4 Ways To Revive Your Mentorship Sessions

Every entrepreneur can benefit from having a mentor. A mentor is someone you can count on and will encourage you and support your ambitions. Your mentor can help you gain perspective and realize intention as you strive to positively influence the people around you and achieve success. However, if your mentorship sessions have been repetitive or stagnant, consider brainstorming to develop new questions and discussion topics. Below are some tips on how to revive your conversations so you can get the most out of your meetings.

Share Stories

To break the ice, consider exchanging professional stories and goals with your mentor. Telling stories of your experiences not only guide the conversation, but it also gives you and your mentor the opportunity to build a more personal connection in which you can share experiences. Here are some sample questions to help get you started:

·      How did you get to where you are today?

·      Can you tell me about a recent setback you experienced and how you recovered?

·      How did you develop your leadership skills?

·      What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned and why?

·      Can you tell me about a time you failed, and how you bounced back? What did you learn from that experience?

·      Have you discovered the purpose for your life? What part does your career/job play in the purpose for your life?

·      Can you list 5 things you have always wanted to do and 5 things you’re proud of in your career and life?

·      What are some of the ways in which your actions and attitude have inspired others to do more, dream more, and learn more? 

Discuss Specific Situations

Once the conversation starts flowing, you can ask your mentor more specific questions about your career and leadership skills, as well as how to navigate your current professional role.

·      I struggle with delegation. Do you have any advice on how to delegate and manage a team?

·      How can I be a better leader?

·      Who are the people I need to connect within this organization to be more successful?

·      How can I stay connected to key influencers who do not work in the same office or geographical area?

·      When trying to gain buy-in to implement a new program, what tactics have worked for you?

·      What type of preparation do you most appreciate seeing from your employees when approaching a performance review?

·      What are the pros and cons of taking an international assignment?

Practice Self-Awareness

Self-awareness is highly important, in life and in business. Having self-awareness is when you’re able to perceive yourself as others perceive you. It’s important to strengthen your perception to make a more positive impact that supports your career, your professional relationships, and your leadership goals. Your mentor can help you evaluate your leadership and communication style, your engagement with your peers, and how you can continue to improve your skills. You can ask questions such as:

·      How am I perceived by our organization, peers, and clients?

·      Where do you see my strengths? In what areas can I improve?

·      Does my communication style support the messages I intend to deliver?

·      How can I communicate more clearly and efficiently?

·      How can I better articulate my goals and strategies?

Build Upon Your Skills

If there’s a skill you’re working on strengthening, such as project management, strategic planning, or public speaking, ask your mentor for advice and resources to help you further develop that skill.

·      Do you have any advice for re-energizing a tired or uninspired team?

·      Do you have any recommendations on how to handle difficult conversations or how to better engage and communicate with my team?

·      What practices can you recommend for facilitating team-building initiatives, project management, and long-term visioning and strategic planning?

·      What other skills would you suggest I work on as I move forward?

These topics and sample questions can help you and your mentor have a more engaging and productive session. Brainstorming and developing new topics and questions for each session will help revive and maintain your mentorship, which will be ultimately beneficial for both you and your mentor. 

 

4 Challenges Women in Business Face & How to Overcome Them

All business owners face certain challenges, but women often have unique obstacles to overcome because of their gender. Their male peers are less likely to encounter these issues. Working women who have families experience even more demands on their time, energy, and resources.

However, this does not mean women are less successful than men. In fact, statistics show that women are starting businesses at more than twice the rate of male-majority-owned businesses.More than 9 million U.S. firms are now owned by women, employing nearly 8 million people and generating $1.5 trillion in sales, according to 2015 data from the National Association of Women Business Owners.

The growing success rate of women entrepreneurs shows that they are resourceful and able to succeed, despite the odds.

Women business owners may face challenges in 4 major areas that are less common to men in the business.

Gender Discrimination & Stereotyping

The term gender discrimination applies whenever anyone is treated differently in the course of employment due to their gender. Gender discrimination is a civil rights violation covered by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It can involve pay disparities, demotion, or lack of advancement due to taking time off for family or child-related reasons.

Stereotyping, although not a federal offense on its own,can fall under the umbrella of gender discrimination. Often times, many women feel as though they need to adopt a stereotypically "male" attitude toward business: competitive, aggressive, and sometimes overly critical.

