Friday, December 21, 2007

Season's Greetings from WPO Chicago!

To our members, friends, colleagues, partners, hosts, and sponsors ... we extend our heartfelt best wishes for a joyous holiday season and successful new year!

Together ... let us grow, let us grow, let us grow!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Article of Interest: Leading Clever People

To make sure clever people do their best work at your company, you must harness their talents.

Who most determines your company’s success? Clever people—employees whose knowledge and skills enable them to produce disproportionate value for your firm. Think the pharmaceutical researcher who formulates a new drug, or the programmer who creates a new piece of code. Their single innovation may bankroll their entire organization for a decade.

To make sure clever people do their best work at your company, you must harness their talents. But that isn’t easy: Clever people don’t want to be led. They don’t care about titles or promotions. And they’re easily bored.

What to do? Find out more here.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Sound Advice: What Is a Wiki?

Cross-referencing to our headquarter blog. Interesting post. We have also created a private wiki (wetpaint) for WPO Chicago members and use it to communicate important events and share knowledge.

Are you using a wiki? If so, how?

Monday, December 03, 2007

Sound Advice: Books To Read in 2008

Strategy & Business published its seventh annual survey of the year’s Best Business Books in 2007, where noted business practitioners, scholars, and journalists select and judge the most significant and useful books in their areas of expertise. This is one of my favorite things to track.

See what you missed and get busy reading in 2008! Go here for list (may require quick registration).

Monday, November 26, 2007

Article of Interest: Do You Need To Redesign Your Organization for 2008?

Why is this different from the other articles you have read on organizational design?

First, it is clearly focused on communicating a process for creating any new or different organization. The emphasis is on how you get there, not what it looks like when the process is done.

Second, this process is flexible and can be used in large or small organizations.

Third, the authors (Diane Beakey, Phd, Kathleen Wells Webster, MBA and Jackie Rubin, PhD) have integrated the thinking of both those who emphasize process improvement (working from the bottom up) and those who operate from a more strategic perspective (working from the top down).

Start at the beginning. Take the "Pop Quiz" and find out if you need to redesign your organization.

Hint: Focus on "excellence."

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Sound Advice: Books and Web Sites To Build Your Business

Recently, the Wall Street Journal featured books and Web sites to help business owners prepare for an eventual transfer. Here are a few:

1. Family Business Succession: The Final Test of Greatness

Respects the time of a busy entrepreneur who's got to start thinking about succession.

2. Exit Strategy Planning: Grooming Your Business for Sale or Succession

Talks about the reality of selling versus succession.

3. Family Firm Institute

A broad resource for issues of business continuity, family-management strategies and ownership transfer.

4. National Center for Employee Ownership

A valuable resource when an Employee Stock Ownership Plan is a viable alternative.

To see more on this post, go to the WSJ's Independent Street.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Article of Interest: For CEOs, Off-Duty Isn't an Option

For priests, police officers and doctors, it isn't really possible to be completely off-duty. They may enjoy uninterrupted breaks when times are calm. But if a big enough crisis arises, it doesn't matter whether they are holding a tennis racket or taking a nap, they are expected to get back in action right away.

It's time to add big-company chief executives, small business owners and entrepreneurs to the list of jobs that involve always being "on." Regardless of whether bosses favor laid-back or intense management styles during normal times, they need to take command -- fast and in person -- when trouble hits, no matter how much it may disrupt their lives away from the office.
How true, how true. See for yourself here.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Article of Interest: Making Change

It isn't easy to manage change. That's true whether it be a change in a company's business, the way an organization is structured, people's responsibilities or compensation, or anything else that disturbs the status quo.

Among other things, an effective "change manager" has to know how to set up informal networks and delegate responsibilities, empowering people throughout the organization.

But perhaps the first step in managing change is to eliminate some common assumptions about the way change works. Here are eight of them:

1. Don't assume that individuals have a natural aptitude to adapt.
2. Don't assume that individuals will function rationally.
3. Don't assume that change is automatic.
4. Don't assume that organizations are naturally dynamic.
5. Don't assume that company culture is easy to change.
6. Don't assume that every aspect of the project will work out exactly as planned.
7. Don't assume the change manager can be effective without explicit authority.
8. Don't assume that anyone can improvise being a change manager.

To read the recommendations on steps companies should take to more effectively manage change, read the entire article here.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

News of Interest: Sarah Stopek Hirsch Is Award Winner!

