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Welcome to the WISE newsletter, a program of
The Falcone Center for Entrepreneurship at Syracuse University

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

WISE 2008: Susan Taylor, former Editor-in-Chief, Essence Magazine

Susan Taylor worked for Essence for more than 27 years. Although highly accomplished and extremely well-read, her early successes were due to her innate business sense and ability to plan (and follow-though). She joined Essence as a freelance beauty and fashion editor in 1971, yet did not have a college degree. That came later from Fordham University (evening classes). She has since been the recipient of many honorary degrees.

Highlights from her talk:
  • Taylor noted that each day bring us a new "guest." That person or event is a moment where we can learn and grow.
  • Anything that is known is knowable. Are you willing to do the work to find the information?
  • Look at the needs people have, then fill those needs with your business.
  • Your integrity is everything.
  • How do you maintain balance and peace in your life?
  • Suffering is a choice, pain is not. Pain is information that you should act on.
  • Quiet time is the key to everything.
  • Every day, fire the "judge" -- the person in you that sets limits.
  • For every problem there is a solution.
  • Be sure to ask yourself how you are doing, then listen to the answer.
  • You have to give yourself to yourself before you give yourself away.
Taylor was motivational and inspirational. Above all, we heard that we need to make time for ourselves and that will help us succeed.

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WISE 2008: Robin Koval, Co-founder, Kaplan Thaler Group

Robin Koval left us with these thoughts....

Nice Facts:
  • Companies hire people that are perceived as being nice.
  • Companies are more likely to retain nice employees.
  • Kids who hear positive words have higher IQs.
  • Nice people are healthier.
  • Nice people are less likely to get divorced.
Nice Principles:
  • Positive impressions are like seeds.
  • Negative impressions are like germs.
  • You never know (when being nice will have a huge impact).
Nice Tips:
  • Shut up and listen.
  • Help your enemies.
  • Yes your way to the top.
  • Sweeten the deal.

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WISE 2008: Cindy Solomon, Solomon & Associates

Cindy Solomon was an engaging presenter, who received a spontaneous standing ovation when she finished. Her presentation -- Creating Courage: Business the Company and the Life You Want -- was educational and entertaining. She peppered her talk with stories about herself, her clients and her family that we could easily relate to.

What does risk mean? Solomon researched it and found that originally the word was associated with the "imminent danger of assassination."

In thinking about courage:
  1. Courage is a personal, individualized quality.
  2. Most of us think we're not courageous.
  3. Courage does not equate to a heroic act.
  4. Courage can be learned.
In thinking about courage, she noted that there are two variables: self-awareness and personal accountability.

[Imagine a square divided into four boxes. Along the left side is the phrase Self-Awareness and along the bottom is the phrase Personal Accountability. Self-Awareness can be low or high, as can Personal Accountability. Solomon used such a box and then described thew four quadrants.]

When Self-Awareness and Personal Accountability are both low, that is Blind Courage. This is the courage that teenagers have and it knows no fear.

When Self-Awareness is high and Personal Accountability is low, that is Role Courage. Role Courage is what firefighters have. They train for their position and know what to do in a crisis (and do it).

When Self-Awareness is low and Personal Accountability is high, that is Crisis Courage. This is the courage that takes over in a crisis situation that allows you to do the impossible.

When Self-Awareness is high and Personal Accountability is high, that is Core Courage. This is the courage that comes from fully formed decisions. This is the courage that comes when you are thinking clearly, understand what to do, and are lead to do it.

None of the four types of courage are better, since each has its place and works in a different situation. Solomon's examples demonstrated that!

What type of courage do you need in order to build the life you want?
"Courage is not the absence of fear. Rather it is the capacity to move ahead in spite of fear." Rollo May

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WISE 2008: Sharon Hadary, Executive Director, Center for Women's Business Research

Each year, one of the speakers reviews the state of women entrepreneurship. Dr. Sharon Hadary did so in a lively manner. She gave us many facts and pointed us to her web site for additional information (www.WomenBusinessResearch.org).

Here are some key thoughts from her presentation:
  • In the U.S., women-owned businesses employ 13 million people.
  • New York State ranks #2 in the number of women-owned businesses and #5 in the growth rate for women-owned businesses.
  • Entrepreneurship is a home for diversity.
  • 90% of women-owned businesses are actively trying to grow their businesses.
  • 3% have revenues over $1 million. For men-owned businesses, that's 6%.
  • When you structure your business, focus on growth.
  • Your goal is the most important factor in your business.
  • Women-owned businesses take thoughtful risks.
  • Women-owned businesses are more likely to adopt new technologies as a way of creating workplace flexibility.
Hadary then gave us her top 10 tips:
  • Define success in your own terms.
  • Be values based.
  • Acknowledge your own power.
  • Trust your instincts.
  • Set high goals.
  • Nurture the Midas touch.
  • Treat your time and energy as a scarce and valuable resource.
  • Invest in yourself.
  • Build multiple support networks.
  • Always live time for serendipity.

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WISE 2008: Maxine Clark, Founder, Build-a-Bear Workshops

Today was the 6th annual WISE Symposium with more than 700 attendees (referred to as "delegates"). Nola Miyasaki, from Syracuse University, opened the event. She noted that entrepreneurship was a lot like Zen philosophy. It must be practiced daily. There are intense periods. And you should practice it with others. In comparing it was Taoism, she noted that entrepreneurship is a way of being.

Nancy Cantor, Chancellor of Syracuse University, then welcomed the group. She noted that women entrepreneurs are the sector in business start-ups that are growing the most, but that women-owned businesses are not growing big. She also noted that we live in a region where women have historically been collaborative. Women today also need to think about collaborating -- formally and informally -- in order to grow successful businesses.

Nola then introduced Donna Adamo, from WTVH-TV, who was the emcee for the event.

The first speaker was Maxine Clark, Founder, Build-a-Bear Workshops. Clark, who was a successful corporate executive, started Build-a-Bear after shopping one day with her daughter. The experience led her to think about a business where people could build their own stuffed animals. From her past corporate experience, she knew where to source the materials, etc.

Build-a-Bear began in fall 1997. In 2003, the company opened its first international store. In 2004, they launched a national ad campaign and had stored on four continents. In 2007, revenues topped $400 million and there were 370 stores worldwide. Now Build-a-Bear has an online virtual world called BuildaBearville.com.

Here are some highlights from her speech:
  • "Retailing is entertainment and the store is a stage. When the customer has fun, they spend more money." Stanley Goodman
  • Make your employees part of the product.
  • Hire people who care.
  • Empower kids to make a difference.
  • In order to stay in the lead, you have to keep leading.
  • If you live your imagination, the your life will be a dream come true.
  • As a business owner, get the correct insurance for your business.
  • Use your money appropriately.
  • Have a good business plan and use it to convince yourself.

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