Real You: The social media allure

I'll admit it. I'm hooked on Twitter and Facebook. And I'm there, almost too often. But in my defense, I love it out there. Yesterday, I discovered the Women Entrepreneur Festival taking place in New York and on the hashtag #wefestival. Following the tweets, I was almost in the room. It was so inspiring. Meanwhile, on Facebook, I watch my high school and college friends' children grow, share in their accomplishments and meet new friends with shared interests - from all over the world. I've also started my first ever fan page and it's almost silly how joyful I become when another person "Like"s my Kaira Rouda Books page. (Sally Fields, anyone?)

I've found folks to be either all in or completely disdainful when it comes to social media. And what I will say, to those who remain in disdain, try LinkedIn. It's like sticking your toe in the water. Move on from there.

As I wrote in Real You Incorporated, the real world really is on online; and you should join the fun.

Just survived a snark attack!

If you've read my book, you know I'm fond of labeling snarks as the folks who try to inflict harm on the Real You as you strike out to step into your power and grab your entrepreneurial dreams. And unfortunately, it's almost always the case that the more successful you become, the more yourself you become, the more you stir up the snarks. That's why I've created a microsite called Snark Infested Waters for you to rate snarks and tell your story of survival. Because it's also true that with each set-back, with each snark attack you do become stronger. (I know, it still hurst while it's happening, and you may need time to heal.) So which snark attacked me today? Was it a Con-Artist Snark, Bubble-Bursting Snark, Sexist Snark? I'm not telling, suffice it to say it was enough of an attack for me to remind you if you've had one lately, you're not alone. Go ahead. Rate your snark attack and jump back into calm, pleasant waters! Happy swimming!

Real You: The Movie!

It’s been a summer of inspiration—speaking with women all over the country about how to put—and keep—the Real You in your business and your life. It made me realize certain themes pop up, no matter the audience, and those themes are the ones I want to share with you in The Real You Movie.

Grab your power, and shine! If you like the movie, please pass it on!

Real You: Take a Hiring Hint from Apple

Have you ever met someone that had a spark? A stranger or acquaintance you instantly connected with and thought, that person is going places. Or maybe she was a great salesperson who went above and beyond to make your visit complete. You know, the kind of person that makes you want to visit again and again and tell your friends about the outstanding experience.  Recruit those people! They’re special. They’re driven. They’re unique, and they might just make the perfect addition to your team. You could begin the conversation by asking how they enjoy doing x. Or maybe you say, “You are a fantastic salesperson. Have you ever thought about the X industry?” 

One of my favorite brands, Apple, approaches these rising stars with “enticement” cards that display their logo with these words: “You’re amazing. We should talk.” The back goes on to tell the salesperson that their service was exceptional, and an associate would love to talk to them about their career. (See the card and read the full text at AppleTell.) 

So the next time you run into one of those real, genuine, exceptional folks, make sure you’re ready to introduce them to your business. 

How have you successfully recruited someone? Leave a comment!

Real You: Take the Leap

"If you're never scared or embarrassed or hurt, it means you never take any chances."-Julia Sorel (Rosalyn Drexler), See How She Runs, 1978

You know the feeling. For me, it's sweaty palms. For you it may be a racing heart, or butterflies in the stomach—all those tell-tale signs that you're uncomfortable. Your body is triggering the flight sensors, and you're going to go along with it.

But then you take a deep breath, maybe have a little cry or call a friend, and realize this leap out of your comfort zone is what will propel you forward, get you to the next big thing. You realize that without the uneasy feeling of the unknown, it's easy to be stuck in the familiar and known. To grow a business, and for that matter, to grow a life, you need to keep pushing. To keep growing and moving forward. To face your fears and take that leap is uncomfortable—whether it's cold calling a prospect, public speaking, driving in a big city, moving to a new neighborhood, starting a business or being president of your civic association.

Remember, though, the more long-term discomfort in life comes from the regrets you have of challenges not taken, of opportunities missed.

So what's holding you back? Why are you stuck in the comfort zone? What would happen in your life if you took that chance? And what, if anything, will happen if you don't? Ten years from now, will you be glad you stayed in the zone, or sad you didn't take the leap when you could?

