20% off Hotels Worldwide Now Included with Your Membership

Members are eligible for special discount.
Learn more about Membership Benefits.

Travel Deals for Members

Members now save on rooms at nearly 7,000 participating hotels worldwide.

As a member of Ladies Who Launch you will receive up to 20% off the “Best Available Rate” at participating locations when you travel. Book online or call and give the agent your special discount ID number at time of booking to receive discount.

To Redeem the ID number, sign up or  log in and go to Today’s Opportunity Page.

Whether you are looking for an upscale hotel, an all-inclusive resort or something more cost-effective, we have the right hotel for you… and at the right price. So start saving now.

Wyndham hotel dealCall our special member benefits hotline  and reserve your room today at one of these fine hotels:

Wyndham Hotels,  Ramada®

Days Inn®, Super 8®

Wingate By Wyndham®, Baymont Inns

Howard Johnson®,  Travelodge®

Knights Inn®,  AmeriHost Inn®,  Microtel Inns and Suites®, Hawthorn Suites® By Wyndham


“Best Available Rate” is defined as the best, non-qualified, publicly available rate on the Internet for the hotel, date and accommodations requested. The discount for some International properties may be less than or equal to 20% of Best Available Rate. Certain restrictions apply. To redeem this offer, click our URL link on Organization’s website or call the phone number above and give ID at the time of reservation. Offer not valid if hotel is called directly, caller must use toll free numbers listed above. Advanced reservations are required. Offer is subject to availability at participating locations and some blackout dates may apply. Offer cannot be combined with any other discounts, offers, group rates, or special promotions. Discounted rates vary by location and time of year. Offer is void where prohibited by law and has no cash value.

Special Invitation for LWL Members

Photography Opening in New York, Heather Guess Studio

Heather Guess Studio

Exhibition opens: December 8, 2010

Location: William Bennett Gallery, 45 Rockefeller Plaza, 3rd floor

Time: 6pm-9pm

Open bar, hors d’oeuvres catered by Pulse Restaurant

Live Urban Dance performance

and gift bags provided by the Patrick Melville Salon and Spa

Web: Heather Guess Studio

RSVP here. (Required)
Space is limited and RSVP’s are on a first come-first serve basis.

Heather Guess’s inaugural solo show is a tale of two cities that stars New York and Cleveland. That the artist maintains a dual residency in both cities, this body of work can also be considered a self-portrait with two distinct sides. Central to the theme of this show are Cityscapes, upon which the artist has cast a fresh light by renaming them “Urban Landscapes.” These photographs naturally divide into two realms: pictures of New York City and of Cleveland. Guess’s New York series brackets a compendium of forms and buildings that comprise the large metropolis, whereas the artist’s Cleveland series seeks to reveal the truth behind the city rather than reflect its current public facade. Underscoring this binary exploration are images that depict fragments of the whole, while others translate realistic elements such as machinery or scaffolding into recondite renderings. Guess’s photographs are large format compositions that experiment with cropping, light, texture and perspective.

Boost Productivity With Google Apps for Business

Google Apps

Google Apps is a suite of online business-class applications that includes Gmail for business with integrated IM, voice and video chat, shared calendars, word processing, spreadsheets, internal websites, and more.

With Google Apps, everything is online which means you access these applications through any web-enabled device including your mobile phone. There’s no hardware or software to install saving you time and money while boosting productivity for the whole company.

Not only that, it’s a great deal — it costs less than $5 per user a month (only $50 per user a year). Plus, you can try Google Apps for 30 days, free.

Here’s what you get:

  • Gmail for business plus shared calendars, word processing, spreadsheets, internal websites, and more
  • Mobile access works with Blackberry® and Android™ devices, the iPhone®, and Windows Mobile® phones
  • Reduced costs with no hardware or software to install and a whole suite of apps that can replace other popular office solutions
  • 99.9% uptime guarantee so you can be confident you’ll have access to your apps whenever you need them
  • 24/7 customer support by phone or email for all your critical issues
  • Try Google Apps for 30 days, FREE.

    Learn More


    Quotes text copy

    Terms and conditions:

    You will be asked to provide a credit card number to sign up for the free 30 day trial of Google Apps. However, you can cancel at any time before the end of your free trial and your card will not be charged. If you do not cancel, you will be charged a standard rate of $50 per user per year.

    The 99.9% uptime SLA for Google Apps is offered to organizations using Google Apps for Business, as described in the Google Apps for Business Terms of Service.

