Meet the Lady Who Can Tell You What’s Up Down There

Dream It! Launch It! Live It!

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Dr. Lissa RANKIN

Founder and Pink Director of Mojo – Owning Pink

Lissa RankinWhen Featured Lady Dr. Lissa Rankin experienced what she dubbed “Her Perfect Storm” in January 2006, it threw her into a tailspin. Already unhappy at the busy San Diego Ob/Gyn practice where she was a physician, Lissa quit her job and moved her family to the country to live a more balanced, creative life. Today, Lissa is the Founder of Owning Pink, a thriving online community and social network she launched in 2009 that helps redefine health from a “lack of illness” to vitality, wholeness and owning all the parts of your authentic self. Earlier this year, Lissa opened the Owning Pink Center in Mill Valley, California and her new book, What’s Up Down There? Questions You’d Only Ask Your Gynecologist If She Was Your Best Friend comes out in September. In addition to being a doctor and author, Lissa is a professionally represented artist. She is also one of the featured speakers at Ladies Who Launch’s Seattle Global Conference on November 7-9, 2010.

What was Lissa’s “Perfect Storm?” Imagine if all the following events happened in a two week period: giving birth, the family dog dies, your brother goes into liver failure from an adverse reaction to an antibiotic and your father passes away. Combine the shock of those occurrences with Lissa’s already growing dissatisfaction with her job and general unhappiness and you have the makings of a major life change. As Lissa describes it, “I lost my mojo.”

“In the busy group practice, I was double-booked every 15 minutes, which gave me 7.5 minutes per patient, which I didn’t like,” she confesses. “I’m a nurturer and the system was hardening me. I vowed I’d quit but I was the breadwinner for my family.”

What's Up Down There So, Lissa took a “Pleap” (a pink leap of faith) and decided to leave medicine completely. She and her husband sold the house, liquidated their assets and moved to the San Francisco area with their daughter. Lissa then spent two years focusing on her art and writing. While she enjoyed this time away from the medical field, Lissa still felt a need to serve others.

“You can quit your job, but you can’t quit your calling,” she says. “I wanted to go back to practicing medicine, but do it on my own terms.” Those terms meant integrating all the parts of her fragmented life – creativity, health, relationships, spirituality, sexuality and interaction with the planet – to finally become whole.

In the fall of 2008, Lissa had the idea for Owning Pink, but back then it was for a teen gynecology website. She joined the four-week Ladies Who Launch Incubator Intensive Workshop in Monterey to gain clarity, support, inspiration and momentum about her concept. Ultimately, Owning Pink was launched in 2009 as a blog chronicling Lissa’s journey back to herself.

“All my coaches told me, ‘You need to be more focused. You need to pick one topic and become an expert.’ But I was just writing a blog and I had no idea where it would go,” Lissa says. “I did feel that if I just got out of Owning Pink’s way, it would show me what it was to become.”

Within three months of going live, Owning Pink gained hundreds of thousands of readers all looking to get their mojo back, live authentically, serve others and be loved. Lissa had also returned to practicing medicine. “I got offered a job in Marin County to join an integrative medical center, which I did for a year,” she says. “I learned that health is more than the wellness of the physical body. It also involves vitality of the mind, body and spirit.”

Lissa relaunched the Owning Pink website and opened the Owning Pink Center in 2010. The facility gave Lissa the freedom to practice the kind of medicine that she wanted to provide. The wellness professionals at the Owning Pink Center include a naturalopathic doctor, acupuncturists, fertility specialists, nutritionists, psychologists, life coaches and a Reiki master.

Described as “a community of women dedicated to celebrating all things feminine, successful, sexy and pleasurable,” Owning Pink draws not only those looking to rediscover their mojo, but also wounded healers. “It’s interesting that I started attracting a lot of doctors. They’re looking for a way to heal the profession,” Lissa says. “Those San Diego doctors I worked with lost their mojo, but they don’t know it.”

What we learned from Lissa: “Have faith in yourself and put everything on the line.”

Mission First
“Money is always the hard thing, but when you put your mission first, that works. If your mission is pure, the money will come. Money can’t be the driving force.”

Business Direction
“Let your business become what it was meant to be. Get out of your own way and let your business guide you… I created Owning Pink, but it’s not mine. The community owns it.”

Live and Love
“Live fully, and love ourselves and our girly parts.”

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This Featured Lady was profiled by Megan L. Reese, WORDrobe® Stylist for Her Write Image in West Grove, PA.

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Susan Gregg Koger

Meet Mandee Heller Adler, International College Counselors

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Mandee Heller Adler

Mandee Heller AdlerFounder and CEO,
International College Counselors

College application season can be a stressful time for students and parents, so what if there was someone who could guide you through every aspect of this arduous, competitive and confusing process? Meet Featured Lady Mandee Heller Adler, founder of International College Counselors, LLC. Her company provides expert college counseling on undergraduate and graduate school admissions, financial aid, tuition, essays and college applications. Last year, International College Counselors was one of five companies selected for the prestigious “Macro to Millions” award as part of the Make Mine a Million $ Business Contest. The company’s 2009 revenues increased over 200%, and Mandee opened three new offices in 2010.

Prior to starting International College Counselors, Mandee worked as an investment banker for Goldman, Sachs & Co in New York. She later co-founded HerDollar, Inc., which she sold to Siebert Financial Corp (NASDAQ: SIEB) in October of 2000, and served as EVP and COO of Women’s Financial Network at Siebert, a fully operational national discount brokerage focused on women.

A deep love and respect for education motivated Mandee to launch International College Counselors in 2004. She attended the University of Pennsylvania where she graduated with honors and two degrees – one from the Wharton School and one from the College of Arts and Sciences. Mandee also received an MBA from Harvard Business School, where she was selected as a Class Day Speaker. Additionally, Mandee received a fellowship from Rotary International and studied at ICADE, a premier business school located in Madrid, Spain.

International College Counselors“I always wanted to work in business,” Mandee says. “After my first job at Goldman Sachs in New York City, I knew I liked working for myself, or to put it another way, did not like having a boss.” Her father was an entrepreneur, and Mandee liked how he controlled his time and could be there when his family needed him.

