Feature Interview: Marita Vasquez

Juan Mejia bacaI am currently living in Chiclayo, Peru, and working at some local schools in the area. I’ve been learning so much about the culture, the people, the food (the food is so good!), and I’ve been able to talk with some amazing individuals.

I have been extremely impressed by the number of women working in education here. The majority of primary school teachers are women, and there are a good percentage working at the university level as well. I sat down with Martia Vasquez, the Director of the School of Education at the private university of Juan Mejia Baca, to talk about her path as well as the state of women in business. She is an amazing person and I was so impressed by what she has accomplished in her life and the example she leads for everyone around her:

Tell me a little about yourself and what you do:

Well, I am a professional woman, and a fighter. I am continually preparing and forming myself in all areas of my life.

Where did you study and what did you study?

I studied at the National University Pedro Ruiz Gallo and I have also studied at Heart. I have two professions, I teach chemistry methodology, it was my first profession. Then I studied nursing. Apart from that I have a master’s degree in teaching and research and a doctorate in science education and a doctorate in health sciences.

What occupations have you had in your life?

Apart from all that I have studied, the first profession that I had was a secretary, a cooperative when I was 17. Then I was a professor of secondary education for 7 years. Then I worked one year as a staff nurse in a small town called Llanca Lambayeque.

Since then I have taught in a university since 1994 and in a nursing faculty and I have nearly 20 years of service. I worked there for almost six years. As a university teacher one of  the most satisfying projects I had was being a research head at a central office. I’ve had plenty of opportunities to get training, and opportunities to learn for research.

And now I’m here at Juan Mejia Baca, where they have opened doors for me to apply to all who believe. I am a teacher in the area of ​​scientific research and director of education careers. I am also in charge of the psychology department and president of the self-evaluation condition quality here at the university.

Have you always wanted to work in education?

In the beginning no, it was almost incidental. I studied nursing and really wanted to work with the health sciences. But because of education, I have had many personal and professional rewards. It has served me as a person and as a professional. It’s made me happy.

I try to be an example as a teacher. I also worry a lot about the training of future teachers.

Do the majority of women in Peru have careers? If so, what types of careers do they have?

No most don’t really have one. If we talk about the town and the coast, a large percentage of women have formal training in professions. But if we talk about the jungle, the women there have discriminate opportunities. The rural area also.

The woman is the center of home and she is who will raise the children and all that they know. Most women end up in professions that have to do with service, like education and health. Here in Peru, a large percentage of teachers are women. In preschool, primary, and secondary. Then there are psychologists, nurses, but generally the lot of women have service professions.

What has been a struggle in getting to where you are today?

I think all things in life are a challenge. The fact that I’m a woman, although I’ve had luck and I myself made strides, I’m still finding myself. But, I’ve always know I could do whatever I wanted. I’m a very lucky person, my mentors that I had were amazing. They trusted me and believed in the qualities I had.

What is your favorite part of your job now?

It gives me such satisfaction when someone comes to check in with me and have a consultation and they come out stronger. They don’t always have to be professional consultations but also personal consultations. When it comes to talking I like to listen and help people make decisions that will impact their lives.

What is one piece of advice you can give to women wanting to have a career here in Peru?

First they have to be on top of things that are happening in the world. Also, you don’t stop learning at a certain age, life is constantly learning. Know what’s going on in the world to see what new aspects in our careers we can strengthen. I have had the luck to find work faster and with with no offer from the place where I work, but that’s because I’m ready with a few changes and ready for what’s coming.

Virtual tutorials are a great way to teach yourself new skills. I look up things that don’t necessarily have to do with my area, but they are things that I am interested in. We have a lot of resources here for eco tourism so I’m learning about that industry.

This isn’t something that just women can do, everyone can. But if there’s a woman who is having difficulty, just make sure and be preparing yourself for when opportunities come along.





Debbi Fields Rose: Profile of an Entrepreneurial Icon

Debbie Fields Rose“The important thing is not being afraid to take a chance. Remember, the greatest failure is to not try. Once you find something you love to do, be the best at doing it.”

Those are the words of one of America’s foremost female entrepreneurs and authors, Debbi Fields Rose. Her story, chronicled in her memoir, “One Smart Cookie,” is a tale of a bold underdog that brought to life a business that nearly everyone told her couldn’t work. Since her massive success with creating a national chain of cookie stores, Debbi has remained the face of Mrs. Fields, publishing multiple books and inspiring millions of young entrepreneurs.

The Origins of Mrs. Fields Cookies

A lot of kids grow up spending time in the kitchen. But few are so dedicated to their baking hobby that they get a part-time job to pay for their own ingredients. This was just a hint of the dedication it would take to turn a lifelong passion into a thousand dessert franchises of possibly the most recognized cookie company on the planet.

Debbi’s success is significant, given that she received significant discouragement from family and friends, many of whom told her that she had no business starting her own company. She had no formal education to speak of, no money of her own to start the business with no product except cookies (I think they rather underestimated America’s sweet tooth.). At the age of 20, Debbi ignored the criticism and pushed forward to open a store in Palo Alto that would eventually be a $450 million leader of freshly-baked cookies.

