Heroes Through a Modern Filter

By Katherine Fry, CEO/President of Mediafy Communications Group

The heroes of yesterday were rugged, unforgiving, and victorious. The majority of early leaders got to their positions of power by whatever means necessary. They were outspoken, abrasive, and even violent, but during that day and age, those qualities were revered. Those were the qualities successful men had. However, as time marches on, many individuals argue that these heroes are undeserving of our adoration and/or attention because of their behavior. Are these people putting a modern filter on the actions of yesteryear and trying to reprehend history instead of embracing the past?

In today’s modern age, many of our traditional heroes are being attacked. Winston Churchill, the man heralded by many as the “man of the century,” is now criticized by his detractors as a racist. As a young lady, my father explained to me, “Had it not been for Winston Churchill, we would all be speaking German today.” Indeed, Churchill stood up to the tyrant Adolf Hitler, while his parliamentary contemporaries wanted to “sue for peace.” As a result, the Tory party replaced British Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, with Winston Churchill, and with the support of the king and ultimately his party, Great Britain and the western world triumphantly defeated “the axis of evil.” Nevertheless, as many point out, Churchill had a dark side. “I hate Indians,” he once trumpeted. “They are a beastly people with a beastly religion.” And so therein lay the contradiction-the man who dared stand up to Hitler, and galvanized the world to ultimately follow his lead, nevertheless did so by whatever means necessary. Should his success be belittled in today’s society because he would be deemed racist? Following this bandwagon, General Patton, a man instrumental in leading U.S. forces during WWII, is today criticized as a bad husband, an uncaring father, and insensitive to soldiers bludgeoned by war and inflicted with PTSD. Patton had a hard-driving personality and a strong disbelief in the medical condition “combat stress reaction,” also then called “shell shock.” Should his lack of compassion for the people around him discredit the success he had in the military?

It is not only men that are in danger of the scrutiny of today’s society. Eleanor Roosevelt is criticized by the LGBT community for being a closeted lesbian. Jacqueline Kennedy is criticized for truly achieving nothing except dressing well and “riding on the coattails of her husband.” Even the memory of the beloved Princess Diana is under siege. As a young lady, Princess Diana represented my role model of choice and is still significant in my life today. While navigating puberty, anxiety, depression, and teenage rebellion, my role model provided a much needed stabilizing factor. Today, her loving nature and forgiving heart are still ideals I try to emulate. My dreams and future plans are still influenced by her; indeed, even my vacations to Europe reflect her spirit. Without the role model of Princess Diana in my life, I would not be the person I am today. With all of this historical revision occurring, it is daring us to take a closer look at our heroes. Should we hold history to today’s standards?

The young girl who would listen to her father’s stories about the bravery of Winston Churchill is now a grown woman leading a digital marketing company. Shaped by the stories of my youth, and influenced by the role model of my choice, I am proud of who I am and what I have accomplished. The theme of my life has been greatly influenced by many of the traditional heroes of the past and present. Young men and women growing up in the contemporary world face a plethora of challenges. From broken families, and drug addiction, to other modern day stresses, traditional role models often provide an outline for how to live one’s life well. While this is most certainly a personal choice, one can argue that the very fabric of our society, and daresay, our being, is the result of stories passed down through the generations. In a world full of troubles, for many, they represent a beacon of light. If we destroy our heroes, one can argue that we have very little left. It can be said that everyone and everything has a dark side of some sort. No one is downy white, and the world comes in shades of gray. We would do well to remember this when judging those from the past with the ideals of today. I for one am willing to look past the dark side of my role models. Instead, I choose to look toward their inherent goodness and be aware that, like my role model, I too am inherently flawed… and for me, that is okay.

Feminism, Personal Choice, and the Gender Gap In America

Why do Women Still Make Less Than Men In The Modern Day Workforce?

By Katherine Fry, CEO/President of Mediafy Communications Group

Today, studies exist indicating that, on average, women in the United States make $0.77 on the $1.00 to every man. This “gender gap” as it is called, has raised real concerns amongst feminists and non-feminists alike. The parameters of the study included all women in America versus all men in America, and did not take into consideration work parity or differences such as full-time or part-time work. Many individuals felt that the lack of parameters in the study immediately debunked it, arguing that when analyzing males and females in similar positions, the gender gap dissipates, falling within the margin of error. However, this leads to an even bigger question-why are all the women in America making less than all of the men? Furthermore, who is accountable for this “gender gap,” and why does it exist?

As a female business owner, I often feel like a minority. Indeed, women are still a minority in the workforce, and even more of a minority when it comes to business ownership. Being the owner of a successful business requires razor sharp accuracy, overwhelming commitment, and unmeasurable sacrifice. My days are long, my stress levels high, and the responsibility often daunting. Yet, I choose to continue because, ultimately, I truly enjoy having a career and a life based upon achievement. This, however, is not for everyone. This then begs the question: Do American women, on the whole, choose less stressful, lower paying positions, often eschewing business ownership or higher paying positions, because of the heavy toll it can take on themselves and their families?

An analysis of the positions in my own company reveals a possible answer. While the majority of the managers in my company are women, the sales department is comprised entirely of men, save for myself. Why is this? Years ago, I asked my father why he did not have any female sales representatives in his company, of which he is CEO. My father, a proud “honorary woman,” who has championed me every step of the way in my career, sat back in his chair and answered me candidly. “Katherine, dear, I tried hiring a female sales representative a couple of years ago, but before she could start, her husband got transferred. I simply have not had any other women apply.” I heard him loudly and clearly. In this day and age, nearly sixty years after the advent of the feminist movement in the United States, the careers of wives often still take a backseat to that of their husbands.

