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MW of the Month // July 7, 2014

When a child is diagnosed with Autism, it is life-changing for families. The information around Autism—it's causes and treatments—is unclear, and in recent years, it's hotly debated. Questions like “why are there more cases of Autism than ever?” and “are environment factors an issue?” are important. But for a family just receiving a diagnosis, the most important question is “What do we do now?” Business owner and PHD Pamela Wiley has based her career around this question. She has developed a treatment for Autism which has families from all around Los Angeles flocking to her LA Speech and Language Therapy Centers. Widely recognized as an expert in her field, in 2000 she was named a Fellow of the American Speech and Hearing Association, which is the highest honor bestowed upon its members. Also during that year, she was awarded the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Business person of the Year Award for Southern California. Her community involvement doesn’t stop there. She works with the March of Dimes and helps organize an annual “Making a Difference in the Lives of Children” Luncheon here in LA.

I got the chance to chat with this Made Woman and learn about her story and how she’s creating miracles in the lives of young kids with Autism.

Serena Watson: Your career has been dedicated to Speech Pathology. Why did you choose that field?

Pamela Wiley: Actually, quite by accident. I had a young African-American professor; she was a young PHD. I took her class just because I needed to figure out a major -- My mother was applying pressure. I saw a class on phonetics, and I thought “Well I don’t know anything about that. Let me try it.” I went in and was actually so inspired by the black professionals – the black PHDs—because at the time there was a lot of discussion on ‘Black English.’ It was just very intriguing. So she’s the reason why I got into the profession actually… She was an amazing professor.

SW: That’s awesome. It’s amazing what a great teacher can do. You went to the Claremont Graduate University of Education for your PHD. How did your education there prepare you for your career?

PW: I think it gave me a great preparation because it was a smaller program. My PHD is in education; my undergraduate degrees are in Speech Pathology and ideology. So the PHD was just the icing on the cake… I already owned my business so it’s not like I need it for promotion, I didn’t need it for anything other than my own personal growth and development… The field of Speech Pathology is opening up but it’s still less than 2% African American. So when I was coming up there were very, very few of us… And you know – you experience a lot of racism. But you endure because… you know what you have to go through and you keep your eye on the end results… So my thinking was, I wanted to go somewhere where they are going to value me, value the experience that I’m bringing in and the individual that I am… Claremont was a perfect match.

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SW: That’s great to know that towards the end of your educational career you can still have an amazing experience that inspires you.

PW: I think it’s just realizing your value. I think sometimes as women, sometimes as people of color we tend to devalue ourselves. We tend to look at what we don’t have, what we’re not bringing to the table vs. all we are bringing to the table. But I was clear on it. I’m bringing an entrepreneur. I’m female, I’m African American. I’ve persevered through systems that weren’t necessarily supportive or welcoming to me and I got through it. So I’m bringing a lot to the table in my mind. It might have just been my mind but that’s what I felt. [Laughs] And I’m not asking for scholarship, I’m writing the checks so it needs to be a perfect match.

SW: That’s a great perspective. I love it… You’ve grown so much since you started. You founded the LA Speech and Language Therapy Center in 1979 and you’ve grown to have centers all over LA.

PW: We have three Speech Pathology centers, the Culver City site, Downey, and we just opened another one in Studio City last year. Then we have early intervention sites located in Culver City, Lawndale, Southgate and then a Mommy & Me program in LA. We also have a preschool for physically developing children on the same campus as the early intervention program in LA.

SW: A huge undertaking to say the least. I’m sure you faced many challenges as your business grew over time. What’s kept you going?

PW: Probably just the families and the children. I wish I had a story saying I faced many challenges but… I haven’t really. It’s like everything has always fallen into place… I’m always reluctant to say that because, you know – everyone has a story. “What was it like?” But I don’t. Doors opened up for me that I never even thought about opening. Things come my way and it just all clicks.

SW: Well, at least you know you’ve been on the right path. And through it all what has been the most memorable moment or honor in your career?

PW: I think I’m living the memorable moment right now, in that a lot of the children I’ve worked with Autism and other special needs when they were little and now they’re sixteen, seventeen, and eighteen… So I’ve actually recently developed a new program, to do some very unique pre-vocational training for these older kids with Autism. Who can be productive citizens but they need some specialized attention—so to speak -- to kind of prepare them for the working world. So yeah I’m living it right now. Most of the kids who start with us, stay with us and we are getting them as early as 18 months to two years. So now 14-15 years later these kids are older. When I decided to start this program, I contacted some of these kids that I remembered and thought would be the right age and every last one of those kids came back. So to have some of these boys come back with ‘staches, six feet tall… So handsome… Doing so well… It just means so much to me…And that’s the kind of thing that inspires me… Keeps me going.

SW: That’s great that your work is so meaningful and it’s something that you love doing. I know that you’ve done other community work. What inspired you to start the Making a Difference In the Lives of Children Luncheon?

