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Good one – Low cost biz resources for entrepreneurs on @NFIByef c/o @GradeAFresh

Here are the top free and low-cost online resources for small business courtesy of our young entrepreneur profile from April, Grade A Marketing founder Amanda Fischer.  If you don’t read on, you’ll be missing out.

“How to” Resource for Small Business: www.Web20blog.org

The Web 2.0 Blog focuses on sales and marketing tools and topics that are useful for small business owners and marketing managers. This blog is very much a “how to” and “how we’ve done it” source of information.  I have to admit that I, along with a few of my strategic partners, sponsor and contribute to this blog.

Preferred CRM: www.Batchbook.com

Batchbook, a robust customer relationship management (CRM) software with small business prices, is a good alternative to the incumbent Salesforce.com.  This solution is best for a sole-proprietor, consulting business. This product is marketed as “the social CRM”, but unfortunately, it does not live up to its potential…

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#34 How Entrepreneurs Deal With Failure

Today, I admit failure. I’ve been trying and trying to get this teleclass thing right. My research project  – the Hot Mommas Project – is now the world’s largest women’s case study library. Where to go from here? “You need to capture and package the knowledge you have from the Hot Mommas Project and your class at GW,” people tell me. Amy Millman of Springboard has suggested an Omni Media model (we can all dream….and Amy dreams BIG!).

Here is the tricky part: How to reconcile THINKING BIG with FEAR OF FAILURE.  As a former inhabitant of the fear-of-failure MSA, I invite you to read the over-achiever’s rules for failure, and the surprising benefits, mixed in with my lessons from interviewing thousands of business folk over the years.

The preface to falling on one’s face.

So, people have a couple of reactions to fear of failure. One is the white-knuckle grip:

The white knucklers: “I’m not going to let this sucker go and will fix this through force of will!”

The other reaction to failure is complacency:

The complacents: “Eh..who cares? That’s boring. Yada yada.”

Which are you? I am a varsity white-knuckler.  I have to carefully choose when and where I inject this temporary psychosis.  Good use of  white-knuckling psychosis: Getting into business school. Bad use of white-knuckling psychosis: Giving everything equal weight and drowning in your convictions. In my white knuckling hey-day, when I was applying to business school…for the second time…and getting my second round of recommendation letters, after taking the GMATS for the third time, I read the following on the letter in my application:

“Has a difficult time accepting failure.”

I remember thinking, “Oh, he’s just trying to come up with one of those negative/positive comments that the admissions committee will secretly like.”  But, all these years later, I actually wonder.

Is there a benefit to experiencing and working through failure?

And, is it an executive-level skill we should help the next generation to acquire? As an entrepreneur and educator who now realizes the benefit of experience -and the failure that MUST accompany that experience – I believe the answer is “yes.”  YES – failure is something we must experience, and be able to deal with. In the past, I viewed failure as a defeat. Now, I view it as an inevitable occurence from time to time. The real question is: What does one actually DO with failure once you encounter it.

1. Practice failing.

Yes, this sounds weird.  Start small. Little failures hurt less.  You may already be ahead of the game! Have you ever screwed up on a test? Made a social blunder? Gotten your TPS report in late?  Bad news: The “cringe” moment stinks. Good news: You’re trying things, which brings experience.

Action Item: In the left of three columns on a piece of paper, RECORD some of the small failures.

My example: As I complained about earlier, I put together a teleclass for women on mentoring. I thought “this will be the greatest thing since sliced bread!” I tweeted. People re-retweeted. For WEEKS. One person signed up.

2. Learn from the failure.

Every time you fail is an opportunity to learn. In addition to sounding like a really annoying thing your grandparents would tell you, this also happens to be true.

Action Item: In the middle column, write what you have learned from the failure.

My example: Momma-hood. I have never felt my learning curve and self-confidence increase so quickly as when I had kids. It DWARFS any business learnings in my life. How is that possible?  I am always messing stuff up, forgetting things, yelling when I say I won’t yell. But, I think I am a good mom. How is this possible? That one can royally screw stuff up AND be really good at their job?

Two things:

1. You just can. Literally no one is perfect…except George Clooney.

2. The more we TRY, the more we may FAIL, but the more we LEARN, which makes us BETTER. This process – with some successes and supporters mixed in – is what provides the life experience to weather the storm. If you’re driving a TANK of self-confidence and experience, a pebble will make a little ding. If you’re driving the Razor Scooter of self-confidence and experience, the pebble will pack more of a wallop.

If you’re driving a TANK of self-confidence and experience, a pebble will make a little ding. If you’re driving the Razor Scooter of self-confidence and experience, the pebble will pack more of a wallop.

My example part deux: Mommahood meets teleclass. When no one signed up for my teleclass, I first thought, “People don’t get it.” But, the truth is – it’s me who doesn’t get it. I go through this cycle of problem identification, frustration, and solution MUCH more quickly now. I have to. I’m a mom. I am JUST LIKE the momma rat described in this study at University of Richmond by Dr. Craig Kinsley:

“Upon becoming a mother, a female rat’s learning, memory, time management and efficiency improve.”

