More Than WE Know

Women Entrepreneurs sharing Information, Inspiration and Support

Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

WE’ve moved!

Posted by Liz Fuller on September 21, 2007

Please come visit on my new site  !!

All the great content from this blog has been copied over there – so you don’t have to worry about missing a thing!

 Thanks for your support!

Liz

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Anita Roddick – Inspiration for Women Entrepreneurs

Posted by Liz Fuller on September 14, 2007

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One of the fortunes of being a Woman Entrepreneur in the 21st century is that we get to have role models to inspire us.  A generation before us, women were making things up as they went along with no indication whether or not what they were doing made sense.   As intimidating as that may sound, it had a certain appeal to singular, free-spirited, strong-minded individuals.  And it is to those bold, courageous women that many of us owe our inspiration as entrepreneurs.

One such inspiration for me has always been Anita Roddick, the founder of the Body Shop. Anita was one of the orignators of the idea of doing business to do good.  Ecological principles were a foundation of her business with its philosophy of re-use, re-fill and re-cycle. Later, she expanded her social activisim to include human rights, animal rights and sustainable environmental practices. 

Anita traveled the world to gain inspiration and to give assistance.  She was an author, a speaker, a teacher, and an activist.   She was an example for Women Entrepreneurs everywhere who want to achieve success and help the world to be a better place.

Anita passed away Monday from a brain hemorrhage, at the age of 64.  She lived every day of her life as if each moment counted – daring to do all the things that most of us only dream of.

In recent years, Anita maintained a blog that espoused her personal beliefs and strong opinions as well as represented her sense of fun and enthusiasm. 

Anita was a role model for those of us who continue in her spirit. In her words:

“Join me: I want to connect with people who share my outrage over the menace of global business practices, and who, like me, are seeking solutions. But I also want to tell – and hear, from you – stories that lift our spirits, that celebrate how glorious our planet is. Outrage and celebration – let’s run this gamut together.”

In the spirit of outrage and celebration, I invite you to journey with me as we build our businesses, create success for our families, and work together to make the world a better place.

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September 11, 2007

Posted by Liz Fuller on September 11, 2007

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Woke up this morning to a gray, rainy day in Manhattan – my hotel room overlooking Ground Zero.  My heart goes out to the victims of that day and to their families who have had the courage to continue.   My heart goes out to all victims of violence everywhere.  May you find the courage to continue.

“The pot flower sitting on the windowsill

speaks to me in words that are green-tinged red leaves:

Flower flower flower flower

Today for the sake of all who have gone before you

Burst into flower. ”

– Muriel Ruykeyser

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Eight Roles That Friends Play for Entrepreneurs

Posted by Liz Fuller on September 10, 2007

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As we’ve been discussing in recent posts, part of the challenge of being an entrepreneur is isolation and loneliness. Much of our work is solitary; Being so focused on (some would say obsessed with) our business and our dreams, can further distance us from those around us.

However, a strong support system  is essential  to our success as entrepreneurs.  Surprisingly, simply having a wide circle of friends, or even one close friend, is not the same as having a strong support system.  According to Tom Rath, there are actually eight distinct support roles that we need in our lives to be our best selves:   

Builder – encourages us to be more and do more

Champion – believes in us; cheers us on; promotes our causes; says good stuff about us behind our backs

Collaborator – shares similar passions, interests, and ambitions with us

Companion – always there for us; friendships that can last a lifetime

Connector – socializer; can introduce us to the right people

Energizer – makes us feel more positive and motivated; fun to be around

Mind opener – broadens our perspective on life; introduces us to new ideas

Navigator – gives us advice; helps us keep moving forward when times get tough 

It would seem ideal, and certainly most time efficient,  to find a single person who could play all of those roles for us.   But many of us make a mistake when we expect our friends or families to be something that they are not. Just because they love us and may be great in one role, does not mean that they have the personality to behave in all of these roles. In fact, Tom Rath says it is a mistake to put that type of burden on any one person.    It is important to have a circle of friends who can fill the various needs we have in our lives.

I have to say that before reading this book, I had not clinically examined my relationships.   I tended to hang out with people who lived or worked near me, who I enjoyed and who made me laugh.

But since reading the book, I realize that the majority of my friendships are with companions, collaborators and energizers.  Left to my own devices, I would probably continue to build more friendships like these.  They are enjoyable and enable me to stay within my comfort zone.

But as an entrepreneur, I need some people in my life who are going to encourage me to grow.

