3 Keys to Entrepreneurship from 3 Key Leaders

3 Keys to Entrepreneurship from 3 Key Leaders

Right now in a small town in Indiana, a city in Ohio or a farm in California, young girls are dreaming of their future.  Many of those dreams have nothing to do with the boys from One Direction. Creativity is blooming and innovation is blossoming. Some day, these young ladies may find themselves on Fortune’s list of the Most Promising Women Entrepreneurs. Created in 2009, the program honors extraordinary female leaders who have founded companies.

3 past winners of this honor offer insights into the entrepreneurial world that any business could benefit by following.

The Ability to be Strategic 

Jody Miller is the co-founder and CEO of the Business Talent Group. She is a proponent of project-based solutions that offer independent professionals the opportunity to take charge of their work-life balance. Her company is on the leading edge of redefining the work place.

“You’ve got to have a sense of where the world is going and how you fit into it. If you need to supplement your existing skills, you need to know what those things you need are and how to get them. It requires a constant ability to understand where your skills are and where the market’s needs are, and then you get the skills you need to supply what’s most in demand.”

To be competitive and relevant in the ever-changing work force, you cannot be content in your skills and wait for the perfect opportunity to knock on your doorbell, buzz on your phone or land in your email. You must keep yourself informed so you can have a battle plan.

The Ability to be Flexible

It could be easy to assume that the world of fitness has exhausted all its possibilities from the Jack LaLanne exercises in the 1940s to the current craze of CrossFit. But Payal Kadakia invented something new when she cofounded ClassPass. Customers pay a monthly fee and gain access to thousands of fitness classes in their area. Kadakia started the company two years ago after trying to find a ballet class in New York City. She just wanted to dance that day and couldn’t. Her innovation has changed fitness. Over 7 million people have subscribed to the service.

“ClassPass has pivoted its business twice, and we’re hoping the third time’s the charm. We started as a search engine, then offered the Passport, but ultimately were able to realize our vision through the ClassPass. Despite the evolution, our mission to help people live happier, active lifestyles has always been the same. To overcome the hurdles we faced, we’ve had to be flexible in our approach in order to keep moving forward. It is better to take a few steps back and change directions than to keep going down the wrong road.”

Technology, business and the vast world of social media form a trifecta that is constantly shifting like the hosts of The View. Flexibility in navigating the market is not an asset but a necessity. As Payal Kadakia opines, the willingness and ability to take a new approach in business can make the difference between a company being relevant or antiquated.

The Ability to be Courageous

The ubiquitous cyber-attack is almost a daily headline. Michelle Zatlyn met this phenomenon head on as the co-founder and head of user experience of CloudFlare, a service that speeds up websites and gives them enhanced protection from cyber-attacks. Websites that sign up with this global network load twice as fast and use 60% less bandwidth than other websites. Today, more than 2,000,000 web properties are faster and safer.

“People don’t take opportunities because the timing is bad, the financial side is unsecure. Too many people are overanalyzing. Sometimes you just need to go for it.”

Zatlyn and her company take on the bullies of the internet every day. Cyber terrorism is real and on the up rise. Her courage has led the way to protect sites. Sometimes the ingredient that makes an entrepreneurial venture succeed is simply the guts to try it. We can all make lists of why we should not take a brave step towards our dreams. The ones who tear up that list and make the leap anyway are the leaders in the entrepreneurial world.


Women like these will continue to inspire and pave the road for young dreamers throughout the country.








Finding What Make You Come Alive photo Shannon Cassidy

Finding What Makes You Come Alive

Do you look at what your organization or company needs and try to fill that need? Sounds like a wonderful practice, right?

Or do you look at what you have to offer and try to use that talent in helping your company?

Howard Thurman, an influential African American author, philosopher, and civil rights leader said, “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” Howard Thurman

Have you come alive in your gifts or talents? Do you use those in your occupation? Take a few minutes and think through these four questions. See if you can put your finger on what makes you come alive.

  1. What do I do with ease while others may struggle?

Just because it is easy does not mean it is your purpose, of course. But a good way to discover what gives you joy is looking at the tasks or assignments that come easily to you. In the same way, if you struggle with a certain ability, you can be sure it’s not something that makes you heart beat faster. Listing what you can do easily is a good place to start on the road to living fully.