Beyond Business and into Philanthropy

Debbi sold the business in the 1990s. And while she is still the public face of the company, she has since turned her talents and leadership ability to charitable ventures. She sits on the Le Bonheur Foundation’s board, served as the 2010 “GO RED” chair for the American Heart Association and recipient of the Toastmasters’ Golden Gavel Award.

Debbi isn’t done leading in the business community, however. She’ll be speaking at the Women Entrepreneurs Inspire Conference on April 2, 2013 at Oklahoma State. She’ll be sharing lessons learned from her years in business and charity work, as well as the special challenges that female entrepreneurs face today.

Lately, Debbi is hard at work in her kitchen creating her newest cookie book, The Best of Debbie Fields Cookie Jar, a collaboration involving her daughters that is sure to be a new best seller.

Given her impressive bio, it’s no surprise to hear that Mrs. Fields company motto reads “Good enough never is.” Quality has always been a hallmark of the Mrs. Fields brand, and that is directly attributable to its founder’s focus on perfection. It says a lot about her personality and about the driving force behind her success in business and philanthropy

Author bio: Joseph Wright writes for Mrs. Fields, the top name in gourmet cookies since 1977. Mrs. Fields has a new show airing on Lifetime this season called “Supermarket Superstar”. A competition series that mentors and gives home cooks the chance to launch their products on Supermarket shelves nationwide.  She is also hard at work on her next book, “Debbi Fields…More than Cookies!” This book is filled with tantalizing recipes blended with her philosophy of excellence. Debbi’s five daughters, Jessica, Jenessa, Jennifer, Ashley and McKenzie are taking an active role in contributing to the new book and are chipping away on the development of their new business “The Fields Girls” which creates recipes and proprietary products for anyone who loves to eat or bake homemade goodness. You can learn more about Debbi Fields and the company she built at MrsFields.com.

Feature Interview: Tara Sophia Mohr

web_tara-sophia-mohr_cropTara is the founder of the global Playing Big women’s leadership program and author of the 10 Rules for Brilliant Women Workbook. Tara has spent her life finding ways to help women live out their dreams and have an impact in the world. She has been featured in The Huffington Post, CNN, Forbes, and many other publications. Here is her story and how she got to where she is today:


1. Tell me about yourself and your current work

My work is helping women play bigger in their work in the world.

So many women have the sense that they are playing small in some way, and they want to change it, but they just don’t know how. Through my articles, courses and programs, I help women walk that step-by-step journey to playing bigger and following their professional dreams.

2. Did you always have a passion for helping women achieve their full potential?

Yes, since I was very young. I have a passion for bringing women’s voices into the world –creating a world that is equally reflective of women’s and men’s perspectives.

When I was in high school, my English teacher announced we’d be studying the theme of “coming of age” for the year – reading a variety of novels that told the stories of young people coming into adulthood. Turned out they were all about men and they were all written by men! I was stunned that we were actually going to act as if we were covering the topic of “coming of age” in some kind of comprehensive way while totally ignoring women’s experiences. I started a project to change the curriculum to include literature written by women – that was my first experience of really putting this passion into action.

3. What has been your biggest struggle in getting to where you are today?

My own inner critic. That voice in my head that is afraid I’m not good enough, didn’t prepare enough, that I don’t know enough.

That’s what holds me back, and I know I’m not alone! That’s why part of my work now is teaching women how to quiet their own inner critics.

I never knew there was anything we could do about all that self-doubt! I was shocked when I got into adulthood and learned we could actually learn how to be more conscious of and more effective in dealing with our own self-doubt.

Many women think there is nothing they can do about insecurities – or they think that someday, with enough experience, they are just going to become confident and the inner critic voice will go away. Neither is true. Our inner critics will be with us as long as we are stretching out of our comfort zones – no matter how successful we are. But there are skills we can learn that allow us to no longer be held back by that inner critic – and that’s part of what I teach in my courses. When you have those skills, you can live, work, play and love no longer hampered by your inner critic.

4. What inspires you in life?

My garden. Beautiful interior spaces. Great books. Dancing. Dogs. My desire to see a world full of empowered human beings – women and men.

5. What women did you look up to and go to for advice when you were starting your career?

There are so many women I admire for diverse reasons but among my favorites are: Oprah, writer Anne Lamott, Arianna Huffington, and scholar Karen Armstrong.

7. What is one thing you wish you would have known earlier on?

That it is more important to choose the path that feels right than to choose the most prestigious path.

8. How do you stay motivated?

I am doing the work that I have a natural passion for – so my motivation doesn’t fade. When I do get a bit burnt out, I find it’s usually because my business has grown and the activities that used to be productive for me now need to be delegated to someone on my team or leveled up in some way. So I make those changes.

