Face Forward

 
JILLS Personal Branding
 

In our digital age, no matter your age- a professional headshot is a critical component of a polished personal brand.

For anyone older than the era of Selfies, Instagram and Snapchat, having your photo taken, let alone having it be so publicly accessible, can be quite uncomfortable. Even stomach churning. We get it. But what we also get, is how standing-out allows you to stand-up and start-up. So move past the hurdle and take your shot- literally! 

JILLS Personal Branding

At THE JILLS we're passionate about Personal Branding, since we recognize that without a story to tell and an awesome book cover to sell it, often amazing talent may sit dusty, never to be found. Sadly, we've seen it happen too often, particularly with anyone born well before the iPhone era.  It's the reason why we lead so many Personal Branding workshops and presentations, making sure that anyone, especially solo professionals,  can market themselves well within today's high visual standards.

Putting your face forward is one way to carve out a unique brand identity, one that best showcases your personality and style. A great headshot is the anchor of today's personal branding. It reflects your style, confidence, and a bit of your personality. It humanizes & personalizes your skills and expertise. So we are boldly stating that you need a GREAT headshot, not just a good one to put your best foot- and face- forward. Follow our tried and true guidelines below to revamp, or altogether reinvent your headshot.

1. SETTING: Your personal brand should tell a story about who you are, what you bring to the table and set a specific tone. Select a locale that cues up your area of interest, such as: an art gallery for Creatives,  a natural park setting for Environmentalists, a library for Researchers, a coffee shop for Writers, a sleek black backdrop for Techies, a lab for STEM Scientists.  Ask yourself, if you are the main character in your play, where is the stage set?  This is not your vacation selfie, not shot in a bar with your mates. The setting says "you" but it also first and foremost must say "professional". 

2. WARDROBE: As in any compelling shot, chunky shapes and strong contrasts make the image interesting. Think about your setting and what will set best against it to jump-out, versus blend in. Your colors should be bold, and patterns can be an excellent visual to tee up your style vibe. Just make sure the pattern isn't too jumpy, or it will distract from your bright happy face. Scarves, hats, necklaces, earrings, bracelets are all great accessories to bring into the scene, providing that they speak to your style and speak it loudly, in terms of scale and impact. Layering lots of necklaces can work too as an alternative to one statement piece. Your headshot outfit represents your work day, on your very best day. It shouldn't read party or picnic.

3. ART DIRECTION: This is where the true flavor really ramps-up the overall image impact. An interesting pose and face position adds to your unique shot. Don't be afraid to try an angle that is outside of the traditional face-front straight on composition. A slight high-hover can be successful, as can a sideways full or 3/4 turn that plays up your face. Asymmetrical poses with you off to one side or the other, can make for a very interesting and memorable shot, too. Just a caution, though, that this approach may be limiting on certain applications. If you like it, go for it.

4. EXPRESSION: You absolutely need to honor where your comfort is with the tone that you want to project, but the general rule of thumb is a friendly, happy, approachable mood. Your head shot often now serves as your first professional introduction, so think about how you want your new connection to "meet you".  A more serious non-smile can also work, but just be sure that you aren't saying somber.

 

Lastly, Ellen DeGeneres can pull it off as only she can,  but cheeky or silly never works for a professional headshot. Seriously, never. 

 

5. COMPOSITION: Once you have the setting, wardrobe, and expression feeling right, the next step is to crop the image so that your face is the main focus. This typically means that you will make up about 3/4 of the whole image. Keep that in mind when you are selecting your accessories and outfit. Just the top pop of it shows up in the final image. Not often, but on occasion, a fun head-to-toe shot is the best way to sum up your setting and story. In this case, every detail truly matters, and there should be nothing in the background that doesn't belong there.

6. STYLING: An all too often forgotten step in the photography process- even by photographers- is the styling. Styling can be what sets apart a great shot from a just ok one. Styling means you- or a trusted and creatively-critical eyed friend, checks for: fly aways hairs, smudges on the cheek, smudged lipstick, a run-away toddler in the background, a crooked necklace, one collar tucked in & the other left out, wrinkles on a blouse, a dry-cleaning ticket on the outside of a jacket sleeve (this actually happened, and was a bear to edit out). The key take-away here is to plan the big idea of the shot, but also don't forgot about the tiny details. You'll be so happy you took the time to correct these little nuisances on set, instead of trying to edit later or having to scrap the series. 

7. CAMERA CONSIDERATIONS: For the best lighting, take the shot mid-day, if possible and have the sun shining from behind the camera. One of the best lighting set-ups is indoors near a window, which creates soft shadows for depth and helps the skin to glow. You can work solo with a selfie stick and a black or white foam core board placed behind you. Or, you can ask your friend to man the camera. Today's lastest phones have fairly decent resolutions so if need be, use a phone camera in a pinch rather than not updating your head shot at all.  But no doubt, a pro is the best route to ensure high quality.

8. EDITING: If you're going the self-serve approach, you too can utilize available photo editing tools or apps, to brighten up the saturation, remove blemishes, and smooth out any distractions. This is a nice to do, rather than a need to do, but it will certainly polish up the overall image.

 

In addition to the excellent head shots in the Jills Gallery, here a few more examples to get you thinking... 

 

Listen In: 5 Podcasts Worth Keeping An Ear To

Reading rocks. For sure.  Every notable person everywhere reads and recommends reading. It is as they say, 'a no brainer'. 

And we get that. We're readers too.

But we're also the first to admit that juggling solo careers, families, friends, and at least some physical activity often results in reading a couple of pages in bed before falling deeply asleep with little to no chance to even dog-ear the page, let alone absorb what we've read and synthesize what we've learned in any meaningful way.  

As the 'must read' books pile up and the to-do list is ever growing, it can feel like an exercise in futility just trying to finish a book.  (Even worse it can trigger college-level guilt about not getting your homework done.)

Carving time to sit down and read can be a genuine challenge. And we just want to acknowledge that as a truth. Like doing your homework, eating healthy and keeping track of your money, it should be simple and we know it's the 'right' thing to do, but somehow it can be hard.

But fear not.  Instead of staring down that disappointing stack of unread books, we suggest mixing it up a little by adding some listening into your day in order to weave some learning into the hustle and bustle of living.

One of the best ways to do this - podcasts. You can play them out while brushing your teeth, making the dinner, or making the beds. You can tune in while walking the dog,  picking up the groceries, or on those long drives to your next meeting. They're great and provide a multitasking opportunity to listen and learn. 

Now there are a whole lot of podcasts out there, and it can be a chore just finding the right one for you- where you like the host, find the content valuable, and the production quality to your liking. So to help you narrow in on the right fit for you, here's our list of five podcasts worth keeping an ear to to help keep you inspired, current, savvy, successful and realistic about entrepreneurship.  

