Monthly Archives: October 2013

Meet Brenda Bazan and Nancy Hayes – Moola-Hoop

What happens when two women who spent their entire careers focused on micro-finance and assisting start-ups, decide to start a venture that will help women fund new businesses? They create a business called ‘Moola-Hoop.’

Brenda Bazan and Nancy Hayes first met while working at IBM in the 1980s.  They each went on to different career paths but both were always involved with small businesses through non-profits or education.

Although Brenda lived in Dallas and Nancy in San Francisco, the two stayed in touch and began to talk about a business that funds women-owned ventures.  Working with a software company, they developed the platform needed to create a crowd-funding site to do just that.  Brenda and Nancy are targeting women who need between $5,000 and $50,000.

Using a play on the words ‘money and hoop, they named the new venture Moola-Hoop.

“We started a month ago—now the word spreading and women are reaching out to us,” says Brenda.

The first step is when Brenda and Nancy help women entrepreneurs define their business project. Then, they create videos, choose photos and develop detailed descriptions about their businesses on

While any type of business can use this source of funding, a large percentage of the women who work with them are in food or fashion.  Each project includes an outline of non-monetary “rewards” the contributors can choose from at each level of support.

Brenda and Nancy work with the client to create the hierarchy of the reward scale.  Let’s say a project needs $5,000 to build a web site.

Rewards could be structured like this: “Donate $25 to this venture and get a personal letter of thanks from the founder,” or “Donate $50 and get a t-shirt.”  “Donate $100 and get tickets to the launch party.”

The possibilities are endless for what the rewards could be –  a book, a t-shirt, the product, a phone call, lunch with the woman entrepreneur.

Unlike other crowd-funding sites, Moola-Hoop sets a half-way point that allows for funding. The more interesting the woman’s story is, the better.  The number of followers a potential client has in the traditional social media channels, plays a big part in whether or not the founders feel the campaign will succeed.

“Because we expect 40% of the funding to come from the woman’s own network of people, we need to see an interesting story to sell and a strong platform that they can work from,” said Nancy. “ Once we craft the request, we help them put it out to their network.”

Brenda and Nancy then push out the request to the Moola-Hoop network they have created for potential funding.

Brenda and Nancy have had years of experience with micro financing and are adept at creating the basics of a request.  Moola-Hoop takes a small percentage of the capital raised once the project is funded.

“We spend a lot of time in crafting the request, from the description, the creation of the reward scale, a video of the woman explaining her capital needs, an email campaign to a social media plan,” said Brenda. “That’s the most fun.”


[email protected]

[email protected]



How to Book a TED Talk

I have to admit, I am proud to have presented my first TED Talk entitled the “The Value of Having an Entourage.” Hundreds of people do TED Talks. Most of us think that ‘TED’ comes along and picks you out among thousands and bestows the TED speaking honor on you because the world knows you have a brilliant idea that is worth spreading. But guess what? That’s NOT the way most TED Talks or other opportunities happen. They come about because someone in your entourage knows and trusts you and recommends you. So, here’s my story of how I got to do a TED Talk and how you can, too.

(Watch my talk here:

I was just doing my usual linking out – sitting down in-person over breakfast with one of the influential people in my entourage. It had been over a year since I had one-on-one time with this colleague. She lives in St. Louis but her business brings her to my home-base, New York City, regularly. We have known each other for years, but our busy schedules kept us from taking the time to sit down face-to-face to dig deeper into what was important to us… until one morning in August.

Over breakfast we asked each other what our visions were for the next year and truly listened to each other. Both of us wanted to boost our speaking businesses. We each live by the LINK OUT principle of giving to others to help them reach their goals so we agreed to make introductions for each other. Usually things don’t happen that quickly, but this time they did. A few weeks later, she sent me an email telling me that she had been contacted by the producer who oversees the St. Louis TEDx event. They had a trusted relationship and he asked her to recommend a ‘TED-worthy’ speaker. Guess who she recommended? You got it.

