Women Presidents’ Organization Names Three Annual Award Winners At 2021 Annual Conference

The Women Presidents’ Organization, a peer advisory group for women entrepreneurs leading multi-million-dollar businesses, presented three awards to outstanding women business leaders with at its 2021 Conference: Sounds of Success.

The Mary Lehman MacLachlan Economic Empowerment Award: Bea Stotzer

This Award is named for the esteemed WPO advisory board member who provided the seed capital to fund the start of the organization. Mary Lehman MacLachlan cared deeply about women in positions of leadership and business ownership and strongly believed women need to support other women in their communities. In her memory, this award is given each year to one WPO member who embodies economic independence by running a financially sound business, providing financial benefits for staff, and supporting other businesswomen in the community.

The 2021 Mary Lehman MacLachlan Economic Empowerment Award was presented to Beatriz “Bea” Stotzer, CEO of New Capital LLC and member of the Los Angeles I WPO Chapter. She is the founder of the nonprofit New Economics for Women, which for over 30 years has helped build economic mobility for women, particularly Latinas and their families, through financial security, housing, entrepreneurship, and civic engagement. Bea established “New Capital,” her for-profit business, in 1996. Not only does New Capital provide property management for low-income housing, it also serves as a catalyst for building partnerships to support and enhance affordable housing development for single parents, families, and award-winning senior developments. A lifelong advocate for economic opportunities, especially for vulnerable women and families, Bea is resolute about increasing the role of women as leaders within the finance sector.

The Adrienne Hall Award for Breaking Down Barriers: Jill Osur

The award is named in honor of the WPO’s esteemed first board chair, Adrienne Hall, in honor of her efforts to foster the success and growth of the WPO by making connections that allowed the organization to break down barriers and facilitate greatness among its members. A strong advocate for women’s rights, Adrienne Hall started the first women-owned advertising company in the United States. The Adrienne Hall Award is bestowed upon an individual in the WPO community who has gone above and beyond to collaborate with the WPO and forge relationships that have enhanced its mission and enriched its community.

The 2021 Adrienne Hall Award for Breaking Down Barriers was presented to Jill Osur, President and CEO of Teneral Cellars. She has exemplified the spirit of this award in everything she does, launching her company in order to disrupt the wine industry and build a diverse and inclusive company that elevates women and inspires change through great wine. She prioritizes working with WPO vendors and other organizations that are led by women that share the values of: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion; Team Building; Female Leadership; and Operating In Your Greatness. She believes a rising tide lifts all ships, and through her success she has lifted up so many others.

The President’s Award: The WPO Chapter Chairs

The President’s Award recognizes WPO members who have gone above and beyond in their commitment to the WPO organization and their support of women business leaders. This award has the distinction of being personally selected by WPO CEO, Camille Burns. The 2021 award was, for the first time in its history, presented to a group that gave their heart and soul over the course of the last year to WPO members: the WPO Chapter Chairs.

The WPO Chapter Chairs have shown what it means to live the values of the WPO, and be supportive, thoughtful, tenacious, insatiably curious, and community-focused. Their resiliency and flexibility in service to the members of their chapter and to the wider community the WPO has built around the world have been nothing short of amazing. The mission of the WPO is to facilitate greatness within its members, and they have truly facilitated greatness in the past year and beyond.

Tips for Launching A Company in the Pandemic

Brought to you by HeelzFirst, a proud sponsor of the WPO

Photo by Amina Filkins on Pexels.com

Any time you launch a new business or a new product, you’re going to encounter problems and challenges. For over three decades I have worked as a professional engineer and CEO of Excellence Engineering LLC where my day job is to solve the problems. Despite my background as a problem solver, I faced one of my biggest challenges yet this past year when I decided to turn a passion of mine into a new business. If you’re thinking of starting this journey, here are some tips.

Follow your passion

I consider myself a “high-heelaholic.” I’ve been obsessed with heels my entire life, but after having surgery for a long-term back injury, I needed to figure out how I could wear my high heels safely and comfortably to feel like myself again. That’s why I created HeelzFirst, a first-of-its-kind product that hugs your foot and high heel together for a secure feeling when wearing high heels that don’t fit well. I combined my love of shoes and my engineering skills to create a product that solves fit issues and helps women wear heels securely and comfortably. By solving this problem, I and many other women can feel confident wearing high heels. If you find your passion, follow it and find the support you need to turn it into something bigger.

