10,000 Women: an international women initiative

Besides sharing information about women in business, I am passionate about international everything. I grew up moving around the globe with my family, and was never able to get rid of the travel bug. In college, I became interested in social innovation and entrepreneurship and found ways to be involved with every club that knew anything about it. So naturally, when I came across Goldman Sachs’ 10,000 Women initiative I was intrigued.

The international women initiative began four years ago and has one year left. $100 million was put into action to help educate 10,000 women entrepreneurs in developing and emerging markets. The focus was on nurturing small and medium enterprises and Goldman was to provide trainings in business management to help drive greater shared economic growth. They said this would lead to stronger healthcare, education, and greater prosperity in the communities where they operate. Sounds good to me. So I researched more and started reading stories.

Andeisha is from Afghanistan and works in childcare. She is the executive director of the Afghan Child Education and Care Organization (AFCECO). This business operates orphanages in Afghanistan and Pakistan where they house over 300 orphans. Andeisha enrolled in the 10,000 women initiative to help her improve her management and leadership skills. After four years she said she has learned how to develop a strategic plan for the development of her organization. She learned finance and marketing skills to help grow her business and feels more confident as a leader. She also learned the importance of networking. She has hired on seven administrative staff and six support staff in each orphanage.

After reading the stories, I was hooked. But why would Goldman Sachs invest so much money into these women? I came across a blog post that explains it well. Goldman’s own research shows that female education drives macroeconomic growth. Harvard University’s Calestous Juma, a professor of international development, estimated that if African women had the same access to training and technology that men did, Arica’s economy would expand by at least 40 percent. Goldman understands that teaching women about access to finance, risk aversion, growth, and regulatory issues opens up doors that not only help them, but help the entire economy around them. The program itself does not provide credit, but they have many public-private partnerships that do.

This is cool. But on to my next question, is it working? Not so surprisingly, it is. The International Center for Research on Women did an assessment of the program in India in 2011. It showed that half of the women involved in the program in India doubled their revenues in 18-months. The study gave credit to 10,000 Women for providing women entrepreneurs with crucial knowledge and tools they need to expand their businesses.

Goldman understands the power of women in business and women entrepreneurs. Enough so, that they are now deep into their 5 year long initiative to fund 10,000 of them around the world. It’s an initiative that is innovative, inspiring, and hopeful. I just hope the belief and help for women entrepreneurs around the world doesn’t stop at the end of their five year goal.




Famous Women Quotes: Amelia Earhart

Amelia Earhart was the first woman pilot to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. She was the first woman to receive the Distinguished Flying Cross, and later formed an organization for women pilots called The Ninety-Nines. She published several books about her experiences. As an early supporter of equal rights for women, Earhart was the embodiment of the idea that women can do anything men can do. She continues to be an inspiration to many.The following are a few quotes that inspire the Damsels in Success team.

“Everyone has oceans to fly, if they have the heart to do it. Is it reckless? Maybe. But what do dreams know of boundaries?”

“I want to do it because I want to do it. Women must try to do things as men have tried. When they fail, their failure must be but a challenge to others.”

“Courage is the price that life exacts for granting peace.”

“Adventure is worthwhile in itself.”

“Being alone is scary, but not as scary as feeling alone in a relationship.”

“The most effective way to do it is to do it.”

“The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do. You can act to change and control your life; and the procedure, the process is its own reward.”

Scandal: Lessons in Crisis Management

ABC’s new show Scandal highlights a “crisis management” firm that helps people in trouble get out. These gladiators in suits may be lawyers, but they are doing public relations. While you’re PR people may not deal with Russian mobsters or DC madams like the characters in Scandal, they still have the obligation to manage the reputation of your company.

It has been said, “It takes a lifetime to build a reputation and only a few seconds to destroy one.” Whether you work for a non-profit, big corporation or small business, good reputation management is key to success. The following are tips for dealing with a crisis:

Be Proactive

Most crises are avoidable. The majority of crisis situations arise from bad management. Doing routine environmental scans to discover potential problems is a great first step. Addressing those impending problems as quickly as possible should follow. In this case an ounce of prevention is totally worth a pound of cure.

