#35 Letter to a mentor: I’m kind of freaking out right now

Well, I talk about mentors all of the time for the Hot Mommas Project.  Today, I really needed one of them. Ed Barrientos is now the CEO of Brazen Careerist. He is an investor, and clearly takes on active roles in his portfolio companies. Ed says he likes eccentric and interesting people. Welp, I definitely lived up to that tonight in the below letter to Ed where I violate two principles of email communication I have for myself:

1. TMD – Too much data.

Too much information in an email makes you look dumb, because it’s as if you have no idea how busy that person is and how they don’t have time to blink, much less read your Leo Tolstoy-esque email.

2. Freaking out.

I usually like to couch freak-outs in carefully worded sentences during face-to-face meetings. It might start with, “I know you’ve had some experience in this area, and would love to pick your brain about this.” My full-scale freak-outs are usually only to my forum, or my BFFs from b-school.

Since Ed is right in the middle of executive-level thinking and social media, I sort of unleashed. The below might not look bad, but, it is for me. I tend to try to “keep it under control.”   Furthermore, NORMAL people would be very excited at the turn of events (i.e., successful presentation and buzz buzz buzz.). Is something wrong with me? All of these thoughts are swirling through my mind. Then, as I thought about some of my other mentors…Part II of this post surfaced. It produced a magic, calming feeling. FASCINATING! Who knew that thinking about one’s mentors could be have the effect of an Rx.


From: Kathy Korman Frey
Sent: Monday, June 21, 2010 11:43 PM
To: ‘Edward Barrientos’
Subject: RE: 22nd good Re: Webinar? Fw: Fwd: A Note from Penelope: How to Find a Mentor


I’m kind of freaking out right now. No action item, just an FYI if you have experience on this when we talk in July. I put together some of my thinking about women and some facts and research. I called it “The New Sisterhood of Success.” I presented this at the Women Grow Business (@wgbiz) bootcamp as the keynote on Saturday. And, well, people are all over it. A hashtag has been created on Twitter. A tweetup event was created (I’m not even going to be in town, people are totally doing this on their own.) And, well, I am just kind of freaking. What do I do, what do I not do? The way I look at it: This is great. I want this message to get out about women, and empowerment, and the research behind it, matched with our own common sense. However, as a type-A personality, uncontrolled things make me nervous. I could use a little talking off the ledge when we meet. Maybe there is no ledge. I think some analogy involving the Matrix would be appropriate here, but, I am up past my bedtime and can’t muster up the creativity.

  • Here is the write up and a link to the slideshow http://ad.vu/zkak
  • Here is a webinar I am giving on Wednesday at 12 EST http://ad.vu/57g9
  • Here are some of the tweets (below). I was not expecting this response, hence the semi freak out.

[Okay – side note away from Freak-out Letter To Ed – Get ready for how incredibly nice and generous the Twitterati are. “Lethal Generosity” hits a new level. Proceed]


I would recommend @chiefhotmomma as a action oriented keynote speaker for quality business conference. Her#wgbiz talk was electric


@ChiefHotMomma | Absolutely LOVED your presentation this morning at #wgbiz bootcamp – thank you!!!


Just ran into @ChiefHotMomma in the rest room. She is SO personable and cool. You could tell from her presentation earlier.#wgbiz


Great presentation by @chiefhotmomma So glad to be a part of the sisterhood. What a gr8 start to the AM!


The first speaker @ChiefHotMomma is awesome!about 7 hours ago via UberTwitter


Fascinating #wgbiz session – listening in online. Also, my first exposure to @ChiefHotMomma and her project…learning a lot this morning!


We just joined the NEW sisterhood of success! Yay!#wgbiz Thanks @chiefhotmomma gr8 way to kick off the morning!


I love what @ChiefHotMomma said, “you’ve just joined the new sisterhood of success.” That’s what it’s about, ladies. #wgbiz


That was a great exercise! RT @Sisarina: What can help you in all areas of your business? People in this room today!#wgbiz @chiefhotmomma


@chiefhotmomma in the house!


