Why you should remember the person on the end of the tweet

some image blog

This week we have a quest post from Jo Middleton, Slummy Single Mummy aka @mummyblogger, an award-winning blogger and a copywriter with amazing Twitter following. 

……….

I work a lot with social media. I also teach other individuals and businesses how to best use social media to connect with their customers and drive sales. Social is a fantastic tool after all, we’d be fools to ignore it.

While my clients might be keen to know about the latest scheduling and analytics tools though, there is one exercise I often do that has nothing to do with hashtags or trends, it’s about getting to know your customer – really knowing them.

“Oh yes,” you might be thinking, “I already know my customer. They’re 35-55, they work in a managerial post…”

OK, but hold on a minute. How many actual people do you know who are 35-55? Real people have real ages – they are 36 or 43 or 52. They aren’t a demographic; they are unique individuals with hopes and dreams and fears. When you really begin to understand your customer on this level, then you can start to make your marketing shine.

Let’s take my life for instance. I was the school swot – best GCSE results in my year, and pregnant at 16. Baby under one arm, (quite literally at times), I went to college and to university and graduated with a first class economics degree when my daughter was four years old. I’ve been a dual parent, single parent, employee and business owner. I own a brand new car but I’ve never skied. I don’t fit naturally into a typical demographic.

Now, with two children, 18 and 11, my life revolves around working and being a mum. My key issues are a lack of time, a strong desire to be a positive role model for my daughters and a permanent sense of being pulled in different directions at once. I like things that make my life simpler or more efficient. I dislike clutter and feeling out of control.

The advertising and marketing that really grabs my attention is the stuff that promises me a solution to the real problems in my life or taps into a fear or insecurity. A tweet that promises ‘7 quick ways to make your children believe they are more important to you than work’ is going to get me clicking.

If you do one thing this year then to improve your social marketing, get to know your customer. Give them a name, cut out a picture from a magazine, build a personality for them and ‘interview’ them about their fears and ambitions. Stick this person up near your computer and every time you write something, think about how it’s going to be useful or entertaining for them.

Give it a go. You’ll very quickly feel how the messages you’re putting out suddenly have more meaning, and the connections you form will be stronger because of it.

Jo Middleton

Jo will be running our ‘Social Media for Start-ups‘, a hands on starter session for women entrepreneurs on 27.2..

Five reasons why your goals are slowing you down

staircase

Start of February and we are slowly sobering up from our New Year’s resolutions. In most cases, they are already all but forgotten. It’s possible that your New Year’s resolutions are even giving you a hang over – a headache and guilt because you haven’t done much to achieve what you promised to yourself?

Most of us fail to change because we promise ourselves too much and expect things to happen immediately and without much of an effort. Naturally nothing changes by itself and switching our daily habits to new ones is actually very difficult.

The reality gap

We give up on our goals and our vision of how we want to be because we promise too much to ourselves. New Year’s resolutions are the worst. “I will never drink any alcohol!” or “I’ll only eat salads and lose 30kg.” The gap between reality and what we think might be the ideal situation is just too big. It will never happen anyway so why try?

The pursuit of perfection

Another pitfall is to chase perfection. Perfection means completeness and flawlessness. Isn’t it the craziest idea that starting something new could instantly become flawless? What ever new ideas we want to implement there will always be drafts, prototypes and alterations.

Impatience

Someone has said that ‘people expect too big of a change to happen in one year but don’t realize how much can be changed in three’. If we want things to be different, we have to relentlessly work on our dreams. It doesn’t mean making big changes, it means making constant effort.

The unknown

It’s relatively easy to dream big and set goals. “I’d love to have my own company.” Or “I’d love to change my career.” But to actually embark on the journey towards the unknown can be frightening. Our cozy, fussy comfort zone keeps us nicely stuck because we have to take no risks. Thankfully, to tackle the ‘unknown’ doesn’t mean we have to jump. Just tipping our toes and then taking one step at a time would be enough.

No guarantees

With many things in life there is an illusion of predictability. We’ve seen things before so we thing we know how it goes. To chase something you don’t have and have never done involves facing new situations and learning new things. Why is this the so difficult?

It’s disappointing to fail your goals and tasks. The effect is negative, our desire to work on ourselves diminishes and we think it’s just too much of an effort and we stick to our norm. It’s a shame. Life passes by and weeks turn into months, and months turn into years.

