Alabama: “Discover your why — and what success looks like for you.”
Who: Stacy Brown, Founder of Chicken Salad Chick
Her company: Chicken Salad Chick serves full-flavored, Southern-style chicken salad made from scratch and served from the heart. With more than a dozen original chicken salad flavors as well as fresh side salads, gourmet soups, signature sandwiches and delicious desserts, the company has received numerous accolades, including making the list of Inc. 5000’s list of fastest growing companies.
Advice: “Before starting my company, I was a stay-at-home mom with three children. Newly divorced, I quickly discovered my ‘why’ was to provide for them, so I began selling my chicken salad recipe door-to-door. When I got shut down by the health department, I didn’t quit because I was so connected to my why, I knew I just had to push through. Throughout my journey, I’ve been able to grow my career by surrounding myself with truly amazing people. I’ve learned that nobody acts alone — we’re all in this together. When your hearts, goals and passions of those around you align, it all blends into a magical thing people want to be a part of. Soul search and make your business decisions based on your core values, whatever they are. For me, I make mine based on heart and faith, both of which have never failed me. “
Arizona: “Never stop learning — and never give up.”
Who: Heather Elrod, CEO of Amazing Lash Studio
Her company: Amazing Lash Studio is the category leader in the eyelash extension beauty space. This national beauty brand has more than 220 franchise locations across the United States.
Her advice: “The most common trait of people who are successful in their careers is that through hardship and failure, they remain tenacious and focused on the end result they’re striving for. You must never lose your passion or your belief in your dreams. Also, never stop learning. Seek advice and counsel from others who have achieved what you want to achieve. Personally, I was inspired at a young age by my grandmother, who was a female entrepreneur well before it was acceptable. I once asked her, ‘How did you know you could do it? Weren’t you afraid of failing?’ and she replied, ‘Well, I never thought that I couldn’t do it.’ She left a legacy for my father who raised me with great encouragement and belief in myself, and he would never allow me to say, ‘I can’t.’”
Arkansas: “Don’t get stuck in solopreneurship.”
Who: Jessica Zimmerman, CEO and Creative Director of Zimmerman Events and Zimmerman Education.
Her company: Zimmerman Events houses business education for the creative entrepreneur. Through her intuitive blog posts, Resource Hub, and catalogue of courses, Jessica helps entrepreneurs create businesses and lives they love. Jessica’s educational work began with her premier course, The Business Behind the Blooms.
Her advice: “When I started my business in 2011, I bought an existing company that already had a full roster of employees. While my business looks entirely different now than it did eight years ago, I’m thankful that I realized the importance of employees early on. So often, entrepreneurs become accustomed to tackling all business responsibilities alone. But by not offloading key responsibilities, you limit your efficacy. When you identify your strengths and hire to your weaknesses, you reserve your most potent time and mind power to the tasks towards which you’re naturally inclined, instead of keeping a tight grip on tasks someone else would master much better than you could. Make a list of the work you love doing and another list of the work that you dread. I know I need to make a new hire when there’s a bunch of items on my to-do list that always get bumped to the next day. Then, find someone who can take over some of those dreaded tasks, and watch your productivity soar.”
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California: “Find a job that gives you energy.”
Who: Dana Bloom, co-founder and co-CEO of Proper Food.
Her company: Proper Food is a chef-driven, sustainability-focused grab-and-go shops with 10 locations in San Francisco and three in New York City, with plans for additional expansion. Proper’s seasonal menu is crafted by Michelin-starred Executive Chef Juan Munoz, and all dishes are made fresh every morning from their no-waste local commissaries.
Her advice: “I’ve found that it’s not the number of hours that you work that determines your work-life balance. What’s more important is whether your job gives you energy or drains it away. Find a job that feels meaningful and inspiring to you. Work with a diverse set of people who challenge you and help you learn new things every day. Ensure that the company’s values match your own. When you come home from work energized rather than exhausted, it’s almost like your work is giving you extra hours in the day.”
Colorado: “If you don’t like the channel, change it.”
Who: Emil Motycka, vice president of Customer Success at Rachio
His company: Rachio is a smart sprinkler company that makes sustainable water use effortless and rewarding for homeowners. It is EPA-certified and offers precise flow monitoring to help nurture a yard. The Rachio boasts complete smartphone control, unique weather adaptation technologies and compatibility with every major smart home device.
His advice: “In a world of Netflix and Amazon Prime, choice and instant gratification is no longer a delighter; it’s expected. As a millennial myself, it’s easy to get caught up in this way of life and allow it to absorb into the fabric of your day to day decisions. Don’t like something? Change the channel! However, when it comes to one career, it’s important to remember to be curious yet patient. It takes time to build your skills and expertise in a given field or industry; one must go deep into a field to master it. Not only must you binge the show, but you need to watch it a few times to be able to repeat the lines from memory. Once you discover what you’re good at, you need to align it with your passion to have a fulfilling career; otherwise you’ll always have a job and will likely be channel surfing for something more interesting when times get hard or slow. Find your show and stick with it; regardless of how ‘cool’ it is to others.”
Connecticut: “Build relationships first, profits second.”
