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Sandy Dumont, The Image Architect

Sandy Dumont’s BIO

Sandy Dumont

IN THE SPOTLIGHT INTERVIEW

1. Oprah Winfrey has been inspiring us each month with her unique approach to life and to creating our very best lives so, as a tribute to her, A La Oprah, what did you know for sure when you decided to embark on your business?

Sandy: I knew with absolute certainty that I wanted to help people change their lives by making changes to their image, just as I had done at age 17 when I got my red dress.

When I was 16, I walked across the stage of my high school auditorium to give a piano recital. From behind the stage, two boys shouted, “Hey Boney Maroney, where’d you get that haircut?” I sat down to perform and blanked out completely. I hated the way I looked so much I wanted to drawl in a black hole and disappear. My mother had made by dress, and it was a drab ugly color and terrible style. My mother cut my hair, and it looked like I had stuck my head in the blender. There wasn’t anything about myself I liked.

A year later it was graduation and my birthday, so I went shopping for a new dress and experienced an epiphany. I found a perfect red dress that made me feel special. When I looked at myself in the mirror, in that exquisite moment I could see my own self peeping through. I had found the real me. My new red dress changed the way I saw myself and felt about myself.

I scoured the pages of Glamour Magazine and taught myself how to do makeup; I went to a hairdresser and used my hard-earned babysitting money to get a decent haircut. And, of course, I wore red a lot. Then the most astonishing thing happened – for the first time in my life, people told me I was pretty. They saw me. That dress and my new found self image gave me the courage to move to Washington, DC and enroll in a two-year fashion school. In demand long before I graduated, I became one of the top fashion models in town. Top designers and fashion coordinators shared their secrets. My life was changed forever – and I had changed profoundly. The “grey mouse” was gone forever, and in her place was a self-assured fashion model – whose signature color was, of course, red.

2. Take us through a typical day, from the moment you wake up until you call it a day.

Sandy: My day begins with a breakfast of bacon, eggs, toast and green tea. It’s the only part of my day that is predictable. Some days I’m traveling to another city to do a workshop or keynote. Last week I returned from a 2-week speaking tour in Europe. I always arrive the day before, since flights are cancelled so often these days. I once missed an evening keynote in New Jersey because flight after flight kept getting cancelled. It was awful, and I never want that to happen again. When I’m in town, I may go to a client’s premises to do a three-hour staff workshop; other days I may do an all-day Total Image Makeover workshop in my studio. This is for two people, and it begins at 10am and is finished at 5pm. I provide lunch, and we break at 12:30 and eat while chatting about color and other things.

When I’m not doing workshops I’m in my office writing articles or working on my book. I write monthly columns for several publications. I’m also an active volunteer, so sometimes I have a board meeting with the local Chamber of Commerce. I’m also president of the SE Virginia Chapter of the National Association of Women business owners, so there’s a monthly meeting to attend and a monthly board meeting; and loose ends to tie up in between.

I usually leave my office around 5:30pm and begin thinking about dinner. For many years I was a gourmet cook, even attended Cordon Bleu School in London, but now I’m interested in simple, healthful meals. My husband grills something and I cook the vegetables.

3. What are your tricks for time management with all of the responsibilities you have and all of the demands placed on your time?

Sandy: I wish I could tell you I have a system, but I don’t. I have an assistant who looks at my daily 250 emails and sends me the ones I need to look at and answer. For the rest, I just do things as they need doing.

4. Best advice received when you started out in your business?

Sandy: An early mentor told me to do only the things you love doing, and that’s what I do! I love my business, so it doesn’t seem like work.

5. When did you know for sure that your business plan was going to work? (aha moment)?

Sandy: When I lived in Belgium, it became clear that Belgians were reluctant to wear the colors I suggested. They only felt good in grunge colors! That’s because they’ve been invaded since the days of Julius Caesar, followed by nearly every country in Europe. They have discovered that it is safe to dress to blend into the background, and in a primarily wooded environment, earthy grunge colors will do it! I have been told by many a client that they would rather look ugly than wear bold colors.

As a result, I designed a series of props to enable them to “look and see.” That’s an expression I use to signify that you’re no longer choosing colors from the “heart and soul”, but from the results in the mirror. It’s a powerful thing, and it enabled me to become an even better image consultant. I’m very thankful for this experience.

6. What resources do you turn to for direction, advice, fresh ideas?

Sandy: My affiliation with the National Speakers Association has helped me more than anything. Through their many extraordinary workshops, I have educated myself in the arena of Search Engine Optimization, designing newsletters and websites, marketing, and so much more. I recommend it to anyone who wants to succeed as a small business owner, not just as a speaker. Within NSA, there are also local Mastermind groups for brainstorming with associates.

7. What’s next for your business over the next 6 months? 3 years?

Sandy: In my spare time, I’m working on my book for businesswomen. It will be the culmination of everything I’ve learned about image.