If someone told you that by working towards your dream and doing what you have planned for this week (and every week from now on) you’d be earning 5 million a year in 5 years. Would you work harder and stick to your plan?

Possibly.

I’ve decided to take that gamble.

~ Miisa

Body pump that mind

Bump mind

How to turn something difficult into easy? We athletes must do it all the time to our bodies. We work hard to achieve stamina and make going fast look easy. What has puzzled me lately is how it’s so difficult to work on our mind and emotions when working on our body is not a problem? Training my body is totally in my comfort zone but training ‘me’ isn’t.

I have no problem standing in front of a mirror naked, having a good look at myself and saying I need to do more squats for my butt, arms exercises to stop those bat wings appearing and some sit ups to help stop the tummy from getting out of control.

I am completely in tune with my body and I know exactly what to do and when to do it. It’s like a walk in the park.

Then I had an idea. What if I’d apply this same training concept to the way I run my life “Think like an athlete and have an Athletic Mind Set”.

I turned my life circumstances into parts of my body (quite appropriate when you see where I placed them).

My arms became my life goals. How many repetitions would it take to make them look good and sculptured? Have I set out time to work on those goals?  Setting life goals gives you long-term vision and short-term motivation. It focuses your acquisition of knowledge, and helps you to organize your time and resources so that you can make the very most of your life. I’m now setting sharp, clearly defined goals and will get them as sculptured as my arms, with defined moves.

My stomach is the core of me. What do I value? How can I become the person I want to be? How may sit ups will it take to hold that strength inside of me so I can stand tall? Am I staying on track or have I lost my way……..Core strength is important because all of our movements are powered by our torso. The power of power. Length. Validity. Consistency. All play a part to encourage that six pack. Now I’m going to work on my internal six pack! Dispel all those negative thoughts and focus on what has to be done. I’m not skipping training on my emotional core any more! I’ll stick to the root of me. 5 sit ups, 10 sit ups, 20 sit ups…. whatever it takes to focus, focus, focus. Go through the pain.

My butt & legs are the hardest part of the body to define. My butt and legs move me so it is a fitting place for my next action, my presence. How much crap will I take today? Is someone going to trott all over my dreams? Oh no baby, oh no! 100 squats it may take to really make a mark, real deep heavy squats, powerful stuff for the legs to stop me from running away. Deal with what it is that you have in front of you or the consequence will be a bigger butt and heavy legs that will finally stop you from moving forward. Oh no. I will work through that pain. How about you?

Track your way through what it is that you need to achieve. I keep a record of my workouts in my diary on what I have done, how I felt and what more needs to be achieved in order to get my result.  I have now added my daily routines and my mind goals next to the physical ones.

Have a great week focusing your mind to what you know you must do.

~ Jennifer

Improving is easier than creating

DW website

“If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your website you launched too late.” A brilliant #startup quote from Reid Hoffman, founder of LinkedIn. Just imagine how much we could do and create if we applied this thinking to everything in life? We women especially have a lot to learn from the idea of progress over perfection!

10 months ago our idea of DrivenWoman was born. True to our principles we got straight to work and the DrivenWoman blog (this very blog!) launched in April 2013, 2 weeks after our ‘aha’ moment. Not perfect, nowhere near finished, but this blog has been a great avenue to share our views, practise saying what we want to say (we’d like to think we are getting better at it!) and a vehicle for feedback from our audience. We could have started crafting a perfect website, but we’d probably still be crafting it.

We launched our first website quietly in autumn 2013. Quietly, because, again it wasn’t perfect. It was perhaps 46% of what we really wanted to create. But now we had a website that expressed what DrivenWoman was about, and a blog where we continued to share our thinking.

Creating the first website was very difficult. I did it myself on WIX. I was used to briefing web designers to get the job done, but now decided to learn how to do it myself. It was easier than I thought but it took me forever. The whole process was very slow. I was going clearly outside my comfort zone and I was learning.

But guess what. As I was doing it I got better at it! And to create the next version of the www.drivenwoman.co.uk website was a walk in the park. Oh yes, go and have a look!! This is something to be proud of. Sure we can – and will – improve it, but we are clearly moving away from embarrassment. And it’s a team effort, we’ve been working closely with our graphic designer Carla Ladau who has created the fantastic illustrations and our brand identity. And Marina Gask who has helped us with the copy text.