Be willing to pivot

While following my passion was the first step in launching HeelzFirst, like many new products and ideas, I’ve encountered roadblocks getting my business off the ground. Releasing a new product is one thing, but doing it during a global pandemic is something entirely different. The challenges new businesses usually face have been amplified this year because you’re not only dealing with uncertainty on the consumer side, but you’re also dealing with the unknown on the production side. Like many other businesses, new or existing, I’ve had to continually pivot and make many adjustments as I planned the launch of HeelzFirst. You can plan over and over again, but it’s more important than ever to be flexible and give yourself and your business some grace.

Surround yourself with support

Support the business needs. Surrounding yourself with an “A+” team you can trust to help navigate business challenges is essential. You have to be sure you have people alongside you who will help innovate and pivot quickly when required. Starting a business takes a village of talent, perseverance and tenacity. Be sure to build a team that believes in you and your mission.

Support your leadership needs. When I first introduced HeelzFirst to the “Fabulous 5”, (a group of my dearest friends, all female and very successful entrepreneurs) at one of our business meetings in early 2021, seeing their faces light up and experience the “aha” moment when they wore HeelzFirst for the first time was not only exhilarating but a turning point for me. Their encouragement, guidance and support are what encouraged me to build HeelzFirst into a real product that could be experienced by all women who have issues with wearing heels. Today, those four beautiful women serve as HeelzFirst’s advisory board and continue to guide, advise and encourage the growth and direction for me and HeelzFirst. Be sure you feed your leadership needs on a personal and professional level to encourage healthy growth. WPO and the local chapters are terrific at providing this type of support for women building businesses.

Be persistent and resilient

If HeelzFirst had launched a few years ago, we would have relied largely on meeting people in person. With smaller events and fewer in-person interactions post-COVID, we need social media to support our launch. You have to be persistent to get in front of potential customers. Not only that, but we have to train a whole society of people to think about high heels differently. By sharing the philosophy behind the product with people online, HeelzFirst is going to have an impact and help other women who need it.

Being resilient and refusing to give up takes guts. I often ask myself, “What am I doing?” I’ve turned my life upside down in every way to make HeelzFirst happen, but it’s a passion and I love it. It can feel defeating on the tough days, but with each challenge comes the reward of being able to share this with women everywhere. All women wearing heels deserve to be able to walk with confidence, in style, but most of all, comfortably. Now, I’m thrilled to introduce HeelzFirst for the first time at the 24th Annual Women Presidents’ Organization Conference.

By Dee Hays, HeelzFirst Founder

Introducing PNC Project 257sm: Accelerating Women’s Financial Equality

Brought to you by PNC, a proud sponsor of the WPO

Photo by picjumbo.com on Pexels.com

If civilians can fly themselves into space — as happened twice this summer — just 60 years after the first NASA astronaut accomplished this feat, should it really take another two-and-a-half centuries to close the economic gender gap?

Not if PNC can help it!

When the World Economic Forum’s 2020 Global Gender Equity Gap Report revealed that it would take a jaw-dropping 257 more years for women to economically catch up to men unless the pace of progress significantly accelerated, we took it on as a challenge. Our new initiative, PNC Project 257: Accelerating Women’s Financial Equality, is how PNC will help close the gap.

Four reasons for the gap are issues that we believe that PNC can help address:

  • To tackle the underrepresentation of women in high-growth industries and high-wage roles, expect pnc.com/women to deliver more inspirational content about women who are breaking barriers. We believe, as the saying goes, “If you can see it, you can be it.”
  • To confront the issue of pay disparities, PNC strives to serve as a role model employer. Our annual Corporate Responsibility report shares some of the many steps we’re taking to achieve equity for our women employees.
  • Our new three-year, $1.257 million partnership with the global nonprofit SheEO, which provides 0% interest business loans to female and nonbinary entrepreneurs, is one way that PNC is strengthening our focus on expanding women’s access to credit to help close the economic gender gap. Additionally, we will continue to monitor our policies and practices for evaluating creditworthiness, and our thousands of PNC-Certified Women’s Business Advocates will initiate more conversations with more women about the benefits of borrowing from the bank instead of their savings.
  • The disproportionate burden of unpaid domestic work that women shoulder is another big contributor to the 257-year gap. Even in the United States, women do twice the amount of caregiving as men. PNC is the financial institution uniquely positioned to confront this issue through our $500 million early childhood education initiative, PNC Grow Up Great®. The initiative supports early childhood education programs and organizations, including daycare centers — support that positively impacts not only families and caregivers, but also the female workforce that leads these organizations and the next generation of women.

With PNC Project 257, our hope is to call attention to the absurdity of the economic gender gap and motivate others to help eliminate these barriers. One way you can help: join us in supporting SheEO by becoming an Activator. Activators contribute $1,100 annually, or $92 per month, and serve in a valuable role to help select which female or nonbinary entrepreneurs receive a 0% interest loan to help grow their business.

You can learn more about SheEO and PNC Project 257 at pnc.com/women and please follow PNC on LinkedIn and Facebook, @PNCBank on Instagram, and @PNCNews and @PNCBank on Twitter to stay informed and spread the word.

By Beth Marcello, Director of Women’s Business Development, PNC Bank

8 Tips to Emerge Stronger from the Pandemic

Brought to you by Women in Business, a proud sponsor of the WPO

To be an entrepreneur is to discover and capitalize on opportunity; These uncertain times have created opportunity in abundance. Though not without risk, this is the time for bold transformation so that our businesses are relevant, timely, and exciting.

Francine Farkas Sears

What’s it like running a women-owned business during a global pandemic? Even maintaining a positive outlook at times can sometimes feel impossible. The most optimistic and business-savvy leaders are bound for a challenge. We’re in uncharted territory with the economy, state of the world, state of business and technology. As business leaders we know that to adapt to change is to succeed. There are many incentives to keep the workplace running smoothly and, similarly, adapt as employers to keep customers and employees happy. This requires work.

It is no secret that women are bearing the brunt of this pandemic. The truth is, your business is going to have ‘down days’. And so are you, but there is promise. The other truth is that you’re not alone. Most women in business are “struggling to juggle” with more than just work these days—we are still fitting into roles of doing the bulk of cooking, cleaning and parenting. If you’re struggling to minimize the negative impact the last year and a half has had, here is what works for Francine:

  1. Look the part. “Dress for the role you aspire to, not the role you have” Especially on Zoom calls. Be present as if you are the same table. Heels when stepping back out into the world. Unstoppable women need confidence.
  2. Self-care is key. Keep exercising to stay sharp and maintain energy. The effect this has on your employees and network is invaluable.
  3. Focus on a daily routine. Keep moving forward. Routines help maintain normality when life throws curveballs. (and COVID variants…)
  4. Get inspired. Surround yourself with inspiration. Fuel up with fresh air, read a book in your industry (or not), or looking at art. Fire up your original ideas with fuel.
  5. Good friends. Stay connected with friends and colleagues, not just surface level connections. Schedule time to ‘walk and talk’ in person or on the phone. Positive attitudes and influences around you make all the difference.
  6. Embrace your age. Learn to appreciate what comes with getting older. Reinventing yourself is the recipe to staying youthful.
  7. Stay positive. COVID crept up suddenly with little time to prepare. It’s no wonder we were all thrown for a loop. With that, there should be a delicate balance between staying ‘in the know’ and focusing on what your business needs from you. Limiting how much negative information you consume on a daily basis around current events is something to be mindful of and can impacts your performance. Before you head into board meetings and reach out to new prospects, feeling recharged will get you farther and inspire others. Establishing boundaries around news, social media, and the internet is a good first step. Stay in the know about current events, especially since it impacts the economy. If you don’t limit media consumption, you may go overboard and pull your business backwards.
  8. Start at the drawing board. Consider team building or group activities. Focus on boosting team morale during stress filled times. During isolation a bit of connection goes a long way. Discuss downfalls honestly and where the team could be more optimistic. Then decide how it can be addressed and managed.

Here are some team building ideas that can be in-person or virtually:

  • Strategize: Toss out a brain teaser or witty riddle to your team and add a time limit. Spark conversation and reveal unique perspectives!
  • Compliment: Encourage the team to compliment each other. Try a compliment circle where everyone goes around in alphabetical order to address appreciation for one another.
  • Brainstorm: Have a brainstorm session: Play “went well, went OK, could have done better”. We use this process at the end of a project or an event. Have everyone jot down things that went well, went OK, and things that could have been done better. Then, sort the entries into their respective categories. Once all the ideas are on the table talk through them and come up with potential solutions to the problem areas.
  • Virtual Activity: Take a team virtual cooking class! Something creative like this will reset and recharge the group. Start a book club with favorite books in your field to read over the course of a few weeks. Get together monthly to talk over takeaways (and snacks!).