9. What would you say is your biggest achievement thus far?

Gosh, I can’t pick one. Plus I don’t love to think of my life in terms of achievements, but rather as an unfolding creative river…

But some of the things I have worked hardest for, given my attention to, that I feel very proud of and happy about:

-creating a thriving business that gives me the lifestyle I want, is creatively satisfying, and helps change people’s lives

-having a 13-year wonderful partnership with my husband

-working through many of my own personal challenges – from giving up sugar (which I’m super addicted to) about 7 years ago and keeping that up, to finding my own right path to managing my health and physical wellbeing

10. If you could give one piece of advice to women looking to start a new path or career, what would it be?

Listen to the whispers. Do not be the skeptic in relationship to your dreams, standing across from them, with your arms folded, asking questions like, “But who do you think you are?” or “How are you qualified for that?” or “What if you fail?” Instead, be your own ally. It’s okay to have no idea how you’ll make the career transition happen yet. It’s okay to have no idea if it’s realistic. You can still, in this moment, shift from being a skeptic to an ally in relationship to yourself. You can say, “Honey, I don’t know how we’ll get there, but I hear you, and I’m going to do what I can to move us in that direction. I promise. I’ve got your back.”



Feature Interview: Andrea Eldridge, CEO Nerds on Call

familyAndrea Eldridge is CEO of Nerds on Call, which offers on-site and remote computer set-up and repair.  Andrea is the syndicated columnist of Computer Nerds On Call (for Scripps-Howard Newspapers) and Nerd Chick Adventures, which runs weekly in the Redding Record Searchlight.  She regularly appears as a guest tech correspondent on eHow, ABC, NBC, FOX, and CBS on shows such as Good Day Sacramento, Good Morning Arizona and MORE Good Day Portland, offering viewers easy tips on technology, Internet lifestyle, and gadgets.

1. Tell me about yourself and what you do.

When I’m in office I spend a large part of my time working with my corporate staff, helping them to progress projects and reviewing financial information (from signing checks, to determining expense budgets, to monitoring sales figures).  I also spend a fair amount of time both in-office and at home working on creating content for the two weekly columns I write, appearances, and responding to customer follow up questions from my articles or media spots.

As mom to two young kids (a four year old boy and one year old girl), my time has to be pretty flexible to accommodate their scheduling needs.  I get a lot done between 9 pm and 2 am!

2. What made you decide to start Nerds on Call?

Upon relocating to Redding in 2003, I discovered that no one was providing in-home service to individual computer users, the only on-site options were for businesses.  At a time when computer users relied primarily on desktop computers, the need to disconnect the tower and take it in to a repair shop was daunting.  Nerds on Call was born.

3. What has been the biggest struggle in starting your own business?

The biggest challenge in the beginning was getting past my mindset that starting my own company would be less stable than working for someone else.  I never envisioned myself owning my own company, let alone being an entrepreneur in the technology sector.  When I started my first company in 2001, my husband pointed out that when you work for yourself you have more control over your employment fate than you do working for a company, when someone else’s bad business decision can lead to your layoff.  This lead to a fundamental shift in my thinking and allowed me to take the leap to starting out on my own.

 4. What is the most rewarding part of your job?

I live in a relatively small town.  People I see in the grocery store know about my company, in many cases have used our services, and are usually excited to tell me about their great experience.  That’s a wonderful feeling.  Also, it’s great to get feedback from readers that tell me I’ve helped them get more comfortable with technology, particularly when it’s helped them to get more use out of their computer or gadget.

5. Owning your own business and being an entrepreneur can be tough sometimes. Where do you find inspiration and motivation?

My husband is definitely my best mentor, partner, and advocate – we make a great team.    Because we focus on issues differently (I’m more analytical while he’s more creative), we work closely together whenever there’s a large or important decision to be made.  He’s the smartest person I know and is as dedicated to our company’s success as I am.  He’s always the first one I go to for guidance or a second opinion.

6. Do you have women in your life that you look up to and ask advice from?

My mom raised two kids as a single mom, working 12-hour shifts as a nurse.  In spite of how overwhelming this would be for anyone, I remember a childhood full of special moments together – reading books, beach days, climbing trees, imagining elaborate scenarios for my stuffed animals.  The fact that she was able to further her career while never sacrificing her dedication to my sister and me is truly inspirational.  Now that we are adults, my sister and I both have a strong work ethic, dedication to family and confidence in our worth and abilities.  That’s a true testament to my mom and I look to her whenever I struggle to find balance between the various facets of my grown up life.

7. What advice do you have for women in business?

Don’t apologize for the choices you make for yourself and your family.  There are expectations placed on women that simply aren’t asked of men.  No one would ask a man if it’s fair to his kids that his wife stays home while he runs a company.  If you find a work-life balance that works for you and your loved ones, that’s all that matters.

8. If you could go back and start from the beginning, what would you do differently in starting up your business.

I’ve learned a lot about customer service over the years.  In the early days, I felt it was important to explain to an upset customer why something happened, getting caught up in fault, blame and defending company honor.  Now I know that no one wants to hear anything other than, “I’m so sorry that happened.  Let’s fix it.”  Once you can separate yourself from trying to explain why something happened, it’s incredibly freeing.  Everyone wants to be able to fix a problem.  Why wallow in what got you there if you can just make the customer happy again?

9. How can readers get in touch with you or use the service you offer through Nerds on Call?

Readers can call 800-919-NERD or visit www.callnerds.com – we can offer assistance with anything computer, gadget or home theater related just about anywhere in the U.S.

