Archive for December, 2012
We all have obstacles to overcome. Even though the glass ceiling is not as impenetrable as it was in earlier decades,
women still have to prove their intelligence, high work ethic and innovative ideas in order to be regarded as qualified for a major leadership role. The old quote by Theodore Reik still holds true, “In our civilization, men are afraid that they will not be men enough and women are afraid that they might be considered only women.”
No, this is not gender bashing, it is simply reality.
The term “glass ceiling” was coined in the 1970s. The belief was that women had to outperform a man in order to get ahead. We have made remarkable strides in the last 40 years.
What do I know about a glass ceiling? You know me now as a successful entrepreneur but in 1972 in Detroit, MI, it was a different story. Working in a Goodyear Tire dealership as a very feminine lady was a daily challenge.
One day the district manager came into my office. After I resumed sitting at my desk, he remained standing and clearly stared down at me. I finally said, “Excuse me but my face is up here.” With a grin, he replied, “I want to be certain you knew I noticed.” Yes, I was wearing a sweater but it was certainly not a low neckline. The inference was obvious that I was to be regarded more as female than as an executive.
It took years of repeated incidents to finally prove I was in the position due to capability rather than gender-based favors. Even then the Motor City was not ready for a female to be treated as an equal in such a male-dominated industry. No matter how capably the job was performed, I was still regarded as only a woman.
No matter how many times the top of my curls bumped the glass ceiling, it did not crack. If I had acted, dressed or spoke like one of the guys, all authority would have been out the window. At least they eventually acted and spoke with respect, if not with acceptance of my authority and position.
History – Female Pioneers
Those who came before paved the way. These are a few of many known and unknown.
Lucy Stone (1818-1893) was the first woman in the United States to earn a college degree. She organized the first national women’s rights convention.
Susan B. Anthony (1820-1906) has her picture on an American coin for her efforts in giving women the right to vote.
Clara Barton (1821-1910) founded the American Red Cross.
Margaret Chase Smith (1897-1995) in 1964 was the first woman to be nominated for President of the United States by a major party
Sandra Day O’Connor (1930 – ) was the first woman to serve as a justice on the US Supreme court.
Sally K. Ride (1951 – ) was the first American woman in space.
Sarah Palin (1964 – ) was governor of Alaska and Vice Presidential candidate for the Republican Party in the 2008 presidential campaign. She is a published author, mother of five and a groundbreaker for women in politics.
There are now 20 female CEO’s at the helm of America’s largest companies. It is only four percent, but it is still a noteworthy record. IBM led the charge with Ginni Rometty. Wal-Mart followed with Rosalind Brewer, not only the first female but the first African-American as well.
There are still obstacles to overcome. It is important to celebrate the progress women have made in previous decades to bring us to this point.
Who knows when it will happen, but we will have a woman President of the United States.
- Keep a success journal for your personal successes and another for your career successes. Make 3 to 5
entries every day in each journal. Each success is a story.
Carry a small pocket recorder to jot story idea notes. Use the notes section on your smart phone.
- I keep a note pad in my exercise area and another on my night stand to jot fast notes. Trying to recall an idea hours later is seldom productive.
- Create a story file; you can make a file on your desktop or on paper. No need to write out the entire story, bullet points will be fine.
- Every story should have:
Cure – solution
Change – change in the behavior or attitude of a character
Carry Out Message
- Jot notes throughout your day of situations which make a point about helping someone or solving a problem. These stories will help you be ready during interviews, meeting prospective clients and in social interactions.
- Hints for advanced story telling:
Tell stories in dialog rather than monologue
Incorporate 5 senses
Make someone else the hero
Head, Heart, Humor and Helpful walk away message
Then, Now and How
- Stories help you connect with your audience, not just communicate. You only have to connect with your audience if you want them to remember you and remember what you said.
The business start-up is more than an idea, a business plan, and initial finances. Does it sound exciting to be able to work from home in your robe and slippers? Ok, so you put on jeans, flip flops and a hoodie to go to the bank. Unfortunately that will not create a successful image.
As an entrepreneur you are wearing all of the hats. You are the President and CEO, the accountant, the receptionist and even the office cleaning and maintenance staff. You never know who you may encounter on your trip to the bank. What if you met the banker to whom you had just applied for a small business loan? What if you met the ideal customer who could make a major purchase of your product or the individual who would refer you to that ideal customer? Would your attire and manner convey the impression of a successful business owner?
Darren LaCroix, 2001 World Champion of Public Speaking, considers himself on duty for the client from the time he arrives at the airport to depart for his professional speaking booking. A future audience member, meeting planner or corporate executive may also be traveling through that same airport at that exact time; they will form an impression which can influence current or future bookings.
My speaking and business coaching clients are encouraged to dress business casual with their hair coiffed and clean shoes; females have makeup and the guys are clean shaven. Does it require extra effort? Of course. When you are properly dressed and ready to face the public, you carry yourself just a little more erect. You smile a bit more and feel better about yourself.
