Anne Deeter Gallaher was thrilled to participate in a radio interview panel on Small Business Digest blog talk radio. Editor Donald Mazzella asked Anne about her path to entrepreneurship and what insights from Students in High Gear and Women in High Gear are making a difference for the 21 million U.S. college students and women, who comprise 45% of our workforce.
Tune in to hear co-author, Amy Howell Virginia talk radio taking the “high gear” message to graduates and college students. Listen to her thoughts on the value of a college degree, the student debt problem in America and more!
This post originally appeared Pennsylvania Business Central.
We are officially in political rhetoric season, and I’m fascinated by the candidates’ economic narratives on how we can shift our economy into high gear. One fact stands tall above the opinions as a powerful common denominator—everyone agrees we need more jobs. What we really need is more job creators—entrepreneurs, producers and big idea people. How do we achieve that? The rocket fuel for our economic growth, and for U. S. competitiveness, is to unleash the entrepreneurial potential in women.
That’s why a conversation around “Celebrating Entrepreneurship” is a much-needed call to action. At 45 percent of the workforce we are more than a niche audience; we are the prescription to economic anemia. Our aspirations combined with our potential is the game-changer for our future.
Whether you’re a recent college graduate, in mid-career, or an on-ramper, your potential as an entrepreneur is in demand. The road to small business ownership is not limited to BA, MBA, Wall Street or board seat. I never took a business class in college nor imagined that I would pursue entrepreneurship.
“Women represent 51 percent of the nation’s Ph.D.s, 51 percent of business school applicants, and more than 70 percent of last year’s valedictorians. Women are well equipped to become entrepreneurs and are primed to look at different ways of approaching challenges to find better solutions. As a nation, we must make sure we tap into this supply of able business leaders,” says Sharon Vosmek, CEO of Astia in “The Decade of the Woman Entrepreneur.”
My own path to entrepreneurship was non-traditional: I started my business at the age of 40 after spending 15 years as a stay-at- home mom. Two days after college graduation, I started work for a non- profit publishing house. Five years later, I went on maternity leave with our first son.
Unsure of what my future looked like, I negotiated a part-time at-home position so I could keep my hand in the business world. Fifteen years and two more sons later, I was deciding where and how to on-ramp. I could return to work at the publishing house, or I could dive into the deep end and start my own business. With unconscious competence, I decided to bet on myself.
I saw a need for professional communications in business and believed that the market would pay for quality writing and marketing materials. I was brought up in an entrepreneurial family, but no one had ever said, “Anne, do you want to start a business?” Nor, I discovered, do clients knock on your door asking to hire your services.
I had been busy volunteering in classrooms, leading Cub Scouts and directing Vacation Bible Schools. As I embarked on entrepreneurship and built my network, I leveraged these skills into the workplace: If you can put three boys to bed on time, you have negotiating skills. If you can plan and execute Astronaut Day for third graders, you have operational skills. If you can persuade 100 children and 40 adults—who have worked hard all day—to sign up for a week of Vacation Bible School, you have leadership skills and passion.
Regardless of your background, there are two co-existing realities that the successful entrepreneur must master:
1. The business reality: economic climate, business intelligence, business skills, barriers to entry, understanding market forces, creating competitive advantage and financial acumen.
2. Your personal toolkit: communication skills, emotional resilience, determination, drive, passion, contagious enthusiasm, collaborative nature, emotional intelligence and confidence.
From Sara Blakely, founder of SPANX, to Taylor Swift, the 26-year- old singer and songwriting phenom, to Tory Burch, queen of the lifestyle lines, to Julia Hartz, co-founder of Eventbrite, the high gear catalyst is their personal toolkit—the soft skills. And chief among them is confidence.
Denise Morrison, CEO of Campbell Soup, famously captured the essence of confidence by declaring her intention to be CEO at a young age: “In 2007, The Wall Street Journal did an article on our family, and they put in that I wanted to be CEO. I remember getting phone calls from people saying, ‘I can’t believe you said that. What if you don’t get it?’ And I’m like, ‘The thought never crossed my mind.’”
Successful entrepreneurs believe in themselves—against all odds. There will be barriers to success, business failures, and client disappointments. But the good news is the market is gender neutral and age immune. Great ideas and seized opportunities win.
As you take your idea from think to build, here are five principles that will help you shorten your learning curve and reach high gear entrepreneurial success in 2016.
Assemble a personal board of advisors. Surround yourself with executives who are accomplished and will advance your career— people who will give you honest, critical advice. Ask one or two to be your mentors.
Create your personal brand. People are buying you. As the face of your business, you are the director of first impressions. Kindness, graciousness, good manners, handwritten notes, sincere apologies—these are deal- making assets.
Build your network. Be a people broker as you expand your influence. Seek board seats, volunteer for fundraising positions, help others succeed, and connect people for their business advantage. It is said that seats at governance tables are by invitation, not application. If people of influence don’t know who you are, you’ll never reach a high gear network.
