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Leading Ladies - Sylvie di Giusto

You never get a second chance to make a first impression. Sounds like something we have all heard and also know it's completely true! I've learned so much from Sylvie di Giusto about how to make the best impression with my actions, my appearance, and my words. In fact, you can download her free e-book, "100 Ways To Make a Powerful First Impression" to start putting your best foot forward.  After meeting Sylvie through another Leading Lady, Shauna Mackenzie, I have been amazed at the information Sylvie shares on her social channels, feedback from events where she speaks, etc. This is one lady you need to follow as well! You can find Sylvie on Twitter as well as her website.

HOW DID YOU GET YOUR START?

I originally worked for about 20 years in HR for various corporations. I eventually came to a point where I wanted to be independent because I had gotten married with kids. I didn’t want to be a stay at home mom so I just I did it. I also wanted to be my own boss, rather than having to answer to anyone else. I wanted the ability to create my own schedule.  I made a leap of faith to start my own business. Many entrepreneurs have the problem where they don’t do it. You think you have to think through everything but at one point you have to jump right into it and do it.  Just do it. I encourage you to just get started. Don’t wait. Sometimes we make the mistake that we need everything figured out to start but I truly encourage you to just do it. You will never know if it would work out if you don’t do it.

WHAT RISKS DID YOU TAKE?

Everything! Everything is a risk when you go on your own and if you don’t have a monthly paycheck like I was used to having when I worked with corporations.  I risked my corporate career, my family, my friends, and my health. You will never know if it’s going to work out if you don’t risk those things.

WHAT IS SOMETHING THAT SCARES YOU?

I am scared that one day I my children will look back and tell me that they didn’t have a happy childhood. Everything I do and my highest and biggest value in the world  is their happiness. This means that they also need to have a happy mom. I had to admit to myself that I needed to work to have my happiness. I am constantly having to balance things with my children, making them believe that I don’t work too much but showing them as a role model that I do something that I love. Right now, I think that balance works out very well but I will definitely not know until they look back in 20 years.

LOOKING BACK ON YOUR CAREER, WHAT WAS A MAJOR TURNING POINT FOR YOU?

A major turning point for me was to find out that I cannot be everything to everybody. Learning to say “no” was hard for me. I had to find out that I needed to go into a niche market with image consulting. I thought I could offer everything- I could be a wardrobe consultant, fashion stylist, soccer mom, CEO… my thought was “Just buy one of my freaking awesome services, and give me money!” However, I had to learn that positioning yourself this wide does not make you an expert. If I have a heartache I go to a heart specialist not just a doctor. If I have teeth pain I go to a dentist, I don’t just see a doctor. When I started to say no to a lot of services I offered and people who reached out, I developed a clear niche. I worked with executives and corporations. Focusing on a niche market has made me an expert and people now identify me as that. Don’t be everything to everybody. Identify your perfect client. Mine was even found in the name “Executive Image Consulting.” I gave them a clear picture of what I do and it was easier to describe what I do and hunt down my perfect clientele.

WHAT ARE THREE PIECES OF ADVICE YOU'VE RECEIVED THAT YOU'VE CARRIED WITH YOU THROUGHOUT YOUR CAREER?

  1. “Don’t be cheap, be the best.” This is something Jeffrey Hayzlett yelled at me when I asked him a very smart question about discounting my services. Don’t discount your services and products, instead always deliver the best quality in everything you do and people will accept that they have to pay the price for it.
  2. “Be amazing. Always.” This is something that Shep Hyken told me and something that I truly believe in. I usually under promise and over deliver to my clients. Always keep in mind that you have to be ahead of your competition and the easiest way to stand out in the market is to be amazing at everything you do. First and foremost with the customer service you deliver and the way you make your clients feel should be amazing too. “Would I buy my own service?”
  3. Scott McCain, “Don’t miss the good stuff.” He reminded me as a business owner it’s easy to think that the world won’t exist anymore if you don’t do this the very next day. But I have this amazing family to tend to, I have children who need me and friends too. Your health is important and your fun is important. Don’t miss out on that. There’s a lot of good stuff we shouldn’t miss.

