Women's Leadership Live Women's Leadership Live

When I Heard About…

When I heard about the International Women’s Day Project / Women in Business #WIB2019 Event in which WHERE WOMEN CREATE WORK Magazine, Women’s Leadership LIVE and World Market were planning a national tour to showcase and spread the stories of the 12 million female small business owners in the US it was a no brainer for me to get involved in the efforts. I am the female business owner behind The Outtakes Life Coaching, a business that may have never come to be had it not been for the support and push from the people around me, so using my voice to share my story with other women who may benefit from hearing it is a must for me.

My story began in an unexpected way. I was out shopping at Dear Hannah for an outfit to wear to my birthday party on my lunch break, pressed for time and in that frantic mindset of having nothing to wear, when I ran into Debbie and Stacey from Women’s Leadership LIVE filming a video blog. I was immediately interested in what they were doing because I had been toying with the idea of starting a blog but kept talking myself out of it. I love to write and to empower women and knew that I was destined for more than the road I was traveling had to offer, but I couldn’t quite get myself there. Before I knew it I found myself in a conversation with Debbie and Stacey and told them all about my idea for my blog and my hesitation to actually do it. They were so encouraging and excited which energized me, and when Debbie asked me to send her my website when I was finished with it I found the drive that I had been lacking and knew that I had to follow through so that I could send it to her, and for myself.

About a month later I sent Debbie my website (theouttakesblog.com) and started writing for myself, with no real agenda or expectations. I wrote posts that I hoped would empower women and make them feel part of a community that was based in “real talk” as opposed to the usual “highlight reel” of social media. It felt so good to be doing something that I had such passion for, which led me to really thinking about where my passion and purpose was in life. That chance meeting turned blog turned into me going back to school to become a Certified Life Coach and starting my own coaching practice. If you had told me that day when I was shopping on my lunch break that a year and a half later I’d have my own business I wouldn’t have believed it. As Debbie says, “there are no accidents,” I was supposed to meet her and Stacey that day.

I have learned that as a woman who knew I wanted more but didn’t know how to go about achieving what I wanted that the best thing I could do for myself was to find a support system of women who have been where I was and have gone where I wanted to go. If this resonates with you and you are seeking your own support system check out one of the upcoming events hosted by Women’s Leadership LIVE in Dallas and email me to set up a free introductory coaching session in which we can discuss how receiving coaching from me can support you in finding your passion and creating the life of your dreams.

Women’s Leadership LIVE Schedule for Texas:

3/1/19 | Dallas, TX: Panel Discussion with On Air Media Founder Melisa Plaskoff at 10:00 AM (CST) Special Guests: Amy Stewart, Debbie Sardone, Dr. Jodi Danna, Nikky Phinyawatana

3/4/19 | Dallas, TX: Dallas Love Field – Center Stage Jo Packham – Magazine Signings and Broadcast with Brian Glenn Experts in Business on LIVE 620 AM KEXB Radio Program, Salem Media Group / 3:00 – 5:00 PM (CST)

3/5/19 | Irving, TX: Panel Discussion at Citi’s Main Campus – Simulcast Globally (Private – Employees Only) in collaboration with Erica Mulder, VP of Government Affairs/ Communications and Joseph Chapa, Irving International Affairs and Sister Cities | Moderator Beth Bowman President/CEO, Irving – Las Colinas Chamber of Commerce and Irving Economic Development Partnership

3/6/19 | Dallas, TX: SMU Panel Discussion with Ana Rodriguez, Director of the SMU Cox Latino Leadership Initiative / 11:00 AM – 1:00 PM (CST) Register: http:// bit.ly/SMUWIB2019

Ashley Shihab
The Outtakes Life Coaching
Instagram: theouttakesblogger

“It Starts from Within” By Dakotah Hale

Founder of “Elephant Shoes” Blog



“Beep! Beep! Beep!” goes the alarm. I roll over to turn it off and before I get out of bed my mind automatically goes to “What do I need to get done today?” I start my day with having gratitude and focusing on the good however sometimes it is difficult to finish my thoughts because they automatically gravitate towards my to-do list. As women our minds are like a computer when you have 15 tabs open. We are constantly on a mission to make sure that our list gets crossed off. Often times we put ourselves aside to make sure that others are being taken care of and things are getting done around our environment. We don’t make time to check ourselves out and see how WE are feeling.