Indeed, my company has employed female sales representatives in the past. The last one employed simply could not make it work, primarily because of issues relating to childcare. Sales jobs are typically low paying unless the sales representative produces. However, a successful sales representative often earns the most of anyone in a company-sometimes even the owner. Nevertheless, just like business owners, sales representatives work long hours, live under a cloud of stress, and sacrifice a great deal in order to make a hefty paycheck.

For many women, the jobs that pay a consistent salary or a consistent hourly wage, often represent a better alternative than the uncertainty of potentially higher paying positions. This is consistent because of societal responsibilities placed upon them. For example, if children are involved, women are often expected to be the family member retrieving the child from school, or the one to stay home if the child is ill. Women are also, on average, the primary family member expected to monitor the child’s homework, and take them to after-school activities. These responsibilities, one could assert, have contributed significantly to the gender gap.

Another issue contributing to the gender gap, is women opting out of the workforce entirely. I have some female family members and friends who have chosen to be full-time mothers and/or housewives, eschewing a career outside the home. Decisions such as these, arguably, also contribute to the finding of women making $0.77 on the $1.00 to men, since men in America very rarely have the luxury of making such a choice. However, the very fact that this statistic has been identified, means that women as a class are arguably hurting other women, albeit unintentionally, by choosing to make what they view as a “personal choice.” The saying, “The personal is political,” likely comes into play here. Essentially, their “personal choice” contributes to the gender gap, disheartening women who are battling it out in the workforce.

When individuals argue that women staying home is a personal choice, with little to no consequence on other women, one needs to look no further than “Brown vs. the Board of Education of Topeka,” 347 U.S. 483 (1954) where the Supreme Court ruled
“separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.” As a result, de jure racial segregation was ruled a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution.” Simply put, segregation in our society based on race is illegal. Consequently, one can also argue that segregation in our society based on gender is illegal. Perhaps this is an extreme example, but if a certain amount of African Americans decided to remain enslaved, would not other African Americans find this unacceptable? Following this logic, when a certain amount of American women decide to remain at home, should not other American women find this unacceptable? The assertion that women staying home is equal to men in the workforce is arguably a violation of the 14th Amendment of the United States. Separate is not equal-ever. It is not equal in race, and it is not equal in gender. Following suit, tax breaks for families with a mother at home are probably a violation of the Equal Protection Clause, and a society that demands women to be the primary caregivers to children is a violation also. Equal is equal-period. As my husband puts it, equal rights means equal financial responsibility as well as equal pain and suffering.

It is fair to say, for the gender gap to truly disappear, deep seated changes in our society must take place. What are the solutions? Perhaps tax breaks for daycare, or expanding public education to six weeks of age. Another possibility is businesses receiving tax breaks for providing on-site daycare. Most significantly, women must be instilled with the desire to work, and to value the freedoms that a career provides them, such as economic independence and buying power. Furthermore, families must learn to share the burden of raising children and not expect mothers to be the primary caregivers. There are a plethora of ideas one can put forth that could help alleviate or even eliminate the gender gap. As a feminist, and as a business owner, I search for these solutions on a daily basis. However, today, in 2018, the gender gap still exists, and the struggle for gender equality is still very real and ongoing.

In conclusion, as a female business owner, I am in a unique position to help other women in the workforce, while also observing the societal forces that continue to hold us back. In order for the gender gap truly to be overcome in the United States, it can be argued that we must abandon the thought that women staying home is a personal choice of no consequence to working women. Instead, women must start viewing themselves as a class of individuals, deserving of more than “separate but equal.” Equal rights for all means equal responsibility for all. Only when we as a society make this paradigm shift, will the decidedly disappointing gender gap truly disappear.

Transformational Clients, Overcoming Client Turnover, and the Example of the British Royal Family

By Katherine Fry, CEO/President of Mediafy Communications Group

Transformation in the business atmosphere is integral for the growth of companies. Employees must inhabit an environment where they are valued, cared for, and their personal growth is at the forefront. By creating such an atmosphere, employees take care of the clients in a transformational manner. When new ideas are posed, innovation occurs, and employee turnover is minimal as well as the turnover of clients. However, in order for such an atmosphere to thrive, clients must be transformational also-meaning they want to employ the services offered to them in furtherance of a transformational environment for themselves and their clients. This is the key that makes the circle go “round and round.”

Clients typically cancel for the following reasons:

  1. They feel the service they have purchased is not being provided to them as promised.
  2. They do not see the value in what they have purchased.
  3. They have found a company that can provide to them what they perceive to be a similar service at a lower price.

My fifteen years in the business world have taught me how to overcome the majority of these objections. For example, by creating a transformational business environment, one can attract and retain competent employees who, because they feel valued, in turn, value the clients of your company. The environment in which they work fosters one where everything promised to a client is delivered and more. This should, in theory, eliminate the objection of a client claiming they did not get what they had been promised.

The second objection of clients not seeing the value of what they have purchased is consistently overcome by staying in contact with clients and explaining to them the value and benefits of what they are receiving. This is achieved by maintaining the manpower necessary to visit clients on a regular basis, so they do not feel forgotten. I have learned that a “neglected client” is an unhappy client. No matter how much work you are doing behind the scenes, if a client does not see your face at least fairly regularly, the turnover of this client is inevitable.

The third objection, comprised of finding a company offering what is perceived as a comparable service at a lower rate, is also overcome by staying in contact and establishing value. When the return on investment is more than the initial expense, the service paid for itself, and that is the ultimate goal. Tying in with the second objection, the value must be established in order for clients to resist being tempted to go with what they perceive to be a cheaper solution. As we all know, something cheaper always exists, but simply and truly, you “get what you pay for.”

