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Last November in Delete My Account, I wrote about Twitter and how the negativity was, in essence, bumming me out. I must confess that I have returned to Twitter but only for a few minutes every day to catch up. Not on the news – which I get from old fashioned newspapers – but on the mood and reaction to the news from all sides. I still find it depressing. Tweeters use 140 characters to shame and belittle their real or imagined opponents. There is a preponderance of tweets about disasters – from local to international and from man-made to natural. Bad news is the norm, as evidenced by the expectation of death when a celebrity is mentioned with no context.
And then I discovered Instagram, (cue the heavenly music). Instagram is my antidote to Twitter. Instagram celebrates personal achievements and milestones like weddings, graduations and births. What’s more, the posts on Instagram are about people you know personally and have a connection to. And, the pictures are beautiful and flattering. Instagram is the perfect medium for National Geographic with its treasure trove of gorgeous photos of people, nature and animals. It is also a place where artists and coloring enthusiasts can display their work and pet lovers can post daily shots of adorable cats and dogs.
Instagram is my reminder that not all public discourse is contentious and mean spirited. A picture is worth a thousand words. A tweet is limited to 140 characters. Sometimes more is better.
I wrote this blog post last year to commemorate Women’s History Month 2016 and to acknowledge the gains that Women-Owned Small Businesses (WOSBs) had achieved in Federal contracting. The message is still important and relevant today so, here it is again for Women’s History Month 2017.
In 1972, the phrase “I am woman hear me roar” was popularized by the Helen Reddy hit song I am Woman. The song became a rallying cry for women’s rights pointing out that there were too many women to “ignore.” Young girls and women would sing along and belt out the lyrics. Forty one years later in 2013, we heard Katy Perry Roar with her hit song. And, young girls and adults are once again belting out the lyrics. Both songs equate “roaring” with personal empowerment and being heard.
This is juxtaposed with the meaning of “roaring” when referring to the 1920s as the “Roaring Twenties.” In this context, the meaning is less about personal empowerment and more about economic empowerment. The Roaring Twenties are defined as a period of sustained economic prosperity with a distinctive cultural edge. Women typically represented the cultural part of the equation and flappers became the iconic imagery for the period.
That was the 1920s. In the almost one hundred years since then women have become critical to both economic prosperity and the cultural landscape.
Today, Reddy’s lyric “numbers too big to ignore” could be referring to women business owners. According to the Amex OPEN 2015 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report, as of 2015, it is estimated that there are just over 9.4 million women-owned businesses in the United States. These businesses generate nearly $1.5 trillion in revenues.
And, with the roar getting louder, the Small Business Administration (SBA) has responded with improved features to the WOSB program. In an attempt to level the playing field, last year the SBA announced that WOSB’s doing business with the Federal government are eligible for sole-source awards. Sole-source awards have been available to other disadvantaged businesses (e.g.Veteran-owned and minority-owned) for years.
And, the General Services Administration (GSA) recently announced that the government had reached their percentage goal for WOSBs for the very first time since the goal was established in 1994. While it is heartening that the goal was met, the goal was just 5%! We still have a ways to go until the playing field is fair. So, we will keep on roaring!
SynaVoice is a certified Woman-Owned Small Business.
SynaVoice is pleased to welcome Katherine “Katie” Eige to the team as a Consultant. Katie is a graduate of George Washington University and received her Master of Science and Global Security degree from the University of Glasgow in Scotland. She is a critical thinker and excellent communicator and we look forward to her contributions.
Confession: I am addicted to Twitter. I constantly check my Twitter feed. I check @TwitterMoments from moment to moment afraid that I will miss out on some global happening in the minute it is happening. I look at the feeds for all the games. “Make a movie into a food dish” and “Why you like squirrels in five words” have a strange fascination for me. I don’t want to miss out on a laugh or something clever. As for politics…I checked every hour hoping to divine something about the US populace from the pro and con tweets.
Observation: Twitter is uniquely suited to hostile, snarky, glib and hateful messages. It does not take much to hurl an insult and it can be done in 140 characters easily. In contrast, 99.9% of all communication that is beautiful, nuanced, empathetic, kind, meaningful or educational takes more than 140 characters. Think: poetry, prose, theater, movies, music and school books. Even in death, #RIP is not a memorable sentiment. To truly mourn a loss, you need more than 140 characters.