Remember: "To dare is to lose one's footing momentarily. To not dare is to lose oneself." -Soren Kierkegaard

Real You: The passion problem

     Yep, it's true. It's tough out there. The economy is forcing layoffs, businesses aren't hiring. More people than ever are out of work. But what about the people who are still employed. Are they grateful? Happy even? It turns out, more than half aren't. According to an Adecco North America survey, 54 percent of employed Americans say they will look for a new job once the recession ends. Among 18 to 29 year olds, the number jumps to 71 percent. Almost 3/4ths of the under 30 crowd will leap at the chance to leave you once the recovery begins.       This is a problem. It's a passion problem. If you're the leader of a team with these folks working for you, how are you going to rev up the passion? How will you build a culture that makes your team want to be there when times get better? And times will get better.

      If you are one of the disenchanted, hanging on paycheck to paycheck because it's better than joining the ranks of the unemployed, have you considered the entrepreneurial route? You could start by becoming what Deborah Bailey calls a moonlighting entrepreneur, building a business that sparks your passions while you're still doing your day job.

     Or, you could try becoming an intrapreneur. An intrapreneur takes this opportunity to change the way she looks at her current job. She looks for ways to make work fun again, and brings her passion back to her position.  With that passion comes new solutions and new ideas - and perhaps - a new respect from the boss. Think about it. You aren't stuck unless you think you are. Fear freezes.

     Turn your passion into action. Make that change now and your own personal recovery will start long before the recession ends. For some creative ways to get your passion flowing check out my new ebook: Turn Your Passion Into Profits, available now!

Entrepreneurship: The Road to Independence

What is independence? To me, it's entrepreneurship. It's the ability to do what I love, when I want, with whom I want. It's the new American dream. Women everywhere are making it happen, and you can, too! Here are my top five reasons you should take the leap.

1. Independence. I love this quote from an anonymous high school student: "Entrepreneurship is living a few years of your life like most people won't, so that you can spend the rest of your life like most people can't." I couldn't have said it better.

2. Creative Reign. This is your chance to express your brand. To connect. To reach out. To give your customers just what they need, wrapped in a package that's uniquely you.

3. Passion. Create your own fireworks by doing what you love. Pursing your passions makes your heart happy. I promise!

4. Satisfaction. Wake up every day knowing you've built something special. Something that has you stamped all over it. Something you're proud of. Something you'll leave behind.

5. Mentoring/Giving back. Each day is an opportunity to learn and to mentor. You have the freedom to put your name behind your charitable passion and support your community. Give back to those who have helped you, and shepherd those who will be the future.

So how do you get started? Create that brand board I'm always talking about. Express your passions, your ambitions, the colors that draw you in and the words that catch your eye. Look at it everyday and ask yourself, “What will I do for my brand and future business today? Who has the knowledge and experience to help me get there?”

Start on your path to personal freedom by putting your passion into action!

How Women-Owned Businesses are Surviving the Recession

Women are starting businesses at rapid rates and thriving, despite the economic downturn. According to a recent study conducted by Florida International University’s Center for Leadership and The Commonwealth Institute of South Florida, women-owned businesses are doing better in the recession than most. Key Factors:

  1. Women traditionally take on less debt and thus have more flexibility during tough times.
  2. Women also try to strategize and reach out instead of jumping to cost-cutting measures.

This is exactly the route Rachel Sapoznik, CEO of Sapoznik Insurance, took to grow her business without eliminating staff. See the full story on how Sapoznik’s and other women business owners’ determination and networking led to success in hard times.

Looking for recession proofing tips? Sign up for my tip of the week or follow me on Twitter!

Kindle Lovers… This is for you!

Amazon’s Kindle allows you to download and read thousands of books, newspapers, magazines and now blogs. This is great news for people like me, who read multiple blogs daily. There are tons of blogs listed in categories ranging from arts and entertainmentAmazonKindleUser2 to business and investing to travel, lifestyle, culture and more.

And as of today, the Real You Incorporated blog is also available on Kindle blogs!

Other blogs available for download include: The New York Times- Latest News, Huffington Post, The Onion, Seth’s Blog (Seth Godin) and Vanity Fair’s VF Daily Blog, among others.

Blogs downloaded via Kindle blogs provide you with full text content and images and are updated wirelessly throughout the day. To learn more, visit and download your Real You Incorporated Kindle blog!