After all of these factors have been taken into consideration, and preemptively dealt with, why does client turnover still occur? As previously stated, the circle of transformation must be complete in order for it to accurately work, just like the wheel of a car will not perform properly if it has a hole. Quite simply, transformative businesses require transformative clients-that is, clients who want to employ your services in order to contribute to the transformative environment they are fostering for themselves, their employees, and, in turn, their own clients.

A strategic partner I have has said to me, “I have fired clients, and I have let clients expire, but rarely if ever do I take them to court. If they do not value what I am doing, I will let them go.” She has a point. As a transformational business person, we need to pick like-minded clients. If we do not, the struggle is almost not worth it.

Surprisingly, the royal family of England is an excellent example of a transformational “company.” The Queen of England provides a constantly evolving environment for her family and employees. The mere existence of Meghan Markle in the royal family is indicative of the family’s ability to adapt. Twenty years ago, a divorced American actress would have never perceived joining the royal family as a positive career move, much less a possible lifestyle choice. Megan has been given the opportunity to take on a royal role and make it her own. Of course, there are guidelines, but the restrictions placed upon her are no more than those placed upon individuals within a corporate environment. Without its transformational nature, the British monarchy would have been thrown out long ago. All businesses, in order to stay relevant, must evolve and change.

In conclusion, there are three main objections put forth by clients regarding cancellations. While transformational working environments can adequately overcome these objections, client turnover can still occur if the clients themselves are not as adaptive to change. A broken wheel cannot turn, and in order for the wheel of transformation to go “round and round,” both vendor and client must share this same philosophy. If they do not, then no amount of hard work or innovation can overcome client turnover. Just as the royal family of England has found regarding their own family and employees, businesses must have innovation and transformation in order to survive and thrive.

Women in Business, Female Economic Independence, and the Spirit of Jezebel

Why Economic Freedom is Key to Female Autonomy.

By Katherine Fry, CEO/President of Mediafy Communications Group

The 1960’s represented a time of cultural change for women in America. Women banded together and fought for their rights, demanding acknowledgment as individuals and not just as marital property. By doing so, women won the right to a workplace without discrimination, the right to have their income counted toward home loans, the right to reproductive freedom, and even the right to keep their own last names. Women moved steadily into the workforce and for the first time since the outbreak of WWII the economy, as well as the social landscape of America, rapidly changed.

As the women’s rights movement progresses through time, there are still serious factors that derail our progress and development as individuals. One of the most serious factors is economic dependence on the male gender. As a female growing up, my mother stressed to me over and over, “You will go to college, you will have a career, and you will always work. You will never depend economically on a man because you never know when he might leave.” As a result, I got a college degree, a master’s degree, and further post-graduate work, ultimately becoming the CEO/President of my own company. To this day, my mother never hesitates to tell me how proud she is of me, and that while telling me those things as a child, she honestly thought her words “went through one ear and out the other.” I have demonstrated to her through my life choices that they most certainly did not.

Queen Jezebel, Feminist Icon

Despite my life choice of economic independence, I have family members and friends who have chosen otherwise. I have friends that are career stay-at-home mothers, friends that work as their significant other’s personal assistant, and a friend that chose to re-enter the workplace once her children were school aged. In all cases, these women gave up portions of their autonomy, because they did not control the checkbook, putting themselves in positions of being economically dependent on their husbands. Why is this dangerous? Many people argue it is not. These people may believe that women are meant to be dependent on men economically, or that taking care of the family and not working outside the home is the best option for women. They even point to the Holy Bible as vindication for this belief, referencing the book of Kings, and the ancient Phoenician Queen Jezebel. Anyone who has attended a fundamentalist Christian church is likely familiar with “the spirit of Jezebel,” that is, the “unholy spirit” that tempts women to wear makeup, have sexual freedom, and speak their minds to others, including their husbands. A beautiful, strong-willed woman, Jezebel did all of these things, and when her son died, she attempted to rule Judah on her own. In an act of independence, she confronted a rebellious commander, adorned in a fine wig and make-up, and this simple gesture resulted in her being thrown out a window and devoured by dogs. She didn’t even get a chance to plead her case or mourn the loss of her child before she was murdered for attempting to take control of her own life. Today, many fundamentalist Christians associate female independence as “the spirit of Jezebel,” and warn that this spirit is indicative of the downfall of our civilization. They argue that women and men are meant to work together but women are supposed to be submissive to males. They say that is the natural order and the way God intended.

Again, why is this belief dangerous? It is dangerous because, as my mother said to me, “You never know when the man might leave.” Just this week, a friend of mine lost her significant other in an automobile crash. Having put herself in a position of financial dependence, she now faces a very uncertain economic future. I personally know women who have suffered through a disastrous and abusive marriage, because they felt they could not economically survive without their husband. There are cases of healthy families with stay-at-home mothers, but an enlightened husband must be the breadwinner, and the wife must be willing to give up at least some, if not all, of her financial autonomy.

As a female business owner, I feel it is my duty to empower all of my employees. However, I especially feel an obligation to empower the women within my company. I am fortunate to have females in managerial positions who are transforming themselves, as well as our industry. By providing them careers, I am providing them with an outlet for their talents, as well as economic independence. As women, I feel strongly that we need to bind together, help one another, and support one another, especially in the workplace. Perhaps Jezebel, while demonized by many fundamentalist Christian churches, represents what we all should aspire to be-Queens in our own right, outspoken, and beautiful. Today, as a result of the feminist movement, we have a much better chance of achieving our goals, unlike the unfortunate Queen Jezebel, who met such a gruesome end.

