Day.

Seven years ago NPR published a report outlining women’s hesitance to ask for a higher salary; not much has changed in the interim. Women still must work 44 days into a following year to achieve pay equity with their male colleagues, reflecting an overall wage disparity of American women making, on average, 79 cents for every dollar that the average American man makes.

But what if you don’t have a high powered friend or a women’s empowerment organization behind you when it comes time to negotiate your salary?

Remember the importance of your initial salary: it is the basis for all future salary increases unless you change jobs or employers. Here are some helpful tips for successfully negotiating the salary you want:

First, do your homework.

Calculate your value.  Make sure that you keep a list of your accomplishments that is up-to-date.  Document your achievements and praise from higher-ups. When you prepare for a salary discussion, come with specifics and numbers.

Research the job and the employer to be sure that the compensation package is negotiable, as there are some jobs, such as those in retail and with unions, that offer fixed salaries. However, many mid-career to high-level jobs come with compensation offers that may be part of a salary range, with a low, mid, and high point, or that is paid selectively based on the candidate’s qualifications.

Research salary ranges in your industry. Websites that offer salary data and salary calculators, such as Salary.comPayscale.comIndeed.com, and Glassdoor.com, can provide you with some benchmarks for job titles and salaries within specific companies. Even theBureau of Labor Statistics offers wageestimates for each sector in the US.

Consider your financial needs. Before you even think about negotiating salary, it’s important to consider how much you need to earn. Is this a dream job or a lateral move? If it’s your dream job and the salary is lower than you expected it to be – or requires a pay cut – could you make adjustments to your budget to accommodate a decrease? What are the benefits and how do they compare with your present job? If the offer isn’t close to your expectations, you may not want to even enter into a negotiation.

Then, negotiate!

Don’t accept a job/salary offer immediately. Give yourself a day or two to form a strategy for how you’re going to handle the negotiation.

Use the information you’ve gathered to make a pitch. When discussing a job offer with an employer, be ready to explainwhy you’re worth a higher salary. You can share the data you have collected, remind the hiring manager of your credentials, and reiterate your ability to help the organization succeed.

Rehearse with a trusted friend, colleague, or coach. One of the many things that creates anxiety and prevents women from negotiating in the first place is not knowing how a salary negotiation is going to go. Think through various scenarios and practice talking them through. Develop a script that lays out your accomplishments, plans, and salary expectations. Practice that speech until you have it down cold. You will feel more prepared for the conversation, which will make you feel more confident and comfortable. Be sure to assess the role playing too so that you can hone your skills and improve your pitch.

Remain positive. When the job offer is much lower than you anticipated, keep any negative thoughts you might have to yourself. Don’t demand more money. Even if you get it, it may cause hard feelings. If it’s so low that you know you won’t take it, it’s fine to mention that the offer wasn’t what you expected. Thank the employer for the offer and move on.

Remember that not just salary is negotiable.  Some of the other things you should consider negotiating for include title, responsibilities, moving expenses, more vacation days, start date, professional development opportunities, and the chance to work remotely.

Give them time to consider your counter. Develop a one-page takeaway. Make your presentation, put the sheet on the manager’s table, and ask to schedule a second meeting.

Remember: no one else is going to negotiate on your behalf!  Do so with confidence -- being your own advocate will be integral to your future success.

S
ubmitted by:   Carol Jambor-Smith, Principal and Founder, Jambor-Smith  Communications carol@jamborsmithcommunications.com

Professional Women's Club of Chicago, PWCC is a Chicago based networking organization that provides networking connections that support, enrich and inspire women to advance professionally and personally. Members come from public and private sectors, multi-billion dollar corporations, mid-size and small businesses, as well as, non-profit organizations. Membership is open to women from all industries in all stages of their careers who want to develop a strong lifelong network. Learn more about membership and upcoming activities


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6 Challenges Every Entrepreneur Faces and How to Conquer Them

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Are you a new or aspiring entrepreneur?  Are you driven to become an entrepreneur and doing it because you have a vision to “save your soul”, gain freedom, make more money, or all of the above?

Many who make it through the growing pains of entrepreneurship never look back, make more money, and have a higher level of fulfillment and satisfaction.   Can this happen for you?

Of course it can! Yes you will face challenges as an entrepreneur but there are ways to conquer them and prosper.  But remember: your success will not be an accident.  It will happen on purpose because you will make it happen.