    Meet the Lady Who Changed the Rep of Rent-a-Cops.


    Think Like the Entrepreneur You’re Meant to Be

    5 Steps to Think Like an Entrepreneur

    Deborah BaileyIf you’re going into entrepreneurship and still holding on to the belief
    that it’s the same as being employed (except without benefits and job
    “security”) – you will find yourself in a very limiting position… Let Deborah Bailey help you develop the traits you need to successfully transition from employee to CEO

    Click here for $10 promo code.

    Register Now


    Kimberly Anderson-Matich

    President and CEO, Anderson Security Agency, Ltd.

    Kimberly Anderson-Matich, Anderson Security Agency, LtdWhen Featured Lady Kimberly Anderson-Matich launched Anderson Security in 1994, the industry had the reputation for employing untrained, unprofessional rent-a-cops. She was determined to change that with the goal of becoming the most professional security company in Arizona. Today, Anderson Security is one of the largest privately owned security firms in Arizona providing customized security programs for small, medium and large scale urban and suburban projects. With its new Las Vegas location, Anderson Security boasts almost 500 employees and generates $20 million in annual revenue.

    Kimberly was introduced to the security industry at a young age. Her father was very successful in the industry and she grew up in the business. As a child Kimberly wanted to be a wife and mother, but as she got older and watched her father she aspired to have a career, too. “A career in security seemed like an obvious choice,” Kimberly explains. She learned the security business from the ground up as a receptionist, a dispatcher and an accountant, first working for her father’s company and then her older brother’s. Kimberly was inspired by her father to start Anderson Security.

    To finance and grow her organization, Kimberly developed a business plan that included the use of Small Business Association loans and forged a close working relationship with Arizona Business Bank. “I learned early on to surround myself with experts and individuals that could help answer questions and guide Anderson’s growth,” Kimberly says. One of those experts includes her father. “He was my mentor and still consults and advises me today.”

    Immediately before she launched Anderson Security, Kimberly was a wife and mother to five children. Although the transition back to work for her was fairly easy since she had been in the security industry for several years prior to being at home, Kimberly believes it’s always difficult to be a working mom, and being a business owner can increase those challenges.

    “I started my business when my youngest child was just a year old. In some ways they have grown up together,” explains Kimberly. “I have been very blessed to have an extended family that provides support when I or my kids have needed it. I think it is very important to set aside time that is non-negotiable for my family. It is hard but the reward of that is immeasurable.”

    Kimberly’s father heightened the standards for quality and professionalism in the security industry and she continues to focus on raising that bar. “I admired his dedication and determination to make the security industry more professional,” she says. As a nod to her father’s dedication to the industry, Anderson Security houses in its Tempe, Arizona corporate headquarters the H.P. Anderson Security Museum. This museum is dedicated entirely to the history of private security and named after Kimberly’s father.

    With the mission to continually strive to meet or exceed the requirements of its clients by providing the highest quality of private security services, Anderson Security had gross revenue of over $1.2 million before finishing its first year. “My vision is for Anderson to be the most professional security leader in the industry,” Kimberly says.

    Since its founding, Anderson Security has enjoyed swift growth. In 2001 Kimberly had a very large client begin service with her company. “The contract doubled my business overnight and my team was able to come together and do whatever it took to make it work,” she explains. “I am proud to say that the client is still with Anderson Security and we have developed a great working partnership.”

    In 2003, Anderson Security received notification that it had achieved certification as a member of the Women’s Business Enterprise Council – West and the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC). The WBENC is the nation’s leading advocate of women-owned businesses as suppliers to America’s corporations.

    As a woman in a male-dominated field, Kimberly has been instrumental in introducing women into the security industry. She has hired, trained, and promoted women to equal positions with the men in the company. “Security is a predominantly male industry and I have worked hard to establish and maintain a professional reputation,” Kimberly says. “You can do anything you set your mind to.”

    In addition, under Kimberley’s leadership Anderson Security introduced Arizona’s first privately-owned emergency command unit, which is a multi-purpose vehicle used for on-site training, human resources, emergency and strike situations.

    Kimberly was selected as the ASIS Phoenix Chapter’s Security Professional of the Year in 2000 and as a regional finalist in the Bank One Working Woman Entrepreneurial Excellence Awards for Customer Care and Client Service. In 2007 she was a finalist in the Arizona State University William P. Carey’s Spirit of Enterprise Award and was a 2010 Enterprising Women of the Year finalist.