Hours go by and my day is half way over, I haven’t eaten a healthy and wholesome meal and I am running off caffeine trying to get the next thing accomplished. Admit it, we have ALL been there. I blink for a second and the day is gone only to wake up the next day and do it all over again. As entrepreneurs there is no 9-5 schedule, it is day in and day out grinding towards my goals and aspirations both personally and professionally. We are all extremely blessed to be able to call this our reality however at the same time we have to take time for our self with self-care and love.

I decided to come up with a self-love checklist that can be used as your personal guide to a balanced and happy life. I’m sure you are thinking “Not another thing I have to do” but the truth is if we don’t take care of ourselves now then what are we going to do years from now when it is too late? I wanted to share this guide that I created that helps me to put my thoughts together on a daily basis and live everyday with mindful intentions. I hope that this guide helps you to live YOUR most authentic and true self.


By using this daily guide your mind, body, and soul will thank you. After all, it starts from within us in order to be the best versions of ourselves.


DakotDakotah Hale Headshotah Hale is the founder of “Elephant Shoes,” A love & lifestyle blog that is dedicated to inspire you to love and create everything you have ever dreamed of. After all, when you whisper “Elephant Shoes” it silently appears that you are saying “I love you” from far away. I currently reside in Dallas, TX and I am constantly on the search for new wellness hacks and focusing on spreading peace and love online as well as in my community.

Jumping from Corporate to Entrepreneur

I had always dreamed of owning a business.  As long as I can remember.  What I chose though, was a job route that led me working in various fields, meeting incredible people, and attaining a wealth of training I will always be grateful for.

But as life happens, I had a pivotal, life changing experience.  I had to reevaluate everything.  And it put the idea of owning a business in front of me.  I always had an insane amount of ideas flying in and out of my head.  I always felt stifled in the button down world of corporate.  And so I thought, why not give it a try?

Once I started my business, I jumped in full force.  I thought I was prepared for the life of an entrepreneur.  But as I look back, I don’t think I was.  Nor am I convinced anyone ever is!   What I know is, all those experiences working for others – whether good or frustrating – was the greatest gift given to me.  I had the tenacity and resilience to stay in jobs I didn’t always like.  Intuitively knowing each position and company was a building block to the next.   Becoming an expert on learning how to learn.

It’s the curiosity to learn that has kept me moving toward my goals.  It never occurred to me that my initial ideas would not work the way I planned.  I made so many mistakes!   Fortunately, I quickly realized flexibility and willingness to change is key to being an entrepreneur.  Asking for feedback from everyone is also necessary.  And reaching out for help and advice is imperative.  You don’t know what you don’t know!  I learned there are plenty of organizations and successful entrepreneurs that are willing to help, providing resources or mentoring at no charge because they love what they do.  SCORE,  SBA Women’s Business Centers, and Women’s Leadership Live are just some of the organizations that want YOU and other small businesses to be successful.

And so I push forward!  Inquisitive of what each day holds for me.  No more corporate 401k, stock options or standard weekly paycheck.  The hours can be brutal at times.  But, I have the life of creativity I always hoped.  And love the challenge of figuring out how to succeed.  I am the entrepreneur that I always imagined.

If you are thinking of taking the leap from a corporate job to creating the business of your dreams, I highly encourage you!  It’s a wild ride.  Lots of bumps.  But such an adventure.  It’s a journey that only another entrepreneur will appreciate and smile about.  One that bonds us.  And so when you are ready, do join us!


Mindy MogerMindy Moger started her business, Durango Dog Company, Inspired by Dogs who Love Adventure, in March 2015, after leaving the comforts of the corporate world to fulfill her desire of becoming an entrepreneur.   She currently has two product lines with plans to add more:  CANINES & CARROTS healthy, human grade dog treats and the innovative ROVING WATERING BOWL compact bag.

Prior to becoming an entrepreneur, Mindy worked in various fields.  Her background includes sales, marketing, and training.  She attributes her success to the various mentors throughout her career.

525,600 Moments of Opportunities

“Success doesn’t come to you, you go to it” – Marva Collins

2018 has Arrived!

Once again, we have completed another year and we anxiously await another 365 Days – 8,760 hours and 525,600 minutes. How will we best utilize our Time?

Will we look back on 2018 with pride and joy as we accomplished all that we set out to do OR, will we feel frustration over the lack of Success? Personally and professionally we control our time and it is up to us on how we make use of the limited number of “moments”.

