CEO Panelists Dish On Being Modern Business Women


When you’re a female networking your way up that corporate ladder with your hammer in hand, prepared to tackle the inevitable (and ahem, unfair) glass ceiling, you’re bound to come across a few disappointing events. There are so many opportunities to slap on a name badge, sip a few cocktails and bump elbows with fellow ladies who run companies or have impressive careers, but sometimes, the actual meat of the event is lost amongst the traditional ‘pink-a-fied’ conversation. As if paying more taxes for feminine products isn’t enough, why should a conversation with vibrant, impactful women be anything less than super-inspiring? That’s why we have to tip our hat to a recent panel hosted by Xeomin, and organized by Evolve MKD, featuring a panel of impressive and refreshingly-honest female entrepreneurs from the tech to the furniture industry.

Held at Union Square Laser Dermatology in New York, here are some of the highlights of this empowering event where female CEOs (which ahem, make up a mere 4.6 percent of the Fortune 500 companies) went on the record to be real, offer insight and get truly vulnerable with the stories behind their success. Take some notes from their impressive - and honest - playbooks:

Women rise together.

Though it’d be inaccurate and stereotypical to say women aren’t as competitive as men, it is well-documented that women are more keen to help one another grow than men. Another truth? Women have stronger softer skills - a.k.a. we’re better communicators - which help us not only speak to our co-workers or employees, but to customers, too. Kristi Faulkner, the president of a female-centric advertising agency, Womenkind, shared that when it comes to seeking advice and guidance, most women don’t have to search too far. Why? Women support one another - and strive for excellent by having each other’s backs.

“I found that I often haven’t had to look for that high in the sky mentor, the same way a lot of guys have to because as women our best mentors are right around us all the time," says Faulkner. "I feel like I’ve been so lucky to have a peer group where we started out when we were all starting in tech and we rose professionally together. Those women, I’ve been able to ask them anything, we make time for one another, we lean on one another."

We fight against an unfair advantage

Randi Zuckerberg, the founder and CEO of Zuckerberg Media and the editor-in-chief of DotComplicated shared a story that might make your jaw drop, like it did ours.

"I give about 50 or 60 speeches a year around the world. I was recently in Kuwait speaking at the first Women in Business conference ever in the whole country," says the rockstar media mogul and sister of Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg. "When I started off doing public speaking, I remember a big tech executive at a very hot company that we would all know, he literally looked like he had dragged himself out of a dumpster and walked onstage. I got up on stage and killed it but I had done my own makeup and hair,” she said. “A client called me the next day and said, ‘We liked your presentation but wish you cared about your appearance a little more.’ Literally the guy looked like he lived in a box in Union Square. I went home to my husband, shed a lot of tears and he’s like ‘you can whine about it or accept that this is what it’s like for women in business. If that means building time to get your hair and makeup done, you do that.’ That was one of the biggest wake-up calls as a woman in business. Looks really do matter.”

Is it fair that Zuckerberg was held to a different standard of beauty? Nope. Is it sexist? Yep. But even though we have different boxes to check before doing the same exact thing a man does, we not only do it in stride, but we do more than our male counterparts ever consider.

We can find the market opportunity - even with great risk.

For Niki Cheng, the founder of the BoConcept franchise in NYC, the journey to becoming an entrepreneur was one stepping stone after another riddled with risk. When she immigrated to the U.S., she had a degree that didn't translate into a robust job market, and after many failed jobs (including getting fired as a coat check), her husband suggested she work at a local furniture store. Though annoyed - considering she already had a degree - she decided to give it a chance. She quickly found a calling in sales, especially since she was able to empathize with the customer. During the panel, she said she would come home super-excited to share how well she did and soon, her husband made another suggestion: why not start your own thing? Noticing a need for lower-cost modern furniture, she launched BoConcept and franchised it, now with eight locations in Manhattan.

“I realized that there’s a problem in the city,” says Cheng. “There is no mid-priced range of modern furniture in New York City. That was in 2003. And I founded BoConcept and I knew that this brand will work."

We are women - and women are the consumer.