    What we learned from Kimberly: “Surround yourself with people who are more experienced in different areas than you are and don’t be afraid to take advice from them.”

    Drive for the Top
    “At Anderson we do not settle for ‘status quo.’ We also don’t strive to be the biggest security agency, but we do strive to be the best. It is that drive that keeps us at the top of our game.”

    Father Knows Best

    “My father encouraged me to focus on my dream, instead of the obstacles to achieving it.”

    The Whole Employee

    “I try to see the talents that each individual possesses and offer them the opportunity to use those talents in the business arena. We offer ongoing training opportunities in many areas of life including security.”

    * Learn more about PR Opportunities and PR Leads from Ladies Who Launch
    * Reach your Launch Potential by taking advantage of these SPECIAL OPPORTUNITIES and online resources from Ladies Who Launch

    Susan Gregg Koger

    Meet her: She built $20 million business using down to earth loyalty.

    This Week’s Webinar: Secrets to Successful Time Management

    Time management – How do some people fit far more into 24 hours than the rest of us?
    – What separates successful people from the rest of people…?

    They know the Secrets to Successful Time Management!

    Susan Hobson is a Performance Coach who specializes in helping female entrepreneurs like herself, produce powerful results in their personal and professional lives. In Secrets to Successful Time Management, Coach Susan will be revealing what she knows about reaching the top of your game.
    For $10 exclusive discount use Promo code: LWLSTM

    Register Now


    Carol Craig

    President , Craig Technologies, Inc.Carol Craig

    Remember Charlie, Kelly McGillis’ character from the movie Top Gun? She was the no-nonsense civilian flight instructor who kept the jet pilots in line at the Miramar Naval Air Station. Meet Featured Lady Carol Craig, a real-life Charlie whose role at the Naval Air Warfare Center was the integration of Global Positioning Systems and Cockpit Display development for several Navy and Marine Corps aircraft. Today, she is the founder, president, CEO and CFO of Craig Technologies; a multi-million dollar federally certified 8(a), service-disabled veteran-owned, woman-owned business. Incorporated in 1999 and on track to earn over $20 million in revenue this year, Craig Technologies specializes in systems engineering, project management, infrastructure installation, software design and engineering, research and development, modeling and simulation, training and a myriad of custom technical services.

    Carol always wanted to be in the military, even earning a ROTC scholarship, but decided to go the traditional college route earning her BA in Computer Science from Knox College and a BS in Computer Engineering from the University of Illinois. Carol’s love of computers emerged when she was a 13 year-old middle schooler with free time. Instead of chasing boys and getting into trouble, she enrolled in computer classes at a local college. It was then Carol “fell in love with computers.” They kept her focused and on track.

    After graduation, Carol worked for the Department of Defense where she developed software systems for aircraft cockpits, acting as Charlie for the Naval Air Warfare Center – Indianapolis. However, she still hadn’t realized her military dream. Carol knew she wanted to do more than just design flight systems for military planes – she wanted to be a part of aviation in the military.

    Carol received a commission through Aviation Officer Candidate School, became a Naval Flight Officer and was the first woman aviator in her P-3 Orion squadron. While with the Navy, Carol specialized in Anti-Submarine and Subsurface Warfare and earned her MS in Electrical Computer Engineering from the University of Massachusetts – Amherst.

    Unfortunately, a botched surgery on her injured knee abruptly ended Carol’s military career and she was discharged as a disabled veteran.

    Prepared to follow her husband’s military career, Carol intended on returning to the Department of Defense; however, location and lack of that type of work stalled her plans. While working in Jacksonville Florida for a large transportation company, a friend suggested she incorporate “just in case” and in 1999 Craig Technologies was born. Within a few months, she unexpectedly began receiving requests for consulting work. To avoid involving investors, Carol used personal finances and maxed out eight credit cards to launch her company, which was in growth mode with planned losses for several years. “Business is all about opportunity,” she explains. “I didn’t know I had a winning idea. I just loved what I was doing and had confidence in my decisions.”

    After her husband, Captain John W. Craig, left the Navy in 2003, the couple moved to Merritt Island, Florida. After years of learning the world of government contracting and focusing on securing contracts for government programs in aerospace and defense, her business took off. Carol’s unique dual perspective of being an engineer as well as a former naval flight officer served her well.