As a new entrepreneur, can you really afford to turn away encouragement or financial support? Probably not. Did I ever experience such a bitter lesson? Come with me to Steamboat Springs Ski Resort in Colorado in the early days of Mountain Castles Property Management.
It was an especially busy day with tourists departing and new tourists arriving within a few hours for the same five-bedroom homes. Two housekeepers called in sick. There wasn’t much choice but to leave my office, put on cleaning clothes and fill the housekeeping gap. As I stepped into the house, the omen of trouble was immediate. The sink was piled high. There is a dishwasher; hadn’t they even washed one dish for the entire week? My frustration mounted. One peek into the oven revealed a disaster resembling a burnt out college bond fire. After a couple hours of scrubbing, it was apparent that there were not enough cleaning materials with me to transform this catastrophe into the sparkling property necessary for the next guests. I made a hasty dash back to the office to replenish supplies.
I entered the office looking especially scruffy and dirty. I was suddenly face to face with one of my most affluent and impeccably attired female clients. Neither apologies, explanations, nor excuses could possibly erase my unsavory appearance from her memory.
Yes, that appearance error was unavoidable, but what about the avoidable “too much of a hurry to bother” occasions?
As the owner, you are making the sales pitch for funding or product sales. Though you won’t wear a three piece suit to sell products to an auto mechanic shop, it is always respectful to the client to dress up at least as well as they do and preferably slightly better.
The old adage of “You never have a second chance to make a good first impression” holds ever so true for the appearance of the owner of a start-up.
Take the extra time to pay attention to your attire and grooming. Your future business and future bank account will thank you.
Are you seeking more success in your life and career? Inquire about hiring Elaine Love for your next sales training, executive meeting or personal growth presentation. Go to www.Elaine4Success.com or contact Elaine at Elaine@Elaine4Success.com
Conversations should flow naturally and smoothly. Relax and be yourself. The more you are fully engaged and genuinely interested in both the topic and the person to whom you are speaking, the more comfortable it will be for both parties.
Key – It is called conversation, not monologue. Both parties should be participating.
How to start a conversation
Every conversation is an opportunity for connection. The people in front of you may or may not be your ideal client, but they may know the perfect client for you. We are all connected to everyone else by six degrees of separation. (“Six degrees of separation is the idea that everyone is on average approximately six steps away, by way of introduction, from any other person in the world, so that a chain of “a friend of a friend” statements can be made, on average, to connect any two people in six steps. It was originally set out by Frigyes Karinthy and popularized by a play written by John Guare.”)
Questions are excellent conversation starters. Allison Graham’s article “Hate Small Talk” said, Mastering small talk will help you find common ground to create a mini-bond with new contacts. Small talk may feel trite and unimportant, but it’s the small talk that leads to the big talk.”
What questions can you ask which will stimulate conversation and connection?
- What brought you to this event?
- When you’re not working or networking, what do you enjoy doing?
- How did you happen to start in your line of work?
- What organizations do you belong to? (social, professional, service)
- What are your vacation plans for this year? (or holiday plans)
- Name something positive which happened to you lately.
If the conversation lags but you really do not want to end it, be creative. You know what interests you; keep moving from topic to topic until you find what interests them. Establishing common interests creates connection.
Comment on an attractive shirt or tie for a man or a blouse or shoes for a woman. Be genuine. Men like to be complimented on their attire as much as women do.
Mentioning a special award or accomplishment they or a member of their family has recently received is always a positive. If you can take a photo of them receiving the award or a clipping from the paper and enclose it in your personalized printed note card, it makes a memorable gift. Your thoughtfulness creates an emotional connection.
One of my clients gave me a gift of notepads with my company logo on them as a Thank You gift. PrintPlace creates custom printed notepads. These pads become a constant reminder of the appreciation of the giver and a reminder of the high quality of the printer.
You only have to connect emotionally if you want them to remember you. People remember how you make them feel more than they remember your words. Note cards create emotional connections; thoughtful notes are excellent follow up reminders of your conversation.
What Not to Say
Avoid Foot in Mouth Syndrome
Intense discussions about work, politics, religion or sensitive social issues are taboo – totally unacceptable.
Don’t always have to be right. I once dated a man who said he was “often wrong but never in doubt.” Even if you know you are right, this may not be the time to push the issue. You will not win points.
When is it Time to Move On to the Next Person?
Shifting feet, glances around the room and disengaged behavior in the conversation all say “It’s time to move on. This conversation is over at this time.”
If you are the one who desires to move on, offer to introduce them to “Ms or Mr X.” It is a smooth transition and will most likely be viewed as helping them.
If you have made a solid connection, ask when they would like to get together for a cup of coffee and continue the conversation. This is the perfect time to offer your business card. Pull out your smart phone and coordinate calendars for your follow up meeting. Make a note of the follow up time, date and a conversation note on their business card. Ideally, they will make a similar note on your business card.
Be conscious of focusing genuine attention on them. Ask engaging questions, make eye contact, give a firm but not crushing handshake, confirm common values and interests, listen and be appreciative. Remain aware of body language both positive and negative. Connect emotionally. Make a smooth transition out of the conversation just as you made a smooth transition into the conversation.