Questions to Ask when Beginning a New Job

If you’ve earned a new position, congrats! When beginning a new job, it’s important to feel comfortable with the company and your new boss and team. During your first couple of days on the job, ask some of the following questions to help focus your work and set goals. • What are the top priorities for the company and our team? This question is vital to your success. If you think their priorities are XZY but they are really ABC, all of your work may be in vain. Also, ask which projects take top priority. You need to learn to budget your time.

How do you prefer to communicate and approve projects? Establishing a strong communication pattern with your boss will save you endless headaches and wasted time. If your supervisor is not one for interruptions, they may get upset if you keep dropping by to get their feedback. It may be best to set appointments.

How and when will my performance be evaluated? Asking this question will help you structure your work so it is easily measured and evaluated. The more profitable/positive results you can show, the better.

Will there be opportunity for advancement within the company? This will let your boss know you have long-term goals in mind. Caution: This is a question to ask after you have been there awhile. You may want to ask a co-worker you’ve gotten to know, “Do people move around a lot in this company?” This will give you a feel for the type of answer your boss will likely give.

Make sure you start off on the right foot and familiarize yourself with the operations of your new company and your team/boss. And to those lucky folks who are growing their team and bringing on new employees, please express the above info to your new hires! A welcoming work environment is positive for everyone.

Here’s the Story of a Lovely Lady…

…who was bringing up three very lovely girls. For many years Carol Brady was a classic American female icon and many women could and still can relate to her. But while many of us cannot afford to hire our very own housekeeper named Alice, you can now visit!

For all you multi-tasking moms and busy entrepreneurs out there, there is a new site to help you save time and money. Eliminating the middleman, allows you to shop directly from the manufacturer to help cut down costs. Other money and time saving features include free shipping (and fuel savings because you don’t have to drive to the store), price comparison charts and coupon clipping with discounts taken off automatically at the checkout. also keeps track of what products you buy and sends you reminders when its time to restock. You are also able to keep track of your spending and compare it to other families like yours.

With money and time being such valuable commodities, this site will help you manage both. And to me, that sounds amazing.

See for yourself, visit

Just for fun…

Help Save Ohio Libraries

As a book lover and author, this news of library funding cuts breaks my heart, but we can all do our part to save Ohio libraries! What’s happening: On June 19, Ohio Governor Ted Strickland proposed a budget cut that would reduce state funding for public libraries by $227.3 million in 2010 and 2011 fiscal years. This reduction would cut Ohio’s public libraries funding 30 percent in addition to the 20 percent cut due to the decline of the state’s General Revenue Fund. A total 50 percent cut in funding.

What it means: As a result, branches may close, hours of operation will be reduced, new book and material orders will be halted and other vital summer reading programs and services would end. With the economic hardships that thousands of Ohioans are facing, trips to the library have provided some relief for families, and I can’t imagine what some families would do without those opportunities.

How you can help: • Call or email Ohio legislators. For phone numbers and emails, click here. To email all legislators and senators at once, click here.

• Join the Facebook group, and update your Facebook and Twitter status with:

“I contacted my elected officials to help save Ohio libraries, and you should too. Find out more at”

The Ohio Library Council site has provided the image below for you to save and upload as your profile picture on social media sites.


• Spread the word! Let friends know what is going on, how you have helped and how they can, too.

For more information, visit The General Assembly Conference Committee is likely to make a decision this week, so act fast!

Personal Recommendations Beat Out Online Sources

As I was reading my daily marketing news, I ran across a study that found most online purchasers bought because of a personal recommendation from a friend/relative (34%), followed by spouse/partner (25%), then a blogger (5%) and a chat room (5%). Truly, this is no surprise to me. Personal, one-on-one connections are gems. These are the people you trust and depend on. If Oprah tweeted, “Acai is amazing”, but my friend Jane said, “I tried it and it’s not worth the price,” I’d go with Jane. Sorry, Oprah.

If you’re out there trying to make a splash in cyberspace, get the movers and shakers talking online and off. And talk to women! Women, your most valuable consumers, are twice as likely as men to recommend a product/service to a friend.

Start with a core group of “sneezers”, as Seth Godin calls them. These are influential people who are sure to tell their friends when they’re into something new. Then keep the momentum going. Ask those people to write online reviews or blog about your product/service. This will begin your online and offline publicity.

