Monday, December 15, 2008

The Art of Establishing Your Personal Business Brand

By Cambridge Who's Who Member and Contributing Author Lisa Parker

Each of us sports our own, unique personal brand. The many things that separate and identify us as individuals become known as our personal brand. All of the principle components of our personal brand, including our first impressions, demeanor, accomplishments and the value we place on interactions with others, determine the level of success we experience in both our personal and professional lives.

As we establish business and working relationships, we must incorporate those same principles in the strategy we use to develop our personal business brand. As an entrepreneur, I would like to share with you four basic steps I took to incorporate personal branding into my business.

Service and Reputation – The first step toward developing a personal brand within a business context is to decide what your mission is and determine the type of service or product you intend to provide to your clients or customers. Always deliver the service or product as promised and in the utmost professional manner. The expectation of, or perceived, service is the reason your customers will choose your services over other competitors’. Once you identify the needs of a potential client base, market your business based on the provision of those needs. By visualizing the result of your efforts, you will be able outline a plan of action to reach your goals.

In promoting my business, I researched other service providers in my industry and chose to provide my clients with a level of service that I found missing in a sampling of my competition: one-on-one customer service. The availability of this simple, consumer expectation is severely lacking in today’s market. A client can hardly expect satisfaction while seeking services when access to a concerned service provider is practically impossible. As my business continues to grow, I note that most of the comments from satisfied customers focus on their appreciation for being able to contact an individual service provider.

Marketing Strategy – The second step in promoting your personal business brand is obtaining visibility. With the unlimited resources and marketing avenues available today, you do not have to spend a great deal of money (if any) to establish yourself or your business. You may consider my techniques “shameless self-promotion”; however I consider the results monetarily rewarding. In addition to a variety of local advertising assets, such as newspapers, magazines and the Chamber of Commerce, there are plenty of online resources just waiting for you to tap into the benefits they provide. One little known option is using popular, free blog sites such as Word Press to help you get your information out onto the Web in minutes. I spent a short amount of time researching some of the opportunities available in regards to free advertising, and you can view the results of my efforts first hand by taking time to Google my business name in a variety of ways (e.g. Parker cprw, Parkercprw, Lisa Parker cprw).

Networking – The third step in laying a successful foundation for your personal business brand involves never underestimating the power of networking. In addition to the efforts you employ through advertising and marketing methods, remember that opportunities for networking happen on a daily basis. Large amounts of my clients have sought out my services after seeing my business’ name or speaking with other satisfied customers.

Aside from the many organizations that enlist members in the development of professional relationships with others in their career field, there are also plenty of opportunities to network in your local community. As a business owner, you can provide free workshops, schedule product demonstrations, distribute opportunities for entry into free drawings to local businesses and participate in a number of other activities to support the growth of your business. If your organization supports local events, be sure to wear a professional identification badge that mentions your business or service. The key to effective networking is to be diverse in your connections, and by this, I mean that you should not limit yourself to a particular industry, profession or region.

Association – The ultimate goal is to have your business name associated not only with the service or product you provide, but with your own personal name as well. Most of us already have a business name before we begin to research and understand the importance of branding. Do not wait any longer to begin marketing your name side-by-side with that of your business. Consider “Trump Plaza”, “Trump Towers”, “Trump University” and “Trump Financial”. Do you know whom I am referring to?

Personal business branding is the art of following the “Golden Rule” in the provision of services to and interaction with clients and customers. By learning how to manage others’ perceptions of you and your business, you will naturally establish a unique value that sets you apart from competitors in your career field.

Cambridge Who's Who Contributing Author Lisa Parker

Biography

Cambridge Who’s Who lifetime member, Lisa Parker, is a certified professional résumé writer (CPRW) with more than 23 years of experience in personal and professional development, and the owner of Parker-CPRW Professional Résumé Presentations. Her services help clients advance in their careers or pursue a career change. When Ms. Parker transitioned from military service to the civilian labor market, she was able to understand first-hand the difficulties that many professionals experience during a career change. Overcoming these challenges inspired her to provide guidance to others in the job market.

Ms. Parker assists her clients in preparing cover letters, thank you letters, follow-up letters, biographies, award narratives and entry-level, professional and executive résuméand curriculum vitaes. She also offers company and labor market research and helps individuals to identify their skills and personal traits.

She served in the military for 21 years in aviation, and retired as First Sergeant of an air traffic control unit. Upon her retirement from the military, Ms. Parker worked in the Department of Labor as a Disabled Veteran Outreach Program Specialist, providing assistance to veterans in the areas of job placement, military transition and résumé preparation.

In addition to being a CPRW, Ms. Parker is a Certified Transition Assistance Program Facilitator and a Notary Public. She is also a member of the Professional Association of Résumé Writers and Career Coaches, International Association of Workforce Professionals, National Notary Association, Association of Online Résumé & Career Professionals, National Veterans’ Training Institute, Disabled American Veterans, Non Commissioned Officer Association, American Legion Post 283, Women In Military Service For America, National Motorcycle Safety Fund, American Bikers Active Toward Education and the Victory Motorcycle Club.

To add to her accomplishments, Ms. Parker received the Customer Service Award from the Georgia Department of Labor in 2007; Certificate of Appreciation from the Disabled Veterans’ Outreach Program; and a Meritorious Service Medal and the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal, both from the United States Army.

Articles by Lisa Parker

Friday, November 14, 2008

How Your Personal Brand Makes an Impact

Understanding the Importance of Performance, Image and Exposure

By Cambridge Who's Who Member and Contributing Author Philip B. Righter

Impact…you know it when you see it.

In its mathematical form:

Impact = Confidence + Competence + Credibility

To have impact, you must consistently deliver exceptional results by connecting dots and showing how the big picture relates to tactical execution; demonstrate intimate knowledge and expertise of the subject matter while exuding confidence but not arrogance; and maintain your composure and effective management skills through a crisis while presenting information clearly and concisely. The art of charts, interaction and the ability to communicate at all levels of the organization will also come in handy. (Definition derived from “5 Steps to Professional Presence” by Susan Bixler and Lisa Scherrer Dugan)

Impact and “Executive Presence” are concepts that most people can identify but have a hard time describing. If we watched someone with Impact and Executive Presence, what behaviors would we observe? The individual in question would project an image of confidence, competence and credibility.

Each of the three C’s builds upon one another. Confidence is derived from being comfortable with who you are as well as having a working knowledge of the subject matter. Competence is a reflection of how comfortable you are with a particular topic, and you typically display more confidence the more competent you are. Credibility comes when, through your confidence and competence, you are able to deliver what you have committed to. When you are credible, people believe you because your “Say/Do Ratio” is equal- i.e., what you say you are going to do = what you actually do.

You can increase your confidence, competence and credibility by doing the following:

  • Consistently deliver exceptional results – Everything starts and ends with the ability to produce exceptional results on a consistent basis.

  • Connect the dots – Be a clear thinker who connects the strategic picture to tactical objectives with accountability. Clear thinking is one of the main traits of a growth leader.

  • Demonstrate intimate knowledge and expertise – This is where many people can gain their confidence, as expertise is also a growth leader trait. Each of us should develop functional depth on a subject related to our position. You gain this knowledge through varied experiences and a compilation of skills. It is important to realize that you shouldn’t act like you know something when you really don’t. It’s OK to say, “I don’t know” if you commit to finding the answer.

  • Exude confidence, not arrogance – Be confident yet humble. Don’t act like you have all the answers and know everything. And do not be prideful, arrogant or boastful. Leaders with impact are open to feedback and opposing points of view.

  • Maintain composure – We all have crises and emergencies. Leaders with impact are calm and collected as they manage the issues. In other words, they understand the magnitude of the issue, put emotions into perspective, create an action plan and communicate the issue and plan to stakeholders.

  • Present information clearly and concisely – Here there are two equally important concepts: preparing the pitch and delivering the pitch. You must construct your presentation so the message, call for action and next steps are clear and flow well throughout the pitch. This includes the use of charts, colors and graphics. Once you have created the presentation, you must deliver it with the appropriate use of gestures, voice inflection, audience interaction and eye contact.

