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50 Fascinating Facts for Women’s History Month

Thursday, March 3rd, 2011

History texts and classes are often dominated by male figures, yet women have played and continue to play a major role in the world’s economy, politics, culture and discoveries and deserve their fair share of recognition as well. March is Women’s History Month and there’s no better time to celebrate their contributions. Here are some fascinating facts about women’s history that will showcase some standouts, accomplishments, impacts and just how far they have come.

By the Numbers
Here you’ll find some amazing stats about women in the world today.

  1. Today, 71% of moms with kids under 18 work. In 1975, fewer than 47% did. Once upon a time, the idea of women working outside of the home was frowned upon and most women who did so worked as maids, seamstresses, took in laundry or worked in one of the traditionally female fields. Today, more women not only work outside the home, but hold a wider variety of jobs, with some even making it to the top of business, technology and science fields.
  2. Women currently hold 17% of Congressional and Senate seats and 18% of gubernatorial positions in the U.S. While women are still underrepresented in political life, the current state of things is a far cry from a time when women weren’t even allowed to vote — a mere 90 years ago.
  3. In almost every country in the world, the life expectancy for women is higher than men. For virtually all causes of death at all ages, mortality rates are higher for men. Scientists aren’t entirely sure why this is the case, but believe it might have to do with the presence of estrogen in the body improving immune function.
  4. Approximately 14% of active members in the U.S. armed forces today are women. In 1950, women comprised less than 2% of the U.S. military. Today, women play an active role in serving their country through military service, but many in years past would simply disguise themselves as men in order to gain access to the battlefield, including well-known examples like Frances Clayton in the American Civil War.
  5. Over 60 percent of college degrees awarded in the U.S. every year are earned by women. In fact, women are more likely than men to get a high school diploma as well, and the numbers are only expected to rise in the coming years.
  6. The two highest IQs ever recorded, through standardized testing, both belong to women. One of these high IQ women is the columnist and author Marilyn vos Savant. Of course, these numbers should be taken with a grain of salt, as IQ tests aren’t perfect in measuring intelligence, but it does help show that women aren’t inferior to men in intelligence – as was claimed for centuries.
  7. More American women work in the education, health services, and social assistance industries than any other. It seems that while women are moving into the workforce in large numbers, they’re still taking on traditionally female positions like teaching, nursing and social services. These three industries employ nearly one-third of all female workers.

Sports
Check out these facts to learn more about women in sports throughout recorded history.

  1. No women or girls were allowed at the first Olympics, but the Games of Hera, featuring footraces for women, were held every four years. In fact, women were not even allowed to watch the Olympic games or encouraged to participate in athletics (with the exception of the Spartans) so that the games existed at all is surprising. At their inception, the games only included that one event.
  2. At the first Winter Olympic Games in 1924, the only event open to women was figure skating. Only 15 women participated in these games, something that would change drastically over the decades.
  3. Women were not allowed to compete in track and field events at the Olympics until 1928. The ancient Greeks and Romans may have let women run in footraces in the Heraen Games, but when it came to the Olympics, both ancient and modern, these events were off limits to women until 1928. Unfortunately, some of the events were too much for the untrained female athletes, and because many collapsed after the end of the 800-meter race, it was banned until 1960.
  4. Roberta Gibb was the first woman to run and finish the Boston Marathon in 1966. Of course, she didn’t get official credit for it, as women were not allowed to enter the race until 1972, but her wins, in ’66, ’67, and ’68 seriously challenged long-held beliefs about the athletic prowess of women.
  5. Virne “Jackie” Mitchell, a pitcher, was the first woman in professional baseball. While women still don’t have much of a presence in baseball today, Mitchell proved that it wasn’t because they couldn’t play. During an exhibition game, she struck out both Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. Her performance probably played a part in baseball commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis banning women from the sport later that year.
  6. Mary, Queen of Scots is reported to be the first woman to play golf in Scotland. Golf today is still seen as a man’s sport, but this powerful and scandalous queen couldn’t have cared less. In fact, she even went out to play golf a few days after her husband Lord Darnley’s murder.
  7. Donald Walker’s book, Exercise for Ladies, warns women against horseback riding, because it deforms the lower part of the body. While this book was published in 1837, the views it documented about women doing any kind of exertion or exercise were to hold throughout the Victorian era and beyond.