  1. What are the compliments I have received more than once?

Your friends and family are a great resource you have for finding out what makes you come alive. Listen to them. They will probably tell you again and again if they notice that you are good at something. Ask those closest to you what they see you doing with exuberance and joy.

  1. What can I imagine doing for 10,000 hours?

Malcolm Gladwell, in his book Outliers, quoted neurologist Daniel Levitin, “The emerging picture from such studies is that ten thousand hours of practice is required to achieve the level of mastery associated with being a world-class expert—in anything.” So what could you imagine doing for that many hours – or what have you done that is on its way to 10,000 hours? If you’ve been spending that much time at it, it probably helps your heart come alive.

  1. What energizes me and what exhausts me?

List the activities or tasks you have done the past couple of weeks. Beside each, write “energize” or “exhaust.” As you look back and analyze your list, make note of any patterns. As you evaluate how you’ve felt after each task, the things you do that make you come alive will emerge.

Once you have realized what makes you come alive, use that knowledge to make your life, and the lives of those around you, more valuable. If you concentrate on what makes you fulfilled, you will naturally meet the needs of those around you, simply because you will be drawn to those needs. Rumi said, “Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love.” The world needs our heart when it is made alive.





5 Benefits of Solitude photo Shannon Cassidy

5 Benefits of Solitude

As active participants of life, as doers and shakers, as people who want to make a difference, we are busy.  But like anything in our world that gets out of balance, working without rest can lead to consequences that negate the positive results of our work.

Bob Kull, author of SOLITUDE: Seeking Wisdom in Extremes, wrote,

We tend to value activity above everything else, but all beings need to rest and recuperate. The widespread occurrence of depression in our culture may be linked to our refusal to allow ourselves quiet time. Feeling the need to be constantly busy can prevent us from turning inward. When we are out of balance, our activity doesn’t arise from a place of stillness and wisdom. 

Solitude, especially in our society today, is not a luxury or an activity we pencil in on calendars. It is a need.

The benefits of solitude should propel it to a list topper of our priorities.

5 Benefits to Solitude

  1. Rebooting the brain. Being “on” or even working diligently doesn’t allow your mind a chance to turn off and rest. Even when you are watching a movie, your brain is working to listen actively and follow the story. But when you are alone and without any distractions, your brain can recharge.
  2. Working through problems. When you sit with a friend and talk, your mind is engaging in your friend’s world as well as yours. It may be an effective way to process your problems and emotions, but to find a solution and come to peace with it requires solitude.
  3. Finding your voice. When you are with people, it is easy to blend your voice with theirs and come to group thoughts and decisions. The influence of others is inevitable. But when you are in solitude, the noises are gone and you are able to hear what you truly want to say and believe.
  4. Improving your relationships. In spending time alone and seeking to understand yourself better, you become a better wife, friend, boss. You will also find yourself appreciating your loved ones more after some quiet time in reflection.
  5. Satisfying your own needs. It is extremely easy to become dependent on others for every emotional or physical need we may have. Our society encourages “togetherness” much more than solitude. But it is in the stillness of being alone that we learn that each of us is indeed, enough. We discover ways to become more confident in who we are. Gratitude and happiness can then take root.

Ester Buchholz, Ph.D. in The Call of Solitude wrote,

Being alone gives us the power to regulate and adjust our lives. It can teach us fortitude and the ability to satisfy our own needs. A restorer of energy, the stillness of alone experiences provides us with much-needed rest. It brings forth our longing to explore, our curiosity about the unknown, our will to be an individual, our hopes for freedom. Alone time is fuel for life.

Solitude is important. And it’s important to note that solitude is not isolation. Isolation is running from something. Solitude is resting in the beauty of being alone.







managing your energy photo Shannon Cassidy

Managing Your Energy

When you think of energy management, you might think of this standard definition: “Energy management is planning and operation of energy production and energy consumption units.”

But what about energy management in people?

A human’s capacity for energy is finite; a fact that many of us ignore. We work for long hours, telling ourselves that as long as we have caffeine or motivation, our energy will go on and on.

It won’t.

To achieve maximum productivity, you must manage your energy. That’s the message of Allison Green Schoop, associate strategy director at global design firm frog.