Great keynote presentation by @chiefhotmomma “The New Sisterhood of Success” #wgbiz


Keynote speaker Kathy Frey @chiefhotmomma (crazy awesome lady!) is starting at #wgbizabout 8 hours ago via web


@ChiefHotMomma you really inspired me with your keynote at #wgbiz, I’m interested in being a mentor:)about 12 hours ago via Echofon


Great DC tweetup idea by @clickwisdom (inspired by @chiefhotmomma) aka Power of 5 Tweetup http://ow.ly/20WvL -7/18th @nakeva @tbdunmasked


Having a convo today with a friend ant the sisterhood


Just registered for the Girls and Power: The New Sisterhood of Success http://ad.vu/57g9 Coming June 23… @ChiefHotMomma 🙂 of ‘5’ @chiefhotmomma… Def on to something!


Started following @ChiefHotMomma because 1. she seems brilliant & 2. “hates word moist” is in her bio. MY least fav word too!!


@inspiremetoday @ChiefHotMomma is great!


The New Sisterhood of Success emerging from #dcweek#wgbiz http://bit.ly/dwwzoG @chiefhotmomma


Kathy Korman Frey @ChiefHotMomma does it again for young women! http://bit.ly/d1fjqv


@ChiefHotMomma thanks for the link. You’re awesome and inspiring! #wgbiz #dcweek


She is a must see! Gr8 info 4 women in biz! RT @ChiefHotMomma: New Sisterhood of Success slideshow (use IE )http://ad.vu/zkb9 #in

Part II: The calming, secure effect of mentors (even just THINKING about them!)

So, in summary, I am overwhelmed, humbled, and grateful. I haven’t had this many people say so many nice things about me since my wedding. This also brings home three  important points for me – which are helping me feel less overwhelmed as I think about them.

1. The deadly “e-word”: EXPECTATIONS.

My reaction to the above praise is probably related to expectations. Expectations were mentioned in a Hot Mommas Project survey as a number one challenge for busy women trying to balance multiple priorities. In this situation, I am translating the positive comments into expectations, and I don’t want to let people down. At times like these, I have to believe it’s time to take a deep breath and stop being so neurotic. These people are just giving me a shout out, not asking me to do anything. One of my mentors I’ve bonded with over the past couple of years helps me work on boundaries and expectations. Sounds strange, but, is very helpful to me.

2. Mentors are natural leaders. Learn from them.

There have been people, all along the way, who really liked the Hot Mommas Project and have supported me. And, when I say “support,” it’s not like, “Oh, hey, yeah, how’s that going?” These supporters are very follow-up and I love them for it. They are TRUE MENTORS. They saw something, and encouraged me, and pushed me, and now I feel like THEIR vision is happening. It’s fascinating. I had lost all objectivity…but, THEY SAW WHAT I DIDN’T. These people include my husband and family, my amazing BFFs from b-school, my former b-school prof and mentor Rosabeth Moss Kanter, the gifted and giving Saranne Rothberg, the uber-empowerer Amy Milman, the brilliant professor Susan Duffy, book whisperer and intrigue expert Sam Horn, tv host and media whiz Marc Silverstein, women’s leadership heavyweight Sharon Hadary, promoter of gurus Randy LeFaivre, digital diva and psychic-like matchmaker Romi Lassally, my new bud and Woman Rising CEO Sara Bordo,  Ms. C – you know who you are, the guys at 315 Funger (GW CFEE – George Solomon and Erik Winslow), the awesome execs at GW – like Karen Ancillai and her team, Adrienne Rulnick and her team, Jill Sankey and Caroline Broder – all the way up to President Knapp! I am feeling very, very lucky right now. This somehow helps to balance out the overwhelmed feelings which – I’m sure – will pass.