Who: Jean Camilletti, multi-unit franchise partner of Blo Blow Dry Bar
Her company: Blo Blow Dry Bar is the original blow dry bar and the world’s largest blow dry bar franchise. Blo Blow Dry Bar offers professionally styled hair seven days a week.
Her advice: “Instead of focusing all your energy on turning a quick profit, concentrate on building longevity by making customer service a priority. Customers who feel valued, respected and taken care of are more likely to become loyal clients, which generates positive word-of-mouth and boosts reputation. Take the time to educate your staff on what superior customer service looks like, as this is the key to growing a successful and lasting business.”
Delaware: “Work with impact.”
Who: Beverly Cannady-Hale, Global Area Developer for Morinda.
Her company: Morinda uses its noni expertise to drive their mission to help everyone obtain the three things they want the most: better health, better appearance and financial freedom.
Her advice: “Money and power is not what is going to fill you up or keep you going every day. Sure it is nice to have but pick a career where you can positively impact the lives of others in some way. You will not only empower and help others but you will also be impacted by feeling personal satisfaction. That is the motivation and feeling you can take with you down any career path you choose.
Florida: “Conduct a work-ethic audit.”
Who: Abhi Lokesh, CEO and co-founder of Fracture.
His company: Fracture is a carbon-neutral e-commerce photo decor company that allows you to upload your digital images, print them on-demand in color directly to the durable, sustainable glass. Then, you can have the print shipped to you in a safe, eco-friendly package, ready to display using the enclosed screw with no frame required.
His advice: “Too often I interact with people whose professional ambitions don’t match with how hard they want to work to turn those dreams into reality. Do yourself a favor by really thinking through the lifestyle you want to lead. Ask yourself the tough questions and be prepared to be brutally honest. Do you want to strictly work a 9-to-5 job with no weekends and no overtime? Do you have other passions that you really want to pursue? Where does your career rank as a priority for you? As you go through your audit, it’s important to understand that there’s no wrong answer – there’s just the right answer for you. Attaining this level of clarity and self-awareness about yourself is a remarkable asset to have and can help separate you from the rest of the pack when talking to prospective employers or when working with your manager to discuss career development.”
Georgia: “Make a ‘you suck’ list when you quit your job.”
Who: Dethra Giles, Chief Bridge Architect, ExecuPrep
Her company: Creating the ‘Future Workplace for Today’ requires new innovative strategies and systems — and that’s what ExecuPrep offers. Dethra has spent years researching; developing and implementing with global organizations globally to support their future readiness. Through her speaking, training and coaching she is transforming people, employees and companies: she is getting them ‘future-ready’ today.
Her advice: Every entrepreneur should have a “You suck”-list for the job they left to be an entrepreneur. This journey of entrepreneurship gets tough, so fierce that there are days that you will look back and even consider going back. You will remember the days when checks were consistent, health care was only a portion of your pay and was automatically deducted and taking sick leave was as simple as deciding ‘I ain’t going in today.’ Entrepreneurship is full of uncertainties that are not for the faint of heart, the stamina deficient, or those of poor work ethic. It is for the person that has the potential to stare an impending bill in the face and know they will continue to work their network and manifest a contract, the person who will stay up late when needed but a take a long nap cause they can. But that doesn’t happen automatically; it happens from many reviews of the ‘You suck’-list. When you think about going back, when what use to be seems to be more appealing than what is and it feels like ending it all and going back would be the best and wisest decision, the ‘you suck’ letter is there to remind you that the memory of our situation is way better than the reality, you left for a reason, you are doing much better than you think and you should keep moving forward.”
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Hawaii: “Make wellness a priority.”
Who: Brynne Caleda, CEO of Yoga Ed.
Her company: Yoga Ed. is an educational company dedicated to changing education through the practice of yoga. Their mission is to empower school communities with yoga to cultivate health and wellness in children and teens. Through evidence-based training, classes, and resources, Yoga Ed. equips educators with yoga tools to integrate yoga for children and teens into academic environments.
Her advice: “Just take a moment and imagine that before you sat down to read this you stubbed your toe really hard. What happens in your body? Pain, stress, tension starts to shoot through your body. What happens in your mind? Anger, frustration, irritation? And you are probably unable to focus on what you are reading because you are so focused on the pain of your toe and the irritation that you stubbed it. Our bodies and minds are intimately connected. How you feel in your body affects how you feel in your mind, and vice versa. It is essential that you take the time throughout your day to stop and check-in; how do I feel physically, mentally, emotionally? What impact does the way I feel have on the work I am producing, the clients I am speaking with, the colleagues I am engaging with?”
Idaho: “Get down in the weeds, already.”
Who: Debi Lane, CEO, and Founder, LunchboxWax.
Her company: LunchboxWax, is a salon fully dedicated to waxing services, with 40 salons across the country. LunchboxWax is a purpose-driven company that takes a culture-first approach and gives back to the community in ways such as creating a comfortable environment for its consumers, creating equal career opportunities and empowering young women and men to have a voice.
Her advice: “Roll your sleeves up and get down into the weeds with your team. This is the only way to understand every aspect of your business. This obviously evolves as you grow, but this will help you gain respect and valuable insights. Be a mentor and find a mentor — and finding a mentor doesn’t always mean someone older and wiser. In my case, our young waxologists and corporate team members teach me more about what is current and going on in the world around than I could ever imagine.”
