Tag Archives: entrepreneurs

Learn by Doing

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I enjoyed another delightful weekend  in Rumson, NJ, with twin seven-year olds, Harry John and  Mae.  After playing hours upon hours of “Dr Scarlet, the Horse Vet”, I declared that all my horses  were now healed and we should play another game.  Next  we painted race cars and  set up our own Nascar-esq event.  Hours later, while Harry and Mae were still going strong, my back began to tell me I had raced enough cars and I found my way to the couch.

Sitting on the couch to many of you means watching TV or perhaps even taking a little nap.  Sitting on the couch to Harry and Mae means its  iPad games time! We always start with my word games but when Yenga, the game designers, refuse to accept Harry and Mae’s made up words, Harry and Mae opt out and find a game of their own to teach me.

The game of the day was  “Jump Car”.  Mae  downloaded it and was giggling while playing, often uttering, “You guys have to play “Jump Car”! It is so much fun!”  Harry quickly downloaded the game on his iPad.  I was just closing my eyes, (just for a moment mind you), trying to rest. In true twin unison, they both exclaimed: “Gram, you have to download “Jump Car”!  I was not as skilled at “Jump Car” as I am at Words with Friends.  When I asked the kids a fourth time to show me how to skip over the bars and avoid hitting the other cars,  I saw Mae look at Harry and simply raise her eyebrows as if to say, “Oh Brother, Gram just doesn’t get it!.”

That’s when Harry put his hands on my shoulders, looked me square in the eyes and said ever so slowly,  “Just – keep – trying – it, Gram. You – learn- as – you – go !”

“… learn as you go.”

How wise Harry was!  The only way to learn something is to actually do it.  You can listen to the explanation of an expert, watch a UTube, or enter an online chat to learn about almost something. But at the end of the day, you really learn most things by doing,  “as you go.”

Life is a “learn as you go” series of events, with no instructor’s guide.  No one taught us how to be a mom, a lover, a business woman, or an entrepreneur.  We learned by doing.  I could have used a rule book when all five of my children were teenagers way back when! When my marriage ended, no one taught me how to pick up and move on with strength and confidence. No one taught me how to forgive a wrongdoing, but I learned by forgiving.

I have come to believe that if we women were all identical, there would be a rule book on how to be a woman,mom, entrepreneurs, spouse or partner.  Moms would read a list of what to do when and it would all work out perfectly.  Relationships would last forever because we would all follow the rules.  Entrepreneurs would know how their product would get to market when they followed the carefully scripted plan.  But we are not all the same, not even close! As a result, there are no rule books, only a few guidelines, and we have to learn by doing, every step of the way.  We continue moving when things are working, and we alter what we are doing when it is not working.  It’s called “learn by doing”.

High SUCCESSTROGEN women enjoy the freedom to learn by doing, not being controlled by boundaries telling them what, when, where and how. They rely on their confidence and their innate abilities to move through life in a way that is enjoyable, challenging, productive., and rewarding.

Some women have put their lives on hold a bit, unsure or unwilling to fail. Perhaps they are still waiting for the “how to”book. There will never be a rule book on how to become YOU. You have to learn who you are by doing, by taking chances, and using your best judgement.  You learn by doing, observing, and listening, and yes, by failing occasionally along the way.

If you have put your next steps on hold, because you are unsure how to move forward or away, you might start with downloading the “Jump Car” app and learn by playing. And after that, take charge of your life. Go and do, and learn by doing.  Enjoy the freedom to move from where you are and create your life according to you.

Waffles

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A friend stopped by the other morning  as I was making a batch of waffles.  I usually eat one, because unlike a “stack of pancakes”, one waffle at a time is best. I freeze the rest.  I love Belgium waffles (which incidentally are no where to be found in Belgium) with lots of maple syrup and sometimes when I am really daring, with a bit of whipped cream as well.  I  offered my surprise guest a waffle as my waffle maker does what it is supposed to do quickly and perfectly, every time.  But she declined.