GirlBoss Radio - Host Sophia Amoruso interviews a different women every week who's carved out a path for herself. Starting with first jobs to present accomplishments, this podcast shows how the whole journey is indeed a journey and not just about fast wins. With wit and wisdom, Amoruso has an unconventional and wildly appealing approach and interviews some really high-profile gals. 

She Did It Her Way - Every Monday and Thursday at noon, Amanda Boleyn interviews top female entrepreneurs who hone in on a specific topics to help move YOU forward as an entrepreneur. With topics ranging from starting a business on no budget to social media marketing, content management, and the importance of a social life, this twice weekly podcast offers you tangible tools and buckets of inspiration to get through even your toughest weeks over your lunch hour. 

The Lively Show - Designed to uplift and inspire, Jess Lively's podcast is consistently ranked among the top 5 positive podcast for women entrepreneurs. Jess shares her thoughts, experiences and knowledge on living with intention and offers guidance on living a more fulfilling and authentic life. There are interviews with business mavens, leaders, health and wellness experts, authors, bloggers, and other gals who feel just like your pals next door. 

Glambition Radio - Changemakers, business builders, thought leaders, and savvy guys and gals join Ali Brown every two weeks for no-nonsense talk aimed at women to inspire and motivate them to build their success, their businesses, and their financial security.  Sprinkled with humor and equal doses of reality, this show is polished, smart, and on point for creating the life you want, when and how you want it. 

How I Built This - This NPR podcast takes you on a narrative journey every week with different founders from across the nation who share honestly and authentically their stories of trials and triumphs in building their businesses, movements, and innovations. Hosted by Guy Roz, this weekly show will have you connecting with entrepreneurial all stars who will inspire by reminding you that everyone makes mistakes and travels a tough road to realize their dreams. 

So go ahead a give these podcast a try and figure out how to work them into your daily routines. 

But don't quite abandon your book pile completely, just feel okay about putting a few on the shelf. 

Startup looks to put women 'solo-preneurs' in spotlight

ERIK LORENZSONN | The Capital Times | erikl@madison.com | @eriklorenzsonn

May 11, 2017

About three years ago, Corinne Neil and Megan Boswell began talking about a trend they noticed: Women promote other women more than they promote themselves. They realized it was even true within their friendship.

“We realized we were bolstering one another, and learning from one another,” said Neil, a freelance curriculum developer. “And slowly, we wanted to expand that to other people.”

Neil and Boswell, a brand strategist who spent 12 years working for American Girl, decided to form a company they say harnesses that energy: Jills of All Trades, an online network where women working as freelancers can connect and mutually reinforce each others’ careers.

THE CAP TIMES
 

The idea is that “solo-preneurs” of any stripe — from web developers to fashion designers — can enjoy a “watercooler effect,” and stay on top of trends and best practices for freelancers. It’s also a platform where the “Jills,” as Neil and Boswell call them, can find work. The hope is that they’ll recommend each other and promote each other in their own networks and perhaps collaborate on projects.

“We believe that women will champion other women,” said Boswell.

The network is also a place where potential customers can look for a freelancer who meets their needs. In that regard, there is already some steep competition: The website Upwork is a well-established global platform for freelance gigs. But Neil and Boswell assert that Jills of All Trades puts the customer and the professional on a more even footing.

On Upwork, clients name the terms of what they’re looking for, and freelancers compete for jobs by outbidding one another. On Jills of All Trades, bidding is not part of the equation. The focus is on clients doing a bit more legwork to find the right person for the job.

People can search through the gallery of Jills, which currently features 37 entries, to find a freelancer.

“The talent shouldn’t be in the dark. The talent should be forward. They need to be in the spotlight,” said Boswell.

While the platform is designed with women in mind, men — “Jacks” — can also join.

Boswell and Neil say they want to keep expanding the network, and eventually bring on other people to serve as “gatekeepers” for Jills in hubs across the U.S. They’re also trying to build out features, like an option for paying clients through the website, and forums where members can chat.

The two pitched their company at the most recent 1 Million Cups presentation, a weekly event sponsored by the Kauffman Foundation that highlights young businesses in Madison.

 

ORIGNAL ARTICLE LINKS:

http://host.madison.com/ct/business/technology/startup-looks-to-put-women-solo-preneurs-in-spotlight/article_dea1a6fc-2d04-5e34-bd46-8d8910df2824.html

http://wisconsintechnologycouncil.com/2017/captimes-startup-looks-to-put-women-solo-preneurs-in-spotlight/

Sharing THE JILLS with 1 Million Cups

THE JILLS OF ALL TRADES™ Co-Founders, Megan Boswell and Corinne Neil, jumped in to the 1 Million Cups community last week to share their start-up story and their mission to prepare women to lead the future of work. 

"We're so lucky to be part of such a wonderful and welcoming community of entrepreneurs in Madison", explains Boswell who promoted the importance and the power of women entrepreneurs helping women entrepreneurs as the basis for THE JILLS OF ALL TRADES™. "If you remember nothing else about us, remember this, we're women entrepreneurs helping women entrepreneurs", she said. 

 

I Million Cups is a weekly coffee meet-up at 9:00 am across the nation sponsored by the Kaufman Foundation as a way to to educate, engage, and connect entrepreneurs locally and nationally. I Million Cups Madison organizers, Rachel Neill and Drew Coursin invited THE JILLS OF ALL TRADES™ to present on Wednesday May 10th to a busy entrepreneurial crowd at the Madison Public Library, including The Capital Times reporter, Erik Lorenzsonn, who put THE JILLS face forward in his article, Startup looks to put women 'solo-preneurs' in spotlight.

"We were thrilled to have the opportunity to share our story," says Neil, "and to be able to reach out to the entrepreneurial community to help fuel our momentum and support our JILLS MEMBERS."

Learn more about THE JILLS and watch the full presentation:

"It's About Women Championing Other Women"

A special shout-out to BRAVA Magazine for featuring THE JILLS OF ALL TRADES™.

GIVING SOLO PROFESSIONALS PRESENCE

THE JILLS OF ALL TRADES

By Kate Bast | Photographed by Kaia Calhoun, Styled by Julie Mierkiewicz | Brava Magazine 

Megan Boswell and Corinne Neil first met at a neighborhood meetup, and that was all it took for an idea to spark between them. The inspired duo launched their business and online platform called The Jills of All Trades to connect independent female professionals with each other and businesses on project-based work. They hope it will become a national, even international one-stop shop—“a powerhouse of online talent,” says Neil (right).

It fills a need, says Boswell (left), in this age of the shared economy, where companies are trying to figure out how to embrace workers who are less tethered to their jobs thanks to technology and a desire for greater flexibility, balance and different ways of collaborating and sharing resources.