Who are a few of Francine’s largest inspirations? To name a few, Lesley Stahl, Woopie Goldberg, and Chanel.


By Francine Farkas Sears President of Women in Business, ltd. Francine Collections ltd.

As President at Francine Collections, Francine simplifies the lives of women on-the-go by producing and selling stylish, affordable collections that fit into every part of a busy day. From Leading Wall Street Stock Broker (1964-’69) to Fashion Director and VP of Import Merchandising (Alexander’s Department Store, NYC) she has mastered the value of volume, quality. Her designs redefined computer cases for PC companies like HP, Dell, Lenovo, Ingram, and Belkin. Francine’s core company Fabrique, ltd. was nominated by Inc. Magazine and WPO as one of the “Fastest Growing Women Owned Businesses in America”.

Three Steps to Delegating the Right Way (and Winning Back Your Time and Sanity)

Brought to you by Dragonfly Editorial, a proud sponsor of the WPO

Photo by Katerina Holmes on Pexels.com

If you’re a business owner, I bet you know the feeling of being overwhelmed. Too many appointments, an overflowing inbox, an endless to-do list. Some tasks are small, some are big … but somehow, you never get around to tackling the big ones.

Sound familiar?

There are many ways to eliminate overwhelm, from setting strategic priorities and time-boxing your day to forcing yourself to eat the frog—that is, your most dreaded task of the day—first thing in the morning. Adding delegation to any of these can be a game-changer.

Delegation, which is asking another person to take on a task that has previously been your own, should be simple. Who doesn’t want to offload responsibility? But many find it challenging, especially business owners like us who’ve been used to doing everything there is to do from day one.

If you struggle with delegation, here are three simple steps you can take to improve your delegation skills—and gain back the time and sanity you’ve been missing.

Step 1: Decide what to delegate.

The best way to figure out what to delegate is to take a clarity break. Grab your laptop or notebook and head to your nearest coffee shop. Set your phone on “do not disturb.” (Yes, you can handle this for 30 minutes.)

Now, make two lists. On the left, list Things That Drain My Energy. Here, write down tasks that you dread and avoid. Tasks that stress you out. Tasks that make you feel heavy—like you’re trying to walk through peanut butter. On the right, list Things That Give Me Energy. Here, write down tasks you look forward to. That you could do all day long and not be tired of. Things that make you feel light—like you’re flitting through the workplace, quickly solving problem after problem.

Needless to say, tasks on the left are ones you want to start delegating.

An alternate approach is to spend 20 minutes writing down everything you do—all of your responsibilities. Now, give each one a label. HB = things you hate and are bad at. HG = things you hate but are good at. LG = things you love and are great at.

Again, these labels provide clear insight into the tasks you should start delegating. When you do, you’ll be a happier person—and you’ll give more focused, potent attention to the tasks that remain.

Step 2: Decide whom to delegate to.

This is where many of us hit a roadblock. We’re used to doing so many things ourselves and doing them well. After all, we’ve created successful businesses from scratch!

But to scale our businesses and bring sanity into our own lives, we have to start trusting other people.

The best way to do this is to follow the advice of my first manager—a supportive mentor who saw untapped potential in a raw temporary employee. When she brought me on staff, and then advanced me into management, she gave me this advice: Always hire people who are smarter than you.

Many managers, she said, are afraid of being outshone by their employees. They’re intimidated by “too talented” colleagues. So they deliberately (or subconsciously) hire employees who know less than them and have shallower experience.

Taking this approach, a manager “guarantees herself a job,” because none of her employees know the things she does or can do the things she can.

She also guarantees herself a life of overwhelm and a miserable experience for her employees.

Lesson learned? Hire people who are bigger, better, brighter, and more experienced than you. Trust them to take on tasks you no longer want to do—even important, business-critical tasks. And as they grow in their careers, teach them to do the same.

Step 3: Delegate the right way.

I know this has happened to you in the past: Someone gives you a project to do, and you do it. Then they pick it apart bit by bit and reassemble it into something completely different. Or they shadow you relentlessly while you work on it, giving “constructive” feedback over and over until your creative spirit is ground into the dust.

