• Friday, October 28, 2016 11:21 AM | Joanne Del Balso

    Author:  Allison Zales, Owner and Professional Organizer at Choose Change
    WBOC Director at Large

    On October 5th, the WBOC gathered at Pascale’s at Drumlins to honor one of our champions, Tracy Higginbotham. This was an especially significant event to us because it continued our celebration of  25th years as an organization supporting women in CNY. Our guest speaker and honoree was a huge part of us being here today.


    Tracy Higginbotham was president of WBOC (Women Business Opportunities Connections) from 1996-2005. During those years, membership had grown from originally starting with eight women to 150 members. Under Tracy's leadership the first bylaws for WBOC were created and board positions were put into place. She was influential in establishing a solid organizational foundation in which future WBOC volunteers have sustained and evolved.

    From the podium on Wednesday evening, Tracy reminded the current membership of WBOC that, “We are women. And we are entrepreneurs… But we are women first.” She looked out to a room of 50+ knowing expressions and nodding heads. She urged that without hesitation or guilt, we should prioritize the care our children and our families when they need our time and attention. “Business will always be there,” Higginbotham assured.

    Tracy also shared some inspiring throwback stories of WBOC from years ago. She mentioned a few WBOC founders by name and talked about their “why” for establishing a professional network of women. Overall, there was one message she offered that bridged the then and now: as women entrepreneurs, we can truly “have it all.”

    To get that, I see that we have two equally incredible options: confidently blaze our own path – or – take the lead of others who have already paved the way; women like Tracy Higginbotham.


  • Friday, October 07, 2016 10:33 AM | Joanne Del Balso

    Author:  Allison Zales, Owner and Professional Organizer at Choose Change
    WBOC Director at Large

    On October 5th, WBOC members met at Pascale’s Italian Bistro at Drumlin’s to take an inward look at Leadership in Action. Kathy Adams of Cognos Performance Consulting, Inc., challenged the group early into her presentation. She asked participants: “Who are you being in the midst of carrying out your leadership role? Think about your intent the last time you showed up to “do” a leadership task. Were you focused on bringing your best self to this event?“


    Kathy gave her audience the opportunity to reflect on their own circumstances and allowed participants to explore their own leadership persona and inner voice. She urged the room to recognize their most powerful, generous of spirit, confident, clear, loving inner-voice. Then said, “Put that voice in charge now.“   


    Throughout the program, Kathy merged two leadership perspectives – Being and Doing. The sources she credited within her presentation were Leadership from the Inside Out by Kevin Cashman and The Leadership Challenge by James Kouzes and Barry Posner.


    When Kathy was talking about Being, she was talking about the self—the character of the self that shows up to do the job of leadership – the same self she called forth in her opening activity. On the being side of “effective leadership” realm, Kathy identified authenticity as a core theme. She used Cashman’s definition of leadership – “authentic influence that creates value.” In Being, Kathy pointed to balance –

    “the need to be deeply aware of ourselves as well as others. Without the other, we are not balanced.”  


    Kathy explained that some say that when it comes to the issue of being, we operate out of two motivations: fear and love. She explained, when our sense of being is operating out of love, “then that light shines through.“ When we operate from the perspective of fear, “we are harsher, meaner and more judgmental than we need to be.“ This theory was one that the group discussed and broke down more together. Kathy assured that fear can come from a legitimate place, but acting in fear doesn‘t often result in a positive impact on our leadership persona.


    After giving the group an opportunity for some written personal reflection, Kathy then segwayed into the other, always present, side of leadership: Doing. Doing, Kathy explained, refers to behaviors of leadership. She used examples from Kouzes and Posner’s research that proposes great leaders do 5 things pretty consistently: Model the Way; Inspire a Shared Vision; Challenge the Process; Enable Others to Act; Encourage the Heart.


    As a final call to action Kathy urged, “You own this… and you owe the organization that you are leading the best version of yourself.“ She identified some options for next steps that will further extend a leadership development journey: taking stock through a personal leadership assessment, enlisting support of a qualified coach and participating in formal leadership development trainings.


    Kathy Adams program presentation was information packed and offered so much insight on effective leadership, but at every WBOC program there is always a particular ah-ha that I can identify as my greatest takeaway. On Wednesday, it was this – Next time I enter a leadership task, I will take a moment to slow down, to physically pause, and to consciously call forth my best most loving calm self. Then I will be her.