So, now, instead of dying a little death because something is wrong with the teleclass,  I think of it as a fun intellectual puzzle to figure out.

Skip this to avoid gory strategy detail (My thoughts on the problem with the telecalss):

  • I think it could be the title. My hypothesis is that the term “mentor” is too much like “will you marry me” after the first date. I need to start with a more junior varsity term.
  • The cost and time – I have a hard time believing it’s the cost, which is $99.  But, that could be a barrier. Also, two or three hours is a bit much for someone who has no idea who I am.

3. The Bounce Back.

There are parables about “fall down seven times, get up eight.”  That is LITERALLY what it’s all about in business and life. On example is students during the semester. When they fall behind, these students need to:

a. Admit it (to themselves).

b. Admit it (to me).

c. Make a plan to turn it around.

d. Execute the plan.

These steps are actually VERY HARD. Even more difficult, one might argue, than the messing up part.

Action item: In the third column, note the application of your learning. For instance, did you change the way you did TPS reports so you could get them in on time? My guess is that if there is no successful application of your learning (Step 2), you have NOT completed the process. Most need to go through Steps A through D.

“When you don’t learn your lesson, the universe brings it back to you.”

Marlene Elias

My example:

a. Admit it (to themselves). I know this teleclass is a dud, at least the marketing of it. The content is solid.

b. Admit it (to other stakeholders / involved parties). Well, there is only one other involved party at this point – the one student who needs to be refunded. However, taking this example broader – in an office setting there is nothing I love more than hearing “I screwed up, and here’s how I’m going to fix it.” It just makes me beam with pride. This person is demonstrating executive level critical thinking skills, putting the organization about themselves, and being solutions oriented! Brilliant! Achin (our Learning Community Manager) does this all of the time. It’s one of the reasons he is so excellent. You can’t be excellent if you can’t understand what success is, and how you are measuring up.

You can’t be excellent if you can’t understand what success is, and how you are measuring up.

c. Make a plan to turn it around. I will play with the teleclass verbiage going forward and see what kind of response I get. I think , again, the term “mentor” is too much of a committment for people. I’ve can safely rule out time (3 hours) and money ($99), because I have massive groups of people investing way more time and money for several-week courses I run on Women’s Business Leadership.

d. Execute the plan. I actually do not plan to do this in the near-term. I plan to have this in “observe and learn” mode. I have some other priorities right now and feel I’ve already put this through one R&D cycle.

  • 5.26.10 – Okay, I totally lied. I spent the morning after this post re-working the tele-class. I lowered the commitment (to one hour) and the price (to “free”). The second major step was taking out the word “mentor,” and making a more interesting title. What are people REALLY going to get out of this? It’s MORE than a mentor. I made the title reflect that. I tried to – as Rosabeth Moss Kanter says – “grab them by the throat” right away (this was just a very impactful way of saying “non optional…get their attention”). People don’t have time to ferret out what the heck you’re talking about. In fact, you probably don’t have the time to read this. What are you doing? Get back to work! Click here to see the new seminar page.
  • Why do this? Don’t our business school professors teach us not to compete on price? (Unless you are employing the “cost leadership” position, which I’m not). Well, I am building a funnel. The funnel has to be wide. Making it a two- or three-hour commitment, and charging for it, creates to many barriers. So, I am seeing how this “broad and slim” approach goes.  I have no good analogy for this. Ice rink?

The results. It’s working.

  • New strategy for teleclass.  Number of Tweets = 2. Number of Registrants = 2.
  • Old strategy for teleclass. Number of Tweets (and Retweets) = 156. Number of Registrants = 1.

WORDS OF WARNING: Don’t be “too good” to fail.

Where your resume and experience can help you: A D&B report indicates that 96% of small business failure is attributable to managerial incompetence. So, your experience and education CAN help in that way.

Where your resume and experience can’t help you:You know those people who JUST CAN’T admit their plan stinks, or they are horrible at organizing? These may be the same people who have a hard time apologizing for things and – worse yet – try to make it your fault! Don’t feel bad. These people are condemned to a type of business and career purgatory. They will not advance because they cannot even get to part “a” of the bounce back plan: Admitting it.  This knuckle-dragging behavior will always come back to haunt someone in their career or personal life. Looking a challenge right in the face, even if you created that challenge, is the surest way to a true feeling of freedom and success.

Looking a challenge right in the face, even if you created that challenge, is the surest way to a true feeling of freedom and success.

PARTING THOUGHTS: At the end of the day you have to be a real person, saying what really happened, and working toward a solution, usually with other people. Otherwise you will be stunted from an emotional and a career standpoint. As I tell my students: It’s not about being right, it’s about making it better.

It’s not about being right, it’s about making it better.

What is the Hot Mommas Project?

