Archive for ◊ February, 2011 ◊

• Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

ASK THE STRATEGIST – Interview with the Director of the DC Women’s Business Center

We asked Samira Cook-Gaines, Director of the DC Women’s Business Center (, to detail some key strategies for business owners. Take a look at the video interview to hear what she has to say!

COMING SOON…Stay tuned for our new video diary,  A Day in the Life, featuring corporations and nonprofit organizations from around the country. The DC Women’s Business Center will be the first featured!

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• Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

Forum Panelists (left to right): Ana R. Harvey, L. Content McLaughlin, Raychel Schumacher, S. Lynn Cooper, and Edith Jett McCloud

Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-NY) addresses attendees at the women-owned business forum

On Tuesday, February 15, hundreds of women business owners flocked to the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, DC to hear from the experts during a minority women-owned business forum, The Trailblazers of Our Economy. Hosted by Maryland Congresswoman Donna F. Edwards (D-MD), the panel discussions featured an impressive cadre of elected leaders, government agencies, and key contract decision-makers.

Steps away from where elected officials are currently battling a contested United States budget, the forum tackled two primary themes: trends in female entrepreneurship and improving the outlook for women-owned businesses.

Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-NY), Ranking Member of the House Committee on Small Business, noted that women account for $1 trillion spent on goods and services in 2010. According to the Congresswoman, who represents New York’s 12th Congressional district, women own 1.9 million businesses, and generated $165 billion in revenue last year.

Women are leveraging their impact on the workplace as the leading group that hires employees, outpacing traditional, nationally recognized companies. Rep. Velazquez cited the Women’s Procurement Program, which launched this month, as a vehicle to increase competition among businesses, including those in construction, technology, and agriculture.

Trends Affecting Female Entrepreneurship, moderated by Mauricio Vera, Director of the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization at the U.S. Agency for International Development, highlighted statistics in female business ownership. Panelists included Michelle Ebanks, President of Essence Communications; Gregory Bell, Senior Communications Manager for Green for All; and, Anthony Caruso, Project Manager for the United States Census Bureau.

The second panel, Improving the Outlook for Minority Women-Owned Businesses, featured S. Lynn Cooper, National Association of Black Female Entrepreneurs; Ana Recio Harvey, Assistant Administrator for the United States Small Business Administration; L. Content McLaughlin, President of the National Association of Women Business Owners; Edith Jett McCloud, Associate Director of the Minority Business Development Agency; and, Raychel Schumacher, AdWords Strategist for Google, Inc.

Moderated by Essence Magazine’s Senior Editor of Personal Finance and Careers, Tanisha A. Sykes, the panel focused on the framework for successful entrepreneurship, which can positively impact revenue, an increase in employees, and a sustained business.

Ana Recio Harvey shared her personal story of entrepreneurship and the impact of limited resources had on her company and staff. She encouraged participants to “get counseling, training, and mentoring to prevent roadblocks.”

Raychel Schumacher emphasized the importance of maximizing an online strategy to stay relevant and maintain a continued presence. Schumacher opined that having a great team to support initiatives and business growth goals is a necessity, rather than a luxury.

The panelists agreed that access to opportunities, including government contracts, and access to capital creates a healthy, thriving workplace. The common denominator of success, according to Edith Jett McCloud is an entrepreneur’s “hunger and thirst for more knowledge…never be satisfied until she knows everything about her business, market, and competitors.”

Watch our interview with Samira Cook-Gaines, Director, of the DC Women’s Business Center>>>CLICK HERE TO WATCH

Category: Advice, Business, Entrepreneurship, Events, Government, Women  | Tags: , , ,  | Comments off
• Monday, February 21st, 2011

ASK THE STRATEGIST: Shy Guy Needs Networking Help
February 21, 2011

Dear ATS: I am a very, very shy man who has no clue how to properly network when I go to business events, whether it’s a conference or after-work social gathering. My job mostly involves handling technology issues/problems for employees, so I only have to have limited contact, which is fine. But, I really want to get better at connecting with people during networking events. What should I do? – D.B., Washington, DC

You can employ a number of strategies to help you emerge from your shell during networking events. The first step is preparation. If you know who the main speaker is (or even the participants in attendance), you can do a little research – put your IT expertise to work for you! Google the speakers or participants, and look at their websites. You can also easily find out if you have mutual connections on social networking sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. Look for the commonalities you share that can help break the ice when you meet these individuals in person.