Most Entrepreneurs have the ability to set their own schedule and in doing so, can prioritize that which will propel them toward Success. Let’s face it, Success will not simply fall into your lap, nor will it come knocking at the door, instead you have to fully and passionately pursue it with an obsession like none other.

Instead of making New Year’s Resolutions for 2018 consider the Inventory of 10

  1. Create a HEALTHY LIFESTYLE with a focus on daily self-improvement.
  2. A DAILY Ritual of GRATITUDE by writing in a Journal.
  3. TUNE OUT those who don’t support – encourage or believe in You!
  4. Seek out KNOWLEDGE that will inspire your Creative Genius.
  5. Generate a Positive MANTRA when negativity enters your thoughts.
  6. POST & VISUALIZE each day the 10 GENIUS Accomplishments You want for
  7. Focus on 1st Downs – The Journey – The Baby Steps
  8. Keep a CALENDAR and each morning PRIORITIZE the Day Ahead.
  9. Review all SOCIAL MEDIA Platforms – do they resonate with your correct MESSAGING & BRANDING?
  10. This journey comes but once, so most importantly, HAVE FUN!

Time is on Your side and when You take advantage of the opportunities and convert them into the GOALS that were set, then SUCCESS becomes a reality.

Therefore, for 2018, we encourage you to embrace a Mindset of Success – Internalize the Inventory of 10 above and finally to take Advantage of YOUR 525,600 moments of TIME.

Unleash Your CEO “IT FACTOR” by Liz Everett

Whether you are a startup entrepreneur or a corporate CEO, you are always in preparation for acing that million dollar handshake opportunity. As a style strategist, I aid clients in building their on-brand style statement. It is imperative to remember that people do not meet your logo. They meet you and they are either swept up by your “IT FACTOR” or you are going to have to pull out everything from your elevator speech to your resume, just for them to buy you as an expert in your field.

You have to remember that in these social media driven times your business brand becomes intertwined with your personal brand. Everything from your attire to initial impact upon a first meeting, becomes a lasting impression in the minds of those you hope to do business with. Although not every brand is a personality driven one, you have to operate with the attitude that you are the face of the company. It’s a proven fact that people love feeling connected to the ‘brains of the operation’. Think back to Steve Jobs. We were all enthralled by Apple’s every move because of his innovative leadership style. Now fast forward to incredible business women like Sophia Amoruso, Oprah or even Barbara Corcoran, who have become tastemakers on the precipice of their industry’s forth coming trends.

Now when it come s to unleashing your CEO “IT FACTOR” you may be struggling with where to start. I created a list of 6 essential factors that will help you leave a stylish, well branded, commanding impression on every perspective client or profitable business partner. You must become masterful at creating a fluid relationship between your personal influence and your business. Whether it is a service you sell or a product the brand is always you! 

1. Connected & Powerful First Impression

2. On-Brand Style Statement

3. Engaging Body Language & Posture

4. Have Conversational Knowledge of Your Industry’s Current Trends

5. Know How to Organically Guide People to Your Lead Magnet

6. Up to Date Business Cards & Social Media

This equation is not just about elevating your sales, it is about helping you curate a lasting connection with your market. You see a huge portion of this is about consciously captivating the desired attention from your target demographic.  It is an authentic way to reinforce how you sell to and appeal to them. In large part that is a very visual thing much like being a walking billboard.

I often refer to the study done by UCLA’s Dr. Albert Mehrabian which states that 93% of our communication is visual/nonverbal. The breakdown on that is 38% vocal liking which is tone of voice, gestures and style of delivery. 55% being facial liking which incorporates core essentials of visual perception, strategic style and overall impression. That being said, don’t forget to be intentional every time you walk in the room. Let your very presence be a head to toe opportunity to engage people with your charismatic CEO “IT FACTOR”.


21766334_1534630349909785_8982135616038583427_nLiz Everett – Style Strategist, Visual Brand Consultant, Author & Magazine Editor

As an award winning style & beauty professional Liz Everett is a highly sought after expert in her field.  At nineteen years old, Liz began working for the Victoria’s Secret Beauty brand which allowed her hands on training. Her style client demographic spans from the corporate boardroom to the New York Fashion Week red carpet. Now segwaying into personal image development & innovative professional image seminars, Liz creates on-brand looks for clients across the country.

