Every Person Has Stories in Them

I was invited by Dr. Tendai Ndoro to be a panelist for America’s SBDC at Rutgers-Newark for Women’s History Month.  We were asked to share our business history – to tell our stories about what influenced us in life, in our careers and how we got to this place in our businesses. The audience was other women business owners at different stages of their business growth.  Allow me to recognize the awesome panelists for this event.  Including myself, Sandi Webster, the other speakers were:

  • Angela Harrington – VP of Communications and External Relations for Berkeley College. She is an Emmy award-winning journalist with experience in higher education, non-profit management, business, women’s issues, economic development and entrepreneurship.
  • Taneshia Nash Laird – Founder and CEO of Legacy Business Advisors, an economic development and social enterprise consultancy. She has been professionally engaged in community revitalization work for over 15 years.
  • Syleecia Thompson – Full time Professor in the School of Business at Berkeley College in New York City. Her consulting practice focuses on creating the most efficient and effective brands, artists and companies that seek to develop vision, grow and increase their income.
  • Tangela Stewart – Co-founder of Bobbies Babies Child Care and Family Enrichment Center, a premium child care center in Newark, NJ. She has created a successful model and program which serves children from 6 weeks to 5 years old, children with special needs and diverse family populations.

We had more in common than not and one key common factor was that we are considered overnight successes that took 20+ years to happen.  Advice given to the women included:

  1. Get a Mentor. Every great woman or man has someone to whom they can turn to for advice.  A mentor can be a peer
  2. Get a Board of Advisors. Your mentor can be on your board or you can have peer mentoring. “Group think” can be a powerful thing to breed new ideas for your company or to help you solve a problem.
  3. Ask for Help. You cannot grow your business all by yourself.  At some point, you will need help and don’t be afraid to ask for it.
  4. Outsource Business and Personal Jobs. For the things at which you don’t excel, or for personal tasks that can be better accomplished by someone else, pay to get those jobs done.  From household tasks (cleaning, cooking, lawn care, laundry) to bookkeeping, you can easily find services that are there to help you.
  5. Be Nice to People. It’s just as easy to be nice as it is to be nasty, and you can catch flies with honey.  Be nice to the people you deem unimportant as you never know who you might need and when.
  6. Every Mistake is a Learning. Negative things will happen in business and in life.  How you utilize that hard-learned knowledge will make all the difference.  Don’t beat yourself up – learn from your errors and try not to repeat the same mistake twice.

There is so much wisdom in storytelling.  Every culture has a history of handing down stories through generations.  Handing down our stories to other women is how we continue the legacy of sharing that is prevalent among women.  I hope you had a lot of learnings during the month of March, a.k.a. Women’s History Month.