  • Wednesday, September 28, 2016 3:40 PM | Joanne Del Balso

    Author: Amada Funk of  The Funk and Jackson Group 

    I have to say that my presentation on September 7th blew me away. I was in a room filled with amazing and passionate women- women who had a fire in their bellies, were ready to take charge of their world, and have fun while doing it. I would like to say thank you for having me and recap what I had the honor of sharing with you.

    Branding is a topic that often gets muddy pretty quickly. When you start your business, you are rushing to get things like business cards, brochures, signs and websites produced and ready to do business. You start by going online to design your card; maybe you check your network for graphic designers as you try to figure out what you want for a logo and what colors you want. You need to determine what your slogan is - what is your elevator speech? Once you’ve figured that out you think you have crafted your “brand” and you are looking to grow your business.

    But you’re not quite there.

    This is where the idea of branding gets muddy. Let’s start with the word brand. It has many definitions from an insignia on cattle to identify a herd animal, to what your business’s reputation is. That’s where I will draw your focus, because you either set your business’s reputation by what you present to your clients or your clients brand you based on your work.

    What the heck does that mean? I thought my logo and website are important- and they are! Please allow me to clarify: it is not what your business looks like; it’s how your business appears. What is the idea your customers and potential customers have formed about you based on your work, your appearance (is your business casual? or suites and heals?), how do you answer the phone or respond to emails? How do you meet and manage client expectations?

    These are all the true elements that make up your brand. Eventually you are what people think of when they see your logo. Think of Walmart vs Target as a business. They both sell the same products at nearly the same prices, yet have very different brands. Neither brand is wrong, but you have an instant response when you hear their business names or see their logos. This is what happens to your logo, website, business name as you build your public reputation. You don’t choose to do business with one company over another based on their logo, but their brand as a whole.


    So what actually goes into your brand?

    • You- It’s mostly who you are professionally and personally.
    • Your logos and colors – but think of them as the wrapping paper for your company.
    • Your reputation- what the public says or thinks about your business. (Walmart vs Target)

      With that in mind, we did a FUN experiment. I divided the room up into three groups with their business cards. I asked them to exchange cards and try to guess what the woman standing in front of them did based on their card and image they were presenting that evening. We had some fantastic results! Women were able to look at their businesses through the eyes of a potential client. Why is that important? Because it simply does not matter what you think your brand is, it’s what the public thinks your brand is.

      Women walked away with a greater understanding of their businesses and brands. They left informed and ready to clarify or recapture their brands.  All and all, it was a great night!



  • Wednesday, January 27, 2016 2:28 PM | Nicole Davidheiser
    Recap of WBOC January Program with Diana Wolgemuth
    by Dr. Christine Allen

    It’s the New Year and we are all full of personal and professional resolutions. Thus it was a perfect time for WBOC to bring in Diana Wolgemuth, a dynamic speaker and Director of Professional Development for Dale Carnegie CNY, to help us to improve our time management skills!


    Women entrepreneurs in particular need help with managing our time, because we often are juggling multiple priorities (e.g., a job in addition to a business, running a household and a business, and sometimes even owning multiple businesses). Diana reminded us that although everyone gets the same number of minutes in each day, some people are continuously more productive and successful than others.  What makes the difference? Here are some key tips:

    • Do Your Activities Support Our Mission?  

    Our mission is critical. Have you developed your personal and business mission? It will be much easier to choose priorities wisely if you know what your mission is.

    Diana recommended that we track our activities in 30-minute increments, writing down every activity. By doing this diligently for a couple of days, we can tell how much of our time is spent on mission critical tasks. When you are more aware of what you are spending your time on, you will make better decisions in the future on how to best spend your time!

    • Are You Vulnerable to the Tyranny of the Urgent?

    Diana divided tasks into four baskets:

    1. Important and Urgent (crises, deadlines, meetings)
    2. Important and Not Urgent (Vision/Mission, planning, research, relationships, writing, process improvements, managing relationships)
    3. Not Important and Urgent (phone calls, interruptions, email, voice mail, drop ins)
    4. Not Important and Not Urgent (trivia, internet surfing/shopping, games, escapes, junk mail, busy work)

    Diana says that when we spend most of our time on activities in basket #1, we can feel burnt out. On the other hand, when we spend most of our time on activities in basket #2, we feel we are getting somewhere!