Culture
Learn more about the role women have played in art, music and literature from these facts.

  1. The world’s first novel, The Tale of Genji, was published in Japan around A.D. 1000 by female author Murasaki Shikibu. It is still revered today for its masterful observations about court life and has been translated into dozens of languages.
  2. In 1921, American novelist Edith Wharton was the first woman to receive a Pulitzer Prize for fiction. She won the award for her novel The Age of Innocence, a story set in upper-class New York during the 1870s.
  3. Women often wrote under pen names in times when it was not seen as appropriate for them to contribute to literature. Even some female authors who are highly acclaimed today had to resort to fake names like Jane Austen, the Bronte Sisters, Mary Ann Evans (perhaps better known by her pen name George Eliot), and Louisa May Alcott.
  4. In the early years of the blues, from 1910 to 1925, the vast majority of singers were women. It might go against the common idea of just what the blues are or what they should sound like, but new research has found that some of the biggest players in the form of music were actually women.
  5. In an era when female painters had to struggle for acceptance, Artemesia Gentileschi was the first female to be accepted by the Accademia di Arte del Disegno in Florence. A follower of the style popularized by Caravaggio, her work is often particularly adept at bringing to life the passion and suffering of mythological and biblical women.

Amazing Women
These amazing women make for some pretty inspiring facts, perfect for Women’s History Month.

  1. Marie Curie is the only woman to ever win two Nobel Prizes. Her first award was for physics for her work on spontaneous radiation with her husband, with her second being in Chemistry for her studies of radioactivity.
  2. Hatshepsut was one of the most powerful women in the ancient world and the one and only female pharaoh in recorded history. She was the fifth pharaoh of the Eighteenth Dynasty of Ancient Egypt after taking over as a supposed regent for her son and reigned for over twenty years. While accounts seem to paint her reign as a favorable one, her images have been defaced on temples and inscriptions as though they meant to wipe her existence from history.
  3. Queen Victoria ruled one of the largest empires in the history of the world, at one point controlling land on nearly every continent.This included countries like including India, Australia, Egypt, Kenya, Canada, and British Guiana promoting the saying that the sun never sets on the British empire.
  4. Martha Wright Griffiths, an American lawyer and judge, pushed through the Sex Discrimination Act in 1964 as part of the Civil Rights Act. This act has helped protect countless women on the job and in everyday life from discrimination based on their gender.
  5. Journalist Nellie Bly put Jules Verne’s character Phileas Fogg to shame when she completed an around the world journey in only seventy two days– quite a feat before the invention of the airplane. Bly is also well-known for her expose on mental institutions, a project for which she had to fake psychological illness to gain access to the facilities.
  6. Jane Addams was the first woman to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Because of her work with the Hull House, the public philosopher, writer, leader and suffragist went down as one of the most influential and prolific women in American history.
  7. Upon her husband’s death, Cherokee leader Nancy Ward took his place in a 1775 battle against the Creeks, and led the Cherokee to victory. After the victory, she became head of the Woman’s Council and a member of the Council of Chiefs, playing a key role in social and political changes to the Cherokee nation throughout her life.
  8. In 1777, sixteen-year-old Sybil Ludington raced through the night to warn New York patriots that the British were attacking nearby Danbury, CT, where munitions and supplies for the entire region were stored during the heat of the Revolutionary War. While Paul Revere gets all the glory for nighttime rides, her journey took her twice the distance and helped the troops prepare and repel a British attack.
  9. Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony spent their lives fighting for women’s suffrage, but neither lived long enough to see the Amendment granting them the right to vote. Stanton passed away in 1902, decades before women finally won out, and Anthony in 1906 only a few years later.
  10. African-American performer Josephine Baker was working in France during WWII, but not only as a singer, dancer and actress. She was also helping the war movement, smuggling numerous messages to French soldiers. She often hid messages inside her dress or concealed with invisible ink on her sheet music. Baker’s work in the war is only part of what makes her such an amazing figure, as she was the first African American female to star in a major motion picture, perform in a concert hall and played a big role in the Civil Rights Movement.