To be successful, you need to first condition yourself and your mindset for and work make it happen every single day.  And the first step to success is being clear on your mission -- your why -- and integrate it into everything you do.

To help you anticipate your journey, here are the six meta entrepreneurial challenges you are most likely to face and how to overcome them:

1.     Your Passion + Desired Product or Service + Transaction = Business

 90% of businesses fail the first year because they are only delusions of a business.  A business is a two-part transaction:

●       You have something people want (product or service) that you feel passionate about it.

●       People want this product or service and are willing to give you something you want ($$$) in return for it.  If your business doesn't help people, doesn't provide a solution, or doesn't give people something they want, then your business will not make it.

Pick a business that is transactional and about which you feel passionate and your work as an entrepreneur will be easier.  Remember one very important thing: your customers aren't buying a product, they are buying you.  Always remember to deliver what you have promised and add value at every step.

 2.     Find and Keep Customers

 Do the work necessary to identify the type of person who will be your customer.  Be very specific on your potential customers’ traits so you know where to find them

Remember that you are solving your potential customers’ problems.  Listen to their stories and learn how to show them how you can solve their problems.  Don't waste your time trying to convince somebody to buy something they don’t have an interest in.  Remember people want to buy, not to be sold. 

 Remember this equation from a highly successful entrepreneur, - Victor Pride.

Pushy salesman = buyers remorse = refund requests = smaller profits = bad reputation = failed business

You will want to network like crazy online and offline to build your relationships and expand your exposure with the right audience.  This also happens on purpose!

3.     Learn to Manage your Money

To finance your business, you can either borrow money or bootstrap it and be creative.  Illinois has a lot of resources for small business owners to obtain funding.

Whichever approach you follow, managing your money can be a real burden if you don't know what you're doing and if you don't know when your next paycheck is coming. Buy only what you need, pay your bills on time, and hire a professional to help you with your taxes.  If you can, have a clear plan with a few months of savings before quitting your day job.  Having said that, you really can’t build the sustainable business of your dreams on a part-time basis.  It will require your full commitment and engagement.

 4.     Expect the Rollercoaster

No matter how committed and motivated you are about your dream, you will likely experience one or all of these conditions:

●       Feeling confused, having self-doubts, or not knowing what to do next: This is part of the journey; you will not always have it together.  Don't worry about having it all figured out to get started. Most entrepreneurs don’t.  Get clear on what you want, follow your intuition, and move forward

●       Being disappointed with “slow progress”: Remember, it will take longer than you think.  Have patience, stay true to your mission, and don’t quit.

●       Getting tired too quickly: Remember, this is a marathon not a sprint.  Take care of yourself mentally and physically so that you can stay focused and get back on track after a setback.  No one is telling you what to do and when to do it.  You’ll need to create the structure and business time tables to get things done, keep things in check, stay motivated, and make forward progress one step at a time.  Allow yourself to chill out and take a break and put yourself first at times.  But, get back into it.

●       Experiencing loneliness:  Yes, this really happens.  Your typical friends and patterns will change, and you will experience loneliness.  Find like-minded “besties” or join groups and networks of people who share your dreams and experience.  You need people to turn to and share experiences with, to cry together with, and to help you get back on track.

●       Anticipating negativity or criticism: At times, some friends and relatives may foster your internal “doubting voice.”  Give these people and that voice the boot -- ASAP.  Whenever you need to, revisit your dream and mission with a mentor or trusted friend.

●       Feeling anxious about making a living:  You will have  weeks and months during which you make multiple deals. Just like there may be weeks and months when you make no new contacts or contracts.  That’s all part of entrepreneurship.  Follow frugal practices, continue to build your list, network like crazy, and keep going!

●       Being critical of yourself: Don’t compare yourself to others.  You are on your own journey and at a specific point in that journey that  is unique to you.  Work  consistently take steps toward success each day.  Value yourself and don't give up!

●       Dreaming small or playing it safe: Put yourself out there in a big way even if it feels scary.  Some entrepreneurs have a consistent habit of listening to guided visualizations to reconnect with their vision and goals to help them get back on track.  Try this everyday! You will be amazed of the benefits.

 5.     Build a Team

 You can’t do it all on your own.  You either will build your own team to collaborate with partners and contractors or grow your business. You will need to be great at getting good talent or finding the right partner that you can trust, building a vision that people want to be a part of.  Focus on creating amazing experiences for yourself, your partners, your team, and your customers. Be kind and care for people.  When you do that, people will be attracted to you.