As I ate my waffle, my friend began telling me about the new man in her life with a level of enthusiasm I hadn’t heard in her voice for a long time. She talked about his thoughtfulness, that he is an excellent cook, and has a collection of the top 100 greatest movies of all time!  Every once in a while during the day, he sends her a text simply saying  “thinking about you.”  He makes her laugh out loud, and they enjoy the same restaurants and TV shows.  I couldn’t help but hope that he had a twin brother!

“Wow,” I said.  “Do you think he is the man you have been waiting for all these years?” I expected her to quickly say yes and that she was bringing him this weekend to meet me.

“Oh, I didn’t say that!” she quickly back peddled. “You know he is an agnostic and I am not sure that is a good fit for me. And he isn’t into sports and you know how I love the Sox and Patriots.”

I glanced down at my waffle and couldn’t help but think she was “waffling” on the relationship question.  Just then, the indicator light told me another waffle was ready. I removed the next waffle and put it on a plate in front of her.  And we both laughed.

Much later in the day  I was grinning to myself about the waffle being there just when I needed it, a perfect  prop.  While I enjoy eating a waffle, (the noun), I do not in fact ever waffle, (the verb) on my beliefs or core values.  I may waffle back and forth on what to wear or what movie to see, but not on my values.  High SUCCESSTROGEN women  don’t waffle either.  They  see a problem and relentlessly search for a solution.  If they are entrepreneurial, they don’t waffle back and forth when others think their idea won’t fly or  a spouse or partner suggests that they need to focus on their day job to help support the household. They know their destiny isn’t in their day job.

Sometimes  we waffle with our child who does not want to go to soccer practice. We start off by reminding her that she has a committment to her team.  We start off strong, but in the end, we waffle! We get tired of arguing and dealing with the tears.  She does not go to soccer practice and now we are responsible for helping to  create a behavioral pattern that can have negative consequences.

We may waffle on going to the gym, choosing healthy foods, or drinking too much wine. When we waffle, or go against what we believe we should do, we have negative consequences that we do not welcome. While I don’t waffle on my core values, I do my fair share of waffling on other things, like getting talked into going to some events  I don’t enjoy, or eating a piece of cake when I am not even hungry.

Consider reviewing a  “waffle experience” that causes you the most pain, stop the waffling, and enjoy the positive outcome.  Take it one waffle experience at a time, because, we are a not talking pancakes here– one waffle at a time is best. I think I will do the same.

Statue of Liberty

??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????While delivering a PodCast this morning for the SCORE organization, I was asked to define crowdfunding. I said:  Crowdfunding is a way of supporting a product or business venture by gathering small amounts of money  from a large group of contributors, generally via the internet.”  I went on to offer more information.  “The term crowdfunding first appeared on the scene in 2006 but it is not a new concept.  As a matter of fact, in 1884, the pedestal supporting the magnificent Statue of Liberty was cracking and in need of repair.  Joseph Pulitzer published an appeal to the American public and raised over $100,ooo  through this early crowdfunding event, with most donations being $1 or less.  As a result of Pullitzer’s successful crowdfunding campaign, Lady Liberty was restored to her original health and beauty.

Driving  home I chatted with  MomPreneur, Courtney Washmuth (Founder, Miles Outside) and told her about the Statue of Liberty example I used earlier.  “Have you ever seen the Statue of Liberty up close?” I asked her as my mind wandered from the PodCast to my last trip to Manhattan. I stayed in a hotel room that looked directly out at the Statue and I could hardly pull myself away from the sight.  “It is magnificent and solid.  She appears to be focused, not at all distracted by all the eyes upon her.  She holds the torch firmly as though leading the way.“

Courtney interjected, “Sometimes I feel as MomPreneurs, the world is watching us, waiting for us to guide them.  Sometimes I, too, feel confident, strong and able to lead the way, yet other days I am not so sure of where I am going, and I don’t feel like I could lead the way to anyone!”

MomPreneurs, especially those who are new to crowdfunding, experience the emotional roller coaster that Courtney referred to.  One day they receive a call from a vendor asking for more product and the MomPreneur is pumped up and excited.  And still on another day, perhaps she learns that the production run is late, or more costly than initially planned, or maybe that there hasn’t been any activity on her crowdfunding campaign.  Those days are down days, unsure days, days of wondering if it is all really worth it.