We extend our heartfelt congratulations to WPO member Sarah Stopek Hirsch, president of Sublime Promotions, Inc., in Chicago for her 2007 Entrepreneurial Woman of the Year Rising Star award. She is pictured holding roses (presented to her by her WPO sisters) and surrounded by her extremely proud family. She received her award at the 2007 Women's Business Development Center Conference in Chicago.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Article of Interest: Women and the Labyrinth of Leadership

When you put all the pieces together, a new picture (the cartoon says it all) emerges for why women don’t make it into the C-suite (and, of course, why they start businesses). It’s not the glass ceiling, but the sum of many obstacles along the way.

Here's a quick clip:
In 1986 the Wall Street Journal’s Carol Hymowitz and Timothy Schellhardt gave the world an answer: “Even those few women who rose steadily through the ranks eventually crashed into an invisible barrier. The executive suite seemed within their grasp, but they just couldn’t break through the glass ceiling.” The metaphor, driven home by the article’s accompanying illustration, resonated; it captured the frustration of a goal within sight but somehow unattainable. To be sure, there was a time when the barriers were absolute. Even within the career spans of 1980s-era executives, access to top posts had been explicitly denied. Consider comments made by President Richard Nixon, recorded on White House audiotapes and made public through the Freedom of Information Act. When explaining why he would not appoint a woman to the U.S. Supreme Court, Nixon said, “I don’t think a woman should be in any government job whatsoever…mainly because they are erratic. And emotional. Men are erratic and emotional, too, but the point is a woman is more likely to be.” In a culture where such opinions were widely held, women had virtually no chance of attaining influential leadership roles.

Times have changed, however, and the glass ceiling metaphor is now more wrong than right.
Read more here at the Harvard Business Review article, Women and the Labyrinth of Leadership, authored by Alice H. Eagly and Linda L. Carli.

Let us know what you think.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Survey of Interest: Digital Marketing -- From Web Sites To Wikis

A global survey shows that marketers already regard digital tools as very important for advertising and for managing sales and service—but frequently don’t use them. Why? Although respondents to this McKinsey study are applying both established and Web 2.0 technologies to reach customers at every stage of decision making, they complain about a shortage of skilled people to run online vehicles and about a lack of metrics to assess them. Learn “How companies are marketing online” and how they expect to be doing so in 2010. Highly recommend. It requires a quick (free) registration but it's worth it.

And if you would like a simpler version to McKinsey's analysis, try this one on for size. It's a story, "Who Moved My Client Base?," about how a business owner who is faced with a slowing small business uses social media to turn things around and grow his business by tapping into a global client base. See if it strikes a chord with you. Feel free to comment and forward the story to whoever you think might benefit.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Event of Interest: WBDC Conference in Chicago 9/26-27

Picture perfect photo opportunity (L-R): Kate Koziol (President, K Squared Marketing and Public Relations), Caitlin Jenkins (national Director of Communications for WPO) and Kali Evans-Raoul (President, The Image Studios) -- all having a grand time at our booth during the conference.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Event of Interest: WBDC Conference in Chicago 9/26-27

Come visit us at our WPO Booth No. 636 during the Women's Business Development Conference in Chicago September 26-27 at Navy Pier. Our national Director of Communications, Caitlin Jenkins, will be on hand to meet and greet folks and several WPO Chicago members plan to attend.

During the conference, a WPO Chicago member will be honored with the Rising Star Award; another is giving a keynote and still another serves as a panelist during the "Go Global" workshop! So it's not just about Martha!

Hope to see you there! More information can be found here.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Article of Interest: Girl Power

It's never too early to start educating young women about the merits to entrepreneurship. In this Entrepreneur magazine article, "Girl Power," WPO is recognized for putting on a nationwide event that brought together women entrepreneurs and elementary-age girls in 11 cities from Phoenix to Toronto, all to play the game Cashflow for Kids. WPO members served as facilitators, and mentors, helping the girls learn lessons in financial literacy.

How are you helping young women learn what it takes to start a business?

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Article of Interest: Scholars Link Success of Firms To Lives of CEOs

As president of your organization, what happens if you lose your spouse or partner? Or your father-in-law passes away? Do you think either of these events will impact your performance in a negative way?

That is the thorny privacy question put to test in a recent study based on CEOs of publicly-traded companies and the findings are intriguing.
Such things don't normally figure in investment decisions. But maybe they should, according to a recent study by three finance professors. Mining a trove of Danish government data on thousands of businesses, they were able to track links between CEO-family deaths and the companies' profitability over a decade.

