Believe it or not, I believe we are in the midst of a fear epidemic. I have had more than a few conversations in the last two weeks with women who are passionate about what they do, articulate about their ideas, but scared to take the plunge into entrepreneurship. They have come up with a product, service or way to do business that could turn into a sustainable, highly successful business. But something is preventing them from following through on their dreams. I can’t even say it’s exclusive to women, because I know a few men who are just as gun shy. But for the purposes of this post, I’m referring to the women.

So why are we victims of failing to move forward with great ideas? There are lots of reasons. It surely isn’t due to a lack of creativity or passion. All of the women I have spoken with over the last few weeks had this certain something in their voices. You know, like that sound of pride a mom exudes when speaking of her baby being on the honor role. They want so bad to tap into their inner CEO and share their “baby” with the world. But something is holding them back.

  • Fear of Failure. This one is a biggie! Trust me I know. There were many nights in the beginning I sat up wondering what people would think of me if I failed. It’s a huge burden on women’s minds. Women are held up to a higher scrutiny than men. We are the Moms, the caretakers. So if we fail at a business, it can be perceived as something that was expected of a Mom with a “hobby”. Hey, *I* didn’t say that, but I’ve heard it. I say to hell with what people think. Many prominent people (women AND men) have failed…on more than one occasion too. Failing should not be feared. It should be used as a learning lesson to prepare you for your next steps. Don’t let fear of failure keep you on the sidelines.
  • Fear of Success. Once again, guilty as charged. Even worse than the fear of failure is fear of success. This is a bit more psychological for some people than others because it’s all about the expectations others put on you. Once it became obvious that I was on the cusp of something big, the expectations of others crept into my head. I worried so much about letting people down, which is a lot different than worrying about what people will say. I felt that pressure hard. A lot of time women panic because they feel if they grow too fast too soon, it will take away from their family obligations or that there will be such great demands on them that they won’t be able to deliver. Don’t fall victim to this. Success can be wonderful if you manage it right.
  • Lack of Support. Single Moms are hit hardest by this. They are already doing it all on their own, raising the kids, being the breadwinner. It’s hard to move forward with a business idea if you feel nobody supports or believes in you. But don’t let that stop you. There are many women’s and moms groups that are out there that would love to support you. You can look on the internet and find local groups that fit your needs.
  • Lack of Money. I learned from a great friend that it’s not always necessary to have the funding to start a business. There are ways that you can creatively finance. There are microloans, business plan competitions, small business loans, angel investors and joint ventures. You can also offer equity, commission, revenue sharing or deferred salary to key staff. Not being capital rich, doesn’t mean you can’t move forward with your idea or business.
  • Fear of Losing a Stable Paycheck & Benefits. This is without a doubt the worst excuse of them all. I know you’re saying “but the economy!!” and yes we are in a bit of a jacked up economy. But that’s no excuse to not move forward. First of all, you can probably search online for better benefits at sites like EHealthinsurance.com for insurance, and Fidelity or Sharebuilder for 401K programs. I have consistently found better coverage than what companies can offer by researching online. And if you are passionate enough about your company, willing to market like crazy, and are hungry enough to get out there and close clients, the money will come. What gets lost is that you have to potential to make MORE money. I don’t think anyone deliberately goes into business to make less money or to fail. Do you want someone determining the most money you are allowed to make? I didn’t think so.

Don’t let fear keep you from bringing your idea to market. Many of us have the capability to be business owners. True entrepreneurs are OK with taking a risk because they know the rewards greatly outweigh them. You can overcome any of the excuses listed above. It starts with changing your mindset. Believe in yourself and you will be on your way to succeeding. Fear is nothing but False Evidence Appearing Real. As I always say no limits, no boundaries, no fear.

Til next time.

Adrienne Graham

Hello, hello! As you can probably imagine I am just giddy about my new website launch. After much blood, sweat, tears, prayer, false starts, hard work, and yes sometimes cussing, the official website for the Fearless Woman Magazine is now live! I have waited so long for this and have encountered so many obstacles along the way. I even considered quitting….yes, the “Q” word because I had a few people tell me I would not be able to get it done. But I’m here to tell you that not only am I still standing, I have a real live functional website to show for it.