So how do you manage your energy? Look at it as sprints and recovery. We all know we are going to have big sprints — that’s what makes pursuing a project or business so exciting. The balance between sprints and recovery is key in being your most productive.

To Manage the Sprints:

Monitor your energy levels. We all have different internal rhythms: Some of us are night owls, while others’ brains shut down after 10 p.m. To find out what time of day your energy levels are at their peak, try setting your smartphone to beep every hour and note what you’re doing, how your energy is and what might have affected it, such as whether you just ate a huge, carb-heavy lunch. At the end of a week, assess your notes and look for patterns.

Don’t force it. Once you know your natural energy rhythms, try to honor them. If you experience a 3 p.m. slump every day, for example, trying to power through it will do more harm than good. You won’t be working efficiently, your results will be poor, and you’ll drain even more energy from your mind and body. Instead, during a slump time, try taking a quick walk or doing stretches in your office.

Adjust accordingly. You don’t have to be a slave to your energy levels, of course. Test different ways of energizing yourself, such as exercising, eating different foods, getting lots of water or sleeping more to find out what works best for you. One of my friends finally motivated herself to work out every morning when she realized that doing so eliminated the 3 p.m. slump that had plagued her for years.

To Make Room for Recovery:

Schedule it. No matter whether or not you think you need a break, schedule fun or relaxation activities in advance and stick to them.

Double the break you think you need. You might say, “Sure, I’ll take a break this evening— I’ll give myself a whole hour off!” Not good enough. Whatever the break you think you need, double it. You are most likely underestimating the toll that all of your hard work is taking on your body and mind — even if you’re having fun.

Enlist family and friends. If you schedule a weekend get-away with family or friends, you’ll have no excuse but to unplug. Family and friends can be great accountability buddies for taking the breaks you need.

Break down your biggest goals into achievable, measurable chunks and reward yourself often! For every day that you make a massive to-do list, add a “reward” item at the end that brings you joy.





live fully present photo Shannon Cassidy bridge between

Live Fully Present

One of the best personal development skills you can practice is to live fully present.

How many times have you listened to someone speak to you, be it your boss or spouse or child, and you don’t really hear what they’re saying because your mind is somewhere else? A precious moment has been lost.

How about those moments that something wonderful is happening to you, but your mind is wandering around the “what if’s” of fear? Again, you’ve lost a precious moment of your life.

The answer? Learn to live fully present. Here are five tips to do just that.

Five Tips on How to Live Fully Present

  1. Breathe. When we stop to notice our breathing, we slow down our physical bodies, which in turn slows down our mind. Part of living in the present is not rushing by life’s sacred and sweet moments. Teaching ourselves to stop and breathe will help us slow down enough to take in what your child might be saying to you. It might give you the chance to notice that cloud that looks like a hippo in the middle of the sky. Breathing helps you fully live.
  2. Turn Off Your Electronics. In our world of mobile devices, we have created 45 degrees of separation as we look down at our phones instead of up into someone else’s eyes. The world of social media and online communication can be a positive and wonderful aspect of daily life, but it can also rob us of moments. When you are having coffee with someone, turn your phone off. When you are aware of a wonderful moment, don’t see it through your phone’s camera lens; see it through your own eyes. 
  3. Center Before a Meeting/Conversation. When you are about to enter a meeting, especially during a busy day, it is important to take a moment and “center” yourself. Stop and breathe and think through your intentions. How do you want to present yourself? What is your intention in talking to this person or having this meeting? It is amazing how much more you can be present in a meeting just by taking a few minutes prior to the meeting to get centered.
  1. Stop the Time Traveling. When you find your thoughts travelling back to the past, stop yourself and think about your circumstance that moment. When you sit and find your thoughts dreaming about the future, stop yourself. In doing this you will be practicing how to focus on today and right now.
  1. Practice Mindfulness. We have all been on the road driving somewhere and suddenly we find ourselves at our destination, not realizing how we got there. That can become a common occurrence if we don’t practice mindfulness. Be aware as you do everyday tasks like brushing your teeth or climbing the stairs. Be mindful of every step you take. Practice mindfulness in the little tasks, and you will be more mindful when it matters.

What other tips do you have to live fully present?