"START SMALL, DREAM BIG, AND TAKE CONFIDENT STEPS ALONG THE WAY"
June 10, 2012 -Joining the blogsphere on Wordpress
As of today my blog has moved to blog.cathyowenconsulting.com
June 9, 2012 - Personal Image and Style
I can't believe that a month has gone by and I've not had time to update you on all the exciting things I've been up to. The Association of Image Consultants International organization held its annual meeting in Honolulu this year and for me it was an exceptional opportunity to learn about the many facets of image consulting. All of the speakers were interesting and I learned so much. The days were long but well worth every minute.
As you may know by now, I want to work with women and entrepreneurs so that they can be successful in achieving their personal goals as well as business goals. With that in mind I always felt that establishing your personal brand was a key element of your total package, but rarely was that covered in any entrepreneur training programs that I participated in. So one of my goals at the AICI conference was to find some software programs that would make it easy for people to work on the visual elements of their personal brand ('the dress for success' component) while working on their ideas, establishing their value to their company or investors, and ultimately standing out from all the rest of the individuals that they meet.
I met a wonderful woman by the name of Ann Reinten from Melbourne, Australia who has developed the software package that I was looking for. I am currently the only license holder in Hawaii and I hope to be able to introduce many men and women to the world of style that will help them develop their awesome personal brand. I have just updated my web site with the content and links so I hope you check it out.
I've also been doing some technical consulting and new entrepreneur mentoring, so its been a very busy month.
May 4, 2012 - Getting Socially Connected
I participated in a Women In Technology International (WITI) webinar this week called C.R.E.A.T.E Your Career Success! Building Relationships for Lifetime Opportunity by Melissa Galt. I found her seminar to be very relevant especially after my networking experience described in my last blog. I'm relatively new to the Social Media world and although I've been on Facebook and LinkedIn for a few years I never really thought about that forming the basis of my Social Brand.
Why should we get socially connected? As a mentor, coach and consultant, this is critical to build your KLT (know, like, trust) factor, increase your visibility, enhance your credibility and lead to new opportunities. Most of what I read about is "social media" but Melissa explained that we should think of "relationship media" instead. Think of Facebook as the "backyard BBQ for business", Twitter as the "cocktail party for business", and LinkedIn as "online business networking". With that in mind, I will now be working on my improving my social brand over the next few weeks.
No matter what job we have or activities we are involved in, everyone wants to capitalize on opportunities for better jobs, more involvement with our families,community, and church, or maybe the opportunity to travel. Melissa suggested we start using a new language - the language of opportunity where:
April 27, 2012 - The Agony and Joys of Networking Events
I was invited to a networking event for software engineers at a place called The Greenhouse in Honolulu. As you can tell from my resume, I haven't been connected with the software engineering community since my days at hotU, so I thought it might be a good experience.
I didn't have any problems finding the building and parking (although I was a bit concerned that the private parking lot was not really for people heading off to an event at The Greenhouse). Then the agony part of the evening began. Oh yes, many of you have experienced the stress of walking in the door, scanning the crowd and only recognizing one person who is busily talking with someone else you don't know. So that's how my night began. Everyone arriving after me came with a group of friends, or at least they all seemed to recognize one another. And there I was trying to figure out who I could befriend. I'm also in a room with a bunch of introverts so its doubtful that anyone would approach me first. I figured, I'm an ex-CEO who had to network with venture capitalists, angel investors, business partners, and customers so networking with software engineers should be easy, right?
The night started off with challenges but improved dramatically when one of my former Nanopoint employees opened the door. Not only did Alan come to my rescue but he introduced me to every one of the people he knew as they came in the door. My anxiety level dropped off and I had the chance to meet people that I only knew before by reputation and never met in person. This event was to kickoff Startup Hawaii which was to take place over the next three days. I was impressed by the talent and number of potential entrepreneurs that were at this event called "Wetware Wednesday".
The highlight of my evening was spending time with a former employee from my days at hotU. I was so pleased to hear of his success over the years and his involvement in the upcoming Startup Hawaii event. I know that we will keep in contact and possibly work together in some way in the forseeable future. This truly is the "joy" of networking - reconnecting with someone from your distant past, connecting with someone from your recent past, and then meeting new people that will become your business colleagues and friends.
