What Questions Do You Have from #SisU2012?

SisU 2012 was tons of fun, learning, connection, and support.

Our panelists rocked the house.

SisU2012 Panelists Image

Then attendees did the same by book-ending with their goals, and  then a mini Guerrilla Mentoring Session + giving back  exercise (to self and others).

Gaynell Mayo, Chaplain of The @GirlfriendGroup with @ChiefHotMomma, Kathy Korman Frey @ #SisU2012

Here, Gaynell and I joke about whether she can feel the top of my SPANX as we took this picture.


We can see from the cards you turned in we’ve stirred up quite the buzz. We’ll be answering your questions on this post under “Comments.” – below.


1. #SisU2012 was awesome, off the hook, on the hook and around the corner.

2. Do you have any additional questions? Ask them below. We covered a lot in our “Agender.”

#SisU2012 Grads: Check your email soon for bonus materials and extended discounts.

Click HERE for our private Facebook group (for the grads of our SisU learning suite: SisU Academy grads, as well as Guerrilla Mentoring and Digital Classroom participants).

45 thoughts on “What Questions Do You Have from #SisU2012?

  • NOTE: The following are questions related to #SisU2012. We will post them, and replies to each will be underneath. To the extent that panelists are available to answer specific questions, they will. Feel free, also, to “reply” and offer your own helpful resources or comments as appropriate.

    Q1: How to you choose your panel?

  • NOTE: The following are questions related to #SisU2012. We will post them, and replies to each will be underneath. To the extent that panelists are available to answer specific questions, they will. Feel free, also, to “reply” and offer your own helpful resources or comments as appropriate.

    Q1: How to you choose your panel?

    • Our #SisU2012 was chosen as follows:

      1. Their professional experience was a fit with SisU and would create great learnings.
      2. Senior in their field.
      3.Their personal communication style is a fit with SisU: Real, fun, smart.
      4. Diversity in terms of experience and backgrounds.
      5. The “x” factor: Known ability to connect with people and audience.

    • A lot of this will be covered in our October/November Digital Classroom, but some quick tips are two approaches:


      1. Select 5 “get smart” areas that go with your goal (e.g., tech, writing, worklife balance, etc.)
      2. Select events / schedule activities strategically to expose you to these types of people.
      3. If a peer or someone more senior: Tell them about what you are doing, listen to what they are doing, and form a connection. One of my lines is: “I’d love to help in any way I can, what can I keep my ear to the ground about for you?”
      4. Ask if you could ask them a specific question about their area of expertise if it comes up, or schedule it right then.



      Choose role models/ mentors to whom you have access through events, family friends, etc. and seek out a relationship with them (not based on 5 specific areas but, rather, “I would like to emulate / get to know this person.”

      Digital Classroom link (read descriptions for mentor/network and “how” detail:

    • I believe Colette and/or Kim mentioned this. But, I will say – as an extrovert – here are some things I do. Even extroverts get introverted sometimes and lose motivation, caffeine levels, etc. and need peptalks:

      1. Go in with the “talk” mentality – It does not occur to me to go in a room and not talk to people. If you feel shy, be prepared with an icebreaker question you ask. “What did you think of that speaker?”

      2. Be specific if you are unmotivated – When I am tired or don’t want to deal, I go in thinking “here is what I want to accomplish” and start talking to people. I try not to be a total wuss.

      3. Find people fascinating – If I don’t have a specific goal, I just try to learn from people who seem interesting. I just pick them out based on “vibe” for instance. But, it’s easier to force yourself to talk to people / network.

      4. Pick events where you feel comfortable – I like learning events, where there is a speaker or panel and, therefore, something to talk about. Also, I can sit and listen for part of the time and then network / chat versus thinking “Uccchh, I have to make small talk for two hours straight.’

      5. Realize there is a loophole – Social media is a loophole for introverts (and my students who try to avoid calling people at all costs and just want to email). Don’t let this take the place of in-person interactions, but realize there is a growing and legitimate forum often more comfortable for introverts.

  • Q4: Mentor/Network category: How does one keep track of their professional / social network? (Detail: I meet people all the time and I don’t know how to organize and track people. I’ve Googled for templates & haven’t found anything.)

    • I use a few tools. Nothing SUPER fancy or it gets too complicated for me.

      #1 When I have business cards (right after an event), I will often photograph them using Shoeboxed.com right as a I get them. It enters information automatically into your database like “CardScan.” As a follow up, I try to email them right away and copy myself. I write on the card anything I need to remember.

      #2 When I see the email in my inbox, I drag the email to folders. I will often have them organized by event via email, or in categories in my “contacts.” A folder and contact category/label example would be “SisU.” I might not say “SisU2012” because that limits me too much. What if I go to Guerrilla Mentoring on January 19th (yes – we messed up this date and are re-sending discounts to attendees – our error). Well I might put them in SisU also.