Famous Firsts
Paving the way for generations to come, these women took down barriers to become the first of their kind in a wide range of fields.

  1. In 1853 Antoinette Blackwell became the first American woman to be ordained a minister in a recognized denomination. Impressive, considering there are still only a handful of female ministers nationwide today.
  2. The earliest recorded female physician was Merit Ptah, a doctor in ancient Egypt who lived around 2700 B.C. Many historians believe she may be the first woman recorded by name in the history of all of the sciences, making her achievement all the more impressive.
  3. The first woman to rule a country as an elected leader in the modern era was Sirimavo Bandaranaike of Sri Lanka, who was elected as prime minister of the island nation in 1960 and later re-elected in 1970. She is still one of only a handful of female heads of states, though numbers are growing with female leaders being recently elected in places like Brazil, Switzerland, Costa Rice, Lithuania and Gabon.
  4. In 1756, during America’s Colonial period, Lydia Chapin Taft became the first woman to legally vote with the consent of the electorate. While all women didn’t enjoy this privilege until 1920, Taft was allowed to vote because her husband, a powerful local figure, had passed away right before a major town vote. She was allowed to step in in his stead.
  5. The first woman to run for U.S. president was Victoria Woodhull, who campaigned for the office in 1872 under the National Woman’s Suffrage Association. While women would not be granted the right to vote by a constitutional amendment for nearly 50 years, there were no laws prohibiting one from running for the chief executive position.
  6. The first female governor of a U.S. state was Wyoming governor Nellie Tayloe Ross, elected in 1924. Wyoming was also the first state to give women the right to vote, enacting women’s suffrage in 1869, making it a surprising leader in women’s rights.
  7. The first female member of a president’s cabinet was Frances Perkins, Secretary of Labor under FDR. She remained in office for the duration of FDRs terms and helped put together the labor programs needed for the New Deal to succeed.
  8. The first person to make the daring attempt to go over Niagara Falls in a wooden barrel was a woman. On October 24, 1901, Annie Edson Taylor, a forty-three-year-old schoolteacher from Michigan plunged over the falls. She survived with only a small gash on her head, but swore to never take them on again.
  9. Jeannette Rankin, a Republican from Montana, was the first woman elected to serve in Congress. She was elected in both 1916 and 1940. A lifelong pacifist, she was the only member of Congress to vote against entering WWII.
  10. On May 15, 1809, Mary Dixon Kies received the first U.S. patent issued to a woman for inventing a process for weaving straw with silk or thread. Before then, most women inventors didn’t bother to patent their new inventions because they couldn’t legally own property independent of their husbands. Few could get the support necessary to turn their ideas into a reality.

Historical Happenings
Learn more about women in history from these interesting facts.

  1. Wyoming was the first state to grant women the right to vote. It was also the first state to elect a female governor, Nellie Tayloe Ross.
  2. The first country to grant women the right to vote in the modern era was New Zealand in 1893. In this same year, Elizabeth Yates also become major of Onehunga, the first ever female mayor anywhere in the British empire.
  3. In 1770, a bill proposing that women using makeup should be punished for witchcraft was put forward to the British Parliament. The use of makeup was frowned upon during this period for the effect it would have on men, and women who were thought to be luring men in with scents, makeup, wigs or other cosmetics were thought to be performing the devils’ work by inciting lustfulness. Even the Queen took a hard stance on makeup, calling it “impolite.”
  4. On Nov. 26, 1916 birth control activist Margaret Sanger was arrested for distributing birth control information. While Sanger’s views on race are questionable, her efforts to provide women with control over their reproduction were not. Birth control is still a hot issue among many, with some conservative groups condemning it altogether.
  5. Think that factory work was always done by men? In fact, during the 19th century, factory workers were primarily young, single women. Men and married women stayed home to work the farm or manage the house.
  6. Until 1846, the practice of obstetrics was a female-dominated field. It was then that most medical colleges decided women could not attend and the newly founded American Medical Association barred women. Legislation intended to regulate the medical profession also made it nearly impossible for young women to pursue a medical career. Today, however, obstetrics is a female-dominated field once again.
  7. Betsy Ross probably didn’t make the first American flag. While she may have been a flagmaker, patriot and businesswoman of note, there is little evidence to suggest that Betsy Ross actually made the first flag. In fact, the first retellings of this story didn’t happen until years after her death.