    She also discovered government set-asides for women-owned, minority-owned and service-disabled veteran-owned small-businesses and used them to her advantage. Carol “always operated the business as if we were in a recession,” reinvesting her company’s profits back into the business, which allowed for more strategic growth and kept Craig Technologies debt-free. Today, Carol still owns 100% of her business.

    By 2008, Carol had offices in Cape Canaveral, Pensacola, and Jacksonville, Florida, Hampton Roads, Virginia, and Canton, Illinois, where her parents run the administrative office. Carol admits the company could have grown faster, but having a son born with a rare genetic disorder, Prader-Willi Syndrome, forced her to refocus her energy.

    “I never wanted to miss a school outing or event because I had a meeting, “Carol says. “Family stays number one.” Husband John now serves as Carol’s “Special Projects Officer,” as well as flying for JetBlue Airways and pursuing his MBA. Their children are Danny, 8 and Gillian, 7.

    Craig Technologies grew from one person in 1999 to 200 employees in 2010, and Carol plans to expand the business to 500 employees over the next five years. The company’s vision is to be the government contractor of choice with demonstrated employee-centric delivery of quality customer-centric results.

    “The business today is about loyalty and relationships,” Carol says. “I always believed that family, friends and associates are much more important than revenue.” In fact, most of Craig Technologies’ business comes through word-of-mouth. Carol attributes her firm’s success to her and her team’s networking skills and ability to retain long-time customers as the company grows.
    Carol was named 2008 Entrepreneur of the Year by the Society of Women Engineers and selected as 2009 Small Business Person of the Year by the Small Business Administration – South Florida District. She is a founding member and supporter of the Foundation for Prader-Willi Research (FPWR), an international non-profit organization dedicated to funding research and finding treatments for the syndrome and is also active on over ten boards in the local community including Junior Achievement, March of Dimes, and the Brevard Symphony Orchestra. Carol is pursuing a Ph.D. in electrical computer engineering at the Florida Institute of Technology and a Ph.D. in industrial engineering at the University of Central Florida.

    What we learned from Carol: “Second guessing wastes precious time. I never ask ‘what if…?’”

    Heartfelt Leadership
    “My leadership philosophy is lead by example and with your heart. Consider the perspective of your employees. If you can’t put yourself in someone else’s shoes, you can’t be effective.”

    Use What You’ve Got
    “Women entrepreneurs should never apologize for who we are – being a mother or having family priorities. All the attributes inherent to a woman make us successful in business. Be true to yourself – you can do it all.”

    Employee Relations

    “Empower your employees and teach them to act like owners. If they have a vested interest in the company, it will succeed.”

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

    Apply to be a Featured Lady

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    * Reach your Launch Potential by taking advantage of these SPECIAL OPPORTUNITIES and online resources from Ladies Who Launch

    Meet Teresa Vidger, Temporary Housing Directory

    3 Ways to Build Your Dream Business

    million dollar dream

    The founder of MomInvented.com, Tamara Monosoff has helped tens of thousands of people take control of their lives and careers by launching and growing successful businesses. In Your Million Dollar Dream, she brings her years of experience directly to you, providing expert insight and invaluable resources to help you:

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    Teresa Vidger

    President and CEO, Temporary Housing Directory

    Teresa Vidger, Temporary Housing Directory
    While on a leave of absence from her job helping corporate transferees find temporary accommodations and rentals, Featured Lady Teresa Vidger got the idea for Temporary Housing Directory, Inc. (THD). A nationwide service that coordinates the selection and management of short-term housing choices for individuals displaced due to insurance claims and corporate relocation, THD places over 1500 individuals annually. Since 2001, insurance companies, relocation managers and emergency response organizations have been applauding Temporary Housing Directory’s nationwide network of affordable and comprehensive short-term housing services. In 2008, THD was named one of Inc. Magazine’s 500’s Fastest Growing Private Companies in America and was featured on WomanEntrepreneur.com. THD’s 2009 revenue was $31 million.

    Prior to starting THD, Teresa worked in real estate helping corporate transferees find rentals and temporary housing in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. Her job required that she drive about 100 miles per day showing properties. At the same time, Teresa independently handled referral calls from insurance companies looking to temporarily house displaced policyholders.

    After about a decade of working with insurance companies, one requested she find a very high-level customer a temporary residence. Teresa was successful when other vendors failed. “I gained more of their business personally because I did such a good job” she says.

    THD
    Between her corporate role and the insurance placements, Teresa was moving at a pretty hectic pace. However, that ended when her son was born.