PW: When I saw an increasing number of grandparent caregivers bringing in kids that were pre-natal drug exposed, and the kids had a host of problems as a result of abuse, neglect, abandonment, not to mention the influence of drugs in their system. So the kids were really challenging. I saw this particular grandmother who brought a child in and the child was a handful. She was really upset that day and she said “I’m not going to come back. He’s not making any progress.” So I tried to calm her down but she was just done…  When the little boy came out he had a happy face on his hand because he had done such good work and he said “look momma!” He gave her a smile and she gave him a smile and she kissed him. And she looked at me and said “OK, we’ll be back next week.” She must have been 65 or 70 and yet that smile on his face changed her whole attitude. That really moved me and I started thinking – wouldn’t it be nice to do something for people like this. We started [the luncheon] that first year and had more than two hundred participants. It went from just giving out certificates to getting celebrities involved. Back in the day we had celebrity chairs like Malcolm Jamal Warner, Cedric the Entertainer, Holly Robinson Peete, Victoria Rowell... And we’ve done that for sixteen years. In the last four or five years we’ve given away $30-40,000.

Dr. Wiley’s passion for speech pathology has lead to her having a successful career but, more than that, has changed countless lives. Her drive is inspirational and her belief in herself commands authority. Women like this don’t just make money they make a difference. For more information on the LA Speech and Language Therapy Center visit 

Want to learn more about Speech and Language therapy? Join us on July 28th at 1pm PST for a Twitter chat with Dr. Pamela Wiley! Use the hashtag #MWChat to ask her your questions.

Published in Business

MW of the Month // June 2, 2014

Working and succeeding in a huge corporation can sometimes feel less like climbing a ladder and more like fighting on a battlefield. Managing countless employees, huge revenue goals and a global brands isn’t easy. To do it well requires innate skill, patience, organization and… practice. Lauren Dorsey has been with Target since 2006 and has worked her way up to District Team Leader. The discount retailer is the second largest in country with 1,789 stores in the US. With over 361,000 employees it can be hard to stand out and find success in the crowd. But Lauren has always managed to shine. In her current position, she oversees ten stores in Ventura County with each store manager reporting in to her. She accepted the position a year ago and is still learning the ropes. But her dedication to the Target agenda started right before she graduated from Berkeley. A chance meeting during a career fair at her school turned into an eight year accelerated career path. And she’s not done yet.

Lauren started off at Target as a Softlines Executive Team Leader focusing only on apparel and accessories. Hitting the ground running she worked to make sure that the store was full of trends that were on fashion and at affordable prices. "The goal was to be your preferred shopping destination. One stop shop!" She went on to become an Off-Site Specialist, managing merchandise in various warehouses for stores with overflow. Quickly moving up the ranks (in true Made Woman style), Lauren soon was managing her own store in Carson, California. With a typical Target location bringing in thousands of customers each day and revenues of up to $35-45 million a year, this was no easy task. “Every day there is a new challenge. It's all about growing sales, providing amazing service for our guests, and taking care of our team.” She explained that as a retail manager you want to create an amazing company culture where teams feel valued and respected. Happy teams take pride in their work, and will give 110% to ensure every guest that walks in leaves happy with everything on their list. And people love Target. The corporation’s total revenue in 2013 was upwards of $72.6 billion (a lot of that was probably me. How do you walk in there just trying to buy toothpaste and walk out $100 poorer? It’s a mystery.)

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After much success as a store manager, Lauren was promoted to District Team Leader last June. Despite the fluctuating economy, and intense competition (three new Wal-Marts just opened in her market) there is still pressure to be #1. “You want to do better than you did last year, showing progression and improvement year after year.” She combats this by focusing on delivering results and being a good leader. Lauren inspires her team members by understanding who they really are and knowing what motivates them. “Some people prefer a very direct tough love, while others need a softer more inspirational and engaging approach. Either way, my goal is to never just give them the answer. I rather watch my teams grow as leaders pointing them in the right direction, but allowing them to experience the aha moments.” When her team deserves a little recognition, she even goes so far as to send hand-written notes to them at home. “It doesn’t have to be over the top, just meaningful.” New to her role but well prepared, Target has laid down the foundation for Lauren's success, sending her to conferences like the NBMBAA Leadership Institute and the Executive Leadership Council's Women's Leadership Symposium, which helps mid-level managers move to the C-suite.  

Ms. Dorsey handles it all with grace and style but her determination was tested when her father fell ill and was in need of a kidney transplant. Sadly, he stayed on the transplant list for seven years with no recourse in sight. Her father’s illness threw her family into turmoil but Lauren somehow found the courage to step up and save a life by taking part in a kidney donation program in 2009. Through UCLA's Kidney Exchange program she underwent an operation where her kidney was taken and transplanted into another young man named Daniel. In exchange, Lauren’s father received a new organ as well. This personal sacrifice went public when Katie Couric did a special on the lifesaving exchange. A daddy’s girl at heart, Lauren felt honored to participate in the exchange and now works to encourage others to donate as well. “Donate Life is a wonderful organization that educates people on organ donation. Read up on it and possibly save a life!”  

