Cover Showcase

The Power of Embracing Diversity

Article By: Hortense Le Gentil

How can you nurture collective alignment while encouraging diversity? When dealing with cultures, modes of thinking, backgrounds, or outlooks different from our own, creating and maintaining alignment by communicating effectively and adjusting to new circumstances or environments is particularly crucial—and challenging. It’s important to note that alignment does not mean pressuring others to think and behave the same way we do, or becoming someone we are not in order to fit in. Instead it involves cultivating the agility and openness to embrace, foster, and leverage diversity.

This agility has become an imperative for leaders. Marshall Goldsmith argues that managing diversity has become one of the most important qualities leaders must have to succeed. Why? Because leaders increasingly have to think globally and facilitate partnerships. Embracing diversity of all kinds—from gender, race, and sexual orientation to age, experience, culture, or cognitive penchant—has been shown to impact the bottom line. Those with a more diverse leadership perform better than average financially.

So, why are companies that embrace diversity doing better?

Diverse Teams Tend to Result in Better Decisions and More Innovation

Learning, reasoning, and problem-solving happen in different ways for different people. Frameworks such as Myers-Briggs and dISC, for example, identify various cognitive styles, which in turn facilitate understanding across differences. In Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking, Susan Cain makes the case that western business culture, which has favored and rewarded extroversion, would benefit from embracing the many qualities that introverts bring to the table.

Diversity Relates to Innovation

IBM’s Jennifer Paylor argues that innovation comes from disrupting one’s own thinking. And what better way to do that than to collaborate with people who do not think like you? Though it may be easier and more comfortable to interact with people who think like us and have a similar background, it doesn’t stretch us outside of our box. We keep treading the same mental paths without being challenged. By contrast, being exposed to multiple cultures has been shown to boost creativity, as it allows us to consider and combine different perspectives.

Diverse Companies Are Better Able to Serve Increasingly Heterogeneous Markets

Workforces that do not reflect the diversity of their customers are unlikely to come up with products and services aligned with the people they are meant to serve. They succumb to the unconscious biases we all have, and results range from irritating to down- right dangerous. Facial recognition software, for instance, has been shown to work far better on white male faces than either female or darker skinned ones. Why? Largely because the software reflects the demographic characteristics of developers and the data sets they use for machine learning: one popular facial recognition dataset, for example, was found to include more than three-quarters men and more than 80 percent Caucasians. This is something Google learned the hard way when its Google Photos app, which helps users categorize and search their photos for people, places, or things, labeled darker-skinned faces as gorillas. As facial recognition software is being used for an increasing number of applications, ranging from marketing and recruitment to law enforcement, the consequences of this inherent bias could be catastrophic.

The challenges faced by women entrepreneurs is another example. The difficulties they face in male venture capitalists and investors. The problem? Surrounded by too many people like themselves, investors are not always able to recognize their own biases or grasp business opportunities that target a demographic outside of their own. In her memoir Shark Tales, real estate entrepreneur turned investor Barbara Corcoran illustrates that very challenge. As the only female investor on Shark Tank, the American television show in which entrepreneurs pitch their ideas, she was the only one to understand the potential of a medication dispenser for toddlers shaped like an elephant. She concludes in her book that her male colleagues were most likely oblivious to the challenge of giving a sick infant medicine in the middle of the night. She was the only one supporting the venture, which became very successful. In a country such as the UK, women make 80 percent of consumer purchases, yet they account for only 12 percent of executive teams in companies surveyed by global consultancy McKinsey & Company.

Fostering Diversity Helps Recruit & Retain Talent

Leaders committed to hiring a diverse workforce can fish in a much bigger talent pond. Furthermore, a broader range of recruits feels at home in more diverse companies, which in turn improves their satisfaction and desire to stay. A 2017 Gallup survey revealed that fostering environments that celebrate diversity greatly improves employee engagement. Diversity is particularly valued among younger generations: almost half of millennials consider diversity and inclusion important criteria when considering a potential employer.

Ultimately, CEOs who run organizations recognized for embracing people of different backgrounds see diversity not only as a business imperative but also as a moral one. They approach it as a personal mission central to their own values, often rooted in their experience of what it means to be an outsider. In other words, they are personally aligned with diversity and inclusion and why they matter, which in turn helps root these values within their organizations and align their teams too.

How important is diversity to you? Are you clear on how much you value it? What can you do to foster it around you and in your organization? Are you aware of your own biases? What are you doing to facilitate inclusion? How do you pro- mote collective alignment through diversity?

Hortense le Gentil is an Executive Leadership Coach who works with decision-makers in the business world, including many C-suite executives from Fortune 500 companies, supporting them in their development and leadership by working with them on the alignment between their personal values and their professional activities.

