Entrepreneur: Why Finance Would Be Better Off With More Women Leaders

By: Timothy Sykes

In today’s competitive business world, some of the most impressive and successful CEOs and entrepreneurs are women. However, looking at stats across the industry, it may not seem this way. Despite the growing number of women making their mark on the professional world, there still aren’t as many women CEOs and women on Wall Street as one would think. In fact, in the entire Fortune 500 and S&P 500 overall, only 4.6 percent of companies have female CEOs.

Women are vastly underrepresented in the financial industry. Unfortunately, the financial industry is made up of a very low percentage of women, and these low numbers do not make any sense. A recent study from Morningstar found that less than 10 percent of all fund managers in the United States are women. While about 74 percent of the industry’s assets are run exclusively by men, only 2 percent of these assets are run only by women, the rest are run by mixed-gendered teams. This seems pretty shocking, right?

It is an unfortunate misconception in today’s market that women are not fit to be leaders and it is one that needs to be overturned. In fact, it would be better for all parties involved in more women started leading businesses. This isn’t only true because of the millions of successful, talented and intelligent women that are in the market today, but it is true because studies have found that women are actually more logical and more reasonable than men, meaning they have just what it takes to lead some of today’s biggest financial companies.

This high level of logic and reason also means that many women traders are actually naturally better traders, and there have been several studies that support the notion that women simply have more of what it takes to make better trades. Yet there is still such a small number of women traders out there.

Just look at one of the most inspiring and successful women in finance that I know, one of my own female students, Jane Galliana.  She is an upcoming trader with my program who quickly went from a stay-at-home mom to a six-figure trader. I love hearing her story and telling other people about her success because she literally started with no experience, worked hard, studied constantly and used her own skills to make a better life for her family.

Jane, who lovingly calls herself “Sugar Jane” is one of my top performing students. What is most impressive is that she passed her six figure mark, a little over a year after she started and became a trading challenge student. A truly selfless mother at heart, Jane doesn’t just work hard to create profits for herself, she also works on helping others achieve the same goal. In addition to doing her own work, she has her own blog documenting her journey and was even kind enough to act as a guest blogger on my site recently, sharing her own tips on how to make it in the trading world.

With great role models and success stories like Jane, we can only hope that more women will to take a chance and step in to the finance arena, they may be surprised to find just how far they can go with a little push.

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Forbes: How More Women Are Stepping Up To Fund Women Entrepreneurs In 2018

By: Geri Stengel

Evidence has found that women business owners start and raise less capital than their male counterparts. Yet, the credit risk of women-owned firms that are six or more years old are indistinguishable from their male counterparts, according to Small Business Credit Survey Report on Women-Owned Firms. The under-capitalization of women-owned firms places significant limits on their growth.

Women’s activism to correct this injustice has been building, as evidenced by the rising tide of financing options for women entrepreneurs. Now, the #MeToo movement could bring a tidal wave of funding as women are inspired to stand up and speak out against sexism.

Whether you have $25 or $25 million, here’s how women have made it possible for you to help create a tsunami of funding for women entrepreneurs.