It slid by about one-fifth, on average, in the two years after the death of a CEO's child, and by about 15% after the death of a spouse.
Read more here for the very controversial results. Do you think employees should know as much as they can about your life before they sign on? Where do we draw the line?

Thursday, August 30, 2007

News of Interest: WPO Chicago Growth Survey 2007

Women Presidents' Organization Chicago Survey Predicts Business Growth in 2007 for 86% of Members: Group Leadership Guides $400 Million in Regional and Global Business

Chicago-area women presidents of multimillion-dollar businesses predict growth in 2007. A recent survey of the Women Presidents' Organization Chicago revealed that 86% of members predict growth in 2007. While overall growth predictions averaged up to 70% for some companies, the majority of growth was predicted to be in the 1-20% range.

Read press release here; catch the Small Business Trends blog entry under Women Business Owners Part of Social Entrepreneurship Trend; and, read WPO headquarter offices' blog entry here.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Sound Advice: Assertive Performance Feedback

I suspect that nearly all of you who run a business have had at one time or another -- employee issues. Specifically ones that run the line of expecting your employees to do things the way you would and then it doesn't happen. Right? You finally ask yourself, "What am I doing wrong that my employees just aren't motivated to get things done?" Good question.

This article might help. It offers a clear and concrete "tool" for effective performance feedback.

And if you like what you learned, sign up here for more tips from the Graziadio Business Report published by Pepperdine University, Graziadio School of Business and Management.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Book of Interest: The Future of Management

In "The Future of Management," a book due to be published this autumn by Gary Hamel, our keynote speaker at our WPO Chicago 2006 Conference, he argues that Google's innovations go beyond the fine points of search-engine algorithms -- extending into big, enduring aspects of general management. He believes that Google is committed to building a company that can evolve as fast as the Web.

What do you think?

In the meantime, check out a couple of highlights from the book description on Amazon:
Hamel explains how to turn your company into a serial management innovator, revealing:

• The make-or-break challenges that will determine competitive success in an age of relentless, head-snapping change.
• The toxic effects of traditional management beliefs.
• The unconventional management practices generating breakthrough results in “modern management pioneers.”
• The radical principles that will need to become part of every company’s “management DNA.”
• The steps your company can take now to build your “management advantage.”
Looks like we have to wait until September 10 to find out what else Gary has to say on the hot topic of serial management innovator.

And just in ... (8/24/07) ... a hat tip to Danielle Scott (see her comment below), Associate Editor, Graziadio Business Report, Graziadio School of Business and Management for letting us know that leadership guru Bob Fulmer posted a review of the Future of Management in the Graziadio Business Report's fall issue. You can find it here.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

News of Interest: WPO Chicago Summit (8/9)

Our 4th Annual WPO Chicago Summit was a HUGE success. Congratulations to Dr. Marsha Firestone (our founder), Cindy Solomon (our guest speaker), all WPO Chicago members and special guests for making our event so magnificent.

We look forward to our 5th Annual WPO Chicago Summit in 2008 celebrating 11 years of learning and growing together.

Read our current news here.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Event of Interest: WPO Chicago Summit 8/9

Please join us for our "4th Annual WPO Chicago Summit and No-Host Dinner" on Thursday, August 9 from 11:00 a.m - 9:00 p.m. at the IBM Innovation Center. The purpose of the Summit is to learn, grow and celebrate (10-year anniversary) together!

Our special guest speaker will be Cindy Solomon (pictured) who rocked our world with so many insights at our recent WPO 10th Anniversary Conference in Scottsdale, AZ, that we decided to have her speak again at our private event which brings together WPO members from all three Chicago chapters.

To attend, you must be a WPO Chicago member in good standing. For further information or to register, please contact Laurel Delaney at 773-381-1700 or email her at You need a special password to access our WPO Chicago Wiki where registration takes place.

And for reporters who plan to attend, please contact either Kate or Tracey (right side panel) to confirm your place. We look forward to your visit!

Saturday, August 04, 2007

News of Interest: SME Toolkit

IBM (a WPO corporate sponsor) and International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private sector arm of the World Bank, launch a small business toolkit to create jobs and fuel growth in the underserved and emerging markets.