Dual Career-Family Pressures& Work-Life Balance

Work-life balance is a goal of many entrepreneurs regardless of their gender, but mothers who start businesses have to simultaneously take care of their families and companies. Although the Pew Research Center found in 2014 that more and more dads were opting to stay home and care for their families, women in this area still vastly outnumber them. Remember: don’t beat yourself up for missing a class field trip. Each woman must find what works for her—a way to schedule and split her time. Finding ways to devote time to both family and business is key to truly achieving work-life balance.

Lack of Equal Opportunities in Certain Industries

Lack of equal opportunity ties in with stereotyping, which can ultimately lead to gender discrimination. In some industries, women are paid less and offered fewer opportunities. Sometimes doors are closed to them entirely because of their gender, such as in heavy construction or engineering. Many businesses avoid hiring women of childbearing age simply because they don't want to have to deal with the challenges of maternity leave. 

Limited Access To Funding

The pitching process can be very stressful, and raising capital can be even more difficult for firms owned by women. Venture capitalists often tend to invest in startups run by people with similar backgrounds, experiences, and education as them. For example, an investor will likely want to back a business owned or run by a fellow alum. Likewise, venture capitalist firms with female partners are more likely to invest in women-owned startups. However, only 6% of U.S. firms are women-run according to the Babson report. A way to overcome the challenges of limited access to funding is to inspire and encourage more female investors to support each other, particularly through collaboration,funding, and strategic educational workshops.

 

Overcoming Business Challenges

Women often have life skills and natural abilities that are useful in business. They tend to be great at networking, and they possess inherent skills for negotiating. They also possess the ability to multitask, delegate, and budget.

Specific strategies to help women entrepreneurs and employees succeed include:

  • Creating a strong support network
  • Considering certifying as a women-owned business
  • Mentoring
  • Learning new ways to balance work and life
  • Staying current on issues that present challenges for women in business, and learn how other women overcome their own obstacles in the business world

Although these challenges can take a toll, there’s still a way to overcome these difficulties in business. Many successful female CEOs believe that remaining true to yourself and finding your own voice are the keys to rising above preconceived expectations.Moving forward, be yourself and have confidence in who you are. Don’t worry about conforming to someone else’s idea of what a leader should look or behave like. You made it where you are through hard work and perseverance. Keep moving forward!

 

 

 

 

Celebrating National Women’s History Month

March is full of changes. It’s when spring awakens, Daylight Savings Time ensues, and last, but certainly not least, it’s the official month for National Women's History. 

Years ago, in 1987, the US Congress designated March as National Women's History Month. This month creates a special opportunity in our schools, workplaces, and communities to recognize and celebrate the often-overlooked achievements of American women. 

This March, you can celebrate National Women’s History Month by attending events, panels, and discussions for women by women, or by donating to a National charity that focuses on various causes and issues that benefit women and girls. 

LI Center Women’s History Month Event

This month at Long Island Center for Business and Professional Women, we are hosting a Networking Event & Panel Discussion Celebrating Women’s History Month. Our outstanding trio of speakers at this panel discussion include: Lina Gottesman, Founder of Altus Metal, Marble & Wood; Laurie Cantileno, Executive of Cisco Systems; and Renee Flagler, Executive Director of Girls Inc. of Long Island. This event will offer women the opportunity to network with other professional women as well as discuss multiple facets of women and youth empowerment. 

National Charities for Women and Girls  

Here’s a brief list of some incredible National charities that support women’s education, health, rights, and social services:

Young Women's Leadership Network helps low-income minority youth break the cycle of poverty through education. Their two critical programs provide college readiness and access to at-risk students from the 6th - 12th grades: CollegeBound Initiative, a school-based college guidance program for coed and single-sex public schools, and The Young Women's Leadership Schools, a high-performing network of all-girls public schools. Their first school, which made history and headlines, is the highly renowned and successful Young Women's Leadership School of East Harlem in New York City.

The Society for Women's Health Research (SWHR), a national non-profit organization based in Washington DC, is widely recognized as the thought leader in research on sex differences and is dedicated to improving women's health through advocacy, education, and research.

Founded in 1990 by a group of physicians, medical researchers and health advocates, SWHR aims to bring attention to the myriad of diseases and conditions that affect women uniquely. Due to SWHR's efforts, women are now routinely included in most major medical research studies and scientists are beginning to consider biological sex as a variable in their research.

The National Women's Health Network (NWHN) was founded in 1975 to give women a greater voice within the healthcare system. NWHN is a membership-based organization supported by 8,000 individuals and organizations nationwide. The National Women's Health Network improves the health of all women by developing and promoting a critical analysis of health issues in order to affect policy and support consumer decision-making. The Network aspires to a health care system that is guided by social justice and reflects the needs of diverse women.