    • What are Your “Time Robbers” and Obstacles to Effective Time Management?

    Diana helped us to hone in on things that sabotage our efforts to getting things done. She discussed external factors, such as demands from home, being ill, required paper work, etc. These are not always in our control.

    Then, there are the self-generated factors, such as procrastination, distraction, poor planning, disorganization, socializing, etc. that are more or less in our power and control. These areas can become the focus of our improvement strategies.

    • Some Tools for Effective Time Management
    1. The Time Log- Again, this can be a good starting place for learning to manage your time more effectively.
    2. Block Time—Set aside literal blocks of time for particular tasks (very effective to write specific tasks and time periods in your calendar).
    3. Batching tasks—String together tasks that are similar and that can be quickly completed, e.g., voice mail and email or even household tasks such as shopping and running errands.
    4. Create a Priority List instead of or in addition to a To Do List—this will help you get the most important work done first
    5. Delegate!—Many participants acknowledged that they don’t delegate enough and most want to do it more often and more effectively in 2016!
    •  4 Work Habits That Can Help!
    1. De-clutter your workspace—Diana reminded us that a cluttered space can equal a cluttered mind!
    2. Live in “day-tight compartments”—This is a wonderful concept. Diana says that we need to stay in today and get done what we can, letting go of regrets from yesterday and worrying about the future. 
    3. Don’t overcommit!—Say “no” without feeling the need to give an explanation. (REALLY!)
    4. Do the hardest thing first! (This really does help!)
    • Tips for email and voice mail.

    Some key ones that Diana suggests are:

    1. Consider calling instead of email (especially when you share a common location).
    2. Keep email and voicemail short (I need to work on this!)
    3. Put a descriptive subject in your emails (such as “Draft of blog post for WBOC”).
    4. Make sure you have contact information under your signature.
    5. Always use spell check!
    6. With voice mail, leave your name and phone number at the beginning AND the end of your message and say them slowly. (This is brilliant really).
    7. Use email to set up a phone call.
    Hopefully, if you missed the January training, "Maximize, Manage and Prioritize Your Time", this summary of tips from Diana Wolgemuth's wonderful presentation will give you the essentials for jumpstarting your time management re-boot for 2016! Remember we all have the same amount of time - it's how we use it that matters.
  • Thursday, December 17, 2015 10:18 PM | Joanne Del Balso

    If you couldn’t make it to WBOC’s 2015 Holiday Auction, I have bad news for you: you really missed out. Here, I’ll list them for you:

    • TONS of prizes being raffled off, from a lottery-ticket-tree to wine baskets to a Destiny USA shopping spree to a stay at Mirbeau and more and more and more…
    • Wine, beer, and some delicious holiday cocktails
    • A photo booth (check out all the fun pictures!)
    • A rockin’ band with a singer who had a killer voice
    • A special surprise ballroom dance performance from the lovely owner of Dance Syracuse
    • Boogie time with some super fun ladies
    • A MASHED POTATO BAR (plus other amazing food, of course!)
    • Great networking and fun with the best group of ladies around!

    There is good news, however: the holiday auction is an annual event! 

    This annual event helps the WBOC to raise funds to carry on our philanthropic mission of supporting and advancing the success of women entrepreneurs and women in business. Every year we offer a scholarship to a high school senior who exhibits an entrepreneurial spirit in their higher education choice. These scholarships help the recipient obtain the education they need to succeed in business and add to the prosperity of our community. In addition to helping high school students, we also offer free membership to women in businesses who are just starting up or who work for local non-profits, and a business development grant for a member businesswoman.  We’ll see you next year!



  • Tuesday, October 13, 2015 10:01 PM | Joanne Del Balso

    Building Your Business at the Dawn of the Digital Age

    By Joleene Moody

    Nell Merlino is a nationally renowned speaker and activist best known for creating “Take Our Daughters To Work Day.” But that’s not all she has created. Merlino is working on an app that will count the number of women voters that participate in the November 2016 presidential election. This venture is just the beginning of what she hopes to accomplish for women in business all over the globe as she guides them with wisdom toward economic independence. In the end, she wants to see all women in business stand t and connect to the data-driven world by taking control of who they are and how they put themselves out there.