  • Interact and communicate at all levels – Leaders with impact can interact and communicate with exempt, non-exempt and hourly employees. It shouldn’t matter what the person’s title or job responsibilities are. Leaders with impact display respect and consideration to all. This is consistent with the inclusive growth leader trait.
Note that we can use the phrases “Executive Presence” and “making an impact” interchangeably. Making an impact means understanding that our economy is a meritocracy. The United States is a place where performance and execution count the most. Your drive, determination and commitment to succeed are part of the image you project.

The PIE model (based on “Empowering Yourself – The Organization Game Revealed” by Harvey Coleman) is a framework for success that lays the foundation for personal and professional growth. It comprises performance, image and exposure:
  • Performance: This is your entry ticket and reputation-builder. It begins your legacy – the common denominator in the promotion process. It also confirms your ability to take on more responsibility, helping you to stay above the bar as it is continuously raised.

  • Image: It is the message that you send before you speak, whether intentional or not. It includes attire, confidence and demeanor, and develops early in your career. Every interaction counts, so make sure that all are positive.

  • Exposure: This lets others know of your performance and makes you visible to those who can influence your career. It can be enhanced by a strong network of mentors, bosses and champions. Exposure is a double-edged sword; if you perform well and obtain exposure, you can score a home-run. If you perform poorly and obtain exposure, you can strike out.
Continue reading the full version PDF

Cambridge Who's Who Contributing Author Philip B. Righter

Biography

Cambridge Who’s Who member, Philip B. Righter, is the chairman and chief executive officer of Righter Holdings, LLC. The financial services firm is comprised of Righter Corporation, Righter Development Corp., The Righter Foundation, Righter Consulting Group, Righter Design Firm and Righter Art Collection, Inc. Mr. Righter’s experience is in strategic sourcing, financial risk mitigation, international commodities, and marketing integration. He also specializes in agency consolidation and review, creative design, and media buying and planning.

Prior to founding Righter Holdings, LLC in 2007, Mr. Righter served as the executive vice president and chief strategy officer of Afterburner Films, LLC where he was very involved in business affairs, rights management and procurement, and the oversight of production costs and company assets. As the former vice president of corporate sourcing and marketing for NBC Universal from 2004 to 2006, Mr. Righter negotiated marketing and media contracts. He also led the Universal Parks Creative Planning Agency Review, where he spearheaded a rebranded image and held the position of manager of sourcing G&P for The Walt Disney Company from 2003 to 2004.

Mr. Righter earned his bachelor of science in economics, statistics, organizational behavior and labor relations from Cornell University in 1999. He is also a member of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Media Arts & Sciences, the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, the Latin Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences, the International Academy of Visual Arts, the Multicultural Motion Picture Association, Film Independent and is a Scholar on Gerson Lehrman Group Councils.

Mr. Righter also donates his time to charitable causes and is a board member of the Los Angeles Police Foundation. Additionally, he serves as a specialist reserve officer for the Los Angeles Police Department. For more information please visit http://www.righterholdingsllc.com/.

Articles by Philip Righter

Monday, September 8, 2008

When Branding is All about Appeal

Catchy jingles, fancy packaging and captivating slogans give brands their appeal.

By Cambridge Who’s Who Contributing Author Susan Gosine

When I was a young child, I enjoyed listening to catchy product jingles. Sometimes I would jerk myself awake just so that I could hum along. When I went to the supermarket, I’d zero in on one of the brands I was familiar with and insist on only having that one. With the product clutched in my hands like a prize, I felt like I’d been visited by Santa Claus on Christmas morning.
More than three decades later, the melodies of popular jingles still chime inside my head, and I find myself reaching eagerly for the products associated with them while shopping. But it’s not just about the jingle; it’s about the brands that the jingles promote and the perception that the featured products are really the best of the lot. Such is the power of branding: it fosters an automatic acceptance of a product or service that, by the consumer’s deduction, surpasses all others.

Branding can be as effective as a dollar sale or as ineffective as cold soup in a blizzard. It’s a powerful force that influences behavior and attitude and compels consumers to pay exorbitant prices to possess the related product. It can boost or cripple a company, product or service. When thinking of branding one has to consider what appeals to consumers’ pockets, minds and egos. Branding, then, can be easily confused with marketing and advertising.

So, what exactly is branding?

In order to understand the concept of branding one must first learn what a brand is. While there are many different definitions of a brand, Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary defines it as, “a class of goods identified by name as the product of a single firm or manufacturer.” The American Marketing Association classifies it as “a name, term, design, symbol or any other feature that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other sellers.” It further states that “the legal term for brand is trademark,” and that “a brand may identify one item, a family of items or all items of that seller.” If used to describe a firm as a whole the preferred term is trade name. Thus, a brand can be a name, a logo, image, idea, design, slogan or jingle, owned by the company or person that conceives it.

Branding creates the foundation needed to market a brand, get it recognized and increase its profitability. Advertisers use the name, idea, logo, design and image associated with the chosen brand to formulate advertisements to convince the target audience that the product or service is the only solution that meets its needs. Branding, therefore, is designed to capture the imagination and to influence and convince consumers of their need to purchase a particular product or service. Symbols, logos, slogans and jingles are powerful branding tools. They help to assert a product or service’s position in the marketplace. Many companies and products have become household names through branding.

Philip Kotler describes branding as “a seller’s promise to deliver a specific set of features, benefits and services consistently to the buyers.” Branding, then, is only truly effective when it begins to influence consumer behavior, taste, choice and spending habits. Sometimes branding can take several years before it creates a noticeable impact in people’s psyche. This is particularly true in today’s competitive marketplace where several brands exist for each product.

In this age of technological advancement, branding holds its own on the Internet by commanding a great deal of online commerce and attention. Compelling slogans, blinking logos and mesmerizing images grace countless websites in an attempt to provoke visitors to purchase “sought after” products and services. However, branding is not truly successful until a consumer reaches casually into his pocket and purchases a product based on its packaging and appeal alone. When branding rakes in the money, that’s when it’s hard at work.

Cambridge Who's Who Contributing Author Susan Gosine

Biography

Cambridge Who’s Who member, Susan Gosine, excels in writing, ghost writing, public relations, proofreading and editing. She has extensive experience in conducting research and writing creative non-fiction, fiction and memoirs. Her writing investigates issues in health and education, crime and punishment, fashion, entertainment and other topics.

Susan has more than 20 years in the newspaper industry and has served as a journalist for three daily newspapers in Trinidad and Tobago: Daily Express, Trinidad Guardian and Newsday. Currently, she is working on her first non-fiction novel.

Susan is pursuing a Ph.D. in behavioral science and has completed coursework in communication arts at New York University. She holds a master of science in sociology from the University of the West Indies, certificate in investigative reporting from the Commonwealth Press Union, certificate in print and novel writing from the Longridge Writer's School and a certificate in screen writing from Gotham Writer's School.

Her work has been recognized with distinguished performances in journalism from Trinidad Express Newspapers, a Certificate of Excellence in Coverage of Culture from Mere Desh & National Cultural Promotions of Trinidad and Tobago and the Commonwealth Media Award for Published Works.

Articles By Susan Gosine

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

"Sassy, Brassy, Direct and to the Point"

Developing Your Personal Brand is the Key Ingredient to Success

By Cambridge Who’s Who Contributing Author Jo DeMarco

Recently, I had the good fortune of reconnecting with a childhood friend. We hadn’t seen each other in an eternity and burned up the telephone lines with our first conversation in 20 years getting caught up with each other’s lives. After elaborating on where each of us was in life, we began to reminisce about the old days. I told my friend that I was certainly not surprised to learn about her travels around the world, as she was always an adventurer and loved learning and experiencing new things. In turn, she was not shocked to find out that I am now a small business owner. You were always so independent,” she said, as I explained the nature of my business as well as some of my achievements.