When I asked a diverse group of entrepreneurial moms what they do on those down days to get themselves upbeat again, I received variety of answers.  Courtney goes for a run to clear her head and bring her attitude back in line. Lara (Co-Founder with sister Jen of heart&core), however, looks for a crowdfunding  inspirational boost from Google, finds herself in the Pilates studio, or she even admits to letting go of her mind as she reads through gossip magazines. Regardless of how they unwind, afterwards they find themselves focused, free of stress,  and back on track.

Sitting in New York Bay, the majestic  Statue of Liberty  has become a symbol of  freedom to all Americans and those who choose to come here in search of a better life.  Courtney and her entrepreneurial colleagues are in search of a better business world, one where women are respected for their innovative product ideas and their ability to lead organizations to consistently provide quality products and services.

And so to Courtney  and her colleagues who have created innovative products and services, I say:  MomPreneurs, we are watching you.  We are waiting for you to show us the way to a changed world, a world that recognizes the genius of women and their ability to run successful businesses.  Like the Statue of Liberty, you will be leading the way for other moms, women and young girls who also dream of one day having a business of their own.

Stay in Your Lane

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As you are aware, I am now working full time.  I know I already told you this but I love saying it so bear with me as I say it still one more time:  I am CEO of a startup company and love every moment of my 24/7 job helping MomPreneurs bring their product to market through Crowdfunding.  I am, of course, familiar with the female psyche so dealing with women is easy for me.  I am also familiar with coaching and developing since that was my career for over 33 years, so that part is easy.  And since I managed a household with  5 teenagers, a business of my own, and a spouse who needed more managing than I care to remember, bless his soul, I guess I could claim to be a good manager as well.

And so I am working with a skeleton-crew of dedicated-to-the-concept people all of whom have the best of intentions of contributing to the overall success of our MomPreneurs and our own startup company.  While our roles are fairly clear, and responsibilities have been discussed ad nauseam, far too often, I find someone holding up the work of another to add his/her two cents, and sometimes more forcefully than that, deciding the course of action.  Frustrated with this ineffective part of our culture, I consulted my son Michael Jr.  Michael  has taken his technology-based business for hospitals from  3 employees to over 200, and from a tiny Georgetown office to a huge office building , servicing  hospitals all over the US.

Michael offered me simple advice:  Tell them and lead them so that everyone knows to stay in their own lane.

“Stay in Your Own Lane.”

And there it was.  A simple way of dealing with what had become a complex issue. Everyone needs to focus on her own expertise and be empowered to go and do and make decisions in her own lane.  Matt, the website developer should be able and allowed to design the website according to the requirements of our owner. Our social media expert should decide how we are going to organically reach thousands of people, and our finance person should focus on accurate targets and projections. Our PR firm should promote us globally, getting our names in the press, and building our brand. The videographer should create the scene based on the scripts we have written. Our operations person should be able to design processes, communicate them, and expect others to follow them. And I should lead. We all need to stay in our lanes. I should not tell the PR firm what to do, or the videographer how to shoot the 60 second clip.  I should stay in my own lane.

Sometimes as we go about our lives, we tend to cross over into someone else’s lane, right? When I am watching my grandson play in a basketball game, I am a fan, not the ref or the coach; I need to stay in my own  lane. When I am playing tennis with my partner, I am a player, not a coach to my partner.  When we do not stay in our own lane as friends, we find ourselves meddling and suggesting, perhaps even lecturing at times. We find ourselves outside of our lane, and in the lane of another, where we do not belong. As moms, mothers-in-law,friends, and businesswomen, we need to learn the art of staying in our own lane, doing what we do best from our own lane. When we are invited into the lane of another,then we can easily make the transition, but if we are not invited, we have no business going there;we run the risk of colliding and causing havoc.

We all need to be conscious of the boundaries provided by our lane. Look around, are you in your own lane?