BIGGEST MISTAKE?

My biggest mistake was not going into a niche immediately. I wasted two years of my business this way. On the other hand, I’m thankful for that time because it taught me so much on what I can do and what I can’t do. It made things so clear about me, my product, and my services that I truly don’t want to miss that the mistake worked for the greater good of my company.

Leading Ladies - Tamara McCleary

TamaraMcCleary

Tamara McCleary has been such an amazing role model to follow. She is an internationally recognized expert on relationships and conscious business. Tamara is always such a joy to follow and connect with on Twitter as her content is full of inspiration and you can tell she is always looking to make relationships the best they can be. 

Ranked in the Top 1% of global Social Media Influencers, Tamara is one to connect with! Enjoy her feature as I know you will learn so  much!

HOW DID YOU GET YOUR START?

I started about about age 8 collecting aluminum cans on my bicycle and turning them in for cash at the recycling center.  So I guess being an entrepreneur for me is best coined by Lady Ga Ga, baby I was born this way.  I started my own independent consulting firm in 1996 after almost a decade spent in healthcare management,operations and a practicing  clinician.  I was a registered nurse working in end-of-life care as a pediatric hospice case manager.  After years of doing bereavement counseling with parents of dying children and working in the field of death and dying, I learned a ton about living and life.  That experience drove me to push to live to my fullest self-expression, as well as, powered by an enormous passionate desire to help others create a life of deep fulfillment, joy, happiness, and feeling fully self-expressed. I enjoy every minute of what I do facilitating success for individuals, groups, and companies.

WHAT RISKS DID YOU TAKE?

Since my entire experience is shaped around the reality that the only thing we can count on is that this too shall pass and we do have an end as far as this physical expression is concerned, I feel the only risk is in not doing something we’ve always wanted to try.  The most common regret that people share at the time of their death is what they didn’t say, didn’t try, didn’t do, didn’t see, didn’t experience.

WHAT IS SOMETHING THAT SCARES YOU?

Spiders? Not having an experience that I want to have?  I am being 100% honest, authentic, and transparent when I say that after watching, caring for, and being at the bedside of hundreds of dying children who never had a chance to experience all the wonder and amazement of growing up, No-thing scares me.  And yes, I am ready for my departure when it comes.  I hope it’s a long, long, time from now.. but I’ve dealt with my issues around death, I was forced to look death straight in the eye, every day, for almost a decade.  Let’s just say I’m so high and passionate about life that there’s no room for fear.  

LOOKING BACK ON YOUR CAREER, WHAT WAS A MAJOR TURNING POINT FOR YOU?

The giant transition in 1996 from employee to employer.  As an entrepreneur, it’s 100% full responsibility….full joy, full freedom, full dedication, full devotion, full discipline, fulfillment.  

WHAT ARE THREE PIECES OF ADVICE YOU'VE RECEIVED THAT YOU'VE CARRIED WITH YOU THROUGHOUT YOUR CAREER?

  1. Lord, release me from the need for love, approval and appreciation so that I might be truly free.  
  2. Don’t worry about what other people think about you because everyone is worried about what everyone thinks when no one is thinking of anyone but themselves anyway.
  3. Begin with the end in-mind.  When you leave this earth, what is it that you want to be remembered for and to have experienced before you leave?  Be that and Do that NOW.

BIGGEST MISTAKE?

Believing in the illusion of mistakes.  There are no mistakes, only missed opportunities to learn and grow, and consequences for our decisions and actions.  Be fearless, get messy, and learn, learn, learn!  We are spiritual beings having a human experience, not the other way around.  Give yourself a break and enjoy the experience of being a deliciously flawed  human being having a magical, wonderful, miraculous opportunity to feel what it is to be alive!

