15 Habits That Can Ruin A First Impression

The business world has become much more relaxed over the years -and that’s  a fabulous thing!

However -in some instances- it might not be as accepting as you think. While I am very much about being authentic, other people still make judgments on the basis of first impressions.

I am most definitely more about being the kind of person YOU want to do business with. It’s a karmic synergy and you’ll be more likely to attract more like-minded people to you and your business.

People looking to partner, hire, or buy from you will carefully dissect you if they are looking to engage and do business with you.

It’s what I like to call and am sure you’ve heard of: The KLT Factor (Know, Like, and Trust Factor).

The deeper the engagement or commitment at hand, the more they will want to know. It may not be fair (or even conscious), but some of our habits can trigger an adverse reaction.

So what do you do? Conscious reframing by doing your best to avoid them or correct them. Your success may depend on it.

Here are 15 Habits That Can Ruin a First Impression:

1. A weak handshake.

Handshakes in American society are still very telling. A solid handshake may go unnoticed or it may even send a jolt of positive energy. But a weak handshake may leave the receiver questioning your confidence and energy.

2. Inappropriate Attire.

So halter tops look great on you…AWESOME! But clothing that’s too revealing will get you attention, but quite possibly not the kind you want. Boring doesn’t equate to appropriate, neither does wearing a date night outfit. Choose a style that fits your industry and make it your own within reason. Few industries will welcome you in yoga pants.

3. Chewing gum.

You may like the taste and the motion, but chewing gum while meeting someone gives an impression of immaturity.

4. Arrogance.

The great speaker Walter Bond said: “Confidence is arrogance under control.” Learn the difference and people won’t think you are a jerk when they meet you.

5. Sloppy clothing.

Shabby chic does not mean dirty. Your clothes should be clean and neat. You can tell the difference between intentional business casual style versus someone who doesn’t wash or iron their clothes.

6. Bad breath.

This one is tough because you may halitosis and not even know it. And the truth is, no one really wants to tell you. Most bad breath issues come from food or poor dental hygiene. The good news is that you can remedy both. Keep fresh mints handy for after meals and take care of your teeth and gums.

7. Excessive texting.

When meeting people, if you can’t stop looking at your phone, or responding, you will send a signal that you find no one more important than yourself. You seriously CAN last 15 to 30 minutes without knowing what your kids are up to. Be present in the moment, that has more value than you believe.

8. Body odor.

Like bad breath, you may be unaware, and people struggle with telling you. Solution? Take showers, use deodorant, and wash your clothes. Also, lay off the perfume. Aromizing BO only makes it worse.

9. Being intolerant.

The PC police is overrated at times but in truth, most people really don’t want to offend others. When you engage in the business world, you make a conscious choice to deal with people of all types. When you show people you are intolerant, it makes them wonder what’s wrong with you. By all means, create conversations, but be prepared to handle difference of opinions with grace. It can be done.

10. Sexism.

Men and women will likely never completely understand each other, but that doesn’t mean they have to be disrespectful. There are natural and distinctive masculine and feminine traits that can appear in either sex. Learn to deal with people as individuals and professionals, not based on their gender.

11. Complaining.

If you are always seeing the glass half empty, you are projecting that you are a difficult and dissatisfied human being. No one wants to work with an unhappy person. Decide to change the way you see things, because happiness IS a  choice.

12. Self Rambling.

A good story about how and why you got started in business can always be entertaining. But when it turns into a continual droning about nothing but you, it will send others running for the door as soon as they can.

13. Eye-rolling.

This habit can be entertaining among your friends, but in a first meeting it comes off as rude. Show people you are open and eager. You can eye-roll together once you have an established relationship.

14. Unkempt hair.

Hair is a highly noticeable way to show people how you see yourself. Styles that are modern and well kept will signal that you know who you are and care about detail. Dirty hair says you don’t care enough about yourself to bother.

15. Not listening.

Everyone wants to feel important and appreciated. Be the type of person you want to meet and take a reciprocal approach. Be the first to offer your focused attention.

Treat your new relationships kindly. No one needs to know about your bowel movements or relationship woes at the first encounter. Leave others wanting more; be the type of person you want to meet!