Within the next two months, I also intend to produce a set of DVDs so that companies can use them to help improve the image of their staff.

My dream is to have a limited line of makeup within one year. Within three years my goal is to expand my school, The Impression Strategies Institute, to an even greater reach. This will mean training others to teach my courses.

8. What’s been your proudest achievement as an entrepreneur?

Sandy: Being chosen by the Belgian State television as their image consultant when they were launching their “new look.”

9. If you could re-start your business, what would you do differently and why?

Sandy: The only thing I would do differently is to produce products much earlier. It is necessary to duplicate your efforts.

10. What are some of the ways that you achieve balance in your life?

Sandy: I try to make time to have a “date” with my husband once a week. I also like walking and going to the Pilates studio for regular workouts.

11. If there was one piece of advice or suggestion (about anything) that you could provide to all of our readers, what would it be?

Sandy: I would pass on that wonderful advice given to me many years ago: Only do what you love doing and it will never seem like you are working!

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Dr. Ruchi Dass, Healthcare on Mobiles

Dr. Ruchi Dass’ BIO

 

IN THE SPOTLIGHT INTERVIEW

1. Oprah Winfrey has been inspiring us each month with her unique approach to life and to creating our very best lives so, as a tribute to her, A La Oprah, what did you know for sure when you decided to be a solo business practitioner?

Ruchi: I graduated from Dental School and started my career as a Dentist hoping to ‘Bring a Smile’ to the people I served. Somewhere along the way, I realized that if I had to do more than ‘bring a smile’ to the starving millions in the world, I had to take a different path. With that realization, it dawned on me that the future of healthcare is tied to efficient use of technology in healthcare and helping medical practitioners adopt newer ways of treating disease. Healthcare is a basic necessity in life and should be accessible to people in all walks of life regardless of color, creed, wealth or political affiliation. I used this philosophy in life to guide my professional career and started working towards establishing a solo career in mHealth/eHealth.

2. Take us through a typical day with your schedule from start to finish.

Ruchi:

6:30 AM- Suryanamaskar and Yoga
7:30 AM- Get ready for work. My husband is really understanding and helpful. I finish almost half a days job in minutes with his support.
8:30 AM- Reach work and start early morning meetings. I manage 3 time zones.
6:30 PM- In My Car- “Bahadur” my chauffeur takes good care of the bumps on Indian roads while I update my blog and twitter with thoughts and ideas learnt and exchanged with my peer group.
7:30 PM- Cook dinner for my Family, Out on stroll around 9 PM
10 PM – Read My Favorite “Panchatantra Stories” with a glass of Cold Milk and Honey. In
Deep Sleep by 11 PM

PS: Blackberry keeps on buzzing, My Alarm clock ticks at night and I could hear the Tyre rub on the busy road outside. But I am already asleep!

3. What are a few of your “can’t live without” applications on your personal computer/smart phone?

Ruchi: I am addicted to my “Blackberry” – email and messenger to keep me connected with my friends and colleagues from around the world. Applications like “Not while driving”, Calmbiance, Business Card Reader and Translator are my daily buddies. I use the browser on my Smartphone or my PC to keep track of the world outside – business news, stock market etc.

4. What are your tricks for time management?

Ruchi: My mantra for time management is PPP – “Prioritize + Plan = Perfect!” You need to decide how much time you need to allocate to people around you in both corporate and personal spheres of life. Time management is the first key to work-life balance. Planning is the key to keeping the “chaos” in check.

5. Best advice received when you started your business?

Ruchi: As I embarked on this new adventure in my career, I’ve had the good fortune of being surrounded by mentors and friends who I could turn to for guidance and advice. It’s hard to pick one piece of advise when there is so much to learn when you start your own enterprise, so I will share some learnings:

One of the strongest assets to building a successful Business is the management team. Vikram Gupta, COO India Venture fund once said, “If I had a choice between an A product and a B management team or an A management team and a B product, more often than not, I should select the B product with an A management team. “

My Husband, Vikas who is a Retail professional ran me through practical examples from his retail background that helped me understand the value of customer engagement – he taught me that having a good product wasn’t going to sell if it didn’t fit/meet the needs of the customer. As an entrepreneur, it is not important to know what a customer wants, but important to “ask” what a customer wants!

David Van Eck, Eclipsys made me realize that a product or service doesn’t necessarily have to be unique, but you have to think of yourself as providing a distinct set of benefits to customers. Even if it is an advantage that will not last forever, it has to last long enough to produce significant profits over the cost of your investments.

Dr Rathan Kelkar made me aware of my motivation- is your goal primarily financial wealth, or are you primarily interested in the personal fulfillment that you will achieve through your entrepreneurial journey?

If given an extra hour each day to seek new ideas and brainstorm, what are some sources you turn to?

The internet is a great resource for information and I usually wander to some of my favorite websites to draw inspiration for new ideas and learn in the process.