Be social media savvy. Whether you’re starting a retail salon, a music career or opening a law practice, you need to tell the world who you are. There are 1.5 billion users on Facebook and 316 million on Twitter. More than 93% of online experiences begin with a search, and one of the fastest ways to appear on page one of Google is to write and share compelling content—tell your story. The reality of business today is, “you are who Google says you are.”
Get uncomfortable and grow. Challenge yourself daily to explore new lines of business, introduce yourself to new people, travel to seminars in different states and countries and find your voice.
This is our season of opportunity, not only to celebrate entrepreneurship, but to unleash our potential and to become the economic engine.
Anne Deeter Gallaher is Owner/ CEO of Deeter Gallaher Group LLC, headquartered in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. She is co-author of Women in High Gear: A Guide for Entrepreneurs, On-Rampers, and Aspiring Executives with Amy D. Howell. In 2015, Anne celebrated 15 years in business, purchased a commercial building, and opened a second office in Nashville. She also published her second book, Students in High Gear, co-authored with Amy. She can be reached at email@example.com and @ AnneDGallaher on Twitter. .
Your network is your net worth. As students prepare to graduate from high school and college, building your personal brand and expanding your network are critical to business success. Anne Deeter Gallaher, co-author of Students in High Gear, shares insights on Wednesday, November 16, at the Women’s Entpreneurship Luncheon on Dot Connecting: Making Friendships in Business.
Dr. Eric Barron, president of Penn State University, will attend and accept a personal copy of Students in High Gear and be recognized for his contribution to the book aimed at shortening the learning curves of college students as they prepare for the workforce.
During the luncheon, table topics will be discussed and insights gained from women entrepreneurs, aspiring entrepreneurs, and professors in the Small Business Development Center at Penn State.
Topics will include:
“Penn State is host to over 100 events this week, and 162 nations are participating for a total of 10 million participants! Unleashing innovation, creating jobs, and improving lives. I am so excited and honored to be a part of this truly high gear event,” says Anne.
To follow the conversation, use #GEWPSU, #SIHG, and @GEWPennState.
**Post originally appeared on Forbes.com**
by Dave Chase
With astronomically high college costs, Millennials and their parents want to ensure that the financial and time investment they make realizes its full potential. Forbes, TIME, The Economist, Gallup and others regularly ask the question, “Is college worth it?” Amy Howell and Anne Deeter Gallaher are entrepreneurs and mothers of college-age kids who wrote “Students in High Gear: A Guide for Aspiring Game Changers in Transition” to ensure that today’s 21 million U.S. college students get the most from this pivotal investment.
Unfortunately, millions are defaulting on student loans after graduating with crushing debt loads. These grads describe what it’s like to default on student loans. No one wants to end up in that spot. It can not only foul up the student’s future, it can also negatively impact their parent’s credit rating. “Students in High Gear” has a chapter devoted to this topic — “The Importance of Debt Control and Understanding Financials” — designed to help students make wise borrowing decisions. Indirectly, Howell and Deeter Gallaher provide the counterpunch to the wallop of college debt by delivering tips designed to set college students on a great path so they steer away from unmanageable student loans.
“Books such as ‘Students in High Gear’ provide a first-hand account of what it takes to conquer the college landscape, and this book will act as an experiential multiplier to assist students in realizing their goals for success. When students share their testimonials and insights as to what nurtured their path to triumph, there could not be a better playbook,” — Dr. Bob Akin, professor, Texas Christian University.
Throughout the book, the authors share perspectives from students, parents, employers, professors, University presidents, and their own personal experiences. Students entering college today will most likely have jobs that haven’t even been created. Just 10 years ago, it would have been hard to understand what being a “Social Media Manager” would mean. Today, there are millions of individuals with that job title and being adept at social media is spilling into virtually every professional discipline right up to CEOs. The authors provide timeless guidance that transcends career choices and new technologies.
“Failure to prepare is preparing to fail.” – John Wooden, Former NBA Player and UCLA Head Coach
The U.S. Department of Labor shares that nearly half of working college graduates are “underemployed” by working in jobs that don’t require a college degree. A 2014 preparedness study (PDF) outlined some of the gaps in how well Millennials are prepared to enter the workforce. The graphic below illustrates the scope of the preparedness gap.
“Students in High Gear” is chock full of practical tips on how to address these gaps. The following are chapter titles from the book:
- Your Digital Footprint Starts Early
- The Road to College: High Gear High School
- Your Father’s Resume Is Dead
- DNA, Drive, and Your Potential
- The Importance of Debt Control and Understanding Financials
- Curriculum and Careers Are Different
- Dot-Connecting and Why You Must Master It
- High Gear Professors and How to Connect with Them
- Advice from 35 Years of Business Ownership
- Workbook: Your Goal-Setting Guide
Even if your kids are just entering high school, Students in High Gear is a great read for both students and parents to start thinking about the future and how choices today can lay the foundation for success in the future. Universities would be wise to make the book mandatory reading for all incoming freshman. I no longer have to struggle to find a high school graduation gift — Students in High Gear is the best gift you can give a high school grad. Unlike most gifts that high school grads will forget a week later, I expect they’ll have Students in High Gear on their bookshelf throughout college.