Archive for the 'Leadership' Category

President and CEO Julie Smolyansky on “Following Your Gut”

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This past Wednesday September 12th, President and CEO of Lifeway Kefir, Julie Smolyansky lead a wegg® workshop about the importance of following your gut on business and personal endeavors. Her inspiring talk covered the journey of Lifeway beginning in her parent’s basement, in the mid-eighties, when they began making Kefir, a food inspired by their home country, the former Soviet Union.  It is now a $120 million publicly-traded company, thanks to Julie. She grew Lifeway to the size it is now, without a business degree, and became CEO at age 27, when her father suddenly passed away. Smolyansky shared the story of how one of her father’s friends reacted when he died and she was made CEO…

“[He said] ‘forget it, the company is done. Sell all of your stock tomorrow. There’s no way a 27 year old girl could run a company.’ This is done. Lifeway is over…I go into the office Monday morning…and everyone had sold their stock….It was devastating…[I] picked my head up and moved forward. Then, we had 70 people, today we have 320. We’ve grown our business from 12 million to 120 million…We continued to execute on the strategy we believed in, and continued to follow our gut, and worked really really hard….That man who said ‘she’s never gonna do it,’…I literally think about him every day. I say ‘thank you’, ‘thank you so much for underestimating me, for pissing me off, and making me angry…You gave me the fuel to move forward.”

Smolyansky went on to describe how being a young CEO became a strength for her. She followed her gut and made Lifeway one of the first businesses ever to have an active social media presence. She explained, “We were ahead of the game…Vogue called us ‘avant garde’ for being on social media.”

She also shared her beliefs on the importance of female entrepreneurship,

“If women were employed at the same rates as men, we know the global GDP would rise exponentially…That I think is really important. A rising tide raises all ships, and when women create jobs, an entire community is more safe and stable….Women are the key to saving the world…Entrepreneurship…can heal the world.”

Other inspiring takeaways from Smolyansky’s talk…

  • Keep moving ahead no matter what your challenges are in life.
  • Make a big impact:  it only takes one person one step at a time to change the world.
  • Follow your gut (we should all listen to our intuition on important matters in life).

Thank you to Julie, and her team, Justine and Maria, for making our on-the-ground wegg® workshop a success.  And thank you to Bank of America, Moji Eagan and Aneta Mazur, for hosting us.

If you were not able to make this wegg® workshop, we are having a wegginar® on Wednesday, October 3rd with Katie Kollhoff, CEO, NUMIX.  She’ll present on “Small Startup, Big Impact.”  Thanks to our sponsors, IBM, UPS, Bank of America and GlobalCare Clinical Trials, the program is no charge but you must register to attend, here.

What It Means to be a Successful Global Negotiator

According to the report, “Changing the Narrative:  Women as Negotiators and Leaders, “There is powerful evidence that women continue to struggle in their careers relative to men, both in their pursuit of senior leadership positions and of equal pay.”  That’s why a lot of women are choosing entrepreneurship and business ownership:  to avoid an obstacle that seemingly won’t go away and to take control of their careers.

Why is there so much that remains misunderstood about the challenges women face and why the negative stereotypes?  More specifically, why is there the persistent view that women are innately poor advocates for themselves?  When:

In fact, women possess unique advantages as [global] negotiators, including greater cooperativeness and stronger ethics. But often those strengths are overlooked or severely undervalued.

To learn more about practical strategies for managers and negotiators of both genders to close the performance gaps and to discover what it means to be a successful global negotiator, click here.

wegg® educates women on how to take their business global and in one of our most recent wegginars® we talk about the importance of negotiating a good foreign distributor agreement.  Strong negotiation skills can be the difference between closing a business deal and losing it. Learn more about wegg’s monthly educational wegginars here.

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JOIN us for our morning wegg™ workshop on September 12th and hosted by Bank of America (135 S. LaSalle Street, 44th Floor).  Julie Smolyansky, President and CEO, Lifeway Foods, will present “Follow Your Gut,” covering:

  • How global factors influence company values and mission
  • Why we should empower women entrepreneurs around the world
  • How to channel inspiration from travel experiences into marketing initiatives

Tickets $40 ($20 for students); includes Continental Breakfast.  To learn more and to register, visit:  https://www.eventbrite.com/e/weggtm-workshop-follow-your-gut-presented-by-julie-smolyansky-tickets-48655708534
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Unlocking the Full Potential of Women- led SMEs in Indonesia

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In a recent East Asia Forum article, “Unleashing the capabilities of women-led SMEs in Indonesia,” author Naimah Talib reports that 43 percent of the 26 million small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) in Indonesia are women led or women owned (WSMEs). Not only do these WSMEs make up for ten percent of the country’s GDP, they also lead to social development of the culture by empowering women economically. Besides these major benefits, support of WSMEs aids Indonesia in achieving the UN’s “Sustainable Development Goals”, specifically the tenets of ‘gender equality,’ ‘decent work and economic growth’, and ‘reduced inequality’.