The Women Presidents' Organization is a partner for the US version of toolkit. And I am honored through the work at my own business and relationship with WPO, to contribute global small business articles in the International Business Overview segment. Visit SME Toolkit area here and keep in mind all the resources are free.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Sound Advice: Funding a Small Business

What's the best way for a small company to fund expansion? Would you rather be indebted to a banker or a venture lender? Find out what people said here.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

News of Interest: WPO at WBENC Conference

A cross-posting off our WPO national headquarter office blog. I had to ... I just love the photo. Read more here.

Pictured (left to right): Sara Goldwitz (Facilitator Support), Dr. Marsha Firestone (President and Founder), Camille Burns (Vice President of Operations) and Amy Blais, (Program Manager).

Monday, July 16, 2007

Article of Interest: Emotional Dynamism

Emotions play a vital role in how we make business decisions. Do you find that to be true? If so, then this article will show you how to leverage the power of emotions.

Emotional Dynamism: Playing the Music of Leadership
by Terri Egan, PhD, and Ann E. Feyerherm, PhD

Monday, July 09, 2007

Article of Interest: Who Are the Greatest Entrepreneurs of All Time?

We could spend a lifetime compiling a list without ever agreeing on who deserves a mention. From the pirates of Silicon Valley to the captains of industry, there are far too many figures to choose from to give anyone the final say.

BusinessWeek picked the brains of professors, authors, and its own staffers. Their criteria for entrepreneurs to be considered among the greatest was simple. If they had the vision to create new markets or tap into underserved markets, changing the way people lived in the process, then they were candidates on a list they whittled down to 30 players.

Find out who's a player here. Hint: Four (4) women made the list and one (pictured) is based in our sweet home town Chicago.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Friday, June 29, 2007

News of Interest: Intuit Future of Small Business Report

Tomorrow's successful small business owners will be far more reliant on technology than their current counterparts. They'll be more connected in a mobile world, market to customers in ways only imagined today and blur the lines between the virtual and physical worlds as the hype surrounding today's technology becomes tomorrow's reality.

That's the vision of small business in the year 2017 as described in the second installment of the groundbreaking Intuit Future of Small Business Report™, a unique three-part study that looks ahead 10 years and examines the prospects, influences and profiles of small business.

The latest installment, sponsored by Intuit Inc. and authored by the Institute for the Future, (very fascinating I might add) was just released. It focuses on how technology will propel and transform the small business sector. The first installment, released in January, explored the changing face of entrepreneurship, the rise of personal businesses and the emergence of entrepreneurship education. The third installment, to be released later this year, will examine how small businesses will affect society and the economy through 2017.

Read more here and download the incredible study here.

Monday, June 25, 2007

News of Interest: Two WPO Chicago Members Win BIG Awards

Two WPO Chicago members are award winners:

1. INNOVATE Illinois 2007, third annual small business challenge, to recognize and assist some of the most innovative small companies that are contributing to our expanding economy. Thirteen winners were selected from approximately 100 companies who originally submitted applications and business plans from the Northern, Chicagoland, Central and Southern regions of the state. Finalists will now participate in an [intensive six-month program where they will have access to a variety of essential resources and expertise, including a $10,000 grant, to continue to grow their businesses. INNOVATE Illinois is funded by Gov. Blagojevich’s Opportunity Returns economic development program. And one of our Chicago downtown I chapter members is among the winners!

2. Women-owned businesses represent the fastest growing segment of the U.S. economy, yet many of them are under-funded and not performing to their full potential. It is not for a lack of vision, stamina or hard work on the part of their owners, who often do not have the support they need to get to the next level. The ATHENAPowerLink program is here to help. The ATHENAPowerLink is a mentoring program that connects a woman business owner with an advisory panel for a 12-month period. And one of our Chicago downtown II chapter members just won the ATHENAPowerLink award for 2007!

Congratulations to both Chicago members! We are very proud of you.

[Due to our member confidentiality policy, we do not mention specific names.]

Monday, June 18, 2007

Blog of Interest: Leaders In The Know

A fellow WPO member, Anne Pauker Kreitzberg, has started a blog, Leaders In the Know: Reinventing the Practice of Leadership. Anne, who is a New Jersey chapter member, encourages all WPO members (and prospects!) to participate as a guest author, share links to informative content, post comments, and maybe even begin your own blog!

Monday, June 11, 2007

Event of Interest: WPO Chicago Summit (8/9)

Please join us for our "4th Annual WPO Chicago Summit and No-Host Dinner" on Thursday, August 9 from 11:00 a.m - 9:00 p.m. at the IBM Innovation Center. The purpose of the Summit is to learn, grow and celebrate (10-year anniversary) together!