    1. Jessica Jackley cofounded Kiva so people could lend small amounts of money to entrepreneurs in the developing world. In 2009, Kiva brought its crowdfunding micro-lending model to the U.S. With a little help from friends, U.S. women entrepreneurs can raise up to a $10,000, interest-free loan through Kiva. Typically, five to 30 people you know can lend as little as $25. The rest comes from the Kiva lender community. It’s not just micro businesses which need small loans but scaling businesses too.
    2. Catherine Berman and Yuliya Tarasava founded CNote. It enables savers to earn 40X greater return than a saving account by investing in women- and minority-owned businesses. It’s first product provides 2.5% interest versus the 0.06% traditional banks offer. CNote invests 100% of your dollars in Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs). These loans range from a few thousand dollars to $500,000.
    3. Vicki Saunders created SheEO’s Radical Generosity to provide women entrepreneurs with larger interest-free loans. In the U.S., five hundred women (activators) make a tax-deductible contribution of $1,100, (including a $100 processing fee). Entrepreneurs compete to be one of five to divide the kitty. Activators not only become financiers but, similar to angel investors, share their expertise, connections and marketing support to help grow the companies they support.
    4. Danae Ringelmann and her cofounders started Indiegogo, a rewards-based crowdfunding platform. Typically, backers are pre-paying for the manufacturing of the product they want. Entrepreneurs get interest- and equity-free money, a market boost, and market validation, which makes it easier to get follow on money from bankers, angels and VCs. Crowdfunding is the one form of financing in which women outperform men. They do this because they know how to tell a compelling story and their communities support them in their effort. Women can raise from a few thousand dollars to millions using this method.Want to find and fund women’s crowdfunding campaign’s (not just rewards based), check out Amy Cortese’s Investibule and click on women-owned tag.
    5. Women have always been angel investors. However, Stephanie Newby founded Golden Seeds to specifically invest in women-led companies. Others saw the potential to inspire women — who are increasingly becoming wealthy — to become angels through education and a group investing experience. Silvia Mah’s Hera Angels, Kristina Montague’s The Jump Fund, Natalia Oberti Noguera’s Pipeline Angels and Alicia Robb’s Next Wave all provide opportunities for women to become educated and profitable angels.Other groups, such Angel Lee’s 37 Angels and Sonja Perkins’ Broadway Angels, aren’t specifically focused on investing in women entrepreneurs but do invest in a high percentage of female-founded companies. As a result, between 2005 and 2016 the percentage of women angels has nearly tripled from 9% to 26%, according to the Center for Venture Research.
    6. The total number of women VCs precipitously dropped by 40% between 1999 and 2013, according to Diana Report Women Entrepreneurs 2014: Bridging the Gender Gap in Venture Capital by Babson. No surprise that the percentage of women getting venture capital didn’t improve much in the years that followed. Women-led companies received 13% of capital in 2013 and 14% in 2017*. They accounted for 16% of deals in 2013 and 17% in 2017*, according to Pitchbook. Women CEOs received 9% of capital in 2013 and 7% in 2017*, as well as 9% of deals in 2013 and 9% in 2017.During the past few years, women started taking things into their own hands by starting their own funds. Some specifically invest with a gender lens. This includes Sara Brand and Kerry Rupp’s True Wealth Ventures, Trish Costello’s Portfolia, Anuradha Duggal’s Female Founders Fund, Lauren Flanagan’s Belle Capital, Elizabeth Galbut and Pocket Sun’s SoGal Ventures, Tracy Gray’s The 22 Fund, Deborah Jackson and Andrea Turner Moffitt’s Plum Alley, Gayle Jennings-O’Byrne’s Intent Ventures (the soon to be relaunched Harriet Fund), Nathalie Molina Niño’s BRAVA Investments, Carmen Palafox’s of MILA Capital and Nancy Pfund’s DBL PartnersProject Sage has a comprehensive list.Others don’t focus on women only but do invest in them, like Lisa Calhoun’s Valor Ventures, Jennifer Fonstad and Theresia Gouw’s Aspect Ventures, Kirsten Green’s Forerunner Ventures and Aileen Lee’s Cowboy Ventures.These funds have increased the funding opportunities for women entrepreneurs but we don’t yet know by how much. “Venture capital has a long funding cycle so the impact on the numbers has yet to be seen,” said Nisa Amolis, VC and angel investor,

If the activism inspired by the #MeToo movement is any indication, you ain’t seen nothing yet in women funding women. From the $25 investment in a micro-business to the major investments of angels and VCs, women are stepping up. How will you help the movement?

*Preliminary end of 2017 data.

The Encore – AVIS: Commit to Eliminating Distractions

AV-8

Don’t become a statistic. Take ownership for your actions behind the wheel. Be at your best!

Whether driving to a meeting or after business hours, it requires your full attention. Sending or receiving a text takes a driver’s eyes from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds. This is the equivalent, at 55 mph, of driving the length of an entire football field, blindfolded!

Like any complex task, safe driving requires you to be at the top of your game. Focused attention, quick reaction time and smart decision making are needed every time you take the wheel.

Maintain a safe driving distance. On clear, dry roads, maintain 3-4 second spacing from the vehicle in front of you. Triple this when road conditions are poor.

Frequently scan your mirrors.

Drive safe! Obey laws and speed limits, use turn signals and don’t tailgate.

Fortune: Hershey’s CEO on Professional Growth and Women in Business

By:  SUSIE GHARIB

When Michele Buck was tapped to run Hershey (HSY, -2.53%) in March 2017, she became the first female CEO in the company’s 123-year history. Fortune included her on our 2017 list of the 50 Most Powerful Women in Business for the first time. And she is now a member of the elite club of women CEOs running Fortune 500 companies—there are just 32 of them.

So what is the secret to her success? “Hard work,” she tells Fortune. “I grew up in a very humble family,” Buck says. “My mother lived on a farm with no indoor plumbing. My father was the first in his family to graduate from high school and I learned very early, the values and virtues of hard work. I think there is no substitute for hard work.”