Feature Interview: Tiarra Currie

I met Tiarra through DamselsinSuccess! She was born and raised in Washington D.C. and is an incredibly driven grad student in New York. Here is more of what she has to tell us about herself: I am a recent graduate from Syracuse University with a Bachelors of Arts in Psychology and a triple minor in sociology, child and family studies, and early childhood. I am currently receiving my Masters in Clinical Psychology from Columbia Teachers College in New York City. My long-term goal is to receive my PhD and become Dr. Currie. I knew since 8th grade I wanted to be a child and adolescent clinical psychologist. I am scholar, mentor, leader, and woman of distinction due to many titles I have held as a Ronald McNair Scholar and receiving awards in my undergraduate education such as the 2012 Woman of Distinction and the Associate Vice President Award for Positive Advocacy.

1. Tell me about yourself and what you are currently working on.

Well, I am 21 years old and born and raised in Washington, DC, mostly the southeast area. I come from a single parent home raised solely by my mother but with collective help from my entire family and I am a product of the catholic school system. I just recently graduated from Syracuse University in May of 2012 with a Bachelors in psychology and triple minor in sociology, child and family studies, and early childhood. Two weeks after I graduated I flew to Miami for the summer and worked with Florida International University and the Center for Children and Families as a counselor in their Summer Intensive Treatment Program for Adolescents. Then another two weeks after that, my mom and I drove to New York City where I am currently completing the Masters Program in Clinical psychology at Columbia University Teachers College. My end goal is to receive my PhD, so I can be Dr. Currie and become a licensed child and adolescent clinical psychologist. However, I am working on a lot of things at this current moment. Not only am I a full-time graduate student, but I recently joined a research lab with one of my professors that analyzes data involving affluent youth and parenting, I am a mentor with NY Youth at Risk with the Woman-to-Woman program that consists of young teen mothers in NYC, I am a Respite Worker/Skill Builder with the Bendel Youth Empowerment Program and I will be joining the Black Girls Rock team soon. I just recently started engaging in speaking events and joining panels covering topics from college preparation, my personal journey and life story, self-esteem and finding your purpose, or any discussions that involve inspiring younger generations to reach their potential.

2. What has been your biggest struggle in getting to where you are?  

My biggest struggle in getting to where I am now was me. It’s easy to blame an external source instead of looking at yourself and realizing you are stopping you. I didn’t understand how much of a blessing I was because I wasn’t protecting God’s purpose in my life. It is scary when everything you said you want out of life is coming true. I didn’t know me as a young woman. I have been through a lot and I just went over it and didn’t go through it. So I had to go back and embrace my pains and see the struggles I endured were to set me up for something much greater. An example is I just forgave my father at the age of 21, so for 21 years his decision to not be in my life affected my life decisions. I was consumed with working hard to prove I can be great despite what statistics say about girls who grow up without a father, instead of embracing reality that he was the first man to break my heart. Many of the people around me painted this image of perfection to describe me or stressed the idea that I was “born with a silver spoon in my mouth” and because of this I started to believe it. But that’s not me. The day I proclaimed the hurt, the struggle, and my imperfections is the same day I realized my purpose and that I was ready to change the world.

3. Why did you choose to pursue clinical psychology in upper education and what do you plan on doing with it in the future?  

I chose a higher level of education in clinical psychology because I had to. To be a clinical psychologist you need your PhD and there is little you can do with just a Bachelors in psychology. I knew since 8th grade I wanted to be a child and adolescent clinical psychologist. Where I grew up, the kids around me had little hope for themselves as well as no self-esteem and confidence in their future. I couldn’t understand it, but I felt I had to change it.  There are a few things that can happen as a result of my advanced degree in clinical psychology including helping the field of psychology through therapy and diagnosing children with disorders from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, expanding the necessity and essentialness of psychological research, but also being and giving hope to many young people who look like me that this is possible.

4. How did you choose which school and program to attend?  

I applied to about 18 graduate schools before I graduated from Syracuse. After spending four years at this big and well-known university I had to look at schools for their prestige, location, and amount of diversity. I also had to research the professors to see who had research interests and had published articles that explored topics I was interested in. My top school was always Columbia, who doesn’t want to go there?  But I was very intrigued by Dr. Suniya Luthar’s work on vulnerability and resilience in adolescence but also the dynamics of early maternal relationships with their young children. So when I got accepted, I said yes because I wanted to work with Dr. Luthar, NYC is a great place to be, and the bonus being this school is Ivy League

5. Where do you find inspiration in life?  

I find inspiration in life from my purpose. I stress seeking, finding, and fulfilling your purpose because there is no greater feeling. I want to help children see hope and develop confidence to pursue their dreams. I fear for the next generation because we are seeing cycles of hurt and little change. My favorite quote is ” I am perfectly beautiful searching for truth through my own path and telling my own story”. I want young girls and young boys to be confident in their own story and not have to search for answers in someone else’s. I want younger generations to use me as evidence that dreams can come true and whatever you put your mind to you can achieve. Knowing that this is what God has set out for me to accomplish, I work hard every day to make this possible.

