Greetings! Here is the next edition of the APPA's Professional Women's Network e-newsletter.
Thanks for taking time to check out our e-newsletter. We hope you enjoy this issue, and each and every one that follows it!
Retailer Spotlight: Lorin Grow:
"Life is simple….Be the person your dog thinks you are."
How did you get started in the pet industry/What motivated you to open your pet business?
Like most in the industry, it started with a deep love for animals for as long as I can remember. The original concept was just one of fun. We started just before the huge explosion of humanizing pets but, since we viewed our Furr-Kids as absolute members of our family, we thought there surely were others who felt the same. We wanted to create an atmosphere where people could get information and ask questions openly, not feel embarrassed about their emotional attachments to their Furr-Kids and be encouraged and reassured that they weren't alone in how much they felt for them. I remember when people first started coming in, they felt uncomfortable and whispered their feelings. Nowthey boast their feelings passionately and proudly!
What do you do to make yourself and your business stand out?
The industry has evolved continuously since we first opened and we have evolved with it. If we had staunchly refused to move from our original concept, we would not be here today. Who we are today is not in any way comparable to who we were when we first opened. Listening to clients, constant learning, honing good instincts to be aware of the ebb and flow of industry trends and community needs, along with a willingness to adapt, grow and make changes from within are skills required for survival and success. We consider ourselves absolute partners with our customers. We are here to help them, to provide guidance and assistance and to have answers that address their concerns. T his philosophy is strictly adhered to whether or not we will see financial gain. "What's in it for me" is never considered. Instead, we are confident that the value of what we provide is readily recognizable and, consequently, rewarded.
Do you think there are challenges specific to women business owners?
I really don't experience any challenges that are unique to gender. The challenges I face, can be applicable to anyone. This industry thrives on emotions. As long as you accept this and find a way to incorporate it to your business, you will be the trusted expert partner that your customers turn to for advice and support.
Where do you see yourself and your business in the future?
2013 was a big year for us. We became a full holistic and organic store, and the change was overwhelmingly well-received. We also launched our Continuing Education series of seminars covering nutrition, holistic wellness and vaccinations. We provide these three-hour seminars free of charge, open to the public. Due to popular demand, we will be increasing the frequency and topics offered in our seminars. We will also be expanding our current location and plan to open a second store.
What advice do you have for newcomers to the industry?
Never stop learning about the industry. Share everything you learn with your customers and be truthful and honest. It will not hurt your business to be truthful. Have more than a love for for what you do, have passion - for the animals, for the industry and for your business. Work hard. No matter how great your staff is, they are not as invested financially or emotionally as you are. Manage your debt wisely. Most people make business plans based upon the idea of success but very few take into consideration potential disasters, which can be anything from a bad purchasing decision to a nationwide economic collapse and everything in between. Love what you do so much you can't imagine doing anything else.
Mark Your Calendars for the PWN Breakfast during Global Pet Expo!
Save the date…Friday March 14th at the Orange County Convention Center, Orlando, FL for an exciting speaker at the next Professional Women’s Network Breakfast you will not want to miss at Global 2014!
Check back in January at www.globalpetexpo.org for the exciting details!
Sales & Marketing:
Four Executives on Succeeding in Business as a Woman
In this article from the New York Times, Adam Bryant interviews four executives about leadership challenges that women face, and the advice they would offer other women about succeeding at work.
Click here for the article.
For Your Business:
Did you Buy In to Lean In? A Commentary on Sheryl Sandberg’s Book
I recently finished listening to the audiobook version of “Lean In” by Sheryl Sandberg. While I found the book at times to be repetitive and slightly condescending, I was intrigued by it’s message that as women in business, we are often our own worst enemy.
Sandberg is the Harvard-educated chief operating officer of Facebook and a self-avowed feminist who seeks to transform the role of women in the workplace and explain the mystery of why we haven’t gained more ground in the world of business. She is also incredibly wealthy and seems a bit out of touch with respect to her privileged upbringing. This makes it hard to bridge the gap between her “Lucky Silver Spoon” upbringing and women who could most benefit from her advice and advocacy. It’s a problem that plays out time and again.
