WPO Guest Blog: Marching Your Firm to the Right Cadence

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By Janet Odgis

Defining, maintaining, and refining a cadence is key to keeping a company “accountable and authentic to everyone it touches,” according to the book “Think Big, Act Bigger” by Jeffrey Hayzlett. He also discusses how cadence is “your company’s river—its culture and systems.” The better it flows within the company, “the more it flows through anyone it touches, from employees to vendors to customers.”

Establishing a successful operating pace not only makes your employees feel more comfortable and productive but also gives clients an additional level of assurance. Secure in the knowledge that a creative firm will turn around work within a certain amount of time, they are more likely to rely on that firm as a creative partner.

Internal cadence must come before external; once your team is in a good place in regard to workflow and expectations, you can proceed to educate clients on how timely decision-making will affect the delivery.

Set clear expectations

At the outset, sit down with your team and the client, and explain the plan ahead so it is clear to everyone involved. You may experience some pushback from employees concerned that a rigid schedule may hamper their creative efforts, or force them to rush their process. Discuss those concerns, as well as benchmarks and goals that are dependent on following this process. Pacing in a reasonable manner will take potential delays into account.

Everybody’s buy-in is necessary. The next step is the creation of an internal timeline for projects, with checks and balances in place before the client sees anything. How much time can the team comfortably devote to ideation? How long does it usually take to receive feedback from a client, and incorporate those notes into the planning? Working collaboratively to answer these questions will help frame a suitable rhythm for the team.

Don’t reinvent the wheel with each job.

Set up a disciplined system so you can control the workflow and focus on what is important. Keep everyone accountable for their time with a time-management system. This will allow you to see clearly where you stand in your budget. Factor in a careful recording of change orders as part of your process, and check in periodically along the timeline to communicate where you stand, notifying the client if necessary. Your team will get accustomed to the idea that your firm works to a set process.

Cadence is all about making life manageable for everyone, and being able to manage and juggle all we do. It’s the difference between comfort and discomfort, clarity and chaos. And in this balanced environment, you can nurture creativity.

Entrepreneur: Women-Owned Businesses Are Looming Large In North Dakota

By Kari Warberg Block

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There’s a whole new breed of female entrepreneurs who are not afraid to get their hands dirty making their mark in male-dominated industries. From farming to construction and engineering to pest control, women are rolling up their sleeves and digging in. And nowhere are they making their presence more known than in the state of North Dakota.

North Dakota may not seem like a hotbed of success, but when it comes to women-owned businesses, no state has better growth, revenues or employment rates. Female-owned businesses have increased by 41.8 percent since 2007. Their companies employ 26,100 people statewide, bringing in over $4.5 billion in sales. Compared to other states, North Dakota-owned businesses start, grow and see healthier profits faster than other states.

In a 2015 “State of Women-Owned Business Report” commissioned by American Express® OPEN – A Summary of Important Trends, 1997-2015, North Dakota ranked no. 1 (combined rank), up from no. 5 in 2012.

There’s something special happening here, maybe North Dakota has a rare kind of female leader — one who leads with a pioneering spirit. Winters that keep a girl hearty, an agricultural focus, and geography are just a few factors that have held North Dakota’s population steady around 600,000 for the better part of a century. But when it comes to business women, the policies and legendary values of the state that’s in the middle of nowhere have become a proven recipe for success.

Click here to read more.

The Encore: Crown Yourself: Lead The Field with the Seven Pillars of Authority Marketing

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By: Advantage Media Group

For centuries, coronations have taken place in societies around the world. During these ceremonies, a supreme ruler is crowned and granted power to make decisions for the state or country they lead. In most cultures these days, this tradition has transitioned into a celebrity status, like that of Prince William and Kate Middleton. There is no equivalent to this type of public declaration in the business world. No one is going to announce to the world that a financial planner has the most experience in New York City, that one divorce lawyer wins more cases than another, or that a doctor has a better technique for heart surgery than his peers.