Based in Hollywood, Florida, Mandee started International College Counselors immediately after giving birth to her second daughter. “I needed an outlet to escape from the diapers,” she explains. “I started small, and in my house. The company grew as my daughters grew.”

From the beginning, Mandee ran International College Counselors like a professional service organization versus a small mom and pop shop. Today, International College Counselors has experts in various colleges and universities, and who understand individual student needs. Mandee has various office sites and is located in high schools. “This enables us to speak with colleges on a regular basis,” she explains.

Mandee tailors her college counseling and college coaching services to address the goals, needs and dreams of each student. “Every time I get a student into his or her first choice school it’s an incredible rush,” she says.

International College Counselors lives up to its name, providing independent college and graduate school counseling for students in the United States, Europe, Asia and South America. They have placed more than 400 students into programs around the country. While most business is from Florida, twenty percent of the clients live in other states and countries as far away as Bahrain, with Venezuela being the biggest international market thus far.

International College Counselors experienced growth solely through word-of-mouth and the Internet, averaging two referrals per student. Mandee now has five counselors who specialize in specific areas of study. They focus on colleges, scholarships and various programs that benefit the client. Mandee recently added her brother-in-law, Barry Liebowitz, to assist students wanting to pursue collegiate sports. He was a college athlete and gained career experience with sports-related organizations.

Mandee’s vison for International College Counselors is to be the trusted source for college admissions throughout the world. Her business has appeared in US News and World Report, The Miami Herald, The Sun Post, and The Sun Sentinal. International College Counselors was also named The Best College Advisor by The Sun Post.

What we learned from Mandee: “Don’t be afraid to brag.”

Sky’s the Limit

“Aim high and be flexible with your business model…and go for it.”

Do It Best

“I did not invent the idea of college counseling, and I always believed it was a great business. I just decided to be the best out there.”

Setting boundaries

“I like to exceed expectations. I’ve had to learn that, for my own sanity, I need to turn off my blackberry sometimes!”

This Featured Lady was profiled by Megan L. Reese, WORDrobe™ Stylist for Her Write Image in West Grove, PA.

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Julie Azuma, Different Roads to Learning

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Julie Azuma, Different Roads to Learning

Julie Azuma

Founder and CEO, Different Roads to Learning

Featured Lady Julie Azuma and her husband adopted a beautiful four month-old girl, Miranda Cho Hee, from Seoul, Korea right after the 1988 Olympics. Over the next several years their daughter missed development milestones and her learning progressed slowly. It wasn’t until Miranda was six years old that her parents finally received the diagnosis: autism. Julie struggled to find the right tools to support Miranda’s development, so she created makeshift materials that were never quite right. Julie, who previously worked in the fashion industry, saw an opportunity to start a business to help other families while working at home, close to Miranda. Determined, she searched stores and catalogs for suitable materials, purchased samples and tracked down distributors worldwide. In 1995, with an online store offering 30 applied behavior analysis (ABA) products, Julie launched Different Roads to Learning. Today, Julie’s company offers over 450 items carefully selected to support the autism community.

Julie grew up within a small community of Japanese American families relocated to Chicago’s South Side from World War II Internment Camps. Julie acknowledges that there was nothing in her background that indicated she’d commit to starting a business. Actually, Julie wanted to work in a large corporate setting. She says that she barely knew what the word entrepreneur meant and didn’t have the confidence to start anything on her own.

However, that all changed with the revelation that Miranda was autistic. When Julie conceived the idea for Different Roads to Learning, she didn’t know she had a winning idea because no one approved of the company or was willing to support her business plan. She even asked three people to partner with her because she wanted “a hand to hold,” but everyone turned her down.

The mompreneur persevered.

Julie financed her business with small amounts of cash and a credit card. She bought some inventory, got supplies and found a talented website person who didn’t charge an arm and a leg. Julie says, “That was a real coup to find someone in 1995 who had actually designed a website. People were just learning the technology at that time.” The total expenditures for her first year were around $40,000.

When she started her Manhattan-based business, Julie thought she might be able to make $30,000 a year. In 2009, Different Roads to Learning’s revenue will be around $2.25 million. Julie has been featured by MSNBC, WE Magazine and Altra Magazine, and appeared on Inc. Magazine’s 2005 list of the 26 Most Fascinating Entrepreneurs (along with Richard Branson and Michael Dell).

On the Different Roads to Learning site, Julie offers everything from basic flashcards, books and timers to advanced social skills tools that will support parents at every step of their child’s program. Products are available online and via a catalog. Julie and her team provide personal attention and lightning-fast service to every one of their customers. Julie also started DRL Books, the publishing arm of Different Roads to Learning.

The success of her company is very validating, but what has meant the most to Julie is when a parent says that their child is speaking or developing and they attribute it to Different Roads to Learning.

Moving forward, Julie is seeking to branch out with the Different Roads to Learning catalog. She is considering whether to focus completely on a young learners’ model, thereby selling more products for early intervention, or concentrate on young adults or adults diagnosed with autism. According to Julie this is a growing population that needs age-appropriate materials and support but without educational funding, the market for these products is small.

Julie has been honored by the Eden II Agency and the Elija Foundation in New York. Both of these honors have meant a lot to Julie because “it is an acknowledgement of our autism community. This wide and varied community dealing with autism means so much to me.”

What we learned from Julie: “Understand how a profit margin works. I find that many women do not price well to include dealers and are taking away from the margins that they could be earning. Most women also undersell themselves and/or their product. They should research the market and work out their numbers.”

Where the Customers Are

Marketing has been my biggest challenge so far. It’s just tough some times to figure out where the market is. There were LISTSERVS a while back, now it’s Facebook. We put out a postal catalog that helps our business enormously but we do get a lot of business online. Reaching out to new customers in new ways is a challenge that we face every day. Technology is constantly changing.”

