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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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Member in the Spotlight: Ellyn Caruso, CarusoPR

Posted By Administration, Thursday, October 8, 2015

Member in the Spotlight: Ellyn Caruso, CarusoPR


 

A Family of Communicators

 

It’s no surprise to Ellyn Barry Caruso’s family that she is the owner of a public relations firm.  Her dad was owner and president of an internationally-recognized Chicago-based PR firm.  And Ellyn’s mother was a “copy girl” at the Chicago Tribune during Colonel McCormick’s reign, which was a ground-breaking role for a woman at that time.  Read more about how Ellyn Caruso became the third generation in her family to become involved in the media business…


Growing up, the family's summer vacations were planned around association conferences where her parents ran the press room.  Ellyn and her brother would work with her parents in press rooms getting the flow and feel for serving the media.  She began working with content, proofing and learning about news releases when most kids her age were just learning to read.  “I thought everyone grew up with copy proofs on their dining room table," said Ellyn.

Ellyn’s love for the written word didn’t begin just with her parents.  Her grandfather was a sports writer and her great uncle was an arts and music writer, both with the Chicago Tribune.  Ellyn’s trailblazing great aunt was also an executive at an advertising agency.  Naturally, Ellyn majored in Broadcast Communications and obtained a Film minor. She began her career applying skills with positions at a major public relations agency, specialized medical consultant, a Wisconsin travel corporation and several non- profit associations.

Like many working women, Ellyn took time off when she had children.  Once her youngest was settled in school, Ellyn was eager to get back to work.  At the time, freelancing was an option, but it wasn’t as flexible as it is today.  Working remotely was practically unheard of. So Ellyn created “Umbrella Communications,” where individual talents were pooled together.  This collaborative group of women was then able to capture bigger work, enjoy flexible hours, and still meet the demands of family life.  Soon after, the work grew, and instead of turning to more freelancers, Ellyn moved her office downtown, allowing her to expand client services, add full-time employees and grow her specialized senior level team. 

“It’s come full circle for me,” said Ellyn.  “I began my career working with radio actualities (a precursor to podcasts), directing video news releases, satellite feeds and pitching stories by phone to media nationwide. I’m doing this type of work for clients now, but integrating today’s technology adapting to the small screen in the digital age.”

Ellyn’s firm, CarusoPR, a division of Caruso Communications LLC, works with professional services firms, retail operations, business associations, and non-profits to develop marketing campaigns, branding, speeches, articles, websites, strategic plans for social media, media relations, video production, and on-going public relations counseling.

“The main drivers of PR haven’t changed,” Ellyn adds.  “We are still influencing attitude and evoking change.  We’re just doing it through different and expanded techniques - and at a faster pace - but there is a strong need to create meaningful, relevant content.  Through my family roots and through my practice of twenty-five years, that’s what I do for our clients.”

Ellyn is proud to note that there is a now a fourth generation communications practitioner.  Her eldest son served as Editor in Chief of the Marquette Tribune while in college. He worked with CarusoPR for a few years before moving into Chicago Fortune 100 companies serving in media relations and corporate communications, keeping the family tradition alive. 

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Busy Women Tips

Posted By Annika Mitchell, Thursday, September 3, 2015

 Without goals to guide us, we are less in control of where we are headed.  But many women shy away from setting goals. According to Kendall SummerHawk, a business development coach based in Phoenix, “Energetically speaking, goal setting is a masculine activity, which is why women often approach creating goals feeling unclear or doubtful as to how they’ll achieve them.” In addition, many people struggle with the execution. The key is to set meaningful, but realistic, goals and then regularly check in on your progress.

 

Consider the following tips:

 

1.  Create SMART goals. Specific (is your goal clearly stated?), Measurable (how do you know if you have made progress or achieved the goal?), Attainable (is your goal realistic?), Relevant (are you excited about your goal; is this something that you really want to achieve?), and Time Bound (what is the “due date”?). 

 

2.  Put your goals in writing and post in a spot where you will see them daily. It also helps to share your goals with others.