My advice to everyone who dreads going to a networking event (I get the same anxiety as everyone else):
1) Attend no matter how much anxiety it causes you
2) Take your business cards with you and hand them out to people you meet
3) Just relax, most people are just as nervous as you
4) Introduce yourself first to someone you don't know
5) If you see someone you know, ask them to introduce you to others
From my experience, networking events always turn out better than I expected. I guess I'll be back again at Wetware Wednesday next month to build new relationships in Honolulu's software community.
April 19, 2012 - Moving Companies From Technology-Driven to Business-Driven
When I worked for IBM, you were hired into a technical job and you could continue your career in a technical career path or move to a management career path. For technical staff, you might work on existing products or if you were lucky like me you might be able to develop new, innovative products. We were technology-driven and left it up to the "business folks" to worry about who would purchase the product and all of the supporting business "stuff".
Once I moved into a management role and had responsibility for the business "stuff" my perspective changed dramatically. Now I had to build the business case for the product and figure out who the target customer was, how many we could sell, how much people would pay, how we would train the salesforce, and how much the product development would cost. The advantage of working for IBM was that there were deep pockets and there was enough money to develop the technology while trying to figure out the rest.
Under Lou Gerstner, there was a dramatic shift from a technology-driven to business-driven approach to product development. The old approach to development of innovative technologies without a clear path to commercialization was over. The new approach was focused on applied research and customer-driven requirements. I personally believe that IBM's success today was a direct result of that shift to a business-driven approach.
So how do today's entrepreneurs take a business-driven approach to product development when their sources of funding are pushing a technology-driven approach? If it's easier to get funding for their company from writing grants to fund technology development than it is to obtain financing for building the business and commercializing the technology, of course the CEO will follow a technology-driven approach. Perhaps one possible solution is to partially fund technology commercialization EFFORTS in awarding grants.
Those funds could be used by the CEO to contract with experienced resources to help them build their path to commercialization with a comprehensive business plan, marketing plan, and manufacturing plan. Another potential approach is for the state government to set aside money in an innovation fund that can only be used for direct commercialization efforts - including activities such as market research, customer focus groups, prototypes placed in customer locations, and participation in targetted conferences for customer feedback and identification of potential strategic partners.
Next week I'll write about my thoughts on the approach being used in Singapore to address this same problem.
April 10, 2012 - My Long and Winding Path to Launching My Own Business
I think I've always been a pretty driven person. I started working in high school at an amusement park and then during college I got to work for a ticket agency getting into a number of rock concerts (and symphonies) for free. Then I moved onto retail store management, working for a startup company back in the late 1970s before joining the ranks of the corporate world. I went to work for IBM with the intent of staying a few years to learn about business before moving onto another company. That moving on took me over 21 years before I had worked up enough nerve to try an early stage Silicon Valley startup company.
Funny thing about moving to a startup company, the job security, great benefits, and rather predictable days that I had found "boring" were long gone. Long hours, no job security, minimal benefits and unpredicable days became the new norm. You know you're hooked on the startup existence when you can start telling people that you're a serial entrepreneur. So here I am again at a crossroads. After being the CEO of two startup companies for more than 10 years where often the final decision resided with the board of directors (and alll of the problems were my responsibility), I decided to give it a try as just an employee of a startup company. I knew there would be a period of adjustment, but never imagined that my tenure would end in 8 days when that company's expected funding fell through.
So here I was deciding to forego looking for another job working for someone else, skipping the search for technology from the university to put into a new startup company and instead deciding to launch my own consulting business. Here's where the" practice what you preach" model comes into play. I've had to take my own advice and get my business license, write my business plan, finance my business operations, determine my company's look and feel, print my business cards, build my website and now I'm ready to launch my new business. Looking back over my entire working life, each step I've taken and every path I've chosen taught me new skills, allowed me to touch the lives of others, and prepared me for the biggest challenge of my life.
Through my blog I hope to inspire you, empower you, educate you, amuse you and bring value to you in at least some small way.
© 2012 Cathy Owen Consulting. All Rights Reserved.
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