The pair has worked in both the corporate and freelance worlds. Of the latter, they deeply know: “It’s hard,” says Neil, “to do the work while also hunting for the next job and trying to self-promote when you’re only one person.” The Jills’ platform removes that barrier, getting female contractors, freelancers and consultants out of those limited work silos and into a visible network with large-scale promotion power.

The Jills’ network is membership based. Boswell and Neil help each member curate her professional bragging rights, with bios, statements and headshots. Member Jills connect with each other at events and meetups, and have the benefits of a built-in peer network, for community, but also for potential collaboration on each other’s projects. Interested businesses connect directly with each Jill—there is no middle man, or woman—and Boswell and Neil also offer a fee-based connection curation service for clients.

The Jills’ broad talent pool includes creative types like designers and photographers, along with business strategists, attorneys, engineers and even postdoctoral scientists looking to market their expertise to the corporate world.

THE JILLS Cofounders, Megan AC Boswell, Corinne Neil, Brava Magazine : Women Entrepreneurs Solo Professionals, Freelancers, Consultants,  Resource Network

But it’s not just a job network. At its core, says Boswell, “It’s about women championing other women." 

 

original article link: http://bravamagazine.com/giving-solo-professionals-presence/

Spring Cleaning Career Tips

SPRING CLEAN YOUR LIFE

CLEAR THE CLUTTER, PURGE WHAT HOLDS YOU BACK— AND THINK FRESH.

By Meg Rothstein | Illustrated by Stacey Anderson | BRAVA MAGAZINE

Thanks to Meg Rothstein for soliciting tips from the JILLS to feature in her article...

While we’re prepping our flower beds, opening our windows wide and chasing dust bunnies out the door, we can put the classic spring cleaning momentum to work in other areas of our lives. If we take the time to clear all the clutter—including the various things that fill our minds, take our time, deplete our energy and weigh us down—a good spring clean helps us live a little lighter in many ways.

“We are a consumerist culture that really values achieving, getting, accomplishing, accumulating,” observes UW Health psychologist Shilagh Mirgain. “Often, a reflection of success is how much ‘stuff’ we have, how many awards we’ve won, how many achievements we’ve racked up. Early in life, especially, many people spend a lot of energy really focused on that.”

It stands to reason, then, that we not only have a potential plethora of things but also deep emotional ties to things, whether actual physical possessions or more line items on our vita or resume. Additionally, we house the “stuff” of shame, such as disappointments or social connections that deprive us more than they nourish us.

“We can sometimes equate more with better. As well, things can tie us to our life’s history—those highlights, those things we’re proud of—but this can also be a trap we fall into,” says Mirgain. “All these ‘things’ take up space. Over time, they can no longer serve their purpose.”

The result? “We can become so cluttered—whether it’s having all these Facebook friends that we must keep up with, or business networking we must do, or even just physical items we have to dust in our homes or activities for our families that have us running ragged. We can, over time, become overwhelmed and disconnected from our deeper truths about who we are, what we stand for, what we value and wish to do with our lives,” Mirgain cautions.

But there is much hope—and ’tis the season to bloom. We can start by taking back control of all that stuff to make room for possibility—for those things, concepts, people and ways of being that can bring us nourishment, creativity, energy, serenity and wholeness.

How? We asked our BRAVA THRIVE Conference, THRIVE Career Workshop and THRIVE Luncheon speakers for their expert spring cleaning tips and tricks, for freshening up the way we work and live.

Career Cleanse

Going through the motions at work? Use spring as a reason to stop and think about how things could be better—and make a plan of action. This might take you all the way to a new career, or you could find that just a few tweaks will help you rekindle your passion at your current job.  –Darcy Luoma, life, leadership and systems coach, Darcy Luoma Coaching and Consulting

Schedule a fresh professional headshot each year to keep up to date. Clean off your bulletin board to start a fresh mood inspiration visual each year and place your mood board prominently. Out with the old! –Megan Boswell, co-founder, THE JILLS OF ALL TRADES™

Design some notecards and commit to mailing handwritten notes of thanks or encouragement every single week. –Corinne Neil, co-founder, THE JILLS OF ALL TRADES™

Clean up electronic devices. Part of my nesting habit is to clear my desktop, organize folders, put up new professional pictures and change the background on email templates. It helps me feel renewed. –Amy Gannon, co-founder, Doyenne Group

Start to think of yourself like a business and carve out dedicated time to identify what you do, how you do it, who you’re helping, who helps you and how people know about you. It’s a great exercise in recognizing where you’re on track and where you might be off the rails. –Corinne Neil, co-founder, THE JILLS OF ALL TRADES™

Take stock of where you are in your career and ask yourself if you’re satisfied. If you are—awesome! If you’re not, visualize where you want to be, a deadline and what personal development investments you need to make to get there. Make a plan, take action and seek out a mentor or coach who can help you get there. –Lisa Peyton-Caire, assistant vice president of Life, Learning & Events at Summit Credit Union

Clean up your resume. What have you accomplished since your last update? What mission-critical projects have you completed ahead of schedule or under budget? Have you taken on any new leadership roles or improved your expertise through recent education? Get your resume job search ready. –Deborah Biddle, leadership and development coach, High-Performance Development Solutions

Pull out your calendar and starting making some dates. Schedule time for coffee at least once a month to build more personal connections with colleagues. –Corinne Neil, co-founder, THE JILLS OF ALL TRADES™

A focused professional surrounds herself with people who energize, support and inspire her to be her best self. But sometimes we’re affiliated with toxic co-workers or colleagues that don’t support our brand—our values, attitude and work ethic. Set your boundaries, role model the desired behavior and fuel your mind with thoughts that nurture, support and set you up for success. –Ellen Bartkowiak, career management expert, EllenCoaching

Beautify Boundaries

Every one of us has a distinct type of sparkle that sets us apart from the rest. Just like maintenance sealing is essential to preventing stains on your granite counter tops, you need healthy boundaries to save yourself from the inner tarnishing caused by unhealthy relationships. Boundaries are not selfish and do not cut us off from others. They create a special seal around our hearts and lives, making sure we have time for those who desire and deserve us. Remember, you chose the black diamond granite for its gorgeous twinkle. Give yourself the same attention: Boundaries needed to say “no” to those whose energies dull your shine. Take care, and self-care, to sparkle. –Jessica Schultz, therapist, lifestyle coach and founder, BeYOUtiful Minds & Fitness

Relationship Renewal

We are a reflection of those we spend the most time with, so be sure to make time for and surround yourself with those people who make you the happiest, best version of yourself. –Darcy Luoma

Do as one of my friends does: Maintain internal bliss and simplicity with an occasional “friendship garage sale.”
With compassion, grace and wisdom, she considers the people in her life and asks, “Are they bringing me value or do they always take more than they give?” As needed she minimizes interactions, gently communicates her boundaries or discreetly withdraws from the relationships. –Susan Young, change expert and author of the forthcoming book “Shift, Shed & Shine”