Prior to coaching full time, le Gentil spent over 30 years in business in various industries, working for leading multinational companies in the areas of media consulting, marketing, and advertising. She then founded and spent 10 years as CEO of an entrepreneurial start-up (in metals recycling).

Hortense is part of the MG100 Coaches, Marshall Goldsmith’s Pay It Forward project, and is a certified Marshall Goldsmith Stakeholder Centered™ Coach. She has been selected to receive a Thinkers 50 coaching award for excellence in her field. She is the author of Aligned: Connecting Your True Self with the Leader You’re Meant to Be.

Cover Showcase

How to Retain Millennial & Gen Z Women in the workplace

By contributing writer: Heidi Ganahl

News flash: the promising new grad you just hired is already looking for her next job.

The numbers don’t lie: Generation Z and Millennial women are only staying at their jobs for an average of 18 months. In comparison, the national average for salaried employees is 4.6 years, according to an Economic News Release from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The American workforce has changed dramatically since Millennials came on the scene. This phenomenon has left many of us wondering why the ways we engage, reward, and retain employees have not changed with it.

Today, especially with a historically low national unemployment rate, companies cannot afford to lose their ambitious new talent. The costs of turnover and training can add up in ways that go beyond the measure of profit margins. Reputation, recruitment, and employee turnover can add up to about half of an employee’s annual salary. Let that sink in for a moment.

If you want to retain Millennials, your organization’s leadership must give them better reasons to stay.

Give them a voice.
First, invest time in building an environment of trust. The ‘trust fall’ and workshop icebreakers facilitated by your management team aren’t enough anymore. The groundwork of this point of view stems from the height of my success in building and growing another brand I founded, Camp Bow Wow. There I led thousands of employees system-wide and created a “culture” of conversation. The simple fact I’ve learned is that if you don’t create an environment where feedback runs both ways, unengaged and burned-out employees will plan their escape behind your back. Opening the lines of communication is the first step in keeping your team engaged and in their roles.

Millennials who believe their company has a high trust culture are over 22 times more likely to want to work there longer. Take the time to ask your employees and team members what’s working, and what’s not, then show you value each opinion. Ask questions. Honor feedback. Be transparent. Make your workplace an environment where people want to stay for more than 18 months. Make it a place that, when employees do leave, it’s because they have a significant growth opportunity you’ve prepared them for—not just because they felt forced to look for the next best thing.

Give them meaning.
As a leader, it is your responsibility to find rewards that mean something to your employees. Millennials started their careers in a culture that throttled the idea of work-life balance. Now that they make up half the workforce, they’re eager to flip the rules. So, why not do it with them?

Bentley University conducted a study in conjunction with KRC Research firm revealing that 77% of millennials felt flexible work hours would make the workplace more productive for people their age. More importantly, the same study found that 80% of millennials believe they will work for four or fewer companies in their lifetime, and 36% of millennials expect to stay in their current job for at least 4 to 5 years. So why does it feel so hard to retain these employees? Susan Brennan, Executive Director of Bentley University’s Career Services and Corporate Relations department says, “Millennials intend to be loyal to employers, but they are ultimately looking out for themselves…If they do not see these benefits in their current company, they will look elsewhere.”

The bottom line is Millennials value independence and flexibility. They are more mobile, well-traveled, and value jobs that don’t make them check who they are at the door. Find ways to reward their contributions with perks that match their values—whether it be flexible hours, work from home time, sponsoring attendance at conferences that match their professional interests, or others. Think outside the bonus box and watch as 18 months become two, three, or even 20-year careers.

Give them a community.
If you want to keep your promising new grad hire, build them a community. If going out to lunch for office birthdays is your idea of satisfying employee engagement, it’s time for you to rethink the way you’re doing things. Millennials are happiest when they feel genuinely connected to their co-workers. Find projects and opportunities for Millennials to get involved in teams and projects that matter to them. Tap into the needs of the “wellness generation” by making sure employees’ physical and mental health is being considered.

Earlier this year, I created a campaign, SheFactor, to empower young women to live more authentic lives. What started with a book titled SheFactor — Present Power, Future Fierce, would become a lifestyle brand dedicated to this model of retaining young women by empowering them. Together and alongside my Gen Z daughter, Tori, we designed an app, launched a podcast, and have been building squads, or “chapters” that will help companies large and small create a community for their female Gen Z and Millennial employees to keep them from absorbing the 18th-month curse. In our squads, we have created a forum for them to know, prioritize, and honor their individuality, bringing out the best in them.

Give them your story
To avoid the ‘18 month turn-around’, I strongly suggest that leaders tell stories that make people trust them with power. Anecdotal insights are severely under-resourced assets in the workplace. Chances are you’ve been in their same shoes from time to time, and surprisingly, vice versa. People enjoy connecting; after all, that’s what this is all about.