Now I know a few sour heads are going to say “hey the site is up but what about the magazine itself?”. It’s a great question…and I have a great answer. As you may already know, Empower Me! is hosting the Fearless Woman Summit at the Georgia International Convention Center June 16-17 right here in Atlanta. Originally, I was planning to do a simple launch party to announce the magazine to the world. But my team has taken over and transformed this event into the must attend professional development event of the year, in addition to a kick ass launch party! So the soft launch or unofficial launch of the physical magazine will be June 16 and it will be revealed to the attendees of the Summit and Empower Me! members (they of course get their subscriptions for free with their membership). Everyone who attends the event will get an advanced copy and will be able to help us celebrate the launch. I am so excited I can barely contain myself. For the rest of the world, the official launch is July 1st.

Our first issue is focused on Diversity from Her Perspective and we have a stellar line up of articles that make you think, reflect, and take action. The magazine will motivate you to live your best professional life…fearlessly! From Dr. Ella Edmondson Bell to Barbara Corcoran to Audrey Lee, to Sarah Evans, to Aliza Sherman, we have some phenomenal ladies who share the distinction of being in our debut issue. I can’t wait for you to read it! Trust me, the website has NOTHING on the actual issue!

In the mean time, we want you to feel like the magazine’s website is your community. We have a top notch roster of Contributing Bloggers who will share their wisdom, encouragement and expertise each week. You can catch snippets of our videos, listen to Views From the Top Radio Show, join our Facebook Fan Page, and even follow us on Twitter. You will even be able to catch previews of our shows in the brand new EmpoweredWoman.tv. Soon, you will have the capability to translate the site into your chosen language!

Be sure you bookmark and share the website with all your friends, family and co-workers. If you’re a man, be sure to send your wife, girlfriend, sister, mother, female colleagues over to the website. I guarantee it’ll be the best thing they can do for themselves in the name of professional development.

Please stop by and let me know what you think.
Til Next Time.

Adrienne Graham
PUBLISHER
Fearless Woman Magazine (an Empower Me! Corporation publication)

On Friday, Michael Bivins shared with us on Views From the Top that he was supporting a worthy cause. March for Babies is a wonderful cause and they are marching on April 25th. So please take a moment out to make a donation to the March for Babies. See Mike’s message below:

We are proud parents of our daughter who has been chosen as a poster child for the march of dimes march for babies fundraiser campaign. I made a pledge to raise money for this cause and walk. I’m asking each of you to make a donation to this campaign at www.marchforbabies.org/sportyrich. If $1 is all you can donate we will reach our goal.

Thank you all lets start the walk!

Mike Biv

If you missed the show on Friday, please take a moment to check it out. http://www.blogtalkradio.com/viewsfromthetop/2010/04/09/the-man-show or catch it on iTunes.

People are good at making goals, New Year’s resolutions, dream lists and plans. But there’s a fundamental problem with them. They leave room for interpretation, revision and even delay. Where’s the accountability? So I gave it some thought, and I’ve decided never to make “goals” again. OK don’t be alarmed. I know I’ve told you in the past that goal setting is one of the most important things you can do to ensure your success. But I’ve changed my mind. I don’t want to do that any more.

You see, people set out to achieve their goals and genuinely have good intentions. But often life, work, circumstances, family, health, and a host of other things often get in the way. Goals are flexible in people’s minds and we’re often inclined to postpone them or disregard them altogether. We’ll say “well I couldn’t do that today, so I’ll get to it tomorrow”. Or “my money is short this week, let me put this training/course/coaching/conference off until next month, or maybe next year when I’m ready”. The intentions are there, but some times the execution and implementation are off. And we rationalize why we couldn’t meet the goal to try to excuse ourselves or make us feel better when we don’t meet them.

Here’s what I propose. Instead of making goals or resolutions, we should make promises. Yes, make a series of promises to yourself. You see when we make promises, we are held accountable. When you make a promise to your child, you move heaven and earth to make it happen so he or she isn’t disappointed in you. When you promise to get a task done on time at work, you do what needs to be done to get the job done so your boss isn’t disappointed in you. So why not make promises to yourself? Think about it. Some of the mot successful people are successful because of the promises they make to themselves. “I promise I will never be poor again”. “I promise myself I will move up within my company”. “I promise I will start my own business”. Making a promise to yourself is much more effective than setting a goal. Goals are fine, but promise yourself success. There’s something psychological about a promise. It means you WILL get something done. There is no postponing or forgetting. You will make it happen by any means necessary. Think about how you feel when others make promises to you that they don’t keep. It isn’t so nice. Well can you live with breaking a promise to yourself?