6. Given the current economic climate, how has your strategy for your companies changed for the short-term and long-term?

Ruchi: While we live in a global economy, it is important to understand trends in the local geography where you intend to do business. While the world is reeling from a recessionary/pessimistic economic climate, India is thriving from a booming economy. Our short-term strategy is aligned to the needs of the current business opportunities that we are pursuing in various parts of the world, while our long-term strategy is aligned to our mission and values and is not impacted by the current economic climate.

7. What’s been your proudest achievement as an entrepreneur?

Ruchi: In India, it is rare to find a specialist practicing medicine in rural areas and so a patient in need of specialist care needs to travel a long distance to the city. To the villagers this meant loss of income and significant inconvenience. We deployed a mobile health solution that connected patients in a rural population to specialists in urban areas and significantly reduced their travel burden. Impacting the lives of thousands in the village was a proud achievement for me as a physician, entrepreneur and a fellow human being!

8. What are some of the ways that you achieve balance in your life?

Ruchi: I am a poised person naturally. I don’t do much to stay balanced. My Mom says, “A person who is at peace with himself, discerns peace all around”.

9. Two books you would recommend highly to our readers (and why?)

Ruchi: Go Kiss the World- Author- Subroto Bagchi- You will learn that professional success is not an elusive feat. If you have larger than life aspirations, this book is a must read”.

Engaging Leadership- Author- Chris Parker- Gifted to me by a very dear friend, this book is very good read. It talks about how to engage large number of people to bring about radical change amongst a wide population whilst minimizing time wasted in politics, anxiety, negative stories and other internal battles. It is exceptionally well documented and based on some of the latest discoveries and thinking in strategic marketing, leadership, neurology and psychology.

10. If you received a surprise bonus equal to half of your monthly salary, what (if anything) would you spend it on?

Ruchi: Money can buy you a little happiness (occasionally!) – I would splurge a portion of the bonus on a good book or something else that would make me smile and stash the rest for a rainy day.

11. What are some of your most rewarding charitable involvements and why?

Ruchi: Initially, when “mobile health” was not a buzz word, I was not paid for my involvement as a consultant on such projects. We used to go to villages where people were hungry for the right information and didn’t have access to basic healthcare facilities. We implemented pilot projects in villages to connect them to mainstream centers of care. This work gave me a sense of personal fulfillment and kept me energized!

12. Who has been the most influential person to you as you’ve advanced in your career?

Ruchi: My parents have influenced me the most. The values they instilled in me while I was growing up have not only helped me advance in my career but also become a better human being.

To learn more about Dr. Ruchi Dass’s work, click on the link below:

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Philippa Gamse CMC, Websites That Win International

Philippa Gamse’s BIO

Philippa Gamse

IN THE SPOTLIGHT INTERVIEW

1. Oprah Winfrey has been inspiring us each month with her unique approach to life and to creating our very best lives so, as a tribute to her, A La Oprah, what did you know for sure when you decided to be a solo business practitioner?

Philippa: Probably all my working life – I don’t do well with routine, commuting, business dress every day, and especially not well with reporting to superiors who may or may not like me or understand what I do (can you tell I’ve had some bad experiences?)

I’ve always felt that the only really valid review is from clients who either hire me again or refer me to others (75% of my speaking business is with repeat or referral clients).

 

2. Take us through a typical day with your schedule from start to finish.

Philippa: I don’t do well with “typical” days as I’m not good at routine. However, I do try to catch up with news both international and Web-related in the morning, before checking e-mail. Since many of my clients are in Europe and on the East Coast, they’re well into their days by the time I wake up in California.

I also have a very Mediterranean body clock – I like to take off in the afternoon, and then work into the evening – my brain does best in the morning and evening.

3. What are a few of your “can’t live without” applications on your personal computer/smart phone?

Philippa: The Sudoku game – keeps my brain agile. Also, I really like my contact manager – it’s called “Chaos Intellect”. I used to use ACT! which was a great program when it started, but then morphed into a monster.

4. What are your tricks for time management?

Philippa: wish I had some! I do know that it’s a great idea to stop and take a walk when I feel my brain getting really tired (I’m lucky enough to live in the middle of a vineyard with great views of the Monterey Bay!)

5. Best advice received when you started your business?

Philippa: “You can’t pay with exposure at Safeway” – it can be very tempting as a consultant to offer free advice, either to impress a potential client with your knowledge, or to help someone. And people looking for speakers are constantly offering “exposure” to their audiences in lieu of a professional fee. Sounds good, but there are no guarantees . . .

6. When did you know for sure that starting a consulting firm was the right path for you to take in your career?

Philippa: I was working for a national nonprofit, helping their state chapters to start using online technology. When I got my green card, I knew I wanted to stop working for someone else, and go out on my own – I’m not really employable!