She then asked for my company’s website address (http://www.contessaknows.com/) and, as we were talking, looked it up online. “Oh, this is so you!” she cried out. I was a bit surprised at her reaction and asked what she meant by her comment. “Your website is exactly how I remember you, who you’ve always been. Sassy, brassy, direct and to the point, playing with words to get people thinking, very animated and entertaining and always making an impact. That’s you from the time we were kids.” she explained. Wow. I was blown away. I had never given much thought to how other people perceived me, especially as a youngster.

While designing my website, I pursued a unique look and high-quality presentation. I wanted my audience to be entertained. Although I have always been confident that I worked hard to achieve my goals and objectives, I have fretted and worried about whether or not I actually did put in enough effort. I was relieved when my long-lost friend, who is a marketing director, told me, “You’ve had a brand before any of us ever knew what one was, and it’s certainly apparent through your website. Congratulations!” This confirmed for me in an unexpected way that I had accomplished my goal.

I developed my business using what I knew, loved, held passion for and had expertise in. I also sought the advice and counsel of various professionals, but I made sure that I weighed their suggestions against my own thoughts about what I should convey through each of my products and my company in general. I wanted an extension of myself to be present in every aspect of my business. I wanted the things I stood for and have been recognized for by my family, friends and co-workers to be clear. In particular, I wanted my reputation to be visible when the public visited my website. By saying that she saw me in every descriptive word on www.contessaknows.com, the childhood friend who I had not seen in many, many years convinced me that I had hit my target. The website I created successfully reflects and upholds my “brand.” It presents who I am, what I’m about and what I want to communicate through my business.

To put it in perspective, let’s play the word association game. I say KoolAid, and you think of a big red pitcher with a smiley face, right? I say Calgon, and you picture yourself relaxing in a luxurious bath without a care in the world, right? Why? Because the companies that manufacture and market these products have consciously conveyed these ideas and feelings to the public. They have built their brand and sold their products on it effectively enough, so that the very mention of their product’s name conjures up the targeted image that they intended it to.

Here are some questions to ask yourself as you develop a business, manufacture a product or enhance the image that you transmit to others:


  • How would a friend or family member describe you in one word? Would their “one word” be consistent, exciting, knowledgeable, etc.? Does it match your description of yourself and how you would like to be perceived by others?

  • If there was a billboard with your picture on it, what would the tagline be?

  • What is the image you want to convey in your business and/or in your line of work?

  • What is the reputation you seek to uphold?

Today’s market is highly competitive. A key ingredient for success is having a spirited personality – a unique factor that will set you apart from the rest. Achieve that edge through your personal brand…it’s who you are.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Define Your Image with Your Personal Brand

Learn how to stand out and eliminate your competition.


So, you’ve heard of branding and you know that defining a brand is essential for a company’s survival and for it to consistently produce new and successful products. Many notable brands have become household names such as Band-Aid, Xerox and Kleenex. However, what about personal branding? What is a personal brand, how do you create it and why is it important for you to have? In the simplest terms, your personal brand is you. It displays your personality and conveys what you stand for. In turn, it helps you to distinguish yourself from others and eliminate your competition.

Your personal brand is what others think about you. When you brand yourself properly, you determine how other people perceive you instead of the other way around. Your brand defines the image that your target audience associates with you and reveals what you have to offer. It is used to determine your total perceived value and how you measure up to your competitors.

Defining your personal brand can also help you to gain strategic positioning within your industry. In the August 2008 edition of Who’s News, we discussed a few of the steps you should take to become an expert in your field. Developing a strong personal brand is another way that you can establish yourself as a knowledgeable resource among your peers. Highlight the elements that make you unique from your competition and people will pay special attention to you. Your personal brand will assist you in building your reputation and attaining expert status.

There are several components that make up your personal brand. The first is your personal appearance. The way you dress, your etiquette and your overall attitude toward others all contribute to your personal brand. The last thing you want a potential client to think, when meeting you for the first time, is that you do not match the brand you have worked so hard to develop and portray. The next component is your personality. When others think of you, what comes immediately to their mind? What words do they use to describe you: knowledgeable, confident, dependable and dynamic? Is that who you are and the image you are trying to portray? The third factor is your core competency or your primary areas of expertise. You may be proficient in several areas but what are your strongest points? Some people are dynamic public speakers while others are talented writers. Some people are better at training versus managing. What are your strengths? The last major component is your uniqueness. Defining what sets you apart from your competition is essential to building your personal brand. Without doing this, others will not be able to differentiate you from your competition and you run the risk of letting your competition define you.

Once you have established your personal brand, begin sharing it with others immediately. A great measure of whether or not you are successfully promoting your brand is by typing your name into a major search engine such as Google or Yahoo. Do you retrieve positive, informative and consistent information about yourself? While branding is not all about your presence on the Internet, increasing your online visibility is an easy and cost effective way to share important information about yourself with colleagues, clients, recruiters, etc. Here are some tools that will help you to build your brand online:

  • VisualCV.com: This website lets you create an online CV and display it as a webpage, providing others with easy access to your portfolio. It also gives you the ability to upload pictures and videos of your work. Best of all, it is free to use! If you are a Cambridge Who’s Who member who does not have a website to link to from your Cambridge Who’s Who profile, you can always link to your VisualCV instead.

  • Personal Blog: Cambridge Who’s Who utilizes several blogging sites in order to provide useful information and resources to Cambridge Who’s Who members. Cambridge Who’s Who Charities is hosted on Wordpress.com and the Cambridge Who’s Who Resource Center, Learning Center and News blog are all hosted on Blogger.com. We even have our own Wiki on Wetpaint.com called Cambridge Who’s Who Notables. These sites provide our members with information about who we are, what our major products and services are and how we can assist them in develop their professional network and personal brand - all of which is part of our corporate brand. When you launch your own blog, write about the areas in which you hold the most knowledge and experience. Provide valuable information, and you will become a resource for others in your industry. You can also share your thoughts and expertise by commenting on other people’s blogs. Include a link back to your own blog when you leave a message!

  • Website: Creating a simple, professional website can also aid in the development of your brand. Your personal website should showcase your expertise, your skill set and your unique value that separates you from others in your line of work. You can also include your VisualCV as an integral part of the site. Be sure to share your website when you are seeking a new career opportunity, applying for an advanced degree program, requesting client referrals or are being considered for a special honor or award.

  • Cambridge Who’s Who Multi-Media Promotions Program: How do you maintain your personal brand so that it is remembered? The Multi-Media Program increases your visibility on major search engines through the distribution of one or more press releases about your endeavors. Your press release can also be used to announce something noteworthy such as a special event, achievement or promotion. Learn more about the Multi-Media Promotions Program at the Learning Center.

When using these tools keep in mind how you want to be perceived. Make sure that you develop an image and marketing materials that bring that message across and reinforce it. Highlight what distinguishes you from others. You want your brand to be recognizable and easy to remember. Most of all you must be consistent! Your resume, your blog, your website and all of your other promotional materials (including business cards, stationery, flyers, newsletters, etc.) must all convey the same message.

Your personal brand will help you to survive in your industry and stand out from the crowd. Remember to be receptive to feedback; it will let you know if the brand you are portraying is coming across properly or if you need to make any adjustments. Want to find an easy way to get started on developing your personal brand? Check out the Cambridge Who’s Who Contributing Author Program and see how other members are building their brands.



Friday, August 8, 2008

Cambridge Expert Dr. LeslieBeth Wish

Biography

Dr. LeslieBeth Wish, president of Love Victory, has been a member of Cambridge Who’s Who since March, 2005. Dr. Wish's expertise is in journalism, research, writing about women's love relationships and career development, overseeing small business and management consulting, public speaking and workshops, managing psychological and marriage issues and couples counseling. Dr. Wish also served as a former graduate school administrator and faculty in business and counseling. She has written a book entitled, “Incest, Work and Women: Understanding the Consequences of Incest on Women's Careers, Work and Dreams” and also numerous articles including fictional articles and poetry. Currently she is working on her second book on women's relationships, “Strong Women and Love.”

