Powerful Women of the Gulf Coast
Summer 2015 Vol 1, Ed 1
Powerful Women of the Gulf Coast
Started in 2004 as Womenâ€™s Business Lunch as a new way to network after Hurricane Ivan. Incorporated in 2013 as Powerful Women of the Gulf Coast, our organization has been fortunate to interact with thousands of women over the past years. Free monthly meetings for women focused on networking, professional development, education, and fun. Our mission is to promote, advance and improve women in business.
Jennifer Harrison Co-Director
Friday of the month
Friday of the month
Kolleen Edwards Chesley Founder - Director
Pensacola Networking Event Gulf Coast Kidâ€™s House
Gulf Breeze Networking Event Hampton Inn & Suites
Elizabeth Nims Co-Director
Visit our website PowerfulWomenGulfCoast.com /PowerfulWomenoftheGulfCoast /firstname.lastname@example.org
PWGC & Gulf Coast Kid’s House: A Successful Relationship for Many Years When Founder Kolleen Edwards Chesley formed Powerful Women of the Gulf Coast she established a core principle to give back to the community in various ways. One of those ways is to use our organization to support other non profits in the Pensacola Area. One of those organizations we have a passion to support is the Gulf Coast Kid’s House. We dislike the fact that there is a justified need to have a place like the GCKH but are proud of the fact there is a place for children to go to in order to get the help they need to get out of an abusive situation.
PWGC Directors; Kolleen Edwards Chesley, Jennifer Harrison and Elizabeth Nims with Stacey Kostevicki, Executive Director of the GCKH
Projects Funded by PWGC Contributions:
Meals and Snacks for the children on court dates • New Car Seats and Pack N Plays • Diapers • Backpacks • School Supplies • Clothes • Awareness for the Kid’s House
PWGC has contributed over $6,000 to Gulf Coast Kid’s House since its inception
The GCKH is currently looking for gently used or new Escambia County School Uniforms. If your child has outgrown their school uniform and it is still in good condition GCKH could put it to good use again!
Powerful Women of the Gulf Coast - P.O. Box 1125 Pensacola, FL 32591 (P) 850-529-0908 www.powerfulwomengulfcoast.com email to: Directors@powerfulwomengulfcoast.com
In This Inaugural Edition Inspiring Others 6
One of Bentina Terry’s greatest joys is mentoring young adults and seeing them achieve their goals.
The CEO Perspective 12
A strong woman leader in a male-dominated industry, Diane Appleyard is very transparent as she speaks with Kolleen.
Her Secret to Success 28
Debbie Ritchie’s greatest successes are measured by the successes of those around her.
Having an Impact matters to Cyndi Warren
Pain Free Living
15 Amber McClure is Hitting it Out of the Ballpark 17
Read it Forward Library
Hitting The Books
Tisha Gervais isn’t Afraid of a Little Elbow Grease
23 Don’t Just Survive: Thrive! 29
Financial Habits to Start Now
Editor: Kolleen Edwards Chesley
Kolleen Edwards Chesley If surrounding yourself with successful people improves you personally, what happens when you surround an entire organization with successful people? That’s precisely the answer we are seeking with Powerful Women of the Gulf Coast, the Magazine. Welcome to our inaugural edition! The mission of PWGC is to promote, advance and improve women in business. Our monthly networking meetings in Pensacola and Gulf Breeze and our third annual women’s conference this year both serve to fulfill our mission. And we are proud today, as we achieve another landmark; our first publication. Thank you for joining us!
Kolleen Read Online All Year At:
Business Manager: Elizabeth Nims
Other Contributors: Quint Studer Malcolm Ballinger Myra Van Hoose Rachel Rowan Melanie Kormondy
Ad Executives: Jennifer Harrison Briana Snellgrove
On the cover: Amber McClure, Cyndi Warren & Tisha Gervais, photographed by Kim Hannan
Art Director & Photographer: Kim Hannan
Published for PWGC by Ballinger Publishing.
Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained within, however, PWGC is not responsible for any errors or omissions that might occur. PWGC does not endorse the advertisers and disclaims all liability for claims or damages that may result from transactions with PWGC, The Magazine advertisers or from the purchase or use of advertised products or services. No part of this publication may be reproduced in whole or part in any way without written permission from PWGC.
IMPACT: it matters to Cyndi Warren
by Kolleen Edwards Chesley Photography by Kim Hannan
The second that Cyndi Warren walked into the lobby, any first interview nervousness I had was gone. Managing partner of Warren Averett and president of IMPACT 100 Pensacola Bay Area, Cyndi exudes an energy that is warm and contagious.
“Part of that is just being a woman; I’m a talker, I’m a hugger,” Cyndi shared. “I guess it’s just like they say – a woman’s touch.” And this is not just Cyndi’s way; this is a behavior she has integrated into the culture at Warren Averett, the largest accounting firm in Pensacola. One of Cyndi’s daily habits is to interact personally with employees. She wants them to know she’s a real person. She believes this helps with communication. “When faced with a serious decision, you might have the confidence to know it will be fine and it will work, but when you are in touch with coworkers to the point that you know what their fears, concerns, and goals are, then it makes you much more mindful about your decision making.” Her goal is for “people to feel connected and feel like they belong here, because that makes them more content and makes for a happier workplace and keeps people wanting to come back.”