Remember: there’s power in numbers! If you have a friend or co-worker who is a bit of an extrovert, ask him/her to accompany you to a function. Your friend’s accompanying you should put you at ease, a bit. A word of caution – establish the ground rules before you go to the event. A well meaning, extrovert friend should be there, in the background, to help you relax while making the rounds, rather than dominate the conversation you may have with a new acquaintance.

Before you go to the networking event, practice your elevator pitch (trust me, you’ll use it) on a family member, friend, or colleague. An elevator pitch articulates who you are and what you do in a brief amount of time. Perfected, your elevator pitch can help you introduce yourself, while engaging the listener. An elevator pitch, used as an introduction, should be no longer than 10 to 15 seconds. Yes, it is a short amount of time; but, if you are succinct, you will best capture the listener’s attention and interest in learning more about you.

You can also brush up your public speaking skills. A well-respected and trusted organization, Toastmasters, International (, helps folks find their voices, while enabling an opportunity to bond with other participants. There are a number of local chapters in the greater Washington, DC area. I recommend visiting a few until you find the chapter that most appeals to you. Visit the Toastmasters website to find more than 400 local monthly meetings.

Good luck, and keep us posted.

DISCLAIMER: ASK THE STRATEGIST is an advice column that seeks to address business, career, workplace, and etiquette issues. Any advice dispensed by The Strategist is purely for informational and entertainment purposes. Take the advice and opinions at your own risk – and betterment! Follow us on Twitter @atstrategist. Post your question/email your conundrum to View ASK THE STRATEGIST videos on All submissions become the property of ASK THE STRATEGIST.

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• Thursday, February 17th, 2011

The Hitachi Foundation Seeks Young Entrepreneurs Creating Opportunity for Low-wealth Individuals

The Hitachi Foundation reignited its search for young entrepreneurs whose business enterprises are creating economic opportunities for low-wealth individuals in America. The Foundation opened the application process for The Hitachi Foundation’s Yoshiyama Young Entrepreneurs Program, seeking to identify five entrepreneurs, awarding each $40,000 over two years, and providing technical resources to strengthen their business.

“Now in its second year, the Yoshiyama Young Entrepreneurs Program is a business competition with an important twist: we are looking for young entrepreneurs, wherever they may be, whatever their business may be, who have put social sustainability on par with financial sustainability,” said Dr. Bruce MacLaury, Chair of the Foundation. “The program allows us to learn from innovative, young business leaders about how to build and run a financially sustainable business that improves the lives of low-wealth individuals in this country.”

Eligible applicants must currently be at least 18 years old and no more than 29 years old when they launched their business. Businesses must be 1-5 years old, and have been generating revenue for at least the past 12 months. The award is open to businesses organized as either for profit or nonprofit, with an earned-income revenue model. Their enterprise must create jobs, supply goods or services, or use internal management practices that offer low-wealth individuals in America an opportunity to improve their economic mobility.

The first round application deadline is March 14, 2011.

In addition to the cash prize of $40,000 over two years, Yoshiyama Young Entrepreneurs will benefit from a partnership with Investors’ Circle (IC) ( — a nonprofit membership organization whose mission is to catalyze the flow of investment to support entrepreneurs that address major social and environmental issues. Investors’ Circle will match an IC member mentor with each of the Yoshiyama Young Entrepreneurs, creating relationships based on entrepreneur needs and mentor expertise.

To learn more, get application materials, or view a short video featuring last year’s Yoshiyama Young Entrepreneurs, visit or e-mail with any questions.

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• Thursday, February 17th, 2011

To help stay connected to the American people, the White House recently launched their Advise the Advisor program. Advise the Advisor is an opportunity for you to share your thoughts, opinions and feedback with the President’s senior advisors at the White House.

Each week, a different advisor will pose updates about what’s going on at the White House and ask questions regarding hot topics. After receiving your feedback, the White House team will publish a response to

This week, Senior Advisor David Plouffe asks the public how innovation impacts the economy, and what barriers to innovation should be on the White House’s radar.

Have an opinion? Share it at and be on the lookout for future questions and responses.

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• Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

Veteran Business Training & Outreach Conference

WHEN: Monday, March 21, 2011
Registration starts at 7a.m. Workshops start at 8:30a.m.
COST: $25.00
WHERE: Delaware County Community College, Large Auditorium, 901 S. Media Line Road, Media, PA 19063

A day-long conference for Veteran business owners. Find out how to get started with state and federal government contracting; learn to find state and federal business opportunities; network with other veteran business owners and make connnections with exhibitors, large prime contractors and government service providers; hear from other veteran entrepreneurs sharing their experiences, successes and insights in managing successful businesses.