The next time you sit down to write your goals, rephrase them into a series of promises you make to yourself to guarantee your professional success. And to give them extra added incentive, assign time lines to those promises, then fulfill those promises to yourself as if you were your child, boss, spouse, parent, etc. What “promises” have you committed to make to yourself? Please share!

Til next time,

Adrienne Graham

Well, I don’t mean like that. It’s a contest! For 5 lucky folks in the Metro Atlanta area, I’m giving away five 2-hour gift cards to ROAM.

If you feel you deserve one of these cards, post your comment here letting me know why you need to “get a room”. I will choose 5 lucky winners. The gift cards are valid for 2 free hours (and they’ll even throw in coffee service!). You must present the card to redeem. Not transferable or redeemable for cash. This contest will ONLY last until Monday, April 12 at noon (or until I have the five winners, whichever comes first).

In case you haven’t heard of them, Roam is the coolest place in Atlanta to go when you’re tired of conducting business in the local coffee shop. They offer small, medium and large meeting rooms to fit any need. They even have a cafe, a common area and free Wi-Fi. It’s the ultimate shared work space community where people “work, connect and grow”. So if you need to escape the home office or are tired of coming home smelling like coffee, try Roam. They are located in Alpharetta off Windward Parkway and North Point Parkway. Locations coming soon to Buckhead and Midtown!

If you have Comcast, be on the look out for their new commercial (I’m in it!).

Don’t forget to tell them Adrienne sent you. For more information about Roam, visit their website at http://www.roamatlanta.com.

Hi all.

After I sent my newsletter out this week, I received lots of email about the article I wrote for the newsletter. Everyone thanked me for touching on the things people often don’t say when speaking about networking etiquette. So I thought I’d share it here. Enjoy!

4 Surefire Ways to Damage Your Networking Relationships (and What You Can Do to Save Them)


Now you know I’m all about positivity. I don’t allow any negativity in my sphere. But every now and again, people will do things that make me have to address it. I have said on many occasions that networking is a team sport. While I want everyone to be themselves and “keep it real”, there is a time and a place for everything. And for somethings, there is NO time and place. Below are the top four networking pet peeves of mine. I share them not to complain, but to educate. Please stop and think about each of these and determine if you fit the mold. If you do, STOP IT immediately.

  1. Whining and using the guilt card. I’m not going to get into the details but suffice it to say this was used on me recently. The quickest way to lose a connection with someone is to play the guilt card under the pretense of clearing your heart. Instead of going down that slippery road, if there was an incident that bothered or worried you, reach out to that person via phone or face to face (not email) and express your concerns. It may be just a simple error, or they may genuinely not know that they’ve hurt or slighted you. Life is too short to hold grudges. We’re all adults and should act accordingly. So next time you feel slighted, reach out to the person via phone or face to face to get clarity. You’ll be surprised how much time, aggravation and relationships you end up saving.

  2. Asking for favors when you’ve never engaged with the person. This one really gets me. You connect with someone and a few months or years go by and you don’t hear from them. They don’t reach out to you, you don’t reach out to them. Then one day out the blue, this person reaches out to you and asks for your help. What the…. Listen, just because you’re connected on a social networking site or perhaps were introduced at an event and exchanged cards, unless you’ve cultivated that relationship in some way, you are never ever entitled to ask for favors. You can solve this by taking the time to connect with people. You don’t have to send weekly email or call every day. But every quarter, make it a point to reach out. Send a news article that made you think of them. Send them an update to let them know how you’re doing and ask for an update in return. Recommend a book or event to them. Just keep the lines of communication going. That way when you do need a favor, they will know who you are and might be willing to help you out.

  3. Giving out contact information without clearing it first. Yes, people do that. Just because you have a networking relationship with someone doesn’t mean you have the type of relationship where you can arbitrarily give out contact information. They may want people to reach out in a certain way (ie: phone, email, etc). Or they may prefer to screen the type of people they will connect with. Unless you have a personal relationship that goes beyond networking, and you know what their preferences are, don’t blindly give out contact information without asking first. Always ask first. Also you can ask them in advance how they prefer introductions. You’ll go a long way in preserving your relationships.

