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.” 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


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


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

An Expert Lesson from Dad

Five ways to become an expert in your field.

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

My father was a carpenter. I grew up constantly hearing friends, relatives and customers sing his praises for being the best in the business. My father frequently needed to inspect jobs or pick up payments in the evenings, and my brother, sister and I often went along with him. Those trips resulted in additional opportunities for us to hear favorable and appreciative raves about his workmanship. One day I asked my father if he was “an expert” carpenter. Surprisingly, he responded that he did not consider himself to be an expert carpenter. I was confused by his answer because I thought being an expert meant that you were the very best in your field and anyone I ever heard reference my father’s work had said that he was“the best.” Being the type of father who would perpetually provide us with the life lessons we would never learn in school, his explanation went like this:

    “No matter what you do in life give it your all, be the best you can possibly be and never tell yourself that you know everything there is to know about something. No matter how much you think you know always be willing to learn more, something new or a better way to do things. And remember to be humble. If you are fortunate enough to receive praise, politely acknowledge it and forget about it. Hanging onto praise is walking a path to arrogance, and that will surface in the work you do. If you keep your mouth shut and your ears open you will learn more and far surpass any goals you have laid out for yourself. Every piece of work that you do tells people who you are and becomes your reputation, your signature. You are the only one who can ensure that your signature is honorable, consistent and that it stands for something worthwhile and reputable.”
Of all the things my father taught me over the years, this advice has had the greatest impact on my professional life. With that in mind, allow me to make a few points on how to become an expert in your field:
  • Be the best you can be: Choose a field or career that you are very interested in, enjoy being a part of and are passionate about. You cannot be “the best” if your heart is not in it. Be honest with yourself if you have not done everything you possibly can to gain a high level of knowledge in your field. You might be able to fool yourself, but not others for very long. Lie to yourself about the extent of your knowledge, and the truth will show up in your work.

  • Act the part: Being an expert is not only about having the highest degree of knowledge in a particular area, but it also involves the way that you conduct yourself. Your personal appearance, attitude, communication skills and compassion for others are equally as important.

  • Create your signature: Your work ethic is your signature. Excellent skills, attention to detail and reliability will certainly put you on the right path. Have the courage to “color outside the lines” once in awhile and these key attributes will support you in doing so.

  • Stay humble: Sure, we all love the accolades, awards and recognition. It is human nature to want that pat on the back and somewhat necessary when we know that we have put our heart into something in order to keep it going. Just remember not to let it go to your head.

  • If you have to say it, it is not so: Anyone who goes around tooting their own horn will be called many things, but an expert most likely will never be one of them!
Moreover, if you can look yourself in the mirror and honestly tell yourself that you have done everything possible to be the very best that you can be then that should be all you need. Thanks for teaching and showing me that, Dad!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

April 2008 Teleseminar: “Million Dollar Networking Strategies for the 21st Century” with guest expert Mike Litman, Thursday, April 10, 2008

Cambridge Who’s Who would like to recognize the overwhelming response from members to the announcement of its first teleseminar, “Million Dollar Networking Strategies for the 21st Century.” It was truly a testament to the drive, determination and level of dedication to personal and professional development that the members of Cambridge Who’s Who share.

The call featured Mike Litman, multi-millionaire and best-selling author of Conversations with Millionaires, as guest expert. Mr. Litman has helped hundreds of thousands of people improve their lives and grow their businesses. Cambridge Who’s Who invited him to speak so that members could benefit from his strategies for success and learn how to develop their personal brand, achieve business growth and expand their professional network.

If you participated in the call, Cambridge Who’s Who hopes you enjoyed it and learned from it. (Thank you to all who responded with their feedback thus far.) If you were not able to dial-in, here is a summary of what Mike Litman had to say to members about networking in the 21st century.

Tip #1: Be Proactive and Make Yourself Visible
When you want to succeed, there are habits and characteristics that you must have in order for you to excel, for you to profit and for you to change lives. You need to learn how to build your business, yourself and your career. Especially in this day and age when the Internet plays a large role in society; if you are not a strong networker, if people cannot find you, if your exposure and visibility are not there, if your credibility is not there, then you do not exist in today’s economy. You must learn to become a successful networker to survive and to further yourself. All successful networkers are proactive. They do not just wait for opportunities and connections to come to them, but they go out and look for them.