Cyndi’s success started early in her career joining Warren Averett in 1990. She had been promoted to manager by the time her son was born in 1993. The firm allowed her to work a flex-time schedule, working in the office on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays and from home on Mondays and Fridays. She was the first person in the firm to make partner while working a flex-time schedule. Her story captured public attention and she was interviewed by the local paper. “Firm leadership does a great job of recognizing that women are important and that, in addition to career goals, women have personal goals, like raising a family. By offering flex-time schedules to high-performers, the firm has allowed women to be successful in accomplishing their career goals as well as the allimportant goals related to family.” Cyndi is the only female managing partner out of the
firm’s 14 offices of 800 employees and was recently added to the firm’s Executive Committee. Cyndi views this as a “testament to the firm’s confidence in, appreciation for, and willingness to support women.” When asked about the main differences between her and the other male managing partners, Cyndi noted, “The face to face conversations with employees daily, the interpersonal relationship that I build in the office, that’s very different. I think that’s just what comes with being a woman. We are bound to have a deeper focus on relationships.” With regard to her biggest business fear, Cyndi said, “I’m a people-pleaser so my biggest fear is that someone isn’t going to be pleased with my performance, that I will let someone down. I’m not afraid to lead or support a new initiative, but I always want people to be pleased.” On a daily basis, Cyndi struggles with time. “There are so many important areas from management responsibilities to client responsibilities, to community involvement, to family.” This time of year, Cyndi is working seven days a week – not because of tax season, but due to her community involvement. Cyndi is the president of IMPACT 100 Pensacola Bay Area, the treasurer for PACE Center for Girls, a board member for Sacred Heart Foundation Development Board along with a number of other community projects. “I’m happy doing it. I’m in a place now where I can. … I love to give back.” And her solutions to the struggle of time? “I’m not a great time manager myself. I do have a good sense of priorities and I know exactly what is the most important and when it has to be done and I focus on that. Then if I have bonus time maybe I can get PowerfulWomenGulfCoast.com
ahead for tomorrow.” She added, “My assistant is very good at sticking her head in my office and saying ‘You have to be here or there at a certain time’ and keeping me on track.” She freely acknowledged, “Even when I take down-time, I rarely completely unplug. Completely unplugging is stressful to me.” Cyndi shared the following tips: 1. Be committed and believe that you can. Find a few people to be your mentor or counselor. 2. Be passionate about what you are doing! You have to work too hard to be successful and if you aren’t passionate, you are already holding yourself back. 3. Take ownership. Step up and ask for help or feedback. 4. Be involved. An organization like IMPACT is helpful for younger women because you can meet so many women from different backgrounds and different life experiences. Some benefits from these relationships are the connections they have. 5. Be professional and have respect. Be careful what you say. Once you’ve said it, you can’t take it back. If you are not in the position right now to have a level-headed conversation, don’t have it right now. Wait until some time has passed when you’ve had a chance to gather your thoughts and calm down. Once you’ve disrespected someone, it changes the dynamics of the relationship. 6. Reach farther than your grasp. Set high goals including stretch goals…as Robert Browning said, But a man’s reach should exceed his grasp. 7. Don’t let failure define you. When you have a setback, don’t let failure define you, let it help you move forward. Never be afraid to fail. Cyndi is truly an inspiration. She’s already been a trailblazer in her industry and I have no doubt she will continue to blaze trails as she further builds her career. She has a great southern charm, she is a big supporter of others and she has a passion to win. And, I was blessed to start my Monday morning out with such an inspiration. *** Inaugural Edition - Spring 2015
formula for success?
by Rachel Rowan as interviewed by Kolleen Edwards Chesley Photography by Kim Hannan
As busy as she is, Bentina makes sure she has time to be a mentor. One of her greatest joys, she said, is mentoring young people and seeing them get what they want out of life.
Bentina Terry loves to run. It helps her de-stress and gives her joy, even though it challenges her like nothing else. “Running a half-marathon pushes everything that I have to so many different limits,” she said. “Every single time, I still can’t believe I did it.” She says the euphoria she feels when she runs often surpasses how she feels about her success professionally, which is surprising when you look at her impressive list of accomplishments: It includes a gubernatorial appointment to the Florida Technology, Research and Scholarship Board and a spot on the “Independent News Power List” of the 100 most powerful and influential people in the greater Pensacola area six years running. Bentina is the vice president of customer service and sales for Gulf Power in Pensacola, overseeing the company’s marketing, customer service and community and economic development organizations. When she’s not training for half-marathons, she serves on the boards of directors or trustees of several organizations, including the American Association of Blacks in Energy, the University of West Florida, and the Pensacola Symphony Orchestra. Inaugural Edition - Spring 2015
“There are lots of people who can achieve the things that I do at work, and I’m proud of those things, but if I wasn’t here at Gulf Power, somebody else would be here. The lives that you’ve personally touched--those are the things that matter.” Mentoring relationships work best when they grow organically, she said. It’s tough to mentor or be mentored by someone who you don’t know well. “You want to know that you have a connection where they feel like they can be honest with you and you can be honest with them. It’ll come from a place where you understand each other.”
