#27 Confessions and Reflections – Building a Million Dollar Business Part Time

Stop SignDo you ever just stop? Stop to think. Stop to reflect. Stop to realize how far you’ve come? Stop to think about where you want to go? I’m not much of a stopper. But, today, I stop. This post is like a table of contents of the past year, as well as some inside scoop as to what was REALLY going on when I wrote these posts. Just a few  months ago, the Hot Mommas Project was just an idea and a couple of stories.  Today we are the world’s largest collection of teachable role models for women and girls. Learn more at www.HotMommasProject.org.

 P.s. If you want to read last years’ summary posts, here they are: One and Two




What is this, where I am, who are you? If this is your first time here, this is the insider’s blog for The Hot Mommas Project. We are a women’s leadership project housed at the George Washington University School of Business (where I teach) and have an audacious goal of becoming a million dollar venture…while being led by a mom working part time. Our big thing right now is the Hot Mommas Project Case Study competition. Click here to nominate someone.  Click here for about page.


 #15a: The Press Release Back-story In the Summer of 2008 I hired FMS Inc to built a first-of-its-kind “case wizard” software so that women from around the world can be walked through the process of telling their story, so that teachable lessons can be communicated to readers. Talk about women everywhere paying it forward! It also filled a gaping void in the world of women’s leadership. Girls and women need role models for many documented and common-sense reasons. We wanted to be part of the solution.  This post represented our coming-out party. It was the day we announced the judges for the first annual Hot Mommas Project case competition. I sat at my computer, at my house, having done my first online press release, having no idea whether anyone cared or whether this would be successful. I was experiencing Entrepreneur Mania:  Feeling very crazed and looking at every detail as if it would be the make or break for us.

 #15b: Announcing Our Judges Here are our 2009 Judges. I was not sure all of these judges would say “yes.” They are impressive people, and I continue to look back and gasp that they not only said “yes,” but are incredible supporters, advocates, and mentors. It really does impact my view of the world and give me faith that people at the top get it.

 #16: How to do a Mass/Blast Email Campaign – This was a last ditch attempt to get people to write their cases at www.HotMommasProject.org. I had some “issues” with blast emails. It may sound weird, but it’s true. I feared looking cheesy. I feared making people who were important to me seem unimportant by blasting an email. Behind the scenes, I suspected my weird “issues” were actually getting in the way of the business’s reach.

 #17 How to Bring Red Carpet Cache to Your Event  – What a fun event. I think I’d forgotten I could have fun. It also connected me with my deep appreciation of the arts. This was in stark contrast to my very business-focused life with all the creativity sucked out of it. I decided creativity must be a part of the Hot Mommas Project. I met celebrities and agents and creative people. Going up to this premiere was like a celebration. It had been a tough year, and this was just FUN! I also give the scoop about red carpet events.

 #18 Top 5 Tips for Getting Media Coverage – This was Entrepreneurial Mania wave two. We started getting lots of press coverage. I should have been happy, but, it uncovered more of my “issues.” I didn’t like being in front of a camera. I call this the Wedding Theory: At your wedding, do you LOVE being the center of attention or are you secretly cringing waiting for the spotlight to be off you? I am the latter. Most people think I am the former, but I’m not. I went to many people for pep talks, and – FINALLY – now realize that press is actually an incredibly efficient way for reaching mass quantities of people in a short period of time (critical for a busy mom), and it helps establish credibility (our cornerstone). I parlayed what I learned into this post.

 #19 How We Hired an Intern on Twitter (yes..Found, Interviewed, Hired) – This was a fun experiment. It was one of those “Hey, let’s see if this idea will work” moments. And, it did. The Twitter sisterhood really came through for us here.  

 #20 – Nine important questions for entrepreneurs trying to balance – Many people (press, interns on Twitter, fabulous women and the men who support them) liked the idea of the Hot Mommas Project. I started getting requests, lots of requests, to speak on panels and at various events. This is one to which I said “yes” – The Washington Working Women’s Forum. In advance of the panel the organizers had the panelists answer some questions which got me thinking. I asked others to think along with me in this post.

 #21 Get Happy, or Get Out – AKA “Making a Deal With Your Entrepreneurial Spouse” – This was a conversation 10-plus years in coming. No matter how successful my husband’s business became, he never seemed happy. I didn’t write about this but had just spent the entire summer meeting with mentors and listening to their ideas about the Hot Mommas Project. I felt very supported and focused, and wanted to pass that mojo along. Being content is an acquired skill. This post was about beginning the conversation. It’s a bit tangential to a blog about entrepreneurship –but at the same time, it’s not.