Lauren has set herself apart as a “Targeteer” taking advantage of the great developmental culture of the company to move up quickly. She’s taken their fourteen leadership expectations to heart, “You have to personally take the time to connect the dots between the tasks you do daily to your overall leadership. Am I resilient and adaptable? Strategic? Collaborative? Did I deliver results? That’s the leadership education I’ve received from Target.” There are still aspects of her leadership that she seeks to grow but she has her eyes set on the C-suite and is working hard to get there. “The sky is the limit and I’m definitely not going to create my own ceiling.”

Published in Business

Start-up Spotlight // May 19, 2014

Sisters Kimberly and Wendy Willming finish each other’s sentences. Like a lot of other sisters, they have cultivated a short-hand language over a lifetime together. But even considering their 26 years together, these sisters have an uncanny understanding of one another. They’re twins, and though they’re technically fraternal, they look so much alike that it’s unsettling upon first meeting them. The Willming sisters not only grew up together, but they were college roommates. Today, the two currently live together in Los Angeles and have recently embarked on a creative and strategic adventure together. After a handful of years spent behind-the-scenes at some of the city’s major studios, Kimberly and Wendy have launched Duplicity Studios. A new media one-stop shop.

These ambitious and entertainment savvy twins are developing their own productions, but more than that, Duplicity is art house new media studio. The duo are crafting strategic partnerships and original content for hungry, entrepreneurial brands. With an entertainment industry so deeply cemented in traditional milieus, these two are carving out a new path by bridging classic aesthetics with new ideas.

Kimberly and Wendy are the human manifestation of yin and yang: Wendy’s business and strategic tendencies compliment Kimberly’s creative concepts and acumen. It is this prolific and dynamic style that has carried through to Duplicity’s latest short film (having just wrapped production as of this writing). Alongside that, they are currently collaborating with a multi-faceted local Los Angeles art gallery and think-tank iam8bit for whom they are honing brand strategy and developing content. Wendy notes, “[iam8bit] fully respects our use of mixed media and cinematic flair. Our work with them has been about capturing their daily routine. We wanted to capture how owners Jon Gibson and Amanda White work together in this labor of love.” With iam8bit, Duplicity Studios is helping shepherd the journey of a company whose roots are in the video game industry (hence the name) to that of a full-fledged creative studio that spans across creative marketing, production, products, and events.

MW: How long has Duplicity Studios been incubating?

Wendy Willming: It’s been in the works for a while. Ever since we moved out here, we’ve been wanting to do this but we really needed the studio experience first.

Kimberly Willming: A lot of it is learning the industry and, between both of us, we feel like we can do just as well with all the knowledge we’ve gained to start doing our own thing.

MW: How would you describe Duplicity?

WW: What we want is our platform to display our own works, but it’s also a creative way for us to explore the city and—

KW: And work with other artists around town. We’re going to produce content for others and it’s also a way for us to expose the elements of the entertainment industry that we’re passionate about. We’re starting with this short film we just wrote, directed, and produced. For our clients though, they have a history and it’s all about how they want that to be seen.

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MW: Can you tell me about your short film?

KW: It’s a three-and-a-half-minute Sci-Fi short. It has a very stylistic approach in the vein of Jean Pierre Jeunet in feel and tone. It’s about a female android who, one night, explores something about herself that she didn’t previously realize she could do. It’s a kind of a slice of life, if you will.

WW: It was magical the way everything came together for us on the shoot. We shot at Ray’s Diner near Santa Monica.

MW: Who is an ideal client for Duplicity?

KW: What ultimately we’re looking to evoke [for any of our clients] is that old Hollywood feel but with a modern spin. Streamlining the old and the new.

WW: Definitely brands with that entrepreneurial spirit.

MW: How are you finding the life-work balance of start-up life?

KW: Late nights. Early mornings. But it’s so fun!

WW: Working the nine to five can be so draining emotionally and creatively, so then to know that you have something that you’re managing and you’re passionate about more than really helps the day to day.

MW: What is unique about your clients?

WW: They work in different mediums. They show prints in their galleries, they make tangibles, they do events. We’re always able to learn from them while at the same time helping them to figure out what and who they are as a company.

KM: They’re niche.

MW: What differentiates you from other studios or media agencies?

KW: We have a very clean style. And the fact that we also will produce and shoot on film in addition to digital. Everyone has a nostalgic feel lately.

WW: That classic Hollywood look never gets old.

KW: Everyone has predicted the demise of film, but really it’s just about having the knowledge. Digital is great, but I don’t think film has gone away completely—and shouldn’t. And by combining the two [digital and film] you can create a unique experience.

MW: Where will you be in a year from now?

KW: In a year, I would like to have our feature done (script-wise) and start financing it. And also as far as clients go, a trust of brands within the city—

WW: Just having great creative collaborations.