 

3.  Work on your goals as early in the day as possible. And, begin with the most difficult goal.

 

4.  When you become discouraged, visualize what the successful completion of what your goal looks like and feels like. Keep working towards that picture. Make the picture as detailed as possible and involve all five of your senses.

 

5.  Set aside time each week to check in on your goals. Do you need to adjust the timeframe? Is the goal still relevant? What specific steps need to be taken during the week?

 

6. Reward yourself! Whether it’s a pat on the shoulder or a weekend getaway, make sure you recognize your achievements.

 

Submitted by Annika Mitchell, co-chair of the Media Relations and Communications Committee

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Spotlight on Associated Bank, a PWCC Corporate Sponsor

Posted By Victoria L. Raymont, Thursday, September 3, 2015

Corporate Sponsorships play an important, dual role – they offer our sponsors value-driven benefits and help PWCC grow.  Two members from the Corporate Sponsorship Committee, co-chair Deb Reinhart and committee member Victoria Raymont, gained first-hand insight from Associated Bank, one of PWCC’s first Corporate Sponsors, during an annual check-in luncheon with Julie Goodman and Katy Toth, both Senior Vice Presidents at Associated Bank.

 

Even before water was served, Julie enthusiastically announced Associated Bank was renewing its corporate sponsorship of PWCC.  (What a great way to start!)  When we asked to describe the value/enjoyment of being a corporate sponsor, both Katy and Julie said they loved the luncheon speakers.  Julie then elaborated with, “It’s a great reminder to take time out, refresh your thinking, socialize and develop yourself.”  We further learned that PWCC is the only organization Associated Women’s Network (AWN), a colleague resource group of SVP’s and above, funds.  With a goal of increasing the number of women senior vice presidents and above, Associated Bank invites women from Chicago and several other geographies to PWCC luncheons.  They were particularly excited to learn that the 40 luncheon tickets, as part of corporate sponsorship, can be used in any combination – allowing for flexibility and larger groups of women to be invited to certain luncheons.

 

Katy added, “I start with the PWCC directory as a resource for services.”  That was a powerful reminder of the value of having access to the PWCC directory and a prompt for each of us to keep our profiles up to date.  We gained additional insights and suggestions, including:

  • Bringing the corporate sponsors together as a group to further develop/deepen business relationships

  • Having each of the corporate sponsors do a three (3) minute pitch at the Annual Sponsorship Reception to explain who they are and why/how PWCC matters to them

  • Reminding sponsors at least two (2) months in advance of their pending renewal to gain timely approvals

  • Conducting an on-boarding discussion (by the relationship manager) when a corporate sponsor joins, to thoroughly review and maximize the benefits/logistics/events

The check-in luncheon was incredibly insightful for the Corporate Sponsorship Committee – learning ways to deepen our relationships and continue to provide value-driven benefits.  And we really enjoyed simply getting to know one another better in a warm, casual setting.  Our deepest thanks to Julie and Katy for Associated Bank’s continued support of PWCC.

 

Submitted by Deb Reinhart – Co-chair, Corporate Sponsorship committee and Victoria Raymont – Corporate Sponsorship committee member/relationship manager

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Top 5 Tips to Update in Your Member Profile, by Elizabeth Buffardi

Posted By Elizabeth D. Buffardi, Thursday, September 3, 2015

At PWCC, there are many ways to be engaged and to network.  There are the monthly luncheons, happy hours and member’s only events.  But something that most of us don’t give enough thought to is PWCC’s Member Directory.  When you become a member of PWCC, your name is automatically entered into PWCC’s Private Member Directory, so that people can find you.  However, many of us forget to go in and establish or update our profiles.  Because there are many members who use the directory for e-networking, it’s in a member’s best interest to update her profile.  There are many members who cannot make every lunch or happy hour. So, what happens when they want to find you?

We recently updated our Member Directory, by adding Standard Industrial Codes (otherwise known as SIC, which list what type of business you’re in), interests, activities, professional designations, etc.   If you haven’t updated your profile in the last year, now is a good time to do so, otherwise; it’s much more difficult for people to find you. 