“Mentoring relationships work best when they grow organically.” Relationship-building is one of the most important steps to success, she said. “If you don’t take the time to grow successful relationships, you will not be successful.” In Bentina’s experience, careers are more like jungle gyms than ladders, she said, and the more open-mindPowerfulWomenGulfCoast.com
ed you are about making changes, the more successful you’ll be. There have been times where she has been offered something that, at the outset, seemed to have no real benefits--no change in salary, title or level--but she did it for the experience. “If someone walks in and says, ‘Will you do X?’ my first instinct is to say, ‘Sure, I’ll try it,’” she said. “And then something happens later that says, ‘Yep, that was it. That was a good move because it set you up better for something else.’” She encourages young women to take the opportunities they’re given because they have so little to lose, but she warns against going too far. “Don’t ever go outside of who you think you are at your core,” she said. “Be real with yourself. Take chances, take risks, do stuff.” Bentina believes fear is often what keeps you from doing what you want to do, so her personal mantra is, “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?” The secret to gaining that kind of confidence, she said, is believing that you’re supposed to be in the room. “You have to walk in and show it, and you have to fake it when you don’t have it.”
Bentina is the only woman out of the top six executives at Gulf Power. She said she has found success in being heard by simply having conversations about recognizing and valuing a woman’s perspective. It’s important to sit them down, even if you work for them, and help them understand. “If someone says to you, ‘I feel like every time I talk, no one hears me,’ then that’s the way they feel when they talk, and just because that’s not the way you feel, or you haven’t noticed that, doesn’t mean it’s not true.” Successful business women, she said, balance seriousness with a sense of humor. “You have to be someone who people want to be around because you enjoy life, and that helps them enjoy being around you.” Bentina views success in terms of being blessed. “If you can get up every morning excited about going to work and leave every day excited about going home, you should consider yourself blessed. I consider myself successful because I’m happy going to work and I’m happy going home.” ***
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Josie & Dimitri Baptiste
As you see Dimitri and Josie Baptiste moving around the town, you would never guess the size of the dream that they carry within them and where they expect it to take them one day. For this couple, a key word is impact, and they are focused and dedicated to achieving the level of impact they know is possible. They are touching lives and changing them for the better.
Lives Being Changed There is a common characteristic that you find among people after they have been with the Baptiste’s for a time. On the outside there is a smile, and on the inside there is a feeling that their life has changed for the better because of coming in contact with them. So, how are they changing lives, you ask? It’s all because of a device that is gaining great popularity, the JBIT MedPro. It was Inaugural Edition - Spring 2015
specifically designed to relieve joint pain, and to help individuals going through rehab after accidents or injury. It also strengthens the core and improves posture. They found that the device was perfect for them because Dimitri, a retired Navy Chief Petty Officer, had bad knees from the demands of military life and from years of walking on steel decks on ships. He has patella femoral syndrome. Walking hurt and climbing steps was a chore. Josie leads a busy lifestyle, and running the business and caring for family keeps her on the go. She often had cramps in her legs, and some days it frankly was difficult for her to walk and get moving. She also experienced leg cramps at night. This meant that taking care of the business, and even her favorite pastime of gardening became a major challenge. They both thought these were conditions that they just had to live with. Enter the JBIT Med-
Pro. Experiencing almost instant relief for their problems, they began a mission to help people around the world find the same respite they had found. One of the first people that was able to benefit as they shared their discovery was Ted de Leon. He had retired from both the military and from Civil Service. He had problems with his knees and dragged one foot. He couldn’t walk for any distance and his gait was slow. Doctors told him he had gout and needed surgery – that is until he discovered the JBIT MedPro. He tried the device and promptly put down his cane, walked, no, make that strutted, around because he had stability and his pain was relieved. His knee problem disappeared from the first day, and was able to walk normally again without assistance. Besides relieving pain, the JBIT MedPro helps with mobility. As PowerfulWomenGulfCoast.com
one progresses in years, there are mobility issues. Such was the case with Honor Bell. He had been a paratrooper in the Army, and an incident with an unopened parachute caused him to have pain. That, coupled with the normal wear and tear of longevity, caused him to have difficulty moving around. One evening he tried the device. Much to the amazement of those who knew him, he straightened up and started to walk. His gait was greatly improved, and the smile on his face told the story. He quickly stated that he was feeling the type of relief he only felt at his chiropractor’s office. Here was a way for him to have stability, and more importantly to be pain free. Rosa’s quality of life was significantly helped when she tried the JBIT MedPro. She had issues with her spine and her knees. It impacted her stability, and Rosa has a service dog to help her with her limited mobility. She tried the JBIT MedPro, and her “Quality of life increases service dog laid down drastically with JBIT” as she went walking Dr. Ronald C. Evans around the building without pain and with a stable gait. She found that with the device she could do certain exercises, and she felt better.