Let go of the “shoulds.”
Who do you spend time with because you “should,” even though that time drains you and makes you feel badly about yourself? This is your one and only life, so take the time to make sure that the majority of your relationships feed your spirit—it will increase your energy and joy. –Theresa Kim, life coach and founder of Suite 101 Experiences

Unplug to reconnect.
As enterprising women, we often get caught up in our smart phones, laptops and other devices while pursuing our dreams and changing the world. But some of the biggest and most important impacts we will ever make are with family and friends. Be fully present in the moment with the ones you love most. Your life will be richer for it. –Lisa Peyton-Caire, assistant vice president of Life, Learning & Events at Summit Credit Union

Nothing heals and energizes like love and someone to share your life and dreams with.
Once you find “The One”, hold on tight and nurture your love like you would any cherished possession. –Lisa Peyton-Caire, assistant vice president of Life, Learning & Events at Summit Credit Union

Feather Dust Those Finances

In order to reduce the amount of paper documents I have and storage I need, I recently created just three zippered binders to hold important papers, taken from the contents of my file drawers. With so many online records these days, you really only need to keep a baseline of information on your finances. Binders are a great way to organize documents you need to keep but don’t access regularly.

I created document binders for:

Financial

  • credit card, retirement, insurance premium, savings and checking account information

Job and Health

  • paystubs, health care records, will and power of attorney paperwork

Home

  • for home information and product warranties

I was able to dedicate my desk file drawers to only those files I add to or access often, including flex spending, medical, my daughter’s school and activity paperwork, pet records and receipts. I now have drawer space for files filled with travel dreams and inspirations. –Amy Crowe, certified financial educator, personal finance guru and motivational speaker, Summit Credit Union

Set up a spreadsheet to track and log expenses, donations and mileage and find a simple app to capture all your receipts. –Megan Boswell, co-founder, THE JILLS OF ALL TRADES™

Second to health, financial freedom is the most powerful asset a woman can have. With it, we have choices and options to shape our lives according to our own desires, and to move freely even when the unexpected arrives on our doorstep (and it will!). Assess your financial position this spring, be honest about where you need to make improvements, and take action. Don’t hesitate to seek out advice from a trusted financial coach or adviser. –Lisa Peyton-Caire, assistant vice president of Life, Learning & Events at Summit Credit Union

Spring Break Stay-Cation

Schedule a “stay-cation.” It doesn’t cost as much as taking a vacation and the benefits and peace of mind are priceless, says Sheba McCants, an arts, wellness and community enthusiast, and community engagement and events coordinator at Domestic Abuse Intervention Services. Her tips for uninterrupted and effective breaks:

Install a text auto-responder on your phones— at home and at work—and designate a “proxy” to handle your work responsibilities while you are away.

Set boundaries with yourself and others for your break to protect space and time to accomplish your goals.

Create systems that will help you stick to your boundaries and goals.

Have some fun and be a tourist in your own town. Think outside the box. Are there places within walking distance of where you live that you have never been?

Take sleep seriously. Restore your natural circadian rhythm.

Pay attention to who you are while you are on your stay-cation. Who are you when you are just you— free to be whoever you are?

Glowing Growth

Are you constantly filling your calendar with musts? You’re allowed to fill it with wants, too! If you put exercise, fun and relaxation on your calendar, then you are sure to have time for it. –Darcy Luoma, life, leadership and systems coach, Darcy Luoma Coaching and Consulting

Learn to play more. World-changing women often forget to play and replenish. Make play a practice. Schedule time for it like you would any other important meeting or task. You’ll live longer! –Lisa Peyton-Caire, assistant vice president of Life, Learning & Events at Summit Credit Union

Release and surrender are words that come up over and over when people are in times of growth. Take time to think of something that you try to control but can let go. What is one tiny thing you can toss out of your anxiety closet? Do something creative: It will help you get out of your head and figure out a true and aligned way to release and surrender more in your life. –Theresa Kim, life coach and founder of Suite 101 Experiences

Track your time daily for a month. Once you have the whole month recorded, take a hard look at it and determine whether your current time distribution matches your priorities. It is amazing how easy is to say no when you have that picture—it helps you see that you simply can’t afford to take on one more thing without letting something else go. –Tania Ibarra, CPA and visionary problem solver and strategist

We’re all spiritual beings who long for peace, joy and connection in life. Shape all your pursuits to align with what feeds your soul and brings you joy, fulfillment and peace of mind. Everything after that will fall into place. –Lisa Peyton-Caire

Well-Kept Wellness

After a winter inside on the couch, I love being able to spend more time outside in spring. The fresh air and vitamin D make me feel like a whole new person. –Darcy Luoma, life, leadership and systems coach, Darcy Luoma Coaching and Consulting

Nothing is more important than our mental and physical health. With it, we can do anything. Without it, our dreams and desires are compromised. Take a strong look in the mirror and assess your health—be honest— and get to work on improving in those areas where you need the most reinforcement. Strive to be physically and mentally strong and stable just as you would want your professional or business enterprises to be. –Lisa Peyton-Caire, assistant vice president of Life, Learning & Events at Summit Credit Union

Did you know that when we “stockpile” bulk food we are likely to eat a lot of it in a short time? In fact, we eat almost half of it in just a few days. Clean house! Get rid of your bulk, family-size containers so when summer comes and we take off our sweaters we will be comfortable with what is underneath. – Ann Garvin, health educator, professor and award-winning writer

Shine Up & Show Up

We can spring clean for an improved sense of community, too. Here are some invaluable tips from Deborah Biddle, leader and development coach and founder of High-Performance Development Solutions.

Renew your mind and behavior. Most of us believe that we are ethical and unbiased, objective and fair. But are we really? This spring, reset your thought processes to create more inclusivity and respect.

Check your initial thoughts. Your first impressions may be clues to any biases you have. Ask yourself, “Would I feel the same way, if this person were part of a different group?”

Be logical.  Process how many people you actually know that conform to your particular bias. You will likely find the number to be quite few. Avoid allowing urgency or professional pressures to cause you to override logic and default to bias. Stop and really see people for who they are.

Treat people how you want to be treated. It sounds basic and like something your grandmother might say but it’s true: When the urge to act on your bias creeps up, practice new language or new behaviors contrary to your bias. Add one new behavior each week for a month. They will soon become inclusive habits.

Call out micro-aggression. With body language, words and distinctly pernicious behaviors, we send subtle and not so subtle signals that adversely impact our current and future interactions with individuals we encounter at work and throughout our circles of influence. Don’t stand by and watch these indignities occur. Say something.

Promote connectedness. Value difference and concentrate on commonalities. Lead to connect ideas and people —as one who builds bridges between cultures, between gender, between generations, trying to find common ground. Reach out to people who are different and talk about music, food, movies, books or sports. As you realize how little difference exists, bias begins to fade.