If we didn’t start this blog 10 months ago, and if we didn’t launch a website we were quite embarrassed about, we would not have been in a position to improve something today. We wouldn’t have known what we wanted if we’d not been working on it!

Improving is always easier than creating something completely new!

Just get started. The work will teach you and by doing your thing you will learn what you should be doing and saying next.

~ Miisa

Ps. And yes, do tell us if you like the new website!!?

Put ‘Positive Psychology’ into work

oranges

This is a quest post from Niyc Pidgeon, the founder of Optimal You. Niyc is a Positive Psychologist with specialism in physical activity, sport and exercise. She holds an MSc (Dist.) in Applied Positive Psychology, a BSc (Hons) in Psychology with Sport Sciences, and is an experienced qualified lecturer and training facilitator.

……………

Think about how you view your world. Is everything rosy? Does everything flow? Are you feeling happy?

Or do you sometimes wake up and wonder why your world seems so chaotic and like you don’t know where to move next?

The view of the world you adopt for yourself is the way your reality will be. YOU have the power to shape your world and to create your ideal life.

Positive Psychology is the study of what makes humans thrive. It looks at what we do right, and how we can build our personal and professional well-being to realise the life we want.

Use these five steps to enhance your own well-being and also that of those around you…

Step 1: Connect

Aim to cultivate positive relationships in your life. Surround yourself with people that believe in your dreams and people that challenge and uplift you. Take the time to call an old friend and reconnect. Think about how your smile might change somebody else’s day.

Step 2: Be Active

MOVE! Find an activity you love to do – it might be cleaning whilst listening to your favourite music, it might be yoga, or it might be running marathons. Physical activity is the number one factor in enhancing optimal functioning. You should do something active every single day. Moving more can create a sense of purpose and structure, energise you and help you focus towards your goals. Exercise also reduces the risk of cancers, stroke, diabetes, obesity and death, and you will sleep better as a result.

Step 3: Take Notice

Keep your head up and be aware of the world around you. Savour positive experiences and appreciate beautiful surroundings. What can you see right now that you can savour? Taking the time to notice more and appreciate can help you understand yourself, and the things you have to be grateful for. Your well-being will be boosted as a result.

Step 4: Keep Learning

Cultivate a growth mindset. Open your mind to new experiences and be prepared to learn each and every day. Heighten your awareness to your world around you and take stock of where you are. Do you ever feel yourself getting defensive in a situation you are unfamiliar with or uncomfortable in? Take three deep breaths. Remember your growth mindset, and reframe the experience as a process that you can learn something from. Challenge yourself every day, and grow as the person you want to be.

Step 5: Give

Practise random acts of kindness. Do something today for somebody else. Send a note to tell somebody how much you appreciate or admire them. Help somebody to achieve a goal they are working towards. Give feedback for good service you have received. Wait, and hold the door open for somebody. Gift somebody an inspirational book.

“When we feel love and kindness toward others, it not only makes others feel loved and cared for, but it helps us also to develop inner happiness and peace.” Dalai Llama

Think about how you can use these five steps this week to help you flourish and thrive.

This is how I intend to Connect, Be Active, Take Notice, Keep Learning, and Give:

This week I will get in touch with each of my grandparents, and take the time to find out how they are. Leading a busy lifestyle and running a business means that I don’t do this as often as I should. This week I will make the time.

 

I will plan and stick to my schedule of workouts, which combine bootcamps running, strength training, and yoga.

 

I will savour an experience or a view every day this week, and share with you via the Driven Woman Facebook and Twitter pages.

 

I will allocate thirty minutes each day to read or watch something educational. This may be a book, an academic piece of research, or a TED talk (www.ted.com).

I will ask my friends if there is anything I can help them with this week, and offer my time, advice or assistance.

 

Get in touch and let us know what you plan to do to Connect, Be Active, Take Notice, Keep Learning, and Give this week.

Condition yourself to achieve your goals

drawers

It’s been 13 days since the New Year began. Most of us made grand New Year’s resolutions, but how many of us can say we are still on course or have we set unrealistic goals? Only time will tell.