7. If given an extra hour each day to seek new ideas and brainstorm, what are some sources you turn to?

Philippa: My sources these days are almost all online – newsletters like eConsultancy and eMarketer, and brainstorming in LinkedIn groups and some e-mail lists that I belong to.

8. Given the current economic climate, how has your strategy for your consulting firm changed for the short-term and long-term?

Philippa: Actually, I have a long-term strategy for my business as a whole, not just the consulting. I am actively exploring other sources of income as the economy affects the speaking industry – I’m currently taking some voiceover classes to see if some work in that field might be viable for me (I do have this classy British accent!)

Also, as the Internet is constantly evolving, it’s important for me to retain my focus on helping small and medium-sized businesses, and what’s appropriate for them. For example, we’re hearing a lot about mobile applications now – my role is to translate for my clients what they can realistically do, and what makes sense for them since they’re not big corporations with deep pockets and massive IT departments.

9. What’s been your proudest achievement as an entrepreneur?

Philippa: I was selected to be the sole expert (and cover photo!) for the UPS “Compass” magazine’s feature story on “Ways to Make your Website Sizzle”, which was distributed to over 1million businesses in Fall 2009.

10. If you could re-start your business, what would you do differently and why?

Philippa: I wish that I’d created product (audio, e-books, etc.) a lot earlier – I’m just starting to create these, and it’s very exciting. I’m also hoping that it will be a great way to get my name out.

11. What are some of the ways that you achieve balance in your life?

Philippa: I try to walk most days, I take a Jazzercize class, and I volunteer at the local animal shelter where I play with the cats / kittens, and try to give them some love. It’s not their fault that they ended up where they are . . .

12. The one book you would recommend highly to our readers (and why?)

Philippa: I recently read “Outliers” by Malcolm Gladwell – it’s really thought-provoking about what’s actually behind the achievements of people like the Beatles and Bill Gates, and how certain circumstances have a major impact on our likelihood to succeed.

13. If you received a surprise bonus equal to half of your monthly salary, what (if anything) would you spend it on?

Philippa: Wow – where to start? I’m just recovering from major surgery, and have been stunned at all the things that my insurance managed to wriggle out of paying for, so it would be prudent to save it in case of future need.

On the other hand, I love to travel, I like good wine, and so spending it sounds quite inviting!

14. What is some of your most rewarding charitable involvements and why?

Philippa: As I mentioned above, I volunteer at the local animal shelter. I’m amazed at some of the truly awful things that people do to their pets (one woman brought in her beautiful 7-year old cat because she had a new sofa and the cat didn’t match the colour!) These animals are mostly in situations that humans have created, and I want to help give back to them a bit.

15. Who has been the most influential person to you as you’ve advanced in your career?

Philippa: I don’t think there’s any one person – I’ve been lucky to have many mentors, advisers, and people who’ve helped to sustain and develop me along the way.

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Erika Taylor Montgomery, CEO and Founder Of ThreeGirlsMedia & Marketing

Erika Taylor Montgomery’s BIO

 Erika Taylor Montgomery

IN THE SPOTLIGHT INTERVIEW

1. What prompted you to start your Business?

Erika: I was tired of seeing how PR agencies took advantage of clients with fat monthly retainers, which almost always ended up benefitting the agency, not the client. I also realized that most PR agencies were set up to work with medium to large corporate clients, leaving a huge hole for the 80% of American companies that are small or micro businesses. I thought I could create a better PR model to serve those smaller clients, working on an hourly or project basis, and guaranteeing PR results for their hard-earned money.

Scenario: you meet a business exec who is looking to fund a business that already has had enormous positive implications for the community. He wishes to offer $25,000 to a business that is innovative in its thinking. He has 10 minutes available to speak with you.  What do you share with him about your work?

Three Girls Media & Marketing Inc is an award-winning, boutique PR agency specializing in both traditional and social media. We serve small business – often the companies that need PR the most, but can least afford it. That’s 80% of businesses in the U.S., so there’s a tremendous market there for PR services.

Three Girls’ model is unique. Unlike most PR agencies that work on monthly retainers, we work on an hourly or project basis for our clients, providing them expert PR services for a reasonable cost. In the height of the recession we were flexible and developed a new Al la Carte PR Menu allowing clients to order individual PR services such as press releases or media advisories, Facebook & Twitter management and blog writing on a per-service basis. Our Al la Carte Menu continues to be extremely popular and sets us apart from the way other agencies work.

Three Girls is the only PR agency in the nation to literally guarantee editorial media coverage to our clients – in writing. We’ve exceeded our guarantees 100% of the time, and on average, 40-50% of the media coverage we secure is in Top or Mega-tier outlets with audiences of 250,000 to 1 million, respectively.

We have an amazing track record of success and fill a critical need for small businesses nationwide, making Three Girls Media and excellent investment.

