Keeping Small Businesses Competitive through Sharing Best Practices of Global Leaders

Posts tagged ‘Networking’

Diane Danielson, Founder and Chief Social Media Strategist at Downtown Women’s Club

Diane Danielson’s BIO

Diane Danielson


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, 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.

To learn more about Downtown Women’s Club, please visit their website and social media websites via the links below:

Social Media For Downtown Women’s Club:

Charles Faron, Founder of The HOT SHOTS Executive Networking Group


Charles Faron

Charles E. Faron is a founding member & Managing Director of Ewing Hill Advisors, Inc. (EHA) Providers of corporate business development & rainmaking, M&A intermediary services and fund sourcing assistance. The firm helps executive decision makers mitigate their company’s unforeseen risk. Clients gain peace of mind knowing they have direct access to a network of highly specialized companies with a proven track record for achieving immediate results.

Charles is a former President & Chief Executive Officer of venture-backed portfolio companies and operating divisions of US multi-nationals. He has served on private boards, worked with numerous investment banks in pursuit of acquisitions, provided sourcing services and now performs strategic Business Development activities supported by a consortium of affiliates that provide Restructuring & Turnarounds, myriad Financial Services, Risk Management, interim Executive & Fundless Sponsors, Asset Management, I-Banking & IT Consulting to organizations throughout the greater northeast & Canada.

EHA provided strategic business development, origination & technology consulting services for:

  • Duff & Phelps – an international Financial Advisory & Investment Banking firm.
  • WTAS – (former Arthur Andersen) a global provider of Tax & Valuation services
  • The Pinnacle Financial Group – a boutique, personalized benefits, insurance consulting & brokerage firm.
  • Patina Solutions – a provider of Executive Services & Fundless Sponsors for the M&A community.

Previously, Charles held progressively responsible senior executive positions in organizations of various size and commercial emphasis. These range from the President & CEO of Navitas Technologies Inc., a clean-tech, R&D and manufacturing company located in Toronto, ON, the President of ServiceConnection, a subsidiary of PC Connection, a $1.5B public company located in New England as well as the Vice-President of US Operations for a global IT Outsourcing, Consulting & enterprise software company. There, he directed the efforts of large, geographically-dispersed executive teams, managed a network of 65 + clients, and successfully managed a $140m P&L and a staff of more than 1,100 professional services and business executives. He also held leadership positions for Canopy Int’l, an early-stage, middleware integration company, BNP-Paribas, Merrill Lynch and the Manufacturers Trust Co. of NY.

Charles attended Northeastern University where he majored in English & Journalism & Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, studying Management. He is an annual Mentor for the Ignite Clean Energy (ICE) program at MIT, Cambridge MA & an EIR with the Richard Ivey School of Business, London, ON.

Board of Directors (former) – Navitas Technologies & Magnacom Technologies, Inc.
Member – Detroit Economic Club (former), CEO’s Club of Boston, Assoc. for Corporate Growth (Committee member),
Boston College Club (Membership Committee), Tech Capital Network & ATA.

Founded in 2008, The HOT SHOTS Executive Networking Group is dedicated to helping senior executives in transition through peer networking, counseling, the free sharing of ideas and referrals, and warm introductions to aid members in their job search.


1. Please share with us how you created The Hot Shots Network.

Charles: Well, it started out as trying to help some friends of mine who were affected by the down-turn after 2008. I also looked at it as a way to “give back.” I’ve found that usually, when you help others, they’re willing to help you in return. So there was an under-current in my thinking that I would get some help from the membership that I wasn’t getting from those less altruistic in the Boston community.


2. There is no typical day in the life of an entrepreneur. Please share with us a sample of your day, start to finish.

Charles That’s not an easy one. I’ve found that the more responsibility you assume, the more hours it takes to get your job done ‘effectively.’ That, when combined with the current economic slow-down and the overall hostility of the Boston community in terms of those less fortunate professionally or needing assistance, translates to “working whenever you have to.”

Most days are between 3 and 7 meetings per day, peppered between phone calls from those you’re contacting to further other activities, endless e-mails required to support those meetings, phone calls and conference calls. All of this is pretty much non-stop throughout the day. In cars, at lunch, in the men’s room, while walking, etc. I’m usually up at 6:30 a.m., responding to emails and Linkedin by 7:30, in Boston (while talking on the phone) behind traffic by 9:30 and home by 7:30 pm. Then tying-up loose ends and preparing for the next day while sitting on the couch til 11:00 pm. That’s all pretty standard.


3. What are your ‘can’t live without’ Smartphone or desktop applications?

Charles: I’m a BlackBerry guy at the moment. I would say the entire MS/Outlook suite, Linkedin for sure, google search and (as I’m actively engrossed in Business Development at the moment). These are all integrated, wireless, backed-up and addictive.


4. What are your tricks for time management?


  • Constantly prioritize, review & re-view tasks as some will drop-off the list.
  • Weigh what “needs” to be done vs. would “like” to get done.
  • Get help from all factions and advice from friends and associates. You’ll do more things effectively as the advice you garner helps reduce the priorities you’re constantly reviewing.


5. What was the best advice you received when you started your career?

Charles: Waaaay, back in the day I was riding the train home from NYC and happened to be sitting with a VP from the Bank I was with (BNP (before Parrabis was added)). He and I have actually reconnected via linkedIn after almost 30 years. He would later become my boss. I was a young manager, looking to make my mark and generally seeking lots of advice (an activity which has never really ceased). He knew I had been having trouble (performance, attitude, lack of results, etc.) with an employee on my staff – we’ll call him Raymond. He asked me how it was going and asked “is he hurting you?” I said yes. He then said what are you doing about it? I said nothing at the moment. He said “then I’d fire you!”

What I learned from that is, as a manger if you’re not adding value, thoughtfully planning and endeavoring to be one step ahead, your value is diminished. Never have forgotten that.


6. Given the current economic climate, what has been your strategy for building awareness of Boston Rising Ewing Hill Advisors for short term and long term growth?

Charles: By accepting today – you must work twice as hard for the same results as in years past. Securing incrementally more help and guidance from the friends and associates I mentioned previously, embracing and helping promote (another part of giving back) the newest tools and technologies. Not to be confused with ‘trends’, which are yet to be proven beneficial.


7. What is your proudest achievement as an accomplished entrepreneur?

Charles: I’d say there are two.  The first is helping other entrepreneurs. The second is that in my first role as an investor / CEO / entrepreneur, I grew the company I was with 400%, its profitability almost 50%, built a new team (whom I am still in touch with) and then sold the firm to a new slate of investors.

8. How do you achieve balance in your life?

Charles: I don’t. I’m a border-line workaholic and love it.


9. Your top 3 book recommendations?


  • Anything by Peter Drucker
  • Endless Presidential Bio’s (both Roosevelt’s, LBJ, Nixon, Jefferson, Washington, Adams, etc.)
  • [amazon_link id=”0786864370″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]How to Become a CEO[/amazon_link] by Jeffrey Fox


10. What are your most rewarding charitable involvements?

Charles: No one specific thing. I guess it would be realizing the importance of “giving back” and carrying oneself accordingly throughout their day and career.


11. Who has influenced your career the most?

Charles: No one person really. Professionally, it would be the mentors I’ve found at almost each job really. They span a 30 year career so some are no longer with us – Dave MaCay, Dan Maglio, Hy Waxman, Cathy Welsh, Frank Finlayson. Personally, it would be my maternal grandfather.


12. What is your advice for someone interested in entrepreneurship?

Charles: Know and acknowledge what you don’t know.


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