Illinois: “Don’t be afraid to invest in your personal brand.”
Who: Adam Justice, CEO of ConnectSense.
His company: ConnectSense is the manufacturer of home automation products designed to make the smart home attainable and manageable for consumers.
His advice: “Too often folks feel like they can only promote their company brand and don’t realize that building up your personal brand is often a great reflection of the company as well. I’ve been able to build my personal brand through speaking at industry events, hosting my podcast show, and being active on social media. This has helped not only raise my profile but also resulted in favorable attention for the company.”
Indiana: “Be afraid.”
Who: Christy Rose, Founder of KBShimmer
Her company: KBShimmer offers unique and colorful nail glitter nail polishes that are free of chemicals such as toluene, formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin and dibutyl phthalate (DBP). KBShimmer glitter polishes feature a flat glitter-grabbing brush for easy application.
Her advice: “Too often, I have heard being safe in life and work was the responsible thing to do. But is it really? Staying safe kept my husband and I in dead-end jobs, working full time positions that barely paid our bills. But then I lost my job, and I feared being in the same position again, relying on someone else to provide for my family. I feared that I would not be able to pay my bills, that my husband would be disappointed that I wasn’t helping provide for our family, that others would see me as a failure. It was that fear that encouraged me instead to take a hobby pretending to be a business and attempt to turn it into an actual business. Using that fear, I propelled my business into a way to support my family, with my husband also working for me! I have learned to use different fears to encourage me. Don’t be afraid you will let fear hold you back, instead, use fear to propel you forward into the job you want, the business you want, or the position in life you want. Don’t think of what happens if the answer is no, but what happens if it is ‘yes’?”
Iowa: “Keep adding to your toolbox.”
Who: Megan McKay, owner of Peace Tree Brewing Company
Her company: Peace Tree Brewing Company is as a craft brewery, dedicated to brewing handcrafted, full-flavored beers with a great attention to quality.
Her advice: “I liken career advice to the game strategy for the popular video game, The Legend of Zelda. In the game that was popular during my childhood, players collect items along the way, with the understanding they’ll be of value at some point. Everything is kept in the toolbox for later use. I’ve learned that’s the case as you grow in your profession. Every experience along the way is a building block, so make sure to pick up a lot of things to use in later levels of your career. As women, we doubt ourselves, it seems more often than male counterparts. It’s important that we try things outside our career comfort zone so we can gain confidence and learn important lessons, whether what we’re trying works or not. Look beyond traditional or assumed roles to ensure a true fit – from a skill set and culture perspective. Suspend ideas about what is ‘supposed’ to be and make sure you have the right person in the right place.”
Kansas: “Seek a mentor and become a mentor.”
Who: Brent Edmisten, vice president of Global Supply Chain & Quality, Excel Industries
His company: Excel Industries is a manufacturer of commercial and residential turf equipment. Excel introduced the world’s first zero-turn mower under the Hustler brand in 1964.
His advice: “Don’t discount the importance of a mentor. You should identify a successful person or someone you look up to as a mentor that will meet with you regularly; enlist them to advise you on your career path and to share their experiences. You should also give back to those below you, too. You will learn from them and as they learn from you. As a member of Gen X, I meet with Millennials and Gen Z’s to learn how to better communicate and lead them. This has helped me stay young and better connect with others. For me, developing others and seeing them grow is the most joy I get out of my job and it is a way to pay back for what others have done for you.”
Kentucky: “Have many leadership styles.”
Who: Donald Lassere, President and CEO of the Muhammad Ali Center
His company: The Muhammad Ali Center is a multicultural center with an award-winning museum dedicated to the life and legacy of Muhammad Ali. The Center museum captures the inspiration derived from the story of Muhammad Ali’s incredible life and the Six Core Principles that fueled his journey.
His advice: “It is important for a leader to use multiple leadership styles depending on who you are leading and what your ultimate objective is. Too often leaders fail to recognize that they must take into account not only what they are passionate about, but what inspires those who they are leading. One thing, however, that must remain a constant is that as a leader, one must have a guiding set of principles that will provide a pathway for how they will comport themselves and how they will treat others.”
Louisiana: “You can be nice and powerful at the same time.”
Who: Anne Roderique-Jones, Freelance Journalist
Her company: Roderique-Jones
Her advice: “You can be nice and powerful at the same time. As women, we’re often expected to act a certain way in the workforce — especially when it’s dominated by men. But I’ve found that being genuinely kind to people serves well for your career. One day you may be interviewing — or in my case, pitching stories — to a former intern or colleague. Being kind does not mean that you can’t be ambitious, proactive, or the boss.”
Maine: “Become a storyteller.”
Who: Sarah Kelly, Chief SaltyGirl With All The Sass at SaltyGirl Beauty.
Her company: SaltyGirl Beauty is a natural cosmetic and body care brand that focuses on the empowerment, education and beauty positivity of all people. SaltyGirl Beauty also gives 10 percent of profits to Foundation4Love an organization that gives back to adults with cancer.