In last Monday’s post Miisa explained we need a bigger concept instead of uninspiring goals to achieve what we want this year. We should pick three words that summarise what themes we need to introduce to our everyday lives in order to improve.

My three words for 2014 are: Direct, Knowledge and Planning.

Direct
Unfortunately due to my sometimes over caring nature I generally try to cover the world with my comfort blanket of words. This often means I end up becoming overwhelmed with situations that could have been easily resolved. This year I want to be more direct in what I say and basically say it like it is. I will (a) stick to what has to be said and not what I think they want to hear. If I’m asked to do something, I will not over promise just to make them feel comfortable as I end up over stretching myself and won’t be able to achieve what I want to get done. (b) If I believe that my opinion counts then it should. It doesn’t have to be accepted but I should feel valued enough to voice it.

Knowledge
To improve my mind is such a key point for me! I will make it my priority to use my time to research and read, instead of just passing it on. I want to keep in touch with every day trends. How else can I become a success today, in the world that surrounds me now? I want to find the time to research information that will increase my growth and not shy away from what scares me. Instead let it empower me!

Planning
My life sometimes resembles a washing machine, every day tasks all wash up in one crazy muddle. I now understand the description of a dog chasing its tail, creating movement but not going anywhere. This year is PLAN PLAN PLAN and stick to the schedule I have set. Becoming more organised and creating constructive daily systems will also include my girls. I want to teach them to plan and to understand that mummy has a set plan too.

To keep me on track I will have these three words on my screen, struck in my car and on my desk at work. My background is in sports and as an athlete you are taught to condition your body to become successful. It’s all about repetition, repetition, repetition.

Now I am going to apply the same to life and condition my thoughts to create the desired action and results.

~ Jennifer

ps. Please share your three words for 2014 below! It would be so inspiring to hear what you are going to do.

 

Are you setting goals for 2014? Conceptualise instead

conceptualise

I’ve never been a big fan of New Year’s Resolutions (thus my post last Monday), but I got massively inspired by this article by Eric T. Wagner at Forbes magazine on what to do instead of resolutions and goals. This idea is based on creating three concepts rather than a list of goals. At DrivenWoman we believe you need both (a bigger concept or vision that you break into tangible & actionable short term goals). But I wanted to test out the concept part for myself this year. So here it goes…

1) Conceptualise

Instead of a list of goals pick three words that describe that you want to achieve or how you want to feel during the year. So instead of saying you want to loose 10kg you will pick a word ‘green’ because it describes what you need do, ie. you should eat more greens if you are to achieve your goal.

Here are my three words: Accept, Connect, Create value.

This is what I mean by each word.

Accept

When I’m involved in a business either as a creator and a founder (such as DrivenWoman) or as a main stake holder and a co-owner (such as Nordic Bakery) I get extremely inpatient. Things just never go fast enough for me. I’m already light years ahead and I’d like the business to be too, but no matter how much I push I have to accept a certain  natural, organic, phase for growth. Things have to be built one brick at the time. I’m going to accept that this year.

Connect

This is the year when I’m going to connect with everyone I ever wanted to connect. Or at least I’m going to try. They can always turn me down, (and then I will try again later). I want to make my world bigger! It will be good for the business (if any of the new connections will agree to help us). But more importantly one shouldn’t be afraid to ask. You are afraid to ask when you think other people have something you don’t, when you think they have the secret sauce. Well, I have finally found the secret sauce (there isn’t any!) and I find myself in a spot where I can approach anyone as an ‘equal’. I will be proud of my abilities and what I’m about. I will stand tall and won’t be intimidated by the fact that the people I want to talk to are smarter, wealthier and more famous than me. I want to connect and help others regardless of their ‘level’. I believe you have to connect with people who are ‘bigger’ than you in order to learn and to grow. But at the same time you must seek to offer a hand to those who are just starting their journey so that one day they can help someone else. To my kids I’d teach that this is the circle of life :).

Create value

I’m going to look at everything through a critical lens of ‘value creation’. Is this relevant? Is my customer getting something better out of this? I’ll be seeking feedback ruthlessly. I want to continue to have open conversations with our members to really understand where we can bring most value and push them forward the best possible way. (All feedback welcome at all times girls!!)