Deal With Issues Immediately

When a crisis occurs, the speed of your reaction can determine the outcome. The prevalence of the internet and social media make a speedy response imperative. If you don’t respond quickly, the issue could blow up before you get your chance, and then it’s too late. Responding early allows you to carefully frame your message your way through the channel you choose.

Don’t Be Defensive

Nobody likes an excuse-making-know-it-all. You may be right, but that doesn’t mean you have to be indelicate. Pretending your organization or its products are perfect just irritates people. So, do yourself a favor and be sensitive. Give an honest account of your side while maintaining an understanding tone.

Be Honest

Public relations practitioners are perceived by many as spin-doctors; people who say whatever the public wants to hear. This could not farther from the truth. The Public Relations Society of America lists honesty as one of the major tenets of its code of ethics. While admitting fault is not easy, it will be better in the long run. Telling half-truths in a crisis will exacerbate the crisis rather than fixing it.

Have a Plan

Environmental scans will inform you of potential issues. If you are unable to fully fix these problems, be prepared to deal with them. Know what you will do, who you will have to address and how to reach them. If you are blind-sided by a crisis, know who to call. There are several firms that deal specifically with crisis situations. If you can’t deal with it, hire someone who can.

Balancing Work and Personal Life

One of the main challenges we women face today is how to find balance in our lives. Between the pressures at work and our lives at home, we walk a fine line. Let’s face it, that cell phone in your purse not only makes life convenient for you, but makes you accessible to everyone else . . . no matter where you are, or what you are doing. In this world of 24-hour accessibility it is easy to bring your work with you wherever you go. However, I am sure you will agree, that does not make for a very balanced life. Here are some five tips I use, to keep my life in check.

Learn to Say “No.”

I know that start-up that just solicited some freelance work from you would be an amazing opportunity. The money you would make from the job might even help you pay for that cruise you promised yourself you’d take (when you find the time). But honey, don’t do it! I know you’re amazing, and they know you’re amazing, but amazing still only has 24 hours in a day. Spreading yourself too thin will dilute the amazing; making you less productive, your work less fantastic and your private life nonexistent.

If finding balance isn’t important to you, then say yes. However, if you want to have your cake and eat it too, let that opportunity pass by. Learn to weigh your options and turn down projects you really don’t have time for, despite their “wow” factor. It won’t be easy, but it will help you find balance. Try putting things in perspective. I mean, when you’re lying on your death bed are you really going to wish you’d spent more time working? Probably not.

Start New Projects Right Away

It may be tempting to rationalize that new project to the back burner. After all, it isn’t due for several months, right? Wrong. Instead, find a moment and dig in as soon as possible. Enthusiasm for new projects not only may earn you some points with the boss, but is good for you. Planning ahead will help you anticipate problems, balance your schedule and manage your time more effectively. In the long run, the time you save by planning ahead will allow you to do the things you really want to do, whereas procrastination only leads to playing catch-up; an action that is completely without balance. So do yourself a favor, start that new project today, and earn yourself some leisure time tomorrow. Now that’s balance.

Leave Work at Work

When you’re at work, work hard and make it count. If you do, it will make it easier to feel justified in not taking it home with you. Sure, there are moments when you must work outside the normal work day. However, those should be the exception, not the rule. The most difficult part of this is turning your brain off; finding a new focus. If you’re like me, even if you are not at work you are thinking about ideas for new projects, who you can contact to help you with those projects, who you can delegate to, what you need to know etc. etc. etc. That combined with cell phones, email and the internet can make it really hard to leave your work at work. Find a way to distract yourself by learning to present in the moment. Be where you are. Let your surroundings become your new focus.