A few weeks earlier, I was in Chicago presenting a three-hour training workshop on business development at the MetLife Sales Forum. Never one to let an opportunity to link out elude me, while I was in Chicago, I had lunch with two members of my Chicago-based entourage. Of course, we shared our visions over lunch and discussed links we might have for each other. In addition, they told me NAWBO Chicago was looking for a keynote speaker, who speaks about how to grow your business for NAWBO Day held annually in Chicago. Of course, I thought of of my colleague immediately. She was perfect for the job and they agreed soon booked her.

Often people think they shouldn’t collaborate or link out with people who are in the same business or career, because they are competitors. However, in 90% of the cases, each of us has a unique twist. My colleague and I are both speakers and while sometimes we speak to the same type of audience,

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our messages and our experiences are unique. By collaborating and linking out on each other’s behalf we each can be much more successful than if we viewed each other as competitors and decided NOT to help each other. Multiple that by 10 or 20 people whom you could choose to view as a collaborator rather than a competitor and your business and your career will grow faster and be a lot more fun. Sure sometimes we may compete, but most of the time, we can find ways to work together, which will enable us all to reach our goals.

And here’s a recap of how to get a TED Talk and other valuable opportunities by linking out:

-Schedule face-to face in person relaxed meetings with influential people with whom you share a trusted relationship.

-Don’t exclude them because you consider them a competitor (this could work to both of your advantages).

-Share your vision (maybe it’s doing a TED Talk), and ask them to share their vision with you.

-Agree to help each other reach that vision.

-Make every effort to deliver on your offer. If you can’t directly deliver, offer to link out to someone you know who could support the other person.

-Repeat above often and practice daily with people you like and trust until it becomes natural to you. You’ll be surprised how your vision will become reality, though often from unexpected people and places.

…….Leslie Grossman, author, LINK OUT: How to Turn Your Network into a Chain of Lasting Connections(Wiley,2013)

Martha Stewart “American Made” Event a Big Hit

A  thin woman who introduced herself as Martha’s personal trainer was standing by the coffee station when I arrived at Martha Stewart’s American Made Talks & Workshops in New York City.

“Happy or lean?” she asked, pointing to two gleaming coffee urns.

“Hmm… Happy, I guess,” I replied. As I’m filling a cup, she explains that Martha’s neighbors have a new specialty coffee company that adds some magic ingredients to ‘amp’ up the coffee.

My ‘happy’ coffee set the tone for a lively day with 300-plus adoring Martha Stewart fans who paid $305 for tickets and traveled from near and far to listen to small business advice from Martha and her A-lister entrepreneurs and friends.

A few blocks away, winners of her American Made Awards filled Vanderbilt Hall in Grand Central Station with their wares.

Among them were Marie Puillot, a young event planner from Alberta, Canada who said she scheduled her U.S. vacation around attending the conference. Sullivan Owen, a floral and event designer, made the trip from Philadelphia.

Throughout the day, which included delicious pastries, fresh fruit, juices and lamb patties, Stewart was gracious and upbeat, posing for pictures and chatting with devoted fans before and after a few sessions. She also shared a few personal stories.

When asked what mistakes she made in building her multimedia (‘omnimedia’) empire, she admitted that she had made some “employee mistakes.”

“But, I don’t like to look back,” she said. “I like to look forward.”  Her best advice: “Business is not worth crying over… cry over the important things.”

Makeup maven Bobbi Brown, fitness entrepreneur Tracy Anderson, Alexis Maybank of Gilt Groupe and Barbara Corcoran, real estate guru and an investor on ABC’s “Shark Tank,” were among the panelists sharing practical business tips and insights with the rapturous crowd.

“I was the most naïve person on the planet,” admitted Brown, who explained that she had no idea about what she wanted to do with her life when her mother suggested she think of what would give her a really happy birthday. “I told her I wanted to spend a day in the makeup department of Marshall Field,” said Brown, who grew up in Chicago and shopped at the iconic retailer.