In conclusion, the 1960’s represented a time of great economic and social change for women. While elements still exist in our society attempting to hold women back from economic independence, such as the notion of the “spirit of Jezebel,” we still have a much better chance of achieving economic freedom then our foremothers ever did. As women, economic independence is key to having autonomy over our own lives, wellbeing, and safety. Binding together as women is key to the success of our gender as a whole, and to our lives individually. Let’s allow Queen Jezebel to stand as a role model for what could not be in the Old Testament, but for what we can be today.

The Entrepreneurial Journey, Family Support and Success

Why The Emotional Support of Family is Key to a Successful Business

By Katherine Fry, CEO/President of Mediafy Communications Group

Ten years ago I made a decision-a decision that would ultimately change the direction of my life forever. Rather than remaining in England and working as a broker, or moving to Chicago for a cushy job in a financial firm, I decided to forge my own path and start my own business. I would return to my roots in the publishing industry, and at the same time assist in taking care of my ailing grandmother.

My father, an entrepreneur, provided me a great deal of emotional support. My mother did also, suggesting she might come and stay with me for a while, to make sure I knew my way around town. My grandmother, now living in an assisted living facility, encouraged me to come and live in her home. In turn, I promised to assist in her care and visit her daily.

This plethora of family support provided me a much needed fountain of strength, especially when things became challenging. After difficult days in the field, overcoming objections and convincing people to participate in my project, I loved coming back to a grandmother and her friends who provided me with a respite from the stress of my daily working life.

It is important to understand that when one embarks on a new endeavor, stress levels can run high, even if the stress is positive. In the early days, I often thought of my childhood role model, Princess Diana, and how the lack of family support in her situation ultimately, albeit indirectly, led to her untimely death and to the end of what I like to call “Diana Inc.” Regarding her first official royal tour in Australia, Diana stated that when she heard people saying “Oh, she (Diana) (i)s on the other side,” Charles felt quite “low about it, instead of feeling happy and sharing it.” In response to what would ultimately become the theme of their entire marriage, Diana stated,

“It was isolating, but it was also a situation where you couldn’t indulge in feeling sorry for yourself: you had to either sink or swim. And you had to learn that very fast.” “And what did you do?” the reporter asked. “ I swam.”

She swam-for the next fifteen years-most of it alone. But ultimately, Diana quit, citing lack of support on the part of the Queen, The Queen Mother, and Prince Charles. Without their love and support, she simply could not carry on her duties. The way Diana reacted is not uncommon. In fact, more than half of all businesses fail.

One of the primary reasons cited by business owners for the reason business failure occurs is the lack of emotional support provided by family and friends. For me, this support has remained a key factor in my success. For example, I chose a spouse who supports me emotionally and encourages me in my work. I knew from Diana’s failure, that the choice of a supportive spouse would be a substantial key in my success. At one point, my husband made a financial investment in my business, citing his faith in my business acumen. Another time, when a partnership upon which I had embarked became distasteful, my husband provided loving guidance on how to buy out the partner’s shares. Through it all, he has remained my rock and given me much needed trust, support, and encouragement.

In a similar manner, when Lisa Halaby married King Hussein of Jordan, she stepped into unfamiliar territory, as an American Queen in a foreign country. Viewed with suspicion by the people of Jordan, she did not exactly experience a fantastic “homecoming.” However, with the loving and unwavering support of her husband, Lisa (now known as Queen Noor) opened an office, hired a staff, and began offering micro-financing loans to poor Bedouin women making handicrafts from home. Queen Noor set up consignment agreements with local shopkeepers, subsequently spawning an entire cottage industry of women able to support their families. When the occasional husband expressed jealousy in the success of his wife, King Hussein personally stepped in and told the men that they should be proud of their wives, just as had tremendous pride in his own wife. Queen Noor went on to be the most successful Queen in Jordan to date, helping more people economically than any other person in the history of the country. She always cited the loving support of King Hussein as the key to her success.

In conclusion, businesses fail for many reasons, but a major reason is the lack of family support provided to entrepreneurs. Being an entrepreneur can be a lonely, difficult road. The support of family and friends is a major factor in long-term success. As indicated by the failure of Princess Diana in her royal role, all the money in the world cannot make up for the lack of emotional support. I have succeeded because I received this support from loving parents, a wonderful grandmother, and a husband that believes in me above all else. As entrepreneurs embark on their journey, it is important to create an environment where this need is fulfilled, or the business is likely to ultimately fail.

Entrepreneurship, Stress, and Self-Care

Entrepreneurship, Stress, and Self-Care

By Katherine Fry, CEO/President of Mediafy Communications Group

Entrepreneurial Self Care Steps For Creating And Maintaining A Transformational Workplace

As an entrepreneur, I have undergone a great deal of personal and professional stress over the last ten years. My devotion from the beginning of my entrepreneurial journey has always been to the clients. I swore to myself from the very beginning that I would do everything correctly, and never make a mistake. Like during my undergraduate and graduate degrees, I knew that if I did my homework correctly, aced all the tests, and never missed a class, I would undoubtedly make an A in the class. I approached entrepreneurship the same way. Just as in school, I crossed all the t’s and dotted all the i’s.

I gave it my all. For a while, I lived in my office, because I was afraid to take a salary. As a matter of fact, I did not draw a paycheck for 3 ½ years. I made 30 cold calls a day and I sold, sold, sold. I always answered the phone, I put myself last, and yes, the company got what it needed. However, my mental and physical health drastically suffered.

My teeth grinding became exacerbated to the point that my jaw would freeze shut. My anxiety levels became unbearably high, to the point I developed migraines. I gained weight, lost patience with my employees, and in many ways became an unpleasant person. There came a point where something had to give.