After doing some analysis of my friendships, I realized that I could definitely benefit from more mind openers and connectors.  These people could help me see new possibilities and introduce me to new people.

I could also use some builders and champions.  Building a business can be hard work and it is easy to get discouraged.  Having more people who encourage me to take risks, and believe in me when I am down would help me keep from giving up when things get rough.

I also could use some navigators in my life – these are the people who can see around obstacles and help strategize around challenges.  They could help me create an action plan when I am feeling stuck.

Now, don’t get me wrong – I’m not going to go out and cold-bloodedly cultivate people with these traits or conduct screening interviews at my next networking event.  But I am going to give new consideration to my existing and prospective relationships. 

Instead of disregarding people who have different opinions than I do – I’m going to consider whether they can actually open my mind to new ideas. 

Instead of glossing over compliments as merely polite – I’m going to assume they are heartfelt and sincere and feel good about the way those people makes me feel.

Instead of keeping all my problems to myself and thinking I need to be the “lone ranger” – I am going to seek out advice from others and consider whether I could actually apply it to my situation.

I believe that being consciously aware of the value of these roles in my life, and being open to cultivating them,  will naturally help me to build them.

What type of relationships do you tend to build? What types of relationships could you benefit from? Please share your thoughts – I’d love to hear them.

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Work/Life Balance for the Entrepreneur

Posted by Liz Fuller on September 5, 2007

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In yesterday’s post I discussed the challenge of taking a break from working. Entrepreneurs are prone to becoming workaholics, especially when we have found something that fuels our passion.

But I heard back from several of you that your challenge lies in the opposite direction – you have trouble staying motivated.  Sure, you still love the idea of your business, but you tend to avoid some of the less appealing aspects.  Items that are less interesting or downright unsettling keep dropping to the bottom of your to-do list. Before you realize it, it’s been weeks since you balanced your checkbook, sent out a follow-up invoice, made a sales call, or pitched a workshop.

We even find ourselves putting off working on the aspects of the business that we do like. Maybe you love to create new designs or write articles or develop workshops. Even so, we put off these activities because we fear that our end product won’t be “good enough”.  We prefer the vision we have in our mind to the product we create with our hands.

The common theme between both challenges: working too much or working too little is balance; We need to find the right proportion of work in our daily lives.

One way to do this is to put more structure around our enterprises:

  • establish work hours – either specific hours that you work (ex. 8 to 3) or a specific amount of hours (ex. 7 hours per day)
  • establish goals for the week – make a list on Sunday of all the things you will get done the following week and by when 
  • partner with an accountability buddy – check in, in the morning to let them know what you plan to accomplish during the day and then check in, in the evening to let them know whether or not you succeeded

 I know that part of the reason you went into business for yourself is because you wanted the schedule flexibility that comes with it.  But sometimes, we need structure and consistency in order to focus our minds and our actions.  If we think we have all the time in the world to get something done – it may never get done.  Limits drive action; actions drive results.

So, between now and next Monday, decide what you are going to accomplish next week and the hours in which you are going to get it done.  Whether your goal is to get more done or to work fewer hours, establishing an action plan will help.

Once you have an action plan, find an accountability buddy within your network or feel free to use this post. Just write in the comment section what your goals are and when you will achieve them and then let me know at the end of the week how you have done.  I look forward to hearing from you.

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Labor Day – Entrepreneur’s Holiday?

Posted by Liz Fuller on September 4, 2007

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I’m writing this post on the train heading into NY. I spent Labor Day weekend at our house on the lake in Connecticut.  I really tried to get into the spirit of Labor Day this year and did my best to refrain from working.  My husband and I went kayaking, and swimming, planted fall flowers and had an “end of summer” picnic with our neighbors.   All in all, a pretty respectable observance of the “working (wo)man’s” holiday.  But I have to admit that my mind repeatedly wandered to challenges in my business, and more than once I picked up my laptop to respond to an email or check my blogstats.

Labor day was originally conceived to give a break to the average worker.  I guess it was assumed that management had enough time off; this one was for the laborer. Work life has changed a lot since 1882; it is no longer as easy to tell when we are working and when we are not; it is also not as easy to tell who is the laborer and who is management, especially in regards to entrepreneurs.