Through Tori, I witnessed firsthand the challenges and under-preparedness that young college-aged women face coming into the workforce. It seemed the advice she was getting was graduate, and then go figure it all out. “The real world,” as they say.

I believe now what I believed then, that with even a bit more encouragement and support—which the SheFactor Squads are providing, we could generate real change in women’s careers, happiness, and lives.

It very quickly became apparent to me that my perspective on my daughter’s post-college life was not unique. Back in 2014, I sold the $100 million Camp Bow Wow brand, a franchise I built from the ground up. It was the opportunity of a lifetime to meet and get to know my women franchisees and Camp Bow Wow staff across the United States. Today, I am a state-wide elected official in Colorado where I proudly represent one of Colorado’s largest employers, the University of Colorado, on the Board of Regents. This role has allowed me to spend the last couple of years talking with voters, students, parents, and others who share the same point of view—that we must focus on preparing and supporting our next generation of leaders: Gen Z and Millennial women.

My experiences and perspectives added up to something great. And, so will theirs.

Heidi Ganahi is a businesswoman, entrepreneur, author, and elected member of the University of Colorado Board of Regents. She is the founder and former CEO of Camp Bow Wow, an international pet care franchise. In 2019, Ganahl launched SheFactor, a book, mobile application, a national lifestyle brand —and movement—dedicated to empowering women to empower women.

What's Cookin'

SIMPLY GOURMET RECIPE FOR “WALDORF SLAW”

 

Simply Gourmet by Rivky Kleiman
Photo by Moshe Wulliger

This crispy slaw delivers satisfaction with every crunchy bite.

1 (14-oz) bag shredded cabbage
1½ cups shredded red cabbage
2 Granny Smith apples, with peel, cored and cut into matchsticks
2 ribs celery, diced
½ cup fresh blueberries
½ cup red onion, diced
½ cup whole cashews
Dressing
½ cup apple cider vinegar
⅓ cup sugar
⅓ cup canola oil
½ tsp sea salt
¼ tsp black pepper
¼ tsp onion powder
¼ tsp garlic powder
1. In a large serving bowl, toss together cabbages, apples, celery, blueberries, red onion, and cashews.
2. Prepare the dressing: In a small saucepan, over medium heat, bring vinegar, sugar, and oil to a boil. Stir in salt and spices. Set aside to cool slightly.
3. Pour dressing over salad; toss to coat well.
Tip
This salad gets better as it absorbs the dressing, so it’s perfect to prepare in advance.

Cover Showcase

John Cronin CEO of JOHN’S CRAZY SOCKS! Spreading Happiness One Pair of Socks At A Time!

Article by Joanna Buoniconti, Staff Writer

Would you pursue your dreams if you were not afraid of failure? Wouldn’t

everyone? And would the world be better off if we did? Everyone has a dream

buried deep inside their soul. But the conquering of fears, is what separates the

dreamers from people who are successful while doing what they love! For the

younger generation, it is frightening to take risks early on in their career field.

But the best cure for fear is to channel it into something that you are passionate

about. The founder of the well-established John’s Crazy Socks , John Cronin, has

had to overcome a lot of adversity in his life, due to having Down’s Syndrome, but

he made the decision to not let his fear stop him. And it’s safe to say that he has

not looked back since then. Now, John is fulfilling his dreams of spreading

positivity and happiness to individuals across the globe through every pair of

socks that are sold!

Similar to that of all good business moguls, the idea for John’s Crazy Socks came

about sporadically. John was due to graduate from high school in June 2017, and

in the fall of 2016 he began to explore his options for after graduation. Looking

around, John wasn’t really fond of any of the options that he saw. Coincidentally

at the time, John’s father, Mark Cronin, was doing start-ups for various online

companies; and John, having the good entrepreneurial spirit that he does,

approached his father about starting their own business venture together.

John came to his father with multiple ideas for their company. “The first one that

he suggested was a fun store, we still really have no idea what a fun store is.”

Mark recalls with a chuckle. “John came up with another idea, which was to start

a food truck. He got the idea from the movie Chef, starring Jon Favreau, it’s about

a father-son team starting a food truck, and he liked that idea. But we ran into a

problem…[we can’t cook.]” John sheepishly adds.

From the brief excerpt of dialogue above, you can get a sense of John and Mark’s

dynamic relationship. If two people were ever destined to launch a company

together, without a doubt, it is these two. For most people, going into business

with a parent would be nothing but shy of a disaster; but John and Mark’s

relationship is so pure and charismatic, they truly consider themselves to be their

other’s best friend. Their enthusiasm for their project and for working with each

other was equally apparent as it was inspiring. They truly want to spread as

much positivity into the world as possible, and the heart of their company is

them. When you look at it that way, they couldn’t help but succeed!

Why did you choose socks?