    “He was born nine weeks early, weighing 2.5 pounds, and could not go to day care. So for about a year I took a leave of absence,” Teresa says. “I continued doing my insurance placements over the phone coordinating rentals. Once my son was one year old, I realized that I should do this on my own. I got my broker’s license and formed Temporary Housing Directory.”

    Teresa used family money to launch THD, starting slow and growing at the right pace. She hired her first person four months after founding the company and expanded to five in year one. Today, Teresa has 38 employees and, like her, they all work from home. She manages the challenges of having a virtual team by keeping in touch regularly. “Our employees are scattered around the country so we have department meetings, one-on-ones and also quarterly meetings so we can all interact and bond with each other,” explains Teresa. “I believe you have to care about each other to work well together.”

    Teresa believes THD’s strengths are service and flexibility. “I have never liked the idea of saying ‘no’ to a customer just because that is not how we typically do things,” she explains. “We are always listening and if needed, change our business model to fit the needs of our customers.”

    THD is the first company to bring together the full-service solution of hotel placements and furnished housing to one point of contact. When a disaster hits, THD provides one-hour emergency response for the relocation of insurance catastrophe teams and their policyholders into hotels and furnished housing.

    Despite THD’s steady growth, Teresa has had her share of challenges. “I had one of my vendors file Chapter 11. I had to take over their bills so my customers were not disrupted,” she explains. “I learned from this that you must do business with reputable companies that have a proven track record.” Teresa has also dealt with the uncomfortable issue of collections.

    “Collections has been my biggest business challenge. It is hard to get your customers to pay timely these days, she says. “You want to be firm but not too firm so that you upset your customers. It is always a balancing act.”

    Teresa’s best moment with THD was being awarded its first national contract. Her goal for THD is to apply creative thinking and a service approach to all aspects of the business, as well as continue to grow and gain market share in the industry.

    What we learned from Teresa: “I have learned a lot about being a leader. It is important to me that all of my team members give 100% and be passionate about everything we do. That is how I am and I think it is contagious.”

    A Woman’s Touch

    “I think that women business owners are amazing leaders. Strong and smart women have the ability to see situations sometimes in a more compassionate way that could put a different spin on the product they are selling.”

    A Balanced Mompreneur

    “I have three kids under the age of thirteen and a very supportive husband. It’s been hard to balance at times when you’re a workaholic, which I have always been. Having a wonderful group of managers has allowed me to breathe now more than ever and enjoy my time away from work. I spend most nights and weekends solely with my family and enjoy the simple things in life like soccer games, swimming and golfing.”

    Flexibility First

    “Be honest, deliver what you promise your customers and never over-promise. Be flexible with your business model and open for change. With all the changes in technology and the internet you need to be as adaptable as possible.”

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

    Apply to be a Featured Lady

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    * Reach your Launch Potential by taking advantage of these SPECIAL OPPORTUNITIES and online resources from Ladies Who Launch

    Julie Azuma, Different Roads to Learning

    THURSDAY: FACEBOOK ( 3. part) Webinar:
    Discover the Secrets to Becoming Queen of Your Life

    =======================================================================

    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.

    Apply to be a Featured Lady

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    Saskia STRICK, International Checkout

    Saskia Strick, Founder and CEO International Checkout

    Saskia STRICK

    Founder and CEO International Checkout

    Saskia Strick was a high-school educated, former international fashion model from the Netherlands whose claim to fame prior to age 26 was starring in a Milli Vanilli music video. But after identifying an unexploited market for American merchandisers to sell overseas, she launched International Checkout, Inc. in 2003. Today, Saskia is the founder and CEO of the leading global e-commerce solution projected to earn $10 million in revenue this year. Saskia’s Los Angeles-based company won The Stevie Award for Most Innovative Company of the Year for Women in Business in 2008 and Saskia herself was named Executive of the Year – Business Services in 2009. International Checkout was named one of Inc. 500’s 2009 Top 10 Women-Run Companies and earned the #61 spot on its 2009 Fastest-Growing Companies list.

    At 17 years-old, Saskia hopped a train to Milan to pursue a modeling career. After traveling the world, she followed a romantic relationship to the United States, ended up in Los Angeles, and retired from modeling at age 26. Unfortunately, the romance didn’t work out, and Saskia found herself a single mother with no job and no money. Although she was employed managing a horse ranch outside L.A., Saskia decided that it was “time to get serious and become independent.” She was tired of working for someone else.