The advantages of backing WSMEs are clear, but why are there limitations on the growth of these organizations? This is the question that Talib proposes. She illustrates just some of the difficulties women who head businesses face. Talib explains,

” …common difficulties for expansion [for WSMEs] include limited access to information about financial support, lack of business and entrepreneurial skills, lack of professional networks and limited government support and services at the local level. Financial support is available for WSMEs, but female entrepreneurs tend to lack information about these options. Female entrepreneurs find that information about government funding programs is often limited, difficult to access or unclear.”

One of Talib’s main arguments suggest that Indonesian policymakers fail to effectively provide WSMEs with the necessary resources to solve these issues. Talib writes of the necessary reform,

“Three areas require greater attention: increasing the accessibility of information, strengthening the institutional capacity of the Creative Economy Agency and improving government services at the local level.”

To read more about the specific solutions posed to the pressing issue of the neglect of Indonesian WSMEs, read the article here.

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JOIN us for our morning wegg™ workshop on September 12th and hosted by Bank of America (135 S. LaSalle Street, 44th Floor).  Julie Smolyansky, President and CEO, Lifeway Foods, will present “Follow Your Gut,” covering:

  • How global factors influence company values and mission
  • Why we should empower women entrepreneurs around the world
  • How to channel inspiration from travel experiences into marketing initiatives

Tickets $40 ($20 for students); includes Continental Breakfast.  To learn more and to register, visit:  https://www.eventbrite.com/e/weggtm-workshop-follow-your-gut-presented-by-julie-smolyansky-tickets-48655708534
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Oxfam Helps Woman Start Jalawla, Iraq’s First “Women’s Only” Plant Nursery

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A recent article by Oxfam recounts the inspiring story of Zainab, the first woman in Jalawla, Iraq to sell plants at the town market.

In December 2015, Zainab opened her own plant nursery on the side of her house in Jalawla, Iraq. It was destroyed by ISIS one week later. When she returned to Iraq in 2017, her desire to have her own plant business was still within her. She then ” enrolled in an income-generation project run by Oxfam and funded by the United Nations Development Programme, which distributed $575 grants to 235 people—more than half were women—to relaunch their businesses.” Oxfam’s help has ensured the reestablishment of Zainab’s plant nursery, and it now exists as an agriculture sanctuary for “women only.” On the impact Zainab’s innovative business has had on her community and her personal well-being she says:

“I’m the first and the only woman to open a nursery in [my town]. After the women in Jalawla saw me opening my business, they were encouraged to open their own businesses…When Oxfam told me they would help me reopen my nursery, I became very happy. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that Oxfam brought my dream back to me.”

Helping women entrepreneurs, like Zainab, are what organizations like Oxfam and wegg™ exist for. Read more about Zainab’s revolutionary success, and how Oxfam helped make her dreams real, here.

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Why go global?  How do you start?  Where can you find customers?  How do you get paid?  Find out these answers and learn other best-kept secrets to expanding a business globally. 

JOIN us for our first weggchat™ (#weggchat) Wednesday, August 8 from 11:00 a.m. — 12:00 p.m. (noon) Central time on Take Your Business Global! and facilitated by Laurel Delaney, President of WEGG and founder of GlobeTrade.com.  Laurel will field questions and add insights on how to take a business global.  Small business owners can join the conversation by using the hashtag #weggchat to chime in with questions and answers.

Event is free of charge but you must use tchat.io or twubs.com to follow the conversation using the hashtag #weggchat.  See you there!
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Women Leading Globally

In honor of International Women’s Day, S. Bronfman Chair in Management at McGill University Nancy Adler, is offering  free of charge a download of her article, “Women Leading Globally: What We Know, Thought We Knew, and Need to Know about Leadership in the 21st Century”, but only for the month of March.

The article recognizes that:

“Whereas most societal commentators continue to review the historical patterns of men’s leadership in search of models for 21st-century success, few have begun to recognize, let alone appreciate, the equivalent patterns of women’s leadership and the future contributions that women could potentially make as leaders. What could and are women bringing to society as global leaders? Why at this moment in history is there such a marked increase in the number of women leaders? Are we entering an era in which both male and female leaders will shape history, both symbolically and in reality? And if so, will we discover that women, on average, lead in different ways than men, or will we learn that role (global leader) explains more than gender? This chapter reveals the accelerating trends of women joining men in senior leadership positions, establishes the relationship of women leaders to our overall understanding of global leadership, and sets forth an agenda to accomplish much needed research and understanding.”

Enjoy and happy March.  Access the article here.