I have a strategic partner who believes strongly in branding oneself. She has her own website, writes books, and gives speeches. Essentially, she is a role model to others in the industry. Following her example, I thought to myself, “If I am going to brand myself, I must care for myself, and I must like myself.” This led to a profound paradigm shift.

In retrospect, my high stress levels and subsequent attitude had alienated some employees. My thoughts ran faster than they could work, and this made some employees feel as though I did not respect their time. I was short with them, and this led to bad attitudes. The bad attitudes ultimately led to the turnover. It became obvious that the first step in my self-care needed to be transforming myself from the inside out. My transformational journey can be summed up on the following steps:

1. Decide upon a leadership approach.

I decided to at least attempt becoming a transformational leader-that is one who provides a nurturing environment where employees are encouraged to learn and transform themselves as well as the company, in a professionally structured work environment. In doing so, I changed the lighting in the office, brought in a refrigerator with food and drinks, started offering paid vacation to people on salary and began offering continuing education to the staff.

2. Work through your managers.

I decided to adhere to the corporate hierarchy already in place and work through my managers rather than going directly to employees. This forces me to respect their time and not disrupt their flow of work because it is the manager who discusses matters with the employee according to the employee’s schedule, and not me. In many ways, this makes me “the good guy,” and perhaps makes me more approachable. If an employee has a legitimate concern, they might feel more willing to approach me with a solution.

3. Hire competent people

In the beginning, I had people in positions who were not qualified. As the business grew, it quickly became obvious that these individuals were in way over their heads, and everyone suffered. My stress levels skyrocketed, and my anger reached a boiling point. As the company grew, I upgraded my staff, allowing me to loosen the reins and put more responsibility on others.

4. Do not hire people who think they are doing you a favor.

I have learned that if someone says, “I don’t need the money,” or “I am just working here to help you out,” they need to be shown the door immediately. Entrepreneurs need people who need to work, who want a career, and who want to transform themselves as well as the company. If these motivations are not there, then employees develop bad attitudes, leave early, and remind you constantly that they are doing you a favor. As business owners, we need to pat ourselves on the backs and realize that we create jobs and we create opportunities for professional and personal growth. Employees that are money-motivated, and motivated to better themselves as well as the company, become a substantial asset. Anything else is unacceptable and needs to be cut loose. Employees that think they are doing you a favor by working for you merely increase stress levels in the long-run, and demotivates other employees. Keeping your employees all on the same page in terms of motivation is essential to keeping stress levels under control, and entrepreneurial self-esteem at the forefront.

5. Respect your own time, and then others will follow suit

I simply had to start making clients respect my time. In making myself constantly available, I allowed clients to essentially manipulate my entire day. While I treasure my clients and tell them they are welcome to call me at any time, I have learned that I am not always able to answer or drop everything to come and see them. I have a schedule of dates and times that often are scheduled out weeks in advance. I also blog at scheduled times, exercise, and spend time with my family. All of these activities are critical to self-care, and once I started respecting my time, others did also. This predictability in my schedule has contributed to much needed down time, where I am able to decompress and return to work refreshed.

6. Start exercising and eating right.

The stress of my career completely exhausted me by the end of the day. As a result, for many years, exercise of any sort remained completely out of the question. Consequently, I gained weight and became very physically uncomfortable. As part of my entrepreneurial self-care routine, I started working out with a personal trainer three days a week and made these times non-negotiable. While exercising, I do not see clients and I do not answer the phone. As a result, exercise has become an integral part of my life, and my stress levels have gone down substantially. Additionally, my adoption of a low-carb, high vitamin B12 diet has lowered my stress levels and literally changed my life for the better.

In conclusion, the starting and maintaining of a healthy business ultimately requires a physically and mentally healthy person at the helm. While the conditions of entrepreneurship make it easy, and sometimes even preferable to let yourself go, it simply is not healthy for the entrepreneur or the business in the long-run. Entrepreneurial self-care is ultimately a requirement for the creation and sustainment of a transformational working environment. By choosing a leadership style, refining it, and then bettering yourself as a leader, your business and entire entrepreneurial experience will be better for everyone involved. Ultimately, clients, as well as employees, will be encouraged to transform themselves and the opportunities provided by the business will become an overwhelmingly positive experience. Following the self-care steps outlined in the article will lower stress levels and lead to an overall happier, healthier company, with lowered stress levels for all.

Kavanaugh, Rules for Radicals, and the Politicalization of the Supreme Court

Kavanaugh, Rules for Radicals, and the Politicalization of the Supreme Court

By Katherine Fry, CEO/President of Mediafy Communications Group

In the UK, the Queen does not answer to anyone in the government. Her Queenship is not dependant upon pandering to special interest groups or negotiating with members of political parties. She is anointed by God-not appointed by the people. Therefore, she is answerable only to God, and not to the people. One of the weaknesses in the United States’ political system is that a great part of its existence revolves around favors, personal agreements, and sometimes payoffs. A beacon of light within all of this potential chaos is the Supreme Court of the United States. Once appointed by the president, and confirmed by the Senate and Congress, Supreme Court members, like the Queen, are answerable only to God and their conscience. Their vote cannot be bought and they do not have to answer to anyone-they are on the court for life. However, this makes the process of confirming a candidate all the detrimental, since it is like entering into a marriage where divorce is not an option. You have to make sure the correct choice is made at the onset.

Brett Kavanaugh, on paper, looks like an ideal candidate. A cum laude graduate of Yale Law School, he has had a stellar career in the United States Judicial System. However, because of the partisan nature of the American Political System, he is a declared Republican. Removing politics from the equation, he has, for all accounts, turned to legal precedent and the constitution when deciding legal cases. He has also stated that he considers the landmark abortion case Roe v. Wade to be the settled law of the land.