Published in Entrepreneurship

Business // March 24, 2014

When you are trying to launch your upcoming project, career, or business, Twitter is a great platform for networking. Because the majority of users are public, and anyone can read and interact with your tweets, it allows access to top entrepreneurs, motivators and mentors.

These are our picks for best Twitter accounts to follow in order to boost your business and entrepreneurial efforts.


Eric Knopf (@ericknopf)

Knopf is a serial entrepreneur and has been involved with a variety of small ventures and startups. He is the co-founder of web technology startup Webconnex and his Twitter feed is full of tips and ideas to inspire and empower other budding entrepreneurs.

Penelope Trunk (@penelopetrunk)

As the founder of leading career development community Brazen Careerist, Penelope Trunk’s Twitter is a must follow stream, with tweets on balancing life, business, entrepreneurship as well as some humorous thoughts on life. Look to Trunk’s tweets for ideas on becoming a better leader and thoughts on how to live a more successful life.

Richard Branson (@richardbranson)

As the founder and driving force behind the Virgin Group, Branson is everyone’s favorite quirky entrepreneur, leading the way for workaholic entrepreneurs to “have their cake and eat it too.” Look to Branson’s Twitter feed for not only his thoughts and insights into business leadership and entrepreneurship, but also for his ongoing volunteer efforts, including eco-friendly, conservation and social good campaigns. Branson also frequently responds to followers, making him an accessible resource for insights on many different topics.

Information & Idea Sharing

Melinda Emerson (@SmallBizLady)

Looking for someone whose tweets are going to shame you into making your entrepreneurial dreams come true? You’re in the right place. Melinda Emerson is a Twitter favorite; Forbes even named her the #1 Influential Woman for Entrepreneurs. She is an author on becoming your own boss and leads weekly live Twitter chat #SmallBizChat Wednesdays 5-6pm where her community flocks to discuss the latest and provide insights and tips for successful entrepreneurial and small businesses success.

Guy Kawasaki (@guykawasaki)

Guy Kawasaki is the Co-founder of Alltop, an information and headline sourcing powerhouse, a contributor to Entrepreneur Magazine and a Twitter favorite with over one million followers. Kawasaki is a brilliant businessman and his tweets (lots of them) show his apt dedication to marketing in the digital age, social media and tools to power businesses and personal branding. His feed always keeps you guessing, as he will occasionally throw in some tweets on other subjects, llike politics, health and pop culture.

Jeff Bullas (@jeffbullas)

Need some answers on digital marketing, social media or how to harness them for your business? Jeff Bullas’ Twitter feed is the perfect place to look.  Touted as one of Forbes Top 50 Social Media Power Influencers, he tweets the latest on trending news, social media tips, case studies and insights into social media marketing to help power brands, and businesses.

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Chris Brogan (@chrisbrogan)

Speaker, author, publisher and CEO/President of Human Business Works, Chris Brogan is helping power your career one tweet at a time. Brogan offers digital courses, mentorships and coaching, and followers get insights into his digital marketing, sales and self-motivating tips through his tweets. Keep tabs on Brogan’s feed for sneak peeks, behind-the-scenes photos and for responses to questions.


Sumaya Kazi (@sumaya)

Entrepreneur, speaker and thought leader, Sumaya Kazi has worn many hats, and followers get a peek at her insights and thoughts on topics like entrepreneurship, young leaders and professionalism, career development, non-profit work, social media, technology and diversity. But don’t be surprised if you spot a couple of tweets on family, college football and salsa dancing sprinkled in her feed.

Brian Moran (@brianmoran)

Business owner Brian Moran describes his work as “helping entrepreneurs and marketers navigate the small and medium-sized business space.” Moran’s followers get all of that and more. Moran tweets his experience as an entrepreneur and publisher and mixes his own views, as well as experiences, tips and advice from other established entreprenuers.

Jeff Barrett (@BarrettAll)

As the founder and President for Status Creative, Jeff Barrett not only offers great insight into the developments of the digital world, including marketing, social media, PR and more, he is a great networking resource for entrepreneurs and the business-minded individual alike. He runs the weekly #BareItAll live Twitter chat on Wednesdays at 11 am - noon, often including a guest host and a discussion  on a range of food-for-thought topics on digital, social, PR and pop culture. Barrett also makes himself a resource for others to connect and engage with him.

Who are some of your favorite mentors and motivators to follow on Twitter? Share your thoughts with us and tweet us @madewomanmag!

Published in Business

Business // April 22, 2013 

Whenever I work with clients, I’m a little bit of a party pooper. I’m always reminding them about CAN-SPAM laws and Facebook regulations. I’m not the cool consultant who lets you underage drink at my house and won’t tell your parents. Over here it’s lights out at 10 with a cup of warm milk.

That might not be for everyone, and I totally get that. But it’s my job as a professional to work ethically and keep my clients up-to-date.