Buck certainly has been a hard worker in her 12 years at Hershey and the 17 years before that at Kraft. She says she always accepted tough assignments even though she didn’t feel prepared for them. “The times I learned the most and developed the most are when I took those opportunities that were outside my wheelhouse,” she recalls. “I grew so much as an individual and learned that I had something in me that I didn’t realize before.” She is credited with leading Hershey to make several strategic acquisitions outside its traditional confectionary product, including the purchase of Krave beef jerky.

What is Buck’s advice to working women? “Make an impact in every single assignment that you are given. Look at it as how can I take this to the next level. And be confident in yourself,” she says. “I think women just don’t have as much inherent confidence in themselves. They tend to be harsher critics of themselves than they need to be. So go for it.”

Click here for video.

Deloitte – 2017 Board Diversity Survey: Seeing Is Believing. The benefits of diversity in the boardroom.

The evidence is in. Business leaders clearly believe in the benefits of diversity on their boards of directors. Yet it’s equally clear that current methods of sourcing and selecting candidates tend to reinforce a lack of diversity.

About the survey

Three hundred board members and executives believe achieving greater diversity on corporate boards is a business imperative.

This report, commissioned by Deloitte US Chairman Mike Fucci examines the current state of today’s corporate boards and the need for boardrooms to become more diverse, not just demographically but in skillset, perspectives, and experiences. Those surveyed expressed near universal agreement that greater diversity provides a competitive advantage and improves business performance, yet many organizations are failing to capitalize.

Achieving diversity in the boardroom starts with updating the recruitment and succession planning process, a weak spot identified through the survey as many boards prioritize traditional requirements for membership like C-suite experience and specialized business skills over their desire for greater diversity. The survey offers potential solutions boards can implement to be more inclusive—among them, the notion of creating a mixtocracy—which is ensuring that those in the boardroom can offer different viewpoints, skills, backgrounds, and experiences to set organizations up for success.

Perceptions of board diversity

Boards agree on the need for diversity with ninety-five percent of respondents agreeing that their boards need to seek more candidates with diverse skills and perspectives. Note, however, that this finding does not reveal where diversity of skill sets and perspectives are needed. Thus, the skills and perspectives could be those of, say, financial or operating or information technology executives. Such backgrounds would represent diversity of skills andperspectives, but not the demographic diversity that the term “diversity” usually implies.

Board members see diversity as going beyond basic demographics as nine in ten respondents agree that gender and racial diversity alone does not produce the diversity required for an organization to be innovative or disruptive. This may be surprising, given that gender and racial differences are generally seen as contributing to diverse perspectives. Yet those contributions may be tempered if recruiting and selection methods skew toward candidates with the backgrounds and experiences of white males with executive experience.

More to the point, it would be unfortunate if a focus on diversity of skills and perspectives were to undermine or cloud the focus on gender and racial diversity. In fact, typical definitions of board diversity include a demographic component. Deloitte’s 2016 Board Practices Report found that 53 percent of large-cap and 45 percent of mid-cap organizations disclose gender data on their board’s diversity; the respective numbers for racial diversity are, far lower, however: 18 percent and 9 percent.

Board recruitment and evaluation practices

Board recruitment practices have arguably not kept pace with the desire and need for greater coporate board diversity.

  • Boards still rely on traditional candidate criteria: More than 90 percent of respondents would see a candidate without executive experience as unqualified. Almost 90 percent of board members see current or retired CEOs as the most effective board members. In addition, 81 percent of respondents would expect multiple board members to see a candidate without executive experience as unqualified to serve on the board.
  • Boards also source a majority of their candidates from other boards—within their own industries: The low percentage of women candidates (16 percent) is striking, as is that of racial minorities (19 percent). However, that may be a logical outcome of a process favoring selecting candidates with board experience—who historically have tended to be white and male. So, in the recruitment process, board members are often seeking people who tend to be like themselves—and like management. Such a process may help to reinforce a lack of diversity in perspectives and experiences, as well as (in most companies) in gender and race.
  • Boards rely heavily on resumes in recruitment and selection: Relying on resumes, which reflect organizational and educational experience, helps to reinforce traditional patterns of board composition.
  • About half of organizations have processes focused on diverse skills and disruptive views: Given all their other responsibilities, many boards understandably rely on existing recruitment tools and processes. They use resumes, their networks, and executive recruiters—all of which tend to generate results very similar to past results. However, our current disruptive environment likely calls for more creative approaches to reaching diverse candidates.
  • Policies affect board refreshment: Policies, as well as processes, can affect board composition. Low turnover on boards can not only hinder movement toward greater diversity but also lead to myopic views of operations or impaired ability to oversee evolving strategies and risks. Almost nine in ten leaders agree that term limits and required retirement ages would be useful.
  • Current practices tend to limit diversity: Relying on current directors’ recommendations will generally produce candidates much like those directors. Recruiting firms can be valuable, but tend to adopt the client’s view of diversity. Tools such as board competency matrices generally do not account for an organization’s strategy, nor do they provide a very nuanced view of individual board members’ experiences and capabilities. In other words, bringing people with diverse skills, perspectives, and experiences to the board—as well as women and racial andethnic minorities—requires more robust processes than those currently used by most boards.