Leadership Is…

“If you want one year of prosperity, grow grain. If you want ten years of prosperity, grow trees. If you want one hundred years of prosperity, grow people.” 
-Chinese proverb

I’ll never forget her. She was such an inspiring leader. Beth, my former boss, made it a priority to spend time individually with each of her team members to listen. She was interested in not just reaching the goals of the organization but she was dedicated to making sure that our gifts and talents were used and integrated into the work as much as possible. One of the things that she created was a learning environment for the team. Despite the fact that we were distributed across the country, she was determined to create opportunities for reflection, discovery, and team building. Beth was an example of the power of relational leadership. In order to be effective, leaders must recognize the power of relationships:

  • Leadership is casting a vision that captivates others to action.
    Leaders are able to communicate with others well. Relational leaders are aware that everyone has a different way of understanding information, and takes the time to ensure that each team member not only comprehends the information but provides feedback.
  • Leadership is about relationships.
    Great leaders inspire great followers. The emerging research on followership demonstrates that great leaders offer guidance and mentorship. Leaders listen to both the spoken as well as the unspoken cues that are part of our organizations.
  • Leaders must understand the role of their power and privilege because of their position.
    Leaders know that because of their title, circles of influence and even knowledge can create power dynamics within your team and in the organization. Recognizing the role of your privilege is essential. Your lens is impacted by your race, ethnicity, gender, education level, social status, and other categories we occupy. We all make meaning of situations we encounter based on our lens in the aforementioned areas. Be aware of this and be willing to embrace that difference in others.
  • The narrative of a leader can impact those who follow.
    If we don’t pay attention to our stories, it is easy to recreate a new persona as Amanda Sinclair discusses in her book, Leadership for the Disillusioned: Moving Beyond Myths and Heroes to Leading That Liberates. In the book, she addresses the lives of leaders from several large corporations who had bad childhood experiences that were not addressed. This resulted in poor decisions and ultimately, impacted the organization and the livelihood of those on staff. If we don’t examine our past, we miss an opportunity for growth.

Relational leadership recognizes two dynamics: the role of individuals and their relationships as well as understanding the perspective of individuals in creating meaning in relationships, and the historical / social constructs that exists. This is an ongoing process of creating and relating to others. Relational leadership is a collaborative social process. We need people to reach the goals for our team, department, and the organization. More engagement means better outcomes. Relational leaders create opportunities for reflection and learning to enhance their leadership toolkit.

I have stated that relational leadership encompasses an opportunity for leaders, and their followers to make meaning of their interactions and knowledge by seeing leadership as more than a list of technical dos and don’ts. But this is an adaptive process that requires a change in thinking based on the self-awareness and knowledge gained from the interactions with others.

Relational leadership also is inclusive. It includes being adaptive and is always reworked based on the information gained from the relationship. Relational leaders understand the value of stories and gaining information from the stories that not only reach the desired goals, but create a mutually beneficial relationship.

I am thankful for leaders such as Beth who poured into me and my leadership. In a world that is becoming increasingly challenging, relationships are critical in making the changes that we’d like to see in our workplaces and communities. In order to build strong organizations, strong communities, and stronger systems that truly impact others, we must begin to look at how we are connecting to others and encourage our organizations to look at the way we value others. We reach our goals as an organization when are committed to building relational leadership that will ultimately increase individual and collective well-being, and the productivity of our companies.


Froswa Booker-Drew

Froswa Booker-Drew, gained a PhD with a focus on social capital, relational leadership and change management. She is currently the Director of Community Affairs/Strategic Alliances for the State Fair of Texas and the author of two workbooks for women. She is a Dallas Public Voices Fellow (Op-Ed Project). Visit her
at https://www.linkedin.com/in/froswabookerdrew/

Lessons From: Do Us a Flavor

Have you ever tried the following chip flavors?

  • Cheddar Bacon Mac & Cheese
  • Cappuccino
  • Wavy Mango Salsa
  • Kettle Cooked Wasabi Ginger
  • Cheesy Garlic Bread
  • Chicken & Waffles
  • Sriracha

Some sound yummy and others…well I will let you be the judge of that. Each of these flavors
are a part of Lays Chips annual flavor contest called Do U a Flavor. Last year it was between the
Cheesy Garlic Bread, Chicken & Waffles, and Sriracha. This campaign went viral and truly
engaged a national audience in a fun contest over these flavors. I must admit I did jump in and
try all flavors…and I voted.
Lays are such a great example of: Creativity and Engagement.