    With her overseas friends constantly requesting that she purchase items and ship them to Europe, Saskia realized that American retailers weren’t shipping world-wide. This gave her the idea for International Checkout.

    International Checkout

    International Checkout provides U.S. retailers with worldwide shipping, guarantees against fraud, and offers world class multi-lingual customer service for US retailers. In addition, International Checkout handles all returns for the merchants. The premise is simple; a customer visits an online store, selects items for purchase and puts them in the cart. With a click of the International Checkout button, the order is sent to Saskia’s site for processing and fulfillment. International Checkout takes care of calculating real-time pricing for shipping, duties and taxes.

    From the first day International Checkout was live, the website began generating orders. Today there are over 240 American merchants registered with International Checkout, including DrMartins.com, bebe.com and many of Internet Retailer’s Top 500.

    Up until this year, International Checkout did not advertise, so to promote her services Saskia attended trade shows. News about her innovative business spread, especially among merchants who asked each other, “How are you selling internationally?”

    Saskia launched the International Checkout website with just $800. Her phenomenal six year growth, including a 2,191.2% increase during 2005 – 2008, has been achieved without a single investor. The company has always been privately held by Saskia and is completely debt-free.

    Her best moment with International Checkout occurred on Christmas Eve 2007. Saskia says the company was so busy after Black Friday that she never had a chance to look at the books until December 24. She discovered that International Checkout had done one million dollars in six weeks. Saskia thought, “This is amazing!”

    This summer, Saskia was invited to Egypt by the Corporate Ambassador’s Program to speak at a women business owners’ conference called Vital Voices. She felt it was very rewarding to not only make friends, but also help ladies get their businesses off the ground.

    In addition to owning International Checkout, Saskia just launched My American Shipper, a parcel forwarding service from the United States to any location worldwide.

    What we learned from Saskia: “One of my mistakes was hiring the wrong people. I’d talk to someone and think, ‘You’ll do’ and then hire them. My advice is take the time to select the right people, especially for higher-level, key roles. Don’t hire from off the street. Hire those who you know and have done business with and respect.”

    No Easy Street

    “In an entrepreneurial career, it’s all challenging and nothing’s easy. Understand that in the first few years, there may be very little money coming in. It’s not going to be a ride in the park and there’s no quick way to make things happen. I worked 18 hours a day, every day for the first three years.”

    Be Yourself

    “Don’t be intimidated in a male business world. Don’t differentiate yourself by thinking of yourself as a woman, be an equal. Anything a man can do, I can do.”

    Risky Business

    “I’m fortunate that I didn’t have any major setbacks with International Checkout. I began very cautiously and didn’t take risks. Since I only used my own money, I was able to steer away from anything uncertain. If I had sought investors, I would have grown faster, which may also have meant more risks.”

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

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    LWL Awards Contract for Franchise Social Media Strategy

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    January 26, 2010
    Contact: Tara Templeman
    ttempleman@ladieswholaunch.com
    330.819.7280

    LADIES WHO LAUNCH AWARDS CONTRACT FOR FRANCHISE SOCIAL MEDIA STRATEGY TO SUPREME SOCIAL MEDIA LLC.

    Five accomplished women of Supreme Social Media bring experience, depth, and online marketing savvy to assist Ladies Who Launch with the development of their social media strategy worldwide.

    January 26, 2010 (Atlanta, GA) Ladies Who Launch, the first new media company to provide resources and connections for women entrepreneurs Chief Executive Officer, Traci Long, announced the contract has been awarded for social media strategy for its Local Communities in over 25 cities in North America to Supreme Social Media LLC. “We’ve tasked Supreme Social Media with designing a branded social media strategy for each Ladies Who Launch Franchised Local Community that will maximize the Global resources at a local level and provide new resources for branding, marketing and promoting the Ladies Who Launch mission of making entrepreneurship accessible to every woman worldwide,” said Long.

    Supreme Social Media will also create and present a 3-part online “Expert Mentors Series” on www.ladieswholaunch.com focusing on the use of Facebook for businesses which will include three 90 minute step-by-step programs covering beginner, intermediate and advanced use of Facebook Fan Pages along with three 30 minute question and answer calls to help assist the attendees in implementing and utilizing all of the recommendations. Additionally, Supreme Social Media will manage the Ladies Who Launch weekly online education programs and will play an integral role in the procurement of speakers and managing the content of the programs to ensure the best quality educational and inspirational experience for the robust worldwide online community of women launching businesses.