A board differs from a position, such as chief executive officer or chief financial officer, in that it is a collection of individuals. A board is a team and, like any other team, it requires people who can fulfill specific roles, contribute different skills and views, and work together to achieve certain goals.

Thus, a board can include nontraditional members who will be balanced out by more traditional ones. Many existing recruiting methods do too little to achieve true diversity. The prevalence of those criteria and methods can repeatedly send boards back to the same talent pool, even in the case of women and minority candidates. For example, Deloitte’s 2016 Board Diversity Census shows that female and black directors are far more likely than white male directors to hold multiple Fortune 500 board seats.

Therefore, organizations should consider institutionalizing a succession planning and recruitment process that more closely aligns to their ideal board composition and diversity goals. Here are three ways to potentially do that:

  1. Look beyond “the tried and true.” Even when boards account for gender and race, current practices may tend to source candidates with similar views. Succession plans should create seats for those who are truly different, for example someone with no board experience but a strong cybersecurity background or someone who more closely mirrors the customer base.
  2. Take a truly analytical approach. Developing the optimal mix on the board calls for considering risks, opportunities, and markets, as well as customers, employees, and other stakeholders. A data-driven analytics tool that assesses management’s strategies, the board’s needs, and desired director attributes can help define the optimal mix in light of those factors.
  3. Use more sophisticated criteria. Look beyond resumes and check-the-box approaches to recruiting women, minorities, and those with the right title. Surface-level diversity will not necessarily generate varying perspectives and innovative responses to disruption. Deep inquiry into a candidate’s outlook, experience, and fit can take the board beyond standard criteria, while prompting the board to more fully consider women and minority candidates—that is, to not see them mainly as women and minority candidates.

Advantage | Forbes Books: Why Networking Is Not Overrated

By: Bea Wray

I read an editorial recently in The New York Times with one eye on the paper and the other one rolling in the back of my head. (Metaphorically, that is. Do not try this at home!)

The piece, written by Professor Adam Grant of the Wharton School, is called “Networking Is Overrated.”

The essence of Professor Grant’s opinion piece is it’s not who you know, it’s what you do. In other words, accomplishments are more effective calling cards to success than a business network.

He notes the grassroots success stories of Justin Bieber and Adele, whose talents shone through on social media and caught the attention of music executives, and SPANX founder Sara Blakely, whose product rose above all the rest when Oprah Winfrey chose it as one of her favorite things of the year. Professor Grant’s thesis is that great ideas and great work find attention. To paraphrase one of my son’s favorite movies, Field of Dreams, “If you build it, they will come.”

I would love to live in that world, where talent, ingenuity and skill guarantee success.

But I don’t. And neither do you.

Networking is not overrated. When done right, it can be the most effective and important tool in achieving success. Particularly for women, for whom doing a good job is often not enough.

According to a 2016 study by Women in the Workplace, women are less likely to receive the first critical promotion to manage, so far fewer end up on the path to leadership and are less likely to be hired into more senior positions. The study concludes that women simply have less access to the people, input and opportunities that accelerate careers. Women are either not networking or networking ineffectively.

Women and men both view support from senior leaders as essential for success. Yet women report fewer interactions with those senior leaders than men do. They are also less likely to say that a senior leader has helped them get a promotion.

This disparity may be caused by differences in women’s and men’s professional networks. Women are three times more likely to rely on a network that is mostly female. Because men typically hold more senior-level positions, this means women are less likely to get access to people with the clout to open doors for them.

Carol Bartz, former CEO of Yahoo, says the issue is that “women spend more time doing and less time networking.”