      #3. When someone emails me back or their is a significant interaction, I put that in “notes” in my contacts. Latest date is first.

      #4. I will periodically go through my email folder, reply to the email I cced myself on, and check in. I do this with a “what’s going on?” or “thought of you for this.”

      I naturally think of things for people all the time, and just use the steps above to organize myself and help remember things. I’m sure people have all sorts of things ranging from how they use LinkedIn, etc. So, everyone can give input here (SisU Alums included!)

    • I come back to the “spirit” of the conversation during the panel.

      #1 Think “give” before a “get.”

      #2 Use some of the techniques form Q3 & Q4.

      #3 Respect the time of super busy people. Be the person that recognizes, “Wow, every second you give me is a second you’re not giving to your family, yourself, big priorities, etc.”

      #4. Be innovative – e.g., Try to use “dead time’ (is there a time you’re taking a drive and I can con call you? Ride w/ you to an event? Etc.). Often, they will appreciate the effort and just give you 15-20 minutes which will become more if you connect.

      #5. Make it easy – say your question, abbreviated, in subject line even.

  • Q6: Mentor/Network category: How do I move into mentoring others, i.e. decide who to mentor and how?

    • Peer and student mentoring is a great way to start:

      – Peer – Guerrilla Mentoring is one such exercise. Did your feedback go over well with the group? If so, great, get into it again in January, attend networking events open to being “that person” described in the questions above (that the mentee is looking for). Most universities and certain groups will have a mentoring or some outreach program for which you can check the “yes” box (i.e., can someone contact you about your field/industry…you: “yes”).

      – Student – The university / group / alumni approach is a great and structured way to get into student mentoring. Professors are always looking for speakers, and people to participate in class projects.

      – All – share your story on http://www.HotMommasProject.org (our case library) – you’ll tell your story once and it will be told over and over again – or a blog that features women / role models. Nominate here (self included) http://ow.ly/ecBEO

    • After you go through some of the steps in Question #6, often it will be clear who you best “connect” with (students, people your own age, reverse mentoring? – e.g., mentoring up).

      The exercise we did as part of “Give” is a great facilitator once you have figured out what types of folks you like mentoring. Email someone and ask what they are working on, and how you can support them. Offer to speak in a class if you like mentoring students, or write a guest blog post (or start your own if you don’t have one) to get some of your thoughts and key lessons on paper. If you are more of a peer mentor (sharing expertise) find groups where you like the mojo and dig in. Top networking groups in the DC area:


  • Q9: Negotiation: In a bad economy, when you have a job and don’t want to be ungrateful, how to you negotiate salary?

    • #1 is understanding context is Are people even GETTING raises in the organization where you work (given the economy). If not, you risk making yourself look naive without having done your homework.

      #2 In any raise, understanding if you are meeting the organizations criteria for “success” are key. Otherwise, don’t bother asking because – once again – there is the “I am entitled to this” sense from an employer vs a “I am a hard worker/rock star and we both have a mutual understanding of that.” Define “what is success” in the organization and make sure you are meeting it. If you’re that good, you could ask for incentive pay. Reaching certain goals = additional pay: A win win.

      #3. If there are cutbacks – ask for non-financial or delayed financial benefits in exchange for whatever the employer defines as “success.” E.g., additional one-time paid vacation (or even unpaid vacation), something which could be a write-off for the company (e.g., paying for classes to a school), or a request for a delayed raise (e.g., what WOULD you be getting now, if anything, and can this be “banked” and paid at a later date). This last one is risky if you leave the company for any reason, of course.

      Here is a “Value Spreadsheet” post. I always teach students to quantify their value on a spreadsheet. (There is a reason I was the anti-wage gap story – I am SERIOUS when it comes to this stuff).


    • My definition of success has changed substantially the more I believe I am doing what I am supposed to be doing…or walking in my purpose. Previously, it was about maxing out my financial potential at all times, then, coming up with the model to support that. Instead, now, I get two benefits from doing what I feel is my calling: 1) Having fun everyday 2) The financial reward, which was a new philosophy “Do what you love and the money will follow.”

  • Q11: Diversity/For Theresa: How do minorities deal with working in industries that are predominately white?

  • Q12: Diversity: I’m a Southern woman and have always been taught to look good and be docile. How do you learn how to deal with women and men in different regions in business?

    • This seems like a “coming out of your shell” – slash – culture shock question if I am reading this correctly. Half of my family is Southern family, and the other half are “city folk” so adapting is kind of a survival skill.
      The good news is: When you’re in power, they’ll be worrying about what YOU think, not the other way around.