Unplug Occasionally

It seems that cell phones have become the adult security blanket; our link to the outside world. We take them with us everywhere, and I mean everywhere (y’all know what I’m talkin’ about). We interrupt conversations we are having with real people, so we can respond to text messages. We have relationships through social media sites instead of face-to-face. While this may be common, I am not entirely convinced it is healthy. Occasionally, we need to reconnect. That is why, to find a new relationship balance, you should unplug. While the gadgets in our lives are useful, they can be a distraction. Instead, try having a new life adventure sans electronic devices. Sometimes it’s nice not to be interrupted.

Take Time to Give Back

Sometimes the best way to realign your balance is step outside of yourself. With hundreds of community groups, charities and soup kitchens there are plenty of people to help you find a way to give back. My favorite way to volunteer in my community is to coach peewee soccer. I have coached teams ranging from five-year-olds to sixth graders. Since soccer is something that I already love, it isn’t a stretch for me to find the time to help others learn to love it too. Find something you love or something you’re good at, and work with that. You don’t have to go far to find a need. Just keep your eyes open and then step up. Helping others not only gives you a new sense of wellbeing, but also helps put things in perspective, leading to a more balanced and healthy life.

I hope these suggestions have been helpful. I look forward to hearing how you find balance. Make a comment and let me know.

From IE to Chrome: The Evolution of the Browser

The following article is a guest post from Steve at Guys That KnowHe has has a wife and five daughters and has been successful at starting and running his own business. Steve recommends the Chrome browser and you can learn more about why on his article about why he uses Chrome.


If you’re under 40 you may not remember the early years of web browsers, and you may not know that IE (Microsoft’s Internet Explorer) wasn’t always built into the Windows ® Operating System.

Netscape Owned the Market

Prior to 1995 Netscape ruled the world of web browsers, owning as much as 95 percent market share. They totally dominated the market. Microsoft wanted in, so they developed their own browser, and as you know, called it Internet Explorer, or IE for short.

For a year or so, Microsoft tried but failed to gain a foothold in the market. Netscape was killing them. What happened in 1995 changed everything.

Microsoft’s Strategic Brilliance

Microsoft made a brilliant strategic move – they embedded IE into the newly released Windows 95 OS, essentially making it free to everyone who used Windows, which happened to be pretty much every PC user on the planet.

Netscape went ballistic, claiming unfair advantage and all sorts of other legal rants. In the end, Microsoft won the legal battles, and in the process, won the Browser War. What happened to Netscape? They went from 95 percent to 1 percent. I’m not joking. Today AOL owns Netscape, and that should tell you a lot. Netscape and AOL, two of the biggest software titans the computing world has ever known, are now two of the least known, least used, least innovative companies in the industry. In fact, many of you reading this post may have never heard of either company.

New Kids on the Block

Microsoft, after destroying Netscape, enjoyed browser dominance for about ten years, more or less. The Netscape guys created a group called the Mozilla Foundation in 1998, and tried a backdoor approach to dethrone IE. The project failed, but the open source community continued to enhance the browser – today’s Firefox.

Although the Mozilla Foundation’s attempt to knock off IE failed, Firefox has steadily gained a following and now accounts for about 27 percent of the market. Too little too late for the wanna-be IE killers.

Through the mid 2000s, IE still dominated, but it’s position as King of the Hill slowly deteriorated. Apple released Safari in 2003, which owns most of the Mac market share, but Safari as a whole has not caught on.

The most recent entrance into the browser market is, of course, Google Chrome. First released in 2008, Chrome is by far and away the fastest growing browser on the market. Last year, its market share grew by more than 6 percent while every other browser lost market share.

What’s on the Horizon?

IE, as bad as it is (and it is bad), still commands a little over 50 percent of the market today. Chrome, the only one growing its share, is just under 20 percent. The next couple of years, in my opinion, will see those numbers reverse.

IE will always have a huge advantage – being built into Windows. As long as Windows machines have a large share of the PC market, IE will have a good share of the browser market.