Our special guest speaker will be Cindy Solomon who rocked our world with so many insights at our recent WPO 10th Anniversary Conference in Scottsdale, AZ, that we decided to have her speak again at our private event which brings together WPO members from all three Chicago chapters.

To attend, you must be a WPO Chicago member in good standing. For further information or to register, please contact Laurel Delaney at 773-381-1700 or email her at You need a special password to access our WPO Chicago Wiki where registration takes place.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Interview of Interest: Two of the Luckiest Guys on the Planet ...

... because they found what they love to do.

What's this? Talking up men on the Women Presidents' Organization Chicago blog? You bet. In case you missed it, this weekend (6/2) the WSJ ran a great interview with Steve Jobs and Bill Gates about how they paved the way for the personal computer revolution. Here's the question that was asked by the audience that I learned the most from:
You approached the same opportunity so very differently. What did you learn about running your own business that you wished you had thought of sooner or thought of first by watching the other guy?

Mr. Gates: I'd give a lot to have Steve's taste -- in terms of intuitive taste, both for people and products. We sat in Mac product reviews where there were questions about software choices, how things would be done, that I viewed as an engineering question -- that's just how my my mind works. And I'd see Steve make the decision based on a sense of people and product that is even hard for me to explain. The way he does things is just different, and I think it's magical.

Mr. Jobs:
Because Woz and I started the company based on doing the whole banana, we weren't so good at partnering with people. And, you know, actually, the funny thing is, Microsoft's one of the few companies we were able to partner with that actually worked for both companies. And we weren't so good at that, where Bill and Microsoft were really good at it because they didn't make the whole thing in the early days, and they learned how to partner with people really well.

And I think if Apple could have had a little more of that in its DNA, it would have served it extremely well. And I don't think Apple learned that until a few decades later.
In looking back, what do you wish that you would have thought of sooner and taken action on? Do you feel like the luckiest gal on the planet?

Read more here including another interview, a podcast, other blog entries and transcripts from their talk.

Shortcut: Straight to The Wall Street Journal's D: All Things Digital executive conference.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Sound Advice: Venture Capital Forms

In case you are wondering what is involved when you receive venture capital, these documents are free and created using the “best of breed practices” and, in addition to the Venture Capital community, can be used by entrepreneurs to prepare themselves for the onslaught of due diligence and general paperwork required for almost any financing.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Sound Advice: Pitfalls To Avoid When Operating a Family-Run Business

Family-owned businesses face unique issues—succession planning, marriages and divorces, complicated relationships—as well as routine issues that emerge around turf battles, shareholder control, compensation structures, and processes for strategic decision-making.

Without proper documentation in place to help address these and other issues when they arise, the family-owned business is at risk from an operational, management and financial perspective. Regardless of its legal structure (e.g., corporation, limited liability company, or partnership), the family-owned business can avoid many problems down the line and better position itself for success if relationships between business owners are carefully documented.

Find out more here.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Sound Advice: The Semantics of "Work"

Here's the author's lead:
Workforce Crisis had just been published; my coauthors and I had dedicated the book to our five teenage children.

“Hey, Mom! Do you want to hear something funny?” my then-16-year-old daughter asked. “You guys have just dedicated a book on the workforce to people who never plan to be in it!”

Now, despite what it sounds like, I’m (reasonably) confident that she is not planning a life of leisure. She’s an energetic and ambitious young woman. But whatever the word “workforce” triggers in her mind, it does not describe a club she wants to join.

The ways young people respond to the language of work give us some interesting clues on the preferences of our newest adults.
Read more here. Hint: The most enlightening part is the comment area. What's your reaction?

Monday, May 14, 2007

Sound Advice: How Global Is Your Business?

How global is your business, really? Put your company to the test with Pankaj Ghemawat's Globalization Survey, and after completing it, download a free PDF of his 2006 McKinsey Award-winning article, "Regional Strategies for Global Leadership."

I completed the test and it takes about 8-10 minutes. Very substantial and well-thought out. Make sure you answer all the questions -- otherwise it won't take -- and include an email address (at the beginning) to receive the free PDF article!

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

The Race To Creativity. Will You Win?

As you know, companies simply can't survive, let alone grow, without ingenuity and originality. UPS (who happens to be a WPO national sponsor!) understands this and today kicked off a program that seeks the best small businesses across the globe -- from Alabama to Argentina and from Zimbabwe to New Zealand.