6. What is the thing you look forward to most during your days and time at school?

The thing I look forward to most at school is the message I come away with in each class. There is a difference between being smart and intelligent. Being smart is memorizing a textbook or the lessons from class and repeating the answers out for a test but being intelligent is using the information being fed to you and making choices and decisions independently. I consider myself a scholar because I take the information learned in school and formulate my own ideas to take to another level. In my graduate school experience, I live for the theories I can apply to my own life but also take evolve in my future work endeavors.

7. Who are the women in your life that most inspire you?

I adore women who show us we can have it all like Michelle Obama, Hilary Clinton, and Beyonce. But the women who have had direct impacts in my life inspire me the most. My grandmother is a woman who puts the needs of many before her own needs. She is a pure definition of a selfless woman and it takes enormous strength to put everyone’s troubles on your back. She has gave me a flawless understanding of love. I see her as the most beautiful woman that could have graced this earth because my life could not have the same meaning without her. Then there is my mother who inspires me because I have seen her struggle and strength trying to give me the best that I deserve but I also seen her at her weak and vulnerable moments. My mom shows me the beauty of being a woman and the truth in that life will never be pretty. We will make mistakes but with good intentions we can recover from anything because anything is possible. I am so grateful and blessed for both of them.

8. What advice do you have for women who are working or seeking higher education?

The advice I can give to women who are working or seeking higher education is never give up. What you are doing is much bigger than you can imagine for that little girl sitting at home playing with her easy bake oven. I would also stress that it will not be easy and you have to find something or someone that will keep you going when it gets tough. I work and grind extremely hard; some nights I get little to no sleep and some nights I cry from being drained and exhausted. What keeps me going is my family and knowing that everything I do is making them proud and setting an example. It’s knowing there is a little girl back home name Shaniya who looks up to me. Another important factor is making sure your grind and hustle has meaning. Everyone is grinding, what makes you or me different? You must work towards a legacy and something profound you can leave behind when you are long gone. Don’t just work for fast money or a career. Don’t be complacent in your professional aspirations and mediocre in your career potential. I am working not for money but for my purpose that will still stand when I cannot. Lastly, what is for you is for you and only you can define your greatness. There is more than enough room for all of us women at the top. I can never be jealous of another woman because I know how hard we have it. Be motivated by each other because we have so much power to change the world. I am convinced there is not another person doing what I am doing so each day I’m battling with myself to advance. I think women need to know only you can deliver your purpose to the world.





Feature Interview: Lillya Nashanchik

I met Lillya over Twitter (I’m continually grateful and amazed by social media), and am so glad I did! She is an awesome example of a go-getter and she has some great advice for creating your personal brand. With 15 years of recruiting experience under her belt she knows just what employers look for.

Lillya Nashanchik is a senior recruiting professional and program manager with a proven track record of agency and corporate recruiting as well as a strong history of production and leadership. She is the founder of a boutique recruiting company –Lnplus2. LNplus2, recruits top –tier digital talent for the interactive advertising industry as well as technology startups. In her personal time, Lillya loves to travel all over the world and discover new cultures. She is also a big fan of the arts- museums, galleries, theater, film, music and dance. She lives In New York and is often exploring new places. She is an avid networker and attends many events to expand her circle. She is very interested in technology and social networking.

1.     Tell me about your background and what you do in your current work.

I have spent the majority of my career as a technology recruiter. I stared out on the staffing agency side, working across a variety of different industries to provide technical talent for each client. I then moved to a corporate recruiting role, working internally at one company and building technical department as well as designing programs to help them find talent and improve the hiring experience. I built a Campus Recruiting Program as well as guidelines for improving the candidate interview experience. Four years ago, I decided to start my own company—Lnplus2. It is a boutique recruiting agency that recruits top –tier digital talent for the interactive advertising industry as well as technology startups.

2.     What has been your biggest struggle in getting to where you are?

As an entrepreneur and business owner, I have had to learn to manage my time very well. It is very easy to get distracted and work on a bunch of different projects, yet never completing any of them. I have also had to learn discipline.

3.     What is your favorite part of your job?

I love working with people to help them realize their career ambitions. It gives me great satisfaction to match a candidate with a company that they are excited to be a part of.

4.     Where do you find inspiration in life?

I find inspiration in other people. People I admire that have accomplished what I desire out of life, both personally and professionally. I am constantly reading profiles and interviews of successful entrepreneurs.

5.     In your work with recruiting, what do you first look for in applicants?

I look at how they represent themselves, both on paper and in person. What is their personal brand? Does it align with the culture of the companies I recruit for? In making a match, it is half experience and qualifications and half culture fit.

6. What is something that is a big red flag when you are looking at

Changing positions every year or two is a red flag if they are looking for a full time position as opposed to a freelance contract.

7. What advice do you have for women in business?

Follow your passion. Find what it is that you are passionate about and implement that in your profession

Feature Interview: Lauren Mancke

I have been a fan of Lauren’s design work for quite a while now, and was so grateful that I was able to get in touch with her. She is an amazing example of finding something you are passionate about and then going for it 110%.