Any pointers on how you handle first encounters? Were these tips helpful? Please share if so. Would love to hear from you! Leave me a comment below!


Delegating + 7 Ways To Call Yourself Out on Your Own Bull$#!t

So much work goes into planning a project, specially one where your delivery depends on the delivery from other people, when your actions or results depend on the actions of of others.

That’s why delegating can become grueling and quite frankly as an entrepreneur, one of the biggest struggles you may find yourself in.

Truth: You have to let others do what they do, so that you can do what you do.

It is impossible to be in 3 places at 3 different times and some interactions with others -positive or not- are what fuel this thing called life. In short, you have to be willing to roll with the punches.

You have to let others do what they do, so that you can do what you do.

There is a lesson in EVERYTHING. Believe me Chica when I tell you, in absolutely EVERYTHING you experience and you have to be open and willing to catch yourself when you begin to BS yourself. You are not the be all end all. You are not the only person capable of doing that task. BS’ing ourselves into think we are all things holy in our lives and business is the first thing we do when we let our EGO control us.

When you live with that shift in mindset, it’s actually incredible the many things you will be able to accomplish. I promise you!

So whether you’re on a personal or an entrepreneurial journey, I hope these 7 Ways to Call Yourself Out on Your Own Bull$#!t serve you as they have me:

  1. Listen to your gut. Even if it’s a tiny nudge or subtle whisper. It is God’s way of directing your ship and it is never wrong. The more you listen, the sharper you will become at weeding out the things and people in your life that do not serve you.
  2. When you’re feeling drained…unplug. Yes that means not checking your mobile device every 5 minutes. Reconnect with your spouse, your children, go for a walk, pray. Take at least 5 minutes to center yourself. If you do this every day, I promise you it will remind you of your why. And your why is what matters.
  3. Try and I mean really try to not take falling outs personally. Like Don Miguel Ruiz says, “Nothing others do is because of you.” NOTHING.
  4. Get over yourself. Not much more to say about that.
  5. Surround yourself with like minded people, specially those who aren’t afraid to call you out on your bullshit. Sometimes the path gets foggy and we need windshield wipers to help us see what’s ahead. Don’t be afraid to hear the truth from someone other than yourself. My business partner Lynette Barbieri and I help each other see things from a different perspective. Doing this actually helps you get over yourself (lesson #4) very quickly. When you’re too invested in any situation, it can be difficult to make objective decisions. So, don’t go to people who will tell you what you want to hear, rather go to those that will help you see the lesson.
  6. A written contract holds invested parties accountable, but  at the end of the day your word supersedes. People will always remember the integrity in which you handled any given situation.
  7. Don’t be afraid to call other people out on their bullshit. Be that person others go to for clarity. The reality is that there is no gray area when it comes to the truth so, don’t be the one to dress it up for others. Nip it in the bud, throw the pity party and MOVE ON. There’s another opportunity waiting for them right around the corner which they might miss and you can help them see that.

Delegating doesn’t mean passing off work you don’t enjoy, it means giving others the opportunity to shine.

Let others do what they do, so that you can do what you do!


#Confession: Why I got a Part-Time Job and How It Helped Me Grow My Business

Confessions are truths about ourselves that heal wounds when spoken.

I moved to NJ from NY on April 21st, 2012.

Finally, my husband and I were moving to our new home! A home we had talked about, envisioned (literally on my vision board) and saved for for years. It was the start of a beautiful new chapter in our lives. Ready to raise our children in a community, with an actual backyard our kids and dogs could run and play in, a pool club only 1 minute away, blue ribbon schools: The American Dream.

We closed on the house 2 weeks after having Samuel -the baby. My store in Staten Island had finally found it’s groove after building it for 2 years and here I was in a state of shock, numb and in utter disbelief.

I had suffered from postpartum with my first son, I was doing everything in my power to not go through or put my family through that roller coaster again. Also, I was focused on the move, the new baby, my oldest son’s smooth transition -yet, I was in total limbo with my store. I had taken care of everything and everyone else, but I had not prepared my business for this move.

