by Carol Fishman Cohen
A typical weekend morning; I'm on Twitter for a bit. I take a look at one of my favorite people to follow, @johnsonwhitney (Whitney Johnson, President, Rose Park Advisors, and HBR blogger), who always has something insightful to say. One of her tweets leads me to @AnneDGallaher (Anne Deeter Gallaher)'s piece called "How to Add Twitter to Your PR Mix in 9 Easy Steps." I click and find myself reading one of the most useful pieces I've seen on using Twitter. So I retweet it, using Anne's and Whitney's Twitter handles.
Within minutes, I receive a message from Anne, thanking me for retweeting her piece, and also letting me know that she herself is a relauncher (she returned to work after a career break)! We switch over to email so I can hear the whole story, which doesn't disappoint (relauncher stories are never dull, and each one is unique). I immediately ask if I can share on our blog and she graciously agrees.
What I like about Anne's story is her insistence on setting the highest standards for herself and her business. Also I admire her strong work ethic, a key element for entrepreneurial success. She lacked any formal business college courses as her bachelor degrees are in public relations and English. She relied on her siblings, who did have business experience; but mostly on her own instincts and her advisory board of experienced CEOs (smart move!). Also, she did not make any negative assumptions about how her clients, mostly men, middle aged and older, would react to her background as a relaunching mom. She now runs Deeter Gallaher Group, an award-winning creative services group, and told me the following:
"We do marketing, advertising, PR, digital, and social media. My story is different because I had ZERO business courses in college. A poor decision on my part, but I had no idea I would be an entrepreneur. I do, however, have a lot of entrepreneurial family background and all three siblings are business owners. My driving force was that if I was going to spend time away from our three sons and my husband, it would have to be for the highest amount of money the market would bear. Eleven years later, I have not looked back. I don't need to tell you that marketing/advertising/PR is one of the first line items that companies look to cut in a budget. Early on I asked six CEOs (five male and one female) to be on my personal board of advisors. They loved the idea and were so gracious to me; they never tired of my questions on the art of doing business and how to navigate everything from state certification to executive lines of credit."
Here's Anne's terrific relaunch success story: "I worked for five years as an editor in a Christian book publishing house straight out of college. Then I stayed home for 15 years to raise our three sons. I was able to work part-part-time editing and proofreading for my former employer and write a freelance article here and there. Not tons of money, but it kept my hand in the writing world. (Carol's comment: great strategy for keeping connected).
In 2000, I pitched an idea to a youth ministry to create a newsletter to help them raise awareness, tell their story, and solicit donors. They hired me and the success of this effort made me realize that the business world would pay market price for great communication/PR skills. I started small, in an office in our bedroom (does that sound familiar?) and then in 2008 moved to Class A office space and hired two employees. My company is not industry specific, we are leader specific-our C-levels rock-they do great work because they are driven to deliver, and they don't know any other way to operate. We are the same.
I speak to many women's groups and business/chamber/college groups and the biggest message I share is a Jonathan Winters's quote: "If your ship doesn't come in, swim to it!" No excuses. Work and set goals and you'll see great rewards. No client ever chose not to use me because I stayed home with our sons; in fact, the C-levels admired my path and all wanted to help me succeed. Most of my clients are men who lead significant companies. I have not found my path or my gender ever to be a disadvantage in my securing clients.
In 2010, I had the distinct pleasure, with the help of one of my clients, of inviting and securing Ford CEO Alan Mulally to be honored at a non-profit where I serve on the board. He is a global leader, and I couldn't help but think as we picked him up at the tarmac, "I was a stay-at-home mom of three, doing classroom bulletin boards, leading countless vacation Bible schools, and a Cub Scout Den mother for seven years. Now I'm spending time with a Fortune 7 CEO!"
See Anne's company website www.deetergallahergroup.com and make sure you check out her excellent article about Twitter and PR http://bit.ly/TwitterPR9EasySteps.
Carol Fishman Cohen (r) and Vivian Steir Rabin (l) are the co-authors of the acclaimed career reentry book Back on the Career Track: A Guide for Stay-at-Home Moms Who Want to Return to Work, and the co-founders of iRelaunch , a company producing career reentry programs, events, and content for employers, universities, organizations and individuals.
Interested in returning to work after a career break? Register for our Relaunch Coaching Circles and/or our iRelaunch Return to Work Conference hosted by Emory Goizueta Business School in Atlanta on March 29 and Bentley University in Boston on May 19. Additional Conferences planned for DC and NYC in 2011. Click here to sign up for our newsletter. It' s free! Carol and Vivian can be reached at info@iRelaunch.com or follow us on twitter www.twitter.com/irelaunch.
by Carol Fishman Cohen