Here are Five Quick Tips to Update Your Member Profile (so members can find you faster!):

  1. Update your SIC code.  **NEW!!**  SIC stands for ‘Standard Industrial Codes’, which designate what type of industry you’re in.  The codes aren’t perfect, but they allow someone looking for you to find you faster.  When PWCC switched to the new website, SIC codes were not added to your profile.  You have to fill that in.

  2. Update your Profession.  Have you changed jobs?  Does that translate to a change in professions?  This is another drop down menu that is a little more specific than the SIC codes.

  3. Update your Field of Expertise/Area of Specialty.  We all know what it is like to try to fit into a box that doesn’t really describe us.  But this is the section where you can set yourself apart from others in your field.    

  4. Add a Current Picture.  When I do searches, I notice that many people don’t have a picture.  Sometimes when people are doing searches, they aren’t quite sure of the name, but they will recognize the face if they see it.  If you don’t have a picture, how will they recognize you?  The other problem is that what if you go to an event and you remember the person’s first name, but not their last.  If you do a search on the first name, and 5 ladies pop up with that same first name, but none have pictures, how will you find the lady you are looking for?  They say a picture is worth 1,000 words, but in this case, it could be worth a lot of business.

  5. Update (or list) your Hobbies and Interests.  **NEW!!**  PWCC has increased membership over the past several years.  One trend I have noticed in particular is that there are many ladies who join our Club because they are new to Chicago.  They are looking for new places to network and some are looking for new friends.  Even one of our prominent members has said that PWCC is the first group she joined when she moved to Chicago, and from joining,  she found a job, met some of her best friends and even found her husband (through those friends).  There are many ladies who are looking for friends with similar interests and hobbies to go and do fun things. 

So my challenge to you is to update your profile by the September luncheon.  You never know who is looking for you and who you will find.  Plus when you make it easier for people to find you, you will be happy you did because of all the new friends and connections to be made.

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AdjustingYour Money Mindset

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Money is a powerful force in our lives.We’re required to think about money—how much we have, how much we want, how to get more of it— on a regular basis.Undoubtedly, how we think about money influences our emotions and behaviors.  For these reasons, if you’re serious about improving your financial life, it can be helpful to examine your money mindset, look for patterns that may interfere with your personal goals, and replace what hinders you with more productive habits.

 

Acknowledge the influence of your personal history.Because our financial lives are inextricably linked to our family of origin and upbringing, we’re all bound to have a complex and layered relationship with money. If you grew up in poverty, you may have an underlying sense of never having “enough.” If you are accustomed to abundance, you may never have learned how to manage money wisely. Of course, neither of these scenarios may be true if you had someone who taught you good money habits.The purpose of looking back is to see if you have any ingrained stumbling blocks that can sabotage your best intentions to earn what you’re worth, save adequately, spend responsibly or be more philanthropic. If you see room for improvement, awareness paves the way for change, as needed or desired.

 

Evaluate your emotional response to money.Is your emotional state tied to your assets? Does your bank account define you? When you allow money to occupy the driver’s seat, normal emotional states can sometimes turn into feelings of anxiety. It’s not that it’s wrong to feel a certain way, it’s just that certain powerful emotions can prevent you from making reasonable choices.

 

Stop playing money mind games without much possibility of winning.If you find yourself in any of these mental exchanges, you might be setting yourself up with challenges down the road.  

  • I’ll be happy when I make more money.Working toward your financial goals is crucial, but it’s also important to enjoy successes you’re experiencing today.

  • Money is the only thing that matters.Money is important as a means to an end.However, worshipping money at the expense of people, nature, art and ideas is likely to lead to loneliness and disappointment.

  • Money is meaningless.This kind of thinking can also be harmful, because it can feed reckless spending and de-motivate your work life. Money should be treated with respect and not frittered away.  