She currently holds a doctor of education in human development, work and career management from the University of Massachusetts Amherst (1996); master’s degree in marriage and family therapy from Medical Center, Georgetown University; master of science in social services, clinical studies and management from Bryn Mawr College; master of arts in English from Ohio University and a bachelor of arts in history and English from Carnegie Mellon University. She is a licensed clinical social worker in the states of Maryland and Massachusetts.

Published Articles

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Overcoming Adversity to Find Strength

Life isn’t perfect, but adversity helps to define who we are.

By Cambridge Who’s Who Member and Contributing Author Jo DeMarco

Most of us reach a point when we begin to think that life used to be much easier. Memories of our youth peek in and out of our consciousness and we flash back to what we thought was the best time of our lives. If we’re lucky, age and experience teaches us that is not so. Rather, the knowledge and strength that we gain from enduring adversities allow us to develop a strong sense of self. We are better equipped to face future challenges and more likely to achieve our goals.

I cannot help but look back at my own life, the various adversities I faced and how (by the grace of God) I overcame each stumbling block that presented itself. At the time, I thought each to be an insurmountable obstacle. Now I look back and feel blessed that each hurdle was there to confront me. I have found that being faced with challenges forces us to grow, develop and thrive. I am certainly not an expert on solving problems nor do I propose that I have all the answers. I merely know what I have experienced, how I dealt with it and what worked well for me. Although much time has passed, I believe that the main adversities I have faced continue to plague many women today. I hope that sharing some of my personal experiences will encourage, enlighten or inspire someone who is going through the same or similar circumstances.

Divorce – At the age of 20, I was a divorced and single mother with $240 to my name (hey, at least the next month’s rent was paid!). I realized that the relationship I was in did not have a positive element left to it and was certainly not what I had bargained for or wanted my daughter to grow up in. I refused to let someone drag me and my baby down with them, and I chose to move on to achieve a higher quality of life for both of us. I planned, I plotted and I set goals. Each goal was for the short term and very attainable. Upon achieving an objective, I quickly set another, raising the bar and aiming higher. In deciding which direction to go in, I took a realistic view of myself and evaluated what assets I had and what I needed to acquire in order to get where I wanted to be. Remember that you need to learn to walk before you can run. Keep your focus and your eye on the prize. No whining, no finger pointing, no begging, no crying (ok, maybe just a little, but not in front of anyone). Assess your current situation and create a plan to overcome it.

Working mom and student – In the early 80s, a working single mother came with the stigma of being unreliable and a risk due to having limited resources for child care. Therefore, single working mothers were often associated with unpredictable attendance and/or frequent emergencies. I sometimes felt that I had the scarlet “A” stamped on my forehead. To assure my employer of my dependability, I communicated a plan A, B and C for child care. Starting at the bottom of every position that I was fortunate enough to obtain, it was never enough to be a “good” employee. I was driven to be the best. I was a sponge in each work environment, soaking up every single detail of my job, the company, its make up, opportunities, etc. Taking a class here and a seminar there, watching, listening and studying the particulars paved the way for me to grow. One job led to another; the next one was always a step up. I learned early on never to ask for a raise. My strategy was to take advantage of every opportunity the company had to offer, prove my worth and ensure that I was an asset worth keeping. My appetite was insatiable, yet I sometimes forfeited a higher salary for more experience and vocational training, knowing that it would benefit me in the long run. I felt that every single position I held had a reason and purpose that I could draw from in the future. That feeling rings true to this day.

Finances – Very simple. Prioritize your expenses and live within your means. Want more? Need more? Work more! Take a second job, find a third job or work at home if necessary. Plan ahead. Commit a specific amount on a regular basis to whatever you’re saving for and before you know it, you’ll meet your goal. Have a financial back-up plan. Cut up those credit cards, buy sale items and don’t overspend. I used to think that being rich meant being able to pay all of your bills on time, to go to the grocery store and purchase anything you want without having heart palpitations and to take one vacation per year. I still believe in that theory today!

Love – Isn’t it safe to assume that matters of the heart create a significant amount of turmoil in our lives? Didn’t someone once say, “Better to have loved and lost, than to never have loved at all?” Love is a continuous lesson in life. Although we may try hard, we may never get all the answers. However, we can learn a lot and have fun in the process. Be true to yourself, and while it’s good to be the willow once in awhile, don’t let anyone break you. The benefit of keeping your life full is that in case love goes out the window, your whole life doesn’t go with it. Sharing your life is a beautiful thing, but remember that sharing is only giving a part of something; not the entire thing. Also keep in mind that the only reason to look back to the past is to learn from your mistakes; otherwise keep facing forward. Keep your focus and you’ll find your next love around the corner.

Adversity is a part of life and we should not fear it for it helps us to define who we are. After all, wouldn’t life be dull if it were perfect?

The Power of the Ripple Effect

How one life and one choice can change the world.

By Cambridge Who’s Who Contributing Author Cheryl Nordyke

There isn’t a person alive who would not like to think that their life has made a difference in someone else’s life. We all hope to positively impact our friends, families and maybe even our neighbors and co-workers. The truth is that many of us will never know the full extent or the lasting impression that our smallest actions may have on others.

On July 4th, 2008, I was on the bank of the Charles River in Boston, Massachusetts along with more than 500,000 people celebrating this country’s birthday. This was also the 35th birthday of the Boston Pop’s Fireworks Spectacular and, performing live at the event, were the Boston Pops and Rascal Flatts. As I sat there and listened to music piped through speakers along the Charles, I could not help but wonder, “What would the Founding Fathers think today if they knew what the signing of the Declaration of Independence had accomplished?” More than 200 years later and this country is so much more than it was on that day when nine out of 13 colonies voted in favor of this new democracy. Then I wondered if anyone thought that the Boston Pop’s Spectacular would become this big of an event when it was first held in 1974, attracting not only a large live audience but also the millions of people who tune in via telecast.

It became very clear to me at that moment how much one ripple, even an action as small as a smile, can continue to grow into a wave of change. Who knows where we would be as a country or what our impact on the world would be if those men had not created the Declaration of Independence. Not only did they craft it, but they willingly signed their names and took action toward creating the life they wanted to live. That act has given us a lifestyle that people from around the world want to experience and be a part of.

The purpose of the first 4th of July concert held on the Charles River was to revitalize the concerts at the Esplanade. Today, it is nationally recognized as an iconic event; Arthur Fiedler’s brainchild has turned into a full-scale production that at least one person from each state in the U.S. attends every year. This Independence Day, the band Rascal Flatts was the featured musical guest. Rascal Flatts started out as three guys doing simply what they love – playing music in bars and clubs. There were times, they said, where there were only two people besides themselves at their gigs. Then in the early 2000s, with the release of two albums, their lives changed forever. They are now multi-platinum recording artists who live their dream everyday and recognize that the life they live is possible because of the fans who support them and their music. The fans, in turn, are impacted through their music and lyrics in ways that the band may never know.

You and I may not play as significant of a role to such a large population of people as those who have become famous. However, it is possible for us to do so if we take action. Each person who has made a strong impression had a dream first and then took steps to realize it. The Founding Fathers decided that we could live in a country with freedom of choice and Rascal Flatts thought that other people would feel something from the music they loved to write and perform. These people started out the same as you and I – with an idea and a dream. The difference is that they took that idea and that dream and made it come to life. We can have the same influence and legacy when we become an agent for change. Be the ripple and stop simply riding the waves created by others.

Today the economy is in the worst shape that it has been in decades. There is an increase in unemployment, gas prices are exorbitant and companies are cutting back. Regardless, there are still people out there reminding us that we can have and become more. Rhonda Byrne’s “The Secret,” Randy Pausch’s “The Last Lecture” and books and lectures by Wayne Dyer all strive to inspire us to live the life we choose. There are companies that have started in dorm rooms and are now making millions, and there are more people who are able to work from home and dedicate more time to family and friends. Yet most of us, while inspired by the stories we read about and see on television, are still living today the same as we did the day before and the day before that.