John had always been a collector of funky and colorful socks, so much so, that

before they started the company John and Mark would often spend hours driving

around looking for colorful socks. When he approached his father with the idea

of starting a sock company, it was destiny in its truest form!

When asked whysocks specifically, John states, “I wore crazy socks my entire life. They are fun, colorful and creative. They let me be me.” Part of their success is largely due to

the positive essence of the company’s image, but also thanks to word of mouth

from their large following and media coverage. Furthermore, the positive

response that they received so early on enabled them to grow very quickly and

has now given them the title of being the largest sock company in the world (they

sell over 1900 different pairs)!

On the website, their mission is one of the first things that your eye is drawn to. It

reads: ” Spreading happiness through socks.” Which, in knowing both of the

owners, I can attest wholeheartedly to the fact that they take the mission

extremely personally. There are a lot of companies out there who fail to take

their mission to heart in the same extent that John’s Crazy Socks has. As a strictly

online retailer, they use primarily e-commerce, but it has not stopped them in

any way from being regarded as a top social enterprise.

Mark, handles the business aspects of the corporation, and is very proud of what

it has morphed into within the last year and a half. They employ 30 individuals,

18 of which have a various disabilities of their own. They are trying to end the

stigmatism that disabled individuals do not belong in the workforce, by setting a

new precedence for all companies far and wide!

John truly has a heart of gold when it comes to connecting with his audience and

giving back. He doesn’t take any of the opportunities that he’s been given for

granted, and remains very humble in spite of his superstar status! Being the face

and spirit behind a million dollar corporation definitely has its advantages. His

favorite things about having his own company is his ability to give back to a

community that has lifted him up.

How do you remain so connected to your consumers with being a primarily

online retailer?

Along with making videos and doing speaking engagements, John does a lot of

fun things to help promote his business. For every purchase that comes in, John

hand writes a thank you note and includes a piece of candy. Additionally, they

make home deliveries to people in the areas surrounding Huntington, NY; which

is where he resides.

John being the true entrepreneurial role model that he is, has made it a priority

since the company’s launch to donate five percent of the company’s profits to a

charity of his choice. His favorite is the Special Olympics, an organization

that gives opportunities to kids and teenagers who have intellectual disabilities,

such as Downs Syndrome, to prosper developmentally through physical exercise

and building teamwork with peers. This charity has played a vital role in

allowing John to grow and become the man that we all know and love today!

On their website, the corporation has a whole plethora of socks pertaining to

Special Olympics. John wears multiple hats within the company, one, that people

often aren’t privy to, is that he designs several of the socks himself. All the socks

that they make are made in the United States, but they also get most of their

inventory from other companies that are located in various parts of the world.

Besides being a hard worker and an entrepreneurial mastermind, John is an

average twenty-year-old man. His favorite color is blue and he enjoys spending

time with his family and friends, especially his dad. In his free time, he loves

going to baseball games and going to the movies, his favorites are Mamma Mia 1

and 2. John is also a music buff, and savors singing in his breaks at the office. And

at the rate that he’s going, who knows, maybe we’ll see John’s name in big lights

one day!

A big animal lover, John is too busy at the moment to have any pets. But he

dreams of owning a Bison one day. Which would not be a pet that you could

necessarily cuddle with, but you definitely wouldn’t have to be worried about

your home being broken into. That is, if you could find a way to fit it into an

apartment…

John’s Crazy Socks is a company that I hope will create a standard for many more

companies to follow. John wanted a job, so he found a way to create one for

himself. Their mission in the workplace was to give opportunities to people with

intellectual disabilities and to create a new standard for diversity and acceptance

within the workplace. A disability does not rob people of their ambition, if

anything, it forces them to work harder towards attaining their goals. And in the

workplace, disability is not something that should be feared but rather

celebrated. John has Downs Syndrome, but that hasn’t stopped him from

achieving anything that he sets his mind to, in his words: “I have Down’s

Syndrome, Down’s Syndrome doesn’t hold me back!”

Someone’s enthusiasm and perseverance in a quest for their dreams is nothing

short of inspiring to bear witness to. Fear is not something to be given into,

instead it should serve as a motivating force. What would the world be like if

John had not been courageous enough to follow his heart and start his own

company? For one, the world would be a lot less of a colorful place and we would

be deprived of the best socks known to man! John was put on this earth for a

reason, as is everyone else. Creativity and capability know no bounds, and the

sooner we all realize this, the better off the world will be!

For all of your future crazy sock needs, visit johnscrazysocks.com

 

Cover Showcase

Former QVC Star Host Lisa Robertson pursues real-life Fairytale

Article by Joanna Buoniconti, Staff Writer

To most people, financial success can be seen as the golden ticket to ensuring an easy lifestyle. But for anyone who has ever seen the beloved film, Pretty Woman, or like Lisa Robertson has; a mere fifty million times. All hopeless romantics know that the mystical illusion of the life that success can offer can be very unmeaningful when you don’t have a grasp on the things that are truly important in life. To love and to be loved, and to find true happiness. The illusion is often heightened when someone becomes a prominent figure in the public eye but as every self-made entrepreneur knows, success cannot be derived without a fair share of blood, sweat, and tears.