      Until then…a few thoughts: People are people, everywhere. In working with people all over the US I try to do the following:

      1. Realize diversity is the new norm. And it’s cool. Instead of thinking “they are so different, aack” I will think, “they are so different, cool!” I will be interested to get to know all about them, what they eat, where they vacation, local traditions, etc.

      2. I ask lots of questions. Universal ice breaker, everywhere: Ask someone lots of questions about themselves, the business, a topic of interest to them.

      3. Humor is the universal playing field lever. Laugh at their jokes if you consider yourself unfunny.

      In summary, I try to be myself but be able to read people and social cues. This is not about “faking” – it is about respect. I will steer the conversation in different directions based on what I sense is working with people.

      Also see Q #3.

  • Q13: General: I don’t know anything about business – not formally, anyway. How can I become an entrepreneur? (I just got excited about starting things and combining new ideas!)

  • Q14: General: What does social entrepreneurship mean and how does it compare to entrepreneurship?

    • Follow your gut. Listen to your intuition. A successful coaching relationship (really, any human relationship) is built on a foundation of trust. A coach is there to help you navigate the process of professional and personal development. It’s crucial that you feel comfortable expressing your goals and revealing any obstacles that you perceive to be in your way. Remember, a coach is there to help you chart your own course, not the course they want you to chart.

      • I agree with Colette. There is no official ‘A-list” certifying body for coaches. Someone can achieve various levels of coaching certification, but there is no “oh, you’ve been through this program – you must be an awesome coach.” Thus, we are left to trust our gut instinct. I am always on the lookout for people who: 1) Have no qualifications or experience, but just want to facilitate you through some process. .2) Are a wanna-be psychotherapist and have gotten a coaching certification instead. What is GOOD? Someone who was senior in their career (or pretty senior) and just wanted to give back and connect with people.

  • Our #SisU2012 was chosen as follows:

    1. Their professional experience was a fit with SisU and would create great learnings.
    2. Senior in their field.
    3.Their personal communication style is a fit with SisU: Real, fun, smart.
    4. Diversity in terms of experience and backgrounds.
    5. The “x” factor: Known ability to connect with people and audience.

  • Hi Ladies,

    I’m interested in pursuing some doctoral research on entrepreneurial ecosystem creation, effectiveness, and sustainability and I would love to get some input from you all about what I should focus on.

    Governments and communities around the globe are turning to entrepreneurship as the way to pull their economies out of the global crisis, yet attempts to build entrepreneurial ecosystems capable of creating, growing, and sustaining new businesses where such ecosystems did not already exist have been largely ineffective. Different countries and communities seem to focus on different hurdles: a lack of entrepreneurial drive in Europe, a lack of capital in Africa, etc. Additionally, even in those hubs that have organically developed, success rates for new businesses continue to be low.

    I’ve been an entrepreneur myself and worked with entrepreneurs as a consultant/mentor, as the head of an entrepreneurship institute, and as a vetter of potential investments and portfolio company manager at a venture capital firm. One thing I’ve noticed in the small business realm is a lack of cooperation between the various small business support organizations with a very clear and intentional divide between communities of investors in high growth companies whose networks are extremely difficult to break into and non-profit organizations that tend to be government funded, focus on economic development, and operate incredibly inefficiently.

    I’m interested in building upon the research out there about what needs to be present for an entrepreneurship hub to exist to explore how to artificially create these hubs and, while doing so, how to ensure that these fabricated hubs don’t fall into either the inefficient, help even the hopeless mentality or the excessively elitist mentality. There must be a way to find a balance and funnel entrepreneurs to the appropriate resources for their skillsets, industries, company types, etc.

    I’m still fleshing out my ideas to write my doctoral thesis proposal, so I would love to hear everyone’s thoughts on what pieces of this big puzzle I should focus on as well as suggestions of research and resources to check out.

    I appreciate any feedback you have for me.



    • Hi Cate,
      I need a little clarification. By artificial do you mean virtual? I like the idea of looking into what makes the hubs fall into the mentalities that you mentioned. You could research ways of counteracting those problems. That sounds like something to build on once you finish your doctorate. I hope this helps.

      • Hi Lori:

        Thanks for your response! By artificial I do not mean virtual, I just mean not organically created. Some hubs just pop up naturally and some are intentionally created – I use artificial to mean any that are intentionally created.

    • Cate,

      Check out the Harvard Business School US Competitiveness Project and, specifically, Rosabeth Moss Kanter @RosabethKanter. She speaks about three points, deemed ‘ICE’ which has to do with the local ecosystem. She usually gives examples and had done a bunch of research.

      Of course, you’ve probably come across the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (world’s largest Entrepreneurship study). They will allow you to download their data sets.

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