In the 19th century, you were either working, or you weren’t.  In the factory, in the fields, in the store, in the mines  – working; anything else – not.  But in the 21st century, we take our jobs with us – in the forms of Blackberries, Treos, cell phones, pagers, laptops, wi-fi connections and satellite wireless cards.  We can always be making one more call, checking in with one more client  or writing one more article.  We can be reached 24×7, 365 days per year and even more, it’s harder to turn our minds off of the problems and challenges of our “knowledge work” . 

As entrepreneurs, we fall somewhere in the murky realm between laborers and management.  In theory, we are managment, even leaders – as we develop the strategies to design and market our products and services. But in many cases, we are also the laborers – producing the products, packaging the merchandise, fulfilling the orders, making the sales calls, and setting the appointments. 

Many of us have difficulty taking time off – our businesses depend on our efforts, afterall. And for many of us, our work is also our passion, which means that sometimes the thing that feels most fun is actually – more work!

While all work and no play will make Jack a dull boy, it will make Jill a burned out entrepreneur.  As hard as it is, we all  need to take time for ourselves. We need to get away from the constant, everyday demands of our business.  And the irony is that if we do, we’ll return with greater perspective, greater passion, greater creativity and greater energy than if we had continued working straight through.

Most of us have businesses that our great-grandparents would not be able to recognize or understand.  The world has changed dramatically since they first established Labor Day. But their rationale and their wisdom still holds true – every so often, we need to take a day off from our work. What looks like doing nothing – is really doing something.  We are giving ourselves a chance to gain perspective, to re-energize and to refuel. 

How did you spend your Labor Day? Are you able to shut off your business now and then? I’d love to hear your secrets – please share below.

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Pain-free Networking for Shy Women Entrepreneurs

Posted by Liz Fuller on September 2, 2007

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I just learned about a great new social networking site exclusively for women business owners and “business owner wannabes”! It’s called MyWomanOwnedBusiness.com. It’s the brainchild of Kimberly Porrazzo, editor of OC Metro magazine. 

The site is great in that it combines the personalizaition and individual creativity of MySpace with the business networking focus of LinkedIn. The site just launched and membership is growing rapidly.

In her site profile, Kimberly explains her motivation for starting the site:   

I attended meetings of the Orange County chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO; http://www.nawbo-oc.org). I couldn’t help but be impressed by the willingness of women to share ideas about business with each other, even in a competitive situation.

I wanted to create a space where women could come together to ask questions of one another in a nonthreatening atmosphere; a place where like-minded women could ask for advice about a business situation or problem, for suggestions on how to grow their business – and, a place to shout out their successes in order to inspire other women. ”

I especially loved the part about “shouting out our successes in order to inspire other women”!  What a great vision of support.

I am particularly excited for readers of MoreThanWEKnow because I think this site will be a great opportunity for low-risk networking for shy and introverted entrepreneurs who are less comfortable with traditional networking venues.  What’s even better is that the site is intended to help both women who already have a business and women who are considering starting one.

Although in its early stages, it appears that there will be a wide geographic distribution as well as a diversity of business ventures.  This will enable all participants to develop a broader, more varied network. 

As we’ve discussed previously, there are approximately 10 million women-owned businesses in the United States. The potential network that Kimberly’s site is tapping into is huge.

So, jump over to her site, take 5 minutes to set up a profile, and don’t forget to invite me as a friend – I’ll be waiting to hear from you!!  

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Complaint-Free Networking

Posted by Liz Fuller on August 31, 2007

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Last Saturday, my friend Sarah gave me a purple elastic band, with the words “A Complaint Free World” printed on it.  She said that along with the band came a challenge to refrain from complaining for 21 days (the amount of time it takes to ingrain a new habit).  She said that each time I slipped up and complained, I needed to move the band to my other wrist and start counting the 21 days all over again. 

I eagerly accepted the band because I thought it was a great idea.  I loved the idea of reducing the negative energy and free-floating complaining in the world.  I must admit, I took the band a bit smugly. I put it on my left wrist, confident that it would stay there for the entire 21 days.  I think of myself as a very positive person, who is very grateful for the life I lead. I figured it would be no problem for me to go a mere 3 weeks without complaining.

So, I got the band on Saturday afternoon and put it on my left wrist.

Saturday evening – Going back to my hotel after my coaching class, I had to take a NY subway downtown in suffocating heat. Due to some construction, the express trains were running local and making all the stops.  Moved the band to my right wrist.

Sunday – Took the final exam for my coaching class. What I thought was going to be a two-hour short answer test with a single essay question, turned out to be closer to a two-hour all essay test.  Moved the band back to my left wrist.