Are you looking for more tips on getting your product/service seen and heard in the marketplace? Sign up for my tip of the week, delivered to your inbox every Friday!

Attending NAR Mid-Year Conference?

If so, I'll see you there! I'm presenting "Putting the Real You in Your Business" tomorrow at the Women's Council of Realtors' education session at the Capital Hilton in Washington DC. I'll be focusing on branding with personality and speaking to your No. 1 customer. I love presenting to real estate folks. They're a powerful group of passionate entrepreneurs who know how to roll with the punches and stick with it in good times and bad.

If you'll be a Mid-Year, please stop by my session. I'd love to meet you!

Step into the spotlight.

Here's the thing. Whether you're an entrepreneur, a corporate employee, a SAHM or a college student, the time will come—and it probably has already—when you need to step out of the shadows and into the spotlight to claim your power. This could take the form of not letting somebody else take the credit for your paper, your proposal, your cost-cutting idea. Or, it may require the actual stepping into the spotlight, on stage or at least in a large group meeting.

Does that thought terrify you? It did me, for too many years in fact. My fear of public speaking (and its accompanying fear of failure, fear of not being good enough) held me back in my business and in my life in general. It forced me to thrust others into the spotlight to say my words and present my ideas, instead of taking the responsibility and the challenge of doing it myself.

Oh, and then I wrote a book. One of the first things you learn when that dream of being a published author—of getting an agent, and a New York publisher and a book on bookshelves—actually comes true is that you must let others know about said book. Without promotion, books, like all products, don't get very far. And in the case of a book especially, even more so in today's publishing environment, the author and her brand are critical to selling any copies. Guess what that meant: No hiding. There isn't anyone else who can speak about my words, my book, for me. (I tried to figure out a way, trust me!)

So, I hired a voice and speech coach. He was amazing. We worked together for a year and still have tune-ups now and again, but truly, it's fun to speak to groups now. Folks with our company can't believe the change. And I can't either some days. If I can do it, you can, too. So let me give you a few tips I've learned as I've stepped into the spotlight. To grow your business and personal brand, I hope you'll decide to take the plunge and step into your own spotlight, too.

1. If speaking terrorizes you, get help. There are speech coaches, Toastmasters and all types of organizations to help you get the tips you need to grow into your comfort zone. You know your material. It's time to get credit for it.

2. Start small. I'm still grateful to the first Rotary group who gave me a chance to speak about my book. They were gracious, warm and not too big in mass.

3. Be prepared. Practice. Be prepared. Repeat. You'll feel better if you've rehearsed and can toss the notes and crutches.

4. And, a big point once you've agreed to take the microphone: Power Point is supposed to be visual, a supporting image of what you're speaking about. Duplicating your speech on slides is a sure-fire boredom creator. Promise. My goal is to get to where the real pros are and use no slides at all!

5. Remember, audiences, no matter how big or small, want you to succeed. They are there to hear your story, your message.

Have a wonderful weekend. And start envisioning yourself in the spotlight!

Building a Professional Network

We always hear that building professional networks is vital to success, but it should also be noted that your network should reach beyond family and friends.

Family and friends are great, and most of us would be lost without them. They create a great support system in a wide variety of situations—including helping you fulfill your dreams. However, if you’re talking business, you really need to expand your network. Most women rely on family members as their primary network, but these individuals don’t always have access to meaningful business information—like new leads, business experts or financial advice.

Your contacts should be people who will help you develop your competitive advantage. You need diversity of opinions and backgrounds, so as you build your network, try to include individuals with varying backgrounds and expertise. Ideally, it should be people who don’t work for you. That way you can benefit from different perspectives and ideas. You can begin by joining and participating in social media sites and joining local professional networking groups. So, get out there and start reaching out.

Mastering Phone Interviews

So, you’ve scored your first interview with a reporter. Woohoo! I know that feeling. It’s exhilarating the first minute; the next is filled with panic. Don’t worry. It’s time to get serious and start preparing.