2. For most successful entrepreneurs, there is no typical day so give us a sample of your schedule from start to finish.

Erika:

  • 7-7:30am – Wake-up
  • Hit the treadmill for 45 minutes
  • Coffee!
  • Check Email
  • 9-9:30am – Daily phone meeting with Sr. Director of Publicity
  • Calls and emails with clients and prospects
  • Noon – Networking luncheon or lunch meeting with prospective clients or business power partner
  • Back to the computer for client work in the afternoon
  • Calls and emails with clients and prospects
  • 6-6:30pm – End of workday – Family time

3. What are your “can’t live without” apps on your desktop/cell phone?

Erika: Bay Area News (The San Jose Mercury news app)
Scrabble!

4. What are your tricks for time management?

Erika: You must put things on a calendar and stick to the scheduled time. If you schedule a consultation and it’s supposed to be 30 minutes, keep it to 30 minutes! Let people know how much time you have to speak at the beginning of a call and don’t be afraid to end the conversation when time is up.

5. Best advice received when you started your business?

Erika: Get it in writing…a solid contract is worth 10,000 words.

6. Given the current economic climate, how has your strategy for your company changed for the short-term and long-term?

Erika: In the height of the recession Three Girls was flexible and developed a new Al la Carte PR Menu allowing clients to order individual PR services such as press releases or media advisories, Facebook & Twitter management and blog writing on a per-service basis.

Our Al la Carte Menu was originally designed to be a short-term solution for the economic climate, however it continues to be extremely popular today and at least 80% of our business is now based on the menu, making it a long-term win. It also sets us apart from the way other agencies work.

7. What’s been your proudest achievement as an entrepreneur?

Erika: I’ve had several proud achievements. Three Girls and I have won many awards, including the prestigious YWCA TWIN awards for women in business which will be given out in May.

I’m always extremely proud when we secure nice media placements for our clients. It’s like getting the excitement of Christmas several times a month!

I’m also proud of staff achievements, such as my mentorship of our now Sr. Director or Publicity, Emily Sidley. Emily started with Three Girls almost 5 years ago as an intern. I’ve worked closely with her to build her skills and confidence and have promoted her through the ranks over the years. She’s now and invaluable part of our team.

8. What are some of the ways that you achieve balance in your life?

Erika: When I started Three Girls, I worked 16-18 hours a day, 7 days a week. As the company matured, I realized that if I didn’t achieve some form of work-life balance I’d go crazy, or drop dead of a stress induced heart attack, so I made some big changes.

I always take at least 1 weekend day completely off – no computers, no email, no cell phone, no texting, no work of any kind!

I also stop working around 6-6:30 each night so I can have dinner and quality time with my family.

9. Your top 3 book recommendations for our readers (and why?)

Erika: I’m actually writing two books right now. The first which I’m co-authoring with best selling author Anolia Facun (Yes! The Secrets Work and Game Changers), is called Silicon Valley Life – Journeys & Transformations Beyond Technology and is due out July 1st. It’s a compilation of stories from newsmakers and entrepreneurs who share their thoughts about the ‘spirit’ of Silicon Valley – what makes this area unique.

The second book I’m writing is called Easy Do-It-Yourself PR – A Step-by-Step Guide to Public Relations for Small Business and Entrepreneurs, and is due out this fall. It will be the perfect guide and workbook for entrepreneurs who want to do their own PR and need simple step-by-step instructions to do so, with a lot of examples for them to utilize.

10. If you had an exceptional month and earned double of your average month, what (if anything) would you spend it on?

Erika: Bonuses for employees – they deserve it, no question.

11. What are some of your most rewarding charitable involvements and why?

Erika: Three Girls does quite a bit of pro bono work. We’re currently supporting My Hope Chest, a non-profit organization that provides funding for breast reconstruction surgery after mastectomy to women who have survived breast cancer but are lacking insurance or the financial means to gain their desired reconstruction. It’s a cause that’s especially close to my heart as I’ve lost my grandmother and an aunt to the disease.

12. Who has been the most influential person to you as you’ve advanced in your career?

Erika: My husband who is also Three Girls’ CFO. He’s always been an excellent sounding board and advisor.

13. What’s your advice to someone interested in starting their own business?

Erika: I’d offer 2 bits of advice:

  1. The advice that was given to me when I started out – get it in writing every time. Have solid contracts that specifically outline your services and what you will – and will not – provide.
  2. Promote, Promote, Promote! You have no idea how many small business owners/entrepreneurs I talk to who have spent a ton of money on a website and collateral, and then have no money left over to actually promote the business. Make PR a core part of your business plan from the outset.

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Eliane Markoff, President of Art in Giving

Eliane Markoff’s BIO

Eliane Markoff

IN THE SPOTLIGHT INTERVIEW

1. What prompted you to start ‘Art in Giving’?

Eliane: Art in Giving started with a painting my daughter Rachel created. She was 8 years old and she drew it at the Jimmy Fund Clinic at Dana Farber as she waited for her many doctors’ appointments.