And there’s a reason I really like following the rules – because as a consumer, it really irritates me when brands break them! Especially when it comes to email communications. Recently, I’ve received a few emails that I never opted in to receive and that have no way – that I can identify – to opt out. So, my only option would be to send an email directly to the person and hope that she removes me from her list. That’s not cool. It’s awkward and annoying. And, it’s against the rules.

Spamming people does not make them want to buy your product. It does not make people want to refer their colleagues to you. It just makes them mad and then, in turn, makes them passively aggressively write nasty articles about you.

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So, if you’re thinking about sending emails to your clients and prospects (which can be a very effective strategy for some businesses) here’s what you should do:

  • Set up an account with MailChimp. It’s free and very easy to use.
  • Create a list and opt-in form in your new account. You can even add a code on your website and Facebook page to capture addresses.
  • Promote your sign-up form. Publicize it on Twitter, Facebook and in your email signature line. Send personal emails to your contacts asking that they sign up and give them a great reason why (discounts, tips, VIP access…)
  • Generate great content and send it to the people that WANT it.

When you use a service like MailChimp, you are sure that everyone has opted in and that they can easily opt out if the information is no longer needed. It’s a simple and free process and it will actually help build your list beyond people you know personally or have met at a networking event.

Published in Business

Business // October 7, 2013 

So you’ve got your blog or website up and running, and are posting regularly on Facebook and Twitter. But, if you’re not on Pinterest, you might be missing the boat. Pinterest has garnered substantial attention as a major traffic referrer and purchasing powerhouse. The visually-oriented community consumes photographic content in order to inspire direct purchasing (33 percent of users buy directly) and traffic. An active Pinterest community can take your little known blog or site to the next level.

Pinterest allows users to collect photos (pins) from around the web or those already uploaded to Pinterest from other users and organizes them onto “boards.” Imagine the bulletin board above your desk and how you would pin up photos of outfits, quotes, great photos or articles for reference and inspiration. The same idea has now moved to the web in the form of Pinterest. Here, you can group all those great recipes, outfits, your favorite quotes, artwork or any other category you might be interested in.

Pinterest, although only launched in 2010, grew to see more than 10 million users in 2012, a significant amount more than Facebook or Twitter saw only two years after launch. The site has also clearly become a hotbed for female interaction with more than 80% of users being women. The most popular pins include crafts and DIY, fashion and food. If there are people blogging about it and taking great photos, there is a rabid Pinterest community clamoring for more. So if you’ve decided to take the plunge and get your blog started on Pinterest, here are some tips to get you started:

Optimize your profile

Start with the basics. Make sure you fill out all of the information in your profile, including verifying your website. Make sure your “About” section describes your brand and your website succinctly, and make sure to use your targeted keywords because this is indexed by search engines.  Upload a photo. For a major brand or business, a logo will work, but for an information website or blog, a headshot of the founder makes is more personable.

Develop Your Voice

When creating boards, make them specific and targeted to allow users to be able to determine exactly what kind of content is on your board. Instead of just one board for a generic topic like “fashion,” make a few boards that describe different types of fashion or explores different styles. You can have a board for street style, one for great shoes, stripes, and other trends or similar themes.

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Pin Your Own Images

This is one of the most important part of your Pinterest strategy, because this is what is going to drive people to your website to view your content or your products.  Make sure all of your content has great images to accompany it and if you have your own photos, watermark them with your logo or website. You can go a step further and also put a text overlay with the title or topic of your article or post. If you don’t have access to Photoshop, you can use a free service like PicMonkey.

Develop Inspirations

Pinterest is a great way to tell a story about your brand, the motivations and personality of your website or blog. Connect with major themes and align them with your brand’s goals. Have a board of inspirational quotes. If you have a fitness blog, try doing a board of great outdoor hikes. Create boards that are going to be aesthetically pleasing, but also connect in some way to your target communities.

Take time to connect

Just as you put in effort to read and comment on other people’s blogs, take time to follow interesting people in your community. Network with them by liking, repining and commenting on their pins to develop and build relationships.

How are you developing your Pinterest community? Tell us in the comments below!

Published in Business

MW of the Month // December 30, 2013

British born, Barbara Sealy’s story is marked by many things. Pain and poverty, hurt…numerous trials and tremendous growth. But her story also represents the essence of achievement, of victory. Last week, I was honored -- or shall I say, “honoured”-- to hear some of Barb’s remarkable story first-hand. In her lovely English accent.

Born and raised in Forest Gate, a community in London’s East End that she compared to US’s inner cities, Barb had a rough childhood. Originally from Barbados (an English colony), she and the rest of her large family arrived in the East End of London in the ‘50s to find a new, diverse community with people from a variety of backgrounds. Growing up, Barb faced extreme poverty and abuse from her father, until her mother took on raising her and her brothers and sisters alone. From an early age, Barb loved music and started using it as an escape: she would lose herself in music and film, and she and her siblings would sing together to cope with their often tumultuous environment. As early as her teens, Barb had inherited a strong work ethic from her mother; she remembers vowing that she would do everything in her power to keep other children from experiencing what she had in her household.