That’s not the way to delegate.

Delegation involves letting go. Being willing to release control and let the other person discover how to do the job for themself.

Here’s how.

Ask a colleague to take on a task. Explain clearly the result you need. Provide any resources they would need to do the job well.

When you get their product back, ask yourself this question: Was this done exactly how I would have done it? If the answer is yes, all good!

If the answer is no, ask yourself a follow-up question: Is what they did perfectly fine anyway? Even if it’s not exactly how I would have done it?

Often, you’ll find the answer to this second question is “yes.” Then, you can smile and let go.

Sometimes, of course, the answer is “no.” When that happens, I’m often tempted to jump in with an exasperated sigh and “do it myself.” And there’s a certain bitter satisfaction in doing so.

But there’s no long-term satisfaction. You’re not building additional capability into organization that you’ll be able to turn to in the future. You’re keeping the knowledge of “how to do things right” to yourself.

Instead of just fixing things yourself, guide your employee to the solution. Provide clear, non-judgemental tips on what you’d like them to do differently. Explain that you’re giving this feedback because you want them to improve. You want to give them the opportunity to get it right! You’re interested in enhancing their skills and building their career.

Sure, giving this redirection might take more time than correcting the problem yourself. But the next 15 times this task comes around and you can turn to your colleague for help, you will have earned that time—and then some.
Ready for a return to sanity? Take a few minutes to explore what tasks you should delegate. Hire people you can trust to take on the work. Then let them run with it, providing key guidance as needed, but without micromanaging.

You and your employees will be happier.

By Samantha Enslen

Samantha runs Dragonfly Editorial, a creative agency based in Dayton, Ohio, with customers around the world. Dragonfly’s writers are known for explaining complex topics clearly, whether they’re writing proposals, marketing communications, or thought leadership pieces. Her team works with customers in finance, IT, healthcare, engineering, and beyond. 

Sam is the former editorial manager at CSC, now DXC, and former contributing editor to The Editorial Eye. She is the former vice president of ACES and spent seven years as managing editor of Tracking Changes, the society’s quarterly journal. Sam has received multiple awards for her writing and in 2020 was named a Fellow of the Association of Proposal Management Professionals. 

At home, Sam has three children, ages 12 to 19. Her husband, Greg, is a fiction writer who pens the Frank Harper mystery series, set in a fictional Ohio town much like the one in which they live. 

Are You the ‘Family Bank’?

When to say yes—and how to say no—if family members turn to you for financial support.

Brought to you by The Evelo|Singer|Sullivan Group, a proud sponsor of the WPO

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Almost every family has one: the person family members call on when money is tight and they need a helping hand. The more financially responsible you are, the more likely you are to be considered “the family bank.”

If you’re that person, have you ever wished you could just say no, even if you feel helping out financially is the right thing to do? Maybe you have other priorities to deal with or you doubt the money will be used wisely. Or you’re convinced that your kids will learn more by saving for that desired purchase—whether it’s a house, a car or a fancy new smartphone—on their own.

Naturally, you’ll always want to be there for your family members when they need you, but there are times when it does make sense to politely say no, even to those closest to you. If you’re considered “the bank” in your family, here are four useful tips.

4 Tips for Managing Family Financial Requests

1. Start talking about money with your children when they are young.

“Set up regular family meetings to discuss life skills, including the earning, saving, spending, investing and sharing of money. What role does money play in your family’s life? How do your financial decisions express your family’s values?” says Valerie Galinskaya, managing director within the Merrill Center for Family Wealth™. “From a young age, encourage children to ask questions about the decisions you’re making so that they can begin to understand the reasoning behind them and develop sound money management habits of their own.” With that background, they may have more realistic expectations if they do someday find themselves in a financial bind and consider asking you for help.

2. Create a budget for giving.

Even if you pass on your own sound money management habits, there are bound to be times when relatives will need your help, and you’ll want to be in a position to provide it. “We create budgets for such things as travel or shopping, so why not for family giving?” asks Ben Storey, director of Retirement Thought Leadership at Bank of America.

Storey advises that you determine how much you can commit to this purpose without disrupting your retirement planning and current living needs. When you have that figure, consider your other priorities. Are there any lifestyle changes you may need to make in order to keep giving to family during tough times? Most important, before you give, be sure to set aside an emergency fund for yourself to ensure that you will have a comfortable cushion in retirement.