  4. Ignoring the very people you’re supposed to be connecting with. LOL, Yes,people do that too! Listen, you already know how I feel about connecting on social networks for the sake of high numbers. If you’re serious about networking with people and building relationships, please make the effort. If you’re invited to coffee, accept the invitation or come up with an alternate date and time. Don’t just blow them off. You NEVER know what blessings and opportunities you might be missing by blowing them off. They may be the key to or know someone who is the key to the very thing that you need. Don’t just rely on them reaching out to you. I don’t care how busy you are, reach out every so often.

Networking and relationship building is a mutual responsibility. Make sure you’re not doing anything to damage your relationships.

Til next time,

Adrienne Graham

Remember when you were kids. Everyone had dreams about being a doctor or lawyer or firefighter or circus performer (WHAT!?). You get what I’m saying. When we’re young we were idealistic and the sky is the limit. We’re told to dream big and aim high. Then we go to school, graduate, and we’re thrown into the work world. Unless we’re in a highly skilled profession such as doctor, lawyer or accountant, we end up taking some entry level or management training job “for now”.

That’s fine by most standards, but what if your heart is somewhere else? There are so many people who settle for jobs for the sake of getting a stable paycheck. The problem with that is they then become trained to work for a paycheck. Huh? I know, I can hear you saying “huh?” in your head. Again, there’s nothing wring with that for the average person who is only concerned with just getting good benefits and a paycheck. But if you have a dream in your heart, I for one say you should follow it.

How many times have you said “I’ll just stay in this job for 2, 3, 5 years then I’ll look for something else”. Ten years later you’re still doing what you hate just to get a paycheck and benefits. Let me ask you some questions. What did you go to school for? Why didn’t you pursue your dream job? Did someone tell you “no, you can’t do that”? Well let me tell you. I’ve never been the corporate type or one that does well working for other people. I was a half Black half Puerto Rican girl who grew up in the projects where it was expected that we went to school, but it was also expected that we got a comfortable job with benefits. In fact, when I was younger I always dreamed that I would run my own business. But my parents were not interested in hearing any of it. I got my first job at 17 at a department store. I loved fashion but was told I could never make a real living in that. I moved on to banking to follow my Mom. Hated it! Left that to go to work as an Admin in a recruiting firm. Within six months I was upgraded to Recruiter. From there I opened my first business.

For the longest time, even though I had a successful business, it wasn’t my passion. I remember years ago I wrote in a journal how I wanted to have a magazine. I was told how I needed tons of money and that the market was super competitive. I said after that I would love to have my own cable channel. I was told I didn’t have the resources, money or connections to do that. So I stuck with recruiting even though I wasn’t happy. Last year when I turned 40 I stepped back and and evaluated my life. Yes I made great money recruiting. Yes I had a fabulous business. But something was missing. I wasn’t doing what I wanted. I thought back to what I wanted over the years and my mind kept coming back to TV channel and magazine. Again, I got the same comments about money and resources. But this time something was different. Social Media had leveled the playing field and I had a kick as network of people in my corner. So I went for it (not in the traditional sense but I still went for it).

Why did I share that? Because I wanted to show you that even I have had times where I went against my heart to do what I had to do to bring in income. But why should you continue doing that? Why should any of us? Don’t let this economy bring you down or keep you from exploring what your passions are. You may want to try a new industry, job title, company, or even leave corporate altogether for entrepreneurship. Don’t let other people keep you from exploring your dreams. I always say that people who try to talk you out of something you love do it because they themselves are either afraid that they can’t do the same or they’re angry because they don’t have the guts. Don’t carry other people’s junk. And definitely don’t let the talk of this economy scare you from taking chances. There is no reward without taking risks.

Take a few moments this evening to write down the different things you’d like to try. Then work on making them happen. Don’t think about it, don’t rationalize it, just do it. When you free yourself from convention thinking (ie: paychecks and benefits) you find what you truly love. We only have one life to live. And it’s too short to be miserable. Don’t let anyone make you defer or abandon your dreams. Find your bliss.

Til Next Time,

Adrienne Graham