As an adult Barb visited the States on a vacation in 1987, and a year later she decided to make the move permanent. Whereas back home she had never been encouraged to think about career options (she was more focused on survival), she knew deep down that there had to be something more.  By now she knew that she wanted to help people and be a philanthropist, but she wanted her work to be tied into music somehow. “Music lifted my spirits,” she reflects. “I said if I can help another child not feel isolated or scared, and show them -- through music -- that they can achieve what they want, it would be really cool.” And that’s just what she set out to do.

Barb’s first jobs in the US included working for companies like Disney, as an administrator in the Video Division, but she credits her time working with the Grammys as the biggest learning experience of all. As the assistant to Michael Greene, the President of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, Barb was truly tested. “Because of how I was raised, I didn’t really have the social skills to help me to see how the corporate side of the world really works... I saw how somebody ran a company from the inside and it really set me up to do what I'm doing now.”

During this time, she met Robert (Bob) Brodhead, and they immediately clicked. They came from similar backgrounds and both had a mission to help young people. The two were asked to start the West Coast operation of the Thelonius Monk Institute of Jazz, an organization that has been thriving in Washington, D.C. for years. In this role, Barb worked to bring the jazz program to inner city kids by building after-school programs and other ventures to keep music education alive. She spoke to music departments at South-Central schools like Hamilton and Washington and found corporate sponsors like Nissan and the NBA to help support the programs. At one point, she coordinated a multi-school jazz band with, Reggie Andrews of Locke High School, that would play pre-game and halftime shows for the Lakers!

During her time with the Institute, she put together a scholarship fund and raised well over a million dollars to help students go to college. “Kids who would not have the opportunity financially were able to attend UCLA, USC, the Manhattan School of Music and the Berklee School of Music. The Monk Institute was very successful.”

What’s more, she taught these students that a solid career in music is not about fame. “I always taught that it’s more about having a career and supporting themselves doing what they loved. Do what you love and the money will come. In the meantime, you must know how to run a business and balance your checkbook.” These weren’t official classes, but kids would hang out after the program and ask Barb and her team about these realities. “They weren't learning this stuff at home. Nobody told them what would happen if they didn't do these simple, but life-changing things.”

After the success of the Thelonius Monk Institute, Barb turned around an after school program called Colors United, and then she and Bob Brodhead founded Creative Counseling Network (CCN) in 2006. Both programs were supported in large part by Barb’s close friend and January’s Made Woman of the Month, Barbara Vohryzek.

With CCN, Barb and Bob created a program that offered performing arts training, as well as mental health treatment. “One thing we noticed when working with other nonprofits was that we were providing great shows and entertainment, but the kids still had to go back to their environments and lacked the mental tools to carry the positivity through.” Sanctioned by the Department of Mental Health, CCN offered psycho-social rehabilitation, and involved social workers and therapists.

After CCN, the unthinkable happened in Barb’s life. She experienced a huge health scare that left her bedridden and fighting for her life. During this dark time, her former students and friends gave her another reason to keep fighting.  “I said, I can't just lay here or I'm going to die.  Part of what kept me going is that many of my students, like Miles Mosley, had called me; they had graduated and gotten their degrees, but the music landscape had changed and they didn't know where to start. So it came to mind that I should create a music management company to represent some of the people that had come through my programs over the years.”  So Barb decided she would See it into Being -- and created SB Music Management.

Photo By: Kristine Ambrose

Barbara started managing multiple artists from her house, even though she struggled just to leave her bed each day. Many of her artists weren’t even aware of her illness, and knowing she had to make a call or send an email was what gave her the resolve to move from her bed, to at least her couch (“I contemplated calling it On the Couch Productions!”); this was literally the difference between her life or death. “Other people give you things to fight for, so you start to fight for yourself,” Barb recalls.

Today, Barb’s music management company is thriving, and she has seen artists like Miles Mosley, described as the Jimi Hendrix of the upright bass, grow to have hugely successful careers. Miles’ group, the West Coast Get Down, is a collective of jazz musicians who have traveled the world together, playing for people like Carlos Santana, Stevie Wonder, Alicia Keys, American Idol and the Voice.

By setting her artists up for longevity, Barb is “trying to change the face of management and the music industry by showing artists that they can have well-rounded music careers.” Miles Mosley, for example, has also carved out a niche in the film and video game trailer world, composing scores for major film trailer houses, publishing companies, web series and multiple Viacom projects.

The amazing thing is that through it all, Barb has stayed true to her life’s purpose. She has helped countless young people not only overcome seemingly insurmountable odds, but to gain independence and thrive as well-rounded artists and individuals. “I wanted to teach people to become adults the best way they know how... Just because you came from a hard background, it doesn't mean that you can't have dreams. Young people need to see that they have a place in the world, regardless of their circumstances. But they also need to know that nobody gives you anything; you have to work for it.” If they’re in need of an example of hard work, they don’t need to look too far.