Becoming the Authority in your industry, community, or marketplace takes a deliberate and systematic approach. No one is going to place the crown on your head and notify your target market that you are the best at what you do. You have to do that yourself. However, by choosing to position yourself as the undisputed expert, influential authority, and in-demand celebrity who everyone wants to work with, you can take your business to new heights, making marketing, selling, and building trust with customers significantly easier and quicker than ever before.

The process of building an Authority Marketing plan is different for everyone, but everyone who finds success in it aims to hit a minimum of seven main focus areas, which we call the Seven Pillars of Authority Marketing.

Click here to read full article.

WPO Guest Blog: Storytelling, With Science, Can Strike A Chord

By: Kelly Borth

John P. Kotter, a professor of leadership at the Harvard Business School, once said, “Never underestimate the power of a good story.” Kotter believes in the power of a story to strike a chord in people and, perhaps, to motivate them to change.

Science has proven that words have the power to move people to tears, to action and — yes — to purchase. Researchers at Emory University in 2012 found that certain metaphors — “the singer had a velvet voice” or “he had leathery hands” — activated the sensory cortex of the brain. Similar phrases — “the singer had a pleasing voice” or “he had strong hands” — didn’t cause the same reaction.

Smell-a-vision

A 2006 study in Spain that was published in NeuroImage showed that when people read words with strong odor associations — coffee, perfume or cinnamon — the primary olfactory cortex of the research subjects’ brains lighted up.

A recent series of Post Cereals commercials uses such key words to play to the viewer’s sense of smell.

One of the commercials shows Diana Hunter, a Post Cereals employee, talking about her job as a cereal packager. The happy employee tells a story about how she went grocery shopping after work one day, smelling of cereal. At the store, people were sniffing around her saying, “Mmmm, I smell cookies.” Diana says she told the people, “Aw, you just smell me! I just got out of work. That’s Honey Bunches of Oats. Don’t eat me now!”

Since we don’t have smell-a-vision, the words play to the viewers’ olfactory senses. The commercial also does a good job of letting a happy employee tell a story about her job at the cereal plant.

Emotional connections

Research has also shown that we all spend about one-third of our time daydreaming. Yet a really good story will make us sit up and pay attention.

By now, for example, we all know which of the commercials that ran during the 2016 Summer Olympics caught our attention and touched people. Those same ads are probably the ones you’ve been seeing in your news feed because the ads take the power of words and move a person to action, even if it’s just sharing it on Facebook.

The Procter & Gamble “Thank You, Mom” spot is one such ad. It shows athletes in dangerous, dark, demoralizing situations — a tornado headed toward their home, some men whistling catcalls at a young girl and a coach yelling at a young athlete. Through it all, the athletes’ mothers are always there, encouraging them to move on until we see the athletes’ victorious moments on the Olympic stage.

The commercial concludes with a simple statement: “It takes someone strong to make someone strong. Thank you, Mom. … P&G – proud sponsor of Moms.”

That spot is meant to tug at the heartstrings — make you cry, even — and make you remember that P&G cares about all moms, the same moms, consequently, who do the household shopping.

The sounds — from the scary scream of a tornado at the end to the cheering adulation of the Olympics crowd at the end — help pull viewers into the emotion of the story. The bond between the child and mother plays to the connection that many viewers have had or want to have in their lives.

Top brands know the power of the brain to make that emotional connection, and they capitalize on that neuroscience by using storytelling to capture an audience.

 

WPO Guest Blog: Join the League with Legion Logistics

By: NWBC

Her Own Boss #BossesGiveBack Edition:

Lacy Starling is the President of Legion Logistics, LLC, a third-party logistics provider located in Florence, Kentucky. Legion Logistics specializes in full truckload, less-than-truckload, government freight, hazardous materials and produce shipping.

 

What motivated you to start your business? 