Innovative Women
These women came up with new and innovative ideas well worth reading about.

  1. In 1903, Mary Anderson was granted a patent for the windshield wiper. It would become standard equipment on cars by 1916. She isn’t alone in her inventiveness. Women have also invented such things as industrial lathes, white out, bras, non-reflective glass, the dishwasher, disposable diapers, petroleum refining methods and much, much more.
  2. Amelia Jenks Bloomer didn’t invent the bloomer, but she helped popularize this new article of clothing in the early 1850’s, which now bears her name, that would help women be more active and free in their movement. Unfortunately, the style was much ridiculed and Bloomer had to revert to traditional dresses by 1859, but she remained an active member of suffrage movements throughout her life.
  3. 40s movie actress, Hedy Lamarr wasn’t just a pretty face, she was also an inventor. Hoping to find a way to contribute to the war effort during World War II, Lamarr developed a radio-controlled torpedo device which used “frequency hopping” to prevent the signals from the torpedoes from being jammed. While the technology wasn’t adopted for WWII, it was used in subsequent conflicts.
  4. Susan Kare developed most of the interface elements for Apple Macintosh. You might not think that women have played a huge role in the development of computer technology, but in this case you’d be wrong. Kare helped develop the bulk of those little icons early Mac users clicked on every day. Kare left Apple in the 80’s, and is still working with innovating new technologies and improving design.

Here is an article that a reader sent to Womensnet…good advise!!

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011

Click here to find out more!

Why Do So Many Women-Owned Businesses Struggle to Make It to $1 Million?

Bloomberg Businessweek recently featured a fascinating interview with Nell Merlino, the founder of Make Mine a Million. The program, which Merlino founded in 2005, had a goal of helping 1 million women-owned businesses reach 1 million in sales by 2010.
Merlino didn’t achieve that goal, but she’s looking at the positive side: “We’ve raised $10 million and helped women generate $100 million in revenue and create 6,000 jobs.”
As BloombergBusinessweek columnist Karen E. Klein notes, “Between 1997 and 2006, businesses that were fully or majority women-owned grew at nearly twice the rate of all U.S. firms.” Since then, however, the numbers haven’t changed. Currently, there are some 10 million women-owned companies in the U.S. with a total of $1.9 trillion in annual sales. What slowed women-owned businesses’ growth? According to Merlino it’s the same thing that’s stymied everyone: the recession. She says, For a lot of women, their top goal over the last couple of years was just to survive.”
Merlino hasn’t given up on her goal: She still wants to get 1 million women-owned businesses to $1 million-this time, by 2045. Though that seems like a long time from now, for today Make Mine a Million is focusing on regional events. Last year, the program’s $100,000 online competition attracted 1,500 entrants. The top 54 companies from the contest grew an average of 59 percent in 2009 compared to 2008, and increased employment an average of 113 percent.
Despite the popular stereotype that women entrepreneurs want to keep their companies small or have “lifestyle businesses,” Merlino says a survey of women-owned companies with revenues of $150,000 to $700,000 showed that 87 percent wanted to grow. So what separates those that do grow-like the 54 women in the contest-from those that don’t? Merlino’s advice:

  • Get guidance. Attend seminars, Webinar and conferences. Hire a business coach.
  • Think big. Merlino uses the hot trend of cupcake businesses as an example. “Do you want a retail shop, or do you want to figure out how to sell to Starbucks?” Companies that reach $1 million in sales do so by selling to as many customers as they can. While women with corporate backgrounds know the best way to do this is reaching out to corporate customers, women without that background often don’t think that way.
  • Hire. In the survey mentioned above, Merlino notes, 54 percent of women entrepreneurs thought they could grow their companies without hiring. Women tend to fear hiring, Merlino says, because they fear giving up control, not making payroll and having people rely on them. Others think doing everything themselves makes their companies more manageable. In reality, the opposite is true: Merlino points out that delegating duties frees you up to focus on long-term strategy and truly grow your business.