3. You are in charge: Be an active organizer of your own inner circle.

There is one more point, which is about the conscious, concerted effort to surround myself with positive – this may sound weird – and healthy people. The Women Grow Business conference was  a part of that. The women (and men!) involved with @wgbiz are a special breed. They are driven, but giving, book smart, and intuitive. Over the past several months and weeks I’ve really made an effort to surround myself with these types of great people starting with a search for mentors and informational meetings last spring and summer, a retreat with my wicked-smart girlfriends from business school in the middle, and really culminating with a recent trip to visit Saranne Rothberg (2009 Hot Mommas Project winner) and the Women Grow Business group this past weekend. Thank you, so much, for being such great people. So available. So smart. So giving. So together. So truly interested. #gratitude. Oh, and – sisterhood? – please help Shonali pick out her computer bag.


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.

Building a Million Dollar Business Part Time #8: How We Got Our First Sponsors

We got our first set of sponsors for The Hot Mommas® Project 2008 Case Study Competition. This blog talks about who they are, and how we got them.  The bottom line is RELATIONSHIPS. (Click here to get to the main Hot Mommas Project site which has links about the case study competition).

Pictured left is my son, Maxwell, and daughter Lilah who is traumatized by Maxwell hitting her with one of those noodle toys people use in the pool. If Maxwell could read, he would learn from this post that relationships make everything happen and that he should not – I repeat NOT – hit his sister with the noodle.

What is the Hot Mommas Project: In case you are lost, the Hot Mommas Project (www.HotMommas.org) is an award-winning research and curriculum endeavor on how successful professional women balance it all.  Click here for main blog. Our goal this year is to build and launch a global case study competition in which women write their own case, tell their story, help others in doing so, and might get just get in one of the nation’s top business textbooks by Prentice Hall! (Let’s not forget the cash and prizes). Click here and type “CSC” in the subject line if you would like to nominate someone you know, or be notified when the competition is live. Now, onto our post (How We Got our First Sponsors):

1. Consult with experts.

First we consulted with social entrepreneur Julie Silard Kantor of the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship  (NFTE) on how to approach sponsors. She ran one of NFTE’s top offices in the nation.  Now she works for NFTE national. She gave us the following advice:

a. What’s in it for me? Be sure to answer this question for sponsors. For some it’s the networking at an event, for others its the visibility, for others a combination and/or other goals.

b. Ask, don’t tell. Ask them what they liked and didn’t like about past sponsorships. Be cognizant of this during your interactions.

c. Search Guidestar. Julie also encouraged us to search www.guidestar.com and print the c90s (tax forms) of similar causes to get a flavor for who is sponsoring what. 

d. Use templates.  Like a little sponsorship angel, Julie encouraged us to check out the NFTE DC office’s sponsorship links as a sample (sponsors, form).

e. Develop host committee. Getting a host committee going was another suggestion – this formally honors champions who are tapping their networks for your cause.  We’ve decided to tap people who are willing to email their network of over 100 people.

2. Develop a sponsor packet.

Click here for our sponsor and partner packet. It is a pretty shameless copy of NFTE Greater Washington’s.  As a rule, I like to find friends who are willing to share their templates. I do the same thing from my end.

3. Develop measurable/trackable goals, make asks.

Esther and I (Esther is my “right hand man” – see previous post) have developed a very specific goal of 5 asks per day (each). This is a little more involved than it sounds, because many pre steps must happen before we can approach a potential sponsor or partner (research, writing letters, editing letters, getting coffee, etc.). Having a TARGET NUMBER has helped us a great deal. We agree that the 5 asks per day (and – this is part time – so it is 2 days per week) is our number one priority. Although, one might not guess this based on how miserably behind I am on my target. But, 5, each, Tuesday and Thursday is the target.

Because this is the first Case Competition we are willing to operate without salaries and cover costs only. Of course, the ideal is to have a salary and have a cash reserve for next year.  We have developed a budget, which I’m sure will change. Click this link ( module-3-exercise-3-4_33108) for a really basic financial planning curriculum I developed for NFIB’s Young Entrepreneur Foundation and Visa’s Practical Money Skills (start at page 7 if you want to build very simple financials).

4. Results – Secure Sponsors.

Here are the sponsors we just confirmed this week. We want sponsors to INCREASE our revenue, and/or DECREASE our expense line items.