Former QVC star, Lisa Robertson, understands this better than anyone. Even though she maintained a role on television, she has had her fair share of struggles. Yet, Robertson was able to push through the adversity and make a name for herself through her unrelenting drive. It is her love for her chosen career path, to which she credits her success as a TV personality and the popularity of her fashion and lifestyle company.

Robertson’s love for fashion and home decorating started at a very early age, thanks largely to her mother. When I had the pleasure of interviewing her, she explained how her mother was very young when she had her and when she was a child, they did not have a lot. Nonetheless, Robertson remembers her mother using what she could to add little touches to their home and making it beautiful in the process, which as a little girl, amazed her to no end. It stuck with her how one little object could completely transform an area, and ignited the ember of creativity inside of her; one, that would later play a monumental part in her career field.

For the people that know Lisa Robertson, they will attest to the fact that her creative aptitude really began to shine when she started playing the violin. The small town in Tennessee that she grew up in, happened to have “one of the top youth symphonies in the country.” And Robertson was fortunate enough to be a part of it during the time that she was because it allowed her the opportunity to travel to many places around the globe. And in her stint as Miss Tennessee in 1989, she taught herself how to play the fiddle which further illustrates her strong determination for accomplishing whatever she sets her mind to.

Unfortunately, Robertson no longer plays either instrument due to her hectic schedule. As we grow up and mature, it’s human nature that life takes precedence and things that you once loved often take a backseat. But Robertson remains hopeful that in time, once her career slows down, she will take up the violin once again.

In the brief moments of free time that she has, Robertson enjoys nothing more than lounging on her couch and eating ice cream while cracking open a good book; but she admits that she is more partial as of recent to her first passion. Traveling to exotic destinations. The rich cultures of Egypt, Russia, and Romania for instance, have given her much inspiration which she carries into designing. She explains her passion for traveling:

“Traveling is one of the things that I love more than anything! And when I do it in the way that I love, I mean that I want to go somewhere that is very different from everything that I know. I want to see other people do what they do and live how they live in a very different society, different religion, different beliefs, [who] just have a different way of looking at the world. I want to see how [those people] do it.”

It is evident that Robertson likes to have her hands in everything she does. Upon starting her own company, she knew that she wanted to create a sense of community would be more rewarding than any monetary gain. When she worked at QVC, she had the opportunity to work with thousands of different companies, therefore, she soon realized that being transparent with customers is not something that many companies did. And similar to every other area of her life, Robertson wanted to push the bar and create an honest, close-knit community with her audience; to allow them to get to know her as herself, not as someone who is un-relatable because of her time in the limelight.

With not having a glamourous upbringing, Lisa has managed to stay true to her roots and has remained remarkably grounded amidst being constantly in the public eye. Her authenticity is clear to her customers and is probably the reason why her company has flourished in the way that it has; because her customers can resonate with her.

How did Lisa Robertson get her start in online retailing?

Lisa Robertson was a valued member of the QVC family for twenty years, which fortunately helped to give her the platform that she now has today. Shockingly enough, Robertson did not enter into her career with the intent of going into online retailing. While in college she actually majored in long-term health administration, but her first job in online retailing was for a small network called SHOP-AT-HOME, which was located out of Knoxville, Tennessee. And I think it’s safe to say that she has come a long way since then!

Why did she want to launch her own company?

Although she ultimately chose to part ways with QVC back in 2012, Robertson valued her time there and has nothing but fond memories of her former workplace:

“I was there for the best part of the industry; I was there for the part of the industry where it was a lot of fun and I couldn’t wait to go to work. My friends were the people that I worked with; it was something that I couldn’t have been happier doing and giving twenty hours a day to…One of the most rewarding experiences for me was being a big part of Super Saturday [the event on QVC]. Because of my own experience with my mother; I lost my mother due to ovarian cancer. And being able to really help raise money for OCRF and the research that they’re funding that can make such a huge difference in women’s lives was definitely one of the most rewarding things that I’ve ever done.”

Robertson is involved with many projects, but one that she is particularly fond of is called Beautiful Self. Due to losing her mother to cancer, she is more sensitive to the women who fight the horrendous disease and has partnered with this organization on a number of occasions. Beautiful Self is an organization that promotes self-love and helping women to rediscover their femininity, amidst the darkness of life.

It is geared towards women who have breast cancer, ovarian cancer, or who have stage IV. The two women who started the company: one is a professional makeup artist and the other is a professional photographer, they pamper the woman for a day by having their hair, makeup, and wardrobe done. Then they take beautiful, candid pictures of the women to boost their confidence and self-esteem.