    “Social Media is a rapidly evolving new marketing tool and the five accomplished women of Supreme Social Media bring experience, depth, and online marketing savvy to our new relationship,” states Victoria Colligan, founder of Ladies Who Launch. “This is an ideal collaboration to enable us to stay on the cutting edge of online communications and education and we could not be more excited to work with the women of Supreme Social Media.”

    Supreme Social Media LLC designs customized cross platform integrated communications and marketing strategies for professionals, small businesses and organizations. Their focus is utilizing new social networking platforms and collaborative strategies to build brand presence and awareness online as well as help clients strengthen their leadership position within their area of expertise. They believe that all businesses need a dynamic, active online presence to ensure that current and future clients can find them, get to know them, develop trusting relationships with them and ultimately hire them. Supreme Social Media partners include Francine Allaire, Cindy Ratzlaff, Kathryn Rose, Lisa McKenzie and Karmen Reed.

    About Ladies Who Launch
    The Ladies Who Launch company mission is to make entrepreneurship accessible to any woman with a project, dream or aspiration to start her own business and be successful. The company has a worldwide online community with resources, success stories, assessments, forums, and classifieds – all designed to help women entrepreneurs at all levels be successful. The company has franchised Local Communities in over 25 cities in North America. More information can be found at www.LadiesWhoLaunch.com.

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    Seth Godin shares the marketing secret with Ladies Who Launch

    Victoria Colligan gained all access to Seth Godin, one of the Top Gurus of Marketing in the world as he shared insight on his new book Linchpin! Seth is the bestselling author of ten books including Tribes and Purple Cow. He has changed the way people think about marketing, change and work and is the founder of Squidoo.com, a fast-growing recommendation website.

    Seth Godin, Linchpin

    What is your work history? Education?
    I started my first real business at 16, ran a very large student run business in college, went to Stanford Business School, didn’t learn so much, got a job, my one and only, at Spinnaker Software in 1983 and stayed until 86. Since then, I’ve launched literally hundreds of projects, many of which failed. I founded Yoyodyne around 1991 and it was acquired by Yahoo in 1998. Since then I’ve been writing and blogging.

    Did you always want to be an entrepreneur? (ex. Lemonade stand in second grade?)
    Before I knew what the word meant.

    Please describe your company culture in three words.
    No meetings. Go!

    What is your leadership philosophy?
    Leadership is a really complex topic (Tribes, a book I published last year, is all about it). My favorite part is developing people to be better than me, smarter than me and more energized than me… I think that if you respect other people, it goes a very long way.

    In Linchpin, you define emotional labor as “the task of doing important work, even when it isn’t easy.” What are the qualities that make one person more apt to embrace emotional labor than another? Is it inherent in entrepreneurs?
    It’s fascinating because in all my study and research, I haven’t yet figured out why some people make this choice and others don’t. And it is a choice.

    If the goals are clear and the stakes are high enough, each of us is capable of choosing to do the hard work of making a connection, being creative and doing work that matters. Some people do this all the time, while others hide until they have no choice.

    Ladies Who Launch is all about women starting businesses for lifestyle reasons – creativity, flexibility, personal fulfillment. With modern pressures (wife, motherhood, full-time job, bills, mortgage, etc.) that keep us tied to a job (stability) rather than exploring our genius (artistry) how do you suggest women take the first step toward artistic freedom?
    Here’s the biggest takeaway: don’t try to start a business that’s just a job with a familiar boss. As soon as you start licking envelopes or following a manual or doing what’s been done before, you’re not going to get rewarded appropriately. The typical real estate broker sells three houses a year (!). The masses follow instructions and lose every time. The others, the ones who go to the edges, who reach for the remarkable and do work that feels risky–these are the entrepreneurs who thrive.

    I guess the short version is that if you’re looking for stability and predictability, go get a real job. Being an entrepreneur is too much work if that’s all you want.

    How can we recognize the “lizard brain” mentality when it rears its ugly head? What are some ways we can trounce it?
    The most important thing to understand about the resistance and the lizard is that it is an entirely natural function. We evolved to have it.

    You need to know what its name is and how it acts before you can work to overcome it. And as Steven Pressfield says, it’s a war. You against the lizard.

    Once you see it like that, then call avoidance and writers block and all those millions of excuses you’ve dreamed up (kids, no time, etc.) fall away as mere symptoms of the lizard. Has ANYONE in your shoes ever won with a small business? Of course. So if one person has, you can too.