Dubbed the UPS Best “Out-of-the-Box” Small Business Contest, the program is designed for companies with annual 2006 revenues of at least $250,000 but not more than $10 million -- you do not have to be a WPO member to register -- and is a way for UPS to reward small businesses using creative, innovative ideas and concepts.

Prizes for the winners range from $5,000 to $25,000 in cash, plus an IBM (also a WPO national sponsor) small business package. This is the first year that small businesses from around the world -- not just those in the United States -- are eligible to participate.

I participated in this event last year as a global small business expert panelist and it was a mind-liberating experience. I met so many innovative small business owners and still wear the decorative pin that one of the winners made at her small business.

First, you must register. And there is a special registration area set up for small business owners operating in different parts of the world. For example, if you are located in Canada, register here where all the information is provided in French. If you are selected as a winner, let's plan to connect at the award ceremony. I am always eager to meet the best and brightest idea generators!

Better hurry because contest application period ends September 1. In case you skipped the previous links, begin the online registration process here.

P.S. Just in (5/9) ... I have been asked to be a judge on the program and it's official:
The entries will be judged by an international panel of renowned small business experts, including: Laurel Delaney, President and Founder, Global TradeSource, Ltd.; Joshua Lau, Founder and CEO of YesAsia; Juan Antonio "Oso" Oseguera, editor of Entrepreneur en EspaƱol and Hayden Bradshaw, publisher and editor of Enterprise Magazine.
Read the press release here. I am honored and cannot wait. See you there!

Monday, May 07, 2007

Sound Advice: Book of Interest

Ever wonder where successful people get their ideas from and how startups are really created? Well this book, Founders At Work: Stories of Startups' Early Days, by Jessica Livingston will give you the answers you've been searching for and is a must-read. I could not put it down. Out of 32 founders profiled, three are women: Caterina Fake of Flickr, Mena Trott co-founder of Six Apart and Ann Winblad of Open Systems, and Hummer Winblad.

Jessica is a founding partner of Y Combinator, a seed-stage venture firm based in Cambridge, MA, and Mountain View, CA.

If you want to understand business, go buy yourself a copy.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Article of Interest: A Nation of Entrepreneurs

30 years ago, huge corporations dominated the business world. Read about the seismic shifts that turned America into a nation of entrepreneurs.

The late 1970s were a time of bright miniskirts, mirrored disco balls and platform shoes. But the wild changes taking place 30 years ago weren't all in music and fashion.

Inside office suites, workers were learning to type memos into their Altair personal computers while hoping to become an important cog in a big, corporate wheel. But as the 1980s arrived, career goals were shifting for those who found cubicle life stifling and who were bold enough to take risks.

An entrepreneurial age was coming, fueled by social change, new sources of capital and new technologies. While some jumped at the chance to start a business, others were pushed by mass corporate layoffs, mergers and growing anxiety about job security.

Whatever the reason, entrepreneurship has become a popular aspiration.

Donald F. Kuratko, executive director of the Johnson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Indiana University in Bloomington, perhaps summed it up best in the Baylor study: Entrepreneurship, he wrote, has emerged over the last two decades as arguably the most potent economic force the world has ever experienced.

Read more of Carol Tice's article here.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Sound Advice: Is Innovation Everything?

In case you missed it, Harvard Business Review announced the 2006 McKinsey Award winners and our keynote speaker at last year's WPO conference in Chicago -- Gary Hamel -- is a winner! Read more here and then visit John Hagel's blog for a commentary on Gary's contribution.

Gary's article in HBR, "The Why, What, and How of Management Innovation," is a available for purchase online.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Event of Interest: WPO 10th Anniversary Conference

More testimonials from our conference in Scottsdale, AZ April 19-21, 2007:
I have to second it. The speakers and workshops were outstanding. My head is still reeling and I am once again reviewing all of my notes. They also did a great job with the food and logistics.
All the speakers were so terrific that I can't really say one was better than another! I'm really glad I did take notes!! And, the sequence of the speakers was terrific ... all the way to the end for banging the drums!

Monday, April 23, 2007

Event of Interest: WPO 10th Anniversary Conference

The first testimonial from a Chicago member regarding last week's conference in Scottsdale, AZ:
Hi all,

I am still reeling from all of the wonderful information the conference offered. It has been such a great decision to join WPO and the conference was well worth the trip. I met so many outstanding ladies – especially those from our three (3) chapters in Chicago!