  • Lays has been one of the top selling snacks for more than 75 years. As with any company they
    were looking for new ways to engage their audience with the increase of competition in their
    industry and the ever evolving technology. Thus, was born the Do Us a Flavor campaign.

Now let’s look at your business and see how we can apply what Lays has done to our level
of creativity and engagement.

  • Are there any programs, services or events that you host that could use a makeover, reinvention
    or addition? Can you add a new program? Can you add a creative element? Can you add more

(Ex: Lays designed their new annual Do Us a Flavor campaign. This new campaign infused new
customers, new awareness of their brand and they engaged their customers.)

  • Are you finding innovative ways to engage your audience with your current offerings? Do you
    get them involved in your process (outside of a survey)? Do you create intrigue for them to want
    to learn more?

(Ex: Lays designed a national content on customer created flavors. They have used social media,
celebrity endorsements, creative TV commercials, etc…)
Remember there is so much “noise” competing for the attention of your clients. Find ways to
keep your brand fresh, cutting edge, forward thinking, creative and engaging with your audience.


Kimberly PittsKimberly Pitts, CEO and founder of UImpact, is a branding and marketing strategist and developer dedicated to helping entrepreneurs and business owners expand their scope of influence and profitability. Motivated by a heart for empowering entrepreneurs to live the lives they were purposed for, Kim shows them how to enjoy freedom in their businesses and personal lives by teaching how to successfully position themselves in the market, attract appropriate target audiences, and create influential brands.
Kimberly Pitts is anything but conventional. She is passionate about being creative and using innovative techniques that will challenge, encourage, inspire, and equip you to realize your business dreams. Her down to earth nature and business expertise coupled with a heart to serve and encourage others make her a force to be reckoned with. Kim is a giver. She is authentic. She is sharp. She is balanced. She is extremely gifted, and she loves people well.

Why Mindfulness is Good for Business

My clients are often surprised when I talk about mindfulness, and why it is good for business. They’re used to an environment where being analytical, making quick, tough decisions is a necessity and sign of strength. But incorporating mindfulness provides a balance and perspective that will help make you, your leadership and your business decisions even stronger.

What is Mindfulness?

Jon Kabat-Zinn—considered to be the founder of the Mindfulness—defines mindfulness as:

“Paying attention on purpose

in the present moment,


Sounds simple, right? And yet, it’s something most of us have a tough time doing. Right now, for example—even as you’re reading this post, you may be thinking about an urgent email reply or your next meeting. You may be skeptical about what I’m sharing. You might be excited about what you’re reading, wondering what the rest of the day will bring.

In any of those cases, your focus is drifting from what is happening NOW to all the extraneous thoughts that crop up to distract you—a constant state of distraction has become our new “norm”.

Mindfulness requires us to slow down. Simply put, Mindfulness is paying attention with intention right now, objectively.

The Quality of Non-judgement

What strikes me most about Zinn’s definition of Mindfulness is that it involves non-judgement—in my view, the most critical quality of Mindfulness. Why?

When you don’t judge—and are more objective—and often find yourself less stressed; more productive; in healthier relationships; and more fulfilled.

Less Stress

How much time, energy and effort do you waste when you pass judgement? Not only is it exhausting; it can be very stressful—countless hours spent, dissecting every aspect and nuance—criticizing, sizing up, dismissing—rehashing what was said; why it was said; what was done or not done to you or for you.

More Productive

When you meet someone for the first time, especially if that meeting feels awkward, will you spend time finding fault with this person, judging her as good or bad? If so, for how long? Minutes? Hours?

Imagine if you put that time to better use, doing something to help you get to know her.

Healthier Relationships

When you talk and listen to others in a way that doesn’t judge them for what they’ve done or not done, you open yourself to relationships that transcend to a new level, thoroughly enjoying the connection you create because there is no worry about good, bad, right or wrong.

More Fulfilled

Warren Bennis—known as the Godfather of Leadership–was asked: “What is the key quality of any successful CEO?” His answer was “raised eyebrows.” What he meant by this is that the key to successful leadership is curiosity—a sense of wonder.

What makes children so happy? Over not having major responsibilities, the primary factor is that they do not judge people and situations. They are curious, seeking adventure. They want to learn—becoming “first class noticers” of what is going on around them.

Over and above tremendous health benefits, being mindful of the thoughts and emotions you have to any experience helps you begin approaching the world with more openness and curiosity, increasing productivity, finding yourself in healthier relationships, feeling alive…feeling good

And feeling good is good for business.