Robertson is not only partial to the organization because of her personal experiences with cancer, but mostly because of the powerful and necessary image that they promote. Many women who have undergone treatment for cancer lose all shred of self-esteem, to the point that they don’t recognize themselves when they look in the mirror. Cancer is a tough enough disease to fight, without the risk of losing sight of who you are. Therefore, it is important to facilitate feelings of empowerment to these women, and make them feel beautiful so they can continue fighting this uphill battle.

The drive that can be found within the heart of every successful person is unmatched anywhere else. Because they understand the sacrifices that are necessary to achieve their goals in life; and they willingly put every piece of their soul into their work because they know that the reward will be greater than anything else. Lisa Robertson is a strong advocate of doing what you love. For people that are entering into their career or have goals about starting their own business, she wants to grant the gift of some brutal honesty. No matter the facade, no one’s life is perfect. I really enjoyed getting to know her, because she is an incredibly grounded and humble human being. Her positivity, creativity, and determination are the reasons for her popularity:

“Fairytales of our youth, are only fairytales. And that’s because in fairytales they lived happily ever after, and everything is solved. In real life it’s just never going to be that way, it’s not meant to be that way. It’s not going to be easy, but if you love it it’s going to be something that you want to do anyways.”

Genuineness is not something that can be faked, and Robertson is the definition of genuine in every sense of the word. She has a big heart and has used her career to promote good in the world through lifting other women up. A successful business women but a girly girl at heart. Whenever she is out in public it is guaranteed that she will be dressed in her happy colors pink or black, and sporting her favorite accessory: the chic Monaco bag, on her arm.

For all girls and young women alike, there is a piece of all of us that aspires to have the stereotypical fairytale. We are all taught from an early age that they are unrealistic. However, Robertson is a great role model for all women that if we follow our passions and work hard enough we can have our own real-life fairytale, dreams can come true!

To visit Lisa Robertson’s retail website and Vlogazine go to;  http://www.Lisarobertson.com

Cover Showcase

How “HOT BENCH” Judge Tanya Acker found her Passion and Chased It With her Heart!

Interview article by: Joanna Bunoconti, Staff Writer, HCWM

“Passion” and “money” are two words that have the power to bring out both the best and worst in people. Until fairly recently, it has not dawned on people that they can have
the best of both worlds when pursuing a career. Historically, lawyers pursued that profession due to the level of success that they could hope to obtain. When I had the
pleasure of speaking with civil litigator and one of the stars of the popular daytime television show Hot Bench, Acker, offered a refreshing perspective as to how she
came to pursue a career within the legal field; and how her passions lie, not in her own accomplishments, but in helping the less fortunate.

To many it may be seen as a dramatic shift, but she claims that it’s one of the best
decisions that she has made!
“I went into law for a number of reasons. One: I wanted a career where, frankly, I knew
that I would always be able to support myself financially. I didn’t want to get short shrift
to the necessity of trying to make a way and [wanted] to be financially independent. The
second reason though is, that law is kind of the gateway to so many other different
kinds of things! It enables you to see the world in a certain way, which is helpful in terms
of solving problems whether in court or outside of it. I think it’s the closest thing that you
can get to a professional liberal arts degree.” Acker adds with a chuckle, “A law degree
is like the English major of professional degrees!”

A career in law is not for everyone though! A human race comprised entirely of lawyers
is enough to leave a bad taste in anyone’s mouth. Acker is a big advocate for pursuing a
career within the legal field because it allows her to be vocal and have some influence
pertaining to causes that she is heavily active in.
One cause that Acker is especially expressive about is working with the underprivileged,
and people who didn ‘t have the best upbringings. The organization, Public Counsel,
which is the largest nationwide provider for free legal services holds a special place in
her heart because it was her first pro bono project upon receiving her degree–and is
one that she’s stuck with ever since!
From a recent trip to Haiti, Acker recounts her experiences volunteering in a clinic on
the coast in one of the poorest countries in this hemisphere.
“I saw poverty there, but I did not see despair; because even in the midst of all that
there was a real elegance and dignity in [their] existence, regardless of whatever the
circumstances were!”
Seeing people living in such diminished circumstances really put things into perspective
for Acker. She recalls being inspired by the undeniable will of the Haitians, and their
ability to turn even the direst of situations into something profoundly good.


Acker did not pursue a career in law because she wanted to be rich or famous. Quite
the opposite, actually. She pursued it because of her insatiable yearning to help people.
The resulting fame and hit television show was a rather unexpected bonus! To everyone
success means something different. Making loads of money can establish financial
success. But is the amount of money in your bank account a sure fire way to measure
success? To some yes, to people like Acker, absolutely not. Acker measures her
success by her ability to help others, not in terms of financial success.
Finding a profession that you’re passionate about and pursuing it with every atom of
your existence is not always easy. In fact, the only guarantee that we seem to be given
is that it never is! But once you find your niche, all the work that you had to put forth to
get there is eventually rewarded!