  • Do your homework. Check out the reporter. What beat do they cover? What’s their style? What companies have they covered in your industry?
  • Nail down the key messages you want to get across. Put together your talking points. What are your three main points and supporting facts?
  • Consider all questions you may be asked. What’s the worst-case scenario question? Make sure to do a mock interview with a teammate to help you get comfortable.
  • Stand up during the interview. It sounds odd, and people walking by might chuckle, but it helps you get focused. You’re less likely to go off on a tangent in this power stance.
  • Nix distractions. Shut down your computer and turn off your phone. The less distractions, the easier it is to deliver a clear, concise message. Speaking of phones, use a landline instead of your cell phone if possible.
  • Don’t market yourself through the interview. Journalists despise this, and being overly promotional may ruin your chances of getting interview No. 2.
  • If you don’t know the answer, don’t guess. Be frank and tell the reporter you’ll get back to them with the information.
  • Remember, there is no such thing as “off the record.” End of story.
  • Post-interview, feel free to thank the journalist via email. But don’t send them gifts. They’re not allowed to accept them, and they’ll just wind up in a closet somewhere.

Follow these tips, and you’ll be prepared for a knock-out interview. Go get ‘em!

The time is now, start your own business today!

It’s never too late to start your own business! Whether you are 28 or 72, if you are passionate about business, you will succeed.

As the baby boomer generation grows older, it is more common to see that those approaching retiring age are not emotionally ready to do so. Every 60 seconds, a woman starts a business, and a large percentage of those women are over the age of 50. Many of these women have a productive career behind them, years of knowledge packed away and still dream of running their own business. And there are not limitations on making your dreams come true.

I tell people all the time that it’s never too early or too late to create their personal brand. Everything you’ve done up to this point has prepared you for entrepreneurship, and you are uniquely qualified to make your dreams and your passions come to life. Along the way, you’ve acquired wisdom and experience. Sure there have been setbacks, but you’ve moved ahead with great strides. In short, you’ve learned from a wide variety of experiences that will benefit you greatly in the days to come.

So, I say start defining your personal brand today. Then take it, along with the experience, insight and confidence you’ve gained in the process, and begin the next chapter of your career with gusto.

Sometimes, staying the same is the best survival tactic.

I noticed a trend in my tips: Most of them, and many of my examples of astounding entrepreneurs, deal with folks who have revolutionized an industry, or who have kept up with the times through change and constant improvements to their business model. But what about the success stories that abound of businesses and entrepreneurs who thrive through lack of change? Through tradition and continuity?

My 8th grade son and I had lunch together at one such place yesterday. The diner is called Chef-O-Nette, and it's been in business since 1955. I'd link to it, but the diner doesn't have a Web site. Now located in a recently remodeled strip shopping center, the old fashioned font of the sign is the only outward expression of a timeless interior. But as soon as you walk through the doors, the Formica counter tops, naugahyde booths, laminated, hand-lettered menus with plenty of daily comfort food specials tell a story of the 1950s. It's lava lamp-shaped hanging light fixtures, lattice work and mirrored walls, swivel seats at the bar and window boxes of artificial flowers.

Shea ordered the fried-chicken special and three vanilla milkshakes. I ordered the signature Hangover Sandwich—a cheeseburger with ham and lettuce. Our waitress was fast, and friendly. The entire experience was a step back in time. Around us were regulars, mostly grandmother and grandfather age, who smiled at Shea. When the kids were small, a regular who was there every Saturday morning as we were would give each of my four kids a dime for the gumball machine on his way out the door. Where does that happen? At a place where tradition and sameness—read security and comfort—are the main commodity.

So, to all of you entrepreneurs who are running a business based on tradition and custom, on long-standing core customers, on consistency—keep at it. We need you today, more than ever perhaps. The world is changing fast enough. It's always great to have a place you can go where everybody knows your name, and the Hangovers remain the same.

Is the glass ceiling still around?

As the advancement of women is pushing new boundaries, many are wondering if the “glass ceiling” still exists. While it’s true that women are breaking the glass ceiling in some careers far more than others, such as real estate for example, they have a long way to go in other fields. Women make up 46.5 percent of the workforce, but they represent only 12 percent of all corporate officers. Those are figures that can’t be ignored. However, according to an article on AOL, some of the professions where women are earning more than men include sales engineers, statisticians, legislators, aerospace engineers, advertising managers and more. As you probably know, many women are also turning to entrepreneurship as an alternative. By establishing their real brands, they’re learning that they can make it to the top on their own terms.