Tip #2: Find Your Asset of Value
To successfully network with others you need to find what makes you a valuable resource. The key to big success is becoming valuable to others. Once you know what you can offer to others, your goal is to go the extra mile for your peers and customers by offering them your asset of value. What is your asset of value? Your asset of value is a platform that you have, control or possess that you can share with somebody else and by them leveraging it, you give them exposure and credibility.

Tip #3: Become a Great Problem Solver
Identify yourself as a problem solver. The people who are the most successful and climb the ladder the highest are simply great problem solvers. Everything was created to solve a problem. What problem do you solve?

Mid-way through the call, Mr. Litman opened the phone lines to all members listening in to the teleseminar. Those who entered the queue had great comments and questions for him. Here is some of the discussion that took place between Cambridge Who’s Who members and Mike Litman.

Cambridge Who’s Who member, Nicole from Connecticut, works in the aerospace business as a lean expert. “I have been very successful most of my career, but I am at the point where I am ready to go to the next level,” says Nicole. However, Nicole has been told by the higher executives and the VP of Human Resources that she gives too much away and needs to focus more on herself. Nicole thinks that she has learned a great deal from sharing with her peers. Even though in her industry the focus is on the individual, she knows in the long run that being an integral part of the team is more important. How can she further her career? What should she do?

    Mike Litman Replies: Schedule a meeting with the executives and VP of Human Resources and ask them exactly what they mean and what direction you should go in to become more beneficial to yourself and others. Then determine if there is a value to what they are saying. Consider your self-worth, self-value and strength. If you have found that your way of being has been helpful in your career then do what works for you and be true to yourself. Look back at how you got to where you are today and consider your mindset at that time in order to determine how to move forward. People have rarely gone wrong with being valuable or a person of influence, power, vision and direction.

Cambridge Who’s Who member, Mary Lou from Phoenix, has experience in selling kitchen cabinets and countertops. The business specializes in kitchen remodeling but due to the housing market, business has not been so good. She asks Litman, “What suggestions do you have to get exposure?” and states “You have to have a customer to go the extra mile for people.”

    Mike Litman Replies: You need to identify and research your competition. Are there other competitors in your town? What are the differences between you and your competitors? Do not focus on negatives such as the down turn in the housing market, but believe that your business is booming, can boom or can move forward. Your beliefs will dictate your actions.
    Businesses can become self-absorbed and have a self-centered mind-set. They worry only about business growth and securing new clients. More importantly, business should question how they can become more valuable to their prospects and customers. Any business owner can create a strategic advantage through creativity, imagination and education. Educate your existing and potential customers by holding an informational session in your office. This adds value to the products and services that you offer.
    Advertise your business in a creative way. Encourage your son, Mark, to tell the story of how he became involved in the woodworking profession and made the transition from the financial services industry. Make the woodworking process more interactive by holding demonstrations for customers. Offer specials and promotions with a call to action such as a 90-day sale and send a letter to your customers with an incentive for them to refer business to you.

Cambridge Who’s Who member, Dante from Phoenix, had his own advice:

    Dante: Nobody cares what you know until they find out how much you care; and you do that when you listen.

    Litman: What do you do when you problem solve?

    Dante: I don’t see a problem, I see a solution. I like to lead, be accountable and find solutions.

    Litman: I can already tell that you are successful in what you do.
Cambridge Who’s Who member, Gloria from Miami, feels overwhelmed at her job and wants to know, “What do you do when you’re doing such a good job but you end up with over a 60-hour work week?”

    Mike Litman Replies: Eighty percent of your output is fueled by twenty percent of your input. You need to determine what your priorities are. It is easy to be busy but you want to have comprehensive success. Where is your twenty percent and what are your strengths? It is about being focused and doing things that have the greatest meaning and impact. You also want to make sure that you are celebrated and not tolerated; this is key to succeeding in your job and in business.

Cambridge Who’s Who thanks all of the members who participated in the first teleseminar. We look forward to having future teleseminars on other topics including becoming an expert in your field, increasing your online visibility, winning and retaining new clients, marketing your products and services and building your personal and corporate brands. For more information about the 2008 Teleseminar Series or to find out how you can serve as a guest expert, please email