The Hot Mommas Project is an award-winning venture housed at the George Washington University School of Business.  We make women’s stories teachable using our “case wizard” at www.HotMommasProject.org . The Hot Mommas Project library is the first of its kind, providing scalable, global access to role models and virtual mentors that can be used by educators, trainers, and parents. We’ve been featured in Prentice Hall textbooks, the Washington Post Magazine, NPR and are the winner of a national Coleman Foundation case award.

How you can get involved: Write your story, or nominate a dynamic woman 18 or older.

Our call for 2011 nominations has begun. While the contest runs through January 31, 2011 – Start now! There will be prizes this spring and fall for early bird publishers.

How it works: Nominated women come online, write their story using our “case wizard,” and click “publish” to be permanently archived in our case library.  Winners will be published in a leading Prentice Hall textbook in addition to other honors and prizes. To participate, nominate a dynamic woman 18 or older (yourself included) here or find us on Twitter. No, you do not need to be a mom. To inquire about sponsorship, email us.

#33 Giving Myself a Wife for Mother’s Day

Traumatized? Spent? Overwhelmed? Don’t feel bad. You’re not alone. In a presentation I gave to the Entrepreneur’s Organization a couple of years ago, I told them the tale of “What Women Want” based on research from the Hot Mommas Project. The goal was to better understand and support their female employees. By the time I was finished, and explained the multiple directions in which women are pulled, how they feel responsible for everything and everyone, and that no one supports them, one of the uber-successful male entrepreneurs raised his hand and said:

“That’s exactly how I feel.”

What? Multi-million dollar male entrepreneurs feeling the same as stressed-out, multitasking women? No way!

Way.

And as “Zurg” in my kid’s Buzz Lightyear cartoon says:

Very much way.

When busy is good!

As the Hot Mommas Project has taken off and become the world’s largest women’s case study library, many many requests are now starting to flood in. See our list of 2010 winners HERE. I am very very proud of these amazing women who’ve shared their stories in a teachable format to help the next generation and each other.

When Busy is Bad. My Mother’s Day Resolution: A wife.

For Mother’s Day I’m making a resolution.

The resolution has to do with  getting in front of the chaos. Not 100% in front of the chaos, just getting in “the zone.” In some of my outside classes with female executives, I teach women that you need to be okay with work-life balance in the 40% to 70% range. I need to get back into that range. Here are a few signs that I’m not (maybe you identify with these?):

1. Mounting emails. (Spending time coordinating details of meetings when I’d prefer to get the one, single ‘here’s when the meeting is’ email.)

2. Having lists of things that never get done, but are important.

3. Feeling that the above things are starting to make me look bad.

My resolution is to get a personal assistant.

I often dream of having a wife, but, will settle for someone to help me deal with email, errands, and my calendar. I am a pretty hyper-organized person, however, with bandwith GONE we all must go to the next level. I am doing this, also, to up my game – in advance – in preparation for being even MORE busy.  So, in addition to my wonderful team at the Hot Mommas Project, and the excellent,  supportive folks at the George Washington University, I have decided to get myself a little gift. A personal assistant!

What Busy Women Want: The Research.

BUSINESS (aka BUSY-NESS), the irony of that name.

Before asking you how you find and use personal assistants, let’s look at the facts. Hot Mommas Project research shows a few things that busy women want and need to be successful in multiple facets of their life, including:

1. Support – from home (spouse/partner #1) and work (#2). It’s where you log the hours.

2. Control – over work schedule, and location.

3. Focus – what do you REALLY want to achieve. Focus on it like a laser. Sometimes, this even involves a pre-step of thinking about what you REALLY think of as “success” and what makes you happy.

Now, here is a question for the readers.

Exactly how does one use a personal assistant. Can you help me?

I am hoping you folks out there can share with me how you use personal assistants and what tasks are most helpful.  In exchange, I plan to share the top things I’ve done over the past several to help save time, take care of my family, and take care of myself all of which make me feel like I CAN DO IT. Doing something is so much better than whining!

Good Guys & Gals: Helping busy women.

Below are “businesses that get it”: They admire, respect, and support women.  We make 80% of household purchasing decisions ladies, so, here’s where to channel that power.

Alchemie Forever – This is a great skin care line run by a female entrepreneur who brought her family’s products used in their swiss medi-spa over to the states. Think “Swiss Family Polla.” See their great Mother’s Day packages at this link: http://www.alchimie-forever.com/

SEPHORA – A 2009 and 2010 Hot Mommas Project sponsor. We heart SEPHORA, doesn’t everyone?

Ted Gibson Salon & Hela Spa – This power duo is offering discounts to DC Hot Mommas between May 1 and 9. Contact them to take advantage of this special promotion offered to Hot Mommas! Love people who have our backs!

Okay, so, maybe I’m a little bit spa obsessed. We can’t forget our official “sleep away” spa GREEN VALLEY SPA in Utah. Delicious. Maybe you can take your wife there. 🙂

What is the Hot Mommas Project?