For users with any sense at all, they will chuck IE out the “window”, and look for something better. Firefox will continue to have a strong following, almost a cult-like user community. Safari, if Apple ever decides to get serious about its disappointing browser, has the potential to be a big player in the browser market – especially as Apple’s Macs and tablets continue to grow in market share.

Last but not least is Chrome. In my opinion Chrome will crest the 50 percent mark within the next two years and will remain strong for a long time.  I’ve been a Chrome user for a long time now and I’ll never go to anything else – at least for the foreseeable future.

Spreading the Word: Marketing for Small Business

Small businesses and other start-ups share a lot in common: most are full of hopes and expectations.  Most small business owners have a product that they really believe in. Most are staffed largely by magnanimous family members. And most…are short on cash. Does this sound familiar? So you’ve started a business, and now you’re looking at how you can start to market and grow your business past where you’ve been able to take it on your own. You’ve likely wondered how you can maximize every last cent in the company coffers to do the most good, but with so many costs, including rent, employee compensation, possible insurance premiums, and other overhead, it may seem like spending what little cash you have on marketing. But spreading the word is crucial to your company’s growth and marketing for small business doesn’t have to cost big bucks.

Diffusing your message through the marketplace isn’t as expensive as it used to be, largely as a result of the advent of internet-based marketing. Content generators can craft messages that they post online, usually at no cost. These messages can then be viewed, re-viewed, re-tweeted, or “liked,” all at little or no cost to you. Building momentum in this way is important, because even if you have the best product or service around, no one can buy it if they don’t know about it.

But using social media to build your business isn’t just a function of how many bits of content you generate. It’s also about targeting your message to hit the right audience. Sometimes this means posting content in places you know it’s likely to be viewed, but sometimes it also means that you step aside and let someone else do the talking for you. And by the way, it’s best if that person has a sizeable audience. That’s where a little bit of research comes in handy.

You likely already know your industry quite well, but do you know the names of the trendsetters in your industry? Who are the thought leaders? If you don’t, you should find out. A good way to do this is jumping onto your Twitter account. Look for the conversations that are relevant to your industry, and then look for the people whose names seem to come up again and again. If you’re looking for extra confirmation, use a free service like Klout to find out who has the biggest audience. At that point, you can make a concerted effort to win that person over to your product! Send your target a free sample of your product, and make sure that you do your very best to ensure that he or she has a good experience. Winning over a trendsetter can move mountains for your business because you can leverage the work that he or she has already done to win an audience, and turn it to your favor. Isn’t that worth the cost of sending out a free sample?

Another way to use the internet to market your company is simply through your mobile website or to build a mobile app.  More and more people will visit your website from a mobile device and if the experience works well for the user then you can build your business from that. But when should you build a mobile app vs. using your website? So should you build a mobile app? Apps have a few benefits–things like push notification, occupying real estate on your phone screen, and integration with your phone in ways that websites can’t (like your camera).  But if your app doesn’t offer entertainment or some sort of tool you may want to re-think an app and go with a better mobile experience and spend the money marketing your site.

While using the more traditional strategies of placing ads in newspapers and purchasing space on billboards still has its place, you might consider the merits of social media and other online tools. With so little to lose (in terms of advertising costs) and so much to gain, it’s definitely worth your time to investigate.

Human Resources Leadership Decisions

Strategically, two paths exist for small and medium business leaders in HR.  Option 1 is to focus on short-term cost cutting, versus option 2 – acting strategically with a long-term perspective of human capital management.  The strategic focus is contingent on melding together HR processes and functions, such as the following:  Human resource Software (HRIS/HRMS), performance management, compensation, learning, workforce analytics, etc.

Technology evolution has played an incredible role in the automation of HR functions that were once paper based and manual – resulting in significant cost savings.  Paper processes, such as changing an address, changing a salary, processing a job application, creating a job requisition, benefit enrollment, job promotions, and more can easily be automated.  The automation results in 3 key immediate benefits:

-          SPEED: Automating these processes can be done quickly, with rapid implementation via technology platforms creating scalable and configurable customizations in just days or weeks.  The training required can occur along with deployment, and oftentimes the user experience is simple enough that no training is required.