That day, she found her passion. She headed to Boston to create her own make-up oriented major at Emerson College. After graduating, she moved to New York City. Frustrated with the  greasy, bright lipsticks available, she collaborated with a cosmetic chemist to develop a line of natural lip colored lipsticks. They agreed to split the profits 50/50.

When the line was ready to launch, Brown met the cosmetics buyer for Bergdorf Goodman who offered her counter space. The buyer set a goal of selling 100 lipsticks a month. But, friends and family members flocked to the store and bought 100 in a day.

From there, she built her reputation as a celebrity makeup artist and continued to add products to her Bobbi Brown line. Four years ago, she sold the company to Estee Lauder, but still remains the chief creative officer of the brand. Brown pointed out that she works hard to have a life and a business; raising three children and splitting her time between homes in New Jersey and Telluride, Colorado.

Heath Carr, CEO of Shinola, moved from Dallas to Detroit to train a new generation of watchmakers. Shinola also sells bikes, journals and leather goods. He described why manufacturing is so important to the American economy.

Several guest experts emphasized the importance of having a dynamic website that is mobile-friendly. People are impatient and don’t want to wait for your website to load. Also, often what looks great on a laptop screen often looks bad on a smartphone.

“Design for mobile first,” advised Craig Nevill-Manning, engineering director of Google and inventor of “Froogle,” a product search engine. “And, don’t overlook the value of having a ridiculously simple home page—it worked for us.”

He also suggested not going crazy about a trendy design. “Copy what works-don’t rearrange the buttons.”

Others said if you are not sure what kind of site to design, start with a great splash page and use social media to drive traffic to that one page to test response and start collecting email addresses.

The only panel that proved problematic was one on “Pioneering Creative Communities.” The audience seemed puzzled by a panel discussion featuring the head of New York’s film and television community, the designer of the High Line Park near the Hudson River and Jane Rosenthal, producer and CEO of Tribeca Enterprises, which produces the Tribeca Film Festival.

However, sessions on brand building and “doing well while doing good” were engaging and well-attended.

Stewart honored several small companies with her American Made Awards, including Archi’s Acres, an avocado ranch in Escondido that helps train vets to become farmers through a six-week course. Quilt maker Maura Grace Ambrose, of Austin, Texas won for her Folk Fibers company that sells handmade quilts.

Back to the Roots founders, Alejandro Velez and Nikhil Arora, from Oakland, Calif. began their business with a $5,000 grant from UC Berkeley. They sell an oyster mushroom growing kit that uses recycled coffee grounds. They recently launched a fish tank that grows herbs. Charles Pinnel of Crozet, Virginia makes and sells leather goods to clients around the world at Pinnel Custom Leather.

Meet Ann Currie: Secrets of a Home Cook

How do you turn a simple daily task into a business venture?

That’s what Amy Currie asked herself while preparing meals for her family.  Early in her career, she sold magazine ads, hoping to become a publisher one day.  But after her twins were born, “racing home to get there before the nanny left the house, just wasn’t working…”After leaving my job, I knew I wanted to start something I could do from home.”

All her life, Amy loved to cook. She learned the basics sitting at her grandmother’s kitchen table.

When a friend asked her to cater a party, she agreed.  From that point on, others called her. Amy focused her catering business into preparing foods for serving “before and after” the main course.

“The hostess would do the main course and ask me to do appetizers before the meal and provide dessert for after the meal,” she said.

Although catering business grew, Amy was still more devoted to preparing home cooked meals for her family.  ”I wanted to share the recipes I used myself with other moms,” she said. “I found that celebrity chef recipes don’t always translate to what you’d make for your family.”

Meanwhile, she was becoming an expert in putting together a great meal in 10 minutes, something every mom needs.

“Cooking at home dances between getting food on the table fast and effortlessly while also creating memories and traditions.”

After 9/11 Amy said she went on a “mission to reevaluate my life because so many people in my home town were affected.”

She started collecting the recipes she loved along with recipes from her family and husband’s family with the idea of writing a cookbook.  After looking for a publisher, she decided to publish it herself.