So how did they do it? What is their secret? I don’t know for certain that anyone can answer those questions because each person has a different path and different challenges to overcome in achieving their dreams. The one thing I do know is that they stopped waiting for next big wave to come along; they stopped depending on someone else to make their dreams come true. They became the ripple and started their own wave that in turn, made more waves and inspired others.

How do you become the ripple? For Mark Zuckerberg, the student-genius behind Facebook, it was turning the idea of students wanting to share information with others into an online business. He stayed focused and worked on making his dream a reality. For Burt and John Jacobs, the guys behind the Life is Good t-shirt company, a few obstacles stood in the way of their goals, but they did not give up. They came up with a winning concept – a character named Jake – and before you know it their dreams were reality.

Is there is a risk in making your own ripple? Of course there is a risk. That holds true for all great things in life. Yet, there is also risk in riding others’ success. That risk may not be as great and we may not even notice it, yet, it does exist. We do not have any control over how the owner of the company that employs us may change. The owner may sell the company or decide that cutbacks are needed. Therefore, there is always a risk.

I am no stranger to creating a ripple, and I am sure that there are many others who have started their own ripples whose impact is yet to be seen. When I was taken from riding a wave that I had been quite successful on to crashing off of it, I realized that I never wanted to jump on someone else’s wave again. My friends and I began rewriting our book and looking for something to inspire us and to remind us to be grateful.

Our quest led us to the idea of creating jewelry that we could purchase for ourselves and our friends, employees or loved ones to say, “Thank you. I am grateful.” We knew that there were people who had read, seen or heard something that had inspired them to pursue and realize their dreams. They would want something to remind them to be grateful for what they have and thank the people who have positively impacted their lives. There, right in front of us, was an opportunity to take action.

Teaming with Jessica Fields, a talented, up-and-coming jewelry designer, we created a line of jewelry called Waves of Gratitude™. The collection includes six individual pendants that represent the many different movements of the ocean. By layering these pendants, which may be worn a bracelet or necklace, we have created a unique and fresh style while holding on to the message of gratitude. We also have a pendant called the Branches of Hope to remind us of where we have been and where we can go. The purpose of the line is to create a tangible symbol of the key elements needed to become a ripple in society. It is a reminder to be grateful, acknowledge that we are not alone, and symbolize that we have done great things and can accomplish our current goals.

There are so many teachers available to us and with today’s diverse media outlets we can access them all very easily. By leveraging these resources, we can become the people we were meant to be. Be the ripple. Create a wave of change for yourself, the people immediately surrounding you and perhaps the world.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Understanding Corporate Financial Planning©

By Cambridge Who’s Who Lifetime Member and Contributing Author Douglas K. Hyer, President of Asset Advisory Services, Inc.
July 2008

Many business owners are aware of their strengths (conscious competent), some are aware of their weaknesses (conscious incompetent) and others cannot identify the skills or talents that they lack that are needed to be successful in business (unconscious incompetent). The unconscious competent individual does not realize that he/she is good at what he/she does. Often we call these people “naturals.” This article helps to uncover the important, but often overlooked, areas of expertise that enable owners, entrepreneurs and executives to run successful businesses.

  1. Introduction: Why do entrepreneurs of small businesses feel that because they are super salespeople, brilliant finance professionals, efficient engineers or production people that they can become successful CEOs and run their own businesses? Why do the Small Business Administration statistics show that most small businesses fail within three years? The answer seems simple: very few individuals have the broad-based education, background, experience, technical skills, and finances to effectively manage a business.

    Research indicates that it takes four major strengths in personality or character to run a successful business. The owner/boss/president must first be a successful technician. A technician is usually a great marketing guru, fantastic product maker, creative engineer and financial maven who is excellent at damage control and has an “I can do better than where I am” attitude. Often times, the technician is also disciplined, organized, detailed and compulsive. He/she needs movement, action, accomplishments, success and progress.

    Somewhere along the way, the technician starts to feel that he/she can do it better, faster, more economically or with a new innovation or invention. Why stay where they are when they probably feel underappreciated anyway? The technician evolves into the entrepreneur who is the dreamer and future-oriented type of person. Change is the entrepreneur’s motto; the unknown is exciting and a challenge. Usually people get in his/her way. A spouse, banker, partner, accountant or co-worker does not or cannot see the future results of the entrepreneur’s efforts, invention, modification or dream. The entrepreneur will do whatever is needed to push the new concept, product, techniques and technology forward in spite of any obstacles; sometimes working 24/7 or to the point of almost abandoning his/her family.

    Most businesses are not owned or run by the manager-type personality. This person’s job is to get it done today. He/she is a pragmatic, no-nonsense individual who maintains order and systems at any cost. The manager usually looks and acts like the bookkeeper, internal chief financial officer or accountant and seeks problems. The manager cleans up after the technician and tries to convince the entrepreneur that things are okay as they were. This area is usually the weakest link in the business chain, as many companies suffer from the lack of adequate and/or professional management. This link is usually last to be hired, as the entrepreneur feels that they have it under control anyway.

    The last personality type is the salesperson. Without someone doing the marketing, sales and order generation, the technician would have nothing to work on or for. The entrepreneur would not be able to look ahead if there is no business to improve or foundation to build on. The manager would have nothing to manage were there not new customers, clients, patients or repeat business. So it is up to the sales/marketing personality to be the hunter and energy of the business. All types of business rely on someone to make this happen. Be it new orders, new markets, services and/or products, the sales personality is the dynamite’s fuse, the flashlight’s batteries or the water in the pipe.

    Unless the business is reasonably well-staffed and has been around for a while, there are probably overlaps in job functions and personality types. Often, existing staff will be pushed to work on tasks or in areas where they do not have experience or training.

    Ask yourself where you fit in these four types. Does your firm have a capable personality in each category? Which type do you lack and what can be done to remedy this? If you do not change directions by obtaining the necessary resources to succeed, you will get where you are going. Is that where you will want to be?

    Continue reading the full-version PDF

  2. Background: There are numerous areas that every business owner needs to focus on to survive. The first is having a product or service that can be marketed and sold. The second is to utilize labor, management and capital in an efficient manner...

  3. Concerns: Here is a list of legitimate problem areas that most small- to medium-sized, non-public companies need to review, a few of which may become new areas of interest for some senior executives/owners...

  4. Summary: By retaining a Corporate Financial Planner, the overworked, time-pressured, spread-too-thin executive/owner can leverage his/her talents and resources by having a dispassionate advisor or “hired gun” to help and evaluate accounting, legal matters, insurance and retirement options, employment agencies, travel agents, credit card providers, etc. For the fraction of the cost of a full-time accountant or clerk, a Corporate Financial Planner can provide a service for the business owner that will quickly flow to the bottom line of profits. Before hiring one, check their credentials, education and experience. Request confirmation of their skills and prior success with other satisfied clients. This new type of CFP (Corporate Financial Planner) may be much more valuable to the business owner than a personal CFP (Certified Financial Planner), CPA (Certified Public Accountant) or (ChFC) Chartered Financial Consultant. Remember, what you do not know may hurt you and your business.

Douglas K. Hyer, Financial Advisor, Consultant and Professor
AEP, BCAA, CAS, CEA, CFS, ChFC, CLTC, CLU, CSA, MSFS, RFC

Asset Advisory Services, Inc.
(Since 1978)
Great Neck, NY ~ New York City ~ Miami, FL
“We ask the great questions you don’t even think of.”
233 East Shore Road
Suite 208
Great Neck, NY 11023
USA


Office: (800) 568-4059 X 11 or (516)829-3805 x 11
Cell: (516) 902-8814
Fax: (516)829-7075
Email: doughyer@aasny.com
Website: http://www.aasny.com/

Cambridge Who's Who Contributing Author Douglas K. Hyer

Biography

Douglas K. Hyer has been a member of Cambridge Who's Who since March 2008. Currently Doug is the branch manager for Cambridge Investment Research, Inc., an independent, national broker/dealer and Everbank, a web-based national bank. He is a registered financial consultant (RFC) and has worked with individual and corporate clients for more than 35 years to protect their assets and help them invest wisely. Doug has advised hundreds of pre-retirees from large companies (Exxon, Mobil, Citibank, Chase, First Boston, Paine Webber, LL Bean, Pfizer, Fortunoff’s, AT&T, MetLife and USLIFE) as well as medical/dental, CPA and law firms.