Lauren is the Principal and Creative Director of Northbound Design, a design agency that specializes in Art Direction and Visual Design, Branding and Copywriting, Front-end Development, WordPress Consulting and Development, and User Interface Design.

1)   Tell me about your background, what you do currently, and how you got to where you are.

I was born and raised in Columbia, South Carolina and attended the University of South Carolina Honors College. This is where I began my freelance business, Northbound Design, in 2003. After receiving my bachelor’s degree in Media Arts, and working at a small consulting firm for almost 2 years, I decided to take Northbound Design to a full-scale company. After having somewhat immediate success, my husband joined me to focus our full energies on growing the company. We currently employ a small staff and continue to expand, servicing local, national, and international clients.

2)   Did you always know that you wanted to go into design?

I can’t say that I knew I wanted to go into design specifically but I always wanted to have a career in a creative field. I was an imaginative and artistic child, always building or creating something and it seemed to me that, if you’re passionate about that, why go and pursue anything else. I am fortunate to come from a family that believes in setting your mind and seeing your goals to completion so I always had the drive. Once I realized I could create a solid product while maintaining my creativity, it was an easy decision to focus on design and development.

3)   Where do you find inspiration in your life?

Everywhere. I know is sounds a bit reductionist but it’s really true. What I love about this world is the fact that there is always something happening and there is always plenty of inspiration to be found.

4)   What is your favorite part of your current job?

I have to say that I love the control and the flexibility. One of my greatest fears when I was first considering a career path was the fact that I could end up tied down in a large office situation. Running my own business puts my future in my own hands and allows me to work when I am ready to work, travel when I want to, and spend time with friends and family far more than if I was working for someone else.

5)   What is the biggest struggle you have experienced in getting to where you are today?

They say that it’s the anticipation that often trips people up. I have to agree. Once you make up your mind, running your own business (or doing pretty much anything else for that matter) is not that much of a struggle, largely because once you’ve started, you are constantly moving, whether that movement is forward of back, it’s always movement. But getting that start, taking that first step toward something you want that is the real challenge.

6)   What advice do you have for women in business?

Be yourself, never apologize for your gender. Insert yourself into areas women are not expected to participate in, and then outshine everyone.


Feature Interview: Dr. Bonnie Anderson

I had heard about Dr. Anderson from several friends, all telling me that I had to talk to her. I learned of her work in the tech field and her influence on so many other women who are in the field or looking to be in the field and I knew I couldn’t pass up a chance to meet her. Getting to talk with her was such a great experience and she is such a kind, powerful, and amazing woman. As the only woman in her department, she works to represent and recruit other women into the tech field.

Tell me about your background; what led you to where you are, and what your current work is.

I am currently an associate professor of information systems at BYU. I teach classes to our core and master students. I’m also researching NeuroIS, which is the combination of neuroscience and information systems, specifically looking at security issues. I earned a BS and MAcc from BYU, then worked for Accenture (the consulting firm) before going back to school at Carnegie Mellon University to earn a PhD. I’ve been teaching at BYU since 2001.

Did you always know that you wanted to teach and be a professor?

Um, no, I had initially thought I wanted to be an accounting major but then hated my accounting classes, it was the worst. So I took the career-counseling test and then told me I would make a great funeral director or respiratory therapist, those were my top two. So I stuck it out in the accounting program and one of the required classes at the time was accounting information systems and I really liked that class. I ended up working with a teacher who mentored me and encouraged me to go on and study Information Systems and get my PhD.

What made you want to go into tech, had you always liked computers since you were young?

It was actually preparing for this interview that I realized I really was kind of a nerd my whole life. My grandfather was into computers way back when and my family inherited it. I, for fun, took a community class to learn how to use it. Thinking about I realize how weird I was haha. This was in the mid-80’s and I was learning to program in basic.

Did you ever struggle with being a woman in a male dominated field?

So, in the consulting field I didn’t notice it very much and it wasn’t an issue. However, since I’ve been back here there are fewer women in tech in general. We have about 10% women in our major, which is about the national average but we are always trying to improve that. I’m the only woman in the department so they always want me to be on committees and mentor and I love to do that but it does take up a lot of time. I think in the past there have been attitude and pay problems, but my department has been great.

Where do you find inspiration in your life?

I have four daughters and I love teaching them. My husband is actually a stay at home parent and so he is with them during the day, but I like to get my time with them. I’m trying to instill in them a love of music, sports, and reading. I also took up harp lessons a few years ago and my kids like to makeup songs with that.

What is your favorite part about your current job?

Working with passionate students. I’ve got some awesome students.

What has been your biggest challenge in getting to where you are today?

Finding time for everything. This semester is probably my busiest ever so I’m just swimming to try and keep ahead.

What advice do you have for women in business and for women entrepreneurs?

I think mentoring really makes a difference. I think finding a good mentor is important, and when you have the chance, being a good mentor.  I try to find opportunities where I can do that.

What do you think is one thing that women bring to the field of tech?

I think it is more of usability and design. There are different characteristics between women and men and there is more to be added when you have a diverse group. There are some people who have men creating apps for women, but let’s get women involved in that. It doesn’t make sense to have men creating things for women without a woman’s voice being part of the process.