Let go of the past.Stop beating yourself up for your financial mistakes. It’s better to reframe regrets as opportunities to learn and grow. Don’t shut the door on your past, but don’t let it convince you that you don’t deserve another chance, or that you can’t change the present or the future. Plenty of people have turned their financial lives around after a failed business, job loss, stock tumble, tax trouble or any number of other financial fiascos. Focusing on what you can do now, with an open mind about the future, can free you from a history you’d prefer to forget.

 

Curtail the time spent thinking about money.There’s an appropriate amount of time to devote to money matters, and then there’s the extreme of continuous, non-productive dwelling on dollars and cents. If you find yourself mulling over financial mistakes or fantasizing at length about winning the lottery, it’s time to switch gears.Try to gain insight into what you really hope to accomplish (or avoid) by allowing money to monopolize your thoughts, and step back to see the futility of your preoccupation. Next, identify actions you can take that will be more successful at helping you reach your goals. Give yourself permission to problem solve or daydream for short bursts of time, but then get back to the business of living.

 

Enlist a financial ally.A skilled financial advisor will be very familiar with the mental, emotional and behavioral landmines you may be grappling with as you work to establish a strong financial foundation for your life. They can provide you with the tools to plan, save, and invest, within your timeframe and budget, according to your personal goals. But you can also look to your advisor for guidance and encouragement as you sharpen your mental game with regard to personal money management. 

 

 

Janice Goldman Picker (janice.l.goldmanpicker@ampf.com) is a Financial Advisor with Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. in Chicago, IL. She specializes in fee-based financial planning and asset management strategies and has been in practice for 32 years.

 

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February Luncheon Recap: How Does Fear Impact Your Ability to Succeed: Removing the Invisible Barriers

Posted By Administration, Thursday, March 5, 2015
 Justine Fedak, Senior Vice President and Head of Brand, Advertising and Sponsorships for BMO Financial Group, North America wakes up each day with the question: “What’s the great thing I’m going to do today?” Deciding to start every day off on the right foot hasn’t always been easy for Justine, who was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2001 and needs to walk with a cane. However, in the case of Justine, her cane has been customized to a length that will accommodate her extensive collection of high-heeled pumps. Justine’s speech topic for the February PWCC luncheon was How Does Fear Impact Your Ability to Succeed: Removing the Invisible Barriers.


 

Initially in disbelief of her diagnosis of MS and afraid other people might “figure out I was broken”, Justine hid her illness until her boss and CEO convinced her to be unafraid of sharing her health status with others.  Instead of taking the advice of doctors to quit her job and not have children due to MS, Justine continued her work and became a mother. Now a successful banker who has brokered partnerships with the Blackhawks and Chicago Bulls, Justine also volunteers for youth organizations and is an avid runner.

Justine spoke of not allowing ourselves to create barriers in our work, families and lives, saying “There is one thing to punctuate: have the ability to see that the barrier in front of you might be you”. Moving beyond that will open our lives up to success.

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More than just a chance to network, PWCC offers other roads to success

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The Professional Women’s Club of Chicago (PWCC) mission statement is to provide networking connections that support, enrich and inspire women to advance professionally and personally. This year, Barbara Yong, co-chair of the PWCC Hospitality Committeewas delighted to discover just how completely PWCC delivers on its brand promise.

A partner in the law firm,Golan and Christie, Barb first joined PWCC in 2010, drawn to the organization by its commitment to professional women that mirrored her own.  Barb is highly respected throughout the country not only for her legal expertise but also for her work with the Illinois Federation of Business Women’s Clubs. For over two decades, she has been a leader in the movement to ensure equal pay for women. In 2010, she began organizing the first equal pay day rally ever staged in Chicago. The event was held in Richard J. Daley Center Plaza on April 20, the day that marked how far into a new year a woman must work, on average, to earn as much as her male counterpart did in the previous year. 

The point of Equal Pay Day is to raise awareness about the pay disparity between men and women by bringing together all of the public and private groups working on reducing and someday eliminating this wage gap. Its first year, the planning committee for the rally had representatives from 23 organizations.  Now, in its fifth year, the event enjoys the sponsorship of over 30 organizations including PWCC.