3. Set firm guidelines for saying yes.

Decide in advance under what circumstances you would feel comfortable giving or lending money. “If you’re going to make a gift of the money, think about using the occasion as a teaching moment,” suggests Storey. Without sounding preachy or judgmental, try to explain to your relative how you’ve put yourself in a position to provide this assistance. Have you kept your debt under control, for instance, or lived within your means or avoided high-interest credit cards? “For young adults in the family, this could be a valuable lesson,” he says.

“If you expect to be paid back, create a loan document,” recommends Joe C. Schmieder, principal consultant of the Family Business Consulting Group, based in Chicago. This may include details on how frequently repayments will be made and whether interest will be charged. If the family member has asked you to invest in a business, request a business plan or other formal details on how the money will be used. “It’s important that the recipient understands your terms,” Storey says.

4. When you must say no, avoid making it personal.

Instead of blaming family members for their financial troubles or questioning their plans, develop a basic philosophy that applies to everyone. Explain that this philosophy helped your family build its wealth and that any loan or gift decisions will be made based on your core values, such as a strong work ethic, pride and self-sufficiency. If you’re dreading the prospect of refusing a request, prepare your reasons beforehand so that you can explain them unemotionally. When you can’t afford to give, outline the reasons for your decision.

When a family business is involved, notes Schmieder, it’s possible that your relatives don’t understand the company’s financial limitations. “Not everyone may be aware, for instance, that company owners have an obligation to reinvest their profits into their businesses to maintain growth,” he says. Use this opportunity to explain that the company’s profits aren’t a ready source for gifts or loans.

As you consider each request, it’s always important to remember that gifts or loans to family members will have a direct impact on your retirement planning. There might be an unwritten fifth rule, says Storey: “Beware of being overly generous, or you could end up needing financial help yourself.”

For more information, contact Merrill Financial Advisor Linnell Sullivan at the Cincinnati, Ohio office at 513.579.3890 or linnell_sullivan@ml.com.

Linnell Sullivan began her financial services career in 1985; and today is a principal partner with a nationally recognized private wealth management team. Linnell works with affluent client families providing comprehensive advice, including managing wealth concentration, providing counsel on succession planning and career transition, education on family dynamics, and long-term investment management.

Linnell is a regular recipient of industry honors and accolades. In 2021, Barron’s – the preeminent investment journal – named Linnell for a sixith consecutive year one of America’s “Top 100 Women Financial Advisors.” Forbes included her on its “Top Women Wealth Advisor” list (2017 – 2021) and Working Mother’s magazine named her a Top Wealth Advisor Mom.

Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated (also referred to as “MLPF&S” or “Merrill”) makes available certain investment products sponsored, managed, distributed or provided by companies that are affiliates of Bank of America Corporation (“BofA Corp.”). MLPF&S is a registered broker-dealer, registered investment adviser, Member SIPC and a wholly owned subsidiary of BofA Corp.

Investment products:

Are Not FDIC InsuredAre Not Bank GuaranteedMay Lose Value

© 2020 Bank of America Corporation. All rights reserved. 3386746

Choreographing Your Successful Launch (or Relaunch) in 2022

Brought to you by Jazzercise, a proud sponsor of the WPO

As we begin to put the challenges of the past eighteen months behind us, I’m considering how insights gained during our COVID-forced downtime can improve our performance moving forward.

Less time in the office, for instance, enabled me to spend more time in my at-home dance studio thinking and creating. In the process of choreographing dozens of new dances for our franchisee instructors and Jazzercise On-Demand channel, it occurred to me there are real parallels between the process of choreographing a dance and launching a new business product, service, or venture. Let me explain:

It begins with an idea or objective

Creating a new dance, like creating a new product, begins with a specific idea, need, or objective. In the same way that a new product or program may need to fit within or expand an existing product line or brand, each new Jazzercise dance must meet both the specific and overarching fitness objectives of each class. Will it be added to the mix as a slow, stretching start, a moderately fast warm up, a cardio-pumping peak, or relaxing cool-down? Defining and understanding context of what you are about to create is critical.