    WBOC hosted this iconic speaker at their October 6th evening meeting at the Genesee Grande in Syracuse. Merlino talked about the digital age and how we, as women, can gain further possession of our own personal information. She told attendees she is working with a data relationship company called Personal BlackBox to create a software that is a creative visualization of an individual’s data being reflected back to them to reveal insights that are typically only available to marketers and advertisers. In explaining her charge, Merlino reminded us of the growth of a similar data collection procedure with the birth of the Bitcoin. (What is a Bitcoin?)

    Bitcoin, despite its unpredictable volatility, is proving to be a more widely accepted form of electronic currency since it was conceived in 2009. Earning Bitcoins is often achieved by becoming a miner: one who solves computer math problems and is then paid in Bitcoin currency. Each Bitcoin is assigned a code. That code, when connected to other codes, creates a blockchain, or an electronic ledger of information.

    With Personal Blackbox, data collection would happen similarly. Merlino says that in the event someone else wants to access “who you are” for marketing or advertising purposes, they would have to pay you, the owner, for that information. No longer will they be able to create their own stories of who they think you are when they scrape data. You will be in control of your own story.

    “We have to change the natureof marketing and advertising when we own the information. So decide who you are and how you will market yourself,” Merlino told attendees. “This is how you will stand out.”

    Merlino encourages women business owners to do three things as they evolve with her Rules of the Road:

    1) Understand Your Purpose. What moves you? What can you do to create your own economic independence?
    2) Ditch Fear, Worry and Doubt. Fear will always be with you. Learn how to take it with you and manage it so you can succeed.
    3) Remember Focus, Discipline and Visibility. Make a plan and stick to it. When the plan doesn’t work, know it and change it. Make sure people can find you with social media.

    Merlino took questions from audience members, but not before she encouraged attendees to charge what they are worth.

    “It’s one of the biggest issues with women in business. Charge what you are worth and stick to it,” she said.

    Nell Merlino is the Founder and President of Count Me In for Women’s Economic Independence, the leading national not-for-profit provider of resources for women to grow their micro businesses into million dollar enterprises. She is author of “Stepping Out of Line: Lessons for Women Who Want it Their Way in Life, in Love, and at Work. Learn more at http://www.nellmerlino.com.


  • Wednesday, September 09, 2015 10:21 PM | Joanne Del Balso

    By Joleene Moody

    When it comes to social media, choosing the right platforms and having a full understanding of those platforms can be overwhelming. At WBOC’s September kick off meeting, Michelle Arbore, owner of Savvy Social Media of Rochester addressed just that with her presentation, Social Made Simple. From Facebook and Linked in to Pinterest and Twitter, Michelle talked about ways to determine which platform is right for your business.


    “Not all businesses are created equal,” she said during her presentation. “What works for one business owner won’t work for another.”

    When it comes to generating leads, the social media strategist suggested using LinkedIn.

    “Interact with your new connections. When someone follows you, send him or her an e-mail, and thank them for connecting,” she recommended. “I have generated lots of consultations this way. Thanking them and introducing yourself shows them you genuinely care about the connection.”

    This introduction often blurs with LinkedIn inbox spamming, a technique that new connections often use to try and sell their services immediately after a request to connect is accepted. Michelle said the difference between the two is sincerity. By penning a genuine, heartfelt hello, the receiver should see the difference between that hello and a spam letter.

    Twitter users should recognize that the 140 character platform is the fastest way to get a response from a business that isn’t living up to their potential, or may have not shown up with the best customer service. As an example, Michelle cited how quickly airlines respond to customer complaints when they are posted on Twitter.

    When it comes to social media, many attendees agreed that the constant change in platform use is the most frustrating. New trends, updates and sister platforms can cause stress to business owners, especially once they get a handle on managing one specific platform. In these instances, choosing a social media manager or strategist can significantly diminish frustration and help improve the productivity of business. By utilizing manager apps, conferring with experts and sharing strategies with your fellow entrepreneurs, one can reduce their workload and frustration level, simply by taking a step toward better management.

    Michelle is the owner of Savvy Social Media, based in Rochester, N.Y. She offers social media creation, management and training. Learn more athttp://savvysocialmedia.net/.


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