Expert Opinion Renowned Chiropractor, Orthopedist and head of the certification boards for both chiropractors and orthopedists, Dr. Ronald C. Evans has some very good things to say about the JBIT MedPro. “In a long time of watching rehabilitation of human beings evolve, and our interest in these kinds of equipment, I believe this is the first piece of legitimate medically based equipment for self-rehabilitation that the health professions will have an opportunity to see, and certainly the consumer can use. This is a device that comes into the lives of people recovering from joint ailments and gives them the opportunity, in their own homes, at their own speed and pace to really begin to take control of what the disease or that injury has done to them.”
The Baptistes are partnering with Jonathan Bender, NBA all star, entrepreneur, and is the inventor of the device. He was teammates with the great Reggie Miller and was pegged to be the next star of the Indiana Pacers. A problem surfaced in the form of a knee injury. Jonathan grew six inches over one summer in high school, and trained throughout that time. That intense activity caused damage to his knees. After surgeries, and working with numerous medical professionals, he found himself retired from the NBA. His knees were so bad he had PowerfulWomenGulfCoast.com
Inaugural Edition - Spring 2015
difficulty even walking. Then he developed the JBIT MedPro, a rehab and fitness device that removed the pain and restored the strength to his lower extremeties to where he could train and return to the NBA with the New York Knicks. He even had the strongest lower extremities of anyone on the team. The JBIT MedPro is a unique device that puts the body on 0-gravity. It gives the effect of walking in 10 water and relieving the tension on the joints. That energy is then redirected to the muscles causing
Inaugural Edition - Spring 2015
them to strengthen. If you suffer from these issues or know someone who is, you can reach the Baptistes at these websites:
NETWORKING 101 Grow your business by growing RELATIONSHIPS
For a small business owner, budgets are always tight and marketing is always a challenge. An owner can’t spend as much on marketing and advertising as needed, and that’s where networking comes into play. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, networking is “the exchange of information or services among individuals, groups, or in-
stitutions; specifically: the cultivation of productive relationships for employment or business.” The more time you are able to spend networking, the more people you will connect with and the more relationships you can begin to build.
by Jennifer Harrison
and join membership organizations is an investment in your business. Utilize the time you spend to build your networking connections. The goal is to have others that you meet refer others to you, like an outside sales force!
Following are some tips to Use networking as part of your marketing strategy, so the time and networking that will help: money that are spent to go to events
1. At a networking event, first and foremost, try to relax. Think of networking as a chance to make new friends. Smile, be yourself and people should be drawn to you accordingly. 2. If someone is standing alone, introduce yourself. 3. If you are nervous to go to an event, go with a buddy! 4. Ask yourself what you would like to get out of the networking meeting. Remember it is better to make three good contacts than 20 rushed ones. 5. Develop a 10 to 20 second elevator pitch. 6. Remember that networking is not supposed to be aggressive. Just as you can’t stand an overbearing sales person nagging at you, be wary that you aren’t bombarding others. 7. Ask questions. This is your chance to learn as much as you can so take
advantage of the opportunity - you will only get out what you put in. 8. Be a good listener. Encourage others to participate in the conversation and make sure that you are alert throughout their responses. 9. Vary the networking events you attend. This way you are able to mingle with a wide spectrum of individuals and gain knowledge from various sectors and professions. You have to be selective and make sure you can commit both time and money. 10. Follow-up is the key. The majority of the relationship will be built after the networking events in a one-to-one meeting. 11. Ensure that your online profile is always up-to-date. Think of your social media and online sites as an extension of your face-to-face networking.
Jennifer Harrison is the owner of Gulf Coast Premier Promotions. She speaks often about networking and social media for the Pensacola SBDC and local Chambers of Commerce. PowerfulWomenGulfCoast.com
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The CEO Perspective: advice from
by Kolleen Edwards Chesley Photography by Kim Hannan
To say that Diane Appleyard is powerful is an understatement. As a matter of fact, she was named to 12 Modern Healthcare’s 100 Most Powerful list in 2002 (#20) and 2003 (#28). She is the president of Core Consulting, a healthcare consulting firm, and president and CEO of Healthcare Institute, a think tank of 35 CEO’s of large healthcare systems around the country. Healthcare Institute is regarded as one of the premier organization for CEO’s of not-for-profit healthcare institutions. Advice for men Diane is a strong woman leader in a male-dominated industry. When asked what men can do to support successful women, Diane said, “Listen. Women are generally better listeners than men. If men stop to hear, a new appreciation will come along. “In a panel early this year, a group of women CEOs focused on one difference: Men talk in terms of teams. Women talk in terms of community. This suggests a broader approach to issues and culture. We need to listen for those differences in approach.” Advice for women “Have confidence in yourself and ask for what you want. Do not be shy. But be sure you have the skills and reasons to back up your request. Have a value proposition. Don’t just ask for a different job or more money because you are a woman or because you are raising a family. You have to be able to say, ‘Here’s why I’m valuable. I’m worth more to you for these reasons.’” Her daily habit Diane’s non-negotiable is to, “Answer all emails the day that I receive them. I might not be able to take action, but I at least respond to every one. Right now there is an expectation of a response Inaugural Edition - Spring 2015
right away. Even if I’m on vacation, I respond.” She delved deeper into her email rituals, “I work a lot of weekends and I’ve actually found that if I email someone on a Sunday, I’m much more likely to get a response. It doesn’t get lost in all of the work week emails and it’s not squeezed in between appointments.” Diane defines success as “making a difference and ideally growing yourself at the same time.” Diane is also a founding board member of IMPACT 100 Pensacola Bay Area and says about success, “What’s real important is to find ways to make others look good. You don’t always want to say ‘look at me’ but find other ways to highlight others. It doesn’t pay off immediately but at the end of the day, people appreciate the support and want to work with you again. That gives you a benefit.” Where we are falling short Women tend to take things more personally than men do. “We have to get beyond that and be objective about the advice and/or criticism we are getting. This is a constant struggle for me. “I have found that once I write it down and put all that emotion into the writing of it, then I can step back and PowerfulWomenGulfCoast.com
“At the end of the day, though,” she said, “you have to be comfortable that you are being fair not only to yourself, but also to your customer.”