Susan TaylorSusan Taylor has devoted much of her life to exploring the deeper dimensions of human potential.  As CEO of Generon International, Susan collaborates with leaders, teams and organizations to create more effective, advanced, conscious contributions to business and society.

Susan has spent over 20 years of her career partnered with Generon, helping leaders to fulfill their deeper purpose and build coherence, fostering business environments that support human development while delivering extraordinary financial return.

Can’t Afford to Pay the Rent? A Rent Reduction Avoids Business Destruction

Things to Understand about Rent Reduction.  Businesses go through multiple cycles of revenue.   It is just a part of business.  Business owners have the responsibility to consider every aspect of their business to reduce cost or increase sales.  Do you know if you are over paying in rent?  Is your rent to sales ratio higher than 30 or 40%?   If so, what options do you have? Most independent entrepreneurs don’t consider asking for a rent reduction.  They feel as if once they sign their lease that it is concrete.  Fortunately there are options to consider, if the assessment and leasing terms justify one. . . but the main problem lies in, where to start?  Best way to begin is to look carefully at your business economics and to evaluate how you’re business is doing for an x number of months/years.  .  Evaluate where you can cut costs but still able to maintain your business.  Consider a professional, experienced broker to assess the situation for you.  Explore whether   requesting a rent reduction is reasonable and how to proceed successfully.

If you are feeling hopeless running out of cash reserves to cover the rent for your business, a professional lease negotiator or Commercial Broker may be the answer to your prayers by negotiating on your behalf a rent reduction or early lease termination.  GOLDEN RULE RESOURCES has helped many small business owners do just that. Most of the time, small business owners are not aware of the option of asking for a rent reduction or early termination.

Here are some examples of when you may qualify to pose the question:

a) when sales drop and rent increases year after year,

b) if you experience changes in your life forcing you to close down your business or

c) if your business is not hitting sales projections and you need time to re-structure your business model and that will need a little breathing room in the rent until your brand new business stabilizes.

Many Landlords are familiar with rental modifications and might work with you, provided you are able to justify your request, this is where a lease negotiating expert comes in handy.  You would need to prepare and be pro-active before it’s too late because it might be a lengthy negotiation process, you wouldn’t want to wait until you dig yourself  a whole were you can’t get out of.  So if you think we may qualify, please give us a call to assess your situation and begin the preparation process.    Relief some of your stress, save your business’s reputation and take advantage of a second opportunity to hit the RESET button.   We are here to help you increase your chances for success, give us a click or a call: www.goldenruleresources.com   800.504.3542 for a FREE 30-minute consultation.

Carmen headshot-144-Hi-ResCarmen Hall founded Golden Rule Resources LLC with the vision of being a professional broker for start-up businesses, treating them by the Golden Rule, which is “To Treat Others The Way You Want To Be Treated”. Being an expert having over 20 years of experience in the commercial real estate industry, Carmen knows how to cater to multi-cultural first time business owners.


Six Steps To Help You Join Your First Board

The first corporate board I served on was informal; we sat around the small coffee table in the living room of our modest town home. I was co founder of a technology start-up and a few of our earliest angel investors, who were veterans of past start-ups, offered to mentor us in our new venture.

I had not served on boards before and had no idea what to expect. However, I was highly motivated, invested in the venture, and eager to learn how to make it a success.

This “young, scrappy and hungry” company, webMethods, later grew to a company of $200m in revenue and became the most successful software IPO in history (at the time). It employed over 1,100 people worldwide and sold to SoftwareAG in 2007 for over half a $billion.

Starting your own business (or nonprofit) and serving on its board is one of many paths to serving on a corporate board. A track record of taking risks and initiating new solutions, raising new ideas, and taking the lead on multiple projects are attributes that will accelerate your path to a board of director position.

Since co-founding, building, and moving on from webMethods, I’ve served on many other boards; ranging from entrepreneurial tech startups to innovative social impact nonprofits, large billion dollar institutional nonprofits, politically appointed boards (one overseeing $6b in assets and projects,) and boards of several public companies overseeing over $3b in assets.

Serving on a board offers an unparalleled way to use your unique strengths, experiences, and insights to make a positive impact on an organization.  I wholeheartedly believe it is work worth doing (and it can be very demanding work).