It’s a Wonderful Life

“Being an entrepreneur is beyond my wildest dreams or goals. I had no idea that I could create a company and find an audience, a customer base, and they approve of us. It takes a little courage but if you have an idea and a true passion, it’s worth the effort to create your own entity in your own style. It’s an act of bravery that is within you.”

Group Decision

“We have a small group of people working in an open room. When we hire, I ask others to sit in on the first interview to make sure that there will be a good fit. We also take about three to four months to decide if a new employee is working out. If we feel it’s not working out sooner than that time period, it’s easier to let them go before you love them too much.”

This Featured Lady was profiled by Megan L. Reese, WORDrobe™ Stylist for Her Write Image in West Grove, PA.

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Myra Janco Daniels, Naples Philharmonic Center Cultural Complex

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Myra Janco Daniels, Naples Philharmonic Center Cultural Complex

Myra Janco Daniels
Founder, Chairman and CEO,
Naples Philharmonic Center Cultural Complex

Long before Mad Men grabbed the attention of Americans by chronicling the lives of the ruthlessly competitive men and women of 1960’s Madison Avenue advertising, Myra Janco Daniels was showing everyone how it was done. While in her mid-twenties, Myra entered this male-dominated industry when she launched Wabash Advertising in Terre Haute, Indiana. Within one year, she built it into a million dollar business. As an entrepreneur and pioneer, Myra was the first female to run a national advertising firm and the first woman associate professor of business at the University of Indiana. She was also the youngest female to win the National Advertising Federation’s “Advertising Woman of the Year” award in 1965 – while under the age of 40. Myra is currently the founder, chairman and CEO of the Naples Philharmonic Center Cultural Complex. Her memoir, Secrets of a Rutbuster: Breaking Rules and Selling Dreams, came out in 2009.

RutbusterWhen Myra was attending Indiana State Teachers College, she wanted a job at the Terre Haute Star newspaper. Unfortunately, she was bluntly told by the editor, “We don’t need any paper dolls.” Furious, Myra walked into Meis Department Store and, after writing an assignment on the spot to prove her talent to the advertising manager, landed a part-time job as a copy girl earning $7.34 per week.

One day, the advertising manager informed Myra that “a new man from New York was coming.” He asked if Myra could make sure all the ads got in the paper and on the air. Once she agreed, Myra realized two things: she could soon be out of a job and this was her big chance.

Myra had a plan. The store never used real artwork in its ads, so she put together a double page spread for junior dresses. The ad pictured a girl in one of the dresses sitting on the rim of a glass of lemonade, waving a straw. The caption said, “Junior Dresses – Cool as Lemonade.” The store sold out of all 700 dresses. The next day, the store owner arrived with the ad, demanding to know, “Who did this?” Myra fessed up and the owner responded, “We don’t need that man from New York.”

As one of the most accomplished women in advertising during the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s, Myra built her reputation selling product benefits to the customer, searching out the truth, identifying problems and generating creative solutions. Her diverse variety of clients ranged from coal mines to candy bars. At one point early in her career, Myra was earning $10,000 annually, which made her the highest paid woman in Terre Haute.

In the early 1960’s, Myra headed to Chicago, was snagged by the ad firm of Roche, Rickard, Henri, Hurst, Inc. and was chosen to serve as its first female executive vice president. In 1965 she was named the National Advertising Federation’s “Advertising Woman of the Year.”

While in Chicago, Myra met Draper Daniels, the ad executive behind the iconic Marlboro Man campaign and after whom the Mad Men character Don Draper was based. Myra and Draper forged a powerful partnership, with Draper gaining controlling interest in Roche, Rickard, Henri, Hurst, Inc. He changed the company’s name to Draper Daniels, Inc. and the pair landed accounts with Colgate Palmolive, Maytag, Motorola and Consolidated Foods. After the successful business merger, Myra and Draper eloped and their personal merger lasted from 1967 until Draper’s death in 1983.

In addition to her success in the advertising world, Myra has many accomplishments in the education field. She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business and communications from Indiana State University and pursued doctoral studies in marketing management at Indiana University. Myra also held a six-year associate professorship in marketing and advertising at Indiana University, taught the MBA program in marketing and directed an internship program in publishing.

Myra is currently the chairman and CEO of the Philharmonic Center Cultural Complex in Naples, Florida, which includes the Philharmonic Center for the Arts, the Naples Museum of Art and the Naples Philharmonic Orchestra. She founded the complex in the mid-1980s after coming out of early retirement. In 1986, Myra became the first Florida woman to be designated a “Woman of Change” by the American Association of University Women.

What we learned from Myra: “Associate with people who know things you don’t know, who have skills you don’t have, who have done things you haven’t done. Surround yourself with people who know more than you do and they’ll make you look good.”

Born to Lead

“In the 1960’s, I didn’t know there was a difference between men and women. I always thought of myself as an ad person, not an ad woman. When I was starting out, the closest that women got to management was as a secretary. I was a horse of a different color, I always wanted to be a leader.”

Redefine Failure

“Always learn from failure. Don’t run from it or deny it. Redefine it – not as a calamity but as a necessity. Success is often a liar. Failure is what keeps us honest.”

Be Indispensable

“At one firm, I was shocked to learn that my predecessor made twice what I was earning, but I didn’t go to the board. I made myself so important that the company couldn’t function without me. It worked. I ended up making more than twice what the other guy did.”

This Featured Lady was profiled by Megan L. Reese, WORDrobe™ Stylist for Her Write Image in West Grove, PA.

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Preeti Vasudevan, Artistic Director, Thresh

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Choreographer and artistic ambassador Preeti Vasudevan bridges cultures, continents and centuries as easily as other dancers might execute a plie. The original works performed by her New York City-based dance troupe, Thresh, have earned international acclaim for their fresh juxtaposition of traditional dance forms from her native India with modern theories of movement and expression. And now, she’s connecting Eastern and Western perspectives through an interactive educational initiative that includes a research and development center in Chennai, India and the Web site,, which is a comprehensive online resource for the traditional Indian technique of Bharatanatyam.