I wanted to create a business where employees felt truly appreciated. I’d worked in many places in my career, both big and small. At every place I just felt like a number. I honestly felt like no one cared if I showed up for work or not. In some places, I had no idea what my work was actually accomplishing – I wasn’t made aware of the big picture. So when I started Legion, it was with a very intentional focus on internal culture and employee engagement. Over the seven years we’ve been in business, my focus on that has not wavered. Every day, I pay very close attention to my employees to make sure they are informed, engaged and appreciated.

What is the greatest barrier you faced in launching your business and how did you overcome it?

Honestly? I didn’t really know much about the logistics industry. The first year was a HUGE learning curve for me. I made so many phone calls to people, just admitting that I was lost and asking for help. My background as a reporter helped immensely in that. I’ve never been afraid to ask questions of strangers and I’m really not concerned with someone thinking I’m stupid. I personally feel it is far more stupid to not ask questions and to flounder than to admit you don’t know something or you need help. Pride is crippling when you are starting your own business.

Do you have a mentor? How did you find him/her?

I don’t. And I need to find one. I’ve stumbled so many times in the past seven years and I know that if I had someone to call or email that had been there before, my life would have been easier. I suffer from the misapprehension that asking someone to be my mentor is to burden them, but I’ve mentored several women and found it to be incredibly rewarding. It’s on my to-do list for this year.

If you could go back in time to when you were first starting, what would you tell yourself, with the intention of avoiding mistakes and heart ache?

I try to live my life with no regrets, because I believe that everything happens for a reason, and that we learn important lessons from mistakes and heartache. But I would definitely tell myself that I am strong, capable and truly remarkable and that I can do more than I ever imagined. I had such self-doubt in the first five years of Legion and it’s only been recently that I’ve really come into my own power. And that is an amazing feeling. Having that confidence makes me a better leader, a better mom and a better person.

What resources have been most helpful to you?

I’ve always been a big believer in being self-taught, so the most valuable resource to me has always been my Amazon account. I constantly buy and read business books, just to get different perspectives or get re-energized and ready to tackle new projects. I personally believe that any business owner who isn’t reading and learning isn’t going to be successful for too long.

What does success look like for you?

Success for me is happiness. I want to wake up every day excited to face what is coming. The last seven years have taught me so much about myself, but I wake up 90% of the time excited to see my employees, my customers, my colleagues, my students, my daughter, everyone. The minute I’m not happy or excited, I start to think about why and what I can do to bring that back. And Legion’s success looks like happy, engaged, hardworking employees. If we have that, we’ll have all the material success we could possibly need.

What do you do to recharge?

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about this in the past six months. For me, recharging is so difficult. I’m actually an introvert – I am social, I’m outgoing, I love people, but when I’m done with my networking or work, I need silence and time alone to recharge my batteries. Lately, I’ve become a total cliché and I’m enjoying a glass of wine in my bathtub with some great music and a book or magazine. I also enjoy nights when I can put my phone in my purse and just NOT BE AVAILABLE. Going someplace secluded without cell phone access is even better. On a daily basis, I recharge by reading and absorbing positive messages. I have affirmations and daily intentions that center me and get me ready to face the day, or wind down from a tough day. And every once in a while, I get on the treadmill.

What’s your advice for a young woman who is considering starting her own business?

Know your finances. Whatever it takes, stay on top of that. I have seen too many people in business, men and women, get taken advantage of because they simply didn’t understand basic accounting and finance. There is no excuse to hand that off to someone else and not stay actively involved. Your business will fail if the money side isn’t handled properly – there’s no question about that. And no one will care as much about your financial stability than you do.

 

To learn more about Legion Logistics, LLC check out the website: www.jointhelegion.com. 

WPO Guest Blog: Paying It Forward

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Paying it forward

By: Valeria  Rodriguez Codina

I’d like to share with you today one of the most prominent professional challenges I have faced so far: the launch of the Women Presidents’ Organization Chapter (@TheWPO) in Mexico. I am so thankful to @americanexpress, @ipade, @WEConnection and @mujeremprende for supporting us and making it happen.