Her advice: “I have found since starting our business that people want to connect with a story. My sister Leah and I started our business after I was diagnosed with stage-three cancer when I was eight months pregnant with my second child. Since Leah was not only being my sister, but also an oncology nurse, we wanted to create a company that connected with women — cancer or not! A brand that empowers women to feel good about themselves in good times and bad. Being able to tell those stories — our stories — and the stories of other women has become the core of who we are as a brand. Find your voice, tell your story and connect.”
Maryland: “Be persistent.”
Who: Drew Westervelt, founder of HEX Performance and former 9-year pro-athlete.
His company: HEX Performance is a sustainable line of laundry products specifically designed to clean and protect activewear.
His advice: “In any endeavor, there are always peaks and valleys. Staying positive is critical to keep driving forward and is what the process is all about. Each challenge is a learning experience you can build and grow from.”
Massachusetts: “There are no wrong turns.”
Who: Debby Soo, Chief Commercial Officer at KAYAK.
Her company: KAYAK processes two billion searches a year for travel information, helping millions of travelers around the globe. With every query, KAYAK searches hundreds of travel sites to show travelers the information they need to find the right flights, hotels, rental cars and vacation packages.
Her advice: “There is no such thing as a wrong turn as every experience you have is additive to your professional growth. Treat every job — no matter how big or small — like a learning opportunity. Don’t be afraid to speak up, ask questions and challenge the status quo. Do it tactfully and diplomatically, of course, but chances are if something doesn’t make sense to you, others are thinking it too. If you think that there’s a better way to approach something, staying quiet on the sidelines is never a winning strategy.”
Michigan: “Surround yourself with positive company.”
Who: Kelly Carroll Burgin, founder of K. Carroll Accessories
Her company: K. Carroll Accessories specializes in vegan leather handbags of style and purpose. We believe in providing the highest quality, impressive features and stunning designs, all for the best value.
Her advice: “Do what’s right for you and surround yourself with passionate people that believe in you. In my case, ‘making lemons out of lemonade’ turned out to be the best thing I ever did for my career. When I was downsized from my corporate job, I used the opportunity to do something I had a passion for and to have a more balanced life. Seventeen years later, the business I created is thriving and I love going to work every day, with amazing people I can depend on. The key is to be true to yourself. If you find yourself in a situation that you didn’t expect, use the opportunity to focus on something you love to do and do all that you can to make it a success. It may be risky and you might be apprehensive, but you’ll never know what you can accomplish if you don’t try.”
Minnesota: “Make time to network and meet as many people as possible.”
Who: Doug Stukenborg, co-founder and CEO of Welly.
His company: Welly is a new line of premium bandages and first aid tools. Featuring 25 different products spanning bandages, ointments and first aid tools, the items come in stackable and easy to organize tins.
“Take the time to meet and speak with as many people as you can. I met Eric Ryan, my Welly co-founder when he was working to launch Olly multivitamins. With Eric’s background in building successful brands that create an emotional connection with the consumer and my passion for solving consumer pain points, we were well paired to bring Welly to life. With social media, professional networking apps and a plethora of conferences and workshops constantly available, it’s easier than ever to make connections. Prioritize building out your network with people who have similar passions and complementary skillsets as you never know when they may lead to your next venture.”
Mississippi: “Work in a mission field.”
Who: Carolyn Boteler, President of TempStaff
Her company: TempStaff is a Mississippi-based staffing agency, focusing on matching local residents with nearby businesses.Each year, they employ more than 4,000 people in Jackson, Canton and McComb.
Her advice: “Each new potential employee is told that we work in a mission field. Our responsibility is to help each person who walks through our doors be the very best that they can be. That can be a professional person as well as an industrial worker. Staffing is very stressful, and you have to be able to leave it at the door at night.” – Clarion Ledger
Missouri: “You have to ask question to get the answers.”
Who: Daryl Stein, Software Tester at Second Street.
Her company: Second Street is an audience engagement software platform used by more than 4,000 companies. The Second Street platform gives users the power to build contests, interactive content, and emails to grow revenue, database, and engagement.
Her advice: “Asking the scary questions may not always give you a yes, but if you never ask then you will never know what the answer will be. Asking questions — big or small — is imperative for making sure you’re doing things correctly and learning what other opportunities are out there for you. I have realized that you need to be upfront and ask the exact question you want the answer for. It can be daunting to be forward, so make sure to do your research so you can answer any questions that get asked back! You always need to be prepared.”
Montana: “Don’t ask for an NDA.”
Who: Will Price, Founder of Next Frontier Capital
His company: Next Frontier Capital is an investment firm that helps mission-driven, talented entrepreneurs to build Rocky Mountain technology companies of impact, utility, and value
His advice: “The #1 thing I see is entrepreneurs who believe their idea is a precious baby that they can’t share with anybody or tell anyone without signing an NDA about it. That’s a real mistake. The odds of someone stealing your idea, running with it, and becoming your competition. In fact, it’s the opposite in my mind. The more you share the idea, the more you test it with potential investors, the better idea it’ll be. Two things off the bat: Don’t ask for an NDA because it shows a level of misunderstanding about where the true value is going to come from. It’s not from a PowerPoint deck or document. It’s from bringing that idea to life.” – Montana Public Radio
Nebraska: “Look like Leo.”