Alison Mass, of Goldman Sachs Group Inc., has said that it’s critical to take 10-20 percent of your time at work to network. My personal philosophy is that there is no one-size-fits-all school of networking. Create rules for yourself that you’re comfortable with. Call somebody rather than email. Comment on somebody’s LinkedIn essay. Go to the office mixer, even if just for 30 minutes.

I far prefer to have three real conversations than to meet and exchange cards with 30 people. How do I define real? It usually means I have found at least one way I can meaningfully benefit this person. The rest can build from there.

The benefits of networking are irrefutable. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 70 percent of jobs and promotions are found through networking. Employers fill most job openings through the “hidden job market”—internal candidates, referrals from colleagues, friends and employees. You need to be part of the equation, and you’ll only do that by networking yourself in.

In all fairness, Professor Grant does acknowledge the benefits of networking, so I’d like to think the best philosophy is somewhere in the middle. Success is neither a question of what you know or who you know. It’s all about who knows what you know. Those who can share their accomplishments are the ones who will thrive in this economy.

Inc.com: Are You Listening? 12 Questions and 4 Strategies to Win Your Customer’s Trust and Business

By: Marissa Levin

A critical aspect of your customer relationships is listening. Here are 12 questions you should be asking to truly understand what they need.

Have you ever been engaged in a conversation with someone where they make you feel as if you are the only person that exists? A conversation in which they are so focused on every word you speak that you wish the conversation would never end?

This is the depth of connection we all crave, especially in a world that where information is coming at us from all sides (more data has been created in the past 2 years than in the previous history of the entire human race) , and where Attention Deficit Disorder is at an all-time high.

Tony Robbins shares 4 essential nonverbal strategies for forming deep connections through listening:

  • Eye Contact. Tony’s rule is that your eyes should be meeting your partner’s eyes 80% of the time.
  • Presence. Presence extends beyond just a physical presence. It refers to being cognitively present. “The average person speaks between 135 and 160 words per minute, but the average person’s brain works between 400 and 600 words per minute,” shares Tony. Because your mind processes faster than the conversation, it’s easy to drift away. Being cognitively present takes discipline and intention.
  • Nonverbal Feedback. Nonverbal communication is just as important as spoken communication. It conveys that we are engaged, interested, and understanding of what is being discussed.
  • Connection Through Body Positioning. How you sit with your conversation partner sends a message. Are your arms closed or open? Are your legs turned toward your partner, or away from them? Your body language creates a safe space for the person with whom you are communicating.

In addition to creating the right nonverbal atmosphere for engaging, productive conversations, it’s important to ask the right questions to yield the right answers. This is especially important when building trust-based customer relationships.

According to customer communications expert Bob London, CEO of Chief Listening Officers, there are 3 buckets of questions that get to the heart of what customers really need.

What Does the World Look Like from Their Perspective?

  1. What are your top 2 – 3 priorities for the next board update?
  2. If you stop someone on your team in the hall and ask him or her, “What’s the big mission you’re working towards?” what would you want the answer to be?
  3. What’s the one thing you wish you and your team was doing better right now?

Why ask them:
Don’t ask about their pain points or what keeps them up at night; they’ve heard these questions before, so they’ll typically give standard answers they’ve given before. And those won’t be useful or insightful. Instead come at the issue from other angles. For what are they accountable to the Board of Directors? What are the 2 – 3 major initiatives on which their organization needs to be laser focused?

What Do They Think of Your Industry In General?

  1. Does my industry have a reputation–good or bad?
  2. What’s your worst fear about investing in (product or service)?
  3. Name something vendors do that annoys you.
  4. If you happened to meet someone in our space, what’s the first question you’d ask him or her?
  5. What are you not getting today that you wish you were getting?

Why ask them: 
When your prospect gets a sales call from a rep in your industry or walks past a trade show booth, an immediate thought usually pops into their head. What is that thought? Is it positive? Negative? Skeptical? Exasperated? Glowing? Their answer is often the elephant in the room when you’re pitching–and you need to know what your audience is thinking before you walk in the door.

How Are You Positioned in their Mind?

  1. What do we do better than anyone else?
  2. What would you lose if we went out of business?
  3. What’s the business value of what we do?
  4. What would make you a customer for life?

Why ask them:
You need to know the perception of what your sweet spot is. That’s your base of strength and the foundation on which you can build new initiatives or make important adjustments to your value proposition or positioning.

Every business aspires to create customers for life. This requires both the desire and knowledge to deeply connect in a way that makes your customer feel appreciated, valued, and understood. These strategies and questions will help you establish and maintain these special connections. Good luck!