Having begun training in Bharatanatyam at the age of four-and-a-half and studied modern dance in New York City, Japan and London, Preeti exemplifies a new kind of artist and entrepreneur who mixes and matches a plethora of international ideas and experiences in all new ways. Since forming Thresh in 2004, Preeti has channeled her struggle to define her artistic and cultural identity into work that has garnered acclaim in the international dance community. In March 2009, her stage production, “The Absent Lover,” which she adapted from a fifth-century Indian play, “Vikramorvashiyam,” was one of 10 finalists chosen from 209 productions to be performed at the prestigious META Awards in New Delhi. The production won three awards, including best choreography.

As passionate about teaching as she is about performing, Preeti found herself longing to reach more dance students and educators than she was able to with her individual workshops. She and her husband spent two years in India gathering resources related to Bharatanatyam. The resulting Web site and DVD-Rom is the first step in what Preeti envisions as an ongoing dialogue between India and the U.S. and includes a curriculum for teaching Indian dance in American schools, which she developed in conjunction with the New York City Department of Education. Preeti will spread her message even further when she presents a workshop at the National Dance Education Organization’s annual meeting this June.

Having already distinguished herself as a visionary artist, educator and entrepreneur, Preeti clearly has a few lessons to teach others about the importance of balance, and not only when it comes to the art of dance.

What we learned from Preeti: “Routine is very important. So you think, ‘So many hours a day, I dedicate to this, and no more.’ You have to learn to say, ‘No,’ more. And you have to learn how to say, ‘Stop,’ and, ‘I’m sorry, I couldn’t do it today. That’s it.’”

Deciding Where to Hang Out Your Shingle

“I’ve always felt that…when you are embarking on your business, and for me, it’s the art business, you need to be right in the thick of it all, because you’re constantly bombarded by great creativity. There are few cities like that in the world, and for dance, basically, it’s New York City.”

Not Indian Enough

“I went to a very established dance management company in New York. They looked at my work and said, ‘It’s really good.’ I thought, ‘Oh great, I’ve got myself an agent.’ But they said, ‘We can’t take you on.’ I said, ‘Why not?’ And they said, ‘Well, you’re not Indian enough, and we already have an Indian company.’ And I said, ‘Do you say that to American companies? I’ve already got an American company.’”

Don’t Box Me In

“Presenters and organizers need to find that box they can define you by, so that they can market you. I said, ‘I’m not part of the Diaspora. I’m not doing fusion. I’m not prettily playing with Indian movement. I’m actually doing new work.” That wasn’t enough. That was really one of my major struggles.”

Learning to Think Like a Company

“Once you decide to form a company, the level of engagement is completely different…You’re not just looking to see if you want to make a new dance. That should have been taken care of awhile ago…You have a very kind of focused vision as to what your company is going to achieve, and how you differentiate between you, your work, and others, which is an ongoing process.”

Serve the Work, Not the Company

“We’re a very low-key, hire-oneself, fire-oneself kind of company, where we’re keeping the logistics and expenditures to a basic minimum, so that the work can get moving. So, when we bring people in, artistically or otherwise, they come in more on a project basis. It’s a very project-based company so far. Eventually, I’d like to set up a core team of permanent members, but right now, they come according to projects.”

Creating Time

“I think the key words are time management. If you can train yourself to be disciplined on the non-artistic, non-creative side, then you can get a lot of work done. But if you don’t, then it can affect your creativity, because your time is haphazard.”

Know When to Hold ‘Em

“I could have done this grant, but it would have been a very bad grant, so instead, I said, ‘I didn’t prepare enough, so I can’t do it this year.’ And I just let it go. It’s been very good….It helps you focus on the projects that you want to do. When you talk to people, you’re a lot more focused and a lot more passionate, and you’re not all over the shop.”

An Artist in Training

“Training never stops. I still continue to train in different ways — I feel, at this stage in my life, I need a particular kind of training. Five years ago, I was looking for something else — just so you don’t become stagnant. And you must also be very open to what’s happening. You continue evolving with the society. You don’t just get locked in a particular kind of time bubble.”

Bridging the Gap

“The ultimate goal, which we are slowly developing right now, is to build a bridge between India and the U.S. to do with technology and movement education. So, we’re building that large bridge now.”

The Role of the Artist

“What is the issue today that people have? It’s communication — global communication and cultural communication — and I feel that the performing arts plays a huge role in trying to bridge that.”

This Featured Lady was profiled by Sarah Tomlinson, a freelance writer in Los Angeles.

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Rashmi Turner

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Founder and CEO,
Global Wonders

Rashmi Shrivastava Turner is a first generation American whose Indian parents raised her on the East Coast and in California. Her bi-cultural, bi-costal heritage along with her intelligence and stick-toitiveness are why Global Wonders is the success it is today.

After graduating from the University of California, Berkeley, with a major in Political Science and Economics Rashmi excelled at high-powered jobs in PR, marketing, communications, and investor relations, eventually landing a plum post as Vice President of Production, Learning and Education for Disney Interactive Studios and The Baby Einstein Company. While there Rashmi spearheaded the company’s marketing and product development and was pivotal to the growth of the Baby Einstein brand, expanding it to include DVDs, TV programs, and products in twenty five languages, boosting retail sales from 25 million to over 250 million.

In 2007 Rashmi founded Global Wonders, a line of educational and entertainment products designed to introduce children to the customs, lifestyle, music and language of cultures around the world, bringing together family, friends, and the world by celebrating our similarities as well as our differences.

What we learned from Rashmi: No matter how great your idea is you can’t launch it alone. Surround yourself with amazing people and keep your ears open.

Starting Out

Growing up I always wanted to run something. My mother was very entrepreneurial and from early on I was taught to go after what you think is right. I moved to California as a senior in high school and went on to UC Berkeley, eventually joining a PR firm launching Nintendo 64, Game Boy, and supporting the Walt Disney home video account in both consumer marketing and investor relations. Back then I remember learning so much about the meaning behind brands and products and how they had to live up to the vision. I was told I was creative  and more importantly saw clear ways to execute ideas.