The National Partnership for Women & Families is dedicated to promoting public policies and business practices that expand opportunities for women and improve the well-being of our nation's families. Through education, outreach, and legislative action, the National Partnership is an effective advocate for millions of women and families. 

Now that you have this information, let’s get to work! This National Women’s History Month, you can celebrate the lives and efforts of American women and girls by encouraging and supporting them with your voice, actions, assistance, and compassion. 

Best Conferences to Attend This Year

Conferences can be expensive and time-consuming. But when you attend just the right one, it’s wonderful: you feel inspired, make new connections, and really learn something. So, which ones are worth your time and money? Here are the ones we think are worth checking out:

NAFE Top Companies for Executive Women – March

The NAFE Top Companies for Executive Women recognizes corporations and nonprofit organizations that have moved women into top executive positions and created a culture that identifies, promotes and nurtures successful women.

Catalyst Conference – March

For 30 years, the Catalyst Award has recognized exceptional efforts that help advance women in business. Over the years, the Catalyst Awards Conference has brought together experts from around the world to share knowledge and shape the dialogue about inclusive leadership and other critical factors related to women and workplaces around the globe.

Financial Women’s Association International Business Conference – April

Join colleagues, industry leaders and partners in government and finance for engaging panel discussions and networking opportunities.

WIN Summit – May

WIN Summit hosts hundreds of professional women as they gather to learn, engage and grow through the negotiating skills and experiences of educators, executives, business leaders and glass ceiling breakers.

Working Mother: Men as Allies – May

Working Mother hosts an annual Men As Allies Summit that highlights success stories from pioneering gender equity programs from some of the biggest companies in the country. They will discuss what it took to bring more women into top leadership roles, and they will talk frankly about the challenges they had to overcome.

DiversityInc – May

Join more than 1,000 attendees for the opportunity to learn, network and build business relationships with key leaders of companies that have demonstrated leadership and commitment to diversity and inclusion.

NAFE Women’s Leadership Summit – June

The NAFE Women’s Leadership Summit is power-packed with practical opportunities to elevate the confidence of women within organizations and develop important tools to advance next- level career goals, exert influence and make a substantial impact.

Forbes Women’s Summit – June

The Forbes Women’s Summit will bring together 300 multigenerational innovators, entrepreneurs, and influencers for a dynamic exchange around the most important issues of our time, with the mission of translating the ideas into action that will chart the course for the future.

Network of Executive Women Leadership Summit – September

The Network’s popular NEW Leadership Summit offers the in-depth learning, networking, inspiration, team-building, and career advice for advancing your career, growing your organization's business, and transforming the industry. Learning sessions are designed for emerging and mid-level leaders, senior executives and men who lead women. The NEW Summit features all-star keynoters, breakout sessions for leaders at every level, special events like our Celebrating Excellence Awards honoring our regional volunteers and networking with 1,200 consumer products and retail industry executives and emerging leaders.

Pennsylvania Conference for Women – October

The Pennsylvania Conference for Women is a non-profit, non-partisan, one-day professional and personal development event for women that features dozens of renowned speakers sharing inspirational stories and leading seminars on the issues that matter most to women, including health, personal finance, executive leadership, small business and entrepreneurship, work/life balance, branding and social media marketing, and more. The Conference offers incredible opportunities for business networking, professional development, and personal growth.

Grace Hopper – October

The Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing is the world's largest gathering of women technologists.

INC. Women’s Summit – November

Join some of the world's most influential entrepreneurs at the Inc. Women's Summit, where you'll connect with other business owners, hear inspirational stories, and learn valuable tactics you can use in your own company.

Working Mother Leadership Summit for Women in National Security Careers – December

This full day of inspirational speakers, self-examination, group discussions, and action planning is a unique opportunity for women in national security careers to come together to learn, grow, and explore. You will hear presentations by multigenerational leaders of diverse identities who share how they achieve resilient leadership at every level. This highly interactive day offers time to network, partner, and acquire new strategies and solutions to achieve career success.

8 Ways to Cultivate Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace

Being around people who are different from us makes us more creative, more diligent, and harder-working. When people are brought together to solve problems in groups, they bring different information, opinions and perspectives. The longer you wait to build a diverse workforce and inclusive culture, the harder it will be in the future.