let it go. It’s a safety valve for me.” Differences between men and women “My view of the differences goes back to developing confidence in yourself and your abilities. After all of these years, I still struggle with aspects of this. For example, even though much of my business is by phone, I often have to push myself to make the calls I need to make. And once I make the call, it is almost always no big deal. “And I still struggle with how to value the work I do. It is not just a matter of how long an assignment takes. It is also the fact that I have the resources to do a job…resources that not everyone has. So in considering what the value is, I have to look at the whole equation.” Laughing, she said someone early on told her, “whatever you think it’s worth, then double it…you can always negotiate it down if they balk.”
Next for Diane It remains to be seen. One week from the time this interview took place, Diane was announcing her successor in her role of president and CEO of Healthcare Institute. “It’s time for the organization to have someone else in place to help it grow,” she said. “This is the toughest decision I’ve had to make, but it’s time.” Will this reduce Diane’s power in the healthcare industry? I highly doubt it. *** Seeds of Wisdom from Diane • • • • • •
Integrity is number one, always. Be willing to work hard through the difficult times. Have energy and have passion, because you can work a lot harder and longer if you have passion. Be willing to take a stand, when a stand is needed. Be willing to stand up and share an idea, even if you are scared. When you see someone down, step up to support them, don’t hesitate to call because you don’t know what to say, just call and be there.
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15 minute segments of power-packed professional enhancement
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Networking Exercises Education for Business Women After-hours Social
Power Breakfast - Tuesday, Oct 13th Meet the Speakers Social - Thursday, Oct 15th
80% of proceeds benefit Gulf Coast Kidâ€™s House
Dr. Lusharon Wylie
Sr. Assoc. Dean of Students University of West Florida
Amber McClure ...hitting it
out of the
As interviewed by Kolleen Edwards Chesley Photography by Kim Hannan
She then went on to work for the City of Pensacola for nine years as the senior accountant. While working for the city she oversaw the $56 million Community Maritime Park construction project. That’s when the Blue Wahoos team noticed her, and she couldn’t refuse. “Who says no to baseball?”
Success is viewed in many different ways. It does not happen by accident, and it cannot be handed down. Although opportunity may come by chance, it takes real focus and willpower to seize and conquer. This is exactly how the Pensacola Blue Wahoos’ Chief Financial Officer got where she is today. Amber McClure started her career young. After graduating from the University of West Florida with a Masters of Accountancy and a B.S. in Business Administration, she got her feet wet at a family-owned bookkeeping business in Pace. In just her second year of public accounting, tragedy struck within that family, so she answered the call of fate and took on the responsibility of running the company’s satellite tax office, in addition to managing about 75 clients. “Through that process I learned to be more responsible and self-driven,” said McClure. PowerfulWomenGulfCoast.com
McClure joined the Blue Wahoos team in January 2013. She plays an integral role in guiding the direction of the organization, lending her expertise to making tough financial decisions. Although she is still relatively young in age and has accomplished her biggest career goal by becoming a CFO, she does not use that as a measure of success. “I think that success doesn’t come with money and it doesn’t come with achieving a goal because there should always be another goal. Overall having a good quality of life, making sure there is happiness within the organization, the home, for our fans and customers – anybody that we are serving in the community,” said McClure. McClure faces the same challenges that many working women face today in finding balance between a demanding leadership role and her family. She credits Inaugural Edition - Spring 2015
her husband, Chris, for helping her with that balance by sharing tasks and responsibilities at home with their two sons Seth and Preston. She also found her age to be a challenge, though it was her own perception that she might be too young for such high responsibilities.
or being a contributing decision maker – I need to be confident in that decision and not waver from whatever that decision is.” As much as research and facts help to guide McClure in making those decisions, she often listens to her gut instincts.