Freshen up!

And get ready to THRIVE! Learn more from the experts in this story at BRAVA’s THRIVE Conference April 28. Shilagh Mirgain talks about flow—the new work/life balance—and the other experts in this story lead inspiring women’s workshops that empower, enrich and educate and even nurture entrepreneurial spirits. To register: THRIVEWITHBRAVA.com

original article link: http://bravamagazine.com/spring-clean-your-life/

STARTUP KEEPS THOSE WHO WORK SOLO FROM BEING SILOED

MADISON MAGAZINE

START-UP CITY FEATURE

BY BRENNAN NARDI

"MADISON STARTUP KEEPS THOSE WHO WORK SOLO FROM BEING SILOED. THE JILLS CONNECTS INDEPENDENT CONTRACTORS". 

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Megan A.C. Boswell’s teenage daughter, who gave her mom and her mom’s business partner Corinne Neil tips on how to use Twitter. That’s where I stumbled upon THE JILLS OF ALL TRADES, read about the venture and discovered that it is a Madison-area startup.

Naturally, the smart and savvy duo eventually mastered the art of tweeting. I’m grateful for the ease and efficiency of social media in discovering unique, local people and products—and then making those one-on-one connections. I’m from Generation X and old enough to remember life before the digital age, when networking and community building happened via the newspaper and at Junior League. I also recall a time when an amazing concept like THE JILLS, an online platform for independent contractors to connect with companies that need highly skilled, on-demand talent, would have been dreamed up in a larger city, likely on a coast, and even more likely, a product of “the Jacks.”

Thankfully, Boswell found her way to the Midwest through American Girl. She spent 14 years as head of global design and development before launching a brand strategy and design business for two and a half years to allow more time with her kids. Neil enjoys a successful career as a curriculum and content developer. Unlike Boswell’s corporate career, Neil’s solo career offered a flexible schedule and a healthy life-work balance. One of the challenges for Neil was the time, energy and sometimes anxiety associated with landing the next gig, and the one after that. Also, freelance work can be isolating, and Neil began to yearn for a more networked and sustainable lifestyle, while still retaining the variety and autonomy she loves most. So she started talking to Boswell and other friends about what it might look like for all of them to thrive in their careers without sacrificing quality of life. A lightbulb switched on, and THE JILLS was born.

In 2015, THE JILLS focused on customer development and was accepted into the startup accelerator Madworks, where they put their ideas to the test in the company of peers and mentors. Madworks companies receive support through the University of Wisconsin–Madison’s Law and Entrepreneurship Clinic, a resource for fledgling companies without the capital to finance expensive but essential legal counsel.

Megan A.C. Boswell (left)  and Corinne Neil foundedTHE JILLS to connect high-quality talent with great gigs

Megan A.C. Boswell (left)  and Corinne Neil foundedTHE JILLS to connect high-quality talent with great gigs

Each Madworks company receives a $5,000 grant from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation after completing the 10-week program. THE JILLS used it to launch a website with plug-in tools—and still have money in the bank. Armed with the tagline “Work Solo-Not Silo,” the company sells monthly ($35) and annual ($365, or a dollar a day) memberships to join THE JILLS community and gain access to an online roster of project-based talent, project opportunities, networking meetups, marketing and promotion and curated tips and trends. THE JILLS distinguishes itself in the marketplace with a broad talent spectrum (from writers and graphic designers to Ph.D.s, lawyers and software developers), no job bidding or transaction fees and direct communication between the Jill and the client. Both members and nonmembers can also earn cash rewards
for referrals. 

What’s also sustainable and scalable, the founders hope, is the community-driven platform on which THE JILLS is built. The plan is to grow THE JILLS around the globe but anchor the membership to geographic hubs that promote team building and relationships. Future growth also includes a suite of administrative tools for members to manage their work more efficiently and effectively. 

“We’re not saving the world,” concedes Boswell. “But we’re saving time through community, collaboration and convenience.”

 I beg to differ. Just imagine all the Jills who could save the world one project—and one less commute—at a time.

Original Madison Magazine link

International Women's Day-EVERYDAY

THE JILLS honors and champions #InternationalWomensDay, today & EVERYDAY.

Today for #InternationalWomensDay and everyday we honor & recognize ALL women who have shaped our world for the better.  Find your voice. Use it for good. And help lift & encourage others to do the same. Now go change the world. We believe in you.👊🏼

TECH + THE Pay Gap Paradigm Shift

Something big is going down.  You can see the cracks and feel the reverberations. Change is in the air, as women use, make, create, and build technologies to power a pay gap paradigm shift.

Yep you heard it correctly. Women are harnessing technology to power their paychecks. 

Technology fashions shift sin Wage gap. -THE JILLS

Now, the stats are still lousy when it comes to pay equity.  According to the AAUW report, The Simple Truth About the Gender Pay Gap, "in 2015, women working full time in the United States typically were paid just 80 percent of what men were paid." The reports also suggest that progress toward pay parity is slow and that it has stalled in recent years suggesting equity may not be achieved until the year 2159!  The report also identifies larger gaps in pay for women of color and notes that as a women ages the pay gap grows. 

Dismal. 

However, in her article for the Harvard Business Review, How Technology Can Help Close the Gender GapSallie Krawcheck, CEO and Co-Founder of Ellevest, offers hope. Krawcheck deftly draws conclusions about how access to information (specifically information on companies' gender practices) , online social networks and communities, and value-driven decision-making are bridging the pay gap and leveling the playing field for professional women. She suggests there is a lot happening that is moving women in the right direction for pay equity. 

Good news for us all.  The timing, it seems is at a critical pace for women to know about, explore, and utilize the infrastructure and the ecosystems that are currently creating a much needed equalization of power in the workplace and beyond. 

Throughout the article, Krawcheck details numerous technology resources that women can access to help close the gender pay gap (which you should totally check out) and she identifies the growing number of options for women in the workforce as making significant impact on the gender pay gaps. She highlights the increasingly viable option of entrepreneurship for women and notes the importance of being able to hire on a project by project basis as a contributor to the success of startups and young companies. Krawcheck also predicts a very near future "in which professional women work for, buy from, and invest in companies that align with their values."  Vicki Saunders' organization SheEO is one that is already creating this future with their approach to investing - Radical Generosity - where up to 1000 women contribute $1,100 to create a million dollar fund to invest in women-led ventures. Nicole Yeary, also exemplifies these ideals with her Chicago-based company, Ms. Tech, whose member platform 'helps business women do tech, and tech women do business'. 

Women empowering women, does indeed seem to be a theme for bridging the pay gap.  