6.     Make Decisions

Believe it or not, this is probably the most stressful challenge on this list. New entrepreneurs are forced to make hundreds of decisions a day, from big, company-impacting decisions, to tiny, hourly ones. Decision fatigue is a real phenomenon, and most new entrepreneurs will experience it if they aren’t prepared for a new level of stress. 

Conclusion – This is the Experiment of your Life

Taking the entrepreneurial journey is not easy and never pre-determined.  Your will make success happen taking steps toward achieving your goal every single day.  Take action,  experiment to learn  what does and does not work, and learn and grow. Remember, being an entrepreneur is a daily adventure, so don’t be afraid to experiment. 

Submitted by:  Elaine Mikesell, PhD, Managing Partner, Mikesell Digital Consulting-WSI, elaine.mikesell@wsimikeselldigital.com

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PWCC Blog: Can You Be an Entrepreneur?

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, February 7, 2018

So things are beginning to go sour at work or you just can’t face working within your current business environment for much longer.  Should you start networking to find a new job or jump off the working-for-someone-else boat and develop your own company?

Certainly, we’re hearing more about people pursuing a passion they have to develop a firm and the growing gig economy that has inspired sites like Upwork that connect entrepreneurs with people seeking specific services.

Do you have what it takes to make this transition to self-employment? Are you inspired by things that have never been done before or things that have yet to be discovered?  Do you have a vision that nobody else does?   Do you have the makeup to create something unique and offer it to the world? In other words, can you be an entrepreneur?

Aside from having the fortitude to weather the financial insecurity that developing your vision may require, get introspective and think about what building your own business requires.

Can you be passionate about something for the long haul?

An entrepreneur does not start her journey to make money. She is willing to work long hours for little or no immediate financial reward. Why? Because she is driven to either solve a problem or make doing something easier.

How important is passion to entrepreneurship? Throughout the rollercoaster ride that being an entrepreneur is, entrepreneurs reward themselves internally by realizing that they’re on a mission to create something good or something that is better. It’s passion that motivates them between paychecks and during all the times when everyone else (and maybe their own internal negative talk) tells them to quit.

“If you push through that feeling of being scared, that feeling of taking risk, really amazing things can happen.” Marissa Mayer, CEO, Yahoo

Can you be resilient?

Entrepreneurs should expect to fail. There will be many times when they don’t win a contract, don’t convince a client to buy their service or product, or don’t have enough income to pay the bills for a period of time.

But entrepreneurs look at failure as an opportunity to learn valuable lessons.  Yes, they feel disappointment and self-doubt, but they have the internal strength to reassess what needs to be reassessed and go on.  An entrepreneur naturally asks herself what went wrong and then fixes it.

"What I wanted was to be allowed to do the thing in the world that I did best--which I believed then and believe now is the greatest privilege there is. When I did that, success found me." Debbi Fields, CEO Mrs. Fields Cookies

Do you have a strong sense of self?

Unfortunately, it’s a fact that passion and resilience will only take you so far. As a budding entrepreneur, you’ll be faced with lots of obstacles, whether money issues, doubters, or strong competition. To weather these times, you have to have an extremely strong sense of self.

Self-confidence and self-motivation are necessary traits for most entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs don’t think that their idea could be good; they know it’s good. And they realize that they are the only ones to make their idea a reality.

“If people are doubting how far you can go, go so far that you can’t hear them anymore.” Michele Ruiz, President and CEO, Ruiz Strategies”

Can you be flexible?

Yes, being able to adapt to changes and challenges is crucial for any business. But for entrepreneurs the ability to reassess or revise a business plan is essential. They are prepared and willing to modify their plans when new information arrives and when there are changes in circumstances. After all, an entrepreneur is building something that does not yet exist, so she must be willing to revise her original plan to meet the new information she has gathered. 

“On my own, I will just create, and if it works, it works, and if it doesn’t, I’ll create something else. I don’t have any limitations on what I think I could do or be.” Oprah

Can you be a visionary?

Opportunity is everywhere, at least to an entrepreneur. She’s always seeking ways to develop a new idea, build something better, or improve a product or service that already exists. She’s an innovator who is always on the lookout to either develop a new idea or improve an existing product or service. What separates an entrepreneur from everyone else is the drive to make her vision a reality. An entrepreneur wants to make the future happen.