Monday – Caught a flight from NY to Phoenix. Sat on the runway for 45 minutes waiting to take off.  I’d already been away from my husband all week when I was in NY and he was in Connecticut; now I was going further away.  Moved the band back to my right wrist.

Tuesday – Discovered the water heater in my apartment in Phoenix was broken. Took a cold shower. Moved the band back to my left wrist.

Wednesday – Despite a note from the maintenance man that he had repaired my water heater, there was still no hot water. Washed my hair in cold water. Moved the band back to my right wrist.

Thursday –  Problems with my laptop caused me to spend 15 minutes searching for a phone number for “customer service” – and then to sit on hold waiting to talk to a human being for another 25 minutes. Moved the band back to my left wrist.

Friday – Catching the red-eye from Phoenix to NY and then taking the first morning  train from Grand Central to Connecticut – might as well go ahead and move the band over to my right wrist now.

So, what did I learn in the first 7 days of my grand experiment?

I could say that this week has been worse than usual, but that wouldn’t be true.  Every week, every day, has incidents that push us to complain.  The truth is that I complain more than I realize; the band just made me more conscious of it.

The problem is that complaining is negative energy.  As we discussed in yesterday’s post, people are attracted to positive energy and repelled by negative energy. So while I may get momentary relief from complaining about my situation, I am actually doing myself more harm than good. The people I am trying to connect with, will actually eventually start to avoid me.

This is important for the would-be networker to realize. While it is important to connect with people with words and passion, those connections should be positive in order to be nurturing and sustainable. 

There are over 2 million purple bands in circulation.  If you would like one of your own, order here. They’re free although they accept donations to cover expenses.  But be forewarned – due to the high demand the bands are taking currently 12 weeks to be delivered.

Once you get the band, see how long it takes you to go 21 straight days without a complaint. Wear your band to your next networking event and use it as an icebreaker. Tell the people you meet about your 21 day project – I’m sure they’ll be interested – but whatever you do –  don’t complain about it!!

What do you think of this project? Would you take the challenge? Or do you think that complaining serves a purpose?

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Network with Passion

Posted by Liz Fuller on August 31, 2007

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I read a fantastic post this morning written by Marilyn Suttle.  Marilyn is an expert in customer service. She co-writes the blog, LoveThemUp.com.  In her post Marilyn tells about a truly terrible day that was turned around by the positive energy exhibited by a waiter at a Big Boy restaurant.  The waiter was so sincerely happy and enthusiastic that it was contagious. Along with their chocolate malts, Marilyn and her husband got an invigorating shot of energy to take back home with them.

I loved this story because it illustrates how energy can be literally transferred from one person to another. 

Stop for a moment and think of a person who makes you feel good just by being around them. If you are drawing a blank, think of the last time you were around a two or three year old child.  Even if the child was a complete stranger in a restaurant or an airport, you were probably drawn to their energy and their delight in the world around them.  This type of sincere enthusiasm is compelling.  We find ourselves thinking that “we want what they’re having”.  

Contrast that feeling to the one we get when someone is pretending to be friendly, as in the stereotype of the “used car salesman”.  Even though he or she acts friendly, we can sense that it is forced and insincere. This contradiction makes us uncomfortable. Instead of being drawn closer, we are repelled.   

What does this mean to us in our networking?

First, it is important to remember that people are drawn not just to what we say, but to how we say it. Our energy speaks volumes before we even say a word.  This can be a challenge for the majority of us who are uncomfortable in networking situations.  If we are feeling anxious, scared, shy or depressed, others will sense that and have a tendency to steer clear. This, of course,  will make us more anxious, scared, shy or depressed, causing them to avoid us even more, and so on, and so on.

So, what is the nervous networker to do?

First, take a deep breath.  Consider that this can actually be good news for those of us who feel tongue-tied in groups.  It means that people will remember less about what you actually said, and more about how you made them feel.    That takes some of the pressure off of “saying the right thing”.

It also means that it is extra important to tap into our positive energy and passion. Even for the most nervous among us, there are ways to do that:

1) Talk about subjects you feel passionate about  – whether it’s the feedback you got from a customer, your belief in how your service can help the world, or the satisfaction you are feeling from knowing you are building a business that really reflects your values, your enthusiasm will come across in your voice and your face.

2) Network while volunteering for a worthwhile cause – again it’s all about the passion and the energy. Don’t get involved in something because you think “you should”.  Get involved in something that you would be interested in doing even if you don’t meet anyone to network with.  And then, remember to speak about it with passion the next time you’re at a more traditional networking event.