A board member can help a business or social impact nonprofit achieve its mission – benefiting customers, investors, whole communities and even the world.

Serving on a board also fulfills key regulatory requirements that are non-negotiable for a business or nonprofit’s very existence.  Board service also gives you many rich relationships with interesting people and opportunities to learn and grow.

Unfortunately, as has been well documented, less than 20% of board members are women — across all business sectors, particularly in publicly traded companies. Many organizations like 2020 Women on BoardsCatalystWomen Corporate Directors, and Women In Technology’s Leadership Foundry are making progress to change this.

One of the nonprofit boards on which I serve is the Leadership Foundry of Women In Technology, whose mission is to advance women to public company boards.  Through my work there, as a mentor, author and speaker, I’m often asked by highly intelligent, talented and successful women, “how do I get on a board?”

The advice I give often surprises those who ask.  Most assume that it’s all about knowing the right person, or being an alum of the right university, management consulting firm, or Blue Chip company.

While these attributes can help, on their own, they are not enough, and often aren’t a key factor in being selected to serve on a board.

After 20 years of serving on a variety of boards, I’ve discovered six surprising steps that a motivated professional can take which will increase the probability of serving on a board. An added bonus is that when you take these steps you will discover benefits in your career now and into the future.

There’s never been a better time to turn your dream of board service into a reality. Consider taking one or all of these steps:

  1. Educate yourself

The often overlooked first step to achieving any goal is self-discovery. Why do you want to serve on a board?  Do you know and can you articulate your strengths ? A surprising number of leaders can’t, even though research shows the best leaders are self-aware. What are you expert at?

  1. Do your homework

There is much to consider. Do you know what board service requires and what most boards and CEOs are seeking in a board member?  All boards are different depending on business needs and regulatory requirements.

If your goal is serving on a public company board, Harvard Law School outlines key areas of responsibility you must consider, as well as the expertise that is most highly sought after.  Most people think of the Fortune 500 companies when it comes to public company boards, but there are actually over 6,000 companies listed on exchanges like the Nasdaq or NYSE, and thousands more private companies and nonprofits.  Whether they are public, private, or nonprofit, organizations are looking for board members who have a track record of integrity, leadership, relationship building, and achieving quantifiable goals (in addition to specific skill sets and compliance requirements).  Qualitative attributes like good communication skills are highly sought after.

  1. Make a plan

There is no one set path to board service. Whatever stage you are in now, by educating yourself you can assess where you are and what you need to do next to become board ready.  There are dozens of resources to learn about board service. Some are right at your fingertips including articles like So You Want to Join a Board, and books such as Women On Board and Earn Your Seat on A Corporate Board.

My path to board service was paved through entrepreneurship – founding businesses, nonprofits, and initiatives; taking risks, working hard, sometimes even failing at an initiative, yet throughout I gained valuable skills and relationships.

I’ve found that an entrepreneurial mindset and experiences are among the most appreciated skill sets that I bring to the boards on which I serve.  It didn’t happen overnight, but I took the time to set the goal of serving on a public company board — and now, I serve on five.

Use the resources readily available to you, develop a plan, and work it.  In fact, do your homework before you follow the next step.

  1. Get advice from leaders and board members who know you

Share your aspirations with people you trust who are experienced and can give advice.  Consider having a conversation with your CEO or a colleague from the C-Suite in your current position.  Or, ask if they have colleagues or friends who are board members of private or public companies or nonprofits, and can refer you for an information interview.  DO NOT start by asking people to float your resume, or ask them to sponsor you.  That is an awkward and uncomfortable request if you haven’t followed through on earlier steps.

  1. Build relationships 

One of the most important attributes you bring to a board is a network of leaders, experts, and problem solvers.  Build a wide network and be generous in sharing it. Take on leadership roles in your current position, your community, your trade association.

  1. Start now

There are a variety of paths to serving on a corporate or nonprofit board. No one size fits all. By taking these steps, not only will you come closer to your aspiration of serving on a corporate board — you will achieve immediate benefits in your personal development and your growth as a leader in your career, now and in the future.




Caren Merrick is a serial entrepreneur (start-ups in tech and social impact) most notably co-founder and EVP of webMethods, Inc. which grew from her basement to a $200m global, Nasdaq company with 1,100 team members.  She now serves on public company boards, writes a leadership blog at CarenMerrick.com, speaks, and advises leaders.  She is married with two sons and her family loves to sail on their catamaran, Glad In It.