And this is, indeed, why we founded THE JILLS OF ALL TRADES™. Because forming an ecosystem and shaping an infrastructure where women entrepreneurs can help women entrepreneurs lift and link each other, complete projects together, find community and get stuff done... well that has the potential to change everything.

JOIN THE JILLS. FIND A JILL. REFER A JILL. And start to power a cycle that spurs a workforce revolution and help us all work toward bridging the gender pay gap. 

 

Xero Out

Okay, first things first, if you're using the same bank account for your personal account and your business account - STOP. Get a business account and stop mixing your money. 

Whew. Now that's cleared up, let's talk about a robust and affordable online tool for keeping track of the money in your business account. 

Xero.

professional Accounting software systems

For less than $10 a month, you can have this amazing online accounting software that will keep you on track with invoicing, and payments, and reconciling your accounts. You can code expenses and track mileage. It'll print reports galore.

And if you're not versed in bookkeeping or accounting, fear not.  The interface is intuitive, and even when you're not even sure what you're supposed to be doing, there are enough tutorials, and online help and chats to get you into the swing of it. 

So give it a whirl. You might find those weekly 'money dates' have a brand new zip to them. 

Ladies, Let's Stop Being So Polite About Money

Financial savvy for women in business

Let's stop being so polite about money. Seriously.

Let's start asking each other where we make money and where we don't; how we save money or why we don't. Let's start telling each other what we don't understand about money and start helping each other take control over our thoughts, emotions, and actions around money. Let's get confident in asking for money and knowing our value. Let's be clear about what we charge for projects, how we manage cash flow gaps, and who's lending to whom. Let's talk about how we access health care, and how we pay for college, or professional development, or awesome software, client coffees, dinner dates, and that dang trip to Cancun. Let's be clear about what we expense, and how we keep track of it. 

Let's make this the year to let go of fears and anxiety around money and exchange it for awareness, transparency, collaboration, and information. 

Because by shying away from the cash chit chat, we're adhering to a code that disempowers us.  

And in order for us to lead a workforce revolution.  We need to be empowered. 

So let's start some money chatter right now.

Here are a few actionable first steps for entrepreneurs of every sort, from side gigs to solos, to startups and small businesses: 

1. Get a separate bank account for your business. This is the first step to getting your business financials in order. Whether you take on a project or two a year or have a full-time operation with employees and contractors, it is never the right decision to mix your personal account with your business account. Keep them separate and pay yourself from your business account into your personal account. Even just one side gig project demands a separate account. 

2. Same goes for credit cards. Don't mix personal and professional. If you cannot yet get a business credit card, then simply dedicate a personal card exclusively to your business. 

3. Understand money in, money out. You need to know exactly what money is coming in and what money is going out. It seems basic, but it is so often unexamined. This cannot be guess work or estimates. Look at it. Understand it. Reconcile it. When you really start to look at your transactions you can begin to truly understand the cost of a project and what you're actually earning. You will be able to make informed decisions about how to best operate your business and allocate your time. The best ways to understand 'money in, money out' is to track it. There are several online accounting software programs (at THE JILLS OF ALL TRADES™ we love Xero) that can help you do this, but so can a self-created spreadsheet, or a big 'ole paper ledger. Whatever your approach start tracking now. 

4. Schedule a money date with yourself every single week. Avoidance around money is all too common. For some of us, the task is arduous. For others, the fear of what we might learn can paralyzes us. At times, it's frustrations about what we have to pay in student loans, or health insurance, or rent that keep us from simply facing our cash. And too often, we are just busy, so we put it off. But the truth is, when you start to look at your money routinely, it indeed becomes routine. It gets easier, less time consuming, and you, as a result, become more informed and more confident. So make a money date every week. Put in on your calendar, and block 15 minutes to check in with bank statements, reconcile your accounts, follow up with invoices, and make payments. Practice will help you feel better as you make financially informed decisions for yourself and your business. 

5. Pay yourself first. If you did the work, then you need to pay yourself for it. How much you choose to pay yourself will depend on what you learned about the true cost of your projects and what you charge for them. And remember there is a cost to running your business and taking care of yourself. Know what you truly earned and pay yourself. 

Women in the Driver's Seat: The Jills 5

Quick 5 minute reads to keep you up to date on trends, tools, and tips for the solo professional.

women empowerment women equity

Sheila Herrling, SVP, Social Innovation at The Case Foundation, shares her insights, along with substantial data, to support what she sees as the biggest trends in social good - women, women, women. In this post, Sheila explores Women as Investors, Women as Consumers, and Women as Entrepreneurs to reveal why our economy, and our social fabric, depends on investing in women. 

Biggest Trend in Social Good? Women in the Driver's Seat | Sheila Herrling | The Case Foundation | January 17, 2017

Chicago-our kind of town

Chicago meet-up coworking offices for Consultants & Start-ups WeWork

We're on a mission. 

WE WANT WOMEN ENTREPRENEURS OF EVERY SCALE TO LINK ARMS AND WORK COLLABORATIVELY TO LIFT EACH OTHER HIGHER SO WE CAN POWER THE FUTURE OF WORK. 

And as the snow falls fluffy and white this morning, I'm remembering the busy year we've had working toward that mission. 

So last summer we headed to CHICAGO

And what a day we had! 

There's not much to not love about the Windy City, but on the particular day the sun was shining, Lake Michigan was glistening, and we had a schedule chalked full of dates, and coffees and 'lunch and learns' with some really incredible women. 

First stop, Chicago's 1871, a hub of digital innovation and a buzzing hive of activity and energy, to connect with Nicole Yeary, founder of Ms. Tech, and join her community of tech savvy gals and wicked smart female founders to meet and greet and talk social media marketing tips at the Ms.Tech Mastermind event

Later we would connect with Lakshmi Shenoy, Vice President of Strategy and Business Development at 1871 and Co-facilitator of WiSTEM, a sixteen week curriculum-based program that connect women to capital, community, and technology based resources. We chatted about women in S.T.E.M. and about our powerhouse of postdoctoral JILLS, like Sarah Caudill, Clarissa Muere, Sushma Kommineni, who are leading and shaping a path for women in STEM both in academia and in industry. We were amazed and delighted by the work being done at WiSTEM and left energized to have connected with other women creating paths for a women's workforce revolution. 

And we couldn't possible stop in Chicago without taking the time to meet up with our Chicago JILLS.  Lisa Ghisolf fought the traffic to enjoy an afternoon tea with us at The Mart, where she shared her experiences being a veteran solopreneur for her company, Gizmo Creative Factory. We laughed until we cried with her talented storytelling that had us living and loving the travel blogs she writes. 

WeWork Grant Park was the perfect ending to our day, where we relaxed, toured the amazing facility, had our first introduction to the WeWork community, and were completely smitten with the people, the architecture and the impeccable design of this gorgeous work space. 

'On Wisconsin' as they say and we headed home to Madison.