As her career progressed, her fears have changed at different points. At the beginning, job loss was often at the forefront of her concerns. McClure finds that confidence plays Working hard and earning a stellar reputation has helped her to secure a heavy role in her business life. “I have to know that when I’m making her place in the financial world. a decision for the company – taking Now the reputation of the Blue the company in a different direction Wahoos and the satisfaction of ev“I felt like since I didn’t have this certain number behind my age, that it made me not qualified,” she said.
ery person that they touch are her main concerns in business. “Once that crumbles and once that’s tainted, everything else does as well,” she said. As a successful woman in business, McClure finds adaptability, confidence, perseverance and strength as character traits that anyone needs in order to be successful in business. To be successful on a daily basis she re-prioritizes throughout the day. It is her goal to only have to touch everything only once, with the objective being to wrap up one task before moving on to the next. It is no secret that McClure has used her positive attitude and hard work to get her to where she is today, but her advice to those at the dawn of their careers is to keep those around them in mind. “Believing in yourself and focusing on others is key,” she said. “Focus on how you can make that next person’s day better. If a young professional can learn that it’s not about them… it’s more about that customer, client, mom or whomever, then success will follow in line.” ***
FORWARD Library by: Myra Van Hoose
Walking the talk, Powerful Women of the Gulf Coast promotes expertise in its members by sharing leadership books through its Readit-Forward Library.
Here is how it works: 17
1. You donate leadership or professional development books and tuck your business card into each. 2. We make the books available at our meetings and other events and encourage our attendees to take a book (we never sell them, they are always free) and ask whoever does to follow up with a thank you note to the person whose business card is found in the book– establishing connection.
it-forward, too! Please message us at email@example.com if you are interested in donating books.
Currently In Our Library: The Leader’s Voice, by Crossland & Clarke The Gospel of Joy, by Amanda Gore
The Great Employee Handbook, by Quint Studer It’s Only A Game, by Terry Bradshaw Kidjacked, A Father’s Story, by Scott Lesnick Bella Success: God, Family & Real Estate, by Darlene Hammond ***
3. Ideally the reader returns the book to the exchange pile with her own business card and a note in the margin where something resonated with her. Time willing, she gives a quick review of the book at a meeting. We accept all new and gently used book donations as long as they are leadership books. Consider the benefits multifaceted – great exposure for you, charitable giving and support for your peers. You will have the opportunity to readPowerfulWomenGulfCoast.com
Inaugural Edition - Spring 2015
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“One thing a mentor and mentee will not agree on is who helps who more. Powerful Women of the Gulf Coast, the Magazine creates the avenue for people to increase both their learning and reaching. It also improves the lives of others.” Quint Studer Founder of Studer Group & Owner of Pensacola Blue Wahoos
Inaugural Edition - Spring 2015
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by: Myra Van Hoose
Books Leadership book reviews
Visualize a country in which half of the business executives are women and half of the stay-at-home caregivers are men. According to Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg’s leadership book, until a time when the division of labor approaches that ratio, women will continue to struggle in the work force and even though in the 1980s women topped the 50% mark of all college graduates, there still remains a disproportionate number of men in all top positions in business and government. Sandberg addresses advice to those women who do not opt out of the work force but want to achieve power, like her, a billionaire as of this year, according to Forbes. Expanding on her 2010 TED Talk the Facebook Chief Operating Officer offers the following:
1. Sit at the table: engage as an equal regardless of the players – men or women - and play hardball. 2. Don’t leave before you leave: Say yes to assignments, push forward, don’t scale down in anticipation of leaving a job, especially if you might want to return to the workforce. 3. Climb the jungle gym: Be willing to digress from a straight “ladder” to the top and expand your horizons. 4. Make your partner an equal partner: Share housework and children responsibilities equally with your spouse, so your work is treated as equally important. (continued on p.22)
she’s NOT a little afraid of
Elbow Grease by Kolleen Edwards Chesley Photography by Kim Hannan
Meet Tisha Gervais, a cute blonde with her hair pulled back into a ponytail and a baseball cap. A southern girl with a personality to charm just about anyone, it’s no wonder that Tisha stands out as the manager of the family business at Blue Angel Tire and Automotive. No coincidence that their number of women customers have grown to over 60%.
“To estimate there are about 20% of auto shop managers that are women is probably high,” says Tisha. The auto mechanic industry is still very male dominated but that is changing. As cars change and improve, they are run more by computers. For repairs, you have to think more today to troubleshoot them than ever before. It adds more of a mental part to the business. And this bodes well for women. With no formal training, Tisha has had to learn on the job. She doesn’t serve as a mechanic in the shop, but she could. Lots of reading, studying, and observing has helped her with her growth. “I’m out there all the time watching the guys break something down and build it back correctly,” says Tisha. “And that’s how I’ve learned.” Her role in the shop is to serve as the liaison between the customer and the mechanic. When asked what “success” meant to her, she said, “I ask myself, did I do an honest and fair job? And did I do it well? I’m here to make a living, I don’t need to make a killing. It doesn’t mean I need to have four houses to know I’ve succeeded. At the end of the day, do I feel good about what I did and did I do it in the best way? When I can say yes to those questions, I know I’ve had a good day.” She communicates with the customer to make sure they are informed, educated and comfortable during the entire time their car is being repaired. “Especially with the women, I try to educate them when they come in. We walk around the car and they learn how to look for wear patterns on their tires and other basics they can watch for themselves then be better aware of when repairs are coming. Look for purple marks on your brake rotors. Basic stuff really. Some don’t care and fully trust us and some are interested and want to learn. And, Inaugural Edition - Spring 2015
I’m the girl that’s ready to go out in the garage and lift up the hood and look at something.” When it comes to business fears, Tisha commented, “Times are changing and people have downsized. They don’t have multiple cars anymore so they don’t have an extra car to use while theirs is being repaired. That puts pressure on us to do repairs faster. And families have so many more demands with kids so we get a lot of moms as clients, especially wives of military deployed who have no family here and they don’t know anything about cars and they rely on us to do a good job and to be able to communicate with them.” More and more, women are working more than ever before and for longer hours. And, they still have to do the grocery shopping, pick up the kids from school, and afterschool activities and women need their vehicles. And the more they drive, the more their vehicles need repairs. Tisha says that “when a woman walks into an auto shop, to have another woman standing there to talk with her in women’s terms,
there’s just a totally different level of comfort there.”