The Hot Mommas Project is an award-winning venture housed at the George Washington University School of Business.  We make women’s stories teachable using our “case wizard” at www.HotMommasProject.org . The Hot Mommas Project library is the first of its kind, providing scalable, global access to role models and virtual mentors that can be used by educators, trainers, and parents. We’ve been featured in Prentice Hall textbooks, the Washington Post Magazine, NPR and are the winner of a national Coleman Foundation case award.

How you can get involved: Write your story, or nominate a dynamic woman 18 or older.

Our call for 2011 nominations has begun. While the contest runs through January 31, 2011 – Start now! There will be prizes this spring and fall for early bird publishers.

How it works: Nominated women come online, write their story using our “case wizard,” and click “publish” to be permanently archived in our case library.  Winners will be published in a leading Prentice Hall textbook in addition to other honors and prizes. To participate, nominate a dynamic woman 18 or older (yourself included) here or find us on Twitter. No, you do not need to be a mom. To inquire about sponsorship, email us.


#30 Would You Read This? My Book Outline for Women and The New Sisterhood of Success

It’s that time again. Time to stop messing around and throw down the gauntlet for myself, much as I did in the first post in March, 2008. At that time, I could not see what lay ahead. All I saw was fear, no money, and a bunch of to-do lists and ideas that never seemed to get done. Piece by piece – and while being incredibly cheap aka “resourceful” – I recruited help, enlisted partners, built the Hot Mommas Project story-telling software, and then…the clincher: THE WOMEN. Women came from everywhere…from Twitter…from HARO queries…from mail blasts…from blog posts….from media appearances…from the George Washington University School of Business newsletter! They showed up, ready to fight. They said:

“We are here to fight to make the next generation better, and more prepared, and self-confident. I am here to share what I have learned, good and bad, so that we may have options in life, instead of being told what our options are.”

They told their stories, and the ripple effect never stopped. Stay-at-home moms inspired corporate execs. Victims of abuse inspired start-up entrepreneurs.  Entrepreneurs who lost, and then found, their way inspired students. Cancer survivors inspired everyone. I didn’t grow up with sisters, but, I got over 100 sisters last year. These incredible women who told their stories to help the next generation, and each other, are my Everyday Revolutionaries.

But, I STILL remember that feeling…sitting there in my office, writing my first blog post, and not seeing ANY of that. It’s sort of how I feel now. I should be writing a book, I should be getting more nominations for the Hot Mommas Project 2010 case competition, I should, I should, I should. So, once again, I humbly turn to my invisible…yet not so invisble…audience. Here is my idea for my book. I have lots of people ready to run with this and help me when I finish my outline, which I never seem to be able to do. (Who is helping me? Aside from friends’ connections to book agents, I have to give MASSIVE shout outs to pitch and media experts Sam Horn, and Marc Silverstein).

Book concept/Title:

How to be a Hot Momma

The New Sisterhood of Success

Enduring message: Here is HOW to do it based on how Hot Mommas do it (life, career, etc.). Hear it straight from the mouths of your sisters, friends, mothers, and aunts…because we care. Oh, yeah, and we also want you to rule the world.

Why you should listen: This will be the Belly Laughs mixed with Four Hour Work Week of business/life books. Not only will this be immensely fun to read, and possibly contain some profanity depending on the author’s coffee levels and general level of crankiness, but – also – there are actual FACTS and HOW TOs based on:

  • The largest library of teachable role models in the world (they taught, we listened, and now we bring those lessons to you).
  • Cutting-edge, inside-look research detailing the practices of hundreds of driven AND happy women.
  • Highlights from the award-winning Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership class at the George Washington University School of Business.

[This part makes me cringe, but, I’ve been told by my husband and others I need to go ahead and pimp myself out]

Author: It is I, your humble So-You-Think-You-Can-Dance-watching, kid-chasing, husband-raising, coffee-drinking author who also happens to have a Harvard MBA, teach college students, and have an illustrious career (entrepreneur and former corporate wheeler and dealer and nonprofit executive in the aging sector). In the “for what it’s worth” category I am a DC Twitter Elite, write for Maria Shriver Women’s Conference site, and have been dubbed “one of the nation’s top business bloggers” by HSM’s World Business Forum.  Bio link.

If you choose to believe the above, please read on … we’re almost to the good part.

The following has been said about “How to Be a Hot Momma” author, Kathy Korman Frey:

“You have something in your teeth.”

Oh, wait, wrong quote …this is it:

“Kathy is like a modern day guardian angel, without a God complex.  She navigates us through stories and helps women apply them to their own lives.”

Mysterious and Powerful Entertainment Industry Corporate Communications Executive

Now that I’ve paid the nice lady five, crisp, $100 dollar bills…here’s the outline:

Chapters:

Foreward…Hopefully by one of the Hot Mommas extremely impressive judges from 2009 or 2010.

Intro: Who is a Hot Momma? Hot Mommas think being perfect is boring.  Hot Mommas are entrepreneurs of life: Making their own rules, and finding their own way, and having the self-confidence to do that. And the number one trait of a Hot Momma that distinguishes her from all others? A Hot Momma helps her sisters. She learns, and doesn’t stop there; she pays it forward so that others may learn.