From Branding to Baby Einstein

I joined Disney and the Baby Einstein Company following Disney’s acquisition of the company in 2002. Working for Disney and BEC gave me so many opportunities. I learned so much not only about various lines of business but how to develop and build brands. Additionally I learned a tremendous amount about DVD and TV production as well as about the developmental needs of children.

Leaving What You Love

I had a very hard time making the decision to leave Disney. I loved what I did but at the same time I felt I had progressed to the point that I needed to do something that would add to my skill set and leverage my knowledge. I also was trying to look ahead to where I wanted to be and what I wanted to be doing in five years. The time was right to strike out on my own and see where it would go.

Global Wunderkind

As the mother of two cross-cultural children, and being a first generation Indian born in the United States, I had a strong desire to teach my children about their cultural background and to help them embrace the heritage of both of their parents. I also witnessed their innate curiosity about their friends and neighbors. As a result it became clear that not only my own, but all children were interested in, and highly influenced by, one another. I saw that there weren’t any tools for them to build on what they were being exposed to. As all parents do, I wanted to introduce my girls to as much as possible. I based Global Wonders on the concept of supporting cross-cultural friendships and helping children increase their self esteem by appreciating others.

We Are the World

I founded my company in 2007. I was very fortunate to be able to bring together a team of not only children’s media Emmy award winners but other professionals I had worked with in the past. I assembled a group of executives, contributors, writers, composers, and development experts. We call the ever-changing world we live in a Cultural Kaleidoscope, where every individual culture and experience adds a more colorful global view. The Global Wonders philosophy is to highlight the beauty in our cultural kaleidoscope. And market research  was a snap – we just asked moms what they most wanted to share about their culture with their own children!

Biggest Success

My biggest success has been creating content that is not only educational but fun. Having children ask to see it over and over again and hearing what parents and children learn together and how much they enjoy the programs is wonderful.

This featured lady was profiled by Susie Lacey, a freelance writer in Shaker Heights, Ohio.

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Laura Turner Seydel


Philanthropist, activist, educator  

Baking soda cleans carpets. Lemon juice washes windows. And warm, wonderful sunshine whitens linens better than bleach. Surprised? You’re not alone. Luckily Laura Turner Seydel will tell you it’s never too late to turn in your toxins. A life-long environmental activist and eco-living expert, Laura’s infectious passion for taking care of our planet has inspired people all over the globe to recycle, ride bikes and re-invent themselves as environmentally conscious consumers.

At last, composting coffee grounds is catching on, but Laura has been part of an eco-friendly family all along. She was taught to conserve energy, waste nothing and respect and care for our world, values she never out-grew. She is now dedicated to raising awareness and promoting sustainability. Her credits include Chairman of the Captain Planet Foundation, Co-Founder of the Upper Chattahoochee Riverkeeper Fund, Co-Founder of Mothers and Others for Clean Air, and the recently launched Web site Laura’s home, aptly dubbed EcoManor , sports soy-based insulation, pressed hay cabinets, and is LEED certified (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design). You go green girl!
To meet Laura Turner Seydel in person and learn more, attend the Ladies Who Launch Event in Atlanta on  Thursday, November 13. Register now.

What we learned from Laura: Making a difference doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. It’s essential that we all help in some way. We have a responsibility to future generations to take care of this planet.

Bio Baby

When I was young we composted, picked up trash, recycled. During the oil embargo in the 70’s my dad was very patriotic about following President Carter’s call to conserve. We walked to school. My dad, Ted Turner, drove a small used Toyota. Talk about setting an example!

Passion or Fashion?

When I graduated from college I interned with Greenpeace. It was a wonderful learning experience but I had worked in retail in college and I thought that was more glamorous. From 1987-1995 I owned my own retail store but was ultimately unfulfilled. Even before I left retail I joined the Georgia Conservancy. I also took a leadership role in my dad’s Turner Foundation, helping fund non-profits across the country. I was right on the pulse of the environmental community.

Laura, 1; Pollution, 0

One of my first projects at the Georgia Conservancy was to champion The Chattahoochee River which was being decimated by the city of Atlanta. They were pumping in partially treated sewage that was being sent down stream. With a seed grant from the Turner Foundation we founded the Chattahoochee Riverkeepers in 1993 and successfully sued the city of Atlanta in 1994, setting national precedent.

Learning By Doing

I’m on the League of Conservation Voters Board. I make sure our elected officials are committed to the environment and are held accountable for their decisions. I don’t think a lot of people, even legislators, realize how serious these issues are. I’ve also been the Board Chairman of the Captain Planet Foundation since 2001. We make small grants for hands-on kids’ projects – restoring wetlands, planting trees, coming up with recycling initiatives, things that have long-term benefits. We’re creating environmental stewards. They’re learning how to care for their world.

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Heidi Roizen

CEO, SkinnySongs

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On the surface, she had it all. Heidi Roizen was a pioneering businesswoman and venture capitalist who achieved the highest levels of professional and economic success. As co-founder of a Silicon Valley software company in the 1980s, she grew the business to $15 million in revenues and sold it to become a vice president at Apple. She was written up in numerous “who’s who” lists of trailblazing women leaders in the high-tech industry. She married, had children, and threw some of the most popular house parties in town.

One thing she had too much of though, Heidi realized, was body mass. A long hard look in the mirror and a fateful step on the scale changed her life. When she looked for music to help motivate her to meet her new weight-loss goals, nothing was quite doing it for her. No one was producing tunes with an energetic beat and inspiring lyrics. There was only one solution.

Heidi launched her newest venture, SkinnySongs, in 2007, releasing a CD of the same name in December. The lyrics provide just the kind of uplifting messages Heidi had in mind … because she wrote them. With titles like “Skinny Jeans,” “Incredible Shrinking Women,” “Thin!,” and “I’m a Hottie Now,” Heidi is sharing her positive affirmations with the world.

She has gotten top-tier press in the months since launching, appearing on “The Martha Stewart Show,” Oprah’s radio network, and the CBS “Early Show.” She’s also been written up in USA Today and in dozens of other newspapers and blogs.

For the moment, Heidi’s CDs are sold online only. (Links to Amazon and other sellers are on Heidi’s coordinating line of on-message shirts is also sold on her Web site.