Resolution: I am going to reduce the negative, hurtful, hateful noise in my life. I am going to live in the moment instead of check every moment. While Twitter will still play a role in my professional life, in my personal life I will…Delete. My. Account.
Today is a beautiful day – with crisp, cooler air. This summer was particularly hot and it seemed like we would never see another day with mild temperatures. Perhaps it will become hot again, but today it seems like Fall will definitely arrive. Last year, Fall had a different meaning for me as I fell and ruptured my spleen. I now refer to 2015 as the Big Fall.
I am grateful to my friends and family who rallied around and cheered me on to a complete recovery with my spleen intact. One college friend was kind enough to send me custom-made ice cream with flavors that included SpleenNut Butter and Chocolate Trip.
Coming up on the anniversary of my Big Fall – I wanted to revisit the lessons learned. And, they still resonate so here for your reading pleasure is the blog post from October 2015.
In September I tripped at a camp out and ruptured my spleen. True story. In my defense, it was dark and drizzling out and I was carrying a piece of pie in each hand, one for my daughter and one for her friend. We were getting close to our tent and I tripped on someone else’s tent tether. I immediately realized I had lost my footing but assumed I would regain it and so I tried to save the pie. In so doing, I did not use my hands to break the fall and landed squarely on my left rib cage causing two severe lacerations and rupturing my spleen.
I spent nine of the next ten days in the hospital, the first four in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). After one day at home and what turned out to be a premature release from the hospital, I took an ambulance back and spent five more days in the hospital. These are the lessons I learned.
Lesson 1: Spleens are good to have. Growing up I always heard that you didn’t “need” your spleen. Consequently, all ruptured spleens were treated by removing the spleen. Today, the standard of care has completely changed. Doctors try and save the spleen and only perform surgery in extreme cases where the patient’s vital signs do not stabilize. Thankfully, I still have my spleen.
Lesson 2: Sometimes expensive medical tests are good. Over the years, I have become jaded reading about unnecessary and expensive medical tests. When the Physician’s Assistant (PA) in the Emergency Room recommended a blood test, a CAT scan and a traditional X-ray I assumed it was part of a plot to increase revenue for the hospital. In fact, the CAT scan was necessary for the appropriate diagnosis which was a ruptured spleen.
Lesson 3: You work with Millennials whether you like it or not. I fully expected to be playing “do you know?” with the doctors that visited me in the hospital. Imagine my surprise when it was my business partner, who is half my age, who was connecting with the residents and interns that stopped by. In the business world there is much teeth-gnashing about how to work with Millennials. In the hospital you have no choice. The young doctors are very easy to work with and they show up early and stay late and have no expectations of working remotely. And as a bonus, they are not burdened with the old beliefs (see Lesson 1) and have the benefit of newer technologies (see Lesson 2).
Lesson 4: Prepare like you would for a business meeting. You can be your own advocate in the hospital. I spent hours a day researching on the internet to try and understand my condition, treatments and possible outcomes. The hospital used scrub colors to differentiate the tiers of nurses, PA’s and doctors but the colors were meaningless to me. I knew I needed to better understand the doctor hierarchy so I could understand who was ultimately making the decisions about my care. I texted my cousin who is a doctor and got a crash course on hospital hierarchy. (Hint: the Attending is in charge.) Armed with a better understanding of ruptured spleens and the hierarchy I was able to have a more productive conversation with the Attending about my care.
Lesson 5: Next time don’t worry about the pie. Enough said.
On June 21, 2016 Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP) announced that SynaVoice CEO, Julie Rothhouse, was selected to serve on the WIPP Leadership Advisory Council (LAC).
About the WIPP Leadership Advisory Council
Members of the LAC include women business owners, thought leaders, and academics with expertise in entrepreneurship, public policy, and leadership development. The Council exists to support WIPP’s mission through: providing guidance on policy and programming; expanding the network and reach of WIPP through education and programming; representing WIPP at events; and serving as an incubator for future WIPP leadership.