Keynote Speaker: Rocky Bleier, Vietnam Veteran & Super Bowl Star.

Rocky Bleier’s life story – a gripping tale of courage on the football field and the battle fields of Vietnam – has held audiences in rapt attention for years. Yet, the motivational message behind it, detailing how extraordinary people can become extraordinary achievers, defines success in the new American century. Bleier takes audiences from his early years through his professional career and talks about the lessons he learned along the way…lessons we all can benefit from.

To register, call 610-723-1229 or go to  

Reasonable accomodations for persons with disabilities will be made, if requested as soon as possible. Please call 610-723-1229 or 610-359-5020 (TDD).

Presented by: Delaware County Community College, Veteran Business Outreach Center, Small Business Development Center – Widener University.

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• Monday, February 14th, 2011

ASK THE STRATEGIST: Am I Too Old to Go Back to School?
February 14, 2011

Dear ATS: I am an administrative professional at a law firm in DC, who has become bored to tears. While the office is fast-paced and the attorneys get some interesting cases, I am not all that excited about my work. Lately, I have been thinking about going back to school (already have my Bachelor’s degree). I think I really would like to become a teacher because I really enjoy working with children. Am I too old to go back to school? I’m almost 50 and I really don’t want to be in a classroom of twenty-somethings – M.S., Washington, DC

I applaud your interest in potentially pursuing such a noble career, M.S. We can experience trepidation when it comes to switching careers at any age; however, there are a plethora of issues that could arise when career transitioning in your 40s, 50s, or beyond.

I believe it is never too late, no matter your age, to go back to school or pursue a new career. The key is to properly plan for what you want to do next. Start by researching local universities that offer degrees in education. Be sure to include schools with a great academic advising team and those that offer evening classes. One of the things you should ask admissions or the Dean’s office is the percentage of students who are nontraditional students, i.e. 40 and 50 year-olds in the program. You can seek some of them out to create informal support system, if none exists. Better yet, you can start one yourself!

If you prefer to skip the human touch and interaction that comes from attending classes, you can pursue a degree using online classes. Local universities, such as the University of Maryland (, Strayer University (, and Phoenix University (  all have online degree programs.

In addition to researching your preferences in colleges, be sure to do your research on the teacher certification process so that you can handle requirements as you pursue your education degree – always be ahead of the game! Finally, there is a great national organization, Forty Plus, that offers career transition assistance to mature job seekers and a multitude of related resources. Check out the Greater Washington, DC office online at

Good luck, and keep us posted.

DISCLAIMER: ASK THE STRATEGIST is an advice column that seeks to address business, career, workplace, and etiquette issues. Any advice dispensed by The Strategist is purely for informational and entertainment purposes. Take the advice and opinions at your own risk – and betterment! Follow us on Twitter @atstrategist. Post your question, or email your conundrum to All submissions become the property of ASK THE STRATEGIST.

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• Thursday, February 10th, 2011

“Connect To Advance”- Multicultural Networking Event
Hosted by Alton Fox and Julie Tanpitukpong

Date: Thursday, February 17, 2011
Time: 6-9 pm
Location: Hyatt Regency Philadelphia at Penn’s Landing
201 South Columbus Blvd Philadelphia, PA 19106
Theme: “Winter Wonderland on the Waterfront”
Cost: Registration – $10 Click link below to register:
(Register under “Women’s MBA Network”)
Business Casual Attire
Complimentary self-parking

Connect to Advance is excited to bring “Winter Wonderland on the Waterfront” to the Hyatt Regency at Penn’s Landing. Come enjoy executive chef – inspired appetizers and discounted seasonal cocktails guaranteed to warm up your winter season. Complimentary self-parking is included.

Part of the proceeds will benefit the Philadelphia Chapter of the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE). Their mission is to provide programs that inspire young people from low-income communities to stay in school, to recognize business opportunities, and to plan for successful futures.

For more information, go to

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• Thursday, February 10th, 2011 and College Parents of America Partner to Launch the How Internships Result in Employment (H.I.R.E.) Initiative This Spring

LOS ANGELES (February 10, 2011) –, the world’s largest internship marketplace, has partnered with College Parents of America, the nation’s only membership organization of current and future college parents, to inform college students and parents about the benefits of experiential education. Launching this spring, the How Internships Result in Employment (H.I.R.E.) initiative will provide products, resources and services tailored to best prepare college students for internships and for parents to help them along the way. The announcement was made today jointly by Robin Richards, CEO of and Bob Soza, Chairman of College Parents of America.

