Networking Benefits

I was reminded of the power of networking recently when I was invited to join a group of business leaders in their monthly gathering.  The group is comprised of leader/owners of small to medium-size businesses.  They’ve been meeting for several years to discuss the day-to-day successes and ongoing challenges in their business(es). Everyone contributes by sharing their status update and everyone is expected to respond by providing feedback.  So each business leader gets multiplPeopleMeetinge perspectives on how they might address their challenges. And they get applauded for success such as business growth.

What surprises me about this group is their focus on supportive feedback combined with a celebration of success.  Being listened to by a confidential group of one’s peers with constructive ideas is powerful stuff, and this is followed by a shared celebration of your attained goals.  A very affirming experience.

Networking has so many benefits from generating referrals to raising your profile to building relationships. And this group’s purpose is certainly about all of that.  Being a small business owner is lonely at times, so finding support in the form of encouragement balanced with objective feedback is invaluable. And celebrating successes can be a gift that we rarely give ourselves.

In this group I experienced the power of networking in community, the power of listening, begin heard, engaging with peers, providing feedback, and the power of recognizing and celebrating successes with peers.



Experiencing History

This trip home has been a reminder of family history. Our history grounds us and helps us understand who we are, and helps explain our values and beliefs.  This trip back to Charlotte, NC, Winston Salem, NC and up through Chillicothe, Ohio has been a fascinating reflection of the past and how it shapes us.

Walking around the family farm that reflects 5 generations, I was bathed in memories of summers spent gardening with my grandmother,  selling watermelons, rocking on the front porch with my grandfather, and swinging in the hammock while singing songs with my great aunt. I walked around what is left of the old barn and found pieces of rusty horse drawn plows that I watched my grandfather put to use. My great, great grandfather, Reese Blakeney left the farm and joined the Piedmont Rough Riders to protect his family’s land by defending North Carolina’s states rights in the Civil War.

Visiting my mother in Winston Salem, I walked the streets where she attended a women’s school that dates back to 1766. Salem College has a rich history that supported the education of women as valued members of society at a time when the average women was illiterate. An education was an opportunity for only the most wealthy.

Today, Mike and I will visit historic Chillicothe, the first capital city of Ohio- more his history than mine. We plan to stop at a local coffee house that has an exhibit reflecting local artist that have been contributing to the community for several generations.

Reconnecting with family and visiting familiar places has been fascinating and fun, but also a reminder that the richness of our personal history shapes our character and our values.

The Journey Inside is Warm

I don’t remember it being 20 below in Michigan in the 16 years I’ve lived here, but then I’m a southern gal and have never experienced a winter like this one. Hard core Michiganders who grew up here have lots of fun stories of the big snows of the past.  Lynne’s  husband, Bill told me that he remembered a winter when he had to climb out a window of his home to shovel the snow that had drifted in front of the door just to get outside.

So its no surprise that we all had to cozy inside during our leadership retreat this past weekend. While it was brutally cold outside, we were toasty inside the Inn at the Rustic Gate with warm drinks and delicious, healthy food.  Our time together was spent reflecting deeply on our essence. Symbolically speaking, looking inside is the work of our Leader Journey program – while nourishing our bodies we also nourish our minds and souls. We uncover who we are so that we can tap into our potential as leaders with intention.   This work isn’t easy but it is warm…and as Lynne reminds us it is the work of our heart and soul.



Retreats provide us a time and space to step away from the daily demands of life.  So why are retreats so important? There are countless reasons to go on a retreat, including being at a turning point in your life, breaking old habits or allowing time for spiritual growth.  In our leadership program we intentionally include a retreat that allows participants to get away for 2 nights to dive deeply within.  The retreat provides time to explore who we are as women leaders, and provides activities that help connect our inner beliefs to our outer actions as leaders.  It is our belief that self-reflection is the key to being a more effective leader who can confidently step into her gifts.

Stepping In
Stepping In