Some of the things I was most impressed about were:

1. As a former speech teacher, I was so impressed with the common thread of the sessions. In every session I was in, the speaker mentioned another previous speaker’s words whether agreeing or disagreeing and added many good thoughts in as well. Out of all the conferences I have been to, I thought this was a special added bonus that spoke to our group and the enthusiasm the speaker’s clearly felt as well.

2. The quality of the speakers. I have been to conferences where I am reading a book because the sessions are so boring. This was definitely not the case.

3. How warmly I was welcomed and how warmly my mother, who is also my associate, was welcomed. In the opening session we were asked to stand with other mother/daughter teams and I thought that was just great. My mother, all teary-eyed, told me how much that meant to her!

Anyway, thanks to all who met me and I look forward to next year’s conference in Boston!


Kim Kleeman
Shakespeare Squared
More to follow. Stay tuned.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Event of Interest: WPO 10th Anniversary Conference

This week we take off to attend our WPO annual conference in sunny Scottsdale, Arizona (April 19-21) to celebrate ten phenomenal years of learning, growth and success. We hope to see you there!

Read more about the conference here and learn what our founder, Dr. Marsha Firestone, has to say about this special point in time.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

News of Interest: President of WPO Receives Signature Award

Marsha Firestone, Ph.D., president and founder of the Women Presidents’ Organization (WPO), has received the 2007 Social Entrepreneur Award by the National Association of Women Business Owners New York City Chapter. The Social Entrepreneur Award recognizes the innovation, resourcefulness and the successful impact made by women in the nonprofit sector who use business methods to find practical solutions to social problems or needs related to their nonprofit organization. Firestone was honored for her dedication and support of the small business community.

Read more here.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Sound Advice: What Your Direct Reports Expect of You

Larry Bossidy, one of my personal favorite leaders (and author of a book I devoured, Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done), penned a great article in the current Harvard Business Review entitled, What Your Leader Expects of You. You can download the electronic PDF file for U.S. $6.00 here.

The essence of the article is that success of an executive team depends heavily on the relationships the boss has with his or her direct reports. Yet the leadership literature has had little to say about what is expected in those relationships -- on either side.

Larry Bossidy, formerly the chairman and CEO of Honeywell, and before that of AlliedSignal, shares what he calls "the CEO compact," detailing the behaviors a leader should look for in subordinates and what they should be able to expect in return. A CEO's best people, he says, know these eight points:

1. When a situation calls for them to get involved.
2. They generate ideas -- remembering that some of the best ones may sound crazy at first.
3. They are willing to collaborate, putting the long-term good of the company above short-term goals of their divisions.
4. They step up to lead initiatives, even if the outcome is uncertain.
5. They develop leaders among their people, especially through direct involvement in performance appraisals.
6. They stay current on world events and anticipate how those events may affect the company and its competition.
7. They drive their own growth by exposing themselves to new people and ideas and by accepting demanding assignments.
8. And they sustain these behaviors in bad times as well as good.

On the other side of the compact, the boss should:

a. Provide clarity of direction; set goals and objectives;
b. Give frequent, specific, and immediate feedback;
c. Be decisive and timely;
d. Demonstrate honesty and candor; and ...
e. Offer an equitable compensation plan.

Executives who aren't lucky enough to have such a boss can create a compact with their own subordinates, Bossidy says, and demonstrate by example. The result will be to improve team and company performance and accelerate individual growth.

Are you a leader? Are you grooming your direct reports for leadership?

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Commentary of Interest: Female CEOs still rare sight

My colleague Judith Dobrzynski wrote a fabulous commentary -- Female CEOs still rare sight -- that's published in the Chicago Tribune today (3/28).

Find out what's happening in Corporate Chicago with businesswomen and be glad you run a business!

Monday, March 26, 2007

Sound Advice: Entrepreneurship for Everyone

Since entrepreneurs are such significant contributors to our nation’s fiscal health, it is an economic imperative that anyone and everyone seeking to start and grow their own business be given the utmost opportunities to succeed. But in the current environment, minorities and women do not keep pace with the general entrepreneurial population.

The Kauffman Foundation is working to better understand these gaps and to develop programs to help ensure minority and women entrepreneurs are successful. Find out where women stand on entrepreneurial activity, angel investing and capital access here.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Interview of Interest: Men Dominate, Women Orchestrate

Author Margaret Heffernan explains how women entrepreneurs are altering the course, and the culture, of business today.
By every conceivable measurement, women continue to comprise one of the fastest growing segments in entrepreneurship. According to the Center for Women's Business Research, between 1997 and 2004, privately held, woman-owned businesses grew at three times the rate of all U.S. privately held firms, and woman-owned businesses created jobs at twice the rate of all other firms.