2) Create systems

To bring your concepts into completion you must create systems! You can promise yourself all sorts of things but do absolutely nothing. As the DrivenWoman saying goes “You are what you do, not what you say you do!” The idea is that you build systems around your core themes. This means putting things into your calendar and sticking to it. Or going to the nearby cafe to write your book because you can’t do it at home. Or getting fit by buying a dog because you have to walk it every day. Basically you need to create the schedule and surroundings that make you do what you said you were going to do.

We’ve created a system for our members to commit to their concepts (or goals or vision or how ever they want to call getting over struggles to create a bigger life). That actually summarises what DrivenWoman is all about. It’s a system that makes sure you make your dreams reality!

I’ve always been good in creating systems be it ‘the running slot in the morning’ or ‘only eat vegetables’ by only buying vegetables from Ocado! My work time is pretty regimented already. All I need to do to systemise the above concepts is to slot them into my schedule. The first one is more of a mental state so I’ll be reminding myself about my pledge of Acceptance every time I get too anxious. To Connect, I will schedule a day a month to research new connections and a day to make calls and send emails. The Value creation is build into the DrivenWoman way of doing things with repeated member surveys, but I will also be seeking ways to find out what women in general are looking for, why are they not living the life they want, what is making them stuck and what are the biggest excuses. Any feedback is warmly welcome!

3) Let the house burn down

This is the part I loved in the Forbes article and I think it’s the one where most people fail. Don’t let anyone disturb you when you are at it. When you are working on your project, your dream, your goal, your what-ever-it-is-that-eventually-involves-a-bigger-life for you and people around you – don’t let anyone disturb you! You have to be ruthless in your ways to protect your space. For some reason we women suck at this. We don’t protect our projects. We let life’s pressures push us off course. It doesn’t happen in days or hours, our dreams get crushed daily in a matter of seconds! All it takes is someone to ask our help.

You  must put your foot down, you must project your dream. It’s difficult to do a 180° turn and change from the most nurturing super mama to a hard business chic. Or from the best friend who is always at hand to the one who has her own projects. It’s an evolution.

My advice is to start softly and slowly, to let people around you know what you are going to do. You should tell them what is important to you and why it is important. You should involve them in your dream, tell them about the bigger picture and the implications. Then start with a small time slot. “I’d like to work on my book one full evening a week. Can you have the kids please? I don’t want to be disturbed. You can interrupt me only if the house is on fire!” Once you have nailed this time slot down you can slowly increase it. But remember to negotiate the whole year’s slots in one go!

As you might have guessed, this part is not going to be difficult for me. I’ve educated my surroundings well and I don’t ask for permission or apologise for my work. I firmly state I’m working and should not be disturbed. I’ve let my kids understand that work is important for humans, and in my case it makes me happy and that I’m passionate about what I’m doing. I’m also cutting everything that is not absolutely critical out of my schedule. But more on that topic another time.

Next week you will hear Jennifer’s three words and how she’s going to make them stick in 2014.

Please share your three words or good tips for creating systems in the comments below!

~ Miisa

The only New Year’s Resolution you’ll ever need to make

YOU YOU

This is such a funny time of the year. We eagerly look forward to Christmas and then when it finally comes we eat and drink too much and generally end up feeling very bad afterwards. Or aren’t you happy now Christmas finally over? Determined to mend our ways, with our blurred brains and floppy stomachs we are fertile ground for grand New Year’s resolutions. This year will be no different.

Let’s look back and think how many of our resolutions did we ever manage to keep? I mean honestly. How many of those “I will never drink again” or “I will go to the gym every day” – resolutions ever lasted the test of real life longer than a week? So what’s the point?

This year we’d like you to make just one simple resolution, and keep it. No, you don’t get to choose it because  the chances are you’d choose poorly and there really is only one that will make a difference. So just ditch the long list of promises about healthier lifestyle and sobering up. You won’t need any of those, as this one simple promise – if you keep it – will fix everything! (Well that is a big promise, I know. Read on.)

This year we will promise ourselves to start showing up to our own life. Yes, sounds simple but requires a bit more effort than showing up to the gym!

Firstly, you have to make an honest assessment about the state of your life right now. Second step is to truthfully acknowledge what you want out of life in the long run. This is much more difficult than it sounds. Write both things down. Look for clarity and truth within yourself. If it’s hard to find, make it your goal to discover it.