Passion usually does not steer you wrong, but pursue it with trusted advice

Monday, December 6th, 2010

Here is another example of a successful business that was created by a women who pursued her passion, with caution:

USA Today’s Charisse Jones Column interview of Care.com CEO Shelia Marcelo

Shelia Marceleo is CEO of Care.com, a company she founded in 2006 that connects families to caregivers who provide services ranging from child and senior care to tutoring and houseleeping.  The company has raised $36 million in financing and is the biggest online resourse for family care services.

USA TODAY: What advise do you give to up-and coming entrepreneurs?
Ceo Care.com/ Shelia Marcelo:  Definitely pursue your passion, but share you ideas with a lot of people so they can weigh in and give advise.  And have mentors, because sometimes you become overly passionate, you drink your own Kool-Aid. I’m a big believer that you’re always testing and iterating.

Womensnet: Angel Investors for Women Owned Businesses

Thursday, November 18th, 2010

I asked my friend and nationally acclaimed business writer, Marcia Layton Turner, to share some information on angel investors – and the opportunities available to women business owners and entrepreneurs. I was partly drawn to the topic of angel investors because one such investor will be reviewing all the Amber Grant applications this quarter for an opportunity. I hope you’ll find a nugget or two in what Marcia has to share!
Angel Investors for Women Owned Businesses: Is It Right for You?

www.MarciaLaytonTurner.com
–By Marcia Layton Turner–

Rather than taking on debt through loans, you may be able to interest investors in providing funding in exchange for part ownership in your women owned business.

If you’re willing to consider an equity investment in your company to get it up-and-running, versus debt from a bank or other lender, angel investors may be just what you need. Typically providing a first round of funding to help a business start up or expand, angel investors take part ownership of your company in exchange for a cash infusion. Some women entrepreneurs find the prospect of angel investors intriguing.

Although you don’t hear a lot about them, angel investors are everywhere. Angel investors, or angels for short, are individuals or groups of individuals who have money to invest in startup businesses. They provide cash in exchange for part ownership of your company, much like venture capitalists, but on a smaller scale.

Here’s something to consider if you’re a woman looking for funding for your small business. Where venture capitalists may not be interested in startup companies or those needing less than, say, $1 million, angels are mainly interested in getting in on the ground floor. They will typically invest from around $100,000 up to as much as $5 million in a company hoping to be able to take their money out within five years, at a 25-30% return. However, $1 million investments are far more common than $5 million. In addition, companies needing more than $5 million or that do not anticipate providing investors a sizeable return will have more difficulty attracting the attention of angels.

National angel networks

Two of the biggest national angel investor networks include:
Active Capital
http://www.activecapital.org
Fee: $199
Investment size: $250,000 – $5 million
Excluded ventures:
• sole proprietorships
• partnerships
• limited liability partnerships
• “blank check” companies (companies intending to invest in future ventures)
• development stage companies that have no specific business plan or purpose
• development stage companies whose business plan is to merge or be acquired by an unidentified company
• investment companies registered or required to register under the Investment Company Act of 1940
• companies involved in oil, gas, or other mineral or extractive interests
For more information, contact:
Office of Technology Transfer and Commercialization (OTTC)
California State University, San Bernardino
5500 University Parkway
San Bernardino, CA 92407
Website: www.ottc.csusb.edu

Investors’ Circle

www.investorscircle.net
Fee: $150 + $995 if your application is approved for participation in a venture fair
Investment size: $10,000 – $5 million
Ventures of particular interest:
• Energy & Environmental Solutions
• Organics & Natural Products
• Education & Media
• Health & Wellness
• Community & International Development
For more information, contact:
Investors’ Circle
165 11th Street
San Francisco, CA 94103
(415) 255-6844

State angel networks

Some angel investors prefer to limit their investments to companies that operate in their geographic area, so they can be more personally involved. For that reason, be sure and check the state-by-state directory that Gaebler offers. Not all states have angel investor networks, however. In those cases, you may have luck contacting those in a neighboring state.
You can find a state-by-state directory here:
http://www.gaebler.com/angel-investor-networks.htm
Once you’ve located a potential investor group, carefully read the list of excluded ventures to be sure yours does not fall into one of the categories that are not of interest. If you find a match between what the network is interested in investing in and your type of business and funding needs, fill out an application.