This year,Barb applied for PWCC sponsorship through our Community Alliance group. (Sponsorship is not only available for events and organizations supported by PWCC members, but also to others in the community that feel their cause aligns with PWCC’s mission.) Since Equal Pay Day Chicago 2015 clearly supported PWCC’s own goals and work, the board granted the sponsorship and even pledged $500 to fund an essay contest alongside Young Chicago’s Authors forChicago schoolchildren on why we should all support equal pay for women. The teenaged winner of the contest will read an excerpt from their essay during the program.

But financial support and promotion are not the only ways Barb has received PWCC assistance. For Barb discovered answers to two of the biggest hurdles she and the event’s planning committeehaveto face every year: (1) finding an inspiring and impressive keynote speaker and (2) engaging a personable, charismatic notable emcee. Fortunately, but not surprisingly, her PWCC membership provided answers to both of these challenges.

On November 12, 2014 Barb heard Dorri McWhorter, CEO of the YWCA Chicago give a speech at a PWCC luncheon entitled, “The Power of the Purse: How Women Will Change the World through Conscious Consumerism.” Aside from finding McWhorter an exceptionally able speaker, Barb was also impressed by the fresh insights she offered on the issue of women’s equality. SheinvitedDorri to give the keynote address at the 2015 Equal Pay Day event and, happily, Dorri accepted.

Barbara also met Sally Lou Loveman at another PWCC event. Hearing of Sally Lou’s experience as former Director of Audience Services forThe Oprah Winfrey Show, Barb knew that she had found the perfect emcee for 2015. Sally Lou is currently the founder of lovespeaks and will be speaking at PWCC with a lunch entitled “Stage Your Reinvention” on June 10, 2015.

As Barb Yong’s experience demonstrates, PWCC offers members far more than just the opportunity to network but a chance to share knowledge, experiences, and resources with other women. We encourage you to take full advantage of these opportunities.

Equal Pay Day Chicago 2015 will take place April 14th 12-1 PM at Richard J. Daley Center Plaza.Click here for more on Equal Pay Day Chicago 2015.  To learn more, "like their Facebook page at:  https://www.facebook.com/equalpaydaychicago

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6 Powerful Questions that Will Change Your Life Forever

Posted By Administration, Friday, January 30, 2015

6 Powerful Questions That Will Change Your Life Forever 
By James McWhinney
(Posted by PWCC Member - Noreen Chip)
  

“Information is not knowledge.” ~Einstein
 
A few years ago I was lost. Frustrated. Scared. Unsure. Anxious. Trapped. Unfulfilled. Stuck in a dead-end job. Smothered by society’s expectations. Didn’t have a clue what I wanted to do with my life.
 
I cared for myself enough to change my life, but I didn’t have the slightest clue where to start. I spent my days wishing that things would change—that I could escape a life that my soul could no longer bear.
 
The worst part of all, I was living the life that society had always told me to live. “Find a secure job, work hard,” they would say. “Get a solid job and work your way up the ladder.”
 
I don’t know about you, but it turns out that for me, the “right thing to do” sucked the joy out of life.
 
Imagine feeling trapped in an unsatisfying existence. Wasting your precious time doing things that you really don’t want to be doing. Being afraid to express your uniqueness. Having fun on the weekends then dreading the upcoming week. Maybe you don’t have to imagine it; maybe your life is just like mine was, few moments of satisfaction drowned out by a constant grind of work that doesn’t fulfill you.
 
Then something hit me. It was a proverbial hammer to my head. I’d heard it before, but it had never sunk in. Then, as if out of nowhere, a voice in my head spoke loudly and clearly.
 
“Discover who you truly are and fully give every aspect of your uniqueness to the world. This is your path to an extraordinary life.”
 
I followed this wisdom as if my life depended on it. And I can tell you that my life has changed for the better since I followed this guidance.
 
I can tell you without any doubt that the greatest piece of wisdom that I’ve discovered in my life thus far is this:
 
If you want to live an extraordinary life it is imperative that you know who you truly are, and to do so you must explore who you truly are.  
 
These 6 questions changed my life forever. They will also change your life forever by allowing you to find your true self, and in doing so, discover why you’ve been born into this great world.
 