What’s it like working on a television court show?

Premiering in 2014, the soon-to-be hit television show Hot Bench made its debut and so
did Acker. The show was originally proposed by another well-known TV judge, Judge
Judy Sheindlin, who originally got the idea while witnessing a three judge panel in
Ireland. Acker’s first time meeting Judge Judy was during the audition process, to which
Acker admitted being a little starstruck.
Seeing a week’s worth of cases in one day can be undoubtedly tiring. Her two co-stars,
Judge Dimango and Judge Corriero, offer a diverse legal background, having both
served as judges in New York City. Acker is fortunate, however, to have co-stars with
remarkable senses of humor, which can be particularly useful when lightening the mood
in tense courtroom situations.
Similar to every other successful entrepreneur out there, Acker owes her success to her
hard work and determination. Although she is one of the stars of the third most popular
show on daytime television, you would never guess that she is a celebrity when
speaking to her. She is an extremely grounded and charismatic person, who in no way
takes any of her fame to her head.
“I am incredibly honored to be where I am today, and to have the platform that I do!”
Having her own firm and working alongside many esteemed politicians and lawyers
from rather early on in her political career undoubtedly prepared her for where she is
today. A civil litigator’s role is to hear the two sides to the cases, and to use that
knowledge to get to the heart of the matter at hand before making a ruling. Furthermore,
because Acker and the two other judges have a relatively brief window of time in which
they are able to examine the cases, her extensive legal background allows her to
discern the truth early on; this technique has come to work very much in her favor while
working on a show.
While she is on television, she is first and foremost a human being–a woman
nonetheless! She is a huge animal lover; she has a black poodle named Maximus
Justice (Max for short). In her spare time, she loves to be outdoors; she relishes finding
stolen moments of calm and silence amidst nature while seeking refuge from the chaos
that consumes her everyday life. When she can get away, her absolute favorite place to
travel to is Paris. One of her favorite activities to do outside includes horseback riding,
which she admits that she no longer does as much as she would like to. A big seafood
fanatic, her love for the outdoors segways into her food preferences!
Aside from being forced to wear that judicial robe, Acker is quite a lover of fashion. She
loves to wear pops of color that bring out her femininity, such as red and smokey pink.
Although she went down an entirely different path compared to the one that she had
initially envisioned, her love for the arts and literature remain strong. An avid reader at
heart, she has developed quite a liking for historical fiction as of late– specifically great
writers, who can take events from the past and morph them into gripping fictional
stories.
Upon talking to and getting to know Acker personally, her ability to lead primarily with
both her emotions and instincts intact, stood out to me. Purely based on the fact that
when we think of people working within the legal field, it is the image of stoic and
abrasive individuals that come to mind. In the courtroom, judges are often taught to lead
with their head and to place their emotions to the side. For the reason that Acker is
more personable and transparent than most, she was an absolute delight to speak to!
Acker, first and foremost, is a testament to all women entering into their careers that you
can pursue what you’re passionate about and still make a living. She is successful in
every sense of the word, because she has an unmatched drive for her line of work.
Long gone is the archaic ideology, to which you have to sacrifice one for the other. In
short, a career that you’re not excited about isn’t worth pursuing. Acker was fortunate
enough to have the support of her family and friends when choosing a career.
Unfortunately, not everyone is that lucky. But no matter their past, everyone has
greatness inside of them. And for many, passion is the enigma that ignites the flame!

 

Cover Showcase

“THE PILLOW GUY” MIKE LINDELL TALKS ABOUT HIS JOURNEY OF STRUGGLES TO AN ENTREPRENEUR WITH SWEET DREAMS!

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW

By: Claire Crowley, Staff Writer

Mike Lindell’s journey from a struggling entrepreneur to “My Pillow” fame is hardly a fanciful bedtime story. I spoke with the man who’s helping American to sleep better at night about how he turned My Pillow from a dream into a multi-million dollar company and about his plans for the future.

Lindell speaks in the same bombastic tone that most people have become familiar with by watching his My Pillow infomercials. It’s an extroverted version of Lindell that he says is quite different from how he acted as a child growing up in Minnesota.

“I was very shy growing up and I had a fear of rejection,” stated Lindell. As he grew older, that shyness and fear were quickly quelled by entrepreneurial ambition. Working at a drive-in and a grocery store in his teenage years “were the last jobs I had where I worked for someone else,” explained Lindell.