“It took six months (to complete) once I had the content,” she recalled. “I was the writer, editor, designer and producer.  I knew it was a hit, because I became the “Dear Abby” of recipe advice, among friends, neighbors, family, you name it, they called.  I discovered I was quite good at doling out tips and helpful hints to home cooks everywhere.”

So, she promptly published another book and this lead to teaching at a local cooking school and writing assignments for other publications.

This was when Amy wanted to share with a larger audience.   ”I realized I could take what I had done in my books and build a platform on line and through social media.”

She was all-in as a food writer and began adding demonstrations showing how-to videos once a week on a network of New Jersey on-line news sites.  “I was even asked to audition for the TV show “Chopped.”

Amy has focused her goal on becoming the next Rachael Ray or Ina Gartner.

“I’m setting my goals high to see how far I can get,” she said. “I know I have a need to cook and publish to be fulfilled.”

Meanwhile, Amy uses Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and her own blog to build her following and her brand.  She’s big on learning from others in her space and figuring out what they have done to succeed.

What’s her favorite thing to make for her kids and husband?

“I’m really into these ice cream sandwiches made with toasted nuts, dried fruit and chocolate shavings.”   Right now, on her blog is a recipe for mini meat loafs with bacon and BBQ glaze, paired with mashed potatoes – perfect for the fall.  With these kinds of recipes and secrets, this family cook is on her way to sharing her home cooked recipes with the world.

Be sure to sign up for Amy’s blog at:

Contact:  [email protected]

A Cure for Feeling Crabby

If you have been feeling crabby, cranky, controlling, overwhelmed, over it or like you want to
tell everyone to buzz off– I have something important to share with you.

These symptoms do not mean you are a bad or mean person… they are an indication that your soul is just starving and trying to get your attention.

I remember the first day that I realized my soul was starving. Even though I was living my passion, doing great work in the world, meeting a lot of my goals, and making enough money to get by…

I found myself at the tail end of a three-week “busy binge” with little room for pleasure and play, leaving me, in one word, CRABBY.

It had gotten to the point where my assistant would come in and ask me:

“Christine, how are you feeling today?”  She did it to gauge how best to navigate the day  and my mood.

I finally asked myself: “Christine, what is going on with you?” And instantly I realized that I was unhappy, really unhappy, and had been for weeks. My reply was “What? I am one of the happiest people I know. How could this be?” My Inner Wisdom shot back:

“Your soul is starving. You have been so busy giving, so busy working, so consumed with being a joy for others that you’ve forgotten to experience joy for yourself.”

I felt a hole inside me. I was empty, starving for nourishment — but not the green drink kind. I needed soul food. And the food of the soul is joy.

The problem was I couldn’t even remember what actually brought me joy. And that is when I knew I needed a radical intervention… a self-love intervention.

And I’m guessing I am not alone in my experience—feeling crabby and cranky because I’m not getting what I need (maybe you can relate?)

Are you so busy doing, giving and trying to keep it all together or achieve your dreams that you are pursuing happiness instead of experiencing it?

A lot of us have work-play equation that gets out of balance – you don’t spend time and energy on activities that deliver only pleasure… instead of profit or productivity. As a result, your joy quotient plummets and your crabbiness increases. And so you joy-binge in unhealthy ways for a quick fix, but your soul never feels full.

So how joy-full or joy-starved are you?

Take this self-love check- up to measure the joy levels on the self-pleasure branch of your self-love tree. Your self-love tree has 10 branches; self-pleasure is the one that makes sure your SOUL is nourished.

Answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to these questions:

Do you:

  1. Feel unhappy and you don’t know why.
  2. Play or give yourself pleasurable things only after you have worked hard or finished your to- do list?
  3. Try to get pleasure in quick spurts or by bingeing on it. You wait until you are starving for fun and then you overindulge – eat, drink or spend too much.
  4. Have a hard time remembering what you actually like to do for fun and pleasure because it’s been so long?
  5. Feel too busy to enjoy the simple pleasures? You are so consumed by your to do list or workload you don’t take time to slow down and notice beauty, connect with nature or spend the day in bed reading a book?