Who: Angela Diaz, founder of SHOLDIT.
Her company: SHOLDIT is a design firm driven by the elements of function, fashion and freedom. They offer solution-based accessories with hidden pockets to enhance everyday life. Each Design stashes essentials such as phone, passport, keys, wallet, ear buds, small toys, pacifiers and more.
Her advice: “…now what I mean by this is to look at things like Leonardo Da Vinci would. Earlier this year, I finished the book ‘How to Think Like Leonardo Da Vinci’ and one of the most profound examples was that Da Vinci would go out into a meadow and spend all day analyzing, taking notes and drawing a single flower. The next day he would go back with a mirror and do the entire process in reverse. Now really think about that! This not only teaches us to see things in different ways, from different angles and to never assume any details no matter how simple they may appear, but it also teaches us to slow ourselves down in our thought and analysis process. I think too often leaders are expected to make quick decisions yet, often the best decisions are well thought out and seen from every angle possible.”
Nevada: “Build talent up from within the company.”
Who: Mike Flaskey, CEO and Director of the Board of Diamond Resorts.
His company: Diamond Resorts offers destinations, events and experiences to help members make a habit of breaking from the routine. Their focus on quality resorts, customer service and flexibility means members can return to a favorite resort, book a cruise to explore new countries or attend a event whenever vacation allows.
His advice: “I am a big believer in empowering my team and believe that building up talent from within has played a major role in our company’s success. We just launched an internship program, and I believe that providing hands-on experiences such as these are key to creating successful leaders and employees. I would be nowhere without a strong team to support and help implement my ideas.”
New Hampshire: “Let people work from anywhere, already.”
Her company: The Content Factory is a fully remote digital PR agency that specializes in SEO.
Her advice: “Think outside the box – or in this case, the cubicle. People who work remotely save an average of 500 hours per year on the ‘get ready’ routine and commute — and for women, it’s often more. This is all unpaid labor, by the way. Over the course of a 20-year career, this works out to 416 days of time that you give yourself back. This time could be spent with family, working on side projects, or just generally enjoying life. If you can work from home, you can work from anywhere. People on my staff have used this flexibility to travel the world while working, save on childcare and generally optimize their lives in a way that working in a traditional office environment prohibits. “
New Jersey: “Encourage trust and build upon it.”
Who: Maria Haggerty, CEO, Dotcom Distribution.
Her company: Dotcom Distribution provides B2C and B2B fulfillment and distribution services. Located near New York City, Dotcom supports eCommerce and omnichannel solutions for emerging brands.
Her advice: “The only way to develop trust among a team is to go through scary things together knowing that they have your back and no one is going to throw anyone under the bus. This is not the same thing as an entire team agreeing on everything; to expect that is unrealistic, and only having one set of opinions isn’t a good thing anyway. We need lively debate! Exchanging and debating ideas results in the best ones. But you can’t do that without trust, and without that, you don’t really have a team. I’ve always thought the scariest thing about being a leader was having everyone say, ‘Yes! You’re the boss. You’re right. Whatever you want!’ I don’t want to be yes-ed to death. That’s the last thing anyone needs. I want people who can challenge me, and each other.”
New Mexico: “Trying to be a man is a waste of time.”
Who: Antonia Roybal-Mack, founder and managing partner at Roybal-Mack & Cordova P.C.
Her company: Roybal-Mack & Cordova P.C. provides New Mexico individuals and businesses expert legal counsel in a variety of areas. Their services accommodate everyone’s needs and budgets, ranging from full legal counsel to their “on your own but not alone” online options.
Her advice: “Trying to be a man is a waste of a woman. If we can teach girls to own who they are, thrive with their God-given talents, we will get there … I don’t go into a meeting thinking that being a woman is a deficit. I go in knowing my stuff, confident and ready to do what needs to be done. I was once called a fierce chola lawyer as an insult. I liked it so much, that I put it on my license plate. We need to challenge our daughters, celebrate when they challenge us and give them the opportunities to lead.” – Biz Journals
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New York: “Get comfortable being uncomfortable.”
Who: Julian Levine, Co-Founder and CEO of Twice.
His company: Twice is makes premium morning and night toothpaste. All Twice formulations are high-quality, non-GMO, vegan, gluten-free, comprised of globally sourced ingredients, never-tested-on- animals, and formulated and crafted in the USA.
His advice: “This is the best way to grow and challenge yourself. Treat each day, week, month and year as an investment in yourself. Treat each and every experience, positive or negative, as a learning. Be a sponge, absorb the information from those around you – your peers, leaders and managers. Be patient, apply yourself, and be incredibly curious. Say yes to new work and life experiences because you never know what doors they will open, and they will open doors! Use your time to build your fundamentals in order to excel in your current job or take advantage of another opportunity and be entrepreneurial. It is never too late to do something new! Recognize that from failure comes a greater chance for success. So, apply yourself, fail fast, learn quickly, and enjoy the benefits of personal and professional growth.”
North Carolina: “Give yourself some whitespace.”
Her company: inkWELL Press is a certified woman-owned Business that provides tools and education to help women live productive lives both at work and at home.