What we learned from Heidi: You have to learn to accept criticism. You can’t take it personally. Understand that not everyone is going to love your product as much as you do. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad person or you’ve created a bad product.

From Corner Office to Home Office

 “In some ways, SkinnySongs is remarkably similar to my work in venture capitalism. I’m in  business and I think about inventory and marketing, retail sales, and the overall development of my company. Even the medium is the same. Then as now, I’m selling CDs.”

Flying Solo

“The biggest difference is that now I’m a small business. Before, I dealt with big numbers and had a support staff. Now I’m doing it all. I may be negotiating my appearance on Martha Stewart, then hang up the phone and go run boxes to FedEx. As a venture capitalist, you may work with a product that you yourself would never use. But SkinnySongs is very personal and I’m very passionate about it.”

Consumer Marketing 101

“It’s new for me to be marketing a consumer product. I’ve discovered that it’s a lot more than sending out a press release. For the first time, I’m in a TV and music environment. It’s now all about commercials, TV shows, radio play, talk radio, and the Internet, both as a place for consumers to buy and a media outlet for publicity. I’m all grassroots-oriented now. Most of our marketing money is spent on outreach to emerging and traditional media.”

In Tune With the Biz

“I was totally new to the music industry. I compensated by finding people who believed in my vision but had better music skills. Enlisting the right talent and finding the right co-conspirators was absolutely critical. SkinnySongs’ lyrics had to be delivered in a musical package that sounded just as good as pop songs on Top 40 radio. That’s why I had to camp on the doorsteps, at least figuratively, of top producers like George Daly and David Malloy. David has dozens of awards and has worked for country greats such as Reba McEntire, Kenny Rogers, Dolly Parton, and Tanya Tucker. George is CEO of About Records and has over two decades of experience as a senior executive at the major record labels. He discovered the Cars, the Tubes, and Vanessa Carlton.”

No Is Not an Answer

“I met George through mutual friends in the San Francisco area. Then through George I met David. The two of them had worked together many times in the past. The trick was convincing them to lend their talents and their reputations to my project. I recruited them to take a share of the proceeds. I’m not paying them, which means if it’s not successful, they don’t make any money either.”

She Writes the Songs

“The lyrics were something I really wanted and they didn’t exist, so I had to invent them. Weight-loss is a huge industry and music is a huge industry. There had never been a combination where the lyrics matched. I wrote the lyrics to motivate myself, but it’s more than that. It’s not just about your weight, diet, and fitness program. It’s about keeping your head in the right space for whatever goal you’re pursuing and whatever path you’re taking. You have to acknowledge and deal with emotional eating issues. You have to see and change your lifestyle, which is hard.”


“Writing the songs was a form of creative expression for me and it also allowed me to flex my entrepreneurial muscle. I was approaching my 50th birthday and doing a self-assessment. The writing process became my path to address a lot of issues going on in my life at the same time. I listen to my music every day. I enjoy it. It still motivates me.”

Proof Positive

“I’ve lost over 30 pounds. Actually, I’ve lost 40 pounds of fat and gained almost 10 pounds of muscle. Even if I don’t make SkinnySongs into a financial success, it is a personal success for me. I’m healthier now at 50 than I was at 40. But there are other success stories coming in all the time—we post them as testimonials on our home page.”

The Skinny on “Skinny”

“I chose to use the word ‘skinny’ because it was distinctive and yet a bit controversial, which you need to build up awareness. More importantly, I like the idea of the other meaning of ‘skinny,’ as in ‘give me the skinny, tell me the truth about this.’ My songs are very honest and very personal, so they are not for everyone. Luckily, a lot of other women feel the same way I feel, so what worked for me is working for them, too. I went from 190 pounds and a size 14 to 158 pounds and a size 8, so no one is going to accuse me of actually being skinny! It’s all about feeling great about yourself, feeling healthy, and feeling like you are the best you can be.”

A Unique Idea Gets …

“I knew SkinnySongs was a very big idea. I also knew that the theme of someone who had achieved success in one career suddenly doing a 180 and starting something new, especially at the tender age of almost 50, was another topic of current interest.”

… Lots of Great Press

“From my past work as an entrepreneur and venture capitalist, I had many contacts in the press. So I pitched the idea to a few of my journalist friends. One, a writer at Forbes, did the first article and really launched me. That piece gave me credibility to approach health and fitness editors and general interest media, where my contacts were not so strong. I got help through two PR firms, Fifteen Minutes, out of Los Angeles, and Kelly Fogelman Group, out of Marin.”

The Bottom Line

“I will be cash-flow-positive by June, but I don’t expect to pay my startup investment back until later in the year. I watch the budget very carefully with regard to expenses; I travel coach and stay in cheap hotels—that entrepreneurial spirit. However, where I didn’t scrimp was in talent, the production of the CD, and the quality of the graphics and Web site.”

Costs in Perspective

“Relative to a guy recording in his spare bedroom on his Mac, my costs are high. Relative to a record label, my costs are low. World headquarters is my house and I don’t have any employees. I do have some fellow entrepreneurs in a consulting capacity helping me with legal, sales, accounting, and PR.”

Three Lessons

“One, there are free ways to do everything. It sometimes takes longer and requires more elbow grease, but it can be done. Two, find others to do it with you. Figure out what talent you need and how you can get the talent to share in the risk and reward, without necessarily paying them market rate. Three, it’s sometimes better to think small than big. Figure out exactly what you’re trying to accomplish and how big a step you need to take.”

Corporate Exit Strategy

“When you leave the corporate world, have a realistic business plan and stick to it. Do what’s comfortable. Don’t risk something you can’t afford to lose. You may have to build up your savings and work on your business at night when you come home from your other job. Be very scrappy about how you do things.”

Boss Yourself Around

“I had to learn to cordon off time to proactively move my goals forward, not just work reactively. Working from home, I found that there’s always an infinite amount of work to do. I had to learn to put a box around it and step away to spend time with my family, exercise, and those kinds of things. Especially when you’re a one-person start-up, if you don’t do it, it won’t get done. There’s a lot of self-generated pressure on entrepreneurs.”