Major steps in becoming a Hot Momma (in the book, I plan to use Sam Horn’s IDEA framework: I = Idea, D = Detail, E = Example, A = Application).

1. Self confidence – First, a Hot Momma must believe she can do it. Tips for building life-long self-confidence are discussed in this section.

  • “Grey boxes” (fun stats) will include research showing the self-confidence differential between women and girls, and our male counterparts.
  • Resources: Examples of Hot Mommas who have been through the self-confidence building process, how they did it, and links to templates and tools.

2. Idea generation – A Hot Momma’s GPS is constantly on the lookout for the intersection of “Passion Ln.” and “Idea Ave.” When those two meet, BINGO. But, the Hot Momma also knows that the journey is part of the trip.

  • Grey boxes: Stats on idea creation, and neurological information on women.
  • Resources: Examples of Hot Mommas who have been through the idea generation process and how they did it. Mind Mapping, Opportunity Recognition, and Passion Inventory exercises used in GWSB’s award-winning Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership class are included.

3. Okay, that was too many ideas – Focus, implementation – Sometimes, the brain of a Hot Momma is in overdrive. There can be ideas, then too many ideas. There can be to-dos, but then too many to dos. This chapter focuses on how to reign in the brain of the Hot Momma, and use its power for good…using…”The F Word” (FOCUS).

  • Grey Boxes: Stats from Hot Mommas Project mentor survey on traits for success, including focus.
  • Resources: Examples of “master focuser “(is that a word?) Hot Mommas, their tips and tricks, and a daily action-plan template.

4. Stocking the toolkit – Key tips for women only, communication, negotiation, and more. Did you know that women engage in certain behaviors (by accident) in communicating and negotiating with people, bosses, roommates, etc? This chapter deals with the most important things Hot Mommas try to improve on to get out there and take on the world.

  • Grey Boxes: Statistics on communication, negotiation, resulting salary differentials, and other key facts.
  • Resources: We draw from outside the Hot Mommas Project data pool for this section as most women don’t even KNOW they are engaging in these behaviors which impact their success.

5. Be a game changer – Hot Mommas are entrepreneurs because they have to be, they are miserable where they are, or they hear the distant call of “Passion Ln.” and “Idea Ave.” However they became entrepreneurial, Hot Mommas just ARE. At home, at work, in their communities. They take the pieces of the puzzle and don’t just put them together WELL, they put them together DIFFERENTLY.

  • Grey Boxes: The Hot Mommas Project literally created the data set on women as game changers. We reveal our previously unpublished data, and compare it to existing “traditional” data which shove women into traditional categories (part-time, full-time, etc.).
  • Resources: Case studies on game changers from the Hot Mommas Project survey and case library will be highlighted. Tools and templates on “how to be a game changer” will be included.

6. Balance – This is high on the radar screen of women and families everywhere.  We take on the concept of balance with three critical topics: Perspective, Organization, and Delegation.  Many women treat balance as if it is an end in and of itself.  The evolved Hot Momma treats balance as a MEANS to an end. Something to achieve, and move on, so that they can get onto number 7, back to number 3, or go rogue with some other activity like bathing. The topic of managing expectations (self, and others) is also addressed.

  • Grey Boxes: Former Harvard Business School Professor and Assistant Secretary of Commerce Dennis Hightower states: “A good manager can make decisions with between 40 and 70 percent information.”  We apply this statistic to balance, encouraging women make sure that achieving balance is a hurdle, not a brick wall. We validate womens’ concerns about balance by revealing data on dual income couples, and common responses and attitudes about balance from our Hot Mommas Project survey and previously unpublished “Balance Snapshot” database.
  • Resources: Tips from Hot Mommas Project “Master Balancers” – the top 10 percent of our survey-takers who are highly driven, and highly balanced both personally and professionally. If they can do it, we can do it.

7. Mentoring and support systems. Hot Mommas not only HAVE mentors, they ARE mentors. Hot Mommas have an internal call to action that leads them to pass on their learnings to others both formally (through the Hot Mommas Project and other outlets) and informally. They mentor, because they have been mentored. Hot Mommas have a large support network, and are more successful because of it.

  • Grey Boxes: Hot Mommas Project research on the hierarchy and scale of support networks will be shared.
  • Resources: A Five Minute Mentor template will be shared that can be used with mentees, mentors, and at work or at home. Did you know your whole family could serve as a mentor? Learn how in this chapter.

Thank you for reading. The last step is to fill out this poll (I’ll use it in my book proposal!). Thank you, again.

Want to get involved with the project? Go to www.HotMommasProject.org and NOMINATE a dynamic woman you know to share her story, and help the next generation. Winners of our annual case study competition will be published in a major Prentice Hall Textbook.  Here is our 2010 press release.