A few years after she passed away, my husband and I established The Rachel Molly Markoff Foundation. Its mission is to raise funds for pediatric cancer research and other initiatives to help families cope with childhood cancer.   As we looked for a logo for the Foundation, I redrew and painted Rachel’s drawings, three flowers on a sunny day.  Painting Rachel’s flowers was painful yet therapeutic at the same time.

As I continued to paint, I was encouraged to show my work at various venues such as the Wellesley Public Library and at Quebrada, a local bakery in Wellesley. Eventually, I moved my studio from my home to the South End Art District of SOWA at 450 Harrison Avenue in Boston. For many years, only the proceeds from my work funded our Foundation. Then an intriguing idea evolved as I got to know many of the fine artists in the building several of them expressing interest in my concept of connecting art with philanthropy. I then engaged thirteen other artists to participate in Art in Giving LLC.  The artists have generously agreed to donate 50% of the proceeds of their art sold through the efforts of Art in Giving.  The model for Art in Giving is to encourage organizations, both for-profit and not-for-profit, to use art to recognize their employees, executives, board members, trustees and honorees.  This is done in the form of a piece of art  chosen by an organization that reflects its core values, or in the form of an Art in Giving Gift Certificate which can be used to purchase art from any of the 14 member artists.

 

2. Scenario: you meet a business exec who is looking to fund a cause that has had enormous positive implications for the community. He wishes to offer $25,000 to a cause that is innovative in its thinking. He has 10 minutes available to speak with you. What do you share with him about your work?

Eliane: I would explain how Art in Giving connects philanthropy with business and the fine arts.  I would share with him the vision and hope we have in creating Art in Giving: that every organization use works of art offered by Art in Giving in any one of the following ways: to express appreciation to their clients, board members, employees, guest speakers, referral sources and others who played a role in the success of their organization as well as to beautify its physical surroundings.  Art if Giving presents a unique alternative to gifts of pens, clocks or crystal bowls.

Artwork offers a permanent reminder of the honor and the organization that honored. If presented with an Art in Giving Certificate, a person enjoys the added benefit of experiencing a cultural journey of selecting a piece of art that has personal meaning to the honoree.

Fifty percent of the proceeds sold through the efforts of Art in Giving are donated to a private foundation that dedicates itself to pediatric cancer research in collaboration with nationally respected scientists and the Rachel Molly Markoff Foundation www.rachelmollymarkofffoundation.org

3. For most successful entrepreneurs, there is no typical day so give us a sample of your schedule from start to finish.

Eliane: I check my emails and respond accordingly. I would most likely have at least one to two meeting(s) a day to present Art in Giving or to host someone at the studio interested in the program. I place a few phone calls as follow ups to meetings or presentations. I initiate a few emails on behalf of Art in Giving. I correspond with one or 2 advisory board members. I communicate with one or two artists. I always find time to paint glass or work on a painting when time allows.

 

4. What are your “can’t live without” apps on your desktop/cell phone?

Eliane: Outlook, Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel and FreeCell.

5. What are your tricks for time management?

Eliane: Every evening, I identify and list the most important things I need to do and focus on accomplishing them the next day,

 

6. Best advice received when you started your career?

Eliane: The best advice I received is to

  • Do the right thing even if it may not be politically astute.
  • Be honest with colleagues and do not say things you do not mean
  • Have passion and believe in what you are working on. There will be challenges and disappointments both in life and in business. The passion will help offset some of these challenges.

 

7. Given the current economic climate, how has your strategy for building awareness of your work changed for the short-term and long-term?

Eliane: The current economic situation has been a motivator in becoming more creative in promoting Art in Giving.  We position our company as a recognition company that offers organizations meaningful alternatives to the standard gifts presented to employees, clients, board members, referral sources and others.  We will soon be targeting other markets including real estate companies, architectural firms, automobile dealers and wedding planners.

 

8. What’s been your proudest achievement as such an accomplished Entrepreneur?

Eliane:

  • Getting the support of my daughter and my husband.
  • Engaging several prominent Boston artists to participate in Art in Giving
  • Engaging wonderful people to be on the advisory board of Art in Giving
  • Securing my first clients and issuing 52 gift certificates to date
  • Being featured in magazines and newspapers
  • Being considered by Bill Brett for including in his book of Boston people.

 

9. What are some of the ways that you achieve balance in your life?

Eliane: Painting, Reading, walking, biking, listening to music, playing Pacman, traveling and solving Suduko puzzles.

10. Your top 3 book recommendations for our readers (and why?)

Eliane:

11. If you had an exceptional month and earned double of your average month, what (if anything) would you spend it on?

Eliane: If it is money raised for the Foundation, I would sponsor more children to attend summer camps dedicated to children affected by cancer.

If it is through my consulting work, I would spend it on my daughter Audrey.

12. What are some of your most rewarding charitable involvements and why?

Eliane: The Rachel Molly Markoff Foundation dedicated to helping families cope with childhood cancer. It is therapeutic and allows me to keep Rachel’s memory alive.The Schwartz Center for Compassionate Healthcare. I am passionate about compassion and have no tolerance for coldness and insensitivity.

Volunteering to help the elderly. I enjoy being with elder people and it reminds me of my relationship with my grandparents.

13. Who has been the most influential person to you as you’ve advanced in your career?

Eliane: My husband. I also remember my maternal grandfather being always proud of any small accomplishment I had made. He empowered me to be confident

14. What’s your advice to someone interested in starting a business, especially within the arts?

Eliane:

  • Believe in what you have to offer
  • Have patience
  • Do not take rejection personally

To learn more about Art In Giving, please visit its website via the link below:

Lewis Howes, Founder of Sports Executives Association

Lewis Howes’ BIO

Lewis Howes

IN THE SPOTLIGHT INTERVIEW

1. Oprah Winfrey has been inspiring us each month with her unique approach to life and to creating our very best lives so, as a tribute to her, A La Oprah, what did you know for sure when you decided to be a solo business practitioner?

Lewis: I knew that you had to have a passion for anything you do in order for it to be a long lasting run.  You have to create quality relationships and treat everyone with respect and kindness… and also be true to yourself at all times.

2. Take us through a typical day with your schedule from start to finish.

Lewis: Grind in the morning, hustle in the afternoon, take some time to workout and relax with friends in the evening, then back on the grind before bed.

3. What are a few of your “can’t live without” applications on your personal computer/smart phone?

Lewis: *Hootsuite, Screenflow, Firefox on the computer, LinkedIn, Facebook, Dailybooth on my phone.*

4. What are your tricks for time management?

Lewis: Creating lists with dates and specific times for completing things helps me most of the time.  It’s tough when you have so many projects on at once with many moving parts, so outsourcing as many tasks as possible helps a lot also.

5. Best advice received when you started your business?

Lewis: Hustle and be passionate and the rest I’ll learn along the way.

If given an extra hour each day to seek new ideas and brainstorm, what are some sources you turn to?

I’d turn to the gym or an athletic field.  If I could compete in some type of team sport every day I would as I get my best ideas when I’m competing as you use your mind, body, vision, and awareness to do things differently.

6. Given the current economic climate, how has your strategy for your companies changed for the short-term and long-term?

Lewis: Nothing has changed for me as my businesses continue to grow through this economy.  I focus on providing products and services that serve others and help them achieve their goals dramatically.  As long as I keep helping others, that’s where my strategy will stay.

7. What’s been your proudest achievement as an entrepreneur?

Lewis: Publishing a book and speaking on stage with some of the greatest marketing minds in the world.

8. What are some of the ways that you achieve balance in your life?

Lewis: Working out, going to movies, getting away from my office as much as I can, and salsa dancing like there is no tomorrow.

9. Two books you would recommend highly to our readers (and why?)

Lewis: Influence by Robert Cialdini and 4 hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss. These guys are geniuses and every online marketer should read these books.

10. If you received a surprise bonus equal to half of your monthly salary, what (if anything) would you spend it on?

Lewis: Since I own my companies there wouldn’t ever be a surprise bonus. If I paid myself an extra bonus I’d increase my savings and investments that month and keep moving on towards bigger goals.

11. What are some of your most rewarding charitable involvements and why?

Lewis: I strive to donate more and more of my income on a monthly basis.  I never had the option to do that before because I didn’t have any money when I first started out in business.  Now I feel more blessed to be able to help others, and give more freely on a financial level.  My goal is to start a scholarship fund for sports management students in the near future.

12. Who has been the most influential person to you as you’ve advanced in your career?

Lewis: I’d have to say Stuart Jenkins, one of my early on mentors, and Chris Hawker, a genius inventor who taught me a lot about business and gave me a chance when I was just starting out.

*Click on the link below to order your copy of Lewis Howes’ book today!

To learn more about Lewis Howes, please visit his website at: LewisHowes.com.

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Claire Fenner, Co-Founder Of Heels and Deals

Claire Fenner’s BIO

Claire Fenner

IN THE SPOTLIGHT INTERVIEW

1. How did you first become involved in the non-profit sector?

Claire: My friend Georgie Hearson and I first talked about launching a networking group for women entrepreneurs in October of 2008 as we had both launched our own businesses earlier in the year. As the economy became more challenging we both had to focus on keeping our businesses going.  My business was a free magazine for parents called ‘Easy Living – the Parents Guide to Dubai’ and as advertising spending nose-dived I had to work harder and longer than ever before to generate advertising revenue while at the same time keeping overheads and expenses down.  Georgie’s business ‘Jute Couture’, a range of ethical and environmentally friendly fun Jute bags was also affected by the economic downturn as wholesale orders were cancelled with many retailers choosing to order on consignment basis instead of the preferred wholesale basis.