Women in the United States have fought hard to establish their rights to vote, to own property, to have their income counted when applying for a loan, to have access to birth control, and to have reproductive rights. For some, this is a crusade, because they are afraid of the loss of these rights. For others, these rights are now simply part of their daily lives. Brett Kavanaugh, because he is a Republican, and arguably a conservative, represents a threat to many women who fear the loss of the reproductive freedoms women in the United States currently enjoy. In a confidential 2003 email, Kavanaugh states that he isn’t sure all legal scholars would agree that Roe v. Wade is the “settled law of the land,” and argues that the Supreme Court can “always overrule its precedent.” Contention regarding Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings began shortly after a former lawyer of George W. Bush turned over the email to the Senate Judiciary committee.

This is a pivotal time on the Supreme Court’s history, with four conservatives on the Supreme Court out of the total of nine. Another conservative on the court could potentially upset the balance, and lead to the possible appeal of Roe V. Wade. Kavanaugh’s confirmation, then, presents a problem.

Having been raised by a feminist woman of the 60’s, I do not take our rights for granted. I have been sexually harassed, and I have faced discrimination in the workplace. I am thankful to have the “right to choose.” I know the struggle for gender equality is real and ongoing and I identify as a feminist. However, when I see the accusations being leveled against Kavanaugh, it takes me back to a book I read in college called “Rules for Radicals,” written by Saul Alinsky. What is happening to Brett Kavanaugh is literally a play by play of what this book advocates.

Alinsky’s First Rule Is:

“Power is not only what you have, but what the enemy thinks you have.”

If Kavanaugh is the enemy, then, according to Alinsky, we must scare him into thinking we have “information on him.” We must bring forward women he may or may not have known, and have them give testimony, real or imagined. Make him worry that more may appear. This may cause him to withdraw, to prevent any further damage to his reputation and career. Whether these women are telling the truth or not becomes irrelevant. The goal is to get him to step aside.

Rule Number Two Is:
“Never go outside the expertise of your people.”

An argument based upon the balance of the Supreme Court and its eventual repercussions regarding reproductive rights in America is arguably over the heads of many people, and a divisive one at that. Keeping the argument simple and dramatic is far more effective. Women coming forward and claiming molestation and potential rape is an offense to anyone, on the right or on the left. It garners popular support and gets you closer to the goal-having Kavanaugh step aside or not garnering enough bipartisan votes to be confirmed.

Rule Number Three:
“Whenever possible, go outside the expertise of the enemy.”

If Kavanaugh is innocent of the charges levied against him, then he has no experience in the area of molestation or rape. He is a conservative Republican, married with children. He works every day and then goes home to his family. Having accusations levied against him such as these is completely foreign to him. Most likely, Kavanaugh was blindsided. As a result, his reactions are angry and emotional. This matter, and how to react to it, are “outside his airspace.” An emotional response to the accusations strengthens the enemy’s argument that he is dangerous and untrustworthy.

Rule Four:
“Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules.”

Go back through Kavanaugh’s emails over the past 20 years and find something that does not agree with what he is saying now. Find old girlfriends who claim he misbehaved, creating a conflict with who he is now. bring into question the enemy’s credibility and reputation, creating more and more damage until all trust is gone.

Rule Five:
“Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.”

There is no doubt that Kavanaugh is facing ridicule. For what he is being accused of, there is no defense. Bringing up women from years ago when Kavanaugh was a minor, is arguably irrational but it is also infuriating. More importantly, it can also force the enemy into conceding. That is the goal with Kavanaugh. If the ridicule leads to him bowing out, then the “means was worth the end.”

Rule Six:
“A good tactic is one your people enjoy.”

Radical activists love nothing more than taking down a conservative Republican. Everyone avoids activities that are “un-fun”, but we all enjoy activities that bring results and actually work. Kavanaugh represents the stereotypical, privileged, conservative, pro-life male with a wife at home. What’s more entertaining than destroying him completely?

Rule Seven:
“A tactic that drags on too long becomes a drag.”

The accusations against Kavanaugh and resulting testimony are quick and dirty. This whole thing might be over tomorrow. Moments like this keep activists excited, involved and constantly coming up with new tactics. It is a radical liberal’s dream come true because there’s almost instant satisfaction.

Rule Eight:
“Keep the pressure on. Never give up.”

Continue introducing new tactics to constantly keep the enemy off kilter. When the enemy addresses and conquers one approach, hit with another. Keep attacking from all sides, never allowing the enemy to rest, recoup, recover, or re-strategize. With Kavanaugh, once one woman is derided, another one appears. Once one email is addressed, another is produced. It is a never-ending cycle of attacks, with the goal of getting Kavanaugh to either not be confirmed or to quit first.

Rule Nine:
“The threat is usually more terrifying than the thing itself.”

In order to defeat Kavanaugh, radical activists have accused him of wanting to overturn Roe v. Wade. This worst-case scenario is contrary to what Kavanaugh himself has stated that, in his opinion, this is the settled law of the land. He has acknowledged that others may disagree and that the courts could overturn the landmark case. But he has indicated his intentions are not to do so. Nevertheless, because of a confidential 2003 email, he has become the face of forbidding abortion in America-the big bad white male who wants to take away reproductive rights for women. Imagination can lead to imaginary consequences, and fear of those imaginary consequences leads to confirmation hearing being delayed, just as we are seeing now with Kavanaugh.

Rule Ten:
“If you push a negative hard enough, it will push through and become a positive.”