I feel I have received so much in life, that now the time has come to pay it forward. Three empowering international experiences left a big and profound mark on me: the 10,000 Women Program at @Thunderbird.for.Good in 2012, the @cherieblairfoundation for Women Program in 2013, and the @vitalvoices VVLead Fellowship in 2015. So many memories filled me up with enriching experiences and unique people from all over the world.

Women wearing many different hats: businesswomen, employees, social entrepreneurs, wives, mothers, daughters, sisters, friends… Women with big dreams… Women who want to leave a legacy behind them.

We are continuously facing new challenges in order to fulfill our dreams. Today, I have the honor to represent such a prestigious international organization as the WPO to help other businesswomen in Mexico scale their business and go global. This goes much farther than any professional dream. It means the possibility of generating a huge social impact, one that I have been pursuing for so many years. It is from here where I want to leave a huge and deep footprint.

WPO Guest Blog: Nina Vaca – Entrepreneur, Philanthropist Global Leader

Guggenheim Diversity Innovation Summit

 

Nina Vaca is Pinnacle Group’s Founder, Chairman, and Chief Executive Officer. Her dynamic leadership over the past 20 years has propelled the company from a niche IT services firm to the workforce solutions powerhouse it is today, with a suite of business lines to address the range of IT human capital challenges companies in the Fortune 500 face. Pinnacle’s evolution and astronomical growth is the result of Vaca’s fearless approach to overcoming challenges and her intense focus on two core values: delivering impeccable service to clients and putting people at the heart of everything Pinnacle does. Pinnacle has been named to the Inc. 500/5000 list of fastest growing companies for over a decade and in 2015 was named the Fastest Growing Women-Owned/Led Company in the U.S. by the Women Presidents’ Organization.

Vaca is a committed civic leader and philanthropist. She advocates passionately for women and entrepreneurs and works to advance girls and women in STEM fields. In 2014, the White House appointed Vaca as a Presidential Ambassador for Global Entrepreneurship. She also serves as Chairman Emeritus of the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

Vaca has been featured in numerous publications and is a sought-after speaker and thought leader. She has appeared on CNBC, Squawk Box, Fox News, and CBS Evening News. CNN Money featured her story, as have numerous publications including Forbes, Kiplinger, and The Wall Street Journal. Vaca’s story opens the Entrepreneurship chapter of Understanding Business, a McGraw-Hill textbook used in university classrooms. She is a frequent speaker throughout the U.S. and abroad, and recently served as a panelist at the world-renowned Milken Institute and the Global Entrepreneurship Summit alongside Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker.

Vaca is living proof of what is possible in this country. Only two percent of women-owned businesses achieve or exceed $1 million in revenue. Her company, Pinnacle Group, has seen revenue quadruple since 2010 and in 2015 exceeded $1 billion dollars in gross revenue. She is a trailblazer as one of the very few Latinas elected to serve as director of a publicly-traded company. Not only does she serve on one board, she serves on three, and is determined to empower more women to follow in her footsteps through her At the Table initiative. She holds three honorary doctorates from notable universities and is the youngest graduate in her alma mater’s history to be honored as a distinguished alumna. She has been invited to speak at institutions such as the Milken Institute, Harvard University, and Stanford University, where she has also been added to the business curriculum. This year Vaca joined the 2016 Class of Henry Crown Fellows at the Aspen Institute. A global leader, Vaca is a German Marshall Memorial Fellow and part of the British-American Project. As a PAGE ambassador, Vaca has spoken to and inspired entrepreneurs all over the world, traveling to countries on five continents to empower the next generation of business leaders.

An avid and committed athlete, Vaca has participated in iconic races in the last 16 years including the 2.5 mile Waikiki Roughwater Swim in Hawaii, the New York Marathon, and the Longhorne Austin Half Iron man. Most recently, she biked the 120 mile Triple Bypass in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains and completed the famous Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon in San Francisco and in the process raised 100K to help entrepreneurs.