Leading Ladies - Kristen Daukas

LeadingLadies_KristenDaukas

I love being able to share friends who have had such an impact on my life and business! Kristen Daukas has always been such an inspiration to me with everything she does. We first connected about six years ago when she was "Twin City SAM" and have been friends ever since. Kristen is a lady with many hats, but also hats she wears quite well -- Director of Social Media at Atlantic Webworks, Founder and Editor in Chief of the parenting site Ten to Twenty Parenting, blogging her fun family stories at Four Hens and a Rooster, President of ConvergeSouth Conference -- head spinning yet?

She's one you need to make sure to connect with! Follow her on Twitter!

HOW DID YOU GET YOUR START?

Customer service and supporting small businesses has always been a passion of mine. Almost every position that i’ve held, I’ve had some level of marketing responsibility - with limited resources. When the magazine that I was working for 8 years ago eliminated my position, I decided that was the time to do something on my own. Combining my love for technology, being an early adopter and the desire to help small businesses, I launched my own digital marketing agency Twin City Sales an Marketing. Four years later, I merged that company with a larger firm, Atlantic Webworks, where I currently oversee our marketing as well our clients. Being with a larger company gives me access to more talent which in turn, gives our clients more engaging content to use. 

WHAT RISKS DID YOU TAKE?

Going out on my own was a HUGE step for me but once I made up my mind to do it, I just did it. Of course, having a spouse who was working full-time took some of the burden off my shoulders when it came to clients and payments but with a family of 5, it was still a big risk. 

WHAT IS SOMETHING THAT SCARES YOU?

That I’ll become irrelevant or I won’t be able to keep up with the changes in the industry. Digital marketing is still very unchartered and it’s easy to get distracted by the latest and greatest shiny object. Knowing which ones to focus on and which ones are passing is something that I deal with every day. There have been times in the past when I let things go before they really caught on and I’ve regretted it. 

LOOKING BACK ON YOUR CAREER, WHAT WAS A MAJOR POINT FOR YOU?

Definitely immersing myself into the world of digital and social media. Not just from a work point of view but the connections that I have been able to make. There are so many fabulous people in our industry and most of them are willing to give their insight and advice if you just ask. Starting my own business gave me the confidence and the knowledge that the only thing that is holding any of us back is ourselves. 

WHAT ARE THREE PIECES OF ADVICE YOU'VE RECEIVED THAT YOU'VE CARRIED WITH YOU THROUGHOUT YOUR CAREER?

  1. If it’s not a “hell yeah!” then it’s a ‘no’. As women (and mothers) we are pulled in so many different directions and you have to make choices. But by saying yes to one thing, you’re saying no to another - even if it’s not a verbal no. By saying “yes, I can volunteer at the school” then I may be saying “no” to a networking opportunity and vice versa. The other piece to that puzzle is about being in the moment no matter which moment you choose. When you’re being a mom, be a mom 100% and when you’re being a professional, be that 100%. 
  2. You are in charge of how you react to things. When I was 17, I went to work for American Express and the then President of our operations center addressed all the new customer service hires. He was paralyzed from the waist down which drove his story home even more. Knowing that we’d be at the receiving end of a lot of angry customers, he stressed that it was our choice how we reacted - you can take it personally and let it bring you down or you can empathize with them as a professional and move on. So many people choose to let someone else’s bad mood to affect them and they let every negative thing that happens define who they are. That lesson has always stayed with me - both personally and professionally.
  3. What’s the worst thing that can happen? This is so simple but it’s so true. Fear of rejection is crippling especially when it comes to getting what you want and deserve. But you have to reach a point where you’re confident with yourself and your abilities to get past that. Unfortunately, a lot of people never get there. I’m grateful that I was able to at a pretty young age because it led me to do the amazing things that I’ve done in my life. 

BIGGEST MISTAKE?

Giving up too soon on things.