    I know it’s not easy to undo decades of brainwashing, but it’s vitally important that you do that. Whatever the lizard tells you to do, do the opposite.

    Linchpin by Seth GodinIn Linchpin, you talk about genius; specifically, that “A genius looks at something that others are stuck on and gets unstuck.” Ladies Who Launch offers a workshop called the Incubator Intensive provides women with clarity, direction and momentum for their business idea – it helps get them unstuck. What do you do when you find yourself stuck? How do you move forward toward genius?
    Genius is misunderstood as a bolt of lighting. Genius is actually the public recognition of dozens (or hundreds) of failed attempts. Drip, drip, drip. When I get stuck, when I get scared, I just do the work.

    If you continue to do the work, the lizard brain will give up.

    You mention in Linchpin “Thus, the individual in the organization who collects, connects and nurtures relationships is indispensable.” What are your thoughts on the current technological environment where texting and email are a more impersonal and convenient medium for communication? How do you see Generation Y’s penchant for the impersonal impacting the way we build relationships in the future?
    The resistance loves texting because it’s so deniable, so easy to forget about or not count or ignore. Which is why you should ignore it and just show up. The scarier it is, the more you must do it.

    Sure, once you have a relationship, email etc. are a great way to exchange data. But data isn’t the point, it’s love and passion and change that make you a living.

    Seth, what has been your biggest business challenge and why?

    I was on the brink of bankruptcy for more than five years. No cash flow, living week to week, paychecks on the verge of bouncing. Sticking that out, not looking for shortcuts or quick hits or panicking… that was the most difficult challenge I’ve ever overcome in business.

    Please expand upon your comments that Linchpin is “about overcoming multi-generational conspiracy designed to sap your creativity and restlessness.” Also, what can we do as female entrepreneurs to overcome this?
    Please understand that public school and the private schools that emulate it were designed to train you to be a compliant cog in the factory system of work. Straight rows, inspections, tests, pass and fail, raise your hand to speak… it’s all being built to keep you from making a difference. And they subjected you to this for over a decade.

    It’s not natural to work in a command and control workplace, where people tell you what to do. For 50,000 years, people didn’t tell our ancestors what to do. We figured out what to do and we did it.

    Please share one bit of essential business advice that has benefitted you.
    Well, other than reading the 3,500 pieces of essential business advice on my blog, I’d go with, “Go, hurry, ship.”

    Tell me about an unexpected business setback you’ve had and how you overcame it.
    Sometimes, just when it’s all figured out, it’s not. We worked with AOL for years, developing a valuable relationship and learning their systems. At the time, AOL charged by the hour, and they were willing to pay a royalty for every minute someone spent using something you built on their site. My company, Yoyodyne, spent about a year developing a series of online games that are a lot like iPhone apps are today. You’d end up spending hours playing with them. We had a contract worth more than a million dollars a month in place.
    A week before the launch, AOL changed its entire business model to flat fee pricing. Which meant zero royalties. Which meant the entire project was dead.

    What did we do? We mourned for five minutes and started a new project. Drip, drip, drip.

    You say, “Art is about intent and communication, not substance.” In your opinion, what is the best way to create and distribute (market) art that is effective?
    Change people. Connect with them and deliver something that transforms their day or their week or their life. You do art when you free a housekeeper to get paid fairly, or a mom to have an hour to herself. Not with standardized business practice, but by being honest and human.

    What is your ultimate vision for your company?

    Squidoo
    is six people in six states. We have a million volunteer editors who earn money for charity or a bonus for themselves by building web pages on things they are passionate about.

    Our goal is to raise a hundred million dollars for charity. Our second goal is to allow 100,000 people to earn a living building these pages. A nickel, a dollar, a dime, it adds up.

    How many people are working for you today? How many did you start out with?

    Squidoo launched with me and three other people. We’ve never taken investment, and we’re profitable and the 100th ranked site (traffic of all the sites online) in the US.

    Please share something that people would be surprised to learn about you.
    I cook dinner every night. And sometimes it’s good.

    If you weren’t an entrepreneur, sought-after speaker and best-selling author, what would you be doing as a career?

    Running a summer camp in Canada.

    Is there anything else you’d like to share with the Ladies Who Launch subscribers that hasn’t been covered by the previous questions?
    You already know way too much!

    This was great. Thanks.

    Like this interview? Be sure to vote Ladies Who Launch to the top of the list at http://www.squidoo.com/The-Linchpin-Posts.

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