Over the years, Doug has helped his clientele invest over $100 million in stocks, bonds, mutual funds, fixed and variable annuities, alternative investments and investment-grade life insurance products. In addition, he has also helped his clients purchase long-term nursing and home care, disability income replacement and Medicare/Medigap insurance. He enjoys working one-on-one with his clients, helping them to preserve their personal and retirement capital plus increases their current spendable income. Managing income, gift and estate taxes together with assisting clients in organizing their investments, insurance and business affairs is his team’s primary focus.

Doug has been interviewed on CNBC and WLIR television and WOR and WNYC radio. He has spoken before top financial advisor groups at some of the largest independent broker/dealers in the U.S. He has consulted and lectured to Ernst & Young’s tax partners in Los Angeles, New York City and Washington, D.C. He has addressed the Young Presidents Organization, the American Management Association, various insurance, investment, CPA and bar associations and several chapters of the Estate Planning Council in New York and Florida. He has also served as a guest speaker at national conventions and local chapter meetings of the Financial Planning Association.

Doug is currently an adjunct professor and lecturer in personal financial planning at Hofstra University. Previously he served as an adjunct professor at New York educational institutions such as Adelphi University, Pace University and New York University. He has trained financial advisors at top firms, including Merrill Lynch, Metlife, Chase Bank and Prudential Securities.

Doug earned a Master of Science in Financial Services (MSFS) and bachelor’s degree in both accounting and psychology. He currently maintains his NASD series 7, 24, 51, 63 and 65 plus all life and health insurance licenses. His additional certifications and designations include: Accredited Estate Planner (AEP), Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC), Board Certified in Asset Allocation (BCAA), Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU), Certified Annuity Specialist (CAS), Certified Senior Advisor (CSA), Certified Fund Specialist (CFS), Certified Estate Advisor (CEA), Certified in Long Term Care (CLTC) and is filed as a Registered Investment Advisor (RIA).

Doug is a member of the National Association of Accountants; Past President Long Island Chapter Registered Financial Planners; New York City CPA Club of Toastmasters International; New York City Chapter of Certified Mutual Fund Specialists; Section Head New York City Chapter of American Association of Individual Investors. He has published financial articles in Barrons, New York Times, Newsweek, U.S. News & World Report, Newsday, Money magazine, Today’s Investor, Business Insurance, Pension World, CLU Forerunner and Financial Advisor.

Articles by Douglas Hyer

Friday, July 18, 2008

Cambridge Who's Who Publications Releases the 2007-2008 Honors Edition of the Executive, Professional and Entrepreneurial Registry

Uniondale, NY, July 10, 2008, Cambridge Who's Who, the fastest-growing publisher of executive, professional and entrepreneurial biographies in the world, recently released its second quarter registry. The registry highlights the biographies of tens of thousands of talented individuals from a wide range of industries who have demonstrated leadership and achievement in their respective fields.

Meredith Y. Foster, Chief Editor of Cambridge Who's Who Publications, oversaw the production of the 2007-2008 Honors Edition of the Executive, Professional and Entrepreneurial Registry. “The hardcover registry acknowledges and memorializes the accomplishments of our members and makes a wonderful conversation piece to display in homes and offices,” said Meredith of the registry’s appeal. “Our members are justifiably proud of their professional achievements – be it receiving a long-deserved promotion, successfully starting up and running a business enterprise or being the recipient of a prestigious award. We’re pleased to underscore their triumphs.”

The exclusive 2007-2008 Honors Edition of the Executive, Professional and Entrepreneurial Registry also acts as a high-quality networking resource for job recruitment, career enhancement and new business development amongst members. As one member remarked, “I used the 2007-2008 Honors Edition of the Executive, Professional and Entrepreneurial Registry to identify members who would have an interest in a concept I’ve been developing: Business and Marketing Tridents. I contacted my fellow honorees, and they were more than willing to meet with me. If we had not had Registry membership in common, they probably would not have met with me so readily. It looks like we will be working together on some projects, and I have the Registry to thank for making the initial contact so easy!"

“Cambridge Who's Who Publishing is also set to go to press with our 2008 Top 101 Industry Experts book,” explained Meredith. “The book holds the top honor at Cambridge Who’s Who and endows members with the potential to build credibility and increase exposure on a global scale. The 2008 Top 101 Industry Experts book will feature biographical narratives, Q&A interviews and the contact information for 101 of our most distinguished members. Each was handpicked by our research department based on his level of achievement, longevity within his profession and exemplary leadership skills,” explained Meredith. The 2008 Top 101 Industry Experts book features members in a wide range of industries – from advertising, transportation, and finance, to insurance, the sciences, and media and entertainment,. Members featured in the 2008 Top 101 Industry Experts book will also be featured on http://www.cambridgewhoswho.com/ with an expanded profile.

About Cambridge Who's Who
The mission of Cambridge Who's Who is to ensure that Cambridge members receive recognition, support and credibility to advance their careers. Cambridge Who’s Who is also committed to delivering the highest quality networking resource for job recruitment, career enhancement and new business development. See who's making news and how Cambridge Who's Who is making a difference at our news blog: http://cambridgewhoswho.blogspot.com/.

Cambridge members have exclusive access to the biographical information of more than 250,000 successful executives, professionals and entrepreneurs at http://www.cambridgewhoswho.com/, where they use the database to share information, knowledge and services. Communication via the Cambridge Who's Who Registry travels in two directions, enabling Cambridge Who's Who members to reach out when they have a business need or opportunity as well as receive information on exciting new ventures.

Contact:
Ellen Campbell
516-535-1515
mediarelations@cambridgewhoswho.com

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Leaping into Entrepreneurship

How to Build Your Own Network of Experts

By Cambridge Who’s Who Member and Contributing Author Cheryl Nordyke

When my business partners and I decided that we wanted to venture into entrepreneurship by starting our own e-commerce business, we knew that there would be so much to learn. We had chosen an industry that we did not have any experience in but a great deal of interest.

It seemed a little overwhelming at times but then I would reflect on every position I had ever held. I thought about what made me successful in those positions and realized that my success had always come from reaching out to the experts in the industry I was working in at the time. If I had a problem or did not know how to do something, as long as I knew how to get the answer, I was okay. I also determined which responsibilities I loved and excelled at and became an expert in those areas. In the areas where I didn’t have an interest, I developed relationships and sought resources to provide me with the skill set I needed to succeed.

Another strategy I learned from numerous mentors was to document and share my knowledge. Following their advice, I became the go-to person in all of my positions. This made me more valuable to my employers and helped me to excel in my career. From the age of 15 at my first job until I started my own business, I never had to look for a job; I was recruited for every position I held.

Breaking New Ground
When my business partners and I made the decision to go into a new business area, the question became, “How do we start a business with no apparent experience?” I soon realized that between the three of us we had generated over $20 million during the last 10 years for other companies. Combined, we had backgrounds in business development, marketing, public relations, customer relationship management and finance. We had more than desire and focus; we had sound experience and knowledge in key business areas. And just as important, we knew that we could learn or find someone who had knowledge and experience in areas we were not familiar with.

My first visit to the bookstore got us started on our business plan. The Internet gave us statistics to analyze the industry. Our stop to the Small Business Development Center enlightened us with the funding obstacles we would face and gave us access to resources we never would have thought of seeking.

Next, we stumbled upon a website called StartUp Nation that takes a completely new outlook on starting a business. First you develop your life plan and then analyze the life you want before even considering writing a business plan. The website has a blog, forum and newsletter area – all of which offer a wealth of information.

We then took a trip to our local county’s Economic Resource Center, which provided us with even more information on preparing a business plan. At this point, the cost for all our outside informational resources was zero dollars.