Dr. Anne Chapas, the founder and medical director of Union Square Laser Dermatology shared that one of the greatest advantages of being a woman in business is that the majority of consumers are, in fact, female. Knowing firsthand the experiences that are inherently specific to a single sex can help you relate to your potential customer in a more impactful, personal way.

“I think for me the most beneficial thing I find is 85% of my patients are women," says Chapas. "So as soon as they walk in the door, I’ve either been in the situation that they’re in or I’ve seen my mother go through it, so right away there’s an instant connection,” she says. “I know if they’re a little bit anxious, I need to put them at ease or if it’s for a cosmetic reason, it’s going to be natural and we’re going to help them feel better about how they look so they can get ready in the morning faster and get their kids to school and get to the office.”

We can see the privilege - and the flexibility - in being a woman.

Though the battle for equal pay in the United States continues to fight on, even in 2016, Ireland-based founder and CEO of Vita Liberata, Alyson Hogg says instead of looking at being a female as a setback, consider it a privilege. Why? We are born to be flexible.

“I think it’s a huge privilege that only 50 percent of the population get. I think we’re very lucky. Part of that is because we have children: People say to me, ‘we’re seriously considering a crash and going back in our business because so many women are having babies at the moment.’ Or they say Ashley’s pregnant. Or Louise is pregnant. And I say that’s fantastic because these girls are going to come back just different people with a whole set of skills that they never even knew that they had,” says the vivacious beauty CEO. “Also I think that because you have to prepare, even if it’s subconscious, that something life-changing is likely to happen to you in your future, you have to be much more flexible. That flexibility is what business is, girls. That is it. Is there any single thing that you have to be it’s flexible. You have to be able to move with the wind. You have to be able to look at a problem and realize you’re not thinking about it right and go from there.

We can have it all - just not all in the same day.

Zuckerberg is the proud mom to two boys - Simcha and Asher - and also a pioneer in the tech industry. But does she really have it all, or can she? For her, it’s about choosing your top battles each and every single day.

"I have a mantra that I say in the morning — ‘Work, sleep, family, friends, fitness — pick three.’ You can pick a different three tomorrow. In a 24-hour period, you can only pick three,” says Zuckerberg. “You can’t do all of those 5 and do them well. For me, I like to give myself permission to be a little more lopsided instead of feeling like I have to be perfectly balanced and do all of those things in one day. And you hope it just balances out in the long term.”

The evening, which was filled with insights and laughter was a refreshingly honest meeting of the minds. If this was any indication of what is to come, the future is more than female, it's also fabulous.

3 Min Read

7 Must-have Tips to Keep You Healthy and Fit for the Unpredictable COVID Future

With a lack of certainty surrounding the future, being and feeling healthy may help bring the security that you need during these unpredictable times.

When it comes to your health, there is a direct relationship between nutrition and physical activity that play an enormous part in physical, mental, and social well-being. As COVID-19 continues to impact almost every aspect of our lives, the uncertainty of the future may seem looming. Sometimes improvisation is necessary, and understanding how to stay healthy and fit can significantly help you manage your well-being during these times.

Tip 1: Communicate with your current wellness providers and set a plan

Gyms, group fitness studios, trainers, and professionals can help you to lay out a plan that will either keep you on track through all of the changes and restrictions or help you to get back on the ball so that all of your health objectives are met.

Most facilities and providers are setting plans to provide for their clients and customers to accommodate the unpredictable future. The key to remaining consistent is to have solid plans in place. This means setting a plan A, plan B, and perhaps even a plan C. An enormous amount is on the table for this coming fall and winter; if your gym closes again, what is your plan? If outdoor exercising is not an option due to the weather, what is your plan? Leaving things to chance will significantly increase your chances of falling off of your regimen and will make consistency a big problem.

The key to remaining consistent is to have solid plans in place. This means setting a plan A, plan B, and perhaps even a plan C.

Tip 2: Stay active for both mental and physical health benefits

The rise of stress and anxiety as a result of the uncertainty around COVID-19 has affected everyone in some way. Staying active by exercising helps alleviate stress by releasing chemicals like serotonin and endorphins in your brain. In turn, these released chemicals can help improve your mood and even reduce risk of depression and cognitive decline. Additionally, physical activity can help boost your immune system and provide long term health benefits.