What ever the dream you are chasing or a thing you want to improve in your life, you have to start taking it – that is, yourself – seriously. From now on whenever you plan to do something that will help you move closer to your goal you must treat it like an appointment with yourself. It will be an appointment you don’t want to miss because your success will depend on it!

By showing up to the appointments with yourself you will start showing up to your own life.

If you agree to go to the gym with your friend you most likely go because you don’t want to disappoint your friend and seem rude. Well, next time you plan to go to the gym alone make an appointment with yourself first. You will have to show up for the same reason – you don’t want to disappoint yourself and be rude to your dreams. This time you are serious about feeling better and living healthier.

If you plan to read a book that will help you understand the business you want to set up, make an appointment with yourself for five evenings a week for 30 minutes to read that book – and make sure you show up! If you miss an appointment look at yourself from the outside and see how rude it was to miss it.

If you want to change your diet and eat healthier this year you should make an appointment with yourself to investigate different diets or attend an evening workshop where you can get more information about the topic. Don’t postpone, value your own dream, don’t think it will just happen. Take it seriously and show up to your life!

And stop making appointments you are not going to keep. It’s important to become more realistic about your time. If you were to meet people for business or socially you wouldn’t overbook your calendar, you’d factor in the London traffic and so on. Same applies here. Allocate time in your daily schedule realistically. And then honour your appointments and show up!

You can quit an excessive boozing, eating or TV habit following the same principle. If you have an important appointment coming up it’s difficult to show up feeling hangover or sluggish. You wouldn’t watch TV all night if you were to see a friend for a dinner either, would you? Apply the same principle and start showing up to your own life.

We’ll be celebrating women who show up to their own lives in 2014, and we hope you will join us for this incredible, fun and exciting journey!

We wish all our lovely readers the very best for the year ahead. We hope it will be the most exciting year you’ve ever had! And good luck (though, we believe in what Thomas Jefferson said: “I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it.”) with your New Year’s resolution.

~ Miisa & Jennifer

Ps. Please comment and share this blog. We want to inspire as many women as possible feel more empowered to reach their dreams in 2014!! Moreover, please follow us on Twitter or ‘like’ us on Facebook! It means a lot to us as we are very passionate about what we do. Thank you for your support.

Three questions to ask yourself this Christmas

Christmas tree

Magazine articles leading up to Christmas gets our blood boiling. ‘How to create a stress free Christmas‘, ‘10 tips to easy Christmas‘ and so on. So it was very refreshing to read Richard Godwin’s brilliant article in Evening Standard a couple of days ago. It is that special time of year when instances of marital violence increase by one-third and gender relations revert to 1957.” says Godwin. (This article really is worth a read, girls, so do click on the link!!)

Gender relations falling back in standards to such degree, (women are tied back to the kitchen and guys drinking gin and enjoying themselves) we women should take advantage of this position of strength. We are actually calling all the shots at Christmas! If we are the one’s who shop, cook, clean and decorate surely we then get to choose what traditions we follow and how the whole operation is organised!

This year, before you dive into it, take a 30 minute break from all the madness to sit down and write what kind of Christmas you really want for yourself and your family. Then plan accordingly and don’t let anyone bully you into any silly excess that requires ridiculous amount of work from your part.

1) Who does your Christmas traditions serve?

Are your family’s Christmas traditions created to serve you and your family or are they simply defined to please others? Are they a list of things that has to happen because you think your friends/ neighbours/ relatives/ magazines/ (your inner voice…) says so? Or have you designed your family schedule to fit who you are as a person and as a family? You should ruthlessly drop anything that doesn’t serve the purpose.

2) What kind of present would you rather get?

If you have small children it’s tough to escape the mountain of gifts, and fair enough, as much as I want to teach my children other values beyond the worship of material goods, I also don’t want them to be growing up thinking plenty is bad. However, when you get a little older it’s time to explore the other avenues of giving and receiving. Charitable gifts are always a good choice, but what if we’d write in our Santa’s lists things we want to learn or how we want to feel or who we want to spend uninterrupted time with? Wouldn’t it be refreshing if instead of yet another bottle of perfume you’d get a gift such as ‘Learn Positive Thinking’ or ’24h of Uninterrupted Adult Time’ from your partner!