Another great online resource was http://www.gobignetwork.com/. This website allowed us to connect with vendors through a program called Vendor Seek. This is what we used to find our web developer. We spoke to more than 10 web developers and focused our attention on those specializing in e-commerce. We found a company that has been developing e-commerce-based websites for more than 10 years and offers numerous features necessary to running a virtually seamless and efficient website. In addition to providing a great website, they act as a resource center for setting up our site and structuring our discounts and coupons.

Lining Up Your Team of Experts
When we set out to create jewelry, we were introduced to a designer, Jessica Fields. Jessica has been in the fashion industry for several years – her own high-end line of jewelry is sold in boutiques around the country. Her expertise in the industry and access to manufacturers, packaging companies and design resources has not only set our company apart from others, but has also saved us the time and energy needed to pursue these options on our own.

Other experts and vendors that we used to fill in the gaps in our own business skills included credit card processors and others who were familiar with online businesses. We decided on First Data as our processor and used Authorize.net as the gateway. Both companies have proven to be knowledgeable and efficient in handling the issues we face as an e-commerce business.

Starting a new venture is both exciting and stressful. Just remember that you do not have to be an expert in every area. You simply need to know where to find experts in areas where you lack expertise and how to utilize their knowledge base to build your business. Follow these tips and you will be well on your way to running a successful company:

  • Reach out to those who have experience in areas where you do not.
  • Ask questions and document the answers for easy reference.
  • Do that which you know and love and let your team of resources handle the areas in which they hold expertise.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Over 40 and Redefining Unemployment through Entrepreneurship

How Three Women Took the Chance of a Lifetime

By Cambridge Who's Who Contributing Author Cheryl Nordyke


Cheryl Nordyke is no stranger to adventure when it comes to finding employment. Nearly 10 years ago, after going through a divorce and losing the grandmother who raised her, she and her 5-year-old daughter packed a moving van and made the trek from southern California to New England to start a new job and a new life.

She was recruited for the job and, since she had been a customer of the Massachusetts-based software company for four years already, she knew the product and knew that she could sell it. So, with a cut in pay, but the promise of big earnings if she worked hard, she decided on a fresh start.

It didn’t take long for Cheryl to reap the benefits of what she sowed. She was the top producer during her first year at the company. For the next nine years she continued to be the top producer and brought in more than $15 million in upfront sales revenue in addition to a high percentage of ongoing revenue in monthly support fees, add-ons and the like. So when her employer eliminated her position as New Business Development Director, it came as a total shock to her. For the first time since she started working at the age of 17, Cheryl was unemployed.

During the last 20 years, unemployment rates have gone up and down as this country watched the dot-com era boom and then fall to recession before it slowly recovered, only to see a country wage a war it could not afford. During all of this, Cheryl and others just like her have had to adjust. But adjusting and coping was not enough for Cheryl. What made her successful in sales was her different outlook and approach to problem-solving, and it is what has turned her unemployed status to that of entrepreneur.

During her time at the company, Cheryl was able to help long-time friend, Carrin Torres from California, obtain consulting work at the same software company in the finance department. When that ended, Carrin went back to being a stay-at-home mom and when her struggling marriage ended, Carrin needed to look for work again. The work turned out to be much less than she needed to support four children; not only the future looked bleak, but so did everyday life. The issue of underemployment is as much of a financial shock to families as unemployment.

Faced with a search that could take months to land her a job at her previous six-figure salary, Cheryl took a chance. She put all of her life savings and retirement account on the line and decided that if she could make a good living for someone else, then she could certainly do the same for herself.

Teaming Up

While working at the software company, Cheryl met Kim Wierman. Kim was re-entering the workforce full time after spending 12 years at home raising three sons. Her husband’s health issues, plus the high cost of his health insurance, had Kim looking for a job with good benefits and time to spend with her family. She thought she had found the ideal situation when a marketing job presented itself. She was able to cross-train for several weeks to build her skills and confidence since she had been far removed from corporate life for more than a decade. The marketing job turned out to be more than she expected, but Kim welcomed the opportunity and worked hard to reach the goals set by the company. Ultimately her hard work did not pay off and her job was also eliminated. A managerial position was created in its place with the same description. Kim was not offered the new position or any other at the company and became involuntarily unemployed. Three weeks later, Kim’s husband died suddenly of a heart attack, and she was faced with being the sole provider for her family.

The expression, “Success is when preparation meets opportunity,” rang true with this trio. In the years before moving East, Cheryl and Carrin had dreamed of becoming writers and had started a book of reflections on everyday situations. Cheryl was able to introduce Kim and Carrin to each other, and the three of them went on to finish the book.

In the search for a reminder to be grateful, Cheryl, Carrin and Kim decided to wear a bracelet representing gratitude. “We were off on our quest to find the perfect piece of jewelry, but nothing out there spoke to us,” said Cheryl. Kim knew of someone that might be able to make them a bracelet and doors that they never imagined began to open.

“We met two women and worked with them for over four months and had nothing physically to show for our efforts. In the middle of working with them, another door opened and someone offered to introduce us to a jewelry designer named Jessica Fields. When our first road came to an end, we decided maybe the other road we had been offered might be worth pursuing. Jessica was exactly what we were looking for. We shared our vision and our story. We wanted jewelry that was beautiful and something you actually would want to wear and give as a gift. However, we also wanted something that would have meaning; one that would say to a recipient, ‘we are grateful for what you do’ and for the wearer it would say, ‘remember to be grateful.’”

A new business, Wavelet Productions, LLC, was born out of this search for the perfect reminder and with it Waves of Gratitude jewelry, apparel and an online community were launched. The entrepreneurial spirit with which these women approached unemployment is a mind-set that some people do not dare choose when faced with job loss, divorce, or any other new or unforeseen situation.

“We are flooded daily with negative information from our employers, the media, rude drivers and other unhappy, angry people,” comments Cheryl. “The jewelry, and the whole business we’ve created, is meant to remind us that we have a choice to not react in the same way when in a similar situation. We can choose to be grateful and not experience whatever it is that is making others so unhappy.”

The company was founded on the premise that there is something to be grateful for in every situation and in each day.

Giving Back

Waves of Gratitude will be giving a percentage of all sales to carefully chosen charities and causes. “We are going to be giving a percentage of our profits for 2008 to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure (a charity focused on breast cancer),” said Kim. “However, our cause will be wellness. We may be focused on cancer, but we will represent the positive statistics related to breast cancer survival.”

There is good news and much to be grateful for in the quest for improved wellness. Almost 80% of women between ages 50 and 69 will survive at least 10 years beyond treatment for breast cancer today, while data from the early 1990s shows just 59% of women in that same age group survived for 10 years after a breast cancer diagnosis. “If we can focus our energy on the positive progress and fight for the cure rather than against what is wrong, we can create a shift of energy,” added Carrin. “This approach can be taken to any situation we are presented.”

In the future, the Wavelet women plan to celebrate other causes, including the recognition of heroes – firefighters, soldiers, policeman and other everyday heroes. They hope to raise enough profits to give to quarterly causes. This includes showing their gratitude for all they have and what the future holds by supporting the environment, underprivileged children and education.
One of the jewelry pieces created is called "Branches of Hope," and it is meant to symbolize survival. “Every woman has survived something,” Cheryl says.


“It could be an illness, loss of a loved one, divorce, or a move – and sometimes all of those at once! For anyone who has displayed courage or strength this is a great gift to say, ‘I am proud of you; you made it.’ For you, it is a reminder that as the seasons sometimes weather a tree, it is those same seasons that bring out its true strength and inner beauty. It says that, no matter how life has been, there is hope for how life can be. The seeds of hope lie within us the same way they were in the tree before it became the symbol of strength it is today.”

Wavesofgratitude.com will also have a blogging section and forum serving as a social network where visitors can write their own gratitude stories, send pictures of the people to whom they have given jewelry and share pictures of themselves wearing it and what it is that has them feeling grateful. Giving hope to the other millions of people who will find themselves unemployed or underemployed this year, the Waves of Gratitude founders hope to reach 6 million people by June of 2009 and send a message that their focus on gratitude can shift not only their own lives but the lives of those around us. “We cannot control the world, but we can control how we choose to live our own lives. We chose to live in gratitude.”