With the new work-from-home norm, it can be easy to bypass how much time you are spending sedentary. Be aware of your sitting time and balance it with activity. Struggling to find ways to stay active? Start simple with activities like going for a walk outside, doing a few reps in exchange for extra Netflix time, or even setting an alarm to move during your workday.

Tip 3: Start slow and strong

If you, like many others during the pandemic shift, have taken some time off of your normal fitness routine, don't push yourself to dive in head first, as this may lead to burnout, injury, and soreness. Plan to start at 50 percent of the volume and intensity of prior workouts when you return to the gym. Inactivity eats away at muscle mass, so rather than focusing on cardio, head to the weights or resistance bands and work on rebuilding your strength.

Be aware of your sitting time and balance it with activity.

Tip 4: If your gym is open, prepare to sanitize

In a study published earlier this year, researchers found drug-resistant bacteria, the flu virus, and other pathogens on about 25 percent of the surfaces they tested in multiple athletic training facilities. Even with heightened gym cleaning procedures in place for many facilities, if you are returning to the gym, ensuring that you disinfect any surfaces before and after using them is key.

When spraying disinfectant, wait a few minutes to kill the germs before wiping down the equipment. Also, don't forget to wash your hands frequently. In an enclosed space where many people are breathing heavier than usual, this can allow for a possible increase in virus droplets, so make sure to wear a mask and practice social distancing. Staying in the know and preparing for new gym policies will make it easy to return to these types of facilities as protocols and mutual respect can be agreed upon.

Tip 5: Have a good routine that extends outside of just your fitness

From work to working out, many routines have faltered during the COVID pandemic. If getting back into the routine seems daunting, investing in a new exercise machine, trainer, or small gadget can help to motivate you. Whether it's a larger investment such as a Peloton, a smaller device such as a Fitbit, or simply a great trainer, something new and fresh is always a great stimulus and motivator.

Make sure that when you do wake up well-rested, you are getting out of your pajamas and starting your day with a morning routine.

Just because you are working from home with a computer available 24/7 doesn't mean you have to sacrifice your entire day to work. Setting work hours, just as you would in the office, can help you to stay focused and productive.

A good night's sleep is also integral to obtaining and maintaining a healthy and effective routine. Adults need seven or more hours of sleep per night for their best health and wellbeing, so prioritizing your sleep schedule can drastically improve your day and is an important factor to staying healthy. Make sure that when you do wake up well-rested, you are getting out of your pajamas and starting your day with a morning routine. This can help the rest of your day feel normal while the uncertainty of working from home continues.

Tip 6: Focus on food and nutrition

In addition to having a well-rounded daily routine, eating at scheduled times throughout the day can help decrease poor food choices and unhealthy cravings. Understanding the nutrients that your body needs to stay healthy can help you stay more alert, but they do vary from person to person. If you are unsure of your suggested nutritional intake, check out a nutrition calculator.

If you are someone that prefers smaller meals and more snacks throughout the day, make sure you have plenty of healthy options, like fruits, vegetables and lean proteins available (an apple a day keeps the hospital away). While you may spend most of your time from home, meal prepping and planning can make your day flow easier without having to take a break to make an entire meal in the middle of your work day. Most importantly, stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.

Tip 7: Don't forget about your mental health

While focusing on daily habits and routines to improve your physical health is important, it is also a great time to turn inward and check in with yourself. Perhaps your anxiety has increased and it's impacting your work or day-to-day life. Determining the cause and taking proactive steps toward mitigating these occurrences are important.

For example, with the increase in handwashing, this can also be a great time to practice mini meditation sessions by focusing on taking deep breaths. This can reduce anxiety and even lower your blood pressure. Keeping a journal and writing out your daily thoughts or worries can also help manage stress during unpredictable times, too.

While the future of COVI9-19 and our lives may be unpredictable, you can manage your personal uncertainties by focusing on improving the lifestyle factors you can control—from staying active to having a routine and focusing on your mental health—to make sure that you emerge from this pandemic as your same old self or maybe even better.