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What Being a Woman Has Taught Me About Being a Business Leader

Business

I am a wife. I am a mother. I am a daughter. These things do not define me, but refine me. These roles make me a better person. The responsibilities associated with these roles require that I be a leader and innovator. The strength and knowledge I've gained from performing these responsibilities have helped me successfully launch a new and exciting business in a highly competitive and male dominant industry.


I'm not a health nut, but I can't ignore the news about pesticide risks. As a mother, I see it as my duty to protect my family from anything that may bring them harm. As a member of the same small community for my entire life, I also care deeply about the health and well-being of all the people around me. The area that we live in tests high for nitrates in the water due to farm runoff. We made a significant investment in water purification systems in our home and places of business, so that I know my family and customers - both local and national - have the healthiest option.

When I was advised that I needed to spray the inside of our local restaurant once a month for insects… I cringed! I eat there. My family eats there. Thousands of other people eat there. I don't want a mystery chemical sprayed where food is stored, prepared and served! I quickly sought a solution. Luckily, it wasn't far away. Along with our small restaurant, our family has always been in the limestone business. We were able to naturally convert the strongest type of limestone, hydrated lime, into a safe form that still dehydrated and repelled insects. Unlike, the normal hydrated lime, or barn lime you've always been able to find in stores, our new limestone based product is both safe and non-caustic to humans. So, with my sister's support, we started our business.

We made it for ourselves and anyone else who was in need of a pesticide alternative. We researched, built our plant, and hit the market. First Saturday Lime was made to be applied once a month, on the “First Saturday" of the month. We offer a subscription service as well as fun giveaways and reminders on the first Saturday of every month. The demand for our product grew exponentially.

Through production, study, and customer interaction, we discovered this all-natural product, due to its harmless nature, had a host of other uses!

After some student testing, we found that it qualifies as a sanitizer, and has now taken off with the farming community to treat chicken coops and horse stalls for bacteria.

It is also used as algae and mosquito prevention in standing water. It can also be used as a chalk paint. A few customers used First Saturday Lime to successfully deodorize some stinky situations and now it is widely used for just that. The list of uses keeps growing.

I mentioned my sister earlier, but what I said wasn't enough… not nearly enough. I wouldn't have started this business without her. She is my driving force and my strongest ally. We are highly critical of each other's work, but we complement each other well, and together we've built and continue to grow a company in which we are both extremely proud of. We have both learned to not take anything personally. We accept feedback and step in when one or the other needs help. When you're related, it's often better to keep family matters separate from business matters. But on the other hand, I consider the other employees in our privately owned businesses as family. We care about each other. We care about the product. We care about our customers. We care about the world!

I don't know what it's like to be a white man… or African American, or Mexican, or homosexual or transsexual, and so on, but I do know what it's like to be a woman. Although I do feel very fortunate, I can admit that at times things have been tough and seemed unfair. Ok, they were definitely unfair. But, as I often tell my children, “That's life!" It has made me who I am, and I see myself as strong. Sometimes, I imagine trading it for the ability to pee standing up. Oh, to be able to take a 5 minutes shower! And it would be nice to know I'm not being judged differently because I'm wearing a dress instead of a suit. However, it doesn't take much consideration to know that I would never make that trade.

The lawn and garden industry may be historically male dominant, but the purchasing power of customers has become more and more female-driven. As women working in the industry, we recognized, respected and most importantly related to what women want. It turns out that many men want the same thing. They've just been doing it the same way too long without any alternatives.

We were happy to shake things up! One thing I have learned, male or female, is don't be afraid to accept help. Also, keep close the important things in life. Don't let the things that can't be replaced slip away. Choose your time wisely. It may be fun to “network" but make sure it's with people who value your time as much as you do. Know your audience, recognize the situation, and always act accordingly. Starting a business comes with a series of unknowns, but always maintain your composure and confidence when it counts most. It should be fun, but it's still serious business. You invest so much time and money, don't let an opportunity to impress slip through your fingers.