If more and more women come forward, detailing alleged instances of molestation and rape by Kavanaugh, even if it is not true, it could result in his nomination not being confirmed. The left then has a chance of getting a feminist pro-life candidate on the Supreme Court, swinging the pendulum in their favored direction. The ends justify the means.

Rule Eleven:
“The price of a successful attack is a constructive alternative.”

The successful alternative, in this case, is a democratic, pro-life candidate. Who has not molested or raped any of his or her significant others? At this point, Kavanaugh has been portrayed so poorly, that just about anyone without a love life appears better.

Rule Twelve:
“Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.”

Branding Kavanaugh as a molester and rapist cuts off his support network and isolates him from sympathy. It is easier and more effective to attack Kavanaugh personally, then to attack the Roe v. Wade issue directly. People fall faster than institutions. This may be cruel, but it is very effective, and it gets the job done.

In conclusion, Brett Kavanaugh may or may not be in favor of overturning Roe v. Wade, but the fear of him doing so has resulted in a play by play of “Rules for Radicals”. As a feminist in favor of reproductive rights for women, and one schooled in the methods used by radicals, I am more than aware of the tactics being used against Kavanaugh and why they are being used. But the bigger question remains; are we as Americans, pro-life or not, willing to sit by and watch a man’s life get destroyed because of the mere possibility that he might sway our Supreme Court in a conservative direction?

Leadership Styles, Transformation, and Success in the Business World

Leadership Styles, Transformation, and Success in the Business World

By Katherine Fry, CEO/President of Mediafy Communications Group

As many individuals with business degrees know, there are nine common leadership styles; transformational, transactional, servant, autocratic, laissez-faire, democratic, bureaucratic, charismatic, and situational. As a business leader, it is not only wise, but arguably essential, to ask oneself, “What type of leader are you?” It is also important to determine what type of leadership style best motivates ones team. Asking these questions not only assists business leaders in adopting successful characteristics for themselves, but it also assists them in selecting effective managers for their teams. Here, we will analyze four of these leadership styles.

Richard Branson

Transformational Leadership

In the marketing world, individuals are encouraged and even required to use their intellect. Websites, digital marketing, and marketing campaigns, all require an open environment that fosters creativity as well as critical thinking. This includes hiring professionals who are able to lead projects without a great deal of supervision, ultimately transforming the company as well as themselves. In order to have transformational employees, a company must have transformational leaders. In short, these are leaders who trust their employees and want them to contribute as well as grow. Company cultures with transformational leadership often provide continuing education to their staff, and reward “thinking outside the box.” Richard Branson is an excellent example of a transformational company culture. An overwhelmingly inspiring individual, everything from his social media to his public appearances oozes with transformation. Arguably, this is why he has been so successful in the business world.

Transactional Leadership

In contrast, transactional leadership is based more on a “carrot and stick” type of approach. In this leadership dynamic, employees must follow a clear chain of command, and not go outside “their lane.” Company cultures implementing this approach reward adherence to the rules, and are punished for breaking them. In public agencies, government, and even schools, the transactional leadership role is predominant. If a student follows the rules, they are rewarded. If they do well on a paper, they get an A. However, what is standard and effective in the public sector, often backfires in the private one. Critics state that transactional leaders do not foster creative thinking, and in fact, often penalize for it. Companies providing creativity to their clients often find themselves stifled by a leader utilizing this approach.

Autocratic Leadership

The autocratic leadership style is often employed by unseasoned business leaders, with little to no managerial experience. With time, and a willingness to learn, this can transform into a more advanced leadership style. However, during an autocratic leadership period, business leaders often display extreme control over their staff, rarely taking suggestions, and rarely sharing power. Companies with autocratic leaders typically have “stressed out” employees, high turnover, and a lack of intellectual stimulation amongst their staff. Business leaders who remain autocratic typically do not remain business leaders for long, because unhappy staff typically flee at the first opportunity. In the marketing world, autocratic leaders must “change or die.” Creative individuals will not stand for it, and non-creative individuals will flee from it. Schooling in management techniques can result in the dissolution of autocratic leadership, but the leader must be willing to change. If the business leader displays an unwillingness to transform their leadership style, the transformation is often made for them, through the business dissolving or being sold to another with more a more advanced leadership style.

Laissez-Faire Leadership

Laissez-Faire leadership or leadership led by “the invisible hand” is one in which employees are allowed to complete their tasks as they see fit. Business leaders who employ this approach have the ultimate task of completed projects, happy employees, and happy customers. However, leaders utilizing this approach realize their are various means “from A to D.” As a result, teams are encouraged to sort out the particulars themselves, as long as the final result is achieved. However, such a leadership style often results in a “double-edged sword”-happy employees but unhappy customers. When staff performance is monitored, productivity and quality can slip, resulting in details “falling through the cracks.” The Laissez-Faire leadership style is often employed by company leaders who view their jobs as a hobby, or who on the verge of retirement. While great in theory, it is very rarely an effective way to run a profitable and successful company. Employees need structure to achieve their deadlines, and structure often disappears in such a laid-back environment. Laissez-Faire leadership is often considered the opposite side of the spectrum from Autocratic; while one is often present at the beginning of a leaders career, the other is often often present at its end. Success is arguably found in the middle.

Conclusion

In closing, there are nine forms of leadership styles and four have been analyzed here. Transformational leaders encourage profit and success through the transformation of their employees and ultimately their company. Transactional leadership, while effective in the public sphere, is not nearly as effective in the private one. Autocratic and Laissez-Faire leaders represent extreme side of the spectrum, and companies as well as individuals often suffer as a result. Quite simply, Transformational leaders are open to transformation, and this leads to more effective leadership, happier staff, and more successful companies.