3) Does your Christmas menu define who you are? 

How to survive Christmas without too many calories‘. This must be the most stupid magazine tittle I’ve seen for a while! It depends on where you come from but normally Christmas lasts between two or three days. It leaves a total of 362 days in the calendar year. Surely what you eat the rest of the year determines how you look and feel rather than what you eat at Christmas. Are you putting too much unnecessary pressure on yourself? What you eat at Christmas doesn’t define your looks or your weight, it’s what you eat the rest of the year that matters.

We wish all women would give themselves a break this Christmas. We wish everybody would find a balance between effort and relaxation. There is a sweet spot somewhere between ambition and not taking it all too seriously. And do take advantage of the fact you are in charge. If they want both stuffing AND bread sauce – well, I’d simply tell them to come to the kitchen and make it!

Merry Christmas from the lovely girls at DrivenWoman 🙂

~ Miisa & Jennifer

5 personality traits of women entrepreneurs

traits women entrepreneurs

I had an interesting telephone conversation with Oliver Bremer, the co-founder of Founder2be, an online company that helps entrepreneurs to find a co-founder for their start-up or an idea. He asked me what were the most important skills or attributes that would-be women entrepreneurs were lacking. He wanted to understand if their service would be complementary to what DrivenWoman is doing as many of our members want to start their own business. I surprised Oliver with my answer.

He was expecting I’d list various skills such as programming or business development. Instead, I think women who have a business idea and want to build a company around what they are passionate about need first strengthen their attitude rather than their skills. Men tend to posses more of the ‘go and get’ attributes than women who still ask permission for their dreams.

Women are passionate and flexible, are often well prepared financially and have done their market research, which are all great qualities for any entrepreneur. However, there are some attributes that women should either have or develop if they want to become successful in building a business doing what they love.

1) Persistence

Many women should build endurance. There may be a tendency to give up too easily because obstacles are taken as a sign that this path is not for you. Women might not fully believe it’s ok for them to build something for themselves as they are more used to putting others needs first. Women need to build stamina to get over those obstacles or to push them aside. We must accept there will be lots and lots of difficulties and we just have to persevere.

2) Durability

This is closely linked with the first attribute. Women often have wrong expectations on the time horizon on what it will take to build a business, and that the route to success may be completely different from the original plan. Wrong expectations about how fast things can actually happen seems to be a major road block (based on the experience we have with women in our groups). You must build durability and commit to your path for the long run and not to expect an overnight success.

3) Selfishness

This is one of the main obstacles for women in improving their lives in general, wether they want to set up a business or not. Women simply don’t protect their time the way many men do! Women put their family first – as they should – but don’t understand that there is still a lot of ‘grey area’ between being 100% dedicated to your family or being 100% dedicated to your business. If a guy wants to work all Sunday evening on his business it’s ok, but for a woman to do the same and not be the parent who puts the kids to bed is – eh, selfish. Protecting your time and not letting other people run your schedule is one of the major attributes you must pick up if you want to be successful.

4) Tolerance for risk and imperfection

The fear of unknown is a major barrier of entry for women considering starting their own business. Girls are very good at school and are praised for their grades. They are rewarded for being predictable. If boys behave recklessly the commenting goes “well, boys are boys”. Women need to learn to adapt a little bit of that recklessness and try things out with a bigger brush, even though the end result is often far from perfect. Stop trying to colour inside the lines, little bit of splashing and a lot of mess is part of the process!.

5) Self-confidence

Everything of course comes down to self-confidence, to the fundamental belief that you’re entitled to be successful and get what you want. To be successful women need to be confident enough to surround themselves with confident and successful people, but often are more comfortable surrounding themselves with a superficial crowd bragging about their husband’s achievements. To be confident is also to be open for criticism and to be vulnerable. Many are too proud to expose themselves if their facade ‘looks great’. To try something that might fail requires confidence and you must be prepared to do what ever it takes regardless of what other people might think or say.

I told Oliver that having a co-founder would help many women to stay focused and to get longer term perspective. Skills can be learned or complemented with the skills of a co-founder, but to develop the key personality traits takes a lot more practise and is easier when you work together with someone.

~ Miisa