So you understand, when I started my business in 2009, it had literally become my lifeline. I was practically alone in Staten Island, my husband still works long hours and I had allowed overwhelm and insecurity, alienate myself from the world. My business had given me all that back, it forced me to get out of my comfort zone, meet new people, connect with women, etc. (my story is an interesting one, you can read more here).

This move, while anticipated and amazing, well, it was cramping my business. WTH was I going to do now?

I was back to square one here in NJ. With the exception of a few ladies I had met through networking, I knew nobody. For someone who is so “connected”, I remember sitting in my new workshop thinking: Fuck, I got nothin’!

Thinking about how long and how much work it had taken me to get my business to where it was and that I had to do that all over gain, pissed me off. So much that I shut it down. I would still go to networking meetings, I continued to foster my virtual relationships, but other than that…I was doing N.A.D.A.

I sat and thought long and hard about how to get myself out of this rut…I had to get new clients, I had to meet more women. My usual networking events were far away, the local ones S.U.C.K.E.D. (that’s a topic for another post) and this time I wanted to continue to build my brand, but I wanted it to have a strong impact in my community. Why? Because entrepreneurship and motherhood can both be very lonely and I knew that I could not be the only woman who was feeling as isolated as I did in this area.

So I did what any entrepreneur would do, and this is my confession: I got a J.O.B. (gasp). It was the kind of job that allowed me to meet women, everyday, with disposable income who wanted to look and feel their best. What’s that? Yeah, my target market. On top of that, I got a SICK employee discount, to good to pass up.

I had previous retail experience coupled with the years of networking and my makeup mastery (thanks Má for making me take that class) from day 1, I did really well! Customers where happy and having phenomenal sales allowed me to meet some pretty phenomenal people (buyers, brand managers, etc.). As time passed and although I was only there for 2 1/2 months (I wasn’t thrilled about a set schedule…entrepreneurship will do that to you), as an innate connector, I became friendly with those phenomenal people. They have since become huge supporters of ETTWomen’s mission.

I had of course prayed for direction and my gut told me this was something I had to do. In that 2 1/2 month period I met Lynette, my ETTWomen business partner, and  if you’ve been following us, you know how much ETTWomen has grown and the impact we’ve made in our community. Most importantly, it has become a hub for connecting women entrepreneurs to each other, it has given women a much needed breathing space to grow and learn.

While getting a job felt like I had failed my business and myself, looking back on it today confirms ETTWomen’s mantra: Everything happens for a reason.

Do you have a #confession to make? Try releasing it. Not only does it feel really good 😉 you may just be helping someone else have a breakthrough in their life or business.


The Fabric of A Great Leader

The Pope, Oprah, Steve Jobs, and so many more. I’m sure you’ve got a fab list of great leaders too!

Great leadership however, can be difficult to understand. Even great leaders have a difficult time explaining what makes their leadership so infectious and effective. But whether they can explain themselves or not, it is their actions and words that undoubtedly make their great leadership noticeable.

I’m fascinated by what makes people tick and wanted to know what behaviors or traits others thought were in the fabric of a great leader. Members of ETTWomen weighed in with amazing qualities they feel make up a great leader:

  1. “I think that Optimism is what makes a leader great. It is imperative that a leader have a positive mindset that they share to inspire others on their team and those they work with.” Valerie Ryan, IDLife
  2. “Great leaders always look to empower others, be it by education, guidance, or praise.” Mayra Betances, d&e Papel
  3. “I have been captain of cheerleading 3 times in my life, and coached for 10. For me it’s always about leading from example. You have to be what your subordinates aspire to be.” Janice Martinez Woerner, Jersey Girl Health and Wealth
  4. “Great leaders don’t make their family their excuse, they make them their reason to…succeed.” Renee Marshall-McKinley, Keep Yourself Smelling Sweet
  5. “A great leader listens to the individual and shares with them what they need to move ahead.” Susan Best Jones, S. Best Designs
  6. “A great leader is also a humble servant. When we can also be a humble servant, we show the art of support and team work through example.” Joanne Malley,
  7. “A leader is someone who can easily communicate and delegate without feeling they have to be in control of everything. They help guide their employees and are happy to see their employees succeed.” Evy Havlik, Efficient Socially Savvy Media
  8. “A great leader motivates, inspires, empowers and encourages. A great leader does not run away from obstacles, passes blame or dwells on setbacks – but will say: let’s figure it out. A great leader is smart, resilient and energetic. A great leader is someone others are proud to work for and with!” Fran MacConnel, The Balanced Owl

Through the years, I’ve learned that great leaders foster an environment of symbiotic growth. They ‘get’ that ‘Team work, makes the dream work!” and most importantly, that another person’s success is their success too.