3) Network while pursuing your hobby – Whether it is quiliting or kayaking, a book club or a wine tasting, your enthusiasm is going to come through. When you are doing something you enjoy, your confidence and your energy incease.  You will be more open to others and they will be more receptive to you.

Increasing the energy and enthusiasm in your life doesn’t just benefit the people around you. It benefits you!   You will feel more passion and purpose in life, and other people will in turn be more drawn to you, increasing your passion and purpose even more!

Tell me about what you feel passionate about – how do you incorporate opportunities to feel energetic into your daily lives?

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Situational Shyness and the Aspiring Entrepreneur

Posted by Liz Fuller on August 27, 2007

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Last night I went to a graduation dinner for iPEC, the institutue for Professional Empowerment Coaching. Approximately 20 of us had been part of an intense program of advanced coaching studies for the past 6 months.  There was much laughing, hugging and even a little crying. We warmly congratulated each other on our success, affectionately kidded each other on past mistakes, and proudly encouraged each other on future opportunities. 

As we chatted during the evening, some people expressed surprise that I had been writing articles on networking for shy entrepreneurs.  They commented that I did not “seem shy”.   This got me thinking about some of the common misconceptions about shyness that can lead to misunderstandings and lost opportunities.

While it’s true that some people are pervasively shy, feeling awkward and self-conscious in almost every interaction, most people fall somewhere short of this extreme.  For many people, shyness is based on their comfort with a situation, a role,  and the people around them.  The more comfortable they feel –  the less shy they act.  Over time, the unfamiliarity fades and the shyness becomes less apparent or even disappears. This was the situation between my classmates and me. Apparently some of them had forgotten how quiet I had been in the early classes and were only looking at the talkative person I had become.

Shyness is a protective device. We are protecting ourselves from the danger of the unknownSituational Shyness can be triggered by meeting new people, having a new job, and taking on a new role.  This is why people can be outgoing with friends but shy with strangers.  It is also why some people can be confident presenting in front of a group of strangers but tongue-tied making small-talk to a circle of acquaintances.  

While this behavior can seem clear and consistent to the shy person, it can seem confusing and inconsistent to the people around her. Instead of assuming that the quietness is based on shyness – they may assume it is rudeness, coldness or a deliberate snub.  Their reasoning is that if they’ve seen that person act friendly in the past, they don’t believe that they can be feeling shy now.

The outcome then can be misunderstandings and lost opportunities for friendships and partnership.

So what is the aspiring entrepreneur with situational shyness to do?

By changing the way you talk to yourself and to others, you can give yourself the time you need to regain your self-confidence and eliminate your need for self-protection

When you find yourself in a situation that brings out your shyness, such as a networking event, reduce your need for self-protection by changing the way you talk to yourself:   

  •  “Most people are feeling uncomfortable”
  •  “Everyone says something wrong sometimes”
  •  “Mistakes are not fatal”
  • “No one else is paying as much attention to my behavior as I am”  

And when you talk to others, change the way you explain your behavior

Don’t label yourself as shy, instead identify the situation as one that triggers shyness in you. 

If you say “I’m just shy” in response to their questions about why you are quiet, and they have seen you acting self-confident before, you will only get an argument because you don’t fit their idea of shyness. 

“No – you’re not shy! I’ve seen you giving presentations!”

“You can’t be shy! You have a great sense of humor!”

Instead, say “This situation makes me feel shy” or “I get tongue-tied in front of new people.”  They can’t argue with that and it will increase their awareness of the way shyness can come and go.  It may help them realize that your behavior doesn’t mean you are unfriendly or rude or lack anything intelligent to say –  it just means you need a little more time to regain your self-confidence and sense of self.

Many people avoid networking events because they are one of the top situations that trigger our shyness.   Instead of avoiding the events altogether, give yourself some time to adjust, and some freedom to be yourself. 

Instead of attending a different networking event every week, find one you want to attend and go consistently and regularly. Over time, the situation will become more familiar and less threatening and your need for the protection of shyness will fade.  Once you feel comfortable in one networking organization, the next one will seem less intimidating, and the one after that even less so, and so on, and so on.

I was fortunate that the iPEC classes were spread over a period of months so that I had time to become more comfortable in the situation.  You can create the same kind of fortune in your networking by building in the time you need to let go of your shyness and share your best self.

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