Womensnet: Angel Investors for Women Owned Businesses

Thursday, November 18th, 2010



*
I asked my friend and nationally acclaimed business writer, Marcia Layton Turner, to share some information on angel investors – and the opportunities available to women business owners and entrepreneurs. I was partly drawn to the topic of angel investors because one such investor will be reviewing all the Amber Grant applications this quarter for an opportunity. I hope you’ll find a nugget or two in what Marcia has to share!

Angel Investors for Women Owned Businesses: Is It Right for You?
By Marcia Layton Turner

Rather than taking on debt through loans, you may be able to interest investors in providing funding in exchange for part ownership in your women owned business.

If you’re willing to consider an equity investment in your company to get it up-and-running, versus debt from a bank or other lender, angel investors may be just what you need. Typically providing a first round of funding to help a business start up or expand, angel investors take part ownership of your company in exchange for a cash infusion. Some women entrepreneurs find the prospect of angel investors intriguing.

Although you don’t hear a lot about them, angel investors are everywhere. Angel investors, or angels for short, are individuals or groups of individuals who have money to invest in startup businesses. They provide cash in exchange for part ownership of your company, much like venture capitalists, but on a smaller scale.

Here’s something to consider if you’re a woman looking for funding for your small business. Where venture capitalists may not be interested in startup companies or those needing less than, say, $1 million, angels are mainly interested in getting in on the ground floor. They will typically invest from around $100,000 up to as much as $5 million in a company hoping to be able to take their money out within five years, at a 25-30% return. However, $1 million investments are far more common than $5 million. In addition, companies needing more than $5 million or that do not anticipate providing investors a sizeable return will have more difficulty attracting the attention of angels.

National angel networks

Two of the biggest national angel investor networks include:

Active Capital
Fee: $199
Investment size: $250,000 – $5 million

Excluded ventures:

  • sole proprietorships
  • partnerships
  • limited liability partnerships
  • “blank check” companies (companies intending to invest in future ventures)
  • development stage companies that have no specific business plan or purpose
  • development stage companies whose business plan is to merge or be acquired by an unidentified company
  • investment companies registered or required to register under the Investment Company Act of 1940
  • companies involved in oil, gas, or other mineral or extractive interests
    For more information, contact:
    Office of Technology Transfer and Commercialization (OTTC)
    California State University, San Bernardino
    5500 University Parkway
    San Bernardino, CA 92407
    Investors’ Circle
    Fee: $150 + $995 if your application is approved for participation in a venture fair
    Investment size: $10,000 – $5 million
    Ventures of particular interest:
  • Energy & Environmental Solutions
  • Organics & Natural Products
  • Education & Media
  • Health & Wellness
  • Community & International Development

    For more information, contact:

    Investors’ Circle
    165 11th Street
    San Francisco, CA 94103

    State angel networks

    Some angel investors prefer to limit their investments to companies that operate in their geographic area, so they can be more personally involved. For that reason, be sure and check the state-by-state directory that Gaebler offers. Not all states have angel investor networks, however. In those cases, you may have luck contacting those in a neighboring state.

    You can find a state-by-state directory here:

    Once you’ve located a potential investor group, carefully read the list of excluded ventures to be sure yours does not fall into one of the categories that are not of interest. If you find a match between what the network is interested in investing in and your type of business and funding needs, fill out an application.

  • Feature Article: 3 Counterintuitive Lessons of Being a Solopreneur

    Tuesday, November 9th, 2010

    A couple weeks ago we asked members of womensnet.net to send us any articles they would like to share with other women entrepreneurs. We’re sharing a great one today from noted author Selena Rezavani.