Her advice: “We often undervalue whitespace because we think that we should be busy all the time. We falsely believe that if we aren’t busy, we are somehow failing. We feel, thought, that we cannot disconnect — it’s become an expectation to turn around emails and texts at all hours. We’ve lost sight of our own boundaries. Before smartphones, we clocked out on the weekends, we weren’t expected to always be available 365 days a year, we could go on vacation without worrying if our bosses were going to call. Giving yourself whitespace and taking care of yourself isn’t a luxury, and it’s not pampering, it’s essential to higher productivity, creativity and concentration. Whitespace is where idea, innovation and ideals are born and nurtured.”
North Dakota: “Finish what you start.”
Who: Bruce Vaaler, CEO of Vaaler Insurance
His company: Vaaler Insurance provides the best insurance services to clients — mainly businesses — at the most reasonable price possible. Today, they serve thousands of clients throughout North Dakota and Minnesota.
His advice: “I also learned that you need to finish what you start. Nobody ever graduates from college without finishing things, whether it’s a paper or a test. You can’t pass a class without finishing the process.I continue to remind myself of that lesson to this day. If we don’t finish what we start, we can never win.” – Prairie Business Magazine
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Ohio: “Put your mask on first.”
Who: Adiya Dixon Wiggins, founder and president of Yubi Beauty.
Her company: YUBI is an ergonomic beauty tool that makes cosmetic application faster, easier, more intuitive and more hygienic. It was named one of the 50 Best Inventions by TIME magazine.
Her advice: “Life as an entrepreneur can get intense and it often seems there isn’t enough time to breathe, let alone workout, sleep properly or eat healthy. Add the realities of business ownership to the demands of relationships and kids, and you have a recipe for disaster! However, just as we encourage new moms to rest and drink water, parents of new businesses, too, must make time for self care. For me, it looks like a quick walk around my neighborhood or a short pilates workout followed by five minutes of makeup and skincare. Every morning — no skipping! These dedicated micro-moment of self care help fortify me so I’m the best version of myself for everyone who relies on me.”
Oklahoma: “Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle.”
Who: Melissa Bird, founder of Your Resilient Business.
Her company: Your Resilient Business helps businesses and organizations navigate a crisis, bouncing back better than before. The company helps with building organizational crisis plans, facilitating tabletop exercises, and creating crisis response strategies.
Her advice: “It is natural to look to others who are more successful in the company or niche you want to be in, but don’t get caught in the comparison game. You don’t know their whole story — you only know your own. Educate yourself on characteristics or experiences of people who are successful in your desired industry and use that knowledge to build your resume and position yourself as the next success story. In a world that increasingly puts more emphasis on diverse work experience, remember that trying to diversify your own resume takes time and is not an easy task. Another candidate may have logged more hours in a specific job duty than you, but they don’t have the same career and life experiences that make you who you are.”
Oregon: “Be aware of your blind spots.”
Who: Scott Allan, General Manager of Hydro Flask.
His company: Hydro Flask creates high-performance insulated products with simple designs and go-anywhere durability. Founded in 2009 in Bend, Oregon, Hydro Flask inspires active outdoor lives with two simple words: ‘Let’s Go!’
His advice: “We learn the basics of engineering, accounting, marketing and strategy in school or on the job, but the reality is that in applying any of this, success comes from being aware of our own blind spots and weaknesses when working with others. This is especially true as we rise up as managers and leaders where there is near 100 percent correlation between success and self-awareness and self-management. I learned firsthand how facing my weaknesses, blind spots and negative tendencies took a lot of courage. I don’t think I would have successfully done this without an executive coach I trusted and a team that truly wanted to be a great team. Even then, it was difficult. It’s never easy, yet the rewards of being a better manager, leader and human being are there. It’s a new level of leadership and I see more and more of it around me. Great careers follow those that consider their own contributions first whenever problems arise.”
Pennsylvania: “Care so much that it doesn’t feel like work.”
Who: Rose Morris, President and Founder of Abram’s Nation.
Her company: Abram’s Nation is a manufacturer of durable, medical-grade equipment and sensory products for families with special needs around the world.
Her advice: “Last night I cried with a mom many states away who needed help; she needed to be part of our community. Whether taking care of my employees or being a resource for other families, my focus is on my community of family, team members, customers and more. The goal is to care so much about your community that work doesn’t feel like work. I gladly spend weekends at the workshop customizing a product for specific requests from families. I attend conferences around the world that feel more like family reunions — the fun side! — than work trips. When I have a spare moment – whether at the bus stop with my kids, in a waiting room, or stealing away for five minutes in the bathroom – I’m on social media answering questions or connecting people who can be resources for each other. When you surround yourself with your community, you realize what’s important.”
Rhode Island: “Be intellectually curious.”
Who: Kelly Ramirez, CEO, Social Enterprise Greenhouse.
Her company: Social Enterprise Greenhouse creates positive social and economic impacts across Rhode Island by supporting social entrepreneurs and enterprises with the business tools and networks they need to thrive.
Her advice: “Say ‘yes’. Help others. Be present in the community and it will come back to you in spades. And be intellectually curious. With eleven colleges and universities within a 45-minute drive of nearly everywhere in our state, there is no shortage of opportunities to continue learning. Taking advantage of opportunities to enroll in courses and attend lectures and events is good for you and your potential employers.”