#28 – Free Black Friday Gifts: The Gift of Mentorship – Building a Million Dollar Business Part Time

Today I posted this attempt at inspiration on our main blog. As Kevin Roberts of Saatchi & Saatchi says, it’s not enough to just get attention. People want INSPIRATION.

So – how to get tactical about inspiration is the topic of this post. I will update this insider’s post throughout the week to let you know how it’s going. It’s starting with a news show.

All of this is being done to:

1.  Launch The Hot Mommas Project 2010 Case Study Competition

2. In preparation for my appearance on Washington Business Tonight with Rebecca Cooper (11.24)

Stay tuned for our Black Friday “Give the Gift of Mentorship” developments.

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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 the world’s largest collection of teachable role models and virtual mentors for women and girls.  We are 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. Click here to nominate someone.  See more on our about page.

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11.23.09 – 12.28 pm UPDATE. FINALIZING MESSAGING, INITIAL DISTRIBUTION. This morning, before running off to my daughter’s Thanksgiving school thingy,  I began our promotion of the 2010 case study competition. It started with:

  • Slideshow. Two different versions of the Hot Mommas Project “Everyday Revolutionary” slideshow                 ( Slideshare and authorStream -which is animated). I am intrigued with this medium for getting across messages.
  • Blog posts. A must, of course, to cover your bases. Two blog posts (the insider’s blog post, which you are reading, and our main blog)
  • Twitter and Facebook. Sending links out on Twitter and Facebook with two different “taglines.” Here they are, verbatim:

1. “Everyday Revolutionaries-Women Making a Difference http://tinyurl.com/ykjdwup #wgbiz

2. “Mentors MATTER for women/girls.Be part of the solution with the gift of mentorship http://ad.vu/mxqz

The second one is getting re-tweeted a lot. So, I will use that title for a press release on 1888PressRelease.com, although I do like this press release from Girls With Dreams that goes right to their site. We just need to get our act together tech-wise and do that. We have prioritized content and surveying/data over tech and I think it’s beginning to show. Anywhoo, here is who retweeted so far:

Twitterati who care:

@alizasherman @Rieva@SalesBogcast@WomanWifeMomMe @Joannefunc@LydiaFernandes @AUJOEevents@BobBurg @TheMojoCoach@agoldfisher

Incredible folks. On Twitter, you start to learn who your friends are. But, they are like your over-achiever friends who push your message out there for you because they are excited about it. It’s quite incredible, actually.

Couple nuggets:

Twitter/FB sync tool. I have a program installed that allows Tweets to selectively show up on my Facebook profile when I add “#fb” at the end. While I’ve never really gotten any big business leverage out of Facebook, I know some have, and that it is always good to be at least somewhat familiar with certain social media avenues and be willing to test.

Slideshare/FB sync. On Slideshare, you can sync it with your Facebook page so the slideshow shows up in the left column of your profile. One bummer is that Slideshare does NOT currently support animation.

11.24.09 – 9:39 am UPDATESo far there have been no comments on the slideshow on Slideshare or authorStream. I am trying not to render judgement too quickly, however. I think starting early, getting the message out there, and keep pushing it forward is the way.

THE BATTLE OF PRIORITIES.

Content, Promotion, Funding are my main priorities right now. This does not include managing staff, emails and basic communication, and lots of other grey area. Here is the list of things I need to do. What will win? This is the daily battle.

  • Press release – drafted, if not submitted, to 1888PressRelease.com
  • Virtual interviews (typing responses to questions for folks who are promoting the case study competition for us).
  • Real inteviews – Interview prep for the show tonight. I need to learn how to use Skype for the interview.
  • Press packet (logos, blurbs, links) for partner organizations helping us get the word out
  • Site and blog stats analysis (have delegated this to Achin so I don’t get sucked into the vortex, but even Achin is behind busy with his promotion list).
  • Get focused back on content. I want the chapters of a book outlined by the end of this month. The slideshow, or “enduring message” as pitch expert Sam Horn says, was the first step. I am hoping the enduring message is resonating.
  • Sponsor brief. I should also be doing a brief for potential sponsors. A lot of folks are waiting for this one pager. Am I nuts? My instinct is to always focus on funding. However, I am having to really focus on my business instincts and what is the right thing to do at what time.

Off to a client call, and to tackle the above to do list. Stay tuned for feedback after Washington Business Tonight.

11.25.09 2.30pm UPDATE. I have done nothing. I tend to over-prepare for any kind of media. Thus, I spent pretty much the entirety of yesterday afternoon getting ready for the Washington Business Tonight interview.  Here it is (Windows Media Required). It was on hibernating from emails and the world in general.  I did manage to check my link stats on Adjix and am fascinated by the number of people who clicked on my reference to the move “Breakin.”

#26 Top 5 on How to Package Content and Be an Expert – Building a Million Dollar Business Part Time

InfoLitHead
Your brain on “little bundles”

As part of my quest to get nominated for world’s worst professor, last month I actually coached a group of students through a procedure I call “Business Stalking.” This is where you have a target (someone you want to speak with/stalk), determine where they are going to be speaking,  and then you rush the stage afterwards.  Since this time I’ve received many emails, specifically referring to “business stalking” which was probably five  minutes of a two hour talk.  And I realized, really, really clearly: It’s about packaging.