Feature Interview: Lizzy Dabcynski-Bean, The Luncheon Project

I heard about The Luncheon Project from a close friend of mine, and after researching about it, found myself writing an email to Lizzy right away. I had to talk to this girl and meet the genius behind this project. Well, when I finally did get to have lunch with her (it only seemed appropriate to take her to lunch based on the premise of The Luncheon Project), she proved to be even more than that. I was so impressed with Lizzy and her drive for innovation and her passion for life. She’s one of those women you meet and instantly want to be best friends with. So here it is, my interview and lunch conversation with Lizzy:

Tell me about your background and what led you to where you are today.

So I started in trombone performance, but I couldn’t handle the practice time and I felt too alone. The way I explain it to people is I realized that there are a lot of people who have this amazing ability to change lives with their music and I got into the program and I feel emotion when I play it, but I don’t have that drive to change the world with music. I really appreciate that in other people, but I just had this weird guilt thing with it because it felt very selfish and I couldn’t figure out how to make it selfless. There are people who definitely can, but I just couldn’t figure it out. So, I changed my emphasis to media music, which is more music and talent management. I have more of a passion for helping other people with a talent. I also did a business minor and I loved my business classes. Looking back now, I think I would pursue a degree in business with an emphasis on entrepreneurship. And now I would love to help figure out ways to provide resources for women looking into entrepreneurship because I don’t think there are enough.

Do you feel that you will do anything with music in the future?

I would love to. There is a music improv group in the area and I’m going to start managing them, which is awesome. If that goes well, I’ll hopefully be able to acquire some more stuff in artist management.

I’m curious about your work at Qualtrics and how you got into graphic design.

Oh yeah! It’s a random story. I’ve always had this weird drive to work. When I was in my sophomore year at BYU I wanted to get a job and start building savings. I applied for some on campus jobs and got hired at IT training. On campus at BYU they teach software classes to faculty, students and staff for the Adobe creative suite. I basically got paid to learn the ins and outs of all of these programs and teach them. That’s actually where my husband and I reconnected and later got married! I loved learning and teaching the programs but I didn’t have any practical application for it so I started getting into typography and amateur photography. So I kind of started dabbling and then I got hired at performing arts management. I was a publicity artist for them and ended up doing a lot of design. That segwayed when a friend of mine from IT training got hired at Qualitrics and he put in a good word for me.

What do you do at Qualtrics?

So at Qualtrics everyone has their core work. For sales people its emails and phone calls and my core job is “skins” which is the survey templates. If your company were to purchase a Qualtrics license we would get a trigger email and then get in touch with you and grab your color scheme and logo and brand it for your company. We also get to do the swag and handbooks and training manuals which is fun.


Where do you find fulfillment in life and what inspires you?

Well, I’ve had to change my idea of where fulfillment comes from. I think that getting married has done that to me. Before I used to find a lot of fulfillment in pleasing others and I have a lot of external fulfillment. However, over the last few years I’ve had to turn that inward. I think a lot of my fulfillment comes when I accomplish things I want to do. It can be amazingly grand or just stupid but if it’s something I wanted to do and I did it, it makes me feel really good. As far as inspiration goes, I get a lot of inspiration from what other people accomplish. I mean, as far as creative inspiration goes, music and art really get me. I find a lot of inspiration from history as well. At work I listen to a lot of podcasts and I like learning about people and the things that they do. Maybe that’s why we like the Lunchoen Project so much, because we just like learning about people.

Do you read a lot of blogs in your free time?

Yes and no. I try and reduce the time I spend on technology in my free time because I am literally on the computer all day. And then, when I get home I have freelance projects and all of these websites I want to start on the side. So, I like to hold a solid book. I get updates about my favorite blogs, but I limit the amount of time I’m on it.

So one reason why I was so intrigued by the Luncheon project was that I’ve sort of tried to do a similar idea myself by asking people to lunch to build relationships and get advice. I think people forget about the power of building in-person relationships.

Oh yeah! The story that made me change my major and has given me the confidence to do this is this:

I was dating a guy and he was a trumpet player. He idolizes this man named Jon Faddis, who got his big break when Dizzy Gillespie invited him up on stage to play at a club. Obviously, that changed this guys life forever. So the GAM foundation does a jazz series like once a month where they bring in an artist and Jon Faddis was coming. It so happened that this concert was on the birthday of this guy I was dating. So I did a little Google search, found Jon Faddis’s manager and emailed and asked if we could meet him. I get a call from Jon Faddis and he said that he would give him a trumpet lesson. I freaked out. Coolest experience ever and it happened just because I sent an email. So I kind of had this in my brain that people are just people and all you have to do is just ask. The worst that can happen is they say no and your life goes on the same way.

What has been your biggest struggle in getting to where you are today?

I would say it’s probably just making decisions. I’m not really a worrier in general except that I worry like crazy about the future. I like to do everything and that’s been very inhibitive. I’ve always been that way. It’s the analysis paralysis thing. I have a hard time weighing options and choosing how to move forward. When I hit go, I hit go but it takes me a while to get there.