Press Release

Katherine Fry, CEO/President of Mediafy Communications Group in Chattanooga, TN., is pleased to announce the hiring of Martin Cooper as the company’s new Digital Search Specialist. A graphic design graduate of Montevallo University in Shelby County, Alabama, Martin moved to the Chattanooga area for its beautiful scenery and culture of outdoor sports.  The leadership team at Mediafy Communications are thrilled to have Martin on the team and look forward to watching his career blossom. Welcome, Martin!

 

Sales Executives, Sales Support, and the Royal Yacht Britannia

How Taking Away Tools and Benefits Ultimately Hurts Sales Organizations and Countries

By Katherine Fry, CEO/President of Mediafy Communications Group

The British Government decommissioned the Royal Yacht Britannia in 1997. According to the government’s official website, “On 23 June 1994, John Major’s Government announced there would be no refit for HMY Britannia as the costs would be too great. After a long and successful career spanning 44 years and traveling over 1 million miles around the globe, it was announced that the last Royal Yacht was to be decommissioned.

There was no immediate decision about a replacement, but the question of a new Royal Yacht became a political issue in the run up to the 1997 General Election. The Conservative Party’s Secretary of State for Defense announced that if they were to be re-elected, they would build a new Royal Yacht, funded entirely from public monies. However, the Labour Party opposed this, stating the expense could not be warranted given the state of the economy. After the election, the new Labour Government eventually confirmed in October 1997 there would be no replacement for Britannia.”

While to many this seemed like a practical decision, to others it appeared incredibly short sighted. With the royal family’s popularity at an all-time low following the death of the Princess of Wales, this decision could not have been altogether unexpected. Nevertheless, following my most recent trip to Scotland, I encountered a completely different and perhaps enlightening perspective.

For many months, my niece and I anticipated our invitations to dinner on the Royal Yacht Britannia. My husband purchased our niece a tiara at Universal Studios. Everything from our dresses to our nails had been planned to the finest detail. And the Brittania delivered. A very knowledgeable historian gave us a tour of the royal yacht, showing us everything from the former royal car, to where the Queen would sit and have breakfast. Most poignantly, and perhaps unexpectedly, our guide showed us the royal family’s sitting room and dining room, where multi-million dollar trade deals were stuck all around the world. Trade envoys, vying to open trade routes around the world for British goods, succeeded in getting individuals to the table on Brittania, where others had failed. Billions dollar deals were struck at the very tables and couches where we sat drinking champagne, pouring countless monies into the British economy. In truth, while the Labour Party in Great Britain viewed the Royal Yacht Britannia as merely an expensive toy for the British royal family, it actually functioned as a highly valuable sales tool for the the royal family and the British government. After the decommissioning of the yacht, Tony Blair expressed his regrets in not fighting this haphazard decision. He realized it was shortsighted, and ultimately hurt the British economy.

Shortsightedness in making business decisions is a common malady often affecting business owners. The Queen is, in effect, a sales executive for the country of Britain. She earns a commission of 17% on the gross profit brought in by all of the crown properties. The better she performs, the more money she makes. But like all sales executives, she needs support. And her majesty needs a vacation.

Being a sales executive is a tremendously difficult job. When I chose this as my career, I truly had no idea it would become not only a career, but also a way of life. I am always on call, always on my best behavior, and always having my customers at the forefront of my mind. Even on vacation, I am not truly on vacation, because clients still need my assistance, regardless of my circumstance. As a sales executive, and now a business owner, I am well aware that sales executives need support. Most importantly, they need the tools to succeed. Over the course of my sales career thus far, I have encountered hard-headed sales managers who felt that sales executives expected too much, and should thus be on commission only, with no benefits. Arguments for this include, “it makes then more motivated to sell,” “they are in control of their own destinies,” and “they put less drag on a sales organization.” However, in my experiences as a business leader, I have become convinced that putting sales executives on commission only is a grave mistake. Because they are not held accountable to the organization for which they work, they ultimately are not successful. In order to monitor the time of a sales executive, and to hold them accountable for their behavior during a sales day, that sales executive must be receiving an hourly wage. A smart sales organization also provides that executive the tools they need to be successful. Benefits such as paid vacation, a company car, and/or a 401k, not only enhance the life of a sales executive, but also increase employee loyalty. Ultimately, the entire organization benefits.

The life of a sales executive is incredibly difficult. As a sales executive for Great Britain, the Queen’s life, also, has substantial challenges. Her Majesty and her family must perform to earn their 17%. The Queen must generate enough interest in herself and her family that tourists will flock to Britain, visit her properties and buy her goods offered in crown property gift stores. She is constantly on display, with her every move scrutinized, and face the constant criticism upon her and her family for not inheriting and not “earning” her position. But the reality is, if the Queen does not sell, she does not get. Items such as the Royal yacht Britannia not only had a direct positive impact on the British economy, but they provided for the Queen and her family a much needed respite from constantly working for not only their country, but also their own livelihoods. When tools for success and benefits are taken away, sales executives can “lose their will to sell,” and then they truly do become a burden on the organization of which they are a part. If the Queen and her family are stripped of all their benefits, they may stop performing, with dire consequences not only to themselves but to the British economy as a whole.

As business owners, the well-being of our sales executives is paramount. Their positions are challenging, as well as stressful, and they need the tools and benefits for their own success as well as the success of the organization to which they belong. I, for one, no longer hire sales executives on strict commission. I provide them with a salary, as well as additional perks. As time goes on, my organization will provide them more. Punishing sales executives by taking away tools and benefits, as parliament punished the Queen by taking away Britannia, is a terrible mistake and very shortsighted. Let’s remember this when hiring sales executives and then when supporting them out in the field.