In high school, Sandberg was voted “most likely to succeed” but asked a yearbook friend to delete it so she’d have a date to the prom. She was the only woman in her class to win a Harvard Business School award but, unlike the male recipients, felt compelled to keep her success a secret. She was “horrified” and “embarrassed” that Forbes magazine listed her as the fifth-most-powerful woman in the world, ahead of Michelle Obama.
Many women can’t relate to that behavior. I’d be darned proud of those accomplishments!
Sandberg barely mentions the millions of single mothers in the workplace. She does, however, advise women on how to find a supportive spouse. Hers happens to be a technology guru who sold his first company for $12 million and currently is CEO of Survey Monkey. I don’t mean to sound cynical (or maybe I do….) but so many of us who are pioneer women in the pet industry have not had the advantage of a wealthy husband. I’ve started four companies from scratch without the help of a spouse, which makes it harder for me to relate to her advice and circumstance.
But that’s not to say that she isn’t incredibly smart and talented. She did not rise through the ranks of Google and Facebook because of a wealthy childhood or husband. She earned her promotions and opportunities by being intelligent, savvy, and brave. So that’s why I am intrigued with her argument as to why women have not made greater strides in their careers.
“The world has not evolved nearly as much as I believed it would. All but one of my male classmates work in professional settings. . . . In comparison to their male counterparts, highly trained women are scaling back and dropping out of the workforce in high numbers. In turn, these diverging percentages teach institutions and mentors to invest more in men, who are statistically more likely to stay.”
Except for two surveys — of Harvard and Yale alumni — Sandberg relies mostly on anecdotal evidence to argue that too many women fall behind in their careers because of their own choices. The problem, in Sandberg’s view: Women make incremental decisions based on future plans for a family, which chips away at their career options.
Her solution: Don’t leave before you leave.
For example: “A law associate might decide not to shoot for partner because someday she hopes to have a family. A mid-level manager might pass on a promotion that will involve long hours because she wants to start a family in the next year. I could relate to some of her findings and caveats.
Sandberg is careful to pay tribute to women who sideline careers for children, but her warning is clear: If you do it too soon, there’s no turning back. “The time to scale back is when a break is needed or when a child arrives — not before, and certainly not years in advance. The months and years leading up to having children are not the time to lean back, but the critical time to lean in.”
“Lean In” has some interesting and compelling parts, but it is full of contradictions. It’s almost as if she is brainstorming out loud: bouncing from idea to idea, full of good intentions but bubbling with inconsistencies.
For example, she encourages women to take a seat at the table, lean in and speak up – and rolls out study after study proving what happens when they don't. But then she recounts hiring a speech coach to help her talk less in meetings. Seriously? Research suggests that "it's not a good idea to cry at work," she argues, before telling of the time she cried in front of Mark Zuckerberg, who offered a hug. "It was a breakthrough moment for us," she says proudly, "… sharing emotions builds deeper relationships."
She lays out the benefits of getting help from experienced women in the workplace, but clearly doesn't like to be asked to be a mentor herself. She relates plenty of anecdotes about herself and other women, but they all seem to contradict the broader arguments she's trying to make.
I’d be curious whether Professional Women’s Network members agree with her thesis that women leaving the workplace to soon is a huge reason why we don’t have more “seats at the table.” And if you do agree, is there a viable solution to this problem?
Go to The APPA Professional Women's Network page on LinkedIn and tell us what you think.
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Introducing: the Pet Leadership Council
APPA (American Pet Products Association) has spearheaded the development of the pet industry’s first collaborative organization, the Pet Leadership Council (PLC), who will coordinate and merge Corporate Leaders from all facets of the pet industry to discuss, direct and deliver unified solutions for pet industry issues.
It is an important time for the pet industry to collaborate on the issues that face each entity, with one unified voice. For more information, click here. The new Pet Leadership Council website will be up and running soon!