-          COST SAVINGS: HR can enjoy savings of as much as 80% per transaction as previously manual processes occur with a few clicks and no paper.  Between employees, managers, and others involved in these processes, hard copies requiring signatures could require anywhere from 3-5 hours to complete. Remember to measure the process. HR software can’t track what it doesn’t measure.

-          CREDIBILITY: HR has difficulty thinking strategically when its mission critical data is error-prone and slow to tabulate.  Benefits of human resources software automation immediately removes most of that problem.  Although errors exist, the are greatly decreased, and the data can be compiled instantly. Exploit the connections of human resource software to compile the data needed to project, think, and execute strategically.

The automation of these separate HR functions, and condensing data silos into a software for human resources, is a tactical exercise.  But optimizing HR is a strategic event.  The two processes should be done together, leaning on each other and building upon each other to form a streamlined and efficient HR department.  Thus, even when real short-term cost cutting is needed, it’s unwise to ignore the impact and long-term benefits of strategic action.

5 Characteristics of Successful Women

You see them all around you; women succeeding in every avenue of life. They seem to have direction and know what they’re doing. They seem busy, satisfied, and put together while you can barely coordinate an outfit. You wonder how they manage to look so calm and collected when you know they work full-time and yet somehow concurrently enjoy a full and happy home life.


How do these women do it? While there is no magical secret to success, there are certainly characteristics that most successful women share, and if you can adopt them in your own life, there’s no reason you can’t attain the same level of success.


1. Determined. Those who succeed are willing to try, fail, and try again. You’ve heard the saying “no risk, no reward” and truly successful women embrace this idea whole-heartedly. In order to advance in any area of your life, you have to be willing to go out on a limb. But more than that, you must have the willpower to pick yourself up when you fall flat on your face, and continue with even more resolve.




2. Resourceful. Let’s face it; women do not have the same advantages as men. True, they are light years ahead of where they sat just a few generations ago (presumably in the kitchen instead of the boardroom), but they still face a lot of hurdles when it comes to professional inclusion and progression. For that reason, women must use every tool in their arsenal in order to reach the same heights. They must garner a strong base of education and experience, and blend them with interpersonal skills to get ahead.




3. Engaging. Many women in office settings suffer from the same disorder; a woeful inability to speak up. Women are much more likely to downplay their own role and attribute successes to a team, whereas men seeking to climb the ladder will almost always take credit for their achievements (and make sure everyone hears about them). You must not only do well in your position in order to get promoted, you must be willing to market yourself as an asset and convince others of your value.




4. Ambitious. Women without ambition rarely achieve greatness. Queen Elizabeth I gave up the chance at a family (and had her own sister imprisoned) in order to rule England. Susan B. Anthony and many other suffragettes risked being ostracized and thrown in jail in order to spread the message of women’s equality. Throughout history, the most successful women have been willing to take control of their own lives and do whatever was necessary to reach their goals.




5. Confident. Without a firm belief in yourself, you cannot hope to achieve true success. Nobody wants to back someone who is uncertain about their own ability to follow through. Those who lack confidence may be seen as spineless, incompetent, and even lazy, whether they are or not. Women who are self-assured, on the other hand, inspire confidence in others. And believing in yourself, knowing that you are capable and self-sufficient, really makes material success more like the icing on the cake.