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Note: Don’t miss our next WEGGinar™ 4/4/18 on “How a Wicked Road Trip to Minturn, Colorado Inspired a Thriving Global Design Business” and presented by Julia Knight, founder of Julia Knight Collections. Register here. Event is free of charge but you must register in advance to attend.
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Mary Dillon: Making the World More Beautiful

screen-shot-2016-10-23-at-4-13-13-pmMary Dillon (pictured), who runs Ulta Beauty, a place where women can get all their beauty needs met, is bucking a trend.  Where many big name retailers are closing locations, the beauty retailer recently opened its 900th location, more than double the number five years ago.  The company reached total sales of $3.9 billion in 2015, nearly three times 2008 sales levels.

Will there be room for international growth at Ulta over the next couple of years?  That’s the question that begs to be asked.  With its rapidly growing e-commerce business, one would think so.

Read more:  How Ulta and Mary Dillon Are Winning the Beauty Battle

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Note: Don’t miss our next WEGG webinar 11/2 on “Introduction to Value Added Tax (VAT) When Doing Business Overseas,” and presented by Britta Eriksson, co-founder, president and CEO, Euro VAT Refund, Inc.  Register here: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/6659176058705524994. Event is no charge but you must register in advance to attend.

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Women Worldwide Are a Pillar of the Post-Recession Recovery

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According to The Centre for Entrepreneurs in London, women entrepreneurs:

  1. Focus more on sustainable growth.
  2. Pay more attention to mitigating risks.
  3. Are less prone to over-confidence.

Other interesting facts about women entrepreneurs that Eric F. Frazier talks about in “Well-Rounded Leadership:  The Nature and Nurture of Female Entrepreneurs:

  • Women own or manage about 30 percent of businesses worldwide, as reported by the International Labor Organization.
  • These 9.4 million [U.S.] women-owned enterprises employ 7.9 million people and generate $1.5 trillion in annual revenues.
  • Increasing 74 percent since 1997 and 21 percent since 2007, women-owned businesses are a pillar of the post-recession recovery.

Read the entire article:  Well-Rounded Leadership:  The Nature and Nurture of Female Entrepreneurs

Note:  Don’t miss our next WEGG webinar 4/13.  Register here.  Event is no charge but you must register in advance to attend.

Meet Our New Board of Directors for Women Entrepreneurs Grow Global (WEGG)

WEGGIn order to meet the needs of fast-growing women-led/owned business owners and entrepreneurs like yourself, we are changing the formal structure of WEGG and will announce more about it soon.  It takes a village to accomplish great things in our world so I’d like to take a moment to introduce you to our new Board.  With International Women’s Day today, this is great time to feel proud to be a woman and for WEGG to make this announcement.  After all, the women of the world make it happen not just today, but everyday.

The following individuals have committed to building WEGG into an educational organization where every women business owner and entrepreneur can learn everything imaginable about how to take a business global — wherever she might be located.

Laurel Delaney

Laurel J. Delaney is founder and president of Chicago-based GlobeTrade.com, a management consulting company that helps entrepreneurs and small businesses go global. The United States Small Business Administration has recognized Ms. Delaney as a world-renowned global small business expert by naming her the Illinois Exporter of the Year. She is the author of … read more.

Laura Fairman

Laura Fairman is the Founder and Lead Designer of Blue Canvas, a web and graphic design consultancy. For 14 years Laura has enabled small and mid-size businesses to have confidence in all facets of their online and printed marketing.  Laura is motivated by … read more.

Patti Ross

Patricia Ross is President and Founder of Patricia Ross & Associates, Inc., a consulting company that provides one-on-one coaching to individuals who are interested in building key business relationships and strengthening their leadership skills. She helps clients create and implement a strategy for successful career growth.  Ms. Ross was formerly … read more.

Nancy Stachnik

While working her way through Mundelein College as a bank teller, Nancy discovered she had a knack for numbers. This led to a long and rewarding career as a community banker in Chicago. A seasoned veteran of the rollicking financial M&A … read more.

Kati Suominen

Dr. Kati Suominen is Founder and CEO of both the equity crowdfunding platform TradeUp Capital Fund and the trade research firm Nextrade Group, LLC.  She is also Adjunct Professor at UCLA Anderson School of Management and Adjunct Fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).  She previously served as Fellow … read more.

A big welcome to these new Board members, each of whom brings the kind of intellect, creativity, commitment and energy that WEGG needs to to grow in the future.

Photo courtesy:  WEGG

 


WEGG Mission

Our mission is to educate, inspire and nurture women business owners and entrepreneurs worldwide on how to go global so they can run healthier businesses and create a new future for themselves, their families and their community.


Women Entrepreneurs GROW Global is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. EIN/Tax ID #47-2956522.

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