Working out the detailed mechanics

Once the idea/objective and context are established, the next phase of choreography (and product development) is working out the mechanics. At this stage, old or obvious patterns can get rejected in favor of new, fresh, exciting ones. You begin to establish the small and large details and to integrate them into something tangible, teachable, and replicable. In dance, this step yields a “work in progress.” In most companies, the result is a prototype.


Evolving to add meaning and desired emotional outcome

Choreographers understand the most successful dances must be allowed to evolve. An individual work in progress moves to the collaborative phase. Once dancers master the mechanics, absorb the details into muscle memory, they “take a beat” to set the physical aspects of the dance aside, and focus on the emotional meaning, color, and desired feeling/outcome they wish to transfer to the audience (customer). Unfortunately, many businesses skip this step, rushing their new offering from prototype to product shelves, without considering its desired emotional outcome. This is a mistake. The best, most successful products connect with their customers on several levels—meeting not only a mental or physical need but establishing an emotional connection to the brand as well. Whatever your proposed product or service launch, build some collaborative seasoning, some all-important time to identify and evolve the product’s emotional aspects/outcomes, into your schedule. You will not regret this.


Practice, perform, then take your well-deserved bow.

In choreography, a dance is creatively concepted, mechanically defined, collaboratively refined to add its appropriate emotional impact and outcome, and repetitively practiced before it is ever publicly performed. I can personally attest that adhering to each of these steps in this process has worked for Jazzercise for over fifty years. And I unreservedly promise it will work for you. The theme of WPO annual conference this year is “Sounds of Success.” To me, that sound is heartfelt applause across multiple media from your many happy customers who, because of your efforts, feel heard, helped, understood, and emotionally connected to your brand. Don’t forget to step out and take your well-deserved bow!

By Judi Sheppard Missett, Founder and CEO of Jazzercise, Inc.

Author Bio

Judi Sheppard Missett is the founder and CEO of Jazzercise, Inc., the world largest franchise dance fitness company. A renowned fitness expert and exercise pioneer, she has received numerous prestigious business awards, including the Presidential Commendation for Top Women Entrepreneurs, four Hall of Fame inductions, and WPO’s Mary Lehman MacLachlan Award and President’s Award. For more hard-won insights and heart-felt advice on launching new products or services, check out Judi’s national best-selling book Building a Business with a Beat.

The Value of Locking in Insurability

Brought to you by Prudential, a proud sponsor of the WPO

The COVID-19 pandemic exposed just how much uncertainty we face every day. In addition to claiming the lives of more than four million people worldwide, including over 600,000 in the United States[1], the pandemic disrupted the global economy, forcing us to suddenly worry not only about our health but also our job security, household finances, access to medical care, access to food and household supplies, and even when and where we could travel to visit with family and friends. It was a harsh and often cruel reminder to expect the unexpected. One consequence of all this disruption is that Americans are increasingly looking to life insurance to safeguard their families against many of the financial risks they face. Thirty-one percent of consumers now say they are more likely to buy life insurance as a direct result of the pandemic.[2] They are thinking more about their legacy, what will happen to their loved ones in the event they pass away unexpectedly, and the important role life insurance can play in securing their family’s financial security. The need for this security is widespread: four in 10 Americans say they would face financial hardship in as little as six months if their household wage earner died unexpectedly.[3]

To take a closer look at why locking in future insurability with a term life insurance policy can be so valuable, read more from Prudential Insights.

September is Life Insurance Awareness Month. Here are some helpful links that you can share with your employees.

1 Worldometer; https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus
2 LIMRA/Life Happens, “2021 Insurance Barometer Study,” 2021.
3 Ibid.

The Prudential Insurance Company of America, 751 Broad Street, Newark, NJ 07102
Prudential, the Prudential logo and the Rock Symbol are service marks of Prudential Financial, Inc. and its related entities, registered in many jurisdictions worldwide.

Member of the Moment: Stefanie Wiley

Stefanie Wiley
President of Hoosick Valley Contractors Inc.
WPO Albany II Member

How has being a WPO member helped your business?

The WPO has provided consistent support and strategies for navigating the unpredictable times of the past year and a half. I have been so grateful to have WPO as my sounding board!

What challenges have you faced as a woman in business?

After 20 years in my business (7 years as the owner and President) I was denied recertification as a New York State woman-owned business due to “not demonstrating adequate managerial competence or technical ability.” I appealed the decision and want to raise awareness about the biased perceptions of competence that still exist in the industry, even among state agencies that claim to support women.