Furthermore, women did all of this with less than 1% of the venture capital that's invested in small businesses.

Margaret Heffernan, having run five different businesses in the U.S. and Britain, including Icast, Infomation, and Marlin Gas and Trading, has some thoughts on why women are altering the course of business today. In How She Does It: How Women Entrepreneurs Are Changing the Rules of Business (Viking 2007) Heffernan has compiled not only her own wisdom on the subject, but the collective experiences of such successful businesswomen as Geraldine Laybourne of the Oxygen Network and Mona Eliassen of the Eliassen Group to describe what she calls one of the most profound developments in the business world today—the female entrepreneur.

Recently, staff writer Stacy Perman spoke with Heffernan, who is also a visiting professor of entrepreneurship at the Simmons College School of Managemen in Boston. Edited excerpts of their conversation can be found here.
Also noteworthy is that Margaret is one of our keynote speakers at our upcoming WPO conference in Scottsdale April 19-21. Further, I am just finishing up her book and will be talking it up here next week.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

News of Interest: Office Depot Businesswoman of the Year is a WPO Chicago Member!

WPO member Francine Manilow, of Manilow Suites, wins Office Depot Businesswoman of the Year in our region. We are very proud of her. This is such a prestigious honor.

Here's what some of her peers had to say after hearing the news:

That is so wonderful and you certainly deserve it! 1000 Congratulations!

You are so deserving! God bless you!

I’m so happy for you! Congratulations!

Congratulations Francine ... WAY TO GO GIRL!

The recognition could not go to anyone who deserves it more than you!

Congratulations! Well deserved!

News release:

Office Depot Awards Francine Manilow, CEO and Founder of Manilow Suites, 2007 Chicago Businesswoman of the Year

Office Depot is proud to honor the Francine Manilow, CEO and Founder of Manilow Suites, as Chicago's 2007 Businesswoman of the Year. Francine was nominated by Office Depot's supporting professional women's association, Women Presidents' Organization, in recognition of her exceptional leadership, entrepreneurial spirit and support for women in business.

Francine was the first person in the United States to offer upscale short-term housing incorporating hotel services, numerous amenities and flexibility with arrival and departure dates. Manilow Suites offers beautiful apartments in 12 luxury high-rise buildings within the downtown Chicago area. In March 2007, the company will celebrate its 27th anniversary.

When she was 15 years old, Francine began her career with the formation of the International Van Cliburn Music Club to promote classical music among young adults. There were 15 chapters in the U.S. and numerous chapters throughout the world including Japan, Bangkok, London and Paris. In 1966, she formed her first corporation, employing stewardesses to work exhibit booths at trade shows in 16 different cities. She was also the first to offer secretarial services for the exhibitors at the trade shows with only the help of her little desk, two chairs, a typewriter and a small copy machine. Today, exhibit halls offer elaborate business centers.

From there, she was the first in Chicago to offer 24-hour film developing and then same-day film developing through various retail outlets. Francine also formed the largest company which provided housewives to offer food tasting in supermarkets on the weekends. Along the way, she acquired a stock photo company called "Piles and Files of Photos."

The award will be presented to Francine at Office Depot's Success Strategies for Businesswomen Conference in Chicago on Wednesday, March 20, 2007 at the Wyndham O'Hare. For more information or to register, visit


Please join us in celebrating Francine's award on March 20th at the Office Depot Conference in Chicago. WPO will be represented by Sheila Liao of Pointe International. Please look for the WPO table, Sheila and of course, Francine! See you there.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Article of Interest: Catfight in the Boardroom

I was reading the latest edition of Psychology Today last night and stumbled upon the article "Catfight in the Boardroom." Whether it's reality or perception, says Judith Sills, Ph.D., office pressures can make women uncooperative.

While digesting the information, I could not help but think how different the author's perspective is versus what we experience day-to-day at WPO. For example, the article begins with:
A gentleman complained recently that, though his private club had committed itself to increasing female membership, the admissions committee had thus far been unsuccessful. "No matter which woman is proposed," he said, "some other woman blackballs her."

Let me ask you this: Do you think a woman's worst workplace enemy is another woman? Do you think women hold other women back?

I don't. And at WPO, we are all about helping other businesswomen succeed. But read the article yourself and let us know what you think.