I’m not talking about the “self’” that others demand you to be or the self that acts a certain way to fit in and conform with what society accepts. I’m talking about the true you—the you who wants to authentically express your special and unique qualities to the world.
 
By answering these questions you will discover your unique passions, strengths, values, desires, and motivations, which are all yearning for your expression.
 
You have a unique purpose. Discovering the answers to these questions will allow you to align yourself with that purpose and bring real magic into your life.
 
Self-knowledge is the greatest knowledge that you will ever acquire. Why? Because your ability to fulfill your unique internal drive will determine your ability to fulfill your potential, which in turn determines the quality of your life.
 
The questions below are designed to help to know yourself deeply and find what is truly important to you. We all have an unexpressed potential; the exercises are specifically designed to help you find yours.
 
1. What do I absolutely love in life?

List anything that you love about the world and the people in your life. Think about any activities that get you excited and enthusiastic and make you feel most alive. This can be absolutely anything: music, sports, cooking, teaching others, learning, watching movies—anything. Within your love for these things lies deep passion.
 
2. What are my greatest accomplishments in life so far?
 
List all of the moments that you are proud of as well as the times that you’ve succeeded. To have accomplished these, you would have used some of your key strengths. See if you can identify why you succeeded. Also, list any activities, hobbies, or anything else that you do that you complete with ease. Within these lie greatest strengths.
 
3. What would I stand for if I knew no one would judge me?
 
List everything that you would do if you weren’t afraid, even your wildest dreams. This will help you discover your greatest values.
 
4. If my life had absolutely no limits and I could have it all and do whatever I wanted, what would I choose to have and what would I choose to do?
 
Describe your ideal lifestyle. List what you would do throughout the day if you knew that you were bound to be successful, what kind of person you would be, how much money you would earn, and where you would live.
 
This question allows you to realize who you would truly want to be if there were no limits. By aligning with this you can begin working towards the life that you truly want to create. Know that you wouldn’t have a desire if you didn’t also have the ability to fulfil it.
 
5. What would I do if I had one billion dollars?
 
List everything that you would really love to do if you had all the money in the world. Okay, so you would probably travel the world, buy a house or two, and give some money to your family. Then what would you do with your time?
 
This question helps you to think without limitations. When we are able to remove limitations and boundaries, we can discover what we really want to do.
 
6. Who do I admire most in the world?
 
List your greatest inspirations and the qualities that you admire about these people. Think about what really inspires you in this world. What you admire about others is also a quality that is in you. Know that you admire someone because they have similar qualities to you.
 
Taking the time to answer these question will change your life. The more that you can implement your passions, strengths, values, desires, and motivations into your days, the happier your life will become!
 
You can study to become a doctor, lawyer, teacher, or anything else, but this knowledge will only take you so far. Meanwhile, discovering the deep wisdom of self-knowledge will ensure that your life is far more meaningful and fulfilling. I’ve got a feeling that is what Einstein meant when he said “Information is not knowledge.”
 
The most valuable knowledge that you will ever discover is, and always will be, within.

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New Year's Resolution 101; A New Exercise w/o Hitting the Gym!

Posted By Administration, Monday, January 12, 2015

Have an extra 20 minutes? Well, here's a sample workout based on “Tabata”, for all of you DIYs. You can perform these exercises almost anywhere!  Don't have a bosu or weights? A stair step, a beach towel, and a couple cans of chicken soup will do the trick!  The Tabata protocol is based on Dr. Izumi's Tabata and a team of researchers whose groundbreaking research shows that training comprised of regular-timed interval sets performed at high intensity, followed by a brief rest, can do more to boost aerobic and anaerobic capacity than an hour of endurance exercise, such as jogging or running.  

 

So here's how it goes!  (See the picture, below.)  All you need is a few props and a timer.  I like the free app on my phone called "Interval Timer,” which also lets you pipe in your music, plug in your exercise and rest sets and off you go!  I use this format style in my classes at the Ray, but you can come up with whatever sets you choose or break this routine up into two smaller sets.