The H.I.R.E. initiative will begin with a dedicated microsite and co-branded e-books filled with content focusing on careers and the intrinsic value of internship opportunities available during a student’s years in higher education. The Companies will co-produce webinars and release valuable data through special surveys and exclusive reports.

In a recent survey conducted by, employers noted that relevant experience and interview performance were the most important factors they considered when hiring. Additionally, 45% of the employers on said they’ve proactively contacted interns instead of waiting for candidates to apply.

“As co-leaders and experts in content for college parents and students, and College Parents of America are a natural fit for the H.I.R.E. initiative,” said Richards. “This allegiance will provide key knowledge and expertise as well as the practical application of skills that will aid students in gaining a competitive edge.”

Soza added, “Our partnership with demonstrates our commitment to provide college families with the innovative, relevant resources and services that will prepare students for success through college and beyond. We are very excited about this new relationship and the benefits it will provide for parents and students.”

Students can access basic tools that allow them to: create new or upload existing resumes; design a professional profile; search, save and filter internship listings nationwide; receive text, Facebook, Twitter and email notifications; and utilize the Internship Predictor™. also provides a Student Tool Kit with tips about how to handle interviews, informative articles, videos and blogs from student interns as well as industry experts. The Company offers additional, more advanced tools such as Top of the Pile priority for resume submissions, The Intern Certification Program, Featured Placement, The Career Navigator, Resume Review, Live Coaching and exclusive data on more than 5 million companies through the Company Directory.

About is the world’s largest internship marketplace bringing students, employers and higher education together in one centralized location. The innovative, Los Angeles based company, develops a wide variety of interactive, world-class tools and services to enable every student, employer and educator to better understand and optimize internship opportunities. For additional information, please visit For tips on finding internships, hot internship listings and internship advice, follow on Twitter ( or Facebook (

About College Parents of America
College Parents of America is the nation’s only membership organization of current and future college parents. Founded in 1997, our mission is to assist families in the successful preparation, transition, adjustment and completion through college. College Parents of America provides its members with the advantage of valuable benefits and advocacy that protect and maximize their family’s college investment and the resources to support their student’s achievement. For more details, please visit; follow us on Twitter ( or Facebook (


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• Monday, February 07th, 2011

ASK THE STRATEGIST: Speakerphone Snafu Causes Workplace Drama

February 7, 2011

Dear ATS: I work in a small office in the DC area. All of us have cubicles and are in somewhat close quarters. One of my co-workers is a multi-tasker who always uses the speakerphone for business and personal calls. A few days ago, a group of us was talking about a situation involving our supervisor. It wasn’t a nice discussion. Well, my co-worker let us go on and on with our conversation without telling us our supervisor, who was on travel at a conference, was on speakerphone! Since then, the office atmosphere has been really tense. Should I say something? – T.R., Fairfax County, VA

T.R., I could admonish you and your colleagues for talking about the supervisor out-loud in the office where you all work, but I think you now be cured because you were busted in the act. Having said that, a lack of speakerphone etiquette, i.e. not letting folks know they are on it or that others are within earshot is unprofessional, and it is just not the cool thing to do.

I suggest two possible approaches to dealing with this issue. Since you are in a small office, there is a possibility that most of you eat lunch together. I’d suggest gently bringing up what happened and directly address the co-worker who placed your supervisor on speakerphone and let him/her know that, even though it was a mistake (hopefully), the faux pas has caused a little tension. Use this as an opportunity to acknowledge that both sides were wrong, and approach the discussion as a teachable moment, rather than a blame game.

The second suggestion is a more formal approach to dealing with Phone-gate. If the supervisor is still smarting after hearing the comments from you and your co-workers (you did not indicate in your question if he/she did), and the rift has interfered with workplace productivity, then you may want to engage a company human resources professional to help handle the situation through one-on-one or group training session as appropriate. It takes the pressure off the co-workers and places the problem solving in the hands of a neutral party.

Good luck, and keep us posted. THE STRATEGIST

DISCLAIMER: ASK THE STRATEGIST is an advice column that seeks to address business, career, workplace, and etiquette issues. Any advice dispensed by The Strategist is purely for informational and entertainment purposes. Take the advice and opinions at your own risk – and betterment! Follow us on Twitter @atstrategist. Post your question, or email to submit your conundrum.

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