Decades of research by organizational scientists, psychologists, sociologists, economists, and demographers show that socially diverse groups (that is, those with a diversity of race, ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation) are more innovative than homogeneous groups. Simply interacting with individuals who are different forces group members to prepare better, to anticipate alternative viewpoints, and to expect reaching consensus.

So much of what it takes to cultivate a diverse and inclusive workplace is about approaching tasks every company has to do anyway, but in a much more thoughtful and deliberate way. Here's what you can do:

1. Convert all job descriptions to gender-neutral language. Audit all of your job descriptions s to check for any use of ‘he/his/him’ as a default and convert them to gender-neutral pronouns like ‘he or she’ or ‘they’.

2. State your commitment to building a diverse and inclusive culture in your job descriptions and careers page. One simple sentence can send a strong message to your applicants.

3. Write results-based job descriptions. Studies have found, men apply for a job when they meet only 60 percent of the qualifications, but women will only apply when they meet 100 percent of them. Instead of being based on a checklist of skills, job descriptions should ideally focus on what a candidate will be expected to achieve in a month, six months, or a year into the job.

4. Diversify your communication by actively sourcing candidates. For example, set up a coffee date each week with a different type of profile. You may end up hiring the best employee you’ve ever had.

5. Request a diverse range of referrals. Emphasize that diversity requires deliberate effort, and it’s something all employees can help. It will make your team stronger in the long run.

6. Administrate blind screenings to curtail unconscious biases in the resume review process. Studies have shown that people with ethnic names need to send out more resumes before they get a callback, and that resumes with female names are rated lower than ones with male names when all other things on a resume are equal.

7. Implement a structured interviewing process and training. This isn’t to say that you must stick to a strict script in your interviews – candidates often share important insights when conversations flow naturally – but structured interviews lead to higher-quality hires because they help reduce bias and “gut-feeling” hiring. By asking each candidate the same or a similar set of questions, you have a consistent “data set” to help boost objective decision-making. Structured interviews will allow your team to learn and improve your recruiting process faster, as well.

8. Introduce diversity and inclusion early on in the employee’s cycle. Communicate why your company cares about diversity and inclusivity and explain how you define it along with your expectations. Find what works for you!

6 New Year's Resolutions for Small Business Owners

The New Year is quickly approaching, and everyone is excited for a fresh start and new opportunities. The New Year gives us the energy and hope to pursue our goals, but not all New Year’s resolutions involve self-improvements like losing weight. That magical New-Year-New-You energy can also be channeled into taking your business to the next level. 

For this New Year, we compiled a brief list of impactful New Year’s resolutions that will make 2018 the best year for business yet. 

1. I will be focused and more productive. Make a list of your goals and how to accomplish them, use a calendar or planner, track your progress and setbacks. More importantly, limit your time surfing the Internet and mindlessly scrolling through social media. Instead, dedicate that time to developing your company’s digital presence and accomplishing your professional goals. 

2. I will be a better communicator. Communication is key. And, if you’re considering expanding your team this new year, it’s crucial to make sure everyone on your team is on the same page. Make sure you clearly communicate your company’s vision and mission statements and your expectations for colleagues and employees. Let everyone know what’s expected of each position or project, and how it’ll contribute to your business’ growth and success. You’d be amazed at how much time, energy, and money can be saved by clearly communicating from the start. 

3. I will learn how to manage my cash flow more effectively. This is a great resolution for small business owners who have been unable to create enough capital to invest back into the business, or those who don't really understand the day-to-day finances of the business. One way to do this is to make a financial plan. This plan will look differently for each business, so it’s best to do some research, map it out, and make it happen. 

4. I will have more of a digital presence. Marketing can make or break a business. It’s important to interact with your community and audience. You can make your web presence mobile-friendly, start a company blog, update your website regularly, create an email marketing list, and update your company’s social media accounts regularly. Creating a marketing plan is a great first step, and you can track your activity to better understand what works best for your company. 

5. I will charge what I'm worth. If you often feel underpaid or undervalued, this resolution is for you. Know your audience and market to that audience, revamp your strategy, and know your business’ value. 

6. I will turn my resolutions into outcome-focused goals. You can use the SMART goal methodology; you can work backwards; or you can use goals setting apps to outline the entire process. To turn resolutions into actionable goals, identify the desired results, outline actions to take, and create a timeline for each action. 

Remember, a decision on its own is meaningless. It's when you create a plan that focuses on the desired results of your decision that the magic happens. This new year, take action and make it a year to remember.  