Published in Business

Business // December 30, 2013

We’ve all had those moments, chatting away at a dinner party, vino in hand ... you ask the smokin’ hot hipster sitting to your left what he does for a living. “Oh, I’m a resort water slide tester,” he casually replies like that’s something you hear everyday. “Excuse me—a what?! Awesome ... I didn’t even know that was a job.”

In today’s world, countless unique careers exist that your parents and college counselor probably never mentioned (or even knew about for that matter.) At a young age, most of us are plopped onto a track heading straight to Normal Jobville. Few kids grow up wanting be to a roller coaster designer, hair stimulation supervisor, menu engineer, ice cream taster, fortune cookie writer, or conlinguist—but they are all very real vocations.

While some high schools and universities are attempting to better prepare future young adults for occupations that are unique or don’t yet exist, most haven’t found effective ways to make students more aware of the wide variety of positions that are available, beyond the basics. So, how does a modern girl discover unconventional career options? It’s not as difficult as one might think.

Start by digging deeper into the world in which you want to work. Food, fashion, photography, medical, writing, hospitality, travel, entertainment, interior design—in each industry, there are a plethora of uncommon jobs. Talk to as many people as you can who work in fashion, if that’s your passion, and Google! The answers are there under simple searches like “unique jobs in fashion.” Another option that yields results—visit the “career opportunities” section on websites of companies you’d like to work for. Often you’ll see job listed that you never knew existed. Here’s an example on

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There are also occupations that are highly unusual by nature and require unique individuals to fulfill the duties—i.e. sea urchin diver, coconut safety engineer, and snake milker—all examples of work that definitely qualify as unique, but also are not for everyone. Because most women I know (not all, but most), don’t want to learn how to extract venom from snakes and sell it to research labs for use in anti-venom medications, here is a list of unconventional jobs that might actually be of interest:

Fashion - beyond the buyer, model, and fashion designer

Textile Distributor

This person is the middleman/woman between textile manufacturers and designers. The job involves a fair amount of travel, as many fabrics are sourced in other countries. It also provides plenty of freedom from being stuck in a office cube. Textile distributors make an average of $105,000 a year.

Fashion Colorist

It’s the job of a colorist to make sure that fabrics are the right color and of the same dye lot. If you have an amazing eye for color differentiation and know how different light sources effect the way we see color, this might be your next job in fashion. Colorists make an average of $53,000 a year.

Other unusual jobs in fashion: Fashion Forecaster, Set Designer, Personal Shopper

Food - beyond the chef and restaurant

Recipe Developer and Tester

Today you don’t have to have a professional culinary degree to get sell your recipes if you’re an amazing cook, uber detail oriented and can write precise directions. Magazines, brands, and even celebrity food personalities are hiring home-chefs to help fill their plates, pages, websites and cookbooks with delicious recipes. This is typically freelance work and it helps to have a food blog to showcase your talents. Recipes are generally sold for between $275 and $1,000 each. If you’re skilled at food photography, you can charge more.

Gourmet Food Buyer

If you have a passion for food, this could be a dream job. Stores like Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and Costco all employ people to find and purchase the foods they sell and to decide which items to take off the shelves. To qualify for a position like this, it’s best to have a background in hospitality and gourmet food, but Trader Joe’s is known for promoting from within if you have the drive. Other skills needed: excellent palate, ability to negotiate with vendors, product sourcing, inventory management, marketing, and an understanding of trends in consumer taste. Travel is sometimes involved and salaries range from $50,000 to $80,000.

Other unusual jobs in food: Food Stylist, Culinary Trendologist, Test Kitchen Taste Tester, Restaurant Publicist, Chocolate Explorer

Hospitality - beyond the concierge, front desk, and hotel manager

Cruise Director

This is an amazing way to travel the world, entertain people, and avoid sitting behind a desk all day. Cruise directors are responsible for all on-board hospitality, entertainment and social events. They act as the public face of the company and are constantly interacting with the guests. For this job you’ll need a charismatic personality, tons of energy, the ability to be away from home for extended periods of time, and experience working in recreation, entertainment and/or hospitality. Here is an example of a job listing for Cruise Director for Royal Caribbean. Salaries can range from $45,000 to $150,000.

Vibe Manager

Hot hotels today are hiring “Vibe Managers” to create the overall “vibe” of the hotel—from the music in the lobby, spa and elevators to creating unforgettable corporate meeting experiences for hotel clients, e.g. setting up a DJ booth in the conference room so the CEO can be spinning pre and post meeting. Read more about the Vibe Manager for Hard Rock Hotel, San Diego here. Salaries range from $50,000 to $75,000. Here is a list of other unique jobs in the hospitality industry.

No matter where your passions lie, you can be sure there are unique jobs that exist in that field … you just have to do some digging to uncover your first or next unconventional career!