Great leaders welcome challenges, criticism, and different perspectives other than their own. They ‘get’ that an environment where people are afraid to speak up, offer insights, and ask good questions is more likely than not to be destined for disaster.

Great leaders aren’t born, they are made.


Go Back To Basics With these 5 Small Business Marketing Tips: Run Your Own Race

Marketing in today’s highly competitive world is challenging. Standing out from the crowd of competitors can be difficult. And if you believe that you aren’t making an impact, ask yourself:

  1. Are you simply following the marketing trends?
  2. Are you trying anything and everything?
  3. Are you actually researching your competition to see what they are doing and what is working?

No? Then Houston, we have a problem.

While it’s even more difficult to compete in the digital arena, especially with big brand names, how can a small business compete effectively?

Simple: You can’t be complacent and wish that you’ll become number one in your market. Your success will actually depend on the research and marketing plans you create and put into action.

You need to run your own race by getting back to and mastering the basics whenever you think about your marketing strategy. If you don’t do the basics well, you will never succeed with the advanced tools available now.

You can’t run before you crawl.

1: Look At Your Competition, but Don’t Obsess

You need to know who your competition is and what they are doing, but what you also need to know is how you can do it differently and better.

2: Research & Analyze Your Industry

More than researching your competition, you need to research and analyze your industry. Do you know the the trends and what is coming up for the next 6 months to a year? Be proactive about these things so you can be prepared before they happen.

3: Be Unique

Your offering must be different than that from your competitors. What’s “your juice”? You are at a disadvantage if it doesn’t stand out. It’s time to re-think what makes you stand out.

Offer something different that can be seen as better than your competitors in at least one way. Maybe you are more affordable but offer more value, or you provide a different service. Either way, you need to have that one thing that makes you stand out.

You can also be unique in how you market yourself. You have to be if your product or service is exactly the same as your main competitors. Think about ways to market differently and stand out that way as well.

4: Develop Your Online Brand & Image

In today’s competitive market it is not enough to have cute business cards, brochures and a website. You need to develop your brand and image. There are many ways to do this:

  • Invest in a killer website. Even if this means outsourcing, please…just do it.
  • Invest in Content Marketing and SEO Services.
  • Create a company culture that will speak for you. That’s the power of building a solid brand.
  • Develop a strategic business and marketing plan: implement, track, tweak when necessary (see break down below).

5: Create, Implement, Track and Tweak Your Business And Marketing Plan

No business will survive forever if they don’t take the time to do the basics right. Creating a business and marketing plan is where everyone should start. Then, implementing and actually utilizing, and tracking your plans and budgets.

One of the biggest mistakes you can make is not taking this part seriously.

Maybe you developed a budget, but then you never actually look at it until it’s too late. The same goes with your business and marketing plans – you create or hire someone to build them, but then you never follow through and actually use any of the startegies.

Most of these tips you know and I;m pretty sure, you’ve heard them before, but may have forgotten about. After mastering the basics very well, then you can branch off and kick more ass by breaking the rules from time to time. While it is not easy to be unique and run your own race, the fact is that that very statement is what will set you apart from the crowd.

“The way you step up your game is not to worry about the other guy in any situation, because you can’t control the other guy. You only have control over yourself. So it’s like running a race. The energy that it takes to look back and see where the other guys are takes energy away from you. And if they’re too close, it scares you. So, that’s what I would say to my team all the time: Don’t waste your time in the race looking back to see where the other guy is or what the other guy is doing. It’s not about the other guy. It’s about what can you do. You just need to run that race as hard as you can. You need to give it everything you’ve got, all the time, for yourself.” Oprah Winfrey