This Featured Lady was profiled by Andrea Adleman, a Los Angeles freelance journalist.

Julia Cameron


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Julia Cameron will be one of our featured speakers at the
Ladies Who Launch NYC Speaker Series taking place on April 28.
Click for more info.

Julia Cameron is an accomplished journalist, screenwriter, poet, novelist, and playwright. But mention her name in conversation and inevitably it will be linked with The Artist’s Way, a workbook for those looking to discover or re-discover their creative selves, which was initially published in 1992 and has sold over 3 million copies.

Cameron grew up in Chicago and began her career writing for the Washington Post and Rolling Stone (where she met director Martin Scorsese, whom she married in 1975 and later divorced). While married to Scorsese, she worked on the screenplays for two of his major films: Taxi Driver and New York, New York. Cameron’s first musical, Avalon, was staged in 1998.

At 60, Cameron continues to follow the advice she espouses in The Artist’s Way: jotting down her thoughts daily in her “morning pages” and channeling her artistic vision into a variety of projects.

Below, read how Cameron fends off writer’s block (yes, even she suffers from it sometimes), calls on friends for guidance, and dispels the myth that writers need to be miserable to be good.

What we learned from Julia: “If you’re good at doing one thing, you should keep doing it. In England, writers are novelists, playwrights—the word ‘writer’ covers a wider spectrum of activity.” She also said to take a bet on yourself; she did, and it’s paid off.

Her True Calling

“I was born to write. All my brothers and sisters—there are seven of us altogether—are in the arts. My father was in advertising and mom had a master’s degree in English and wrote poetry. By the time I was in sixth grade with Mrs. Klopsch, I was already writing short stories and poems.”

Investigating Journalism

“My goal was to write short stories. When I was offered a job at the Washington Post, it seemed like a good way to kill two birds with one stone. I enjoy writing in any form. I was proud of my Rolling Stone pieces. I wrote one about E. Howard Hunt’s children. I remember getting in trouble with William F. Buckley. He called my house in Chicago because he thought it was a terrible thing I’d interviewed the children—he was their godfather. My first taste of celebrity was getting a good scolding. During my 20s I was a blind beginner. In my 30s I was a lot more conscious about what I wrote.”

Screenwriting Savvy

“My early screenwriting was for my husband at the time, Martin Scorsese. I worked on Taxi Driver and on New York, New York. When Marty and I got divorced, I had a screenwriting career to pursue. I sold movies to Paramount. They bought the movie but didn’t make it. I was frustrated, so I took the money I earned writing for Miami Vice and made a feature film in Chicago.”

Sobering Experience

“1978 is the year that I got sober. My wild ways came screeching to a halt. I needed to find a way to write sober. I had always associated writing with drinking. We have a mythology around creativity that’s destructive. We think you have to be broke, alone, neurotic, addicted. None of these things is true. When I got sober, I had to find a way to work soberly. I was 29, and I had a daughter who was a year old.”

Do It For Love, Not Money

“I’ve never had to be paid to write. I published two novels. I have a musical opening in Chicago in the fall. Last year I had a play in L.A. The trick is to not need a guarantee and to be willing to write no matter what. Right now I’m writing a sequel to [my novel] Mozart’s Ghost, which came out on Valentine’s Day. I did the novel without a contract. I bet on myself.”

The Power of Friendship

“It helps if you have friends who believe in you. My friends read my first drafts. A lot of times they will believe in a project when I’m getting rejected. We underestimate the importance of having one strong friend. The telephone is a wonderful ally to combat the isolation of being a writer, as is e-mail. If you know what your friends are doing, it’s harder to feel lonely. I also think writing is its own companion. You’re not lonely when you’re actually writing.”

A Typical Day, the Artist’s Way

“I get up late. If I can, it’s noon. I write my morning pages first thing. I ask for guidance and sit quietly and see if there’s anything I need to be doing. I usually work on the music [for my upcoming musical]. I have a collaborator, Emma Lively, and we’ve written three musicals together. We work for a few hours. Then I put in a couple hours of prose writing. I sometimes don’t get out of the house until 5:30. I try to get a walk in every day.”

Overcoming Writer’s Block

“I use the same unblocking tools that I teach my students. They make you much more alert to the signals. I grapple with writer’s block right away. Morning pages [three pages of writing about anything that comes to your head] are one such tool. I’ve been writing them for 25 years. In The Artist’s Way, I also write about “blasting through blocks.” By listing any angers, fears, and resentments related to a project, that often clears the decks right away.

Emma and I have been hired to write music for a one-woman show. I feel blocked around it. I take a look at my ego—I’m not used to working FOR people anymore. I need to be a beginner again. Hopefully once I surrender my need to be the boss, it’ll work out.”

Favorite Books

“Tim Farrington is my favorite writer. He’s written two books—The Monk Downstairs and The Monk Upstairs. He’s so funny and deft, and he was the inspiration for me to write Mozart’s Ghost. I dedicated the book to him.”

Daily Must-Reads

“I read a little teeny book called Twenty-Four Hours a Day that was put out by Hazelden. It’s a meditation book. I also read Creative Ideas by theologian Ernest Holmes, which was originally published in 1934. They just re-released it, and I wrote the intro. Right now I’m reading My First Five Husbands by Rue McClanahan and Drinking: A Love Story, a memoir by Caroline Knapp.”

Most Rewarding Career Moment

“I think I’m sort of singular in that I like book tours. I meet people who say I used your tools and they changed my life and this is what I did with them.”

Scariest Career Moment

“Watching my first musical go up in 1998. It’s scary. I just heard the music so beautifully in my head that it was hard to deal with some of the compromises of getting it on the stage. I was sitting in the back of the theater saying, ‘It’s brilliant. It’s awful.'”

On Networking

“I think it’s most important that we do the work and then have something to network about. Sometimes people want networking to be a shortcut or a guarantee. Networking gives you a sense of the possible. I have a number of women friends in their 70s and 80s and they are a tremendous source of inspiration. One runs a horse ranch. One got a master’s in poetry at 75. One is in her 80s and is still an active actress. I believe that other women are inspirational.”