 #22 – Reclaiming Your Energy from Emotional Vampires – Moving up in the world comes with some downsides. One of those is lawyers (sorry Dad – who is a lawyer – you guys stress me out). So, I was stressed out about some legal wranglings having to do with the Hot Mommas Project. I was spending a lot of time worrying about it. I’m very, very good at worrying. I ran myself through an exercise basically saying, ‘Hmmmm….what could get me to stop worrying.” It semi-worked so I decided to share it. Our really talented and loyal attorney  Tenley Carp also taught me a good mantra: “Trust but verify.” Coping mechanisms are key in life and I guess in business too. P.s. Everything I was stressed about wound up working out beyond what I could have even imagined. So, all the time I spent worrying was completely worthless. A good lesson.

 #23 How to Build a Killer Network Without Going to Harvard Business SchoolThis was a continuation of my learning, listening and networking summer. I decided to write about this particular series of meetings because I was in San Francisco meeting with the amazing Carrie Schwab-Pomerantz and Women’s Funding Network. When a network actually results in not only insight and inspiration, but also with partnerships that make your business go vroom, it’s worth writing about. I’m convinced this is how we’re going to be successful. It’s not going to be alone. Just as the Hot Mommas Project gives you a room full of people as supporters and mentors because we know it will lead to women’s success, so too will we succeed with that philosophy.

CONTENT SERIES – All of the 24 and 25 posts continued my summer of learning. And as much as I complain about having to focus and write curriculum, this series showed me what a TON of content I can produce in a short period of time, so I should probably stop whining.

 #24a Techniques for Learning to Improve Your Business – The GrowSmartBiz Conference – This was the first post from the #GrowSmartBiz conference sponsored by Network Solutions. It was fun, and kind of a massive drinking from the firehose of learning – as I’d been doing all summer with mentors. One of the top traits of the most successful Hot Mommas from our survey is a true passion for learning. Also, I really like Network Solutions and wanted to see who they’re targeting and their business motivations with the goal of getting them more involved with The Hot Mommas Project. There are some good nuggets in here to help small businesses survive and thrive.

 #24b Techniques for Learning to Improve Your Business – “Mr. Anderson” Chris Anderson – The concept of “Freemium” is described here based on a talk by keynoter Chris Anderson of WIRED magazine. This was very eye-opening. All businesses need to understand this concept. I couldn’t stop thinking about “Mr. Anderson” from the Matrix during his presentation.

 #25 A Woman’s Business View – The World Business Forum #WBF09 – This was an interesting experience. I was invited up as “one of the nation’s leading business bloggers” to cover the HSM World Business Forum. I am actually NOT one of the nation’s leading business bloggers; at least, I don’t think I am. But, anywhoo – it continued my learning and listening tour. This is a women’s business fact sheet which I would use to translate/filter the conference learning points.

 #25a – Leading in a Time of Crisis by Bill George, The Women’s View – Bill George is THE MAN. He is a great person, a great leader, and great family guy, and a great way to open the conference. I felt inspired.

 #25b – Pat Lencioni Trust and Conflict Exercises for Teams, Women in Business – Pat is – pardon the language here – ADORABLE. Not something you typically think when you see the caliber of speakers here. But, he was such a breath of fresh air. Funny, authentic, real. These are the kinds of speakers I like.

 #25c – David Rubenstein’s Top 10 Chicken Soup for the Economy? Women in Business Get Your Game On – Interesting talk. David Rubenstein kind of barked out his points. I liked it. However, I begin to see by this time in the conference that women are NOT on the agenda. My women’s business fact sheet (#25) clearly shows that women SHOULD be on the agenda. I begin to feel like 1) I’m learning a lot 2) But that I am visiting an alien planet. I used to “roll” with this crowd. It was interesting to feel like they didn’t get it.

 #25d – Will Business Celebrate, or Tolerate, Our Daughters? – Bill Clinton is the ONLY speaker who mentioned women as a specific point that the business leaders in the room should take seriously. As said on a panel the other day, “It was like the world’s worst drinking game. The word ‘woman’ was only said ONCE the entire two days.” This post is a call to action. I plan for the Hot Mommas Project to be a part of the revolution. It’s not about “anti other-people,” it’s about “pro-us/women” which will wind up benefiting all. Research shows that women’s definition of success is largely community based. If our community is successful, we feel successful . So this generation of women – I’m convinced – will give back exponentially what it gets. And if we don’t, then someone should give us a good klonk on the head.

 #26 Top 5 on How to Package Content and Be an Expert  – If we are going to be part of the revolution, we better have our act together. Here I share some lessons learned about packaging content and being an expert.


Know a dynamic woman over the age of 18? Nominate her to be a role model and tell her story at www.HotMommasProject.org. Emailsupport@hotmommasproject.org with your nomination.

Want to let someone know you believe in them? Sponsor a case writer with your nomination. Every $25 allows a case to be permanently archived on our educational site. Mention your nominees name and email in the PayPal note.

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