    SelenaRezavani

    Please let us know how you liked the article, and what other subjects you’d like to see us cover in the future.
    Thanks – and have a great day!!

    3 Counterintuitive Lessons of Being a Solopreneur
    By Selena Rezvani

    Opening my own business has meant learning so many lessons along the way — often making it feel like I’m ‘building the airplane while flying it.’ Below are some of the more counterintuitive things I’ve learned while growing my speaking and consulting business,
    NextGenWomen, LLC.

    1. Don’t Think You Have to Start Small
    One piece of conventional wisdom you’ll hear again and again is to take on small clients, small gigs, or small steps as a means to groom yourself for bigger challenges. While this is a nice way to gradually build confidence and manage risk, I’ve found in my own line of work, the opposite was helpful. When I was getting ready for my book tour last winter, I reached out to many universities,
    corporations, and bookstores to secure speaking engagements.

    Believe it or not, the very first group to say yes was Harvard business school. Nerve-wracking as it was to start right at the top of the academic food chain, I leaned into the risk opportunity. That experience gave me an incredible jolt. Most of all, it helped me see myself in a different, more capable light, increased the credibility of my brand, and paved the way for me to get more great speaking gigs around the country.

    2. It’s Okay to Say No
    Starting out as a business owner, it’s tempting to say ‘yes’ to everything. After all, you don’t want to miss out on a potentially favorable relationship, partnership, lead, or deal. The problem with saying ‘yes’ to the world is that you don’t have much energy,focus or intellect left to devote to your business. Saying no doesn’t feel good. But it doesn’t have to be pure black or white. I’ve found that shifting in-person meetings to phone meetings-thereby eliminating the “timesuck” of travel-has made a big difference. Creating some boundaries, like starting a phone call by explaining that you have 30 minutes to devote-has helped keep me on track and helps my associate set expectations for how long we can talk. Saying no to an idea or proposal can also mean saying no for now, not forever.

    3. Self-Reflection Never Stops…Even if You’re the Expert
    While we’re not accustomed to hearing ‘self-reflection’ and ‘business’ in the same sentence, the act of looking in the mirror intensifies, not lessens, after you start a business. Why? You no longer have that corporate job obscuring the real you, including your most gaping weaknesses and most dazzling strengths. Facing reality means looking long and hard at who you are, what you believe in, and what your top values are. For me this was never more relevant that when I started writing my Washington Post column. For every person that loved the position I took on an issue, there was someone else who hated it and fervently objected. The process of thickening one’s skin is probably the most important part of self-reflection. So pull out that Johari window, get a coach, and figure out your blind spots before others do.

    The moral of the story here? Take good old business advice for what it is, which is guidance that works well for the majority, and remember that there are always exceptions.

    About Selena:

    Selena Rezvani is a recognized authority on women and leadership.
    She is the founder and president of NextGenWomen, LLC
    (www.nextgenwomen.com), and is a leading author, speaker, and consultant regarding women and the workplace.

    Rezvani established NextGenWomen while writing her debut book,”The Next Generation of Women Leaders: What You Need to Lead but Won’t Learn in Business School” (Praeger, 2009) and after identifying the need for Gen X and Y women to be seen as a leadership pipeline.

    Her experience and success in the women and leadership arena makes Rezvani a frequent resource for news media and an in-demand business speaker. She has been quoted, interviewed, and profiled by CareerBuilder, The Wall Street Journal, ForbesWoman, NBC television, and ABC television. She is a regular commentator on NPR‟s nationally syndicated The 51% Perspective and writes a women and leadership
    column for The Washington Post.

    Selena received her Bachelor of Science and Master of Social Work degrees from New York University, and has an MBA from Johns Hopkins,where she graduated first in her class.

    ** Another quick reminder that we’d love to have you apply for the Amber Grant if you haven’t already done it for this quarter. Also, we mentioned two weeks ago that one of our judges is willing to offer to become an Angel Investor for any business that catches their eye. Just another reason to apply today if you haven’t already.