If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these, your soul is starving for joy and you need to get some soul food ASAP.

Luckily, I have some suggestions. The first step is remembering what does bring you joy. Grab a piece of paper and right the word JOY in the middle of it. Then going through your life from the time you were little to now, write down all the things that bring you joy – things that make you smile, are just fun, make you feel warm inside, fill you up. Keep going until the page is full. This is called a “JOY PORTRAIT.”

Then commit to saying YES to one of these per day for the rest of your life – or just start with a month!

To do a more in-depth pulse check or to go through the full exercise, read Chapter 12 in Madly in Love with ME, the Daring Adventure to Becoming Your Own Best Friend.

And for starters, today, try 3 joy-generators. Mine are: chanting in the morning, dancing in the kitchen or anywhere with my guy Noah. And, having deep conversations over food with my best friends.


Crowd-Sourcing Creativity and Photos

The Applegate Report

By Jane Applegate

A picture is truly worth a thousand words when it comes to selecting the right image for your company’s ad campaign or web site, according to Rebecca Swift, head of creative planning for iStockphoto. Swift, a recognized international expert on photo trends, was in New York City this week to speak at an event sponsored by Getty Images, the parent company of iStockphoto.

“Every company, from a small one to a major company is using images much more than before—it’s like a runaway horse,” said Small, who is responsible for building image collections, working with photographers around the world and advising clients. “The right photograph can help you reinvent something that is boring if that image conveys the values of your business.”

Today, anyone with a smartphone is a photographer.  In fact, she said people are uploading about 250 million photos a day to Facebook and about 45 million to Instagram. Candid, realistic shots are now more popular than posed photos. (Note: while you are thinking about photography, be sure to buy the current photo-themed issue of National Geographic).

No matter what you do for a living, having an engaging and attractive web site is more important than ever, especially since the average adult spends five hours per day online, up 15.8% over last year, according to a recent study released by eMarketer.

In fact, Swift said the word “business” is actually the number one search term used by visitors to which has more than 30 million images. Both professional and amateur photographers contribute work to the company archive.

Now, anyone can submit photos to the company for consideration.

“The crowd-sourcing model is new,” said Swift. “We now have a hundred thousand contributors who are actively posting images. For some, they want to make a little bit of money…for others, it’s their career.”

iStockphoto started out as a very small business. The company was founded in the early 2000’s by a group of designers as a source of free images.  “This group of designers in Calgary came up with the idea of sharing photos and designs online,” said Swift. “They put them online for free to be downloaded for free. Then, they got bigger and bigger and bought more server space. Then, they started charging a dollar per image.”

In 2006, the founders sold the company to Getty Images.

I asked Swift how a small business owner without formal design training can even start to look for the perfect image for their company. “There are so many images to choose from, you can easily get distracted by images not relevant to your brand,” said Swift. “It’s important to stick to the message you want to convey.”

The best business photos focus on “some kind of human element,” she said. “The person who runs the company may not be the real face of the company—it could be someone on the front desk staff.”

Years ago, if you wanted to use a photograph, you paid the photographer or a stock photo agency a fee to use the picture for a specific purpose and a set amount of time. In the mid-1990s, agencies began to burn multiple images on CDs and sell those as collections. But in the late 1999’s once images could be easily uploaded to the web, consumers started posting and sharing their own photos.

On a related note:  iStock recently released a survey of 404 ‘creatives’ based in the U.S. and U.K. which paints a bleak picture of the so-called creative economy. Lack of inspiration, limited funding and time are three barriers to creativity, according to the survey. Sixty percent of respondents said they had “great ideas” in the last year but not enough time or support to achieve what they wanted. About 70 percent said they wanted more “creative time” and 63 percent said they do not have the time they need for “creative reflection and inspiration.”

Forty-eight percent of those polled said they believe creativity levels have declined or been stagnant and 23 percent said they spend less than two hours of their day doing what they would consider “creative work.”