25 Most Successful Women (Forbes 2011)

Rank Name Age Country Category
1 Angela Merkel – Chancellor 57 Germany Politics
2 Hillary Clinton – Secretary of State 64 United States Politics
3 Dilma Rousseff – President 64 Brazil Politics
4 Indra Nooyi – Chief Executive, PepsiCo 56 United States Business
5 Sheryl Sandberg – COO, Facebook 42 United States Business
6 Melinda Gates – Cofounder, Gates Foundation 47 United States Non-Profit
7 Sonia Gandhi – President 65 India Politics
8 Michelle Obama – First Lady 48 United States Politics
9 Christine Lagarde – Managing Director, IMF 56 France Non-Profit
10 Irene Rosenfeld – CEO, Kraft Foods 58 United States Business
11 Lady Gaga – Entertainer 25 United States Celebrity/Lifestyle
12 Jill Abramson – Executive Editor, NY Times 57 United States Media
13 Kathleen Sebelius – Secretary of HHS 63 United States Politics
14 Oprah Winfrey – Media Personality 58 United States Media
15 Janet Napolitano -Secretary of Homeland Security 54 United States Politics
16 Susan Wojcicki – SVP, Advertising, Google 43 United States Business
17 Cristina Fernandez – President 59 Argentina Politics
18 Beyoncé Knowles – Entertainer, Designer 30 United States Celebrity/Lifestyle
19 Georgina Rinehart – Mining Tycoon 58 Australia Billionaire
20 Cher Wang – Cofounder, Chair, HTC 53 Taiwan Business
21 Margaret Hamburg – Commissioner FDA 56 United States Politics
22 Michele Bachmann – Presidential Candidate 55 United States Politics
23 Julia Gillard – Prime Minister 50 Australia Politics
24 Mary Schapiro – Chair, SEC 56 United States Politics
25 Anne Sweeney – Co-Chair of Disney 54 United States Business

Lessons from the Networking Trenches

I realized this month, during a conversation with one of my closest friends, that I’ve unknowingly surrounded myself with people who compliment me. I’ve been lucky enough to meet these women (and men, too) at school, various jobs, and through friends and family. Without even trying, I’ve created a network of professionals who have been willing to mentor me and support me where I’m lacking in skills, motivation or knowledge. They share lessons learned, trade services, recommend me to their acquaintances, and generally support me, and I return the favors. It’s a symbiotic relationship for all. It’s not just about what I need, and that’s the networking key.

It turns out that the purpose and importance of networking is not solely to make connections that you can cash in on later. Instead, networking is about meeting new people, supporting others and allowing them to support you when you need it. The goal of networking should always be about bringing people together to meet needs and get things done. Here are a few lessons I’ve learned about networking the right way.

Be aware, be kind and don’t be shy. Everywhere you go, there’s an opportunity to meet someone new. Smile at strangers, introduce yourself to that woman next to you on the train, and be kind to everyone. You never know who you might meet, and how you might be able to support each other. What do you have to lose? The least you’ll get out of it is a nice conversation to pass the commute time.

Think of others. Networking isn’t all about you. Instead of always wondering how a person can meet your needs, or how you can sell your services, consider how you might be able to help the people you know. Who might benefit from meeting this person? Or do you know someone who might be able to meet this person’s need?

Tell everyone you know about your business. It may sound simple, but if people don’t know what you do, they’ll never know if they need your services. That woman on the train might know someone who could benefit from your product. Your sister’s boss might be looking for someone who does what you do. Remind people often that you have services to offer and they’ll be much more likely to hire you.

Carry your business cards everywhere and hand them out! Again, this seems like a no-brainer, but you wouldn’t believe how many times I’ve been caught empty-handed in a situation where a business card might have sealed the deal. Even if the person you meet isn’t interested in what you have to offer right now, when she’s digging through her wallet a month from now and finds your business card, you might be exactly who she needs.

Networking has clearly never been my forte. I’ve only recently become comfortable striking up conversations with complete strangers, and I still sometimes forget to mention “what I do” when I meet someone new. But I’ve learned that networking doesn’t have to be a chore. Meeting new people is fun and eventually, handing over your card when you shake hands or say good-bye will become second nature. Think of networking as weaving a net that connects people of all different walks of life and ensures they’ll have what they need when they need it, or that they’ll at least know who to call to find it.

Visit Ami’s personal blog or her professional website to learn more about her. You can also check out her new writing blog, Write Out Loud, a place for writers looking to free the stories inside them.