About the Owners

Cheryl Nordyke is a native of Arizona who relocated from California to New Hampshire in 1998. Cheryl has been writing since the age of 10, consistently recording her thoughts and ideas about different situations along life’s path. She is the co-author of But What Do We Know and has written several children’s books. Cheryl is the mother of one daughter.

Carrin Torres resides in Southern California. Carrin’s background is in motivational training and personal coaching in the business arena. As a mother of four and also the co-author of But What Do We Know, she has been able to contribute many examples to the different approaches one can take in raising a family in today’s world.

Kim Wierman was raised on the North Shore in Boxford, Massachusetts and makes her home now in Derry, New Hampshire. Kim has worked as a professional writer and editor since 1986, having published work as a ghostwriter for more than 10 eBooks and printed books. She too has contributed to the book, But What Do We Know. Kim is the mother of three boys.

Cambridge Who's Who Contributing Author Cheryl Nordyke

Biography

Cheryl Nordyke has been a member of Cambridge Who's Who since April 2008. She is the co-owner of Wavelet Productions dba Waves of Gratitude. Waves of Gratitude is an online retail store that sells inspirational jewelry incorporating two or more wave designs from the wave collection into a versatile pendant. The waves were created by fashion designer Jessica Fields to represent gratitude, a sentiment which is given and received just as the waves of the ocean constantly flow to and from the shore. Cheryl’s expertise is in business development, sales, marketing, customer relations and business planning.

After facing several trials and tribulations, including unemployment, Cheryl moved from California to New England to begin a new life for herself and her daughter. She decided to become an entrepreneur and start her own business. She founded Waves of Gratitude with Carrin Torres and Kim Wierman, two women who had also endured life-changing experiences and shared her positive attitude and entrepreneurial spirit. They decided that they would produce a product that embodies the phrase “thank you” and serves as a long-lasting symbol of gratitude. For more information about Waves of Gratitude and how they got started, please read "Over 40 and Redefining Unemployment through Entrepreneurship".

Cheryl is a member of the New Hampshire Retail Association and received a certification through the Dale Carnegie Program. She has received the Human Relationships Award from Colonial Ford, National City, CA and currently supports Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Make-A-Wish Foundation, The Jimmy Fund and the American Heart Association. In addition to being an entrepreneur, Cheryl has been writing since the age of 10 and has been consistently recording her thoughts and ideas about different situations along life’s path. She is the co-author of But What Do We Know, a compilation of insights on how to approach daily situations in a positive way. The book provides three different points of view into different aspects of life such as friends, family and parenting. In addition, Cheryl has written several children’s books.

Cheryl attributes her success to her hard work and determination as well as to receiving continuous support from her mentors. She enjoys building and maintaining relationships with customers and within five years she plans to invest in small business ventures and share her business knowledge with other aspiring entrepreneurs.

Articles by Cheryl Nordyke

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

An Introduction to Franchising

Four tips to starting a successful franchise.
By Cambridge Who’s Who Lifetime Member and Contributing Author Harold Kestenbaum

My name is Harold Kestenbaum, and I am a franchise attorney. Many of you may be wondering what a franchise attorney does. I realize that franchise is not a well-known sector of the legal profession unless you work in the industry as either a franchisor or a franchisee. Here is how I became involved in franchise law.

In 1977, at my third job out of law school, I worked for a solo practitioner in Manhattan who represented many corporate clients, some of whom were publicly traded. One company happened to be a franchising company. One day my boss said to me, “Kestenbaum, I need you to learn about franchising, so that you can handle our franchise client.” Not knowing what in the world he was talking about (I had done everything but franchise law up until then) I found every book I could on franchising (there was no Internet in 1977) and for the next four years I immersed myself in franchise law. When New York State passed a new franchise registration law in 1981, I decided that it was time for me to become a solo practitioner and left the practitioner I was working for. I have been practicing franchise law ever since.

I have written a book, “So, You Want to Franchise Your Business,” that will be in stores on August 1, 2008, and delves into the way a company embarks on the franchise path. It includes the dos and the don’ts of franchising your business. In my book, my co-author, Adina Genn, and I discuss what makes a company right for franchising and how to go about turning a successful business into a franchise company. Here are a few key tips from my book:

  1. Have a successful model. It is impossible to create a franchise program without having at least one successful operation, a pilot, if you will. It is not feasible to think that if your core business loses money and is unsuccessful, that a franchisee will be any different. It is imperative that your franchisees be successful, otherwise franchising does not work.

  2. Make sure your business model is replicable. You must be able to build clones of your operation, otherwise, the system will not work. Have you ever seen a McDonalds without the infamous golden arches? That is just one example, but it goes beyond the look. It is the method of operation that must be duplicated.

  3. Attain capital for your franchise. You must have capital in order to roll out the franchise program. You cannot believe that franchising will cure your cash flow issues, you need to have money in order to roll out the program. Do not view the program as a way to fund an undercapitalized business model.

  4. Prove your model works! The concept that you are trying to franchise must lucrative. You must demonstrate that your concept works before you try to offer it to the public as a franchise. If the business model is a failure, your franchisees will inevitably fail as well. Franchising can be a wonderful business model, but your initial model must work first, otherwise franchising will not be possible.
Why franchise your business? Very good question, but to those of us in the business, the answer is quite obvious. If you want to grow your business beyond one or two stores, and you cannot afford to build more units at, for example, $500,000 each, then what better way to grow than to let a franchisee buy a franchise and build the unit himself or herself for that amount, and you simply receive the weekly royalty of 5% or 6% of gross revenues? Franchising is a vehicle for growth using the capital and human resources of someone else (the franchisee). How great is that? It is simple, yet complex. The franchising relationship goes much deeper than building the unit and collecting royalties. It is a starting place for companies that want to grow but do not have the internal capital or human resources, like Starbucks, to do it by themselves.

Cambridge Who's Who Contributing Author Harold Kestenbaum

Biography

Cambridge Who’s Who Lifetime Member and Contributing Author, Harold Kestenbaum, is a dedicated and established franchise attorney. Mr. Kestenbaum has been involved in franchise law since 1977 and has served as franchise counsel to many regional, national and international franchise companies in various industries. Mr. Kestenbaum currently provides legal counsel to Ruskin Moscou Faltischek PC in franchise distribution and licensing law, representing start-up and established franchisers. He has served as the chief executive officer of a national franchisor and as the director of six nationally and internationally known franchisors, enhancing his experience in franchise law.

Mr. Kestenbaum is a member of the American Bar Association’s Antitrust Section, the Antitrust Section’s Forum Committee on Franchising (since 1978), the Subcommittee on Franchising of the American Bar Association’s Corporation Banking and Business Law Section and the International Franchise Association’s Supplier Forum Advisory Board. He is also a founding member and the current chairman of the New York State Bar Association’s Franchise, Distribution and Licensing Law Section and serves as chairman for its Education and Seminar Subcommittee. Previously, Mr. Kestenbaum chaired statewide seminar programs for New York State attorneys in 1997, 2000, 2002, 2004 and 2005, and chaired seminars on franchise law for the Nassau and Suffolk County Bar Associations.

Mr. Kestenbaum received a JD from the University of Richmond in 1975 and bachelor of arts in sociology from Queens College in 1971. He has been named as one of the “Top 100 Franchise Attorneys in North America,” in 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007 by Franchise Times Magazine and as one of the three best franchise attorneys in the New York metro area in 2005 and 2006 by New York Magazine. Mr. Kestenbaum is currently working on two books: “Franchise Your Business, for Entrepreneurs,” and “How to Become Successful in a Franchise Business Once You Are a Franchisor.” He has published articles on franchise law for the Franchise Law Journal, Franchise Lawyer and for the ABA Forum Committee, and has lectured extensively on the subject.

Articles by Harold Kestenbaum