Monday, January 31, 2011

If women are influential consumers, shouldn’t they also be successful entrepreneurs?

This post may be directed toward my women readers, but male readers will also gain valuable insight. Do you feel like you’re in a rut? Are you bored in your job? Do you have a hobby that you wish you could turn into a business? Do you want to be your own boss? Well, here’s an interesting statistic from The White House Project: every 60 seconds, a woman starts a business.

If you dream of starting your own business, you need a unique product or service, dedication, enthusiasm, and lots of passion. But a primer would also be helpful. Kaira Sturdivant Rouda, brand creator of Real Living, has written an inspiring book that fits the bill: Real You Incorporated, 8 Essentials for Women Entrepreneurs. According to Rouda, the key to success is to be real: “Your values and your personality [must be] in sync with your business operations and its people.”

Despite reports from the mainstream media that the glass ceiling has shattered, the old-boys network still exists. Rouda challenges women to read business, leadership, and entrepreneurship books that talk DIRECTLY to women. The reason is simple: how many men talk about work-life and family-life balance? Another reason is that women seek out workplaces that reward employees, offer open communication instead of just an illusion, and understand the importance of families.

Rouda introduces a chart throughout the book to help the reader define and refine her competitive advantage. The RYI Chart allows readers to create detailed roadmaps for their business ideas with the following categories: passions, brand, company name, positioning, culture, customers, and gifts. Another key tool is the strategy map, which is comprised of a vision statement, human perspective, and brand promise. All elements are explained, and case studies are shared.

There are countless business books available to wannabe entrepreneurs, but many are dry and out-of-date. Rouda’s book is different because it immediately grabs the reader on page one and holds her interest until the last page. Don’t wait another minute…your business idea is waiting for you!

For more about Kaira Rouda:

Main Website:

Connect on Twitter:

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Learn about Kaira’s debut novel featuring women entrepreneurs (available May 1): Here, Home, Hope:

Monday, January 10, 2011

Leadership Lessons from John Grisham’s Latest Thriller

I am a lifelong fan of the legal thriller genre, thanks in large part to John Grisham. I enjoy the legal issues, the courtroom drama, and the attorneys’ arguments. But after reading Grisham’s latest legal thriller, The Confession, I realized that this story was not just a classic Grisham thriller - it also provided leadership lessons. Don’t worry, this post will not reveal any plot spoilers.

One of the main characters, attorney Robbie Flak, demonstrated attributes of an inspirational leader. He led his team by clearly assigning and defining tasks, elaborating action plans, and leading meetings. But most of all, he demonstrated an open door policy of communication. Everyone on the team knew what was happening with the trial at all times. He did not keep secrets. He did not tell some people some aspects of the case and other people other aspects of the case. He was an inspirational leader because he understood the value of his team and the importance of their working together as a cohesive unit.

When trial preparations are in high gear, and then the ensuing trail gets underway, there is no room for petty squabbles among team members. The legal environment is not the place for disagreements, name calling, pouting, or any other form of inappropriate business behavior. In The Confession, those negative behaviors were non-existent because Robbie Flak’s leadership style set the tone. Yes, there was no doubt Robbie was a typical lawyer with a volatile temper, a tendency to be dramatic, and a charismatic presence. But, he was able to rein in his team so that they believed in him, believed in his cause, and wanted to help him succeed for his client.

How many leaders can talk the talk and walk the walk of inspirational leadership and achieve the same results?

Friday, January 7, 2011

Starbucks Joins the Logo Redesign Fray

By now, everyone has either heard or read the latest news announced by Starbucks. To celebrate the company’s 40th anniversary, Starbucks has redesigned its logo. The corporate name (Starbucks) and the company’s main product (coffee) have both been removed from the logo, but the original image of the company (the siren) remains.

According to the Starbucks website, “The Siren has been a part of Starbucks from the beginning. Her image, originally derived from a twin-tailed siren in an old sixteenth-century Norse woodcut, was at the center of Starbucks original logo. She embodies Starbucks and our coffee – evoking coffee’s allure and its seafaring tradition.”

Over the last 40 years, there is no question that Starbucks has built an incredibly strong brand. The company serves coffee, food, and products in its stores around the world –more than 15,000 in 50 countries, according to the company’s website. In addition, Starbucks has created unique partnerships and sells products in affiliated locations other than its stand-alone coffee-houses, such as, banks and supermarkets. The logo represents quality coffee, a commitment to global responsibility, a dedication to creating and maintaining a diverse corporate culture, and creating a warm and welcoming place for people to connect.

If the mission of Starbucks is “to inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup, and one neighborhood at a time,” why would Starbucks choose to lose the core elements of its brand when redesigning its logo? A green siren will not represent the company in the same manner as when the name and key product were included. The word Starbucks is critical to the company’s brand – or in other words, its connection to its consumers and fans.

If Starbucks wanted to change its logo as part of its 40th anniversary celebration, perhaps, it should have added design elements that highlighted its mission – a person, a cup, or a neighborhood. However, the secret may be out: Starbucks hired the graphic design team from The Gap, since this logo redesign is reminiscent of The Gap’s proposed logo that appeared one week during October 2010, only to disappear the following week.

Read the announcement in Starbucks’ own words: