Access, Influence, And Growth
Greetings from the annual NAWBO conference in San Diego.
I had the privilege last night of moderating an after dinner panel with the inaugural inductees of the new NAWBO Hall of Fame. What an amazing group of women.
• Koni Kim, President & CEO of the Koni Corporation,
• Maria de Lourdes Sobring, Founder and CEO of Lulu’s Dessert Corporation, and
• Lynda Weinman, Co-founder of Lynda.com.
• (Janice Bryant Howrode, Founder & CEO of the Act One Group was also inducted but was unable to attend due to challenges from Hurricane Irene. We wish her and her family well).
It’s always energizing to talk with such accomplished women, and these three were spectacular. We followed the motto of the conference, Your Time is Now, and focused upon the conference themes Access, Influence, and Growth.
For Access we talked about access to all types of resources, including access to advice. Each of the panelists was adamant about the importance of reaching out and asking for help.
For Influence, we explored when each of the panelists realized that they had influence and how they used it. For Lynda, she believed this tracked back to her days as a teacher when she realized that she could share her knowledge to make a difference. Maria talked about how long her employees stay with her (often 15-20 years) and how she tries to use her influence to help her employees and her community have a better life. For Koni, it was about helping people realize that they can aspire and achieve their dreams. If you think about these two themes together, what these women entrepreneurs were saying is that it is important to ask for help, and to give that help.
The growth question is always interesting and a key part of the research agenda of the Center for Women’s Business Research. We’re always interested in motivations for growth. One of the audience members told me this morning that he (yes, a He), was struck by the fact that none of the panelists set out to build a large business. Maria wanted to prove to her father that she could build a gelatin company, Lynda wanted to change the way technical education was delivered and improve access to that education, and Koni wanted to make her aunt happy. (You had to be there for that one – great story). Yet each of these women accomplished, and continue to accomplish, significant business growth.
NAWBO commissioned Azure Antoinette to write two pieces of work for the conference. A line in the first poem really struck me, “Women in business provide cues to the natural order, not only have you been given the torch to bear life, but you bend Loss into Profit with compassion and style.”
Congratulations to Maria, Lynda, Koni, and Janice. Your compassion and style are evident and we thank you for the generosity of sharing your stories with us.
President’s Distinguished Professor of Entrepreneurship