Below I list my top 5 observations about effectively packaging content based on:

  • Doing it.
  • Years of consulting and teaching to people who are/can be very picky (big organizations, 18 year-olds).
  • My background as an award-winning curriculum developer…oh…wait…okay…they are telling me the scrawled crayon star from my kids does not constitute a real “award.” Dang.

Other sources of inspiration from this post are:  Writing for Maria Shriver’s site, advice from amazing mentors, the – The Four Hour Work Week, uber-talented designerDonald Bullach who recently – kid you not – did our high school reunion memory book in what is EASILY the coolest high school reunion memory book EVER.

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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 in DC and have an audacious goal of becoming a million dollar venture/organization…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.

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The Top 5 of Packaging Content

1. Credibility. And you are….and you’re with? The Law of Superlatives. Right out of the gate you’ve got to answer the question, “Why should someone listen to me?” Superlatives create credibility. In this new economy crowded with messages and free agents, it is critical to make sure you are REMEMBERED. And, no, it should not be for your criminal record. Here is an example: The Hot Mommas Project (aside from being named “The Hot Mommas Project”) is “The world’s largest library of teachable role models for women and girls.”  What’s the superlative one can associate with you?  In what area are you the best, fastest, biggest, etc.?   Another angle is to crunch some numbers for the wow factor.  How many clients have you successfully placed? How many thousands of dollars worth of media impressions have you generated for your client?  When I ran a consulting firm full of the original “Hot Mommas” consultants, I advertised our 94 perent success rate in helping clients plan their annual goals in one day. The bottom line is: If you’re not special, make a placeholder and go out and find something that makes you special. Yes, you can actually do that. Specific sections of Tim Ferriss’s Four Hour Work Week are very helpful on this topic.

For the ladies – special note: Superlatives may, at times, resemble bragging which can be a tricky one for women. There is a good deal of research indicating women  are not always strong self-marketers. (I teach about this in my class. Yes, it’s true and yes, it’s a big deal.)  So put on your big girl undies, move through the list below, and get pep talks from advisors and friends where you need them. Guys, you too (except the big girl undies part…not that there’s anything wrong with that).

2. Story –  “Here to There.” Make the superlative even more impressive by pairing it with your story. Robert Tuchman is a great example of this. His book agent contacts me, tells me about the $70 million dollar sports marketing company his client built, and wants to know will I review Robert’s new book Young Guns? It’s a “go” for me when I hear: 1) Robert was 25 when he started the company and 2) His first office was a one-bedroom apartment. The “here to there” quality is great on a story like Robert’s. His PR person clearly understands this. What is your “here to there” story? What constraints were you under when you built the company, product, etc.? It adds to the story, and people like stories. For instance, I built the Hot Mommas Project case library in seven months while working part-time. I am still not sure anyone actually cares about this fact, but, the idea of it is inherently appealing. America loves underdogs. America loves people who triumph in the face of adversity.

3. Organization – Make Little Bundles. We love little bundles. Not just because it is such a cute little word combo, we love it for two real reasons that will make your life easier:

a. If you have too much information – making little bundles helps you scale the informational K2 so to speak.

b. If you have very little information – making little bundles helps package what you DO have.

Examples: The Hot Mommas Project right now is SWIMMING in data. It’s too much. We have surveys, cases, more surveys. So what to do? I devise a three hour class on mentoring. I lay out the class plan, and what will be covered in each class. Next, I structure each class with intro, wrap up, lecture, and interactive exercises in each one hour module. Last, I run it by someone who gives me feedback, and helps me make it better. Then I get with a free conference call service and market it (see #4).

Note: Another good way to create little bundles is to Q&A with yourself. For instance, I might ask myself “Self, why is mentoring important?” Then, depending on how things are going, I might ask myself, “Why is mentoring particularly important for women?” Then, if I am feeling very bold, I might ask myself, ‘So, why should I care?” And so on and so forth. In general, this type of approach is helpful not just for media training, but for devising REAL PowerPoint presentations. I especially advise this approach to presentation creation if you’re a “Rambler.”

4. Market. You may be in charge of marketing. Even if you’re not, your CMO and Director of Marketing and their brother and sister and dog were probably just laid off, so it’s good to know how to market. I break this section into “Guerilla Marketing” and “Walking Upright.”

Guerilla Marketing. Here is an example of how I approached Guerilla Marketing Hot Mommas Project content this summer. Once you’ve got your little bundles, it’s time to market them. Boy, that sounds really bad.

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Guerilla Marketing Case study: Hot Mommas Project Summer Teleseminars

Courses tested: Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership I  and II, Virtual Mentoring, and “Getting to 5: How to Quantitatively Raise Your Work Life Balance Score.” Two of these generated the most interest…which do you think they were?