Having been a member of WIPP and participating in the organization’s recent successes for Women-Owned Small Businesses (WOSBs) in the federal contracting space, Ms. Rothhouse looks forward to her service. “WIPP is doing important work for Women-Owned businesses like ours. SynaVoice is about increasing organizational impacts through stronger communications. I hope to bring my knowledge and experience to the LAC and find ways to increase the positive impacts driven by WIPP.”
Ms. Rothhouse will serve a two-year term on the LAC.
What do you get when you mix a Baby Boomer with a Millennial? Assuming age before beauty, I suggest a Boomennial. My business partner and I have a Boomennial relationship.
Before we started our business a year ago, many counseled me not to partner with her. They feared she had too few years of experience and would lack commitment to the firm. They thought she would jump if something more interesting came along. And, as it turns out, many counseled her against partnering with me. They cautioned that I had too many years of experience and would lack commitment to the firm. They said I would leave if something more interesting came along – presumably retirement.
Boomennial companies are becoming more common as children join their parents in the family business. In those cases, the Boomer’s retirement and the transition for the next generation may have been planned for years. But, what happens when the partners are not related? Luckily for us, we have proven the naysayers wrong and our partnership is working well. Here are a few of the reasons that our partnership works.
- We have a similar work ethic. We both enjoy working and typically complete tasks at a similar pace. We are both very organized list-makers and we share the same standards of excellence.
- We both want to learn and grow. Our growth areas are not the same, but our skills sets are complementary so we can help each other learn.
- We are not embarrassed to admit what we don’t know. We ask questions and share knowledge to figure things out.
- We both believe in transparency and frequent communication. We catch up on all aspects of the business daily through email, texts, phone calls and in-person meetings.
- We resolve issues in real time so we can maintain a positive outlook.
- We are in lock-step on the goals and vision for our company.
Yes, there are the occasional generational differences that primarily manifest in cultural references. She has never seen movies that I consider classics, like Spinal Tap and Chinatown. But, by the same token, I have never even heard of four of her five favorite bands. Happily, the difference in cultural icons does not influence our work relationship. We are more alike than different in our approach to business which significantly reduces the gap between generations for our firm.
SynaVoice is a women-owned Boomennial company. Follow us at http://www.synavoice.com.
What is Business Development? Broadly it can be defined as the things you do to grow your business. For many people, that is a daunting proposition. However, when it is broken down into smaller, more manageable activities, it is less intimidating. Business Development is comprised of six general activities.
- Brand. It is difficult to grow sales if you don’t know what you are selling. Define your brand. Know your value proposition. Your brand will benefit if you develop your voice and look and keep it consistent.
- Research. Research your competition, your clients, and business opportunities. In a dynamic business environment, things shift and change, so research is never complete. Stay current to stay competitive.
- Socialize. Whether you call it networking, building relationships or just plain socializing – it is hard to win business if no one knows you. People typically do business with people they know and like, so get out there.
- Listen. Listen for connections between people and ideas. Listen for problems that you can solve. Listen for feedback that can make you better at what you do. Listen to fuel creation.
- Create. Use your intellectual capital to develop proposals, products, and prototypes which demonstrate your value add. Share them with prospective clients.
- Compete. In most industries you have to compete to get what you want. Competition hones and improves your skills. Compete to win!
Mastery of these six activities along with persistence and patience is a recipe for Business Development success.
Follow Our Voice blog at http://www.SynaVoice.com
SynaVoice is one year old today. The past year has been a whirlwind of activity with a few of our business milestones noted below.
- On March 31, 2015 SynaVoice was legally incorporated in Virginia.
- In June 2015, SynaVoice officially launched and we started working with business partners and consulting with clients.
- In February 2016, National Women Business Owners Corporation (NWBOC) officially certified SynaVoice as a Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB).
- And, just this month, SynaVoice was service marked by the US Patent and Trademark Office.
Starting a business was exhilarating for us. We are so grateful for the help we received in our first year from our friends, family, mentors and advisors. Our clients and business partners have been especially generous with their time, advice and assistance. We look forward to celebrating anniversaries and milestones for many years to come.