When his sister’s waterbed leaked, flooding the carpet in her apartment, Lindell saw a business opportunity. He started down his path to entrepreneurship by opening a carpet cleaning business. Entrepreneurs “reverse engineer,” stated Lindell, they “start with the problem first.” Lindell’s knack for reverse engineering would later become the essence of his My Pillow success, but not before drugs and financial strife would leave him with many sleepless nights.

Addictions to drugs and alcohol lead Lindell to a stint in a rehab facility in California, but his preoccupation with entrepreneurship distracted him from focusing on sobriety. While at rehab, Lindell witnessed the popularity of lunch carts in the area. Long lines of businessmen would swarm the carts every afternoon. It was a foreign concept, one that he hadn’t yet seen in Minnesota.  Recognizing a need for a similar business back home, Lindell decided to try his luck in the food and restaurant industry. Upon returning to Minnesota, Lindell bought five lunch carts and later expanded, buying several bars on contract for deed. Success was fleeting. Lindell admitted that the food and restaurant industry was “probably not the best business for someone with an addiction” and he found himself broke and battling a cocaine addiction, until one night’s sleep changed his life forever.

In 2003, the idea for My Pillow came to Lindell in a dream from God. “The logo for My Pillow came first,” said Lindell. “I woke up that day and wrote the logo all over the house,” he said. It was an act that he said his daughter described as “random.” A religious man, Lindell credits God for designing the blue, cartoonish characters that make up the soft, dreamy looking My Pillow logo.

While Lindell claims that God gave him the idea and logo for My Pillow, God left it up to Mike to provide himself with the blueprints for designing the pillow . The process of creating the perfect pillow took months, beginning with Lindell reverting to his knack for reverse engineering. Lindell recalled the sleep problems that he experienced as a child, problems which could have been eliminated with a properly designed pillow. “Sleep is about the distance from your head to your bed,” said Lindell. Determined to fill that distance with the perfect pillow, he recognized the need for a pillow design that would not go flat after several uses nor need to be doubled over in order to provide a good night’s sleep. “I wanted to make a pillow that was adjustable so I began experimenting with different foams and fillers on my deck.”

After finding an adjustable foam to fill his pillows, Lindell hit a roadblock. The foam couldn’t be cut into the size and shape that his My Pillow design called for. A lone hammermill in a farm field near his uncle’s house caught his attention. Lindell repurposed a hammermill, a machine that resizes corn and grain for farm animals feed, into a pillow foam cutting machine. “I finally had the perfect pillow,” said Lindell.

Confident with the perfection of his invention, Lindell set out to replace the generic pillows on America’s beds to his newly designed My Pillows. He ordered 30,000 plastic bags bearing the God-created My Pillow logo and began going door to door to box store buyers. “I was turned down everywhere I went,” said Lindell. Undeterred, Lindell opened a My Pillow kiosk where he made his first sale. “It’s a feeling that couldn’t be described, the feeling of selling something that you made yourself.” Despite receiving positive feedback from early My Pillow customers, Lindell couldn’t make a living selling a small volume of pillows at a kiosk. He expanded his market to consumers at state fairs and home and garden shows. He also experimented with print advertising.

My Pillow gained local popularity and it became apparent that Lindell’s true genius was not in designing the My Pillow product itself, but in creating the marketing plan behind the pillow. He applied his principle for reverse engineering yet again, but this time the problem that needed to be solved was not a wet carpet or a restless night’s sleep, the problem was that people weren’t excited to buy normal, generic pillows. The solution was a multitude of late night commercials that launched Lindell into unexpected fame.

“I had always wanted to do an infomercial,” Lindell said. The night before the filming his first My Pillow commercial, Lindell was reading his script and the shyness from his childhood returned. “I had never been so scared.” Despite his fear, Lindell ignored suggestions that he should not be in the commercials himself. It was a decision that would make Lindell, the middle-aged and mustached former cocaine addict, the face of My Pillow, the product that millions of Americans would soon enthusiastically rest their heads on every night.

“I was living in my sister’s basement, still broke when the commercial aired on October 7, 2011, at 3 o’clock in the morning,” said Lindell. “Forty days later we had five hundred employees and took in millions of dollars.” The commercials are straightforward and feature Lindell holding a My Pillow and touting its selling points which include being American made, machine washable and the necessary ingredient for a restful night’s sleep. “I credit God for giving me a platform,” he said.

Lindell’s financial and personal struggles are now behind him. Naming both Donald Trump and Jesus Christ as his biggest inspirations, Lindell has sold more than 41 million My Pillows. Lindell does not define success in terms of numbers. “Success is helping as many people as I can. Helping people doesn’t seem like work,” he said.

As for the future, Lindell is expanding the My Pillow brand to include mattress toppers, bed sheets and travel pillows. He’s also working to create a rehab facility to help those battling drug addiction. Whatever dreams come to him next, you know that they’ll find him while he is sleeping well.