Communication is key. New ideas and exponential amounts of new tasks are common occurrences that must be delegated in a startup business, and as Owner and CEO, I often forget people can't read my mind. Furthermore, the more brains, the better. Yes, two are better than one, but you don't have to stop there. Let as many people as you trust critique, proof, edit and contribute to everything you can. My brain is wired for engineering and math. So, I get as many eyes on things as I can before hitting send. For example, I consulted with my sister on the content of this article. Also, this would also be a good time to thank my wonderful husband for proofreading the final product. (Editor's note: Her husband is happy to help and is a very lucky man.)

I try to live with no excuses. For anything. Stepping on toes rarely breaks bones. You have to open some doors yourself. In the hectic pace of a startup company that is full of passionate people, it's easy to overreact and lose one's temper. But I try to see all people for who they are. I try not to judge. The only thing I care about is treating people kindly. I care about caring. If what you believe and want to do doesn't hurt others, I support you and your decisions. I am no better than anyone else. I do, however, work very hard.

We created First Saturday Lime to help people, to protect children and animals, and to provide safe alternatives to other people who care. It brings me joy to contribute something that is safe for the environment when the alternatives can be detrimental. Maybe it's that sense of accomplishment that compels me to move forward. Maybe that's selfish. But if that's my downside, then I will take it.

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Career

2020 is Around the Corner: Here's How To Design Your Next Decade

Personally, I am over the top excited that we are on the cusp of turning the page on not only a new year but also on a new 10-year window of opportunities and possibilities!

You may be thinking, whoa…I am just embracing the fall season…yikes… it is tough to think about a new decade!


Yet it is this groundwork, this forward thought that you put in place TODAY that will propel you and lead you into greatness in 2020 and beyond. Designing a new decade rests in your ability to vision, in your willingness to be curious, in your awareness of where you are now and what you most want to curate. Essentially, curating what's next is about tapping into today with confidence, conviction, and decision. Leading YOU starts now. This is your new next. It is your choice.

Sometimes to get to that 'next', you need to take a step back to reflect. Please pardon my asking you to spend time in yesterday. Those who know me personally, know that I created and continue to grow my business based on enabling the present moment as a springboard for living your legacy. So, indulge me here! True, I am asking you to peek into the past, yet it is only in order for you to bring the essence of that past forward into this moment called NOW.

One of the best ways to tap into what's next is to clarify what drives you. To design a new decade, ask yourself this question about the past ten years:

What worked? What were my successes?

Make a list of your achievements big and small. Don't type them, but rather use ink and paper and sit with and savor them. Move your thoughts and your successes from your head, to your heart, to your pen, to the paper. Remember that on the flip side of goals not attained and New Year's resolutions abandoned, there was more than likely some traction and action that moved you forward, even if the end result was not what you expected. Once you have a full list of a decade's worth of personal and professional accomplishments, think about how this makes you feel. Do you remember celebrating all of them? My guess is no. So, celebrate them now. Give them new life by validating them. Circle the successes that resonate with you most right now. Where can you lean into those accomplishments as you power into the decade ahead?

Now comes a tougher question, one that I used myself in my own mid-life reinvention and a question I adore because in a moment's time it provides you with a quick reconnect to your unique inner voice.

If it were 10 years ago and nothing were standing in your way, no fear or excuses to contend with…what would you do?

Don't overthink it. The brilliance of this question is that it refocuses purpose. Whatever first came to mind when you answered this for yourself is at its core a powerful insight into defining and redefining the FUTURE decade. Bring your answer into the light of today and what small piece of it is actionable NOW? Where is this resonating and aligning with a 2019 version of yourself?

Then, based on your success list and your answer to the above question, what is your 2020 vision for your business and for the business of YOU?

Designing a new decade begins as a collection of 3,650 opportunities. 3,650 blank slates of new days ahead in which to pivot and propel yourself forward. Every single one of those days is a window into your legacy. An invitation to be, create, explore, and chip away at this thing we call life. One 24-hour segment at a time.

While you have a decade ahead to work on design improvements, you have the ability to begin manifesting this project of YOU Version 2020 right NOW. Based on exploring the exercises in this post, begin executing your vision. Ask questions. Be present. Let go of 2019 and the past 10 years so that you can embrace the next 10. Position acceptance and self-trust at the forefront of how you lead you. One choice at a time.

Don't get bogged down in the concept of the next 10 years. Instead position clarity and intention into each new day, starting today. Then chase every one of those intentions with an in-the-moment commitment and solution toward living a legendary life!