South Carolina: “Don’t forget what you dreamed of as a child.”
Who: Anna Shuford, co-founder of Smockingbird Kids.
Her company: Smockingbird works with ethical companies around the world to bring high quality, affordable fashion for children.
Her advice: “Growing up, we were taught the importance of finding a career to love, to challenge us and to make us proud. We did not feel pressure from our parents to follow a designated career path. Along the way, we chose several careers — advertising, occupational therapist, finance — prior to launching our company. Each of these careers taught us new and different skills, brought unique challenges and allowed us to work with and learn from people with different backgrounds.We recognize that we are not always the smartest people in a room because there is someone else with knowledge and/or experience from whom we can learn. Taking risks may not be easy and you may not succeed, but we would bet that you learn quite a bit along the way, and there is great value in this learning.”
South Dakota: “Maintain a smaller company culture as best as possible.”
Who: David Emery, former CEO and current chairman of Black Hills Corporation
His company: Black Hills Corporation is a utility company based in Rapid City, South Dakota that currently serves over 1.27 million electric and natural gas utility customers in more than 800 communities in Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wyoming.
His advice: “There are lots of challenges that come with growing a business rapidly: scaling up systems and processes, financing challenges, facilities decisions, hiring and staffing issues, and the like. One of the most important things we focused on at Black Hills to help with those challenges, was to maintain a smaller company culture as best as possible, even with more than 2,900 employees. As one example, we have senior officers visit every location annually to speak with employees regarding business strategy and key goals. I often hear from employees who came to Black Hills from other firms say they worked somewhere else for years and never saw a company officer.” – Rapid City Journal
Tennessee: “Stretch yourself and be bold.”
Who: Cheryl DeSantis, Chief People Officer at SmileDirectClub.
Her company: SmileDirectClub created a teledentistry platform that connects customers with an affiliated network of licensed dentists and orthodontists who leverage our technology and tools to remotely prescribe and manage clear aligner therapy. SmileDirectClub’s direct-to-consumer treatment costs up to 60 percent less than traditional braces.
Her advice: “Sometimes we talk ourselves out of certain roles because we don’t meet all of the qualifications required in the job description. I’ve built my entire career on saying ‘yes’ to challenging roles and projects, and trusting myself to figure it out. My advice? Stretch yourself, be bold, and don’t let uncertainty hold you back. Also, stay curious. Don’t ever limit yourself within your career path — look outside your current day-to-day activities to learn about other parts of your organization. Staying curious will stretch your mind and your career. Being courageous, staying curious, and focusing on your personal and professional growth plays a role in how you positively impact your place in the workplace, in life, and beyond. Find that magic in your everyday work and share it with others. People will see that light shining bright inside you when you live your days in wonder. View your life as an adventure and invest in your own potential.”
Texas: “Lead with love and be authentic.”
Who: Mary Thompson, Chief Operating Officer of Neighborly.
Her company: Neighborly is an international operator of multiple franchise concepts and is the provider of services focused on repairing, maintaining and enhancing customers’ homes and businesses.
Her advice: “Good leaders know they must love their people enough to give them what they need but not necessarily what they want. Leading with love is being brave enough to have the conversations that matter. It’s a leader’s job to inspire people to be the best versions of themselves. To do that they must first be self-aware enough to be real about who they are personally. Trust is built on being congruent on all places with all people, and that requires authenticity. It’s important that leaders create a set of values for their organization to help draw together those who want to be part of the same tribe. I believe in purposeful leadership, and not managing people but leading people, not listening to speak but listening to understand.”
Utah: “Never run a business competing with anyone but yourself.”
Who: Lisa Barlow, Partner and Founder of Vida Tequila.
Her company: VIDA is a top-shelf tequila company that pairs modern and traditional methods.
Her advice: “You are not in a race with anyone but yourself. Your pace, your vision, your time, your goals. You will know if you are on the right path when everything has gone wrong and momentum is still pushing you forward to everything that is right. All of the lessons from the wrongs turn into what makes you the best at what you do. Every experience, challenge will bring you to where you are supposed to be and with who you should be with. Every job is yours when building a business — every job. If you’re not willing to pick up your own trash in the beginning, then you don’t have what it takes to make something great. If you want something badly; you will do whatever it takes to make it happen.”
Vermont: “Know what comes up when you’re Googled.”
Who: Nicole Junas Ravlin, President and CEO at Junapr.
Her company: Junapr is a boutique public relations and communications firm in Vermont, working with clients across the U.S., Canada, and Europe.
Her advice: “Brush up your personal brand. Make sure that your social media channels only have what you want the world to know about — even if you have your account set to private. Your digital footprint is important and people who want to work with you in any capacity are going to look at that. Pay particular attention to LinkedIn. The functionality of that platform has improved in recent months, and it’s a great business resource. If you don’t have recommendations there, ask for some from former employers. Upload links to whitepapers you have written, or better yet publish on LinkedIn which has good reach.”
Virginia: “Know what gets you up in the morning.”
Who: Russ Jundt, Founder of Conserva Irrigation.