The George Washington University, Center For Entrepreneurial Excellence (through the generosity of Linda Rabbitt).  Dr. Erik Winslow – who is pretty much the mac daddy of the Women’s Leadership Program at GW – walked into my office last week. He tells me Linda Rabbitt – big time entrepreneur and donor to GW – was interested in the Hot Mommas Project and part of a donation is being earmarked for us. That is the REVENUE side. GW also donates office space to the Hot Mommas Project thus allowing us to reduce an EXPENSE line item.

What led to this: I have been updating George Solomon and Erik Winslow (GWU Center for Entrepreneurial Excellence Co Founders) for years. They have been there every step of the way.

Linda Rabbitt: Click here or here for additional info on major stud Linda Rabbitt.  At the bottom of this post, you will find article from when she was honored as a Washingtonian of the Year.  She is such an incredible person I had to include the entire piece.

 -FMS, Inc. FMS is our technology partner. They are reducing an EXPENSE line item for us.  FMS is owned by Luke Chung (an EO member). Veteran FMS employee Dave Juth (a GWU Alum) is our project lead.  What can we offer? Aside from being fun and interesting, we included them in some news coverage of the Hot Mommas Project coming out of GW. Click here to see article.

What led to this: I have been friends with Luke Chung for years. I am a huge fan.  When I needed to talk with a tech expert, he came to mind first. I was shocked when Luke said they could help us out.  Because we are cause-related, they are giving us a discount. 

The big takeaway here is the people you know can help you.  We are in a good position because of the connections with which we are starting. This is why people say networking is important. But I don’t like it when people are just users. My goal and approach is to be a decent person and maintain the relationship out of genuine interest, not because of what the project or I can get.  I love these guys (mentioned above).  Lots of good business karma going around as a result.

5. Looking ahead: Diversification

For ongoing sponsorship development, I’ve been advised by Tony Sudler – head of the Alzheimer’s Association, National Capital Area – to diversify the sponsor base…ideally 25% for each category an organization might have (e.g., planned gifts, corporate, individual, etc.). This is a smart tactic which helped the association post 9-11 and post Tsunami when many donors’ dollars were diverted.

6. Other resources.

 The Sponsorship Seeker’s Toolkit was recommended to me, but I have not been using it. I have used it in the past.


Linda Rabbitt

from The Washingtonian

Washingtonians Of The Year 2003

By Leslie Milk , Ellen Ryan

“My father taught me to always leave things better than you found them.”

“Volunteering is a way of life for me,” says Linda Rabbitt. Owner of Rand Construction, a business she built from the ground up, she is involved in so many community groups that her husband has threatened to enroll her in “Just Say No” school.

Rabbitt is the immediate past chair of the Greater Washington Board of Trade, only the third woman to head the 115-year-old organization. She spearheaded creation of the Washington Collaborative, moving the Board of Trade and community organizations that work with the business community into one building where they could share space, resources, and ideas. Rabbitt also raised almost $1 million in in-kind contributions to rehab that building. “We’re building communications through physical space,” she says.

As CEO of the area’s third-largest female-owned business and a leader of the Washington Building Congress and CREW (Commercial Real Estate Women), Rabbitt has encouraged women to build careers in construction and commercial real estate. As president of the International Women’s Forum, she pushed for creation of a Leadership Foundation to fund a fellows program for women moving up the corporate ladder.

Three years ago, Rabbitt survived breast cancer. Even before she’d recovered, she was working with the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure and the National Breast Cancer Coalition. Rand Construction built the coalition’s new offices pro bono. In her spare time, Rabbitt has helped raise funds for My Sister’s Place, a program for battered women.

If you ask her, she says she does so much for selfish reasons. “The only things you really keep are what you give away,” Rabbitt says.



I am so thankful for the incredible, and generous people and companies involving themselves with The Hot Mommas® Project.  Reading about Linda Rabbitt has been so inspirational (here is ANOTHER link…page down for story).  Can’t wait to see what happens next.