 

Holiday Volunteer Opportunities on Long Island

It’s the season of gift-giving, list-making, and shopping frenzies. Everyone seems to have more pep in their step, and all the neighborhoods are lit up with bright lights. For most, this is the best time of the year. However, for many families, it can be a very difficult time. So this year, why not give back to your community and spread the holiday cheer?

Volunteering is rewarding, and you and your family can donate to needy families by volunteering time and lending a helping hand. It just takes one smile, one gesture, one moment to make someone’s season brighter.

Below is a list of organizations that are looking for volunteers this holiday season and throughout the year. These organizations have plenty of volunteering opportunities for adults and children, so your whole family can get involved and make a difference, together.

We also encourage you to check out the Long Island Volunteer Center, which is a great resource for nonprofits in your area.

Toys of Hope

Huntington, NY

Toys of Hope is dedicated to helping children in need. Though it may be best known for collecting toys to give to children during the holiday season, Toys of Hope has actually created many programs to provide goods, services, and assistance to the families who need it most all year-round. With no paid employees or professional fundraisers, the charity is able to ensure that 100% of the donations it takes in go toward its cause.

Ronald McDonald House of Long Island

New Hyde Park
The mission of the Ronald McDonald House of Long Island is to provide a home away from home for families, so they can be near their seriously ill children who are receiving treatment. Volunteers are always welcome and needed. Little Hands Helping Little Hands is a volunteer program specifically for children between ages 6 and 16, who come to the facility as a school group or organization and bake goodies for families staying at the house.

The Book Fairies

Freeport
This nonprofit collects and distributes books for children and adults throughout the metro New York area. On the second Sunday of every month, volunteers (older children, preferably middle-school age and older, and their parents) are needed to help in their warehouse, refilling boxes with books for teachers. The organization often needs help sorting books and has other volunteer positions that need to be filled.

Long Island Cares–The Harry Chapin Food Bank

Hauppauge
You can help fight hunger on Long Island with Long Island Cares, Inc.—The Harry Chapin Food Bank. Student Week of Service takes place December 27-28 for students ages 11-13 and 14-19; and December 29 for students 11-19. Register by sending the child’s name, phone number, age, desired date, and the name of a parent/guardian to Billy Gonyou at wgonyou@licares.org. There are plenty of other ways families and kids can volunteer, so check out the organization’s website for more information.

Habitat for Humanity of Suffolk

Middle Island
During the holiday season, families can help out Habitat for Humanity of Suffolk in a number of ways. For example, you can donate individual items and/or gift cards, or all the fixings for a delicious holiday meal. For the Adopt-A-Family program, your family can fulfill all or part of the wish lists of children and families, helping to make their holidays a little brighter.

Guide Dog Foundation

Smithtown
There are many opportunities to volunteer at this nonprofit that provides guide and service dogs and training (at no charge) to people who are blind or visually impaired. Kids 16 and younger can help out by hanging puppy raising recruitment flyers and organizing fundraisers and toy/towel drives. Kids also can take a tour of the Smithtown campus and learn more about what the Guide Dog Foundation does and what they can do to help.

Make-A-Wish Foundation

Nassau and Suffolk
People of all ages can help make wishes come true by organizing a fundraiser for children who are facing serious illnesses. Make-A-Wish Foundation's educational program, Kids for Wish Kids, helps children organize and manage fundraising campaigns at their schools, youth groups, etc., under the guidance of parents and teachers. Check out the organization’s websites for Nassau and Suffolk counties for tips, advice, and additional information.

Helping Hands Rescue Mission
Huntington Station, NY
Helping Hands Rescue Mission coordinates holiday meals and community events, including free meals, toys, and more. During the winter and Christmas seasons, free coats, mittens, sweaters, hats, scarves, socks, blankets, and gloves may be offered to adults and children in need.

Catholic Charities of Long Island
Hicksville, NY

Numerous social services are available across Suffolk County, Nassau, and all towns. While emergency financial aid is offered, special holiday programs can offer free home-delivered meals to seniors, clothing, toys for children, and other support.

F.E.G.S. Health & Human Services System
Syosset, NY

F.E.G.S. Heath & Human Services System organizes food drives, donates baskets of groceries and gifts, and delivers the items to families in need for the holidays.

Toys for Tots-Suffolk County

Farmingdale, NY

This charity program collects new, unwrapped toys during October, November, and December each year. These toys are then given as Christmas gifts to needy children in the Long Island community.

 

 

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