came up with a business plan for an auto shop designed for women. Maybe nail salon on one side, area Tisha also shared this advice for kids to play in another section, for young women: etc. Her dad was skeptical that “women don’t want that,” Tisha • Do the best you can as a perrecounted. However, the longer she son; don’t focus on the woman part, just focus on success. worked there, the more he noticed women coming in and wanting to • Never stop educating yourself. talk with Tisha instead of her dad • Don’t be afraid to do it even if because she in a woman. When it’s not in your job description. that happened, she really tuned into the business. She remembers • Learn, grow, challenge yourbuilding her success by “listening, self. learning, continuously growing and • Don’t be afraid to get dirty, do if I don’t know something, I find out, investigate, get curious about the hard stuff. 21
Tisha shared the story of a paradigm shift in her life. Shortly after she joined the family business, she
your job instead of focusing about being in a male dominated industry.” Go get em, Tisha! ***
“Ballinger Publishing is proud to support Powerful Women of the Gulf Coast as they launch their magazine! We see this as a value to women and also a value to the community as a whole. This is a unique platform in the media landscape and we are excited to see Gulf Coast women being recognized.” Malcolm Ballinger Owner & Publisher, Ballinger Publishing Photo by Kim Hannan
(Hitting the Books, cont. from p.19) 5. Get a mentor, naturally: Don’t beg for attention; ask specific questions of the person you visualize as a mentor and let a relationship develop naturally.
other’s successes and failures. Always be open to new information.
Sandberg shares a plethora of studies on women in the work force. Unfortunately, women are perceived, according to one of these studies, to be less likeable at the top. So, point number six might have to be don’t care if no one likes you. But as Sheryl hypothesizes, the more women who gain power and control, the more ‘women at the top’ becomes a norm, the more, hopefully, those likeability factors will reverse.
Support: Some women in leadership roles currently have worked so hard to get there, they forget to mentor and sponsor the next generation. As you, the next female leaders, emerge, remember to support those following you. *** Myra Van Hoose is a freelance writer living in Pensacola, Florida.
Books by women on women in business: Act Like a Leader, Think Like a Leader, 2013, Herminia Ibarra, INSEAD
So, why aren’t we there yet? A larger percentage of women actually prefer to raise children as compared to men and opt out of the workforce. Additionally, it may be a case of gender self-sabotage. To date, there 22 are few trickle down benefits from women in power to their subordinates. For example, Yahoo CEO, Marissa Mayer denies a gender issue exists in her industry; however, according to an October, 2014 New York Times article, “Bias against women in tech is pervasive.”
Wonder Women, Sex, Power and the Quest for Perfection, 2013, Debora L. Spar, Barnard College Fierce Leadership: A Bold Alternative to the Worst “Best” Practices of Business Today, 2009, Susan Scott, Fierce, Inc. Women Lead the Way: Your Guide to Stepping Up to Leadership and Changing the World, 2009, Linda Tarr-Whelan, Demos
Sandberg’s advice is not new but certainly worth reiterating. Her book, Lean In, paired with several others as listed below provide several takeaways:
Women and the Leadership Q: The Breakthrough System for Achieving Power and Influence, 2001, Shoya Zihy- Consultant
Focus: Determine your priorities, set goals and create a strategic plan to achieve them. Things don’t fall into place for anyone who hasn’t put in the hard work and time to be where she or he is. Choose: Stop the guilt and the blame. Women cannot have “it all.” Whatever was in the past should stay in the past. Today we pick and choose our paths. Own your choices confidently. Compete: Assert yourself as if you already have the next project or position. Know you are as good as your colleagues, male or female. If you don’t believe it, no one else will. Collaborate: Join networking groups, such as Powerful Women of the Gulf Coast, to share experiences and learn from each Inaugural Edition - Spring 2015
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Don’t just survive,
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Debbie Ritchie: 26
Serving Others is the secret to her
interviewed by Kolleen Edwards Chesley - Photography by Kim Hannan
If there is a universal definition for success, then Debbie Ritchie is it. Her life can be summarized as one philanthropic endeavor after the next. Both her personal and professional life intertwine in a seemingly effortless balance that make Ritchie a leader, mother and friend.
things that challenged me to be better and the things that have set me back.”