But after our whirlwind day, we definitely left a part of our hearts in Chicago. 

Ms. Tech founder, Nicole Yeary

Ms. Tech founder, Nicole Yeary

Work Solo- Not Silo

Consultants Freelancers Entrepreneurs solo professional work

So here's the thing.  Sometimes you just have to put yourself out there.

Even when you're not totally ready.  Even when you don't have everything figured out. Even when you don't have a business name, or your perfectly branded logo, or the right software package, or any money.

Yep, it's true and it can feel like you're about to drink a cold cup of sick. Your hands might get sweaty, your tummy is probably churning, you're likely riddled with fear and anxiety. But you need to do it.  You really do. Because even if you stumble all over your words, and your audience looks confused, or even worse patronizing, you did something really, really important.

You took the risk to fail. To mess up. To get it all wrong.

You, despite all the potential for complete disaster, did it anyway.  And that is the first, critical step. In fact, it might be the only step, and it's one that you have to keep doing over and over again.

So go ahead and put yourself out there.  You'll never get your business name right or your logo perfected or know what software you really need or get any money if you don't take that deep breath and put yourself out there.  You're going to need to talk to your customers and tell them what you're doing. You’re going to need to talk to your customers to understand what they need. You're going to need to try out language on real people before you can really figure out what works and what doesn't.   You're going to need to get feedback, and lots of of it, if you're going to carve your own niche.   And you can't do any of that in isolation.

Working independently shouldn’t mean working alone.

Find your people.  Know your tribe. Build your community. Collaborate. Connect.

Work solo, not siloed. 

The Art of a Designing a Portfolio Career

Consultants Freelancers Entrepreneurs working independently

Co-Founders of the recent startup, THE JILLS OF ALL TRADES™, Megan and Corinne have been building portfolio careers over the past 25 years that have taught them to work smarter, live fuller, and carve their own niche. Here they share some of their learning.

Find a community. Working solo is great, but not if you’re siloed. The promotional power of a community will put a spotlight on you more than you can independently. So find your people, know your tribe, meetup, chat, join a board, volunteer, play a sport, coach, take a class.  It’s imperative for your personal and professional growth that you find a place of belonging - somewhere you can make a contribution. It is foundational, and can be the basis of establishing meaningful work.

Foster collaboration, not competition. There’s no corporate ladder to climb and no glass ceilings to shatter in your portfolio career so embrace this new work paradigm and shift the metaphor. There’s only space for one person at a time on that ladder anyway! Instead start lifting and linking others, and let your work life have the breadth and exploration of rock climbing, not ladder climbing. Mountains offer more; there’s more to see, more to explore, more to discover. So help someone find a new path, reach out your hand in someone’s aid, support a colleague from the bottom as you watch their ascent. Why? Because it feels great, and it’s more likely that they’ll do the same for you. You know what they say about that rising tide, all ships float. Plus those blue skies while you’re climbing together are just so much better than any ceiling, glass, or otherwise.

Connect by knot-working versus networking. Think about it. The best work comes when we don’t even feel like we’re working.  The idea of knot-working is to truly build authentic relationships in authentic ways, well beyond passing out business cards at happy hours and adding people to LinkedIn. So make friends.  Share your work. Tell your family about what you do. Display it. Write about it. Let others engage in it and engage with you. The power of personal connections is what builds sustainable professional relationships, so give knot-working a try.  It might be exactly what you want from your portfolio career.  

Establish an accountability partner. For real.  Having weekly check-ins, on the phone or in-person, can totally change the time you spend working. Set goals together. Create timelines.  Make lists. Then support each other. Offer feedback.  Learn to receive suggestions and critiques. And be generous to each other.

Set boundaries. You’re juggling this portfolio of work presumably so that you are empowered to determine how you work, when you work, and what projects you want to take on.  Portfolio careers are all about reconfiguring the work + life equation over and over to create the best you. In order to do this, take the time, every year, every month, or whenever it makes sense to write down your personal policies for work and your rules for engagement.  Seriously, write them down. Post them predominantly. Return to them often. Share them with your accountability partner. Then stick to them.  


The portfolio career truly offers the promise of establishing the right work life balance for you.  But be patient, good work takes time to build.

Build The House Before You Pick The Paint Colors: THE WHO, WHAT, WHY, HOW, and WOW of you.

There is so much to think about as a new business owner. From bank accounts to business entities, logos to managing social media, and about a million other pieces in between. it's enough sometimes to make you feel like there's just too much to do to even get started. 

But don't get caught up in that kind of thinking.  And don't start with the paint colors. 

Start instead by understanding the business of YOU. Take the time to figure out your WHO, WHAT, WHY, HOW, and WOW, and you'll have the necessary foundation to build out the rest of your business. 

WHO: Determine exactly who it is that you help? We all want to imagine that we can help everybody with our special talents and skills; that our door is open to everyone and anyone. But really understanding who you want to work with, and who your talents help the most, will allow you identify target customers. Taking time to do this work, helps you create your niche and the business you really want. 

WHAT: Clearly define what it is that you do. What exactly are you doing that helps the target customers you defined. What pain point are you alleviating? What gain are you offering? What assets do you have? What activities are you performing?  Being able to articulate the work that you do is essential. If you offer a variety of services, can you providing an overarching label for all of them. Considering your defined customers does it make sense to elevate one of your services? What about personal satisfaction

WHY: Ask yourself why are you helping these people and it can't just be to make money? Okay, it can be to make money, but that won't be enough to sustain you or your business. So don't be afraid to dream big on this one.  How might the world, the community, your country change if you can successfully do your work for your target audience.  

HOW: Articulate how you help these people? Different than your 'what', explain the way you work. Think first about speed, quality, and cost. Then consider the ways in which you interact. Are you highly personable and relational? Do you work seamlessly in 'the background'. Do you always make a deadline? Are you thought provoking? Do you challenge the status quo? Are you big picture, or small details?  Be authentic about you 'how'. Trying to be someone else inside your own business is likely to lead to unhappiness for you and disenchantment for your customers. 

WOW: Know your WOW! It is the combination of your WHO, WHAT, WHY, and HOW that makes your WOW.  This is where you can begin to define your 'special sauce'. Think of how you can combine all this thinking into a sentence or two.  I do 'this' for these 'people' in 'this' way so that 'this' can change for them, and 'this' can happen in 'our society/ community/ country/ planet'. Write it out as many possible ways as you can dream up, let it simmer, then see what version seems right for now. Practice your wow statement on family, friends, and clients. Practice in front of a mirror. Practice in car. Practice with your pets. Try on lots of different versions. The point is to get really comfortable with your WOW statement. You'll revisit this statement over and over in the lifetime of your business as you change and grow. And this is exactly what you want. 

You definitely don't have to have every piece of the puzzle figured out before you can start as a solopreneur, but knowing your WHO, WHAT, WHY, HOW and WOW can get you started. 

