He still felt that I needed to prove that I knew what I was talking about and it took a while. Today he is a very good friend and one of my very good franchisees and he does not deny he did not give me the time of day.
What advice would you give to career-oriented women?
Many women in executive positions that are single and have children ... If you don't have family to help support you, you need to really build a network around you with friends and don't be afraid to ask for help. That was my biggest problem. I had such trouble asking for help [after my divorce] and that's why I say it was so important that I hired someone to help me because I had trouble asking friends and neighbors. I didn't want to bother them.
What's the best piece of advice you received for your role as executive in this industry?
When I went to work for the government for the state of Illinois [under former state Rep. Jane Barnes]. She was the first female state representative in Illinois. She had been in her position for 19 years. She became one of the guys, and they really respected her. She told me if you think and you focus on the glass ceiling or you focus on that they're not being responsive, if that's what your focus is, then that's always going to be your focus. You have to move past it.
When it really boils down to it, if you perceive a glass ceiling, if you perceive barriers, then they will be there.
How can we get more women to become successful entrepreneurs and CEOs of their own companies?
I believe in mentorship. I was mentored by Jane. She also included me in a group called
Women in Government
. It allowed me an opportunity to meet very well-grounded women in politics.
There needs to be a women's mentorship organization that is developed across the country where you have actual monthly meetings and you have a forum of women to talk to, are able to work with in problem solving and give you guidance. I am actually mentoring right now two women. More women need to be doing that.
Are you making your kids read the transmission book?
No, I did not, but I shared with my daughter books I told her she needed to read. She's very independent. She designed my wedding dress for my [second] wedding. It's one of those moments where you say 'Wow. This is an amazing accomplishment.' I'm so proud.
Her intention is to own her own business and she already talked with other designers. She's already calculating out how much it's going to cost her to start it.
-- Written by Laurie Kulikowski in New York.
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