Diane Danielson’s 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 embark on your business?
Diane: That I was filling a void for a group of people whose needs were not being met by existing networking groups.
2. Take us through a typical day with your schedule from wake up time until bed time.
- 6:30 a.m. – wake up and read NYTimes and HuffPo on my iphone and check to see if any emails need immediate answers (generally these involve my son’s busy sports schedule/social life).
- 7:00 a.m. – get son up/fed/off to school
- 8:00 a.m. – run with dog
- 9:00-6:00 pm depending on the day, either work on Downtown Women’s Club stuff (2-3 days per week) or for Convengine (a social media consulting company I’ve partnered with to provide social media consulting for businesses needing a social media “jumpstart”). A few days per week I stop at 3:00 pm to be with my son if he’s home with me.
- 6:00-9:00 pm kids/dinner/homework/family time
- 9:00-12:00 pm – work
Of course if I have speaking engagements (several per month), this schedule is definitely thrown off.
3. What are your tricks for time management when there are just never enough hours in a day…?
Diane: Group “like jobs with like jobs” i.e. all phone calls on Friday morning. Try to arrange all meetings for the same day of the week. Schedule accounting/bookkeeping on Tues. Writing on Wednesday.
Each night I go through my “to do” list and rewrite it for the next day. With so manymoving parts (DWC, Convengine, speaking engagements + kids) it’s hard to remember it all without this list. And, yes, I do it the old fashioned way. I handwrite it in a spiral bound notebook. I haven’t found an online app that works as well.
4. Best advice received when you started out in your business?
Diane: You can’t please everyone. Find your sweet spot and focus on that rather than waste time trying to convince detractors.
5. When did you know for sure that your business plan was going to work?
Diane: I never operate under a 100% “sure” mentality because “disrupters” come from everywhere, especially when you are dealing with online communities and social media. This means that you have to feel comfortable constantly changing the business plan. Trying to stick to a plan when the environment has changed is not going to work.
6. If given an extra hour each day to seek new ideas and brainstorm, what are some sources you turn to?
Diane: My brilliant friends. I’ve cultivated a wonderful group of advisors/friends who give me inspiration and insights on every aspect of my life.
7. What is your business vision for the next 6 months? Next 3 years?
Diane: Six months: I’d like to be focusing 80% of my Downtown Women’s Club time and energy on our online premium members providing them with more resources like teleclasses, eBooks, and online mentoring.
Three years: I don’t plan that far out because as mentioned above, there are always disrupters which can send you in unplanned directions. Disrupters don’t just come from the business world or technology; often they come from your own personal life in the form of kids, parents, family and friends requiring our time and attention.
8. What’s been your proudest achievement as an entrepreneur?
Diane: Whenever I hear that someone has benefited from the Downtown Women’s Club. Especially when I hear it from someone who doesn’t even know that I founded it.
9. If you could re-start your business, what would you do differently and why?
Diane: I would have focused more time, money and energy on the online community of the Downtown Women’s Club rather than try to support the in-person clubs as much as we did in past years. Many of the people who join our local clubs were not interested in doing anything online and we spent a lot of time and money trying to convince them that online networking is not a bad thing. Instead, we would have been better off cultivating businesswomen who already “get” online networking. (Hence, I was not following my own advice I listed above). This is what we are doing now and why we view our role as “sponsors” of our local clubs but not actively involved.
10. What are some of the ways that you achieve balance in your life?
Diane: I don’t look at life as a balance, but more of a blend. When I can flow from work to family to friends and even time for myself, then I feel comfortable that things are working well in my life.
11. The one book you would recommend highly to our readers (and why?)
Diane: As someone who reviews books for Entrepreneur.com, it’s hard to pick just one. But I like Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath. To succeed in business you need your ideas to “stick” no matter what you are doing.
12. What is your most rewarding charitable involvement and why?
Diane: Right now my pro bono work is focused on helping more women get elected to political office. If we can achieve gender parity in politics it should influence both business and culture in a positive way.
13. Who has been the most influential person as you’ve grown your business?
Diane: I’d have to say my son. As a single mom for 8 years, I grew the business around his schedule (it forced me to focus on technology and a business model that I could run virtually on a flexible time schedule). While this might have held me back some years in profitability, it’s a choice I would make again without a second thought; even knowing now how hard it was to make it all blend.
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