And it'll likely help you figure out your paint colors too. 

 

Susan & Elizabeth- Historical Jills

Regardless of your party, celebrate your right to vote.  

On this historic election day, we are proud to stand with our pioneer Jills, who led the way for our voices to be heard and our choices to be made. 

👊🏼 Susan & Elizabeth- you ladies rock. it. out. 

THE JILLS

#womeninhistory

#suffragettecity

Spend Money to Make Money

Our JILLS have great things to say and we're so happy to share it! 

Belinda Wasser is the founder of Rocket Girl Solutions and a guest contributor to THE JILLS NEWS. With over 25 years of experience in business workflow and logistics, Belinda offers up practical advice on running your business so it isn't running you. We're proud to have Belinda as one of our JILLS OF ALL TRADES and welcome her expertise in working with solo professionals and small business owners as their part-time business managers. Belinda loves taking care of the daily details and minutiae so business owners can get back to the work they love doing!  Our JILLS have great things to say and we're so happy to share it in THE JILLS NEWS. 

Our JILLS offer up some of our best tips and in this post, Belinda reminds us that we need to rely on the skills and talents of others to truly build our businesses. 

Belinda Wasser, founder of Rocket Girl Solutions

Belinda Wasser, founder of Rocket Girl Solutions

Authored by Belinda Wasser

I was in Rosie’s on Elm Street last Thursday, enjoying a few quiet minutes at the end of the day with my friend Jennifer. We were talking about the usual things – business, kids, weather and more business.

And then she said, “It seems like you have no problem spending money to make money.”

I don’t, but I was definitely surprised to hear her say that. To me, this isn’t just a good approach; it’s the only approach that really works if you want to grow your business.

Here are some of the things I had mentioned during our conversation which prompted her to say what she said:

Debbie Faye is working with me on improving my speaking presentation.”

“I hired a business coach, Jane Pollak, to help me reach my goals for the year.”

“I’m working with Scarlett DeBease to update my wardrobe.”

“I’m interviewing new accountants to help me organize my business.”

Later, as I was driving home, I realized how happy I am about what has now become my standard approach: Paying wonderful, capable people to help me work better, faster and smarter.

In other words, instead of doing everything myself (the way I did for years), I surround myself with experts. That’s real leverage.

Unfortunately, lots of solo professionals don’t see the world this way. To them, spending money (especially if things are feeling financially tight) feels like an extravagance. What I’ve found, though, is that you have to spend it to make it!

When is it time to get help?

In almost all cases, the answer is: Sooner than you think! In my experience, people wait way too long to bring in support, often putting it off until things have gotten really bad with missed deadlines and worse.

So, here are two questions to get you started:

  1. Are you doing work you’re not really qualified for?

    Tinkering with your website, doing your own taxes, setting up an email newsletter are all business essentials best handled by experts. Maybe you’re good at some of these things, but many people aren’t, resulting in poor quality work that takes a lot of time to complete.

  2. Are you doing work that’s below your pay grade?

    There’s nothing shameful about putting together your own client gifts or running down to Kinkos to make a bunch of copies for tonight’s presentation. But much of this work can be done less expensively by somebody else. If you’re spending time on this, you’re not spending time doing higher value tasks.

Simply put, you can’t build much of a business if you’re not willing to rely on other people. Find others to support the high quality – high paying! – work you do best and pretty soon you’ll also be spending money to make money.

Our Founding Mothers & the United State of Women

We Didn’t Set Out to Be Entrepreneurs. Why Steadying the Scales of Work-Life Balance Compelled Two Women to StartUp.

Megan and I did not necessarily set out to be entrepreneurs.

Megan build an amazing career in fashion and design, climbed the corporate ladder to executive positions in prestigious organizations, shaped brands that changed an industry, traveled the world, was granted patents, was featured on Oprah, made movies, and even dreamed up experiential cruise ship voyages. She earned a top salary, and was beloved by her staff and colleagues. Her nurturing and generous spirit extended through her leadership where she taught many, especially women, to fully embrace the ampersand and be powerful & feminine, direct & kind, humorous & focused, collaborative & independent.

As life changed, as it’s so apt to do, Megan did too.

Children grew, relocations happened, new interests developed. There was downsizing. And Megan found herself contemplative and eager for a brand new dress to wear, one that could bring her closer to a work-life balance so she could soak up more time with her husband, 3 teenaged children, and her extended family living in different states.  She eventually styled her own independent and successful brand strategy and design consultancy business, and after nearly 30 years of leading multimillion dollar projects and being 'traditionally' employed, Megan was now using her talents and skills so she could work when she wanted, how she wanted, and on projects that mattered to her. A flexible schedule with a variety of projects and hand-picked clients suited her as an encore career.

My career story was much more of an 'adapt and go' kind of set-up from the beginning. I loved to teach, I was good at it, and I used it to satisfy my taste for travel, spending the early part of my career in both the Middle East and Europe.  When I moved to the US from Canada, I found myself in Austin, TX where I decided to redirect my talents for teaching and writing to an educational publishing company instead of the classroom, and exchange my evenings of grading papers for night classes to earn my massage therapy license - something I’d wanted to do since high school.

But before long, I too, decided to step out of corporate and embark on what I know see as my portfolio career working as an independent: writing, teaching, and educating. Because besides being wearied by the corporate ladder that only one person can climb at a time, there also came pregnancies that were tougher than imagined, relocations, and superhero mom and dad manoeuvres to ensure one of us was always home with our boys - a portfolio career made sense to me.  There just wasn’t a name for it then.

Together, Megan and I have a very unique 360 degree view of work. We know both sides of being an independent and working in corporate. We see the possibilities, opportunities, and struggles of both.  We know stay-at-home parenting, we know being working mothers. We’ve lived re-entry and are always re-entering so we can routinely adjust the work + life equation. Megan shattered glass ceilings. I stayed off the ladder. We know the merits and downfalls of each.

And we know the world of work is changing. And so do you. You’ve seen the statistics; read the headlines. 70% of us will work freelance in the next 10 years.  Lifetime employment is over. The gig economy is the new economy.  It’s a Freelance Nation. Our work will come from our alliances, not recruiters, and not employers.

So no, we didn’t necessarily set out to be entrepreneurs.

But after nearly 30 combined years of trying to steady the scales of work-life balance, we’re compelled to be. 

We’re turning directly to the problems felt by both the independents and the hiring clients in this gig economy and creating a solution.  And it is our combined 360 degree view, and our lifetime of experiences that make us uniquely qualified to take on the challenge. We’ve lived the problems, see a path to a solution,  and know it’s time for us to step up and lead a workforce revolution.

Join us on our journey.  

Because we know in our core that when women come together,  link arms, and lift each other up we have the power to change everything.