On one particular day in March 2009 I spoke to three clients, all female business owners who all said they were having a tough time due to the economic conditions and were fearful about what the future held for their business. When I told them they weren’t alone in this fear they found a little comfort but I really felt they would be more empowered and confident if they shared their fears and celebrated their achievements with other like-minded women. So I called Georgie the same day and she felt exactly the same as me. It was time for us to step up and help make a difference.

After just 4 weeks, not very much sleep and a lot of caffeine later Heels & Deals launched. We’d originally expected about 30 to 40 women to turn up but when online registration hit 210 we were thankful for choosing a venue with plenty of space. On the night we were joined by 185 amazing entrepreneurial women!  Since then, the Heels & Deals community has grown from strength to strength. Today we have a membership of over 180 entrepreneurs from a wide variety of nationalities, ages and industries, and we have plans to grow globally. Women entrepreneurs can already network online on our social media website and we’re launching events in Hong Kong the capital of entrepreneurship in Asia in the autumn.

As a member of the Sr. Mgmt Staff in a mid-size NPO, I can appreciate that the leaders wear several hats in accomplishing day to day responsibilities. Please share with me how you manage your multiple responsibilities.

The partnership between Georgie and myself works extremely well because we are both passionate about our mission of helping women entrepreneurs succeed, but our skills, strengths and experiences are complimentary. We have divided the responsibilities in the business up to match these skills and strengths so I manage the marketing, finance and business development and Georgie manages memberships, the website and the events.

When we first launched Heels & Deals it was secondary to our existing business but as time has gone on the potential for Heels & Deals has become more evident so we’ve both put our original businesses to bed to allow us to focus on growing the business and empowering more women entrepreneurs.

Georgie and I are both mums to young children, my boys are aged 3 ½ & 5, and Georgie has a 6 year old son and another baby due this summer.  We spend our days juggling the demands of motherhood and business but because we are both in the same position we understand these demands and are able to support each other practically and emotionally when needed.

 

2. What are your favorite tools (tech or otherwise) for managing areas of your life that are most important to you?

Claire: We use technology to enable us to work on the move but at the same time we’re conscious of controlling costs, especially with only being in our third year of operation. Georgie and I both have iPhones which enable us to keep in contact easily through emails, calls, and messages and we use Apps such as Skype to help keep costs down.
In the UAE we are very fortunate to have the world’s first telecoms provider to create a special telecoms plan just for women entrepreneurs and professionals!  The monthly package is very cost-effective and even includes free calls between other women on the plan so Georgie and I get to talk for free which is invaluable!
We have a team from Microsoft speaking at our next event and they are going to teach us all how to utilise tools within Microsoft Office, many which we already have on our PC’s, such as Outlook, One Note and Office Apps to save time and make our lives even easier…we can’t wait!

3. Best advice received when you began leading your NPO?

Claire: “To stay true to our mission and vision”. Georgie and I felt compelled to create Heels & Deals for women entrepreneurs because we are women entrepreneurs.We seem to have hit the nail on the head so to speak with what women want from networking events; a comfortable, supportive yet fun environment with a professional purpose. Interest has and still does not just come from entrepreneurs but from women employees and although we could make easy money from allowing them to join, this would dilute our USP and deviate from our mission. The challenges, demands, triumphs and needs of entrepreneurs are different from those of employees and this is one of our USP’s. We’ve chosen long term sustainability over short term gain.

 

4. What’s been your proudest achievement at Heels & Deals?

Claire: Winning the Incredibly Innovative Approach Award at the SME Middle East Awards 2010 after only launching the business a year and a half before! Since launch we have not stopped innovating so this was great recognition. From turning the business model on its head to where it is today, to constantly developing the website to deliver better exposure, to keeping the events fun, fresh and beneficial…we keep on innovating!

5. If you had the opportunity to bring all residents of your city into one room, what message would you share with them?

Claire: With one of the worst records for injuries and deaths caused by road accidents in the world I would tell everyone to be more respectful of each other on the roads. The number of parents here who don’t use car seats or even seat belts for their children is absolutely shocking. Why would you be so careless about the most precious thing in your life?

6. What is the best way for our readers to support Heels & Deals?

Claire: Ha, easy! To help spread the news about Heels & Deals with women entrepreneurs they know or to join our community…please! The more members we have the more valuable the experience for every member. They can visit our website www.heelsanddeals.orgor follow us on Twitter @HeelsAndDeals and join us on Facebook at HeelsAndDeals.

7. Who has been the most influential person to you as you’ve advanced in your career?

Claire: Funnily enough Georgie and I both say the late Dame Anita Roddick has provided us with a vast amount of inspiration. As an entrepreneur she made so many positive changes in the world but didn’t compromise on her values and beliefs for commercial gain.

To learn more about Heels & Deals, please visit their website and social media websites via the links below:

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