What’s your favorite WPO event you’ve attended?

My favorite WPO event is my chapter’s annual retreat because it offers me a time to slow down and reflect on the road ahead for myself personally and professionally.

What’s the best business advice you’ve ever received?

The best business advice I’ve ever received is to stop working in your company and start working on your company.

Post-Pandemic HR Trends and the Impact on Women

By Susan Michel, founder and CEO of Glen Eagle & WPO Princeton Chapter member

There is a lot of optimism that the pandemic will end later this year and that life will return to some semblance of normalcy. Even with our hopes for an end to the pandemic, however, the future landscape of the work environment is forever changed in many ways. As Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella recently pointed out, “We have seen two years’ worth of digital transformation in two months.” As business owners, it is important to look at some of the trends and begin to prepare for how we would like our companies to operate when it is safe to start gathering again.

Some of these trends may be positive, especially around the ability to work from home. As a mom who raised four children while building a company, I am excited to see the pandemic forcing more of an acceptance to a hybrid or work-from-home workforce. A large majority (82%) of executives say they intend to let employees work remotely at least part of the time, according to a survey by Gartner Inc. 47% say they will allow employees to work remotely full- time.

Giving employees more flexibility in choosing when and where they work can help to increase gender equality in the workforce. It has long been established that remote work can help parents better balance their work and family obligations, which makes them less likely to sacrifice one for the other. It has also been shown from data collected during the pandemic that fathers are becoming more involved at home. Couples are more equally sharing family responsibilities than they did before the pandemic.

The ability to work remotely can also create many opportunities when it comes to hiring. With 36% of companies now saying they are willing to hire workers who are 100% remote and live anywhere in the U.S. or even international, there is no longer a barrier of trying to find the most qualified candidate in your region or paying to relocate employees and their families.

However, having fully remote employees brings on other challenges, especially if they are working in different time zones. Technology is a great resource, as we have witnessed, with the ability to use video conferences so that we can see team members and have more efficient meetings. It is difficult, though, to replace casual team interactions or chatter that naturally comes while eating lunch together or working side-by-side at an office. Recent studies indicate that many employees miss going to a physical office space. Key items they miss include the social interaction, the human contact, and the clear separation of work and home.

As a business owner, the real question becomes, “Should I bring my workers back into the office after the pandemic?” There is no right or wrong answer to this question, as this varies on a case-by-case basis, but here are a few things you should consider:

1. Employee WFH Personality: What is the work-from-home personality of each of my employees? A study by The Martec Group classified four basic types: thriving, hopeful, discouraged, or trapped.

  • Thriving employees are motivated introverts that are satisfied with their jobs and company. (About 16% of the workforce)
  • Hopeful employees struggle with their mental health, focus and productivity while at home yet have high company satisfaction. (About 25% of the workforce)
  • Discouraged employees tend to be extroverts dealing with declines in mental health and job satisfaction. (About 27% of the workforce)
  • Trapped employees miss socializing in the office and have low levels of company satisfaction and mental health. (The largest group, at 32% of the workforce)

2. Cost Savings: The benefits of remote work have been numerous with recent research showing increased productivity, decreased real estate costs, happier and more engaged employees, greater business continuity during emergencies, a smaller environmental footprint, and access to a larger, more diversified talent pool.  Every business is different, but it is important to look at the cost vs. benefit of having an office that employees come to everyday.

3. The Role of HR: If you are going to continue with a remote work model, you need to create formal, written policies around worker eligibility and what your expectations are. Companies should track the productivity and outcomes of an individual working remotely. There is also a responsibility to watch for signs of employee burnout as well as actively taking steps to help remote employees maintain healthy boundaries between their professional and personal lives.

This is all to say that when deciding whether to bring workers back, what is right for one company will not be the right choice for another. As with everything in life, there are positives and negatives to every decision. So as the saying goes, “jump in the water and whatever the decision, don’t look back and only forward.”

Susan Michel, a member of WPO, is founder and CEO of Glen Eagle, an award-winning financial services firm based in Kingston, NJ. Offering retirement planning to business owners and wealth management, Glen Eagle takes an educational, holistic approach to meeting its clients’ long-term goals. Glen Eagle is a WBENC-Certified Women’s Business Enterprise. Twitter: @smichel7