 

Have fun be creative and do something for you in that New Year!

Happy New You!

 

B- Fit B- Well!

Liz Bayston

 

 

Pictured:  Liz Bayston and Andrea Metcalf at her Kind Celebrity Fitness Expo this summer at Navy Pier.

 

 Attached Thumbnails:

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Leap into the New Year with Attainable Business Resolutions

Posted By Administration, Monday, January 12, 2015

As we reflect on business successes of this year, it’s also beneficial to establish goals and set in motion a series of attainable News Year’s business resolutions designed to propel you forward as we leap into 2015. Whether you are a seasoned CEO, business owner, manager, associate or just getting started in your career, the following concepts invite you to create your own personal action plans leading to self improvement and perhaps help ring in new business next year.

 

1. Be Present

Become an active listener. Listen closely to clients, staff and colleagues in person and digitally. Take advantage of the digital forums and ‘listen’ or read closely about what your competitors, stakeholders and prospects care about the most. What problems do they have and how can you provide solutions?

 

Avoid the temptation to solely rely on tech tools and remember to engage and focus on real conversations. Be sure to make eye contact, contribute to discussions and develop meaningful personal connections. Strong personal relationshipsbridge growth of more connections via social media. Human connections continue to open doors to longstanding business relationships and new opportunities.

 

2. Embrace Technology

Technology offers a plethora of remarkable tools to help make us more productive and organized. But sometimes technology canleave us a bit overwhelmed. To reduce inbox overload, conduct a productivity audit and examine your list of apps, programs and other tactics that help keep you organized. If you find yourself overwhelmed with too many gadgets or programs bogging you down, consider identifying the top objectives and streamline your systems to better suit your needs.

 

Many business apps can also increase revenue streams. Consider adding secure payment programs to your business. Examine your mobile technology integration.You may find an opening to boost sales, support customer needs, or better engage and grow your customer base.

 

3. Highlight Your Skills as an Industry Leader

Become better known as expert in your field. Set goals to build your professional recognition and to network. Get involved in industry organizations; you’ll gain referrals and colleagues while you continue to build and hone your specialized skills. Share your experience and insights to target audiences by engaging in blogging, media interviews, by-lined and ghostwritten articles, as well as participating in webinars and live events from the podium. But, remember to impart your cutting-edge ideas, knowledge and expertise without delivering a sales pitch.

 

4. Audit Your Message

Today’s digital world allows us to deliver and share information across a variety of channels including websites and social media platforms with tremendous speed and power of reach. Making sure your brand is clear and message reflects your business philosophy and mission is vital to a year of successful business.

 

Communication audits are a good way to analyze your messaging and the way you deliver them both on and offline. Does your visual and written message capture your brand vision? Do you have a strong visual library of organic photos and engaging graphics that can be used across multiple communication channels, expanding your budget? Do you use video to tell your story?

 

If you lack a comprehensive creative strategy you may be leaving opportunity on the table and increasing costs to meet your goals as you reinvent the wheel throughout the year. Taking the time to review and understand what you have and what you need leads to development of a strong roadmap. Itultimately provides more bang for your marketing buck as you increase your positive image and expand your business.

 

5. Be Nimble

Stay on top of your industry.Consume as much industry related information as possible. Seek to learn new trends, ongoing issues and even missteps. Streamline your effort by taking advantage of news feeds, apps and services that deliver a synopsis of top industry news directly to your inbox. Try to attend as many key events as you are able, whether in person or virtually. Watch for ways where you can quickly engage and pivot your business plan as needed to be most effective in your market.

 

Being present, embracing technology and striving to become an industry leader with a solid brand and message applies to women in business of all types and stages of their careers. No matter what industry, no matter what your role or title, be sure to start the New Year with a few attainable business resolutions.

 

Ellyn Caruso is the founder and principal for Caruso Communications LLC/CarusoPR. Ellyn has more than 25 years of public relations experience, having serviced national and international clients in a multitude of industries. Ellyn is an active member of PWCC and member of the communications/media relations committee.

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