Parting Thoughts …

-“I am happiest when … I’m writing.”
-“Success to me means … creativity.”
-“The public figure I wish most would read The Artist’s Way is … Warren Beatty. I don’t know if he has.”
-“I will always think of myself as … a good horseback rider.”
-“My business would not have happened if … I waited for guarantees.”
-“The most important thing I do every day is … stay sober. I have 30 years without a drink.”

This Featured Lady was profiled by Michele Shapiro, a writer living in New York City.

Kim Kleeman


Founder, Shakespeare Squared

Shakespeare Squared: Named one of Inc.’s 500 Fastest Growing Private Companies in America. Recognized as one of Working Mother magazine’s 25 Best Small Companies. Awarded the title of Illinois Family Business of the Year. Lofty accomplishments for company founder Kim Kleeman, a woman who just a few short years ago swore she would never own her own business!

Having grown up the child of business-owner parents, Kleeman knew well the stresses and demands that entrepreneurial life can place upon a family. She met her husband, Jay, on the first day of college, and together they earned their teaching degrees and started making plans for a modest but happy life. When Jay’s stint as a student teacher strained the family budget, though, they both started doing subcontract work proofing elementary school textbooks. Before long, they were taking on bigger jobs and hiring other teachers to freelance on various projects, and from that point on, they never looked back.

In 2003, the couple founded Shakespeare Squared, an educational development company that employs an army of freelancers to write and edit materials such as textbooks, lesson plans, teacher guides, activity workbooks, and test-preparation materials. Initially a home-based business managed by Kim while Jay continued his work as a high school teacher, the company now has a full-time staff of 20 and is branching out in new directions, publishing its own materials and offering an educational editing certification process. In three years’ time, the company has grown by an incredible 815 percent, bringing in $2.3 million in revenue last year.

What we learned from Kim: That the most incredible resource for launching might very well be your own friends and family. Kim started this business with her husband; her best friend since high school is her director of human resources; her sister is a remote project coordinator; her lawyer brother weighs in on various matters; her mom is a managing editor; and her parents are her de facto advisory board, with whom she meets every morning to share a cup of tea and conversation in their backyard.

Words of Wisdom

“Trust your instincts and empower your people.”

From Teacher to Tycoon

“I don’t know if I had a big ‘aha’ moment about starting a business; our growth was really organic. After my second child I immediately got pregnant with my third and there was no turning back, because we weren’t going to be able to afford day care for two babies on two teachers’ salaries. I had been working from home and continuously had one or two projects going, and I set a goal of having 10 projects running simultaneously. So after my son was born, I enacted my own guerilla marketing plan and e-mailed every editorial director at the big publishing companies, looking for projects. We soon landed our first big client, HarperCollins Children’s Books.”

Not About the Money

“I just wanted to make the best company that I could and be happy doing it. If that included millions of dollars, great, but that wasn’t really the goal. I didn’t know at first how much work we would end up getting, but I think the extensive classroom experience of our people sets us apart in this field. As teachers ourselves, we understand the needs of our clients and we deliver on that.”

It Takes a Village

“We employ over 400 freelance writers. Most are former teachers but we pull from publishing, journalism, and other fields as well. We developed a writing test that covers everything from copyrighting to educational taboos, and prospective freelancers must earn at least a B+. A nice plus with our business is the opportunity we can offer teachers for life beyond teaching. I really promote teachers in the classroom, but if the classroom just isn’t your thing and you’re still passionate about education, there is a place for you here.”

Those Who Can, Teach

“Educators in this country are getting a bad rap. We ask them to perform many roles and yet we’re not supporting them as a society. Prospective teachers must student teach to become certified and are expected to not work while doing so, but there are so many people from diverse backgrounds who would love to teach—and who would be great teachers—who can’t afford to do that. The Shakespeare Squared Foundation helps pay for prospective teachers to student teach. My passion is to get the right teachers in place, because that makes all the difference for students.”

The Best and the Brightest

“It is definitely a challenge to find and retain the best talent, because I am up against large publishers. I have to provide a different culture and be creative in the way I offer benefits. We really believe in the work/life balance and offer such things as flex hours, remote work capabilities, and a working-parents room in the office. We’ve been recognized for these efforts, and because of them, our turnover is very low.”

Networking 101

“You have to go into a networking situation with the idea in mind that there will be one person in the crowd who can make a difference to you, and you have to find that person. You may be talking to someone who makes shoelaces and has nothing in common with your business, but she may know someone in your field or know about an interesting business practice that could translate to your own. But the bottom line is that if it’s not the right conversation, you politely cut it short and move on.”

Strength in Numbers

“There is so much value in the process of incubating an idea with other women. I am always looking for women who are coming together creatively and collaboratively because things flow from it that you would never dream. When women support other women, we empower each other to take charge of our lives, whether by owning our own businesses or making a career change or making decisions about our families.”

Best Advice

“I read in Working Mother magazine that women CEOs need to take the ability that they have in their work life to delegate responsibility and create a management team and apply that to their home life as well. So I really try to think of running my household the same way I run my business; whether it’s cleaning ladies or repairmen, I find people I trust and have them take care of tasks that I don’t need to spend time on. This has relieved a lot of guilt and allowed me to focus on the things that are really important.”

Most Rewarding Moments

“Winning the Working Mother award as one of the 25 Best Small Companies felt pretty great because it showed that having a unique workplace does pay off. But even better is realizing that your message is getting across to your people. I love seeing quotes at my team’s desks about goals and achieving your dreams, all of the exact things I say to empower them. It’s cool to realize that there isn’t a lot of cynicism, and that people are really buying into these ideas and making them their own.”

Parting Thoughts …

-“My secret weapon is the news articles that I send to my team.”
-“I will retire when I have no more dreams to accomplish.”
-“I will always think of myself as a teacher.”
-“My greatest strength is my enthusiasm.”

This featured lady was profiled by Noelle Pechar Hale, a freelance writer living in Los Angeles.