His company: Conserva Irrigation is the only national outdoor irrigation company founded on the principle of water conservation. With 83 territories across the country and growing, Conserva Irrigation is helping home and business owners reduce water consumption.
His advice: “Far too many people, in my opinion, settle for a job with the sole purpose of getting by and paying the bills. Instead, ask yourself this: ‘What gets me up in the morning?’ Then, brainstorm concepts that connect you to a career in a field tied to your passions. Chances are you will be able to apply your current job skillset to a company that shares your passion. Or, like some, you may be interested in departing completely from your job by starting your own company that fully integrates with your passion. This strikes a chord with many of us whom do not subscribe to the job mentality. I have never been inspired to have the epitaph on my gravestone read, ‘Here lies Russ Jundt. He went through life working hard at his job to get by and pay his bills.’ We have one go-round here on Earth. Find your passion and build your career and life around it.”
Washington: “Your dream don’t have to be big to be happy.”
Who: Jeana Rushton, Co-Owner and President of The Fox and Stone, Inc.
Her company: The Fox and Stone creates high quality jewelry showcasing raw gemstones and crystals for modern Bohemians seeking unique luxury.
Her advice: “Contrary to what almost every other business coach out there will tell you, it’s ok to have moderate and manageable dreams. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been asked ‘when are you going to start making millions?’ or ‘you need to dream bigger’ or ‘your dreams aren’t big enough’. I don’t want millions, and I used to feel guilty and ashamed that my dreams weren’t bigger every time someone I looked up asked me one of those questions. Decipher for yourself what you truly want out of life and make that your goal, even if it’s just to make enough to save for a comfortable retirement and a little plot of land in the country to raise your kids. That’s my dream. I want our company to make enough that we can travel if we want, that I can spend several hours a day with my kids homeschooling them and create a legacy for them.”
Washington, D.C.: “Relationships are the most valuable professional resource.”
Who: Andrew Blasi, Director, Crowell and Moring International, LLC.
His company: Crowell and Moring International LLC is an international trade and regulatory affairs consulting firm that advises Fortune 100 companies navigate the global economic and political landscape.
His advice: “Always be good to people, inside and outside the office. Relationships are the most valuable professional resource you will ever earn, more than your title or compensation. This trait will draw others to you and it will keep them by you. And the more others want to interact with you, the greater your passion and successes at work will be. No matter what your credentials are, the reality is that clients, coworkers, or collaborators do not work with people they do not like. Being good to people means you listen and learn often. It means asking for help when you need it and giving help when others need it. It means frequently acknowledging the success of others as well as always connecting your success with the support you received from others. This is the best worker any employer can invest in for today’s economy.”
West Virginia: “Stay true to what you know.”
Who: Jon Hammock, founder of KeyLogic
His company: KeyLogic provides professional services and engineering solutions for research and development technologies to make federal agencies run more efficiently with by improving an organization’s technology management, business intelligence, data analytics, budget formulation and biometrics.
His advice: “The potential for the gravity for a business to take a toll on you is one of the biggest concerns. Keep that fire in your belly and a vision of the future.There’s never a true scoreboard that gives you true insight into how you are doing. In those early stages, there’s a lot of gut instinct to how you are doing. Stay true to what you know, and do not lose that confidence.” – WVNews
Wisconsin: “Stay consistent.”
Who: Stacy Tuschl, Small Business Growth Coach and Founder of the Foot Traffic Formula.
Her company: Stacy’s Foot Traffic Formula helps small businesses around the world get more customers in the door, more profit in their pocket and more happiness in their homes. Recently, Stacy was named the 2019 Wisconsin Small Business Person of the Year by the United States Small Business Administration.
Her advice: “It’s not about working and hustling every day and all night making massive leaps daily in our business. That will only lead you to burn out. It’s really about one step at a time. Small, consistent steps can lead to big dreams accomplished. Ask yourself ‘what is one thing you can do today to keep moving forward?’ That one question can lead to a dramatic increase to your bottom line. Know that sometimes you will get stuck, scared, or frustrated when something doesn’t go your way. Every business success and failure is an opportunity to learn and grow. Doing so will lead to answers. Unfortunately, these are not always the answers you want, but they will stretch you as a business owner. If you continue to show up and be consistent, your business will be thank you for it.”
Wyoming: “Treat your team like family.”
Who: Sabena Elaine, Chief Operating Officer of Natures Green CBD.
Her company: Natures Green CBD is an organic, non-GMO, ultra-premium hemp brand for pets. By being a minority-owned, women-owned, 100 percent eco-friendly company, the mission is to bring awareness to consumers to be more proactive about conserving our earth.
Her advice: “You are as good as your team is, so finding people that will compliment your team will reap huge benefits if managed properly. The first step is to create a team with individuals whose ideals, passions, and dedication are similar to yours. Encourage transparency on all levels, regardless if the outcome is positive or negative. Honest communication is necessary to the growth of your company. This ensures nothing will slip through the cracks and there are no weak links. Take care of your team as your own family. Your work family is just as important as your own. Keep in mind that most disgruntled employees have said that lack of recognition was a major factor to their poor work behavior. Recognition is essential to maintaining the best team, and it forms lifelong relationships in business.”