Guerilla Marketing Steps (post-content development): Here is the brain dump – Titling, title testing (on Twitter and site based on adjix.com clicks), post on site, blogs, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, email it to the Hot Mommas Project database, print a schedule on the back of my business cards, and post a big decal on my car [Gotcha : -) I would never put a decal on my car, only my husband deserves that type of humiliation for leaving the seat up and other atrocities]. I also posted on Teleseminar Nation, but got nothing from that.

Did you know – the SEO bonus factor? EventBrite was recommended to me by digital media firm iStrategyLabs. EventBrite has a double benefit of good SEO, so The Hot Mommas Project will be using that for event registration going forward. Press releases on 1888PressRelease.com – of which I’ve spoken in previous posts – also provide traffic. It crashed our site last year, in fact.

This process worked. So, if I wanted to “rinse repeat” and do more of it, I could. In transitioning to “Walking Upright,” I have:

  • Plans to research Alex Mandossian who I’ve heard is the teleseminar guru.
  • Plans to partner with Information Experts, and possibly Learning Tree International, to pilot their web training platform.
  • Making the content pretty, relying on the brilliant  Donald Bullach, an uber-talented designer, and ideas from  ReBrand.com. Here are some other cool web designs.
  • Begun to seek out event planners to see “how it would work” for a larger Hot Mommas Project event which – to be honest – I have zero desire to plan but everyone seems to want one.
  • Made a list of all the Guerilla Steps so my virtual assistant in India (not kidding) can help me with it.

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Walking Upright. Critically important is to have an eye on the big prize. Who goes BIG with content? How did that happen? Do you have any connection to them or people who know that model? I know from personal experiences with major business speakers that even THEY don’t always know the best model and are continually figuring it out. I’ll hear one famous speaker say “I need to get on Twitter and Facebook more” and hear another one say, “The book company is not doing a great job of making sure critical masses are at my speaking engagements” or “My PR company is not getting me the coverage I need.” So, just realize that even Goliaths struggle with it too. I am looking at the three models below in developing my “walking upright” marketing strategy.

5. Economics. This is where the walking upright crowd has it. For the economics to work with content, you must seriously have your act together. I certainly did NOT when I first started writing Hot Mommas Project cases. When we started winning awards people said, “Are you going to sell the cases like at Harvard Business School?” I tried that approach for about – ummm – 6 weeks and “threw it on the ground!”

Currently, I see three realistic economic models for expert content:

A. Publishing and Entertainment. This is what my mentor Amy Millman calls the Martha Stewart “Omnimedia Model.” It’s the job of people in publishing and entertainment to know: a. What people want and b. To give it to them. They push content out there to as many people as possible, and then sell advertising around the promise of reaching that customer base. Martha Stewart started with a magazine and worked up and out from there to the huge company Omnimedia. Magazine, show, product. What started as content has become a movement.

B. Conferences. If you’ve ever seen a top-notch event planner in action, it’s quite a sight to behold.  Business events and conferences typically get sponsors to cover the costs, and sell tickets to make a profit. Of course, it could go up or down in either direction with the sponsorship and ticket fees, but this is a good rule of thumb. Event planner calendars typically go out three or more years in advance. You’ve got to get up early in the morning if you’re going to run your own event. My personal preference is to let someone else run the event, and come in as a speaker. Look up the conferences and events in your area, contact them about speaking or being on a panel. In SXSW you can propose your own panel! In the massively walking upright category of conferences is HSM’s World Business Forum at which I was a featured blogger this past year. I am doing due diligence, behind my computer, and expect to be out from behind that computer speaking and making people less scared of women and our brains (us included!).

Note: For you perfectionists – Remember that even the pros experiment and test. Think “pilot” on TV, think “test market.” Don’t let doing things perfectly dissuade you from making progress. Even the big boys dip their toe in the water first.

3. Screwing everything up is the “Freemium” Model – Read more about that here in a  previous post. My friend in content management says, “Something for free, the rest for a fee.” This is pretty much the Freemium model.

PARTING THOUGHTS:

What is the difference between a cheesy salesman and you? Credibility. Use your brain and know your stuff.Learn and practice. Bring others into it at every step. As Hot Mommas Project case author Yana Berlin says, “A leader is nothing without her followers.”  Are your points resonating?

Not quite there yet? If you don’t have your supreme-being content yet, you can still become familiar with these guerilla tools: Twitter, Facebook, and SEO. More on press and buzz here.

The focus factor. Oh, yeah, BTW – I’m supposed to be writing a book right now. Yes. So, here is another rule of content development: FOCUS PEOPLE! I’m hoping to produce a little mini bundle like this, taking inspiration from Rohit Bhargava.

Related links:  Must-reads. Word on the street is this will change your thinking about the relevance of your voice.

Groundswell (Blog) – Winning in a World Transformed By Social Technology

33 Million People in the Room – How to Create, Influence, and Run a Successful Business with Social Networking

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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.