“I love seeing other people become better and do more,” said Ritchie. “My greatest success is when other people have worked with me and have continued and advanced.”
Ritchie also enjoyed her tenure as an elected member of the Florida House of Representatives, but when balance became an issue, she chose to not seek re-election in order to spend more time with her daughters.
As the chief operating officer of Studer Group, Ritchie is no stranger to helping those around her succeed. She revels in the times she has a hand in propelling a career forward, but is equally mindful when it comes to constructive criticism and feedback. “I always tell people that things may seem difficult in the moment, but upon reflection it will end up being the best thing because other opportunities that come along will be better and more fit.” Ritchie describes her success as a series of “ups and downs” between her personal life and career. “I really do believe that there is a blend in work-life balance,” she said. “I’ve learned from the positive Inaugural Edition - Spring 2015
Such positive changes include joining the Studer Group team after accepting a position at Pensacola State College as their regional director of economic development.
“It opened up another door for me to really challenge myself in the non-profit world,” she said. In 2004 Ritchie served as the founding president of IMPACT 100. She currently serves on the board of the Gulf Coast Kid’s House and the University of West Florida Foundation Board. “Both experiences working in the non-profit and public sector were wonderful and meaningful, but the non-profit work has been very fulfilling because it was so grassroots,” said Ritchie. “It was really changing women and community in a way I didn’t feel was the same in the public sector.” PowerfulWomenGulfCoast.com
Because of her current demanding position with the Studer Group, Ritchie has had to be more selective in her community work. Much of her efforts these days are directed to the Gulf Coast Kids House. “At the end of the day it all comes down to choice and sacrifice,” she said.
assertive or directive. Professional and personal development are always on the forefront in Ritchie’s life. “Everyone needs development, and we have to take the time to get that and build those skill sets to get better,” she said.
Throughout the years Ritchie said Of all of her work in the public and that she has had to work on deleganon-profit arenas, Ritchie is most tion. proud of her work in IMPACT 100 “Often I stood in the way of somein terms of how much of a differone else’s opportunity to be able to ence it makes in so many lives – grow by not delegating to them a both the grant recipients and the task,” she said. women who donate. Her passion for the organization is shared throughout the “At the end of the day it country, as more IMPACT all comes down to choice 100s are being created and sacrifice.” inspired by the story of the Pensacola Bay area. Ritchie believes that the character traits that all successful women share are perseverance, integrity, the desire to see others do better, and energy. Self-described as nurturing, supportive and caring, Ritchie believes her natural tendencies force her to make the effort to be more
Even though she is established in a senior position, Ritchie still works on improving her leadership skills through research, and recommends that younger women formalize a mentoring relationship for their own growth. “Identify what it is that you are looking to improve and find some-
one who’s really good at that,” she said. She also encourages volunteering, networking, and learning from those whom they do not want to emulate as much as from those they consider to be a role model. “I want young women to seize and fully maximize every opportunity that comes their way,” said Ritchie. “You never know what things you will learn if you make the most of where you are at [in any single] point in your life.” ***
the freedom to spend money and not feel guilty doing 1. Organize your “financial junk drawer.” Just like the one at home, some of us have a “financial junk it because you know it’s “in the plan.” drawer” in which statements, old budgets, and random 6. Have a financial plan. If you don’t know where you are going, how do you know if you are off course? articles accumulate and quickly become outdated and With vacations, you plan the destination first, then all cluttered. Now is the time to organize! the details fall into place. With 2. Pull your credit financial planning, it’s much report annually. Review the same. You decide on your your report and take “financial destination” and then action immediately if you all of the other financial de28 notice any errors. cisions come easier. Put your Annualcreditreport.com financial destination in writing offers a free copy once a by Kolleen Edwards Chesley via a financial plan. Revisit and year. update your plan regularly. 3. Review your insurance coverages including 7. Have a financial accountability coach! They auto, home/renters insurance policies along with life insurance, disability insurance, long term care policies can be a sounding board for your current situation and help draw the roadmap to your financial destiand other insurance policies. It’s important to know nation. A good coach can also be procrastination what coverages you have well before the hurricane, police, focusing you on your priorities and holding flood, illness or injury, or the unexpected loss of the you accountable. They can challenge financial biases family breadwinner. 4. Update your will. If you live in Florida, the state and clear up any confusion about the many financial choices out there. already provides you with one. For some, that may be 8. Start now! Start doing something that gets you fine, but for a lot of us, we would prefer to have a say closer to your financial destination. Momentum is imin what happens to our possessions, who is in charge portant. It’s far easier to increase something you have of clearing out our estate, who would be the guardian already been doing over and over, than to start a new of our children, and other details like who should get habit from scratch. Anyone can be a millionaire if you our heirloom jewelry or who should take care of our start early enough and are consistent. It gets harder fur-babies. the longer you wait. *** 5. Understand your cash flow. A budget can spotlight areas where you are overspending and can Kolleen Edwards Chesley is a Junior Advisor with Mainstay Financial help you focus on areas where you would prefer to use Group in Pensacola, FL. In addition to working one-to-one with clients, Kolleen also hosts monthly classes on financial education. your money. And you might find that it can give you
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