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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.

Be Joyful and Gear Up to Go Global in 2018

As we enter into a new year, WEGG will continue its focus offering top notch education programming via its popular monthly WEGGinars™ and on-the-ground workshops but we will also look into building an online platform that facilitates “access” to key movers and shakers in international trade and encourages more knowledge sharing peer-to-peer.  Watch for more on this development as the year progresses.  And if you are not signed up for our WEGG World Newsletter, here’s a sample of what you missed in our last issue.  By signing up, you can stay in the know on all things related to expanding your business globally.  It’s the eve of a new year:  be joyful and gear up to go global.

Meanwhile, the public-private consultation on the development of ‘Women National Business Agenda’ was organised by the Centre for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) and USAID Pakistan Regional Economic Integration Activity (PREIA) in collaboration with the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI).  The goal of this women-specific agenda is to give women a voice – ‘a first step towards their participation in the economic policy advocacy process’. Here’s one suggestion.

Recommendations to the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) included allocation of 25 per cent budget/quota for women exporters to ensure their participation in TDAP-sponsored trade delegations/exhibitions, establishing of platforms for knowledge sharing, and increasing formal exports by women entrepreneurs in online business.

Read more about how businesswomen in Pakistan need more facilitation

Joy, prosperity and good health in 2018!

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Note: Don’t miss our next NEW YEAR WEGGinar™ 1/10/18 on “Laurel Delaney’s Global Trade Trends Report 2018” and presented by Laurel Delaney, President, WEGG and Founder, GlobeTrade.com. Register here:  https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/1940601026277957634
Event is free of charge but you must register in advance to attend.
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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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