Published in Job Hunting
Monday, 16 December 2013 17:12

Business | Green Marketing 101

Business // December 17, 2013

These days, going green is more than just a trend, it's the smart thing to do in the business world. If you want to make sure your customers know that you care about the earth, your business needs to integrate environmentally-friendly marketing decisions at every turn. Some of these choices may sound simple, but they are a great way to let your audience know that your brand is one they can trust, and that what matters to them also matters to you. 

1. Stick to Email

If you've printed business flyers before, you know how expensive and wasteful the process can be. Eye-catching mailers are still great for certain promotions and times of the year, but e-newsletters and electronic coupons are great all the time. Give your customers the option to subscribe on your website, but don't inundate their inboxes. Instead, focus on messages that really give them value. 

2. Recycled Printing

When you do need printed material, switch to recycled paper and vegetable-based inks whenever possible. You can also use these methods in packaging, letting your customers know that you don't simply talk about going green - you actually do it. They will get a positive feeling from picking up your flyers or buying your products if they know they are supporting a company who supports saving the planet. Don't forget to print the source of the materials right on the paper for them to read!

3. Green Promotional Products

When you're exhibiting at a trade show or just doing promotions for your business, think about investing in green promotional items that show your overall company philosophy on helping the environment. There are plenty of options, from eco-friendly tote bags and apparel to LED lights, recycled stationary, and everything in between. These freebies can help introduce you to colleagues who share your attitude towards eco-friendly business.

4. Offer Customer Incentives

Don't just set an example with your business, encourage your audience to go green themselves. Offer discounts for shoppers who participate in local environmental cleanups. Give coupons for green products and incentives to reach your business by bicycle or public transportation, or bring in reusable shopping bags. You can get creative with promotions designed to get people thinking about green lifestyle changes.

5. Use Green Technology

The shift toward internet-based business also gives a boost to the environment, and when they visit your website, customers should be aware of how electronic buying is actually environmentally friendly. That also means you should look into going green with your IT department, including hosting your site on the most energy-efficient servers possible. Sustainable web hosting solutions are available now which are mainly powered by wind or solar energy, and that's a great thing to communicate to your site visitors.

The benefits of green marketing campaigns are enormous. You will not only build a great reputation for your business, you'll ensure customer loyalty from people who take environmental issues to heart. Going green should be more than just a fad to you, because your customers will know the difference. It's okay to spend a little more time and money, and it's great to think outside the box. Your earth-conscious brand will earn staying power and a whole lot of respect. 

Published in Business
Thursday, 12 December 2013 23:03

Business | New Year's Workplace Resolutions

Business // December 15, 2013

A new year is a upon us, ladies, and that means it’s time to pour something sparkly and make a toast to new resolutions. Not only is this a great time to make some changes or new commitments in our personal lives, but it’s also an opportune time for a fresh start in the workplace. Whether you’ve been in a slump at work or are flying high loving your current job, let’s all make some New Year’s workplace resolutions together. Here are a few of mine:

Avoid office gossip

I don’t know about you, but on occasion (okay, maybe on a weekly basis) I find myself getting frustrated with people at the office and really needing to vent. But venting can quickly become gossip if I take it beyond my closest confidantes. In 2014 I am resolving to watch what I say about other people to other people. No good can really come of it.

Watch the extra office goodies

This may be in part to my current pregnancy, but recently I’ve adopted the bad habit of reaching into the office candy bowl and snacking on meeting leftovers too often. Every now and then I think it’s okay to treat myself, but making a habit out of it only leads to extra empty calories, which are often the hardest to work off. When I return to work after maternity leave, I’m going to focus on keeping my desk stocked with healthy snacks.

Seek a mentor 

Sometimes it can be hard to find a mentor at work. Most of us have supervisors or managers whom we report to, but in 2014 I’d really like to find a mentor who can provide guidance beyond my day-to-day work. This year I resolve to spend some time getting to know a colleague I admire and whose career path is one to which I aspire . Even just asking him or her to coffee would be a great way to learn more about how they achieved their career success.

Dress for success

 I’m going to blame pregnancy for this one again, too, but I find myself choosing the more casual side of “business casual” at work these days. We have a very laid back dress code, so it’s been easy to trade in my previously polished look for something comfier. But hey, if I want to reach the top of the ladder, I need to dress the part, right? I’ve decided 2014 will be the year I bring my wardrobe back to the professional level that makes me feel strong and successful.

Update professional goals 

Each year I try to set three to five career-related goals. Sometimes I’m not sure where the year is going to take me, but I always at least get something down on paper to help me dream big and work toward new aspirations. True to my own tradition, I plan to get my 2014 career goals down on paper as soon as possible. With a new baby coming in February and a desire to find a balance between motherhood and my current career path, this is one of my most important New Year’s resolutions for 2014.

We all need to tend to our professional growth, and now is the perfect time to take a look at how things are going. So, now it’s your turn. What are your workplace resolutions going to be this year?

Published in Business
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