“You have to do what you dream of doing, even while you’re afraid.” Arianna Huffington

Not everyone can weather the turbulence of starting a business and that’s ok.  But if you are feeling the emotional and intellectual tug to start your own business, look inside yourself first to see if you have the fortitude required.

Submitted by:  Carol Jambor-Smith, Jambor-Smith Communications, carol@jamborsmithcommunications.com

Professional Women's Club of Chicago, PWCC is a Chicago based networking organization that provides networking connections that support, enrich and inspire women to advance professionally and personally. Members come from public and private sectors, multi-billion dollar corporations, mid-size and small businesses, as well as, non-profit organizations. Membership is open to women from all industries in all stages of their careers who want to develop a strong lifelong network. Learn more about membership and upcoming activities


 

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PWCC Blog: Surviving Business Travel, Part II

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, January 3, 2018

PWCC Blog: Surviving Business Travel, Part II

2017 ushered in some unpleasant realities about travel: there is no perfect day to buy a plane ticket; you can get bumped from your paid-for seat with little recourse; people misbehaving can result in a return to the gate and/or a cancelled flight.

And yet, travel we must.  So what are some (sometimes small) things we can do to mitigate the disasters that seem to be lurking around every corner?

1.     Make 2018 the year you enroll in a “trusted traveler” program.  Global Entry (for those who frequently travel abroad) or TSA Precheck (for those who frequently travel domestically) is like a gift from some heavenly providence.  The money, required interview, and wait time will repay you every time you move through security lines and customs more quickly.

2.     Invest in a really good carry-on piece of luggage. Not a bag, a suitcase.  Buy one with a hard shell (they survive rough treatment). While it may require some strategic packing (see #3), you’ll be able to avoid the hassle of baggage claim and get on your way much more quickly once you reach your destination. Additionally, you won’t have to worry about your luggage getting lost since it will be with you at all times.

3.     Learn to pack smart. Experiment with either folding your clothes flat or rolling them (rolling usually prevents wrinkles), stick to a monochrome color scheme, and try to limit yourself to two pairs of shoes (and stuff those shoes with small things – think of shoes as mini-suitcases).

4.     Whenever possible, become loyal to one or two airlines and hotel chains and enroll in their loyalty programs. But this advice comes with a caveat: if you can’t fly 50,000 miles a year, which is the threshold for most mid-tier status and the perks like upgrades, always go for the cheapest price. The same is true for hotels: if you don’t book frequent stays, always investigate alternatives such as short-term leasing/rental properties through airbnb to fully-furnished short-stay apartments through Oakwood Worldwide.

5.     Bring Snacks Airline food is not reliable, often not available, and is overpriced.  When you bring your own snacks, you’ll be sure to have something you like to eat and avoid paying $1.50 for a banana.  

6.     Drink bottled water.  You’ll stay hydrated and avoid stomach trouble after changing multiple environments in a limited number of days.

7.     Stay safe:

  • Request a hotel room on the second floor or higher and away  from recreation areas, elevators, and stairwells as they are less easily accessible to non-guests and, thus, more safe. Notice how hotel staff are dressed and be wary of those who do not appear to “fit in.” Though rare, there are incidents of people impersonating hotel staff to access rooms.
  • Protect your personal information by copying your credit cards and identification (passport or driver’s license). Keep these copies in a different place than the originals. You might leave copies with someone you trust. Should your cards or ID be lost or stolen, having copies saves time in reporting them missing.
  • The most common sense tip is also the easiest: lock the deadbolt or use the swing lock when in your room to prevent unauthorized key use.

8.     Do one thing just for you! Even when traveling on business, make sure to leave time to do something “touristy” or local.  Eat in a restaurant you’ve read about or visit a museum, shop, art studio that has received rave reviews.  That way you’ll know you’ve been someplace different.

Submitted by:

Carol Jambor-Smith, Principal and Founder,
Jambor-Smith Communications, strategic communications that engages, changes, and inspires.  carol@jamborsmithcommunications.com

Professional Women's Club of Chicago, PWCC is a Chicago based networking organization that provides networking connections that support, enrich and inspire women to advance professionally and personally. Members come from public and private sectors, multi-billion dollar corporations, mid-size and small businesses, as well as, non-profit organizations. Membership is open to women from all industries in all stages of their careers who want to develop a strong lifelong network. Learn more about membership and upcoming activities

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