How do you decide who you are going to interview for the Luncheon Project and is there a process to it?

There really isn’t a process. Most of the ones we’ve had so far are people we know, know of, or have recommendations to interview. We try and ask at the end of the interview if they have any recommendations of people we should interview and then we can add them to the list. Sometimes people don’t respond or they are too busy. But really we just want to help people find ways to foster relationships and create these connections that become meaningful and impactful. The Luncheon Project is our way of showing others how you can do that.


Feature Interview: Lizzy Early, Your Cup of Cake

I’ve known Lizzy for about 3 years now. Besides being beautiful, sweet, and driven, she is also an AMAZING baker and an incredibly smart business woman. She started up her cupcake website and business a few years ago and it’s grown immensely. She’s even got a cookbook coming out in a few months! So how did she do it? Read on to see how she turned a hobby and talent into a successful business.

Tell me about what you do and how your business came about.

I basically run a website that gives recipes and posts photos. I get all of my revenue from online ad sales. I started because I was baking a lot. I baked in high school. I was super shy and I learned that the fastest way to make friends was to show up at school with a plate of cookies and then everyone wants to be your friend. So I got to this point where I had tons of recipes, but I didn’t know what to do with them or how to keep them safe. I wanted to be able to access them anywhere and if my computer crashed I didn’t want to loose them. So I decided I would start a little blog. I didn’t tell my friends or anything, I didn’t mean for it to get big. I would post photos with the recipes and then all of the sudden I got featured on this website called FoodBuzz and I started to grow from there. When I looked at my traffic, all of the sudden there was a huge spike. From there I decided to just go for it. I had a mentor in the blogging world and she really helped me figure things out and buy the domain. Pinterest, honestly 85% of my views come from there. I do not know what I would do without Pinterest.

How many hours a week do you spend baking?

That’s a complicated question because right now I’m finishing up my book with Deseret Book so it’s a little hectic just trying to meet deadlines. I’m a little of a perfectionist so I want to get every single photo perfect, so it’s a lot right now. But usually I’ll bake twice, maybe three times a week, which takes about 3 hours or so. Then I take photos and answer emails, so probably no more than 5 or 6 hours.

Do you take the pictures yourself?

I do, yes. My first camera was very small, a little powershot Cannon, but it actually took really good photos. But I upgraded last year because to survive in the blogging world you have to have the photos. Photos are crucial, and that’s the big reason I got this book deal was because my pictures were so good.

Because baking is your business, does it take any of the joy out of it for you?

Yes, this book has taken a lot of the joy out of it for me. It took over my summer, literally I was baking every day so it was a fiasco. In moments of panic and terror when trying to meet demands and get posts up it can be a frustration and feel like work but it’s nice to get to a point where I am scheduled ahead and can relax.

I love taking the photos, that might be my favorite part. Although, it can also be the most frustrating. I also hate doing the dishes after baking.

Do you get a lot of other bloggers or readers emailing you all of the time?

A lot of bloggers will email me asking advice, but the emails that just crack me up are the ones that come from Asia and other places. I get them over night and I wake up to these emails that you can tell they just Google translated. It’s really hilarious but at the same time it’s awesome to know that people from all over the world are coming to my site. It’s amazing.

What makes your business unique to other baking businesses?

Well first of all my website is mostly cupcakes, so a lot of people tell me I’m their go-to person for cupcakes, which is awesome. Also, I try to make it easy. I don’t think anyone should have to go to a bakery and pay $2 for a cupcake, I think that’s out of control. Plus, with the economy the way it is people are trying to bake at home for parties rather than going out and buying things. I use a lot of cakemix recipes which makes it easy, that’s what my entire first cookbook is on. Some people view using cake mix as cheating, but a lot of bakeries do it and don’t tell you. But, it’s a full proof method of making cupcakes and makes it so anyone can have the same results.

What’s your biggest struggle in starting up this business?

Probably just the balance because with technology I have emails coming to my phone so it’s easy to feel like I’m working the entire day. I get an email and I want to be prompt and respond right then. So it’s a big balance of life and work because work can take over very easy.

What’s your favorite part of the job?

The comments I get on my blog that say, “I was the hit of the party because I brought these cupcakes” and things like that. Honestly, that is my entire goal, to make other people be able to bake well and be proud of what they do. If you just have a good recipe and some basic skills, you’re set.

Where do you get your inspiration?

Sometimes I hit a mental block, but I try and draw inspiration from just about anything. Sometimes it’s just whatever is in my pantry, I’m a poor college student so I have to work with what I have. I get inspiration from a lot of candy bars, just taking the combos from those things. It’s all about flavor combinations for me and I just experiment and sometimes it works and other times it doesn’t.

What is a tip you have for women who want to start up their own business?

Just go for it. Go for it and be smart about it. You have to have a business mindset and know whom you want to reach. You have to think about what your audience wants. Even silly things like color schemes.

So your cookbook is coming out soon, where can readers get a copy and when is it available?

It’s in Deseret Bookstores and a few other places. Definitely online and